What are “These New Times” ?

Posted By The Editors On Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 With 2 Comments

What are These New Times?  The tagline in your browser should read “Breaking news, Commentary and Opinion”, but we have more in mind than that. Let’s start with how this site came to be.

Years ago in another lifetime, a bunch of us started an alternative collegetown newspaper, The Ithaca New Times, which is still going strong (as the Ithaca Times).  This was in the early 70’s and Ithaca New York was (and still is) a beautiful, charmed place as well as a hotbed of counter-cultural activity, both politically and socially.  It’s fair to say that we were all of that mindset and had trouble imagining a future that didn’t follow that path.  The Editor of   These New Times was one of that group.

Ithacans Protesting the Vietnam War in Washington, early 1970's

Soon after the paper was launched, having made a large splash in our rather small pond, we were asked by an older gentleman exactly what was meant by “New Times”.   With the enthusuasm of youth, your Editor tried to explain it all: how the world was changing in every way, how music was different, how politics was evolving, how we would make our mark on the culture, the nation, the world and the future.  The gentleman was unimpressed, and gently suggested that at least every other generation saw themselves as a vanguard that was changing the world irrevocably.

Bewildered by that remark, the conclusion was that the gentleman had just never “gotten the memo” that was in wide circulation during the sixties and early seventies.

Forty years later,  the wisdom of his remark is clearer.  The more things change the more they stay the same. Surely, we are again all living in a time of unprecedented change, and now my generation struggles to “get the memo”.

That time came and went, and people left the land of enchantment that was Ithaca and drifted off to their real lives and all that entails:  jobs, families, children, responsibilities, triumphs and regrets.  Many kept in touch, while others such as this writer were out of that loop for close to four decades.

But then an interesting thing happened.  In early 2011, one kind and clever entrepreneurial member of the group called for a reunion.  This was not to be a college reunion, but rather a bar, band and community reunion, open to any and all that had been part of that magic era.  The word went out on social media, and because it wasn’t restricted to a graduating class, soon there was a buzz and a following by hundreds of people who had been touched by that time and place.  Your Editor was among them.

The web on paper

Hard at work in the analog age. Your Editor doing paste up on The Ithacan, the Ithaca College newspaper in the early 1970's. Note the obligatory Red Star.

Finally, in June the time had arrived, and participants made the journey off the beaten track back to Ithaca from all corners of the globe for “three days of peace and music”. We got all that and more. Friendships were rekindled, feuds put to rest and everyone was glad to be there and see just how things had turned out.

That brings us back to a part of  this website’s mission.  Over these forty years, your Editor had evolved from being a passionate politico with a very left wing bent, to what some would describe as an equally passionate, hard right, “broken glass” Republican. As the time approached to saddle up and ride off to the Ithaca sunset, by reading  the comments on the group’s Facebook  page he began to suspect that he may be the only one that had embraced conservatism.

Sure enough, that weekend confirmed his suspicions. Of the core group that had been present when The Ithaca New Times first hit the street, one was a business owner but an unrepentant progressive,  another was a retired bond salesman and hedge fund manager who describes himself as “pretty much a commie”, and a third was also an independent businessman who was reasonable but generally left of moderate.  Of the several hundred people who made the pilgrimage back in time, there didn’t appear to be a conservative in the group.

But maybe that’s wrong:  perhaps they were lurking.  After all, it wasn’t a political weekend, just a wonderful time to meet old (and new)  friends and rekindle relationships, and we surely had much more in common than whatever differentiated us.  But it started your Editor to thinking, and served as the catalyst for this site.

Those long lost friends from that time and place may be offended by some of the points of view they’ll see on These New Times, but hopefully not. Although still passionately invested in the socio-political conversation of our time with a very particular point of view, it is the intent to welcome and encourage all views, and further the conversation whether political or cultural. Its hoped that the Ithacans will participate. Your editor has his own personal motives, including understanding how it is that he was swept up by the fast currents of the “Reagan Revolution” and now rejects many of the views he held dear so long ago, while so many of his contemporaries seem to have stayed comfortably on the ideological island where he’d last known them.

So, to revive one of those well worn slogans from the past:we’ll try to “Think Globally – Act Locally”.

This site was born of the very personal and local narrative you’ve just read, but we hope to have global impact. After all, if we believe our own history, we were part of a generation that changed the world in large and small ways once before, and with enduring optimism, we see no reason we can’t do so again.

We have high hope for These New Times.  But then again, we’ve had high hopes for most everything we’ve done since those “New Times” days so long ago.

The Editors