No wrong way to skin a newspaper…

Over the years, I’ve received a lot of e-mails and voice messages from readers expressing their frustration with New Times by delineating highly creative uses for its pages beyond simply reading them for news content. Birdcage liner seems to be the go-to, but at least one reader threatened to use it as toilet paper, and I’ve seen it used as kindling at bonfires. Homeless people sometimes bed down near the creek with a stack of newspapers for warmth. The pages make good, cheap packing material. And, on occasion, you’ll see a citizen at a government meeting waving a rolled up newspaper at city officials and politicians during public comment period.

Far from angering or discouraging me, I find these artistic expressions of rage rather heartening. A newspaper does not have the same lifespan as a book, anymore than a hummingbird has the same lifespan as an African Grey Parrot. Once a newspaper has been exhausted of all useful information–which, as managing editor, I hope is quite a bit–in the spirit of environmental consciousness, it should be reused. If a newspaper can serve dual or even triple functions, then that’s an even better use of a tree.

In fact, come Christmas, you can often find me hunched over the drafting table in my art room, absorbed in a frenzied dissection of no fewer than one dozen copies of New Times. I look for interesting pictures, graphics, ads, Use-IMG_0702and strips of color to aid my efforts to create original wrapping paper and bows for each present. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that creating wrapping paper and bows from the local “liberal rag” as angry people are wont to refer to New Times, is not for everybody. It’s incredibly time-consuming and I invariably find myself doubting my sanity after my fingers are black from newsprint, my house looks like a confetti-filled piñata erupted in my house, and I’ve just spent an entire weekend engaged in nothing but making bows which are destined to be torn apart during the unwrapping process anyway. Still, I can’t seem to help myself. I love giving presents with personalized touches like homemade bows from a newspaper I worked hard to create. And even if I wind up appreciating them more than the recipients, well, it makes me feel good, so who cares?

Which is how I wound up in the newspaper’s conference room on Thursday morning madly disemboweling 10 copies of our May 30 issue. Our staff photographer had the idea to crowdsource funding for a laptop for NewsUse-IMG_0709 Editor Matt Fountain‘s twenty-ninth birthday. I felt bad that I couldn’t give as much money as I would have liked, so I offered to wrap the laptop and accompanying hard drive for him. It should be noted that the photo I chose for the wrapping paper was not to my personal taste. But I know Matt, and a musician in a bikini was the perfect packaging for his present. The second, smaller package containing the hard drive was wrapped in several copies of an ad from the same issue. And the bows are constructed from strips of color that line the top and bottom of the articles.


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