Dear Mr. Newhouse,
By your silence these past few weeks, it’s pretty clear that you’re not aware of what’s happening down here in New Orleans since you announced that you were cutting The TImes-Picayune to three days per week.
Now, perhaps that’s because you’ve been getting your news from Nola.com. Why, if you visited that site today, you’d know that the Saints are in day two of mini camp; that Kenner officials lost to their Belmont peers in a volleyball match; and, oh yeah, that Elvis may get a hologram treatment.
Who has room to talk about the incredible shrinking TP amidst these earth-shattering events?
I don’t think you’re silent because you don’t care. Really I don’t. Your family has owned our paper since 1962. Your grandfather, S.I., and father, Donald, were frequent visitors to Howard Avenue. And your family stood with us during Katrina. I think you’re silent because you just don’t know New Orleans.
That’s why, just for you, I’ve put together the “Top Ten Things Steven Newhouse Ought To Know About New Orleans.”
First, let’s clear up a few misconceptions …
10. We’re too small to matter. New Orleans indeed is small. While the U.S. Census puts our population at 344,000, we all know the real number is actually about 143. However … thanks to smoke and mirrors, multiple personalities, ghosts, and drunk tourists (and politicians) seeing double … we appear to be city of about 3 million people. And, right now, those 3 million are looking … at you.
9. We’re too drunk to care. We do like to party down here. But, you know what else we like to do? We like to read. Your paper. In print. Every day. It’s a newspaper, sir, not an advertising circular.
8. We have ADD. Dat’s America’s problem. Mr. Newhouse, this is a city that works every week — for six months! — to get ready for Mardi Gras. You think we’ve moved after Monday’s Rock-n-Bowl protest? Why, that was just a little gathering among 300 or so friends. Fix this mess (and you can) or, come July, we’ll have a “Save the TP Fest.” With Springsteen and Buffet. And Irma and Anders. And everyone in between. And you don’t want that. Because it’s a hate crime to force people outside in New Orleans in July.
Next, there appear to be a few things you just flat out don’t know about NOLA:
7. We deserve a daily newspaper. How can the greatest city on Earth not have a daily paper (come to think of it, how can we not have the greatest paper on Earth)? The stories, the characters, the indefinable yet unmistakable “something” that is New Orleans doesn’t just happen on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. It’s 24/7.
6. We need a newspaper. How can (one of) the most corrupt cities on Earth not have a daily paper? We need a newspaper to shine a light on, call out, and relentlessly hound the corruption … until it goes away. And if you think that’s a three-day-a-week job, well …
5. If we believe in you, there’s no more loyal friend. Just ask the Hornets. When a call went out for New Orleanians to support them, we bought 10,000 tickets. Just like that.
4. If you betray us, well …. We’re French, Spanish, Creole, Cajun Southerners. Think about that. And, if you need an inkling of how fast a friend can become an enemy around here, just ask Ray Nagin. Or, since the former mayor’s a bit busy these days with the feds and all, ask Tom Benson how things went for him when he thought he could take da Saints to San Antonio.
3. We are not cookie-cutter. I know, I know. From where you sit up in some skyscraper in Manhattan, New Orleans looks like a little dot on the map. We’re not. “One size fits all” does not work here, because there is no “one size” to be found. Anywhere in New Orleans.
2. But we are New Orleans. We’re tough. We’re feisty. And we can’t be broken. We were here before you … and we’ll be here long after you’re gone. Right this wrong (and, again, there are many ways you can do that), or we’ll wear red dresses to your funeral (which is fairly easy to do here since New Orleanians run in red dresses).
1. And we eat crawfish. Just like our characters and our corruption, eating crawfish is a daily thing around here. And, Mr. Newhouse, you can’t eat crawfish off an iPad.
Special thanks to Dominique Espinosa McCusker, Peter Horjus, Renee Peck, Shelley Stocker, and William Walker for their help with this letter.
Brett Will Taylor is a southern Shaman who writes Love: NOLA weekly for NolaVie. Visit his site at ashamansjourney.net.