|An abandoned Los Angeles Times vending machine in Covina, California, October 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
For the many working years after I moved to Los Angeles in 1991, I subscribed to the daily Los Angeles Times. Sometimes when I didn't get around to reading the paper, I would save the paper to read later. As things would happen I often didn't read that paper and put it in an ever accumulating stack of newspapers, now and then tossing aside sections that didn't interest me--sports, classifieds, fashion or whatever they were--and keeping sections that seemed like they would be interesting to read sometime later.
Over the course of many years I acquired several stacks of news papers--some at work and some at home. After the California branch of the company where I worked shut down for good and I was left jobless, I toted those work stacks home and put them in my garage. Since I was no longer working outside of the house, I was able to dwindle my newspaper stacks at a faster pace. In order to save money, in 2012 I cut back my L.A. Times subscription from seven days to weekends only. Besides, there wasn't that much in the paper that interested me anymore. And the paper was highly biased and annoying for me to read. Soon I switched to Sunday only, mostly because of the ad and coupon sections and the crossword puzzle, but then I let that go. Now I no longer get any papers. But I still have some news paper stacks in my home office closet.
Some of the papers remaining in those stacks are from 2012 to 2013. Then like anomalies in the geological strata, there might be small layers of papers from 2002 or sometimes even older. These days instead of reading a daily paper I'll read the papers stored in my closet. Sometimes I feel like an archaeologist making discoveries about the past as I read old news stories. The odd thing though is that some of those old stories seem like the same things that are in the news now or stories that seemed to foreshadow later events then still to come.
It's like a story I was reading last week in a paper from 2012. The section I was reading had an article about German Christmas markets where they sounded so fun and festive.. As I was reading though, I was thinking about the terrorism that came in 2016. That story from 2012 stood out more for me now in the aftermath of the 2016 attack than it probably would have if I had read it back then.
Lately I've been reading about movies that I hadn't realized had ever been released. Some I've added to my Netflix queue while most seem to be now mostly forgotten come and gone releases in the past. Reading about films in retrospect makes me realize how much movie garbage actually does get released. When I was reading contemporaneously to film releases, this ephemeral nature of pop culture wasn't always as evident. How quickly we forget that next big thing after it has come and gone.
Reading in the past might seem a bit absurd to many. Consider that I'm no longer reading for the news of the day, but just to get a feel for the past. Sometimes I wish those stacks contained newspapers from 20, 40, or even 100 years ago. Old newspapers provide a window into events of days gone by. The stories are history written from the perspective of those who were witnessing it. Rather than the standoffish perspective analysis of history books written years later and based on research and author's interpretation, the old news stories are seen through the eyes and minds of those people back then as they perceived what was happening.
If I could I'd much rather take an actual physical time travel trip back to old times to witness that world for myself. Even if that world was something I had lived through, I'd like to go back with my mind of the future to see if what I remembered was really how it was. Or to see if what I've heard from those older than I was really like how they described it all.
Old movies and television shows provide some of that perspective. But then that is part of the illusion of the past. An image on the screen can never capture the actual immersion into that place in the past and having that experience of immersion is only a fantasy of my mind. For now at least. And probably forever. Unless time travel ever does become a reality.
For now I have a newsprint time machine in my closet. The machine is dwindling as papers are read and deposited into my recycling bin. No point in keeping them. If I kept everything I'd eventually run out of room. I'd live in a past made of paper and newsprint. It all needs to go. And once I've rid myself of that time machine, I can read more of the books on my shelves, watch more of the movies I want to see, sort through old photos as I place them in albums...so much of the past with so little of the present to accommodate it all.
What will the future do with all of the past anyway?
Do you still read the newspaper? What do you have a tendency to accumulate? Will newspapers have much validity for future generations?