And now it's Derf Backderf's turn: "Coach wants to see you. Bring your sketchbook."
This is the last "The City" strip, at least, the last one in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which joins other Advance Publications newspapers next week in going to a four-day-a-week home delivery schedule, and not only eliminates the section his weekly strip was in, but also (for the purposes of subscribers) the day it was on.
(Derf's brilliant book "My Friend Dahmer" is something you should own. This would be an excellent time to buy it.)
Some people -- mostly on the outside -- are going to say, well, there you go. Print is dead; long-live the Internet.
The whole print/online medium thing is spectacularly not the point.
In fact, the whole "journalism" thing is spectacularly not the point, as the new president of the reformed company blithely, if indirectly, says in that above-linked article:
“When we launch the Northeast Ohio Media Group on August 5th, the foundation of the team will be sales and marketing executives from Cleveland.com, The Plain Dealer and Sun News ... That integration of expertise, along with some very talented new hires, is paramount to our mission.”
New hires? Show me. They're going to be laying off people in the newsroom, and not just Derf. But, hey, gotta break some eggs to make an omelet, right?
This is not a case of sitting by the bedside of an aging grandparent, holding his hand as he gradually slips away.
It's like being married to a junkie or a compulsive gambler or a real-life-and-therefore-not-funny Ralph Kramden, watching him blow one opportunity after another, watching him fail at every possible chance to climb out of the hole, waiting for that late-night phone call that won't be him stuck without money miles from home or maybe in jail for something stupid but fixable.
No, it will be someone official, telling you he screwed up one last time and in a way that can't be fixed.
And, while you lose sleep waiting for that call, you get to hear him explain every stupid, ill-conceived, ridiculous plan along with an excited, optimistic storyline of how it's going to make everything better, and you start out listening and believing, but, after awhile, you just listen and no longer believe, while a little voice within you says, "Here we go again," and yet there you sit.
So Advance Publications explains how cutting back on content and delivery is going to save the industry, and that little voice asks, "Why am I falling for this?" but you want to believe, so you don't say it aloud.
Besides, rich people in expensive suits say it will work, and they should know.
In the Honeymooners scenario, those guys in expensive suits hand out fancy brochures that explain how rich Ralph is going to be once he becomes a distributor for Magic Elixir and gets all his friends to become distributors and gets them to host get-togethers to show all their friends how great Magic Elixir is.
It's gotta be legit -- look at how fancy the brochure is. Look at how expensive their suits are. Look at how lucky Ralph was to be invited in on the ground floor of this fabulous opportunity for such a low, low investment.
And what an honor it is for him to be trusted to stand there and hold the bag.
Same deal. And stop blaming the Internet. It's not about the Internet.
Look around. Do you see any naked people? No. People still buy clothes, and it's not some inevitable consequence of progress that they're wearing clothes made by underpaid, exploited workers in Bangladesh instead of by well-paid workers in the United States.
The guys in the expensive suits made a conscious decision to shut down their American factories and go overseas, and, after all, what's good for the syndicate is good for all of us.
Similarly, people still want to know what's going on. The Internet is the sweatshop that tells them.
And you can talk about how the "industry" is going down, but the geniuses at corporate aren't the ones losing money any more than the owners of the clothing industry are losing money.
They're stockholders, not publishers, and they're not there to make newspapers. They're there to make profits, and they're in about as much danger of losing out as that guy handing out the fancy brochures about Magic Elixir distributorships.
It's not about the freaking elixer: It's about the distributorships. And it's not about the freaking newspapers.
Newspapers are viable. You can set up a good local newspaper and make enough money to pay your staff, cover your costs and still have a nice house on the hill and a new car.
Just as, assuming Magic Elixir actually worked, you could make a nice living selling it through drug stores and markets, maybe on the Internet and by mail order, to people who wanted to cure whatever it cured.
Newspapers still work, but it stopped being about the freaking newspapers back in the 1980s when the guys in the fancy suits started buying up family-owned papers and turning them into massive publicly-traded franchises.
Then they cut back their costs, cannibalizing what they could and eliminating what they couldn't consume or spin off, to maximize P/L and spike stock prices, and the fact that they screwed up the central product was irrelevant, because the "central product" was now the stock, not the newspapers.
Cutting back the size of the paper and the number of days you deliver it is not a plan to do anything more than slow the train down enough that the guys in suits can safely jump off before it plows into the wall.
In other words, when Alice makes Ralph go back and get a refund for his investment in the Magic Elixir Company, he's going to find an empty office, because the guys with the fancy brochures have skipped out. They never paid their rent, they didn't pay the printer and there never was any Magic in the freaking Elixir.
Of course, it's only a metaphor. The Magic Elixir guys had to head for Costa Rica to stay one step ahead of the law.
The stocktraders can stay right here and do it again to another industry and to another set of workers.
They don't have to stay one step ahead of the law. As John Oliver noted about Detroit's bankruptcy, the government will step in to prop up General Motors, but when it comes to pension and retirement promises?
Tell Grandpa it was only business. We always liked him.