2:20 pm Aug. 16, 2012
Each day, the New York tabloids vie to sell readers at the newsstands on outrageous headlines, dramatic photography, and, occasionally, great reporting. Who is today's winner?
Out of bondage
Though yesterday's front page rendered the tale of Frankie Santiago and her lover and BDSM partner Edward Sonderling as something out of Fifty Shades of Grey, the best-selling erotic-bondage novel, today's reveals that actually it isn't at all! The lead sentence: "She's no Anastasia Steele."
The front page sells the story a bit more aggressively.
"It hurts," reads the big knockout-white text.
Santiago is shown looking exasperated, her eyelids shut and her hand up. "Whip mistress bares her pain." And then of course there is the opportunity to run yesterday's cover, which gets the fetish-geared couple on the front page for a second day. In fact she does not bare very much at all.
From her family home in Bergenfield, N.J., Santiago tells the Post that of course it was not a matter of monogamy—something I suspected when (purely for research purposes) I went through Sonderling's photos posted on MySpace to find him quite publicly enjoying good times in latex and leather with a host of other women.
“I don’t give a f--k about the other women, because there are tons of other women. Tons," she tells the Post.“He’s a very successful man. He’s going to have a lot of women.”
The problem was that he cut off their relationship entirely.
“OK, we got into an argument," she also said. "A car window broke. Who cares?”
In February of last year, Thomas Scala, a retired longshoreman with serious medical issues stemming from diabetes, met Post reporters outside his home on Staten Island.
"I've got no comment. Talk is cheap. Get the f---k off my property. You ain't seen me here," Scala told them before mooning them and then driving off in his Acura S.U.V.
Back then, his Post nickname was "Telehubby," because police had charged him with the murder of his wife, whom he hit in the head with an ashtray because she refused to buy cable for him during a hospital stay.
Scala died in July, days before his sentencing after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide, which would have resulted in zero jail time, and seven days after he choked on a chicken cutlet, resulting in loss of oxygen to the brain and seven days on life support. His son, sister-in-law and friends of the family are all gleeful at the news, but they can't be as gleeful as the Post, which pegs it on the front page as the result of a heaven-sent "ANGRY BIRD!" Here's the lead paragraph on the front page:
"The choke's on him. Toothless Staten Island creep Thomas Scala, who killed his wife for refusing to spring for cable TV, choked to death on a piece of boneless chicken he tried to gum."
Yanks top Texas
It happened, so SEE SPORTS.
I've complained about this before, but it's August, so I'll let it slide. The News has an article about another article, in Vogue, in which Chelsea Clinton says some things, like about how she was the center of her parents' life growing up and because she wants that for her kid but she and her husband are working really hard right now it'd have to wait a couple of years if her mother could stand it.
(So I am a Hillary fan, I'll say that right here. But do you really think that she can't wait to be a grandmother a couple of years longer, too? Like maybe she's a little preoccupied right now from buying Carter's sets; maybe this can wait for the Ryan administration?) She's styled to the nines, of course. "Babies, politics and me" promises the dek.
So that guy "gummed" down that killer cutlet more than four weeks ago and it's on the front page of the Post. So why can't the News write about a bike accident that happened in Central Park on Monday, right? Here's the thing: It's billed as an "exclusive," which certainly stretches the term. I guess they were the only ones to interview him for this article?
Anyway if they keep throwing that term around it's really going to stop meaning anything at all. Mostly it's fodder for the News' hobbyhorse: cyclists in Central Park who disobey the speed limit. A blind athlete was in the pedestrian lane training for the marathon when a cyclist, who later said it was a hairpin turn and his gears caught, hit him, causing him injuries that included a fractured pelvis and hip and some lost teeth; the victim, Richard Bernstein, says he heard police at the scene saying that the cyclist, Omar Shakir, was riding at 35 miles per hour. Shakir denies it, the police are not pressing charges and there is no record of it besides what Bernstein tells the News.
Really the News is just trying to take a side in the pedestrians vs. cyclists thing, which as I've been saying is the stupidest argument ever. It's a bit like finding an example of someone being rude to someone else and then writing an article that's all about how the battle between rude people and nice people rages on.
Anyway: "BLIND RUNNER'S HORROR: I WAS HIT BY 35 MPH BIKE." Then: "Central Park danger zone strikes again." And there's a little picture of their recent "INVESTIGATION" in which they clocked the speeds of cyclists in Central Park and found lots of them breaking the speed limit.
Hobbyhorses are good business. But which hobbyhorse is better? The harassed BDSM guy, whose girlfriend is in tears, and which has lots of pictures of fetish gear? Or the evil cyclists hobbyhorse, where you get to make front page news out of a not-terribly-serious bike accident every time it happens in Central Park? It might seem like the former's got more legs (heh) but it's really the latter. This thing can go on forever if they want it to. The law won't change; the speed limit is low enough. Bikers just gotta keep on biking, and there'll be as much front-page news as the News wants—until we all get really bored by it, like we did with their "sex-crazed teachers" campaign.
It's a tough day to be a tabloid reader. So little steak, and not even that much sizzle, really. Chelsea Clinton and the bikes? Or BDSM and the chicken-choker? Door 1 is, really, just clean fun; Door 2 is dirty. That usually wins, but there's a point of diminishing returns, isn't there?
Winner: Daily News.