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The [Sunday] Papers

The Tribune's campaign against youth (and the ever-so-dangerous Internet) continues apace on Sunday, this time in a story about "emo" culture in the Q section that is so predictably misguided and laughable it's more of a bore than an outrage.

The formula is the same one that's been employed for years in wonder of other youthful, music-based subcultures, including goth, grunge, punk, and metal:

Discover dispossessed teens.

Disparage their unapproved clothing and haircuts.

Dismiss their emotional pain as posing.

Fail to ask why so many kids feel so shitty, generation after generation. (Hint: It's usually upon discovery of what a crappy and crooked world has been bequeathed to them.)

Rinse. Repeat. Recycle.

Just once I'd like to see a take on what's really alarming about youth culture: The continued dominance of jocky Homecoming kings, vacant cheerleaders, and student councilors getting an early start on vapid lives of ego-fed exploitation of those searching for more meaning in their lives than which house they will rush in college and which suburb they will live in afterwards while pulling down a paycheck as a clueless corporate hack.

Instead, the Tribune treats us to whopping revelations about teenagers who - brace yourself - dabble in prescription drugs and pen dark entries into their online diaries!

Reporter Barbara Mahany's particular angle in this story is that emo kids, like all behavorial problems, are getting younger.

"In Chicago, you can find the ever-more-youthful emo trend from Hyde Park to Lincoln Park, Rogers Park to Beverly," Mahany writes. "In the suburbs, it's in junior highs from Aurora to Schaumburg, Wilmette to Hinsdale, Homewood to Arlington Heights."

Was Kurt Cobain really referring to this sort of media coverage when he sang about feeling stupid and contagious?

"[Emo] has spread, thanks to the Internet, faster than you can type, 'Seeking desolate landscape populated by preteens,'" Mahany writes.

If only the Internet weren't around to unite lonely kids instead of letting them suffer in silence the way we did.

In a sidebar, "Be Savvy About Emo Culture," we're told that "Emo, however, is not for outcasts." If emo is now trendy, and it may be in what is its third or fourth wave, it really isn't, by definition, emo anymore. In fact, Tribune rock critic Greg Kot said three years ago that, "As a fresh idea, (emo) is probably over." Kot pointed out then that as early as 1991 Seattle bands made fun of those using the grunge label, but a label is what cultural gentrifiers use in order to commoditize what they are about to steal. Look for emo to show up in the Tribune's fashion coverage soon.

But these kids are cutting!

Yes. They cut before emo, and they'll cut after it's long gone. Kids will mope and resist and confound, and God bless 'em. But instead of treating them like aliens from another planet, let's investigate the very real sources of their pain.

As for the posers, well, you'll know them because they'll be the popular kids trying to get hip.

In the meantime, the media will continue to propagate the notion that each generation is worse than the previous one. It's almost enough to forget that sensitive 70s singer-songwriter James Taylor - some might call his stuff really hardcore emo - was a junkie. Less acceptable is the catalog of dreck he foisted on the world, which, I'm guessing, lives on in the collections of many a Tribune reporter and editor. Because that seems to be about the time when youth culture turned dark and incomprehensible to their narrow minds.

Parentcore: "If the story is true, it must mean that parents are much worse these days," says Beachwood special affairs editor Tim Willette. "I mean, all these kids are screwed up, right?"

Slow News Nation
The cover story of the Tribune's Sunday magazine this week celebrates the 100th anniversary of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, but fails to note the showing of the book's latest mantle-inheritor, Fast Food Nation, at Cannes. Maybe in a hundred years.

Stone's Throw
Halfway into Fran Spielman's paean about how well neighborhood repairs are going in the wake of a City Hall housecleaning, Ald. Bernie Stone, the city council's buildings committee chairman, says "he'll believe the Daley administration's promises of additional neighborhood work when he sees it."

Maybe Stone and Spielman ought to trade jobs.

Police Puzzle
Mary Mitchell writes thoughtfully - again - on the bizarre and sad case of the California woman who fell, jumped, or was thrown from a seventh-floor window of the remaining building of the Robert Taylor Homes.

Penny Lane
It's not fans downloading songs who are ripping off artists. It's their record companies. Jim DeRogatis breaks it down.

Service Revolver
"A front-page article on Friday about the confirmation hearing for Gen. Michael V. Hayden as director of the Central Intelligence Agency misstated the color of his uniform in some copies. As an Air Force Officer, Hayden wears what the service calls Air Force blue, a color slightly lighter than navy; he does not wear navy blue."

- New York Times

In other military news, the United States Air Force announced it would no longer purchase clothing from Old Navy.

Condo Boom
"While all eyes have been focused on the downtown Chicago condominium market, condo construction has been booming in the suburbs as well, a new study indicates," the Tribune reported on Saturday.

I wish some eyes would be on the dramatic transformation of the neighborhoods between downtown and the suburbs - you know, the place where most Chicagoans live.

None Of That Jazz
A Tribune letter-writer points out that the jazz station recommended by former Tribune editor Jack Fuller in a recent Op-Ed has been off the air for years (since 2003), among other fallacies in his arguments about the popularity of jazz.

Tollway Taxes
Ralph Martire fairly frames the issue of privatizing the state's tollways - while raising questions about the city's sell-off of the Skyway, which has gone unquestioned by the press.

Romance in Durango
"A Durango woman issued a court summons to The Durango Herald, its publisher and its chairman on Thursday, demanding the newspaper compensate her for her attempt to uncover what she believes is a conspiracy to suppress the truth about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

If I had a dollar for every conspiracy The Durango Herald was at the center of . . .

- Tim Willette

Cop Block
By the way, The Durango Herald is podcasting its police blotter.

Telco Talk
Rhodes: Mark Shields said tonight on Jim Lehrer that lawyers for the phone companies spent hours wording their denials about the NSA story.

Willette: Well, they do have unlimited nights & weekends to hash these things out.

In Today's Reporter
See Cubs Conflict: Team Blue About Tribune Coverage for the latest reason why a newspaper company shouldn't own a baseball team.

The [Monday] Papers will be posted later today.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Emoting daily.


Posted on May 22, 2006

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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