Our cousins at LA Weekly caught up with our columnist and his lovely daughter at Katy Perry's gig at LA's Wiltern on Jan. 31. Read


Seattle: The Nation's Most Literate City (and Other Ramblings)

Our cousins at LA Weekly caught up with our columnist and his lovely daughter at Katy Perry's gig at LA's Wiltern on Jan. 31. Read Duff McKagan's column every Thursday on Reverb. Photo by Timothy Norris.

Sometimes it just seems the right time to ramble. I try and have a clear and concise topic here every week, but alas, it cannot always be so. Hopefully, my logic can be followed here today. But if not, I am sure some of you will let me know.

The sad news that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer may soon be a thing of the past took our area by surprise in the last month or so. Is this just another sign and result of a recession? Are we all moving toward the Internet and TV more and more for our intake of news? Or is it a "perfect storm" of these factors and other inputs?

A friend e-mailed me the other day; she had just been in Seattle on a business trip. We both belong to the same online book club that tackles some rather heavy tomes, such as Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song. In our book club, we have had discussions about how Seattle has again and again ended up on top of national "most literate city" lists. 
My friend was curious and perhaps a little appalled that one of our area newspapers may very well be closing down, and asked me why I thought this was. The easy answer, of course, is the recession. Advertising dollars are drying up, and we consumers are not as quick to throw quarters at tactile news when we can perhaps just go to their Web sites and get the news for free. Or has print news just simply lost its luster? Has the information age replaced the printing press and its product?

The fact is the P-I has been in trouble for quite a few years. Without the Seattle Times' support of shared infrastructure within the JOA, the P-I might have folded a couple of years back. And while on THIS particular topic: It is seemingly apparent that many major city newspapers are having some serious problems. The Los Angeles Times just laid off a truckload of workers, and the Detroit Free Press is also going down the crapper. But I'll get back to this in a second..

Seattle has always seemed, well, smarter than most places I visit (London and New York are also smart-seeming places to me). I've never delved into the criteria that make up a top-lister in the "literate city" category, and don't really care that much about it either. I do know that my friends and family up here do in fact read a ton. People I meet in coffee shops around town are very apt to make small talk, like anywhere else. But the small talk here will likely include something about the latest book that either of you may have read. Books are perceived as nice companions, as opposed to a nerdy habit. 

I grew up here. Reading books and making music in basements is how we while away our rainy seasons in the Pacific Northwest. As a result, we are proficient in both disciplines. Art and literature make for a gentler and more humane populace, in my opinion, and that is perhaps why people from out of town remark that "everyone is so nice" in Seattle. Brains also seem to beat out looks in the aphrodisiac department up here. Smart people get their fair share of ass in Seattle. Sweet! I am obviously on a ramble now.

Another reason I think print newspapers are on the decline is that we are on the Internet more than ever (as I stated before). Personally, I for one read the Seattle Times online. Of course, Seattle Weekly provides me with all the other entire intellectual stimulus that I would ever require. . . but seriously. We are all on our computers ALL of the time. I was surprised last week when I went to look at the "comments" page of my column, not only by the overwhelming response toThursday's article, but also by the fact that it generated a lot of talk on the social media site Digg. A lot of you probably know what this is, but I did not. So if you "Digg" this column, all of a sudden other people who don't necessarily read the Weekly but are part of the Digg community are in touch with what I am doing. Except the heading is not mine, but an inane "Ex-GNR Bassist Knows How to Use a Typewriter" or some such malarkey. Krist Novoselic and I are getting a bunch of "play" over there at Digg. My point is that news articles and op/ed columns don't just stay where they were intended, but almost simultaneously spread out all over the Web. Furthermore, if I even use a key phrase like "Led Zeppelin," this too will get picked up and transported. It all seems so dirty. Now that I think of it, maybe I will just go to the corner and pick up a good old print newspaper for the untaintedness of it all. 

So now this brings the topic of print newspapers and reading together perfectly for next week. My column will also be found in the print version of the Valentine's Day issue of SW. Dating advice from me is what they wanted‚ and what you all shall receive. Until then. . .
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