Opinion » Street Talk

Shredder’s gone wild

It’s as white as a bleached polar bear eating frozen rice off of a blank sheet of typing paper. Whiter, even.

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Spring Break is literally just around the corner for Cal Poly students. Seriously. It called me and asked me to tell you that it’s running a little late, but it’ll be here in a few minutes. It just stopped off at the liquor store to get a couple more kegs and some red plastic cups. Also, it thinks your sister’s hot, but don’t say I’m the one who tipped you off. Spring Break told me that in confidence. I just thought you should know.

 When it arrives, Spring Break officially marks the annual Poly student migration to places with plenty of sun, a large Spanish-speaking population, and relaxed morals. Basically, they go to Mexico or Florida.

 Once there, wherever “there� happens to be this year, they squeeze their curvy or chiseled lily-white bodies into bikinis and board shorts, respectively, in a ritual that culminates in tequila body shots, random groping, and mass coupling, preferably in front of an MTV camera. Most girls come back from Spring Break beach blowouts with a hitchhiker: an intestinal parasite, a baby, a desperate boyfriend, or all three. Oh, and, if she’s lucky, she’ll have a tan.

 Be careful, you crazy Cal Poly kids. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen. Your gleaming white bodies are particularly prone to sunburn and skin cancer, especially when compared to students from other schools around the state. You’re not as white as Chico, Sonoma, or Humboldt, but you’re certainly not going get a free subscription to Ebony anytime soon, unless you mark the wrong box on the survey card, like I did.

 I know all this because, in the week before Spring Break, the Tribune ran a story about Cal Poly’s dwindling ethnic mix, noting that the bulk of the student bodies are whiter than ever. You’re all so white, aerial shots of the campus have been mistaken for pictures of the recent local snowfall.

 The daily paper may not win a Pulitzer for its coverage of our hometown college’s monochromacity (I made that word up). In fact, I know it won’t, mainly because anyone who sets foot on the campus for more than a few seconds could tell you that it’s as white as a bleached polar bear eating frozen rice off of a blank sheet of typing paper. Whiter, even. So dazzlingly white, it hurts your eyes.
 I shouldn’t make fun of the Tribune, though. Not when the staff writers and photographers and editors there are biting each other’s fingernails after the McClatchy company announced it is buying Knight Ridder, the corporate teat at which the Tribune has sucked for the past half-a-dozen-or-so years.

 McClatchy chairman and chief executive officer Gary Pruitt now holds the cards for the Tribune. It looks like the daily has thus far avoided any sort of managerial chopping block, but who knows what the future holds? Well, I suppose the higher-ups at McClatchy do, but they’re not talking. They’re tallying their budgets and hungrily eyeing the employees they can trim like fat off a succulent lamb chop, but they’re not talking. Neither is Tribune Executive Editor Sandra Duerr, of course. If any of you new owners are listening, by the way, she’d pair well with a nice mint sauce. President and Publisher Chip Visci is more of a mango salsa sort of guy.

   But I’m proud of the Tribune for making it this far. After the sale was made public, McClatchy immediately announced that it would axe 12 other Knight Ridder papers.

 “These are terrific publications, but simply do not fit with our long-standing acquisition and operating strategies,� Gary said. Then he went back to sharpening his double-edged sword amid a shower of hellish sparks, cackling maniacally. Or so I’ve heard.

 The folks at the Trib may feel safe for now, but when you’ve seen as many of these buyouts as I have—at least in movies and on TV—you get to the point where you don’t trust anything the new owners say, especially when they use words like “cost synergies� to describe their motives. Nothing’s sacred now—except the almighty dollar, which I guarantee is looking more and more attractive to the new owners every time they reach for their wallet to buy a bag of chips and remember that they just blew $6.5 billion on a bunch of papers and people in places that they’d never even heard of until the option came up to buy.

 Former Tribune publisher Par Ridder from way back in the early 2000s must be rolling over in his grave, or counting his stacks of money, depending on whether he died recently or is still alive and got a cut of the sale. I haven’t really paid attention to him since he left a year or two ago, though, so I don’t know what’s true about him any more.

 A year or two ago? Man. Has it really been that long? Don’t answer that, Par, especially if you really are dead. ∆

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