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Mike Tasos: From newspaper days gone by, to Memorial Day
Mike Tasos

Back in the day when I was cutting my teeth as a journalist, there were newsrooms bursting at the seams with Woodward and Bernstein wannabes scouring any parking garage for a deep-throated source. 

A perfect day for them would have been a front-page expose, refusing a judge’s demand the writer reveals his source, a stretch in the county jail, with a Pulitzer being the cherry on top of the Sunday paper sundae.

While colleagues memorized All the President’s Men, I religiously read Sports Illustrated. If you spotted me in a parking facility, Dodger Stadium or the L.A. Coliseum was a peanut’s throw away.

At daily meetings, while editors mimicked what they saw on the big screen by doling out which section got the most space, all I cared about was what was on the menu: football or the fights.

While writers clamored for scandal, I prayed that the sports page editor would be minimally coherent when he returned from a three-hour liquid dinner break. After watching him sit at his desk with his eyes closed, my intrepid reporter mind deduced he wasn’t asleep or thinking.

He was passed out. Gas from his basement and chimney was an obvious tell.

My prize was nothing close to a Pulitzer, but rather a pair Dodger press passes that allowed me and a friend to act like Oscar Madison having dinner with Vin Scully, tormenting an always volatile Tommy Lasorda, and watching batting practice right outside the cage. 

There wasn’t an award winner within three football fields and a par-5 of the newspaper, but we did have an editor who had a famous Washington Post editor as a relative. I think our celebrity was a fourth cousin twice removed on his mama’s side from Ben Bagdikian.

Our bigwig used words that like “pontificating” as he railed about loquacious politicians and elected officials. As a good, although somewhat naïve Catholic, I thought the word had something to do with the Pope.

Some 40 years later, politicians have amped up their pontificating to all-pro levels. Just look at the pre-primary blather we recently experienced.

Not to mention the Yellow Pages-sized ridiculous number of ads that were crammed into the mailbox. It must’ve been a big boost to the U.S. Postal Service bottom line with all the volume. Probably better than Christmas.

And it seemed that everyone except Santa left messages on my phone. He probably couldn’t get through. All that telephone traffic had to be a veritable living hell for car warranty, Microsoft and IRS scammers unable to get a word in edgewise.

Just once, I’d like to see a guy in bib overalls on TV saying: “Ol’ Earl is OK. He doesn’t drink that much anymore and I only saw him fall asleep in church twice. His opponent, Rufus, makes change out of the collection plate and might be a Commie because he watches European soccer. He even burned the flag (no mention that it was a Tennessee Volunteer flag).”

The governor’s race muddied my personal waters. I was OK until I found out Casey Cagle is apparently no kin to Papa Kenny Cagle. That meant any chance for potential political favor flew out the window. 

My choice for the state’s top dog is now the guy who wore his shirt on his sleeve and jeans on his legs. Anyone who racks a pump shotgun in his lap while setting ground rules for his daughter’s suitor is OK. No pretense there.

Love the collaboration from anyone who offers to help the U.S. Border Patrol by rounding up illegals in his pickup, which wasn’t a Tundra, but rather as American-made as they come. Any personal ambivalence went right out the window.

I’m banking on business picking up before the July runoff. I hope to see ads featuring a bazooka and a hot-air balloon, which would be fitting for most things political.

But we should put any election on the back burner for now.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day and before you fire-up the grill, I would implore you to take a moment to offer a prayer of thanks for all military folks who paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

And while you’re at it, offer up a prayer for Marine Recruit Jud Howard, whose world is now boot camp on Parris Island, South Carolina.

Also, offer one up for his parents. His dad and my dear friend, Jon, is hurting. He really misses his son. 


Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. His father and uncles served in the military. Only one is still with us. Thanks Uncle Jim for your service. Comments can be sent to miketasos@earthlink.net. He is also on Facebook.