Sections of the Newspaper

The first section — the “A” section — of the Los Angeles Times, focuses on international news and domestic stories of national interest. It is here that one learns how ugly and cruel life is for most of our brothers and sisters living in places other than America and Europe.

The next section is the California section. Here one finds news and trifles originating in the home state.

Then the Business section, in which the pursuit of money is celebrated with the same gusto that the next section, Sports, celebrates the pursuit of hockey goals and basketball points.

The Calendar section is where one finds news and analysis of our entertainment culture. This being Los Angeles (and America), movies and television garner more attention than, say, books or symphonic music.

In addition to the classified ads, the paper publishes a special section once a week devoted to a single topic, such as Health. Wednesdays feature a double-dose: Food and Highways (about cars). Is it a circumstantial accident, I wonder, that our dual consumption obsessions sit beside each other in the stack of newsprint? To be in the proper mood to read about $70,000 luxury sedans and impassioned searches for the best pinot noir, one must either contract a convenient case of acute amnesia (or have developed a brain callous). It’s not easy to forget the horrifying stories about the world’s depredation, agony, and injustice that one just reviewed in the paper’s front section.

How immoral it seems to be concerned that the $100 tasting menu at La Latest Place includes a creme caramel that simply isn’t up to the exacting standards of coddled Californian gastronomes. How boorish it feels to be comparing the 0-60 acceleration between the new Jaguar and the latest Mercedes. Didn’t we just read about the ongoing genocide in Darfur, the journalists thrown into prison in China for reporting inconvenient facts, the women in Pakistan raped in retaliation for a perceived tribal slight?

And so the truffle-infused oil glazing the John Dory filet wasn’t as pungent as the Parisian version; nor was the walnut paneling on this year’s Acura as impressive as last year’s Lexus. Alas. These special sections of the newspaper are meant to make readers care deeply about such irrelevancies. But the frontispiece, where the news resides, makes the task nearly impossible.

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