The newspaper game

HERE’S HOW I got into the glamorous newspaper business.

It was 1969, and I needed a job. I had no newspaper training, not a single journalism class to my name. I was married. I had a kid. I was 24. I had little money.

My father had been in the newspaper business. He had retired early at age 49. He knew the managing editor of the New Orleans States-Item, and I was living in New Orleans. Dad put in a good word for me, and I got hired as a reporter. I was a piss-poor reporter.

Old fedora felt hat with a press cardHere’s how my reporting career came to a quick halt. It was gruesome. And I had only been a reporter for a few weeks.

There was a police scanner in the newsroom. One day we heard that a kid had drowned in Lake Pontchartrain. The city editor told me to head to the boy’s house and request a photo to run in the paper with the story of his death.

I drove quickly to the home. I don’t recall how we got the address. I walked to the front door, rang the bell, and a woman appeared. She was smiling. Uh-oh, I said to myself. I had arrived before the police. No one had yet informed the family.

I told her I was from the newspaper and asked if the boy was home. No, she replied, he’s at school, confirming my suspicion. Why? she asked. There must be a mistake, I replied, backing down the sidewalk, wanting to flee as soon as possible.

Here you see what separates wusses from hard-bitten reporters. Geraldo Rivera would have told her that her boy had drowned, watched her collapse screaming to the sidewalk, and he would have returned to the newsroom to write a “color” story.

But I’m not Geraldo Rivera. I skedaddled to my car, as she followed, getting concerned now, asking why I was there. I drove off. I knew at that moment that I had no business being a newspaper reporter. I lacked the stomach for it.

Plus, I did not like wearing ties and dealing with people.

I requested a transfer to the copy desk the next day. I became a copyeditor, and I stayed one for 30 years with the occasional detour into short-termed occupational lunacies.

Even now, so many years later, just thinking of those moments at that door makes me cringe a bit. I don’t know how real reporters do it, the heartless bastards.

And I still have never taken a journalism class.

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(Note 1: For a more in-depth look at my checkered newspaper career, go here.)

(Note 2: When I retired in December of 1999, the mainstream media were still mostly honest, unbiased and principled. With some exceptions, mostly independent and online, they aren’t now. They are corrupt shills for the Democrat Party.)

Moon scoop: the cesspool

dump

NEVER BEFORE have you had the online opportunity to see the innards of a cesspool, but here it is before you.

This is the sort of courageous journalism you don’t find elsewhere. As you may recall, the storefront, almost completed, being built here at the Hacienda has a septic tank. And while all the connections are done, the toilet installed, water at the ready, no one has actually “used the facilities.” The septic tank is still cherry.

So, in the spirit of Geraldo Rivera, I dropped a ladder and headed down this morning. On reaching the gravel floor, I looked about and felt I was in the cloakroom of the Democratic National Committee. I glanced around, expecting to spot Debbie Wasserman Schultz or at least Maxine Waters, but no. The coast was clear.

It was just a generic cesspool.

walls

Above, you see a wall detail. There are spaces in the bricks that provide a filtration effect so the nasty matter can simply become one with the dirt behind.  At the top are two pipes. The larger comes from the bathroom, including the toilet. The smaller is a ventilation tube that extends high into the sky above the bathroom.

Yes, this is the sort of reportage you see nowhere else. Were this a just world, not ruled by White Privilege, I would be awarded a Pulitzer. But I am a Mexican, downtrodden and discriminated against. A loser.

But it’s not my fault.

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(Note: A blow-by-blow photo gallery of the storefront construction is here.)