I don't know what happened, but after installing a new version of Ubuntu (and keeping the same home directory, including .emacs) , the bar that normal shows what file I have open an what line I'm on, etc, is solid grey.
Does anyone know how to change the color settings? I think the text must be the same as the color of the bar or something. What is this thing called, anyway? Might make it easier for me to search for commands if I knew its name.