Friday, December 28, 2007


For many years I made long lists of lofty resolutions, that no matter how much I meant them, I always only half kept at best. Then two years ago, I made a brilliant list of anti-resolutions which I of course did a slightly better job of keeping.

But now, after reading seeing so much about all the horrible sh*t that is happening everywhere, and after spending the last six months of this year in a pretty dark cloud of personal grief, I’ve decided that for 2008, I’m not making a list at all. In 2008, I’m making one resolution: To be happier.

Which of course sounds completely lame, vague, and sure to fail, but I actually think it’s the smartest resolution I’ve ever made. Sure, I could focus on keeping up my new health regime, or resolve to write more, blah, blah, blah. But this is so much more meaningful— being cynical, pessimistic, and slightly morose has been such a big part of who I am for so long, but what would happen if I just stopped wallowing as much? I’d like to see what life might be like if I just decide to appreciate it (while still pointing out sh*t that is f*cked up of course). So there you have it, there’s my one resolution for 2008.

To alleviate any live-journalness of this post please enjoy the following photos of me and a monkey.

My Impression of a Monkey

A Monkey’s Impression of Me Impersonating A Monkey

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Papa Smurf

Blame it on the pre-Christmas news slump, but this is the most interesting bit o’ news I’ve heard in weeks. There is a guy who’s BLUE!

Everyone’s all like, “Now that he knows the stuff he’s drinking makes him blue, why doesn’t he stop?!” But they're just racist. Besides, he’s already blue, who knows if he could become un-blue. Plus he wants to live forever.

Which leaves me with the burning question, what if this stuff does make him live forever, then the price will skyrocket and there will be a whole new race of rich people. Man, the future’s scary. They should have just left this blue guy live his life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If this is the World’s Capital, What does that say about the World?

1) Sure, in any densely populated place people will wait in line for ridiculously long amounts of time for often ridiculously stupid things (i.e. products with a lower case i in front of them) But that’s their own damn problem, because if you are misguided enough to camp out or stand in the rain/snow/sleet for an overpriced piece of plastic, you are both a sucker and a fool and deserve everything that rains down upon your head.

Waiting hours in lines around the block to get into family court, is another thing all together. Sure, The New York Times could do a story on some of the million billion other problems with the justice system (especially the family justice system) but at least they have finally written a story somewhat about poor people that actually points to how f*cked the system is that aims to keep them completely demoralized.

Here’s a thought, if you can’t let people on the stairs, and can’t figure out how to fix the elevators, maybe you could let the few people at a time that are missing a court date while standing outside the building use the sacred elevators that the judges use, so they will have a case to judge. I'm just saying.

2) Completely unrelated, but also absurdly ridiculous: Pillow Fight Club. It sounds like something I would have made up with my friends when I was 7-years-old. But these people are adults, and aren’t living in quaint Midwestern town in the 1980s. Plus even as a small girl I wouldn’t have been so one-dimensional to think of a tie-breaking rule like this: “Fighters have been known to get eliminated at this point (a tie) based on outfit choice alone.”

Update: Turns out "pillow fight club" is not a New York invention (although I'm sure they'll try to claim it like everything else). There's even a website: and a wikipedia page.

It really does seem more and more that Devo was right.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

We're #1, We're #1!

It’s been a big month for the mitten state. In what has been called "an irresponsible misuse of crime data,” a private research group's report based on annual FBI crime statistics rank Detroit as America’s most dangerous city (and good ol’ Flint, MI as #3).

The main criticism is that simplifying such a complex issue as crime into handy “move out of or don’t move to this already ailing city, it really sucks” rankings does a lot more harm than good to everyone involved. Besides, according to the AP article Detroit “Murder Capital” has lost 1 million people since 1950, and real estate agents attempting to sell the new condos aren’t likely to use the “most dangerous city in the US” tagline in their listings.

(Prime, affordable real estate in Detroit)

The most concise commentary of the report that I’ve read came from Gawker:

“The annual list helps reinforce the cycle of poverty, white flight, and neglect that is killing post-industrial America while the rich create unsustainable fantasy worlds on the coasts. And it provides a nice way for a news anchor to fill up 45 seconds.”

New York, by the way, ranked 130-something. Whatever, tell that to my two stolen bikes and my old roommate’s snatched purse. I’ve never had anything stolen in D-town.

