Do you like your morning newspaper? I mean the print kind. I love mine. I read three print papers every morning over coffee: The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. But maybe not for long.
A couple of years ago, our local newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, ran a disturbing story about how a mortgage loan company in Phoenix had sent spam advertising messages which appeared on the screens of thousands of wireless phone customers. Not only were the messages not requested, but these customers had to pay to retrieve them.
In 1902, my father caught a dose of TB of the bone from a tubercular cow at a rented vacation house when he was four. With a shriveled right leg, he spent his life on crutches. He never pushed a shopping cart. Mornings, my father would lie in bed and call the butcher or fish guy, green grocer, the cereal and canned goods people, etc. Borden delivered bottles of milk and cream every two days. I never frequented a supermarket until I was 15.
Last week's column featuring Philadelphia's three great cheesesteak emporiums: Jim's, Pat's and (most famously) Geno's, generated correspondence about which cheesesteaks are the best. My answer: NOT Geno's.
Some people relish notoriety and their 15 minutes (or lifetime) of fame. "I love being famous," said Chris Rock. "It's almost like being white." Success in two professions demands absolute invisibility: spies and restaurant critics. I was once invited out to lunch with iconic New York restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton. She told me to make a reservation at "21" under my name, because she always dined out incognito. Otherwise she would get special service and could not write an honest review.
Yesterday, I woke up to a media firestorm. The front pages of The Wall Street Journal and The Philadelphia Inquirer were ablaze with news about former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' new book. On TV, the babble-heads were babbling madly about it. This was huge news. Never in memory had a former cabinet official crapped all over the sitting president and vice president who had been his bosses.
David Frank, 53, came from a family that has manufactured paper boxes for three generations. A love for boxes seems to be hardwired in his DNA. In 1999, Frank bought a shuttered paper box factory and has kept it going in good times and truly lousy times. How did he succeed? By sticking to a common-sense business philosophy
World War II has been called the "last good war." Unlike the wars of today, the entire country was involved. It dominated my childhood. Men went off to fight and women took jobs in defense plants turning out planes, Jeeps, tanks and uniforms. My family was involved in selling war bonds and working with the USO to bring Broadway show people to entertain troops at local military bases.
It was a terrific headline and lede that greeted me in my Philadelphia Inquirer: "A sudden awakening: No nest egg." In my giant digital private archive, I have 47 stories in the "RETIREMENT" file. I made a note of this article and later downloaded it. I also Googled Kari Warberg Block and discovered she is a very big deal.
"The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector," Ernest Hemingway said. "This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it." When two rule-breaking headlines smacked me in the snoot on the same day over breakfast, the red flag of my shit detector started waving furiously.