I don’t love a parade… magazine. Anybody out there old enough to remember Parade, the lame magazine insert shoved in almost every local Sunday paper since World War Two? Parade magazine is the Goofus and Gallant of the news world and is about as hard hitting and newsworthy tough as the old TV Guide Crossword puzzle (Gilligan’s_______ or The ____ Tyler More Show).
Yes, I know Parade has not gone the way of Life, Crawdaddy, Omni and Look; they still publish the thing weekly. But the reality is you still have to be over a certain age to know that because only older folks continue to read non-digital printed-word physical newspapers. Young people look at them with the same useless curiosity as a butter churn, telephone table or VCR. It’s also become pretty obvious who is still reading the paper by the advertising content which has slowly switched from family products and services to old people stuff like hearing aids, assisted living communities, no exam term life insurance, adult diapers and various innuendo-ed erectile dysfunction miracle stiffy-ness solutions.
For the record, I do get the newspaper delivered, though I like to think of myself as still on the cusp of geezer-dom. Although I’m pretty sure most 17 year-olds would have a vastly different opinion. Try as I might to keep somewhat relevant, I know I’m slowly turning into the modern equivalent of the horned rim glasses, stuffed shirt square, Lawrence Welk lovin’, unhip ‘turn down that racket noise you call music’ grandpas that I dealt with as a kid. I do hold out hope that somehow newspapers will make a retro cool comeback like vinyl records or art-deco vintage jewelry. Then without doing a damn thing I could be considered hip and trendy instead of old man farty.
But why is Parade on my mind? Well I was thinking back to Sunday mornings when I was young, passing around sections of the paper to read with the longest wait consistently being for the funnies. Parade was the near useless time killer you read while waiting for a real part to make its way around to you.
Parade always had a very fluffy cover story devoid of real news, one constantly unfunny comic about an oversized dog named Howard Huge and an inane reader question/answer section inside the front cover that no one really ever believed were sent in by real people. It never seemed possible that a curios man in Sheboygan just happened to coincidentally ask something like ‘if Andy Williams was up to anything new’, the week before his new mellow moods album was coming out. I always thought maybe the names of the question submitters were arbitrarily picked out a phone-book and someday mine would show up or were they just the names of the press agent or promo person working for the star the question pertained to.
I guess I do have a touch of old farty-fogy-ness in me because I feel nostalgic about silly things like Parade. Even though years ago, I made the conscious decision to stop reading it because Parade is to the newspaper what those ‘Housewives Of…’ shows are to television… mindless repetitious dreck. So even though when the paper arrives it has joined the stack of advertising circulars as ‘direct to the recycle bin’ fodder, it is an odd little connection to my past that I like knowing still exists. I guess it is normal to feel that way. It’s the same as having a sense of loss when a restaurant you frequented as a kid but have not been to in years, closes or when that cool old movie house you never bothered to drive out of the way to, is converted to a Dollar Store.
25 years ago, when I spent a lot of time in Atlanta, I didn’t really understand when my buddy T-Bone would get all high-horse peachy upset that the old Mom and Pop locally owned businesses that populated his up and coming neighborhood were getting bulldozed and replaced with cookie-cutter chain drug stores and indistinguishable fast food joints.
I’d laugh to myself at how riled up he got at what I perceived as progress, but I get it now. It is much more than that. He mourned the loss of the disappearing unique individualness and hated that Anytown USA was all becoming the same bland corporate identical looking street. I see now that ‘out with the old’ has other ramifications connected to it and cause a disconnect to the world you are comfortable with.
I understand change is good and healthy but not always the best thing. With a tap on my phone I can get the latest breaking news but holding the newsprint in my hands does more than just give me somewhat current events. It connects me to my past.
But if I am really being 100% honest with you and myself, there is one more very important thing. Despite the comfort and nostalgia, I know in my most secret heart of hearts that I am so canceling that newspaper subscription the minute they finally add the comics and crossword puzzles currently unavailable on the digital versions of the paper. And you know what else, I like having that CVS and Walgreens nearby; I never went to most of those old over-priced Mom and Pop places they leveled because they did not cater to my needs. So nar nar, I might have a soft spot for Parade Magazine but I think this might actually mean I’m still ever so slightly not 100% old farty …yet.