My first ever job was at the age of 13, delivering newspapers for the Ann Arbor News. From this experience, I learned the joys of honest work, self-reliance, blowing my paycheck on comic books and candy, getting shaken down for spare change by my customers’ high-school-aged sons, getting threatened with a thorough ass-kicking by the fathers of those sons when I questioned their family’s entrepreneurial spirit, how to spot the early warning signs of frostbite while pushing a shopping cart full of Sunday editions through 3-foot-high snowdrifts, and the joys of waking hallucinations while attempting to deliver papers in minus-20 fahrenheit weather while running a plus-104 fahrenheit fever from my first ever case of strep throat.
All in all, a classic, Norman Rockwell-style slice of Americana.
But it appears that despite the best efforts of the Ann Arbor News to kill me off before I even lost my virginity, I have in fact not only survived, but outlived them: the “Snooze” will publish its last edition this July.
Despite our adversarial relationship during my adolescence, and despite the fact that the Snooze’s demise will be a very small footnote in the long and sad stories of the decline and fall of both the newspaper business and the state of Michigan, it’s still a tragedy: their old building downtown was a block-long monolith that buzzed with activity when I walked past it on a daily basis in high school. Hundreds of people, hundreds of jobs, now vanished like so many others from what I still think of as my “home town.” In a generation, nobody will remember they were even there.