Paper, Cut

For 41 years, Washington City Paper has been one of America’s essential alt-weekly publications and a launchpad for some of the finest journalists of their generation, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Katherine Boo, Jason Cherkis, and David Carr (RIP). This week it publishes its last-ever print edition — don’t worry, it will continue to run online — and to honor/mourn the occasion, it invited alumni to reflect on what the print paper meant to them:

One day we were having an argument about the group A Tribe Called Quest, which is seminal to both of us. I’m from Queens and I used to see Q-Tip at the bus stop. I loved Tribe. We were arguing about whether or not they should break up. I think this was around the time their fourth album came out.

There were all these rumors and we were arguing about, ‘Is Tribe dead? Is it over? Are they gonna still be good?’ And someone came over to the desk and heard us arguing so vehemently and was like, why don’t you guys just write that for an arts feature? And we did!

Who knows what it meant to anybody, but what it meant to me was that the stuff that I cared about, which was pretty narrow when I was in my early 20s, had a place in the real world, in the bigger world, that this newspaper that to me was a big deal had sanctioned me talking shit about one of my favorite bands. And it made it feel like it was relevant, and it wasn’t just in my head — that it actually belonged in the world somehow.

 

Published: May 5, 2022
Length: 49 minutes (12,400 words)