Last and Final Notice

“This is your LAST issue!” blares the headline on the wrap-around to a long-running magazine that has been circling the drain for quite some time.

All caps. Bold. Just in case the visually impaired might miss the significance.

And, at my age, a bit ominous. Not to mention morbid.

The LAST issue. Well, alrighty then. Let’s resolve to accept this (a la Kubler-Ross) and move on.

Like the radio station program director who cheerily tells the afternoon-drive disc jockey, “Your last show was really great.” Code for: You’re fired.

Journalists like focusing on Firsts. And why not? They are, by definition, novelties and that, also by definition, constitutes news. The same thing that has happened 35 times previously isn’t news. It’s olds. Dogs biting men, and all that.

But stories about Firsts write their own headlines. It’s kind of a sanctuary for laziness. Not much thinking required, plenty of explaining to do, and we can usually get the source of newness to do the ‘splainin’.

Here it is: the new discovery. Which, of course, is perfectly redundant. If it’s a discovery, then of course it’s new. Any other way of describing it would be dishonest, to be generous, or outright stupid.

But in fairness – another attribute journalists aspire to and seek to represent in their reports – shouldn’t equal time (sorry, old broadcasting reference) apply to Lasts?

And, my magazine wrapper included, to some extent Lasts do receive notice. Though, one suspects, not precisely equal.

The story about the Last electric streetcar in operation: Trolleys Travel Tirelessly. Or the one about the Last operating regional drive-in movie theater; the kind that still shows movies and isn’t merely an excuse for weekend flea markets: Ozoner Operates Submarine Race for Teenage Satisfaction.

June 6th, in case this slipped your consciousness, is National Drive-In Movie Day. At all 322 of the nation’s remaining topless theaters. It is also D-Day, commemorating the 1944 attack-invasion. I suppose that’s all coincidental.

I’ve begun a list of Lasts for myself. For instance, I’m virtually positive I’ve purchased my Last vacuum cleaner bags. Now with a total of three bags (and three cleaner bags to each – for a total of nine changes), I find it unlikely the need will arise for more.

Laziness (that attribute again) may help to assure the accuracy of this prediction; who likes to vacuum so much? Were it not for those nice lines in the carpet, what would be the point?

Dismal, disheartening and discouraging though it may be, Lasts deserve their place in the spotlight. Beyond nostalgia columns and Whatever Happened To essays, the Last of somethings merits mention.

One suspects vacuum cleaner bags don’t rise to that level, though.

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