There are two monthly scheduled curbside pick-ups of recyclables in my town. On the second Tuesday morning of each month, an enormous blue toploader makes its way slowly up and down the streets, alternately roaring, wheezing and groaning at the application of accelerator, clutch and brake. It stops at every house and two men drag barrel after barrel of cans, bottles, and household plastics away from the curb toward the truck, emptying the contents of each into a rear-mounted conveyor. The conveyor fills rapidly and is then hoisted hydraulically into the air and rotated, so that its payload can rain down amid a thunderous clamor into the toploader’s interior. It’s a long, laborious and loud undertaking that virtually precludes sleeping late on that particular morning.
On the fourth Tuesday of every month, the same big blue toploader cruises the streets of our town, braking only for stop signs and foolhardy squirrels. Usually, you have to be specifically listening for it, to even recognize that it has come and gone. The same two guys who endure a back-breaking day of frantic labor on the second Tuesday of each month have it easy on the fourth Tuesday. They hardly need disembark from their truck at all. It’s newspaper/magazine recycling day in my town.
The current recession has been particularly tough on newspapers. Dailies in Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities have closed shop for good, while flagship publications like the Washington Post, LA Times, and Boston Globe are bleeding to death. Once-popular magazines like Time, Newsweek, and the New Yorker aren’t doing any better. Once it’s all over, what will be left? My guess is, the two “papers of record,” The New York Times and The Washington Post. One center-left paper, one center-right paper.