In Santa Monica, everyone subscribes to the New York Times. Not only that, everyone has a dog. Not only that, we have pooper-scooper laws that carry penalties roughly equal to armed robbery. Not only that, the Times arrives each day, tightly folded in a royal blue, plastic bag; sealed on one end, open on the other, custom-made to cover the human hand like an oppressively literate mitten. Add all this together and it's clear that a solid chunk of the New York Times' circulation depends on canine digestion.
Not that we, the people of Santa Monica, don't love the New York Times for its journalism. Several times, I've seen people reading the product emanating from that magnificent blue bag. Maureen Dowd is a God around here. Science Times is fascinating; Sunday's over-bred wedding announcements are unbelievably gripping. But in a time when the news of the world could depress a pack of lottery winners, it's the bags that keep us subscribing. With that delightfully outdated lettering etched along its sides, the Times bag not only brings dignity to the two-legged mammal bending over to retrieve the solid waste of a lower species, but it brings prestige to the dog itself. Even my neighbor's disarmingly stupid Rottweiler looks sophisticated with that Times bag cinched around his neck. On the other hand, there's a local Australian shepherd, a notoriously intelligent breed, that's always lugging around a Rite-Aid bag. It's an odd choice seeing as how its owner is one of the most creative people in Los Angeles -- Okay, that's not an overly competitive category - but the point is, the dog is underachieving.
By the way, some people around here also get the Los Angeles Times. Not to imply any journalistic parallels, but the LA Times bag is oversized, transparent, colorless and flaccid. In your walk from the dog's bomb site to a garbage, you feel like you're carrying around an intestinal x-ray. It's not good. My dog has so many mixed breeds in her, she never knows whether beg for treats or sniff suitcases for anthrax, but she will shut down her digestive tract rather than perform for an LA Times bag.
A little off the subject, but ... who picks up after a seeing-eye dog?
Anyway, the fortunes of a New York Times dog rise and fall with the fortunes of the newspaper. For instance, let's say - hypothetically - it's discovered that a young, drug-addicted Times reporter writes a slew of front page articles that turn out to be fictional and, hypothetically, the soon-to-be-fired Editor-in-Chief runs a needless and embarrassing 10,000 word front page mea culpa. Under such circumstances, a Times dog would get fewer walks, all at off-peak hours. Then again, if say, the Times reports that every American's phone calls are monitored, the Times dog can expect extra walks draped in extra Times bags.
Not to bury the lead, but dogs can sense the shifting lines of journalism and learn to adapt.
The New York Times... Expect the World.
Then gently place it in our bags.