Sunday, October 2, 2011

Goodbye, Parkville Luminary

NOTE: The following is the "obituary" I wrote in the last edition of my hometown newspaper, The Parkville Luminary, which was one of the best weekly newspapers anywhere. Thanks, editor/publisher Mark Vasto, for giving me, and peace journalism, a voice.

No flowers, please

From the Parkville Luminary

There’s nothing I hate worse than our society’s death rituals, which run the gamut from maudlin to nearly barbaric.

I, for one, refuse to walk past an open casket to see the dead guy. I’d prefer to remember the live person, thankyouverymuch, even though everyone at a funeral always comments on how good the corpse looks. In fact, my aunt and I have a macabre pact. Whoever goes first, the survivor is required to march past the stiff and then pronounce, very loudly, “man, he looks like sh&*.”

I also hate the custom of wasting hundreds (thousands?) of dollars on flowers. Although I like flowers as much as the next guy, I do not want them when I am dead, since I will not be able to enjoy them as much. If you’d like to send me flowers now, I’ll gladly accept them (Park University, Copley Hall, room 210). However, if you waste one cent on flowers for me when I’m vertically challenged, I’ll haunt you.
Overall, our death rituals make a bad situation worse.

Keeping this in mind, I will neither send flowers nor stroll past the casket as we say goodbye to our good friend The Parkville Luminary this week. Instead, in the spirit of a good Irish wake, I’d prefer to remember the good times.

The best times, from a journalistic perspective, are surely the Luminary’s unswerving opposition to the cabal that runs downtown Parkville from the shadows. As a Parkville resident, I only hope that enough light has been shed on this situation to render it transparent, or more transparent, than it was before the newspaper’s crusade. I worry about who, if anyone, will be left to point out conflicts of interest and cronyism in our fair town.

There were also some awfully good times in the Luminary courtesy of the paper’s emeritus columnists Bill Grigsby and Nancy Jack. Some of my favorite times with Nancy were during the Luminary Hour, a radio show that aired on KGSP 90.5FM. I initially thought the Luminary’s publisher was picking on Nancy (“here with a comment is the Luminary’s hip-hop correspondent Nancy Jack”) until I learned that Nancy was as defenseless as a mountain lion.

The Luminary also provided an important forum for our local glitterati. I loved Dr. Don Breckon’s last piece rightly criticizing the decision not to place the KC Zoo issue on the ballot, and scratched my head at Catherine Bleisch’s column about a free-thinker’s conclave in New England. Bill Gresham appeared too infrequently, but always had something important to say. I sincerely hope their voices will not go silent.

Of course, during the last six years or so, the Luminary has also provided a platform for my odd musings, most of which had little or nothing to do with Parkville. In what other weekly community newspaper could readers hear about Ugandan orphans or my holey underwear? (My wife was accosted by a stirred up patron at a local grocery store who inquired about how she, my wife, could send me to the Republic of Georgia with only three pairs of shredded underwear).

One of the things I admire about the newspaper is its commitment to provide a range of opinions, even though the publisher clearly sits right of center politically. Thus, during the last presidential election, I was allowed to rant on about the qualities of Barak Obama even though this nauseated the publisher and most of the Luminary’s conservative readers.

So as we say goodbye to our old friend, let us remember these good times, and thank the Luminary’s publisher Mark Vasto for showing the world that newspapers are still viable, and vital, to the health of our communities. I’m sure Mark would appreciate a thank-you cocktail. However, the family requests no flowers, please.

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