Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blood money

Good Wednesday. I hope all who celebrated had a meaningful Yom Kippur and an easy fast. It's a 25-hour fast, really more than that because you have to say the evening service, then wait for the food to be prepared.

It's physically and spiritually cleansing, however.

At the same time, my wife and I have been to funerals on succeeding Tuesdays. It's something we hope doesn't continue.

And now on to the subject of the day, corporations, media corporations, which make money by slaughtering (financially, that is) people who have given heart and soul to the place.

No, I'm not talking about the Journal-Register, which seems to have kept the word of its interim chairman not to lay off any more people in New Haven, at least.

This time, it's my former employer, the Gannett Corp.

An item on the WSJ wire:

"Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today, said it expects to report third-quarter profit that far exceeds forecasts on Wall Street, adding to hopes that the worst of the downturn may be over for traditional media outlets such as publishers and broadcasters.

"Gannett also announced plans to sell $400 million in five- and eight-year notes as it joins the raft of companies raising fresh capital to pay off other debt.

Following the announcement, shares of Gannett rose about 17% to $11.69 in Tuesday morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, extending a strong summer rally in the stock."

Well, whoopdy doo. It doesn't say how Gannett is going to accomplish this. It's selling bonds to pay off previous bondholders so it doesn't have to declare bankruptcy in 2011, as rumored.

Gannett is the nation's largest newspaper chain and publisher of The Journal News, a shadow of its former self, in Westchester.

A friend inside the paper, who is still employed, says that the latest bloodletting in August carried away some of the most talented people, especially photographers and photo editors. I won't mention the name of this friend because I want the friend to continue to be employed.

I couldn't believe who was let go. Three photographers who had won just about every photo award short of the Pulitzer Prize were let go. One had passed on the early retirement package that I took because that person needed the medical benefit and the income to take care of a sick relative. There is no mercy in Gannettland.

Two talented photographers who had been there for at least 20 years and two photo editors, including one who had been there for at least a dozen years.

The business editor and the financial editor, both gone. A great New York Giants beat writer, gone. A copy editor who had moved up from the South to learn Yankee ways, gone. The Yankees beat writer hit the road to Boston.

The place is a mess. But there are still managing editors, deputy managing editors, all kinds of middle managers. Glad to see the back of it. I wish those who are left much patience.

It slices; it dices

Are you as sick of stacked ads on television as I am? Sue and I counted 11 stacked ads between program segments on either USA or TNT or both.

One that gets my goat is the "free credit report." What a rip. Yes, if you sign up for the credit watch program, you can get a credit report. But you need to sign up for the service before you get the credit report, so how is it free?

In addition, on some of those that you get as a "service" through your credit card, you may get a report, but with some of them, if you want your credit score, you need to fork over $12.

And to top it all off, there are three credit-rating agencies from which you should get reports. You want the other two? Fork over another $30 or so.

So, you pirate guy, shut up.

And speaking of shut up, how about the WCBS sportscaster who is always talking about refinancing his house through this mortgage banker and not dealing with "my bank."

Well, Gary Stanley, if your bank is so horrible, why is it still your bank? Change banks and shut up. Please.

Bye, bye Bambi

In the lede of this posting, I talked about attending funerals on two succeeding Tuesdays.

This last one was for Bambi Bixon. Bambi's given name was Beatrice, but nobody called her that.

Bambi was one of the stalwart group that meets once a week to study the Hebrew Bible, hoping to get to all 24 books of it . Bambi was one of that group.

She was born in Brooklyn, married, had one son.

Bambi was a woman of sublime intellect, razor-sharp inquisitiveness, wonderful sense of humor and asked and gave no quarter. She had a difficult life, but found sublime satisfaction with her relationship with friends in Iceland. She went there every summer.

She loved things Norse, and I hope when she gets to heaven, as she surely will, it appears to her as the Hall of the Valkyrie.

She was a tough lady, a feminist to the end, and we will all miss her. She would rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, and if there is any justice, she will get to laugh with the saints, because she certainly belongs there.

Her funeral was a traditional Jewish affair that she helped plan as her final illness progressed as she knew it would. But in my heart of hearts, I would have loved to see her on a Viking ship, sailing slowly into the sunset as the flaming arrows set it afire.

Fare well, Bambi.

Until next time...

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