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August 28, 2000—Really Getting Away from It All

Last week we danced in front of the glaciers. That is, fourteen of us lowered our kayaks into the coolish waters of Glacier Bay to stare at the indolent sea lions, listen to the crashing ice, and commune with the merry puffins who are the parrots of the frozen jungle.

One of our number ventured over to the Spirit of Discovery, a cruise boat (my wife says it was actually a Princess boat) moored nearby which you can read about in last Sunday's New York Times, to ask if anybody had some Grey Poupon. Two days later a wag came by our boat in Juneau to present Captain Tom with the right bottle of mustard.

Alaska is even better than we imagined, and all the cruise boats and Exxon's Valdez still have not ruined it. It is all too vast and beautiful and remote. So remote that emails pour out of the Internet cafes, which are common enough in the land of Northern Exposure.

So remote, in fact, that you can successfully ignore news and any other nonsense from the Lower 48--or from Canada which is just across the mountains. For this reason, you are better served in this year 2000 to tour America's wide open spaces--such as Alaska--avoiding the watering holes in Nantucket, London, or Bali.

The cacophony of urban voices we are trying to escape arises, as we said an issue back, from the total re-organization of our media. To read further about the destruction of the mass media and the turn of the world to a thousand voices, look at "Boom Box" by Michael Lewis in the New York Time Magazine, August l3, 2000, pp.36ff. Also note that TV Guide, once again reduced in circulation--by 8%--is reflecting in general the loss of circulation and the rise in costs of all magazines, both because of the proliferation of magazine titles, as well as the rise of New Media. See Matthew Rose, "TV Guide Reduces Its Circulation 8%," Wall Street Journal, August 2l , 2000, p. B9.

A goodly portion of the Old Economy is falling apart---such as Frederick's of Hollywood. Which brings us back to our Frederick's of Hollywood Bankruptcy Headline Contest. Our global laureate Tom Canning, who has just added two new poems to the Global Province, also writes: " Did Frederick's of Hollywood go belly up because it failed to learn Victoria's Secret?" Are our old media sliding off the glacier into the frigid waters beneath because they are not uncovering the new media rules of the digital world? That is how Wall Street reads the situation, if we look at the low prices of so many newspaper stocks. Maybe Conrad Black, up in Canada, as well as the Thompson gang, are smart to ditch their newspaper assets.

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