The last-ever issue of the New York Press (RIP) hit newsstands yesterday, with a cover highlighting many of the reporters, critics, essayists, artists and editors who’ve contributed over the years, including of course current Village Voice political reporter Harry Siegel, the paper’s editor for a few months in 2005 and 2006, before quitting in protest at the publishers. And really, the Press couldn’t have gone out any other way:
“Harry Sigel.” Many times. (Also weird job splitting up names with the big white names.) Additional head-scratchers and -smackers:
-This is the second time in recent years that the Press has gone with the “names of the dear departed” cover, hearkening back to its colorful history—they did so previously in 2008, for their 20th anniversary issue. Now as then, original Press editor John Strausbaugh is among the bandied-about names; in 2008, he wrote in to object:
I have not been, and would not be, associated with the New York Press since the pigfuckers who bought it from Russ Smith unceremoniously canned me, via a phone call from a flunky, two days before Christmas 2002. Merry Xmas, Mr. Strausbaugh, and rots a ruck. So I was surprised to see my name on the cover of the “20th Anniversary” issue (April 23-28). The roll call of fallen heroes on the cover clearly suggests we all had something to do with this issue, when obviously most of us did not, and a lot of us definitely would not. I’m guessing you meant it as a nod to the paper’s golden age, but it looks like you’re glomming on to a legacy to which you have no claim. There’s NYP 1988-2002, and then there’s whatever it’s been since. And that’s not just me gassing about the good old days. If you limited that roll call to people who came to the paper after 2002 there’d be… let’s see… four names. And the list of those who were associated with the paper 1988-2002 could have been vastly expanded (off the top of my head: Taki, Alexander Cockburn, Norah Vincent, Michael Gentile, Mimi Kramer, George Tabb, Celia Farber, Lionel Tiger, Alan Cabal, David Sedaris, JT Leroy, Danny Hellman, Christopher Caldwell, Dave Eggers, Jennifer Blowdryer, Lucian Truscott IV, Ted Castle, Takeshi Tadatsu, Michaelangelo Signorile, and let us not forget Claus von Bulow, among many, many others).
-Incidentally, almost none of the golden-age names Strausbaugh mentions above are on the cover this time, either.
-Though, wow, quite a few names on the cover departed the Press under very acrimonious circumstances. (Maybe misspelling Siegel’s name and making Strausbaugh’s big were final fuck-yous? Nah…)
-The odd selection on the cover is not entirely surprising: institutional memory at the Press is totally fucked by this point—even editor Jerry Portwood, an aughties NYC transplant who joined the paper four or five years ago, left a couple months ago ahead of the long-rumored shuttering. Their eulogy/history, “The Lifespan of An Alternative Weekly,” runs as a center spread in the current issue; 1988-2004 is on the left side of the fold, and 2005-2011 on the right (beginning with Matt Taibbi’s “52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope”). It’s an inevitable skewering towards the Google-able, but odd and regrettable in that it gives equal weight to competition from the Press forcing the Village Voice to become a free paper, and angry blog comments garnered by Jamie Peck’s article on a failed Williamsburg after-hours club.
-(Oddly, “My Greenberg Problem… And Yours,” surely the most memorable Press cover story of 2010, is absent.)
-Speaking of all that. We’re a little biased because she’s a former L intern and contributor with whom we maintain a friendly relationship, but given that Jamie probably wrote the majority of the Press‘s good cover stories over the past two years, it is actually kind of a weird oversight to have left her name off the cover.
-The last item in the lifespan is the only time this issue of the Press actually comes out and says it’s the last issue. Mostly, they assume you’ve already read about the paper’s demise elsewhere, I guess?
-In keeping with the mostly entirely sidelong acknowledgement… well, filling remnant space with goodbye messages is an interesting way to go about things, anyway:
-This one is my favorite, for the massage ads almost as much for the very, very strange entreaty given the previous ads:
Goodbye! So long, and thanks for all the memories, we say, amid bodywork ads! Also please call to inquire about ad rates, in our nonexistent newspaper.
So, New York Press! Going out with a number of perplexing ideas, sloppily executed.