HEADLINE BOOK PROMPTS POST POST!

March 20, 2008 | 1 book mentioned 5 2 min read

To the panoply of guilty pleasures this world has to offer, I humbly add the New York Post. I’m a Daily News man myself, but really, stuck inside a stalled subway car somewhere under the East River with nothing to read but those creepy Dr. Z acne treatment ads, who cares which paper turns up on an empty seat?

coverWhen it comes to reading, tabloid journalism is the Twinky at the tip of the food pyramid, and page one is its creamy center. When confronted with the new book assembled by the staff of the NY Post, Headless Body In Topless Bar: The Best Headlines from America’s Favorite Newspaper, I couldn’t help myself. Knowing that a bellyache would accompany such indulgence, I still stuffed my face.

Of course, we are in the midst of a particularly salacious period of news in the City, which makes the book a timely read, er, leaf-through. Eliot Spitzer’s nightmare is a headline writer’s wet dream. Have a look at some recent Post fronts (March 11th’s “HO NO!” is one of our favorites). All in keeping with the paper’s motto, “All the news that’s fit to bury beneath a mountain of hooker photos.”

Ah, but a good hooker story comes along but once in a while. Luckily the Post has mastered the touchstone of any good tabloid front page: the cringe-inducing pun. On the conviction of a cybersex impresario: “YOU’VE GOT JAIL!” On the closing of a Dunkin’ Donuts for rodents: “UNDER MOUSE ARREST.” On earth’s encounter with a worrisome piece of interstellar matter: “KISS YOUR ASTEROID GOODBYE!” The CIA should consider reading these headlines to prisoners as a substitute for waterboarding.

Yet, like a guy with a megaphone at an otherwise urbane cocktail party, the Post does command attention. Sometimes it even gets it just right. I like the front page from June 27, 2007: a photoshopped picture of Paris Hilton hoisted aloft on the hands of a throng in Times Square with the headline “V-D DAY! PARIS LIBERATED, BIMBOS REJOICE.” Then, sometimes there’s just no need to dress up a headline, such as on July 30 1985: “EATEN ALIVE! GIANT TIGERS KILL PRETTY ZOO KEEPER WHO ‘LOVED ALL ANIMALS.'”

A New York Magazine survey named April 15, 1983’s “HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR” the greatest NY Post headline of all time. As one Post editor puts it, “How do you tell a sensational story other than sensationally?” It’s ironic though, that the title of this book is its climax. Sort of like the paper itself: the cover is generally the best part.

is a writer, musician, and amateur sportsman in Manhattan, living on the Harlem side of Morningside Park near Columbia, where he recently picked up a degree from the Journalism School.

5 comments:

  1. "The title of the book is ITS climax." ITS climax. Please- no apostrophes in the possessive "its." You make this basic mistake all the time, and it makes your readers cringe.

  2. Our bad. The punctuational faux pas has been corrected. We apologize for any cringes we may have caused.

  3. Lets not forget….er, Let's not forget, my favorite: "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD." Pithiness meets efficacy. And what ever happened to the old headline convention of dropping the subject? E.g.: "SLAYS FIVE, ORDERS MILKSHAKE?"

  4. FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD has to be the best ever. I believe that was the Daily News. I like those rare days when the Daily News and Post have identical headlines. Trying to think of an example..

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