New York City streetcorner markers. Photo by Mark Lennihan/AP
After 62 years and many battles, New York's iconic, left-leaning, muckraking The Village Voice - the original alt-weekly that spoke loud truth to power, offered writers the chance to say "fuck" in print, and gave "brilliantly belligerent" voice to giants like Norman Mailer, Tom Robbins, Wayne Barrett, Nat Hentoff, Frances Fitzgerald, Tom Wolfe and Jules Feiffer - has announced it will cease print publication, though it will remain online. Starting in 1955, the Voice boasted a roster of great writers, critics and artists who offered hard-hitting investigations of crooked pols and businesses, coverage of drag queens and neighborhood scuttlebutt and experimental art that nobody else would cover, and news of the progressive politics of the day. "The Voice was mad as shit, and unafraid of calling out bullshit," said one fond veteran. "It was the voice of the people by the people."
The announcement of the long-rumored demise of the Voice print edition, once free on seemingly every city streetcorner, came from owner Peter Barbey, who proudly cited its "outsized role in American journalism, politics, and culture.” The most powerful thing about the Voice, he said, was that it "was alive...changed in step with (the) times...and (was) a literal voice for thousands of people whose identities, opinions, and ideas might otherwise have been unheard." The end-of-an-era news was mourned in grandiose terms by many oldtimers - "It's like God died" - but others chose to celebrate the longevity of a determinedly countercultural, cantankerous publication that supposedly enjoyed multiple Golden Ages depending on who you asked, happily covered pop albums to Trump venality to queer theory conferences, retained "the freedom, the ferment, the fractiousness" of "a writer's paper," stayed a symbol of the ultimate cool, and had "the courage to live by its wits." RIP.