The Tardy Times
WHERE IS  . . .

  . . . Stephanie Salter? 'On the banks
  of the Wabash, far-r-r away-y-y'



A Salter Sampler

 
   The Internet allows the Bay Area's hard-core Stephanie Salter fans to feed their habit by bookmarking her columns in the Terre Haute Tribune-Star. Go to: http://tribstar.com/opinion.

    Here are some tidbits.

Chastity vows – By all accounts, the Palins of Alaska are proof that, even in the best of regular, church-going, conservative Christian families, ferocious reproductive hormones can and do cause young people to forget chastity pledges and the frequent consequences of unprotected sex.

Politics
– After all, presidential politics, in general, have become as much about our individual projections on the candidates as they are about the reality of the candidates.?? The last eight years, for example, were made possible by people who deeply believed that a Yankee blue-blood, Ivy Leaguer and reformed alcohol abuser was really just a clod-kickin’ everyday Joe who’d fit right in over brewskies at the corner pub.

Tune cooties – Scientists call the condition “earworms” or “stuck song syndrome.” Slang terms abound, including “audio virus,” “melodymania,” “repetunitis” and (my favorite) “tune cooties.” They all describe songs that lodge in the brain and won’t leave.??For the past couple of weeks, I have been besieged by a particularly nasty earworm: Mungo Jerry’s 1970 ditty, “In the Summertime.” (Not enough to have the same song looping ’round and ’round, it has to have one of the most offensive lyrics written in the past 50 years: “If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal/ If her daddy’s poor then do what you feel.”)?? When and why did Mungo Jerry’s song crawl in? I know not. Every time I think it’s finally gone, it starts wiggling around and making my head burn and throb.

Opera – For me, Pavarotti’s voice was a lovely tangle of contradictions that succeeded. It pierced, but without any trace of pain. It caressed, but with a man's hand that demanded – ever so subtly – complete surrender.
   
Spam – If it’s survival-of-the-fittest in cyberspace, spammers are the equivalent of cockroaches in the bricks-and-mortar realm. They will crawl out from the rubble of a nuclear holocaust.

Iraq – As a people, the Iraqis never asked us to invade their country or to establish an instant democracy. They couldn’t ask. We made the decision on our own with advice from “experts” such as Ahmad Chalabi, who’s spent 45 of his 62 years in exile from his homeland. We told the world it was about weapons of mass destruction. Then, suddenly, it was about “bringing democracy” to millions of people we’d only recently helped to deprive of medicines, proper food and materiel.

More Politics
      (1) Thinking of going into politics? Your life will be covered in Velcro. Everything and everyone you encounter will stick to you. Forever.
       (2) It’s a wonder any sane person tosses his or her hat into a political ring these days. How would you like to go about your work day – and many supposedly private endeavors – knowing that every word you utter could return to you as a gloating “Gotcha!”? 
       (3) The problem is, politicians are people.

Jobs – This is the United States of America. CEOs and Wall Street tycoons are making more money than they can spend in a lifetime. Never in the history of the country have there been so many millionaires and billionaires. The only level of retail sales that haven’t been hurt by the sagging economy is luxury goods. But in Terre Haute,  and in hundreds of cities and towns like it, there aren’t nearly enough jobs for good, industrious people who want to work. That’s a national disgrace and I hate it. 

The Guild stalwart can't help it; she's one of the bosses

ONCE YOU LEARN the words to “Solidarity Forever,” she wrote, it's hard to get them out of your head. With that, our beloved Stephanie Salter concluded yet another column. But not in San Francisco. Not since 2003.
     Back home in Indiana, she wrote: “My heart is a union heart. My head remembers why unions ever formed and grew in this country.” It was her way of announcing the unthinkable. She had just resigned from the Newspaper Guild, her union at the Terre Haute Tribune-Star. She’s now in (shudder) management.
   It’s been her newspaper since 2003. That was the year the Chronicle inexplicably dropped her column. Liberal, sensible and eloquent, she had enlivened the San Francisco paper’s once-moribund op-ed page for nearly three years. She came over to the morning paper when it was sold in 2000 to the Hearst Corp., which kept the Examiner staff but sold the nameplate to the Fangs.
    Although then-publisher John Oppedahl called her “top talent” at the time of the merger, he killed her column three years later because it didn’t “resonate” with him. Oppedahl, who ranks just below Reg Murphy in the Gazoot Gazette Pantheon of Publisher Fizzles, was kicked out himself just six months later. (Oppedahl resonates these days as a glib “consultant” in Arizona, telling an association of editorial writers last year that they should have “a singular reputation in the community for fostering democracy’s debate.”)
    It’s okay to laugh.
                        ><
WHEN Stephanie was resonated off the op-ed page, democracy’s debate was fostered by hundreds of subscribers.
    They shouted their dismay from the Fifth Street sidewalk in a futile protest of Oppedahl’s edict and the supine silence of Stephanie’s  alleged friend, Phil Bronstein, then the Chronicle editor.   
   The newspaper's management bigwigs stared at the shouting Stephanie fans. The were overheard to say, fearlessly, they would not bend to pressure by demonstrators. Really. They said that. (Except for Phil, who was kicked downstairs, not one of them is still at the paper.)
    Stephanie, relegated to feature writing, soon quit the Chronicle. She found someone to rent her home in Bernal Heights. Then she left for he banks of the Wabash far away, to Terre Haute, her home town, to help care for her dying father.
    She stayed to take a job at the 34,000-circulation Star Tribune. After all, the Lyric Opera of  Chicago is only a few hours away.
                 ><
IN HER management job, as “assistant editor for opinion and commentary,” she also oversees the community and obituary desks. She writes editorials and two columns a week. Her opinions are not exactly commonplace in Community Media Holdings Inc., the empire that includes the Trib-Star. It’s a chain of more than 200 small-town dailies, mostly in the South and Southwest, with headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.
   Although Indiana is a so-called red state where “Hoosier” is rarely coupled with “liberal,” Terre Haute is a blue-collar city of 60,000 with plenty of college students, Democrats and unions (it was the home town of Eugene Debs). Stephanie fits right in, but she misses the San Francisco Opera and, presumably, the opportunity to sing "Solidarity Forever."
    
                    - Lynn Ludlow


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