IN DA BRONX: ESCAPING TO MY HIGH SCHOOL REUNION BUT NOT ESCAPING OUR ECONOMIC CATASTROPHE
By Danny Schechter
Author of The Crime Of Our Time
It was hard to resist an invite to my high school reunion because it came from guys who worked with me on the student newspaper at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, New York; my gateway to a career in journalism.
Working on the Clinton News, yes, a half century ago, inspired my perhaps naÃ¯ve hope that here was a field that promotes the values of democracy I espoused even back then. I am still at it, but as an insider turned outsider where the media trend is no longer my friend.
We closed our offices at Globalvision in the same week as the reunion after nearly 24 years. Clinton may have got my career going, but now the timing of this occasion has, by chance, coincided with what may be its end.
An ad in the dinner program by another Clinton News editor a decade later felt it necessary to explain (apologize for?) the horrific "disadvantages" our generation faced:
"We had no cell phones, personal computers, online publishers, real time spell and grammar check, copiers, fax machines, email or instant messenger."
How did we ever make it?
The event was much less than I hoped for because it was too noisy there to really talk. It brought together survivors of more than just the class of '60 when only boys cavorted through the hallowed halls of a school founded in l897, and was once the largest public educational institution of its kind in America. You couldn't even escape the clamor in the Men's Room where a loud radio crackled with the sounds of the Yankee Game.
I was, for sure, back in Da Bronx.
Years later, Clinton went co-ed, faced hard times, was almost closed, and now mirrors the challenges facing public education at a time of financial crisis and what feels like the collapse of the middle class. Today, I am told the High School "looks like an airport' with metal detectors and a heavy-duty security presence.
The best-dressed and most spirited crowd in the room was made up of the boisterous class of 2010 graduating into far worst times that we experienced on the cusp of the turbulent 60s. You could sense their hope for having made it through, but I had a sense of dread for their futures.