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Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Justin wrote Iceland, a blog about his band’s American tour. Justin isn’t on tour anymore, but Iceland continues, twice a week, on City Desk.
“I hear that your newspaper has been sold to Creative Loafing, a Tampa-based chain of four alternative newsweeklies,” I commented to an employee of Washington City Paper. We stood beside the stage at Fort Reno, a popular outdoor summer concert venue in Tenleytown, where one of my bands had just performed.
“The sale is a reality,” the employee confirmed.
“I fear the impact of this sale in re the potential outsourcing of editorial and production duties,” I remarked. “Many of my acquaintances and friends are employed by Washington City Paper, and many may lose their jobs. I understand that the paper has struggled to compete with a gaggle of web-based publications and a burgeoning blogosphere, but this sale comes just as the paper is finding new ways to remain relevant. Must you be sold down the river to corporate Floridians so unceremoniously?”
“The sale is a reality,” my friend again insisted.
I considered my own situation. “I find it hard to believe that any representatives of Creative Loafing would be interested in continuing the publication of my blog ‘Iceland,’ which, by design, is unilluminating,” I observed. “‘Iceland’ challenges the standards of modern journalism by using elements of literary fiction and cultural studies—-not Gonzo or incessant fact-checking—-to explore notions of what is meaningful news. I suspect my sublime genius will elude anyone from Tampa, where I am hard-pressed to find a $10-20 limit hold ’em game, and the maximum buy-in on a $1-$2 no limit hold ’em game is $100.” I was prepared to continue my diatribe when an unkempt man approached me.
“Great show!” exclaimed the unkempt man. “But you didn’t play my favorite song!” He named a song from my band’s repertoire.
“I apologize, sir,” I offered. “That song was reserved for an encore. Yet, the audience did not demand one.”
“Aww, man,” the gentleman cried.
“Take heart,” I advised. “There will be a ‘next time.'”
“Shit, man,” the gentleman swore. “I missed the V.D. clinic for this show.”
“That is unfortunate,” I observed. “A visit to the V.D. clinic is more important that any performance I have ever participated in or can imagine.”
“Yeah, I missed the V.D. clinic,” the unkempt man repeated. Then, he disappeared over one of Fort Reno’s luxuriant grassy knolls.
I turned to my friend from the Washington City Paper to express further concerns about his publication’s fate. Words failed me, and I was driven to distraction. What symptoms had driven the unkempt man to the V.D. clinic in the first place?