The Villager

Live and learn, and learn and learn.

I grew up less than a mile from the historic northern boundary of Greenwich Village.  In college I occasionally read bits of The Village Voice.  Till very recently, I’d never heard of The Villager, which pre-existed the Voice and has survived it.

The Villager was described in one online source as being all about the non-beatnik, non-gay part of the Village of the 1950s, with news about bake sales and the like.  Almost a Pennysaver, from the sound of it.  But the Voice wasn’t necessarily the breath of fresh air they supposedly needed south of 14th St. What drove the Voice to dominance turned out to be the advertising, especially for scarce apartments.

Not a driving hippie altruism hungry for classical print journalism in a new key;  but the eternal Manhattan problem of finding a pad, man.

That’s one viewpoint, of course.  And print ads were once a vital social network, before the fakery of Facebook replaced real social networks with ongoing psychological research on non-informed subjects.  A real social network doesn’t have to exist in a server, expressed by pixels.  It can be just as real, or realer, via greasy black ink on cheap paper.  The Voice served that need.

Still, it’s ironic that The Villager endured and continues to thrive.  It seems to be moderately left wing but open to a variety of viewpoints.  Ritual Trump-bashing manages to coexist with editorials that remind us that “hate is hate.” (That’s from “The Angry Buddhist,” a regular feature.)  And yes, there’s plenty now to do with the gay side of the Village, as well as its enduring artistic passion.

I miss some bits of the Voice in its heyday:  Stan Mack’s Real-Life Funnies, for example (“all dialogue guaranteed overheard”).  Overall, though, after finally spending time with the old Villager online, I feel I can get along just fine without the heavy-handed articles and sex ads of the Voice.  It ain’t the Fifties anymore, but it also ain’t the Sixties.

How did the Voice manage to suck all the oxygen out of the room?  How did I not notice?  I’ve missed a fine paper for years and years.  Shame on me.

About Jonathan B. Hall

Keyboard artist, sacred musician, teacher, writer, working in New York City and State. Many interests include music theory and history, literature, astronomy, genealogy, philosophy and theology, gardening, and good food.
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