For those of you who may not be familiar with that other newspaper, The Wall street Journal you might be interested to know that obituaries have been put back as part of the paper. Well, not daily obituaries, and not by Stephen Miller, but a guaranteed layout of three obituaries in the Weekend Edition, the one encompassing Saturday and Sunday.
The Journal is hardly what it once was, a strictly financial newspaper. Ever since Rupert Murdoch took over several years ago the paper has become more of a general interest paper. even with a sports columnist, Jason Gay, and others.. When Rupert took over the paper, you could count on some days plowing through 5 sections. It was rather robust. But even Rupert can't staunch the flow of readers away from print. The paper these days is still general interest, but the articles are shorter, there are only two sections, and the heftiness is gone. The paper is on a diet, and frankly some days is downright anemic. Rolled up, it would hardly swat mosquitoes. It is not worth the now $4.00 newsstand price they are asking for it.
But who pays retail? Digital or home delivery is what the papers want, and they offer home delivery discounts. Thus, I don't pay full freight. A charge I would be reluctant to pay, when also wanting to buy the New York Times print edition, which is now $3.00. Spending $7.00 a day at a newsstand would be a budget buster, even if I was working full-time, or any time at all.
James R. Hagerty generally gets to have three obituaries appear in the weekend edition. The arrangement gives the reader a main obit, three columns, about half a page, of someone, usually connected with business, alongside two smaller obits, two columns apiece, and much shorter. These smaller obits are almost like speed dating. A few paragraphs, short on ancestral trees and survivors. They are an ESPN highlight reel is there ever was one.
Consider Gerhard Andlinger from a few weeks ago. The years beneath the name give us the boundaries of his life: 1931-2017. The headline: 'Essay-Writing Contest Launched Entrepeneur'
The breathless details:
- As a boy in Austria during WW II Gerhard stole sweet potatoes and brought home coal from the train tracks that fell off the coal cars.
- The New York Herald Tribune ran an essay contest in 1948, asking high-school students in Europe to write an essay titled "The Kind of World I Would Like to Live In."
- (If you remember essays you might also remember The Herald Tribune, one of 8 daily NYC newspapers that went out of business in the 1960s, not long after a crippling newspaper strike. I still miss The Herald Tribune.)
- Gerhard wins a trip to the U.S. and meets President Harry Truman, dines at the Waldorf, becomes impressed with Princeton University (what's not to like?) and wins a scholarship there, then an M.B.A from Harvard.
- Works for McKinsey & Co. and ITT before creating his own investment firm, buying struggling companies with the mantra, "You see problems. I see opportunities."
- Gerhard is described as "tall, trim and dapper, owning a 8,300 square-foot apartment overlooking Central Park; buys an airplane and hires a yacht-racing crew.
- (Dapper. Since this is a "speed" obituary we do not know if Mr. Andlinger was married, and if so, how many times. The singer Buddy Greco was certainly dapper and was married 5 times. I'd like to think Mr. Andlinger had women draped all over him, perhaps rivaling the 84-year-old music producer Quincy Jones's assertion that he has 22 girlfriends worldwide.
- Even Mr. Andlinger's last day on earth doesn't seem so bad. He died at his home in Manhattan, in his sleep, at 86.
I don't have enough years left to catch up to Mr. Andliner when I grow up. I'm sure of it.