I don’t want to imply that news writers are sometimes too reliant on clichés — I prefer to state it flat out. I never realized how overused the term “end of an era” is — at least in the news business — until I Googled it. To journalists, everything that stops being or happening marks the end of an era.
The final Twilight movie? The final Dark Knight movie? Both are ends of an era. Really? Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber break-up? End of an era. I don’t even know who Selena Gomez is.
Almost anyone remotely newsworthy who either dies or leaves their job or retires usually marks the end of an era.
Sometimes, an episode of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” might mark the end of an era, but I can’t really decipher in what way.
It strikes me that marking the end of an era is a fully subjective pursuit. What constitutes an era changes from person to person. Is that going out on a limb? One end of an era that a lot of people could agree on is the fall of the Hostess empire, though of course, it’s the end of an era with exceptions, like the fact that the Canadian makers of Twinkies have not died, (http://bloom.bg/UVRG2k) placing those snack delights alongside poutine and Clamato as a strictly Canadian delight. So it’s only the end of an era for American Twinkies. Their northern brothers continue on.
That Mayan end of the world prediction is also the herald to the end of an era — the existence of the Earth being the era in question — but that’s just crazy talk from non-Mayan attention seekers. The actual, real Mayans are busy performing the rituals appropriate to the end of their calendar, but without the end of the world scenario attached (http://bit.ly/12aOWRP). As usual, all the silly first world citizens miss the point — to the Mayans, it’s the end of a long, oppressive era filled with misfortune, but also, survival, and they’re using the end of the calendar to try and move into the future.
Sometimes the end of an era designation is attached to a sub-culture you never even knew existed until some aspect of it had come to a halt, as in this obituary for Marty Reisman, who, in an article in the New Republic taken from the book “Jewish Jocks,” (http://on.tnr.com/12aP3fY) is called “one of the greatest ping pong players of all time” and “the last of the vaudeville sportsmen.”
I didn’t even know vaudeville sportsmen existed, let alone in the ping pong field! Read the article and learn something — Reisman was the ping pong wizard opening act for the Harlem Globetrotters at one point!
Another sub-culture on the wane that you might not be completely familiar with is the lutefisk enthusiast community in Minneapolis! (http://bit.ly/UGMkUc) It’s in danger of disappearing. Totally! Lutefisk is a Norwegian dried and reconstituted cod dish served during the holidays, described in the article as “tasting like fishy Jell-O.” You can still get it in plenty of Lutheran church dinners out that way, thankfully, and apparently it costs about $50 a plate in “some of the finer restaurants in Oslo.”
But one that affects us all — or, at least, more of us than the lutefisk and ping pong crowd combined, I’ll bet — is the demise of the cassette. Sony recently announced the end of its production of cassette players (http://bit.ly/SX45CA) causing the inner 18-year-old of a million guys like me to get all sentimental about the mix tapes we used to make.
Frankly, I’m always surprised when I stumble through the aisles of Target or Walmart or wherever and actually see tape recorders still on sale. And for journalists, tape recorders are as much of our romantic, low-tech past as manual typewriters and pasting up layouts.
Some many eras have ended in 2012 that I can’t even keep track of them, and I’m positive that next year holds many more final moments for us to lament. I shudder at the possibilities. Breaded fish sticks? Bluetooth keyboards? Dancing With The Stars? Shoe polish? Whatever ends next, we’re definitely in for a bumpy 2013.