Not quite a year ago whilst biking to work one morning I passed a patch of passion fruit flowers growing on a fence alongside the Ballona Creek Bikeway near Sepulveda Boulevard and among the many marvelous blossoms found a big and busy carpenter bee hard at work on one. As I go nowhere without a digital camera, I snapped it, liked the end result and thus popped it up on LA Metblogs. From there the fine Mark Fraunfelder at Boing Boing happened upon  it and liked it enough to complimentarily repost the image to that ridiculously famous blog (although for some unknown reason he changed my name to “Will Mann” and despite a couple requests made since asking him correct that error it hasn’t been; oh well).

Fast forward to a couple months or so ago and from out of the blue I get an email from a writer named Diana Barshaw. She tells me she’s doing an article on carpenter bees for her local paper and in the course of her research she found my photo on Boing Boing and wondered if it might be possible to get my permission to reprint it.

Being a greedy bastard I wondered to her if any monetary compensation might be available, and though she tried to get the editor to pay me, it became clear that wasn’t going to happen. Barshaw was such a sweetheart she even offered to give me a cut of her writing fee but as she was barely getting paid herself I told her permission was hers and the paper’s in hopes I could at least get a copy sent to me after the story ran. She said absolutely.

Her local paper? The Jerusalem Post. As in Tel Aviv. As in Israel.

My copy arrived yesterday (click the thumbnails to enlarge):

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The article as it appears on the JP website does so without my image for some reason, but it’s there in the dead tree version with my name and website spelled correctly in the credit line, thus allowing me to cross No. 64 off my to-do list: Get something published in a publication outside of the United States.

In other publication news albeit far closer to home, three images I took of Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” installation at the LA County Museum of Art were included in a new book/online exhibition from the museum titled, “Celebrating Urban Light.” Got no scratch for that either, but I did score a complimentary copy of the $45 volume. I’d submitted four pics, but I guess they didn’t like my favorite of the bunch, what with  my bike cluttering up the shot.

I’m doing some pre-spring cleaning/reorganizing and I came across a copy of the paper from the day my daughter was born in 1989, and for fun (and sadness) compared it in size to a more recent edition I saved for posterity as well.

The 1989 Times masthead for Thursday, September 7, 1989, boasts a circulation of “1,118,649 daily / 1,433,739 Sunday” and came in at 198 pages — all for the lowlow of 25 cents.

The Wednesday, January 21, 2009, masthead is decidedly less informative, foregoing any circulation numbers and only listing its total at 96 pages, and for 75 cents.

Well, me going cold turkey in canceling my subscription with the L.A. Times lasted all of two weeks. No, I’m not going back. Not yet at least. But being that my newsprint addiction is lifelong and irreversible, I can’t go any longer without a fix — and sorry, but all the internet news out there does not replace the literal and tactile and olfactory joy of holding and perusing an actual paper.

That’s right, I even love the smell of ’em.

The words told me by George Lucas, the Herald Examiner distributor who gave me my first job, still ring true.

“Don’t even think about looking at the porn in my briefcase!”

No, that’s not it. Before he told me that he told me something else back in 1977 as he smoked filterless Camels and drove me around in a beat up Ford F150 truck showing me what would be my paper route. “People may not know where their next meal is coming from,” he said. “Or their next pair of shoes. They may not even know whether they’ll be sleeping in a bed or on a bus bench. But people will always want their newspaper.”

Champions of the online news revolution may scoff at such sentiment as quaint at best and extinct at worst. But I know it isn’t. It’s alive and well in me today. I want my newspaper.

So first I thought about keeping my source local and going with the Daily News — and I probably would’ve had someone over there thought to put a subscription page on their website. But instead the only sign-up option I was given online was a tollfree number to call and good grief but I imagined getting connected to a call center in Manila or Mumbai with someone wrestling to subdue a marked accent with painfully perfect grammar whose name was not Eddie or Nan or Brendan even though that’s what they’d say it was.

Instead I went to the big dawg. The New York Times. I have never before subscribed to the New York Times, mainly because it is hella expensive. My L.A. Times rate was an awesome $99 a year, which works out to about 27 cents an issue. The New York Times “special introductory” offer is $6.70 a week for 12 weeks — or about $1 an issue — and after that it’ll double!

That’s a lotta paper for a paper.

But this morning when I looked out on the front steps and saw today’s issue sitting there waiting for me I didn’t doubt its worth, nor my willingness to pay such a premium. I was just happy to see it, and will be at least for the next four months. I can’t say at this stage if I’ll pony up $2 an issue after that, but maybe I will. Or maybe I’ll give the Los Angeles Times another look. By then, the changes that resulted in my breaking things off will be implemented and maybe at that time I’ll find my first love better for it.

I doubt it. But we’ll see.

Among the  variety of people, things and events the L.A. Times gave thanks for in its lead editorial in today’s paper they made sure to appreciate me too:

We also thank those who can drive but don’t, who bike and carpool and make good use of their EZ transit passes on two dozen public transit systems from Lancaster to Long Beach. Whether they’re motivated by gasoline prices or the health of the planet or the chance to just look at the city, block by block, we thank them for leaving their cars at home.

Right backatcha LAT.

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