Swallowing the sound

Nicole Hennessy

On a Saturday night, standing in the empty parking lot of the Cleveland Bop Stop – a used to be, now sometimes jazz club – I wondered, is jazz dead? The subtle symphonies of passing cars and unidentifiable noise leaking from the bar across the street rattled around my mind as I pondered the question.

That was the lead to my first freelance article. I say was because it never got a chance to soak into the fibers of The Independent, which recently ceased to exist. People’s eyes will never consume the letters that comprise the sentences that follow. Fingers will never blacken due to excessive ink that failed to cling to pages and my phrases will never settle in minds that will now be forced to swallow the overcrowded incoherence of the Internet or the “safe” substance provided by the terrified print publications that manage to survive what many people equate with the end of journalism.

“Like all good revolutions, ours started in a bar,” James Renner, The Independent’s editor wrote in his goodbye address just hours after The Independent died. “So what happens now?”

Now, we are left with “Northeast Ohio’s only alternative newsweekly” – Cleveland Scene, which seems promising of only two things: somehow reaping the advertising, the lack of which is causing more thoughtful publications to rot; and producing content seemingly devoid of soul.

Cleveland’s only martyred poet, d.a. levy, who produced his own publications after facing this same lack-of-outlet dilemma once wrote, “but the revolution – is already happening, and it IS a quiet little village. Only now, it is not waiting.”

Unlike levy, I have neither the energy to produce my own newspaper nor the willingness to starve as a result. But without a revolutionary publication, words are trapped in intangible folders on computers all over the city, maybe even the state. I know I can’t be the only one who assumes that the public would rather consume my mediocrities instead of some uninspired filler.

I could get cynical and buy into the assertion that the public is dumbed down and happier that way, or give in to my fear that technology has turned us all into drones, but most days I prefer to have faith in humanity. Though, if you ask anyone I know, they will tell you that is a blatant lie.

The truth is I don’t know what the truth is. But my position as a columnist gives me the opportunity to speculate. I know it seems like I am implying that The Independent was, in fact, a revolutionary publication; I’m not. However, it was rare in that it took chances, produced nontraditional articles and gave local voices an outlet for ravenous ramblings such as this.

If levy was right and the “revolution … is not waiting,” maybe we should start printing our thoughts and plastering cities with them, or blogging them if you’re not technologically prejudiced like me and don’t mind being swallowed in the sound. The future is coming whether you like it or not.

Henry Miller once wrote, “I am against revolutions because they always involve a return to the status quo.”

It appears he was right.

Nicole Hennessy is senior news major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].