NUVO's 15th anniversary, which we celebrate in this issue, is more than just a milestone for us. It's also a chance to look back at the past 1.5 decades and see how our magnificent city of Indianapolis has both changed and remained unchanged simultaneously.
I like to think I've stayed because I speak for some of the people whose voices are not heard in our local media, and because I provide equal time for the right-wing stuff the evil multinational Gannett is foisting on its readers.
To me, of course, the story of NUVO has intertwined with my own life trajectory, so it's hard to be objective about that. When my first article appeared in these pages, it was as a freelance writer trying to hawk stories and B.S. to the editor, Will Higgins.
In those days, Higgins sat by himself in the downtown office of NUVO, chain-smoking and rewriting every last word you gave him. He was the best I've ever seen at taking a mediocre story and recasting it as a great one.
I'd drive from my home on the Southside to the closest distribution point for me, underneath Market Square Arena, and eagerly await Higgins' rewrite of my stories, knowing they'd be better than what I sent him.
Market Square Arena, of course, is gone now, and it's easy to forget just how much the city has changed since 1990. There was no Circle Centre Mall; instead, we had a series of large excavated holes in the middle of downtown. Some suggested they be made swimming pools or pay lakes.
In other ways, nothing's different. We had a liar named Bush as the president and we were then, as now, suffering from his oppressive economic policies and desire for American hegemony around the world. Optimism and hope were at all-time lows and the doomsday prophets were having a field day.
But the past decade and a half has also brought about a revolutionary change in the gathering and distribution of information. We didn't know it at the time, but 1990 was just about the last year of the dominance of the daily newspaper.
Back then, the Pulliam family published morning and afternoon newspapers, and what they said was much more influential.
These days, with the evil multinational Gannett having bought The Star, they're still publishing two papers: a crappy daily and a crappy weekly, and both of them are free. If you're still paying for The Star, you're a sucker. They're giving away thousands of copies at schools and colleges, hoping in vain someone under 50 will pick one up. Instead, they sit yellowing in the sun, their importance diminished.
If you're a current paying Star subscriber, just try canceling your subscription. They'll basically beg you to keep it and give you a next-to-nothing deal. If you insist on canceling, they'll call you every other week and keep offering you incentives.
So all the newspapers in town are free now. That's a big change. The ones owned by the evil multinational are bland and tasteless, stuck between the old and new times, while ours, with its roots based in the great alternative press of the 1960s, continues to poke and prod at the rich and powerful.
No recap of NUVO's existence would be complete without a reference to the late Harrison Ullmann, the old-school dean of dissent who helped give us our identity in the 1990s. His long essays and tales of Hoosier life were classic and the man himself an overbearing giant. He recognized the changing times and built a bridge of integrity between the eras, commanding the respect of old and young alike.
He was, literally, a general who ambled in and out of the office. He'd stop in of a morning, make sure no crises were looming, then would walk over to the Monon Coffee Co. for a couple cups of java and tons of talk. He wasn't afraid to summon you there with him and bitch you out if he felt you needed it, either.
He was my friend and my colleague and when he died in 2000, it was a big blow to me personally and professionally. But it's not a cliche to say his spirit lives on here, in our dedication to social justice and our humor and our shared values. Ullmann was a pragmatic Democrat who would reach out to reasonable Republicans, in the days when those existed.
He also made it possible for me to start writing this weekly column in the summer of 1993. That's 12 years of 52 opportunities to speak to my fellow citizens of Indianapolis. I wrote it in the middle of the night on a shitty computer then, and I still do now. That hasn't changed, nor has the picture of me that accompanies this column changed since 1999, partially out of vanity and partially out of a desire for anonymity.
I started at NUVO as a 25-year-old curmudgeon and sit here today as a 40-year-old one. People always want to know what it's like to work here. It's great. My colleagues are all nice people and my bosses relatively kind, although I've escaped the hangman's noose at work more times than I'd like to think.
I like to think I've stayed because I speak for some of the people whose voices are not heard in our local media, and because I provide equal time for the right-wing stuff the evil multinational Gannett is foisting on readers.
So much has changed. So much is the same. Such is the cruel trick of time. But I'm proud to have been a part of this newspaper for the last 15 years and look forward, Lord willing, to many more years of being the hillbilly you love to hate.
Thank you, readers, those 100,000+ freethinking individuals out there. Thank you for supporting me over the years and thanks for continuing to support my great friend and benefactor, NUVO Newsweekly. It's an honor.