I have subscribed to the Jakarta Post for 26+ years because apart from the news, many contributors, from the chief editor down, write perceptively about the shenanigans in high places and the myopic policies dreamt up by the incompetent parliamentarians and appointees in central government and, until just over a year ago, in Jakarta’s City Hall.
Sunday being a day of rest, if you’re employed, it’s pleasant to indulge in a wodge of reading material.by catching up on the issues of the day as well as being diverted by articles.
However, whereas newspaper delivery boys, such as I was as a teenager in London, would struggle with their loads on a Sunday, the Sunday Post is a paltry affair.
I can’t read about Germain Greer’s forest* in the Sunday Times magazine because there is a paywall, but I can read The Observer, the sister paper of the Guardian which I read on a daily basis. I enjoy articles such as this one about drinking in January rather than obeying the New Year’s resolution of abstinence. (This reminds me that for the first time in a number of years, my local convenience store has a stock of Bintangs – Bintang Zero!!.)
For a year or two the Post published a quality print monthly magazine entitled somewhat perversely ‘Weekender’. However, this has been replaced with JPlus, “Your Weekly Lifestyle Supplement.”
The editor writes in the latest edition as follows: “We at JPlus are all about developing our community by profiling people who have made a name for themselves in Jakarta.”
These include an interior designer, a pensioner who took up photography, and a “radio host, emcee and devoted culture vulture,” none of whom I’ve heard of and, I suggest, neither have 99% of the Post’s readers because the names they have made are exclusively for the élite (ie. those with fat wallets and a thin veneer of social awareness.)
This is this week’s load of dross:
– a column of inane tweets
– a double page spread of androgynous men wearing ridiculous clothes in London and in Milan where “designers celebrated workmanship.” (Presumably that means that they won’t fall to pieces if you put them in your washing machine.)
– we can read about a restaurant which serves “classic French cooking with subtle Japanese accents” – which surely means that it isn’t “classic French“!
– we are informed about the radio host’s lipstick choice and that she likes the “sweet cheesy martabak“, presumably those which ooze Blue Band axle grease.
– we learn that our interior designer gets most of his inspiration from New York and Venice and that one of his clients “purchased an Italian writing desk for Rp.1 billion.”
– this week’s medical advice concerns cataract surgery and quotes an opthalmologist from Gleneagles Hospital – in Singapore. (Having undergone laser surgery for cataracts three years ago, I still have nothing but the highest praise for the Jakarta Eye Centre.)
But I have another grouse. This is part of an email I sent to the Post last December 2nd.
Newspapers have long had the functions of informing and entertaining. The recent ‘special’ magazine which focused on Yogya, is a fine example of the former. For entertainment we have book and film reviews, comic strips and puzzles. And it is the latter which concerns me.
The new Sunday Supplement JPlus is vacuous, concerned with ‘lifestyle’ fripperies and, if we’re lucky, with just one article which dips below the surface of a minor celebrity’s clothing and/or food choices.
What previously provided the substance to the chaff on offer were the crossword puzzles set by Francis R. Denson, which alternated between cryptic, general knowledge and dua bahasa. Why were they dropped?
There is immense value in crossword puzzles. They are an aid to vocabulary building and memory reinforcement, as well as the skills of spelling, reading, word comprehension, dictionary usage and, above all in a country which practises rote learning, reasoning.
Please offer an explanation for their absence.
I have yet to receive a reply.
But no matter: in the absence of good reading material, I had something to write about yesterday.
Addendum – Let’s Ban “Brands”
From the Jakarta Post travel website: Jakarta Tourism and Culture Agency head Arie Budhiman said that the city would focus on strengthening Jakarta’s brand as a service-oriented metropolitan city, with festivals and meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions (MICE).
What’s wrong with “the city would focus on strengthening Jakarta as a ….”?
And since when has “conferencing” been a verb?
*But no matter because a few days later the Guardian published a review of White Beech, a book Germaine Greer has written about her patch of forest.