Adventures of Newsie
Anyone who knows pop culture knows the “Adventures of Superman.”
The 1950s television show put George Reeves in the iconic costume. Superman showed up when rogue asteroids threatened the Earth, when thugs in lead masks shook down Metropolis, when crooks tried to steal lemon merengue pies from U.S. servicemen. Yeah, the last one was kind of a dud.
When there was no action, Superman posed as Clark Kent and worked at the Daily Planet newspaper. C’mon — everybody knows this.
And to make a long intro even longer, whenever trouble was brewing, clueless reporters used to nudge old Kent to see if he could reach his pal Superman. It was like Kent and the Man of Steel were college roommates, drinking buddies or played on the same basketball team at the Y.
I’m only bringing this up because some people around the newsroom have asked if I might be able to get in touch with Newsie, the newspaper’s mascot. Newsie is a six-foot tall, walking, talking foam “newspaper” and represents the old Gazette at parades, county fairs and other community gatherings. And as The Gazette has joined the Facebook revolution, Newsie was in the ink and in the pink for promotional photos and a behind-the-scenes video earlier this month. Go to the Facebook site — you’ll find the damn things.
Newsie was a sport, showing off athletic prowess — even with oversized gloves — and a sense of humor. As always, he delivered all the news with integrity. Whoever is inside the bulky, hot costume is a true sport. But Newsie’s secret identity is sort of a mystery.
Some people wonder. Page designer Andrea Costanzo just mentioned to me last week: “Gee – it seems you and Newsie are never around at the same time.”
“Just a coincidence, Andrea,” I said with a wink. “Just a coincidence.”
Now, it seems like our friends at a Truly Unique newspaper on Wolf Road in Albany are making a few jokes at Newsie’s expense. Seems that one of the Truly Unique blog writers — Michael Huber by name — somehow believes Newsie is a new addition to the Gazette family. But our jolly, big-eyed, muscular newspaper has been around for the past dozen years or so.
Mr. Huber believes that Scoop, the TU’s corporate symbol, is the senior mascot and perhaps master of the newsprint ambassadors. And Mr. Huber hints that Scoop might even be the pulp progenitor of Newsie. I’m sure this Scoop is an excellent fellow ... but let’s not get carried away and compare the old flyswatter to Newsie!
Here’s why: The Gazette’s potent prince of the press has bright eyes and a big smile. Scoop seems to be little daffy. He’s got these deranged, crazy eyes; Ludwig Von Drake-style eyebrows; a tuft of red hair like Woody Woodpecker; and a strange smile that looks like he might have guzzled one too many shots of Maker’s Mark bourbon — a favorite of Truly Unique editor Mike Goodwin, by the way.
In Mr. Huber’s post, Scoop poses with the TU’s fine columnist Fred LeBrun. Poor Fred looks nervous, scared even — like he’d rather be home watching Mexican wrestling on TV with Times Union “racing mascot” Head Gator.
“We wish Newsie well,” Huber says. “Maybe Scoop and Newsie will meet someday and share some laughs. I can only hope it goes well. Otherwise, be prepared for a smackdown of regional proportions.”
Although Newsie and I were not college roommates, are not drinking buddies and do not play on the same basketball team at the Y, I have found a way to contact Schenectady’s sentient sentinel of the spaceways. The responsive and responsible newspaper is amused by Scoop and the Truly Unique prospect for a “smackdown.”
“The path of the righteous newspaper is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men,” Newsie said, borrowing a bit of anger from his world headlines, a little heat from his weather map, a shot of competitive drive from his sports pages. “Scoop could be a distant relative, but in this case, blood is not thicker than ink. In fact, when I hear these challenges, I’m a mushroom cloud-layin melon farmer, I’m ‘Superfly TNT,’ I’m the Guns of the Navarone. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers and sisters at the Gazette ....”
They sounded like fightin’ words. And while I don’t know all that much about Newsie, I do know that he plays a little basketball, has been studying the Korean martial art of taekwondo and hits a softball a fair distance. Scoop could suffer some serious creases — even a few rips — if he decided to test Newsie.
And I’m sure Newsie is wondering who Scoop is when he steps out of his pages. Tim Wilkin? Never. Not in 10 billion years. Sports writer Mark McGuire? Nah, he’d just talk about the Jets. Photographer Lori Van Buren? Can’t see it — she’s just too nice to dress up in that costume. Political scribe Jim Odato? No — but Jimmy could moonlight as the mascot for the Legislative Gazette.
Just having a little fun, folks ... as Dino and Frank used to say at The Sands.
Maybe the meeting will be a friendly one. But if the two newspapers get together over a batch of Coors Lights, I’m confident Newsie will be the last newspaper standing and Scoop will be ready for the recycle bin. Newsie likes his beer.
Of course, if the newspapers are drinking Maker’s Mark — the kind my Times Union pal Mike Goodwin loves so much — Newsie might be in trouble. Bourbon is not his drink — trust me, I know.
Of course, in both cases ... route drivers will be delivering the newspapers home.