Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Rogan and Goldberg
Inside the newsroom of the Cape Cod Times, a bell rang.
The wire feeder was alerting the editors and reporters that a new story was about to unspool off the roll of yellow paper that produced the feed from The Associated Press.
No big deal, happened multiple times a day. No one nearby even flinched.
Until … another bell rang. Then another and another, until the ringing was constant.
It was March 30, 1981, and President Ronald Reagan had just been shot outside a hotel in Washington, D.C.
Four decades later, such an antiquated warning system seems quaint. If you own a phone and enroll in the right services, you can get alerts to news stories just as quickly as we do here in our newsroom.
Our comes through emails, with a subject line beginning “New Breaking Coverage” … as though, somehow, the AP wanted to assure us it wasn’t an “old” breaking story.
“New Breaking Coverage: Supreme Court-Breyer Retirement.”
“New Breaking Coverage: Syria US Raid.”
“New Breaking Coverage: Obit Meat Loaf.”
And so on. Usually, being a news junkie, I’ve heard something about these stories before seeing the alert. Once in a while, though, one pops up at the top of my Inbox that leaves me flummoxed, as though I was just stopped in my tracks by Stupefyin’ Jones.
“New Breaking Coverage: Whoopi Goldberg-Holocaust.”
I must admit I hadn’t thought much about Whoopi since “Star Trek: The Next Generation” went off the air and “The Fourth Wall” stopped appearing in Tempo — although I did note with glee last month that she was going to produce and star in a TV series based on “Soapdish,” one of my favorite film comedies.
This “Breaking Coverage” alert, of course, was not about that news. It seems that the EGOT recipient had been suspended by ABC for two weeks due to some ill-advised remarks she’d made (and later apologized for) on her daily talk show, “The View.”
I, naturally, was stunned … for I was certain that “The View” had faded off into the sunset with the retirement of Baba Wawa. Years ago, we would watch the gabfest religiously while eating breakfast — and by “religiously,” I mean praying for its cancellation.
But these days, it seems, you can’t even depend on mindless entertainment to allow you to turn off your brain for an hour or two.
Another email in my Inbox (although, it must be said, NOT called “Breaking News”) informed me that “Cancel Spotify” internet searches have “skyrocketed” 316% in the wake of a controversy involving Joe Rogan and Neil Young.
I could hear my brain cells deteriorating as I decided to wade into this one — primarily to find out what (or who, you never know these days) Spotify was, and why this would lead to a battle between 20% of Buffalo Springfield and the fifth male lead … behind even Andy Dick … of “NewsRadio.”
Turns out that Spotify (I don’t have enough space to explain) has given Rogan $100 million to express his thoughts and speaks to guests on a variety of topics … and has come under fire for his prior use of the N-words and spreading misinformation about the pandemic.
I’d say it brings to mind something Rogan’s “NewsRadio” character (also named Joe) once said — “I am not a mindless drone. Mindless drones should not be allowed to use technology.” — but I don’t have space for that, either.
Welp, Young had his music removed from Spotify … and was quickly followed by Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and probably countless other musicians who were denizens of Laurel Canyon in the 1970s.
Where oh where was I to turn for my mindless entertainment? Growing anxious for my crumbling brain cells, I sought out what I was sure would be a sure thing — the return date for “The Masked Singer.”
Celebrities and/or wannabes dressed in outrageous costumes croaking out oldies station perennials seemed just the thing to save me from the diminishing line of demarcation between harmless entertainment and sociopolitical upheaval … right?
Wrong, for who should turn my daydream into a nightmare but the breakout performer of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” — no, not Maria Bakalova … but Rudy Giuliani.
Last seen entertaining audiences with his stand-up routine at the Four Seasons … Total Landscaping parking lot in Holmesburg, Pennsylvania, Giuliani reportedly was the first performer revealed during taping for next month’s return of “The Masked Singer” — which led to half of the celebrities and/or wannabes on the judging panel walking off the set.
Now, I could segue here into an opinion as to how these stories intertwine “news” and “entertainment“; or how much we have lost as a thoughtful society when knee-jerk finger-pointing has become our default position; or how every bit of flotsam and jetsam across our free-time spectrum is now seen through the prism of political bias … but this seems to be neither the time nor place.
Instead, I’ll look forward to next Sunday — since there can’t possibly be any issues in the NFL these days that would distract from the Super Bowl.
Former Tempo columnist Robert Galvin can be reached at email@example.com