Saturday, March 14, 2009

Stop the presses

The cheer of the hour is "Only eight! To ra-di-ate!"

Aside from shaking a pom-pon, I'm taking things real easy. Next week, I'm going into the office only two days, and then I'll be off for five days straight, bringing me to the final scheduled session of treatment to clear me of cancer.

I don't regret working through my treatments up till now. But friends and co-workers have helped me to admit that the time has come to give my body and mind a rest during the home stretch of eight radiation treatments, and a final round of chemo.

On Friday I did a press check on a printing job at a plant in Culver City.

I was at the plant to ensure that the job the company was doing for me looked the way I want and how my bosses expect: that the colors were balanced properly and that no glitches emerged after my boss and I signed off on a proof earlier in the week. I visited the plant twice, once for each side of the large signatures that will be folded, collated, stitched and trimmed on Monday and Tuesday.

I love witnessing printed materials taking shape. I love shaking the hands of the craftsmen who run the machines –and in my career, printing plant personnel have been all been men– and I love following my job as it rolls through the presses.

My first job out of college was at a daily newspaper, and there was a large window in the newsroom overlooking the massive press. Around lunchtime, the presses began to roar, and newsroom staff could watch their creative output emerge in newsprint-and-ink form.

During my time at that newspaper, the plant was remodeled, and we lost the bird's eye view of the printing press.

I thought that something important was sacrificed when that happened. You can guess how I might feel about what was lost when the Internet came along, and threatened to make physical print production irrelevant. Publishing today is often silent, sterile and scent-free, and many mighty newspaper presses have been put to pasture.

In January, before I went into the hospital, the project that ran on the press yesterday was still taking shape. I expected to be out for two or three weeks, and I assumed another graphic artist would be called in to complete what I began. But my health was my top priority so it was easy to let go.

Happily, I came back to work in February, and picked up where I left off before my cancer diagnosis.

On Friday, a flaw in production required plates in my job to be remade, so the printer asked me to sit in his reception area until the problem was resolved.

It wasn't long after I sat down that I fell asleep. A good 45 minutes passed before the printer was ready to bring me back in the press room, so I was able to take a fairly long nap.

That I fell asleep so quickly and soundly told me that it's time to give my body a break.

My dream is that I will be fully recovered by early April, and I told the head of the printing company that I'll probably be back soon with another project.

Recovery may not happen that swiftly. It may not happen at all. I'll address that question when it's time.

For now, I'm just going to relax. The closest I'll be getting to a printing press will be by watching a DVD of "His Girl Friday."


Thank you, Lisa O., for your generous donation to The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure!

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, benefiting breast cancer services, awareness and research, takes place on Sunday. Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the only breast cancer organization where 75 percent of the net proceeds raised by the Los Angeles County Affiliate stay in the L.A. community. Nearly $6 million has been raised in the past 11 years to local organizations providing breast cancer services. One-quarter of the net funds raised support the Susan G. Komen for the Cure National Grant Program.

Visit my Race for the Cure page or join me at the Rose Bowl tomorrow, beginning at 7 a.m.

Click Here to Donate


  1. Paul -- Knowing you rememeber that window made my heart warm. Next to the window was a wall on which Barbara Hutmacher painted:

    "A courageous editor has in his newspaper a weapon more powerful than any pistol." -- E.W. Scripps.

    True then, true now.



  2. Marv

    Not a day goes by when I don't think about walking up the stairs to your newsroom for another day of adventures. You instilled values in me that I've carried for decades.

    Best always,