Revision Street: Tom Shepherd (II)
Tom grew up on the South Side. Although he spent a few years living in the suburbs, he came back to the South Side after retiring . . . and now, he says, he’s back in action.
A friend of mine who I visit in Florida every year, he grew up over here and moved to the north side as soon as he could get out of the household. He helped to open my eyes to another world on the other side of Madison Street. He used to bring the Reader out. He’d say, Tom, I’m gonna bring the Reader—you know what it was like. It used to be, Oh man, I gotta haul this Reader down, it’s gonna be another few pounds. And now it’s like, I’ll put it in my back pocket. I brought my friend in Florida the Reader and he was—I thought he was gonna break down in tears when I brought it out. It’s just like every other publication, eradicated practically. All those writers they had, and those full feature articles that you don’t find anymore.
I can’t stand picking up the newspaper and seeing something that’s presented as a story that you know was just hand-delivered as a fluff piece from a corporation. And then people pick that up and read it and say well it was written.
I’ve always been a crazy newshound my whole life. I’m not ashamed to say I read Al Jazeera because we’re not getting the story here. The Guardian used to be pretty—all of them have been co-opted and during eight years of Bush-Cheney, through threats and intimidation, financial manipulations, whatever it took, they had co-opted the entire industry, destroyed editorial independence. It’s a sad thing, but if you pick up a paper from the Middle East, or from some independent source, you’ll see pictures or photographs of people in the streets of Iraq or Iran or Palestine, wherever, folks are sharing a newspaper. It’s just incredible. You’ll see eight people huddled around it, or a television with an Al Jezeera newscast, people all standing around ‘cause they don’t all have big 6- inch screens down in their family rooms. This is the news. And over here, it’s like people don’t want to hear the news, I’d rather watch American Idol, I’d rather hear who won the Stanley Cup. And the BP thing—that ain’t me, that’s over there.
Here I’m looking at this little publication, the bulletin of my friend Hurley Green the third, the editor/publisher. He drops these off for me and it’s like OK, something else for me to do. I got to get these papers out. I got a paper route like when I was a kid. He covers local issues and he’ll always ask, Oh what’s going on in Pullman? I’ll put it in the paper. I’m eternally grateful to him. So I’m a newsy.
We’re beginning to see the death of so many things that I grew up with and held dear and cherished, and now it’s to say goodbye to every mom and pop business, practically, is gonna be devastating not just to my memory, but I think it will be devastating to our culture, devastating to people. I don’t know how many how many interviews I’ve read written by entrepreneurs, former entrepreneurs, business people who have been put out of business in towns all across America that now have become greeters or security guards. They’re fumbling around for any kind of a job because they might have been happy operating a sporting goods, fishing/tackle store for all their lives and suddenly that is gone and they can’t go to factories for work anymore. So now what are they doing?