Supermarket Tabloids

It's the First of April All Year Round

by Bill Wines


One of my most enduring aspirations is to some day get a job as a reporter for one of those bastions of serious investigative journalism, like the Weekly World News or the Star. I think it would be great to get paid for checking out stories of pets resurrected from the dead, the annual "lost prophecies of Jesus," or the two-headed Pig Boy of Tonga.

One of the tricks of the trade, I've noticed, is how to add a veneer of respectability to a story about, say, women who have been astrally ravished by Elvis, by quoting as one of your sources "Wunderkind Blattenhoffer, professor of psychology at the Free University of Mali," or some such, who has staked his professional reputation on the authenticity of these strange accounts (which you've made up yourself).

Another neat feature is the photograph that accompanies many of the stories. Take the two-headed Pig Boy of Tonga, for example. Everyone's gonna want to see an actual photograph of this fine specimen-- otherwise, who would believe it, right? Just as long as no one studies that photograph too closely, it'll do. And it's a pretty good bet they won't spend too much time lingering over it, because they'll be itching to get to the article on the next page, the one about the guy from Pittsburgh who picks winning lottery numbers by examining clues hidden in his cat's expectorated hairballs.

Some people look down on these publications. But the irony of it is that a lot of folks who refuse to lend credence to anything they read between the covers of the Weekly World News still manage to believe every word they read in the Wall Street Journal, the contents of which are often every bit as surrealistic.

But it just wouldn't be as much fun to write for the Wall Street Journal. Besides, I don't know much about economics. The woman who receives telepathic messages from the live lobsters in the tank at Meijer's makes more sense to me than the idea that tax breaks for the rich will mean a better life for the dude who waxes the floors at the mall.

I guess you have to have a Ph.D. to understand these things. But that's okay. I can always rely on that renowned expert on crustaceans, Professor Hiram Doolittle of Southwestern Alabama State Teacher's College, to explain the lobster thing in simple terms that even a third-grader could grasp.

That's more than I can say for the economist from Carnegie-Mellon.

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