Emerson said, If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.
There are corollaries. When the miraculous becomes mundane, people complain about it. Think about air travel. And, When the awful becomes common, people tend to ignore it.
The latter is the risk for Santa Barbara in respect to its landmark newspaper, the News-Press. To put the SBNP in perspective, both the paper and the city’s offices overlook De La Guerra Plaza in the middle of town. The paper’s building is larger and far more pretty and imposing. And, of course, it’s currently trying to bully the city about how the plaza is improved. The paper’s hostility to the mayor and other elected officials is a matter of editorial policy. And that’s far from the whole of it.
The proprietress of the paper is Wendy McCaw, who may be setting new records for litigious obstinacy by a newspaper owner. The “meltown” of the paper is now moving on two years in age, and progresses toward closure on an asymptotic curve: one with a long tail of decay akin to the half-life of Strontium 90 — one that constantly approaches but never arrives at a conclusion.
I’m not in Santa Barbara enough these days to sense how inured folks are to the awfulness of a civic landmark going through a screaming divorce from its constituency while still cohabitating with it. But I do fear for the town becoming a bit too accepting of an unpleasant situation that shows too few signs of ending.
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