From the Editor's Desk

From the Editor’s Desk: Never Underestimate the Power of a Little French Flair

Mary Norkol | The PhoenixWhen Phoenix Editor-in-Chief Mary Norkol noticed a Vincent Van Gogh painting in the newsroom, it sparked memories of her summer in Arles, France.

Last week, as our beloved Student Media Manager Ralph Braseth was talking to a group of exhausted editors huddled around the long center table in The Phoenix’s newsroom, I noticed something.

Ralph, I promise I was paying attention. You were (most likely) telling a story about how you taught someone a lesson and made some jokes along the way, peppering in swear words and poking fun at Phoenix staffers whenever the opportunity arose. 

Anyway, I noticed something. Behind Ralph’s head, the crooked painting that sits on top of the newsroom whiteboard caught my eye. It had always been there, about the size of a piece of paper, in a tarnished gold frame. But this time, it struck a chord with me I couldn’t quite explain.

After Ralph was done talking — or babbling, they’re one and the same — I walked over to the painting and analyzed it as if I hadn’t looked at the same painting countless times. Then it hit me. It was Van Gogh’s “The Night Café,” painted in Arles, France, where I lived for six weeks this summer.

Now, I’ve been looking for the opportunity to talk more extensively about my summer abroad without sounding like someone who spent her summer abroad. Looks like I found it.

Without even trying, I had found a little piece of my French home situated nicely in a place I spend much of my time. The reminder was comforting, a small token of a time in my life that feels more like a dream than reality.

This small painting, hung haphazardly in our windowless newsroom, provided a necessary time warp back to some of the happiest times, most beautiful places and friendliest people I’ve ever known. It juxtaposes my life here, offering a bit of Provencal serenity to my everyday Chicagoan frenzy.

It’s funny how things like that work. It’s not a huge connection, and aside from that, I’d argue Chicago and Arles have virtually nothing to do with each other. But if that small painting is what it takes to remember my love of travel and the French culture — something that undoubtedly came from my Uncle Jim — then I’ll take it.

Now each time I walk into the newsroom, I won’t only be met with memories of impending deadlines, draft read-throughs, tense phone calls and countless laughs with my fellow editors. I’ll also be reminded of nights on the Rhône river with friends from all over the country. I’ll be reminded of picking the brains of my French family over wine and cheese after a delicious meal. I’ll be reminded of forcing myself out of my comfort zone and, frankly, thriving.

This week, the news section offers Loyola-specific coverage of the city-wide teachers strike and gives a look into the upcoming CTA renovations.

Sports explores the origins of Loyola men’s basketball coach Porter Moser and explains why the Loyola men’s soccer team has tapped into international recruiting strategies. 

A&E includes an interview with a former Saturday Night Live cast member who engages in musical stand-up comedy and the opinion section includes a staff editorial urging Illinois to pass a bill proposal which would allow college athletes to make a profit off their name, image and likeness.

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