Journalists Without Originality Are Starbucks Without Caffeine

Susan Scharfman

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"If you attack the establishment long enough and hard enough, they will make you a member of it. ” Humorist, journalist and author, Art Buchwald is an old time Pulitzer Prize winner who, at age 81 still cracks me up with this kind of commentary on just about everything. You have to admire a heart and mind that makes you think as well as laugh.

Today, despite the kidney failure that’s trying to kill him, Buchwald defies death by taking himself off dialysis and out of hospice so he can be at home with his family and continue giving us insight with humor.

Renown for his view from the bleachers, Pulitzer man Jimmy Breslin writes columns that champion the average citizen. His recent report on the ghastly injuries suffered by American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is an appalling example of what is not being reported, or reported very lightly, by most of the press. Breslin is an original. “The civil are not organized, and the organized are not civil. ” I wish I'd said that.

Now civil rings my bell. I probably should have been born a century earlier because I miss civil. Not as in ACLU. As in civility. I miss civil that holds a door open because it does not need to trample me in order to go first. I miss civil that says, “thank you, ” civil that says “I apologize” and civil that respects parents and teachers. I miss civil that doesn’t tailgate me into an accident. I wasn’t around in Will Rogers’ time, yet I miss his kind of civil that sends the message with humor instead of malice: “On account of being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does. ”

I miss humorists with vision and visionaries with humor. So what’s a civil being to do? All the new age pundits tell us to be in the now. I try to do that. But we are each a composite of our past. The 20th century was the bloodiest yet. Will those of us who have imbibed the best of it be the last civil generation? Today’s announcement in the New York Times that Hollywood producers are succumbing to the lure of a Wall Street that seeks to control the film industry is disheartening. Civil and original have left the building with Frasier. They're just so “last century. ”


A writer/editor, I work with one client at a time for a cost effective solution to your writing and editing needs. Visit me at My novel The Sword & The Chrysanthemum is available in paperback everywhere, and in eBook form at


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