Cleaning out a file folder labeled “News Clips Pre-1995” yields the following throwaways:
August 5, 1987: “Whiteheads Tell of a Separation: Call Marriage an ‘Inevitable Casualty’ of Baby M Case”
Runaway surrogate moms were a better story 20 years ago. Today we have Britney Spears! And Madonna versus Tanganyika! Why did I save this clipping so long? My only thoughts on babies are that, without them, there wouldn’t be dead baby jokes. In the best line from this New York Times story, the Whitehead’s attorney blamed “the extra stress placed upon [the] marriage by the public discussion of private matters.” He went on to insist, “Mr. and Mrs. Whitehead love each other very much.”
August 6, 1987: “Man Storming Pentagon Offices Is Shot to Death by Security Guard”
A clipping like this happens when you subscribe to the Times and feel solely responsible for documenting American history. My motto should have been, “Remember the Times Index and put away your scissors!” Dwain Wallace, crazy guy—”had been under psychiatric care in Ohio earlier this year”—tried to get past guards with a pistol, maybe to shoot up the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but the guards plugged him right through the heart.
July 26, 1989: Brief item announces Ed McMahon had filed for divorce from his wife, Victoria
I used to save anything related to Johnny Carson and “The Tonight Show.” Victoria was 22 years younger than McMahon. About four years after the divorce, he married Pam Hurn, who was about 30 years younger. Considering recent developments, it’s likely she didn’t get either the wealth or status she’d bargained on when she married the Second Banana.
February 20, 1990: “‘Fantasies’ fueled success, Monaghan says”
Because I covered the vintage car auction scene for Automobile and Monaghan was a player on that scene, I must have thought this Ann Arbor News story would come in handy if I ever was called upon to write a cover story or a full-length profile feature. I could mine the News’s piece for such nuggets as this: “I had a very unsophisticated beginning, [but] sometimes the less you know, the better off you are. Just find a plan quick-and-dirty and do it. Those people that plan and plan and plan but never do anything just make me sick.” I was never called upon to write about Monaghan. Thank God! After a while, this humble guy, who kept appearing in the press, started to make me sick, and my clipping stopped.
April 30, 1992: “9 Dead in L.A. Riot: Street violence flares following verdict in videotaped beating case.”
After 17 years, I’d forgotten about the Rodney King verdict and the following riots. On parole for a robbery conviction, King was driving drunk when the police chased him. A King update, courtesy of Wikipedia:
- After riots, receives $3.8 million in civil case, starts hip-hop label
- 1993: crashes car into a wall in downtown L.A., goes into alcohol rehab
- 1995: Sentenced to 90 days for hit and run after knocking down his wife with the car, bringing to mind his famous, “Can’t we all get along?”
- 2003: Breaks his pelvis after slamming SUV into a house, drunk, fleeing cops for running red light
- 2007: Takes birdshot blast to face, arms, back, torso from thieves who try to steal his bicycle (resolves to go back to driving)
December 1993: “Irons in the Fire,” by John McPhee
Twenty New Yorker pages about cattle brands! Once invested in something like this, how can I dare to let it go?
December 30, 1993: “Heeding the Call of the Autobahn: Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic by Car Window”
Those alluring photos of gray skies, sleet, and people wrapped in heavy coats—how could I have not heeded the call myself? Maybe it’s the reporter’s telling observation: “I got lost trying to find my sleeping quarters in Prague, but I wasn’t surprised. The same thing happened in Berlin and Warsaw, and virtually every other city I had visited.”
March 1, 1993: “Arthur Ashe Remembered,” by John McPhee.
Susan had read Ashe’s memoir. I wasn’t a particular fan—just my curatorial obsesessiveness getting out of hand.
December 1994: “The Longest Yard: Howie Long is the Foxy face of the TV gridiron”
Recently retired from the playing field, Long admits, “I can’t go to bed without a room being clean. I don’t know why that is.” He also says he wouldn’t care if a fellow is gay. “If you can play defensive tackle, please line up.”
May 30, 1994: “Hillary the Pol: Hilary Rodham Clinton has navigated difficult territory as Bill Clinton’s full partner, and throughout her career she has shown a remarkable resiliency and a willingness to reposition herself as many times as necessary to get the job done—her way”
This one spanned more than 40 New Yorker pages. Something I’ve learned when filing away any long piece is to underline the key passages as a way of quickly reacquainting myself with the high points. As for Hillary, how my perceptions of her have changed in the past 15 years! The low point was during the primary campaign when she looked miserable knocking back a shot and a beer in a Pennsylvania bar. It was as bad as John Kerry’s goose-hunting expedition in Ohio a couple of days before the 2004 general election. Nevertheless, this is an exhaustive treatment of the subject Hillary, and I remember it being very well written by Connie Bruck. Maybe I’ll surprise one of my young nieces by sending it in the mail.