Saturday, April 28, 2007

Every now and then I'll Google someone who I haven't seen or heard from in years. I wouldn't recommend doing this. But if you do do it, I'd recommend that you do it while sitting down.

I learned recently, after Googling his name, that an old friend had died in a plane crash. And today I learned something that floored me.

Another old friend, a newspaper reporter with whom I worked, was fired last year for fabricating part of a story. This guy was a hell of a reporter, and a really good guy. He liked Steeley Dan. We played tennis together. We sat at a few bars and shared some cold beers.

Fabricating part of a story? Once I learned this, I surfed the web a bit. Learned more about what had happened. He admitted it. So his story is true. That story. The one about him.

P. had been a reporter for thirty years. Thirty years! I was a reporter for three years and at the end of that tenure I was already starting to show some signs of burnout. I saw the news writing on the wall and got the hell out of there. Bolted for the ad bidness.

P. left the newspaper for which we both worked. Headed west and worked for a paper in Arizona. Came back east and worked for the Hartford Courant. Then headed south and started working for a major newspaper down there. That's where he was working when it happened. When he made something up and it got into the paper.

I am not among those who constantly rail against the " Mainstream Media. " I am not among those who have been whining about how we can't believe most of what we read in the papers. I worked for a newspaper. I was one of those ink stained wretches. I still, to this day, when I pick up the morning paper off the driveway think...

This is a freakin' miracle. All this news. All these pages. Put together last evening and delivered this morning. Like a book written yesterday, published last evening, tossed on the shelf this morning and read a few minutes after that.

Then I read what happened to my friend, and thought: Jesus. He'd be the last one I'd have thought would betray me.

I try. I try real hard not to cross the line that divides skepicism from cynicism. But that just got harder. Say it ain't so P.

Say it ain't so.

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