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Squandering 'Merica

Tuesday morning I found myself voluntarily doing two things that normally would sound like a punishment: 1) working out on the elliptical machine before 8am and 2) watching CSPAN. As it turned it out, it was actually kind of enjoyable, if not interesting.

Robert Kuttner was on talking about his new book The Squandering of America, and I actually found myself interested in the trends of the economy. Especially when he started talking about the widening economical inequality in ‘merica and the effects on the struggles of the adult children of the working class to have social mobility.

I don’t know anything about the host, so I could be completly off, but she seemed like an uncomfortable closet conservative that wanted to give him a piece of her mind but couldn’t so she read a section for this awfully shallow researched politically biased editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

The entire basis for the editorial is a study from the (Republican) Treasury Department that basically says “Don’t worry, everything is great! Poor people aren’t poor anymore. In fact if anyone is losing money it’s rich people. Really it’s true, look at this totally scientific and non-bias information that we have gathered.”

Except for even glancing at the editorial there are enough holes for all of the 96,000 tax filers they examined to drive trucks though.

Here are just a few:

1) The tax returns that they looked at were for people over 25 years old, did they take into account how many of those people were single in 1996 and married in 2005 when they looked again? Did it compensate for the taxpayer having a two income instead of one income household?
2) Saying a percent as small as 24% over 10 years is “impressive” is stretching it more than a little bit.
3) It only accounts for what people earned not what they spent or lost, you know things like foreclosures, medical bills, etc. The kind of thing that poor people often have to worry about and rich people don’t.
4) You only have to file a tax return if you make over something like $10,000/year. Hows about doing a study of all the people so broke that they don’t even file their taxes?
5) They use the word “hokum.” Seriously.
6) It doesn’t account in what people have to do to earn this huge 24% more- say working more hours or more than one job. ( And it says “those who start at the bottom but have full time jobs” what about those who have to work two or more part time jobs because they can’t get a full time job and also have to live without benefits)
7) They use all of this to say that rich people aren’t getting richer, and that if there are more taxes it would hold back “regular people” from climbing the income ladder. Surely this wouldn’t be just a scapegoat for the 1% that already owns 90% of the country’s wealth and is afraid to loose even a tiny bit to those dirty poors…

Friday, November 16, 2007

Selling Out

So, journalism students at NYU did a poll of 3,000 NYU undergrads' attitudes about voting, and I think we are supposed to be horrified/surprised/confused with the results.

70% think that one vote can make a difference (cute huh?) and think voting is important, but 70% are also willing to give their vote up for free tuition, even though 60% of the people who said that also said that their families had lots-o-dough and most likely were paying some or all of their tuition anyway and so they probably just wanted the extra cash.

But what I really wonder about is the 20% who will sell their vote for an ipod touch of all things (do they think they’ll get their vote back when the thing breaks in 18 months?)

Even if voting doesn’t make that much of an impact, it's just dumb to sell yourself out like that. Then again I guess the argument could be made that if you're the kind of dumbass who is willing to sell off your constitutional rights, maybe it's for the best that you remove yourself from the political process, kind of like the Darwin Awards of social involvement.

Or maybe they think selling your vote is like selling your soul and you can just buy it back from the Comic Book Guy.

Terror Rocks My Hometown

Except not really...the suicide/murder that they were talking about actually happened in the next town over, and people have been writing dumbass notes like that at the high school for years. It is kind of amusing how quaint and close knit they try to make Plainwell seem though, yeah it’s small, but I didn’t know all 4,000 people that lived there like that lady who’s hair salon that has been open for less than five years would have you believe. Still this is the biggest thing to happen there since we won the state powerlifting title in 1998, maybe now they'll finally take it off the city limit sign.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

And in my best behavior, I am really just like him

The Village Voice’s review of Sufjan Stevens’ BQE Symphony started off with this:

“All my friends who don't live in New York hate New York. Near as I can tell, they imagine the city as one giant, loathsome American Apparel ad, a crass, joyless, narcissistic, careerist, emaciated, insincere, hopelessly uptight, suffocatingly twee cesspool of white-privilege Williamsburg hipsterdom.”

This description prefaced the review to describe not only the trying-to-hard-cuteness of the show, but no doubt its audience too. My desire to go probably puts me in at least three of those categories if not all in some people’s eyes.

Sufjan’s symphony about an expressway sold out so quickly though that I didn’t get a ticket and as much as I love him wasn’t will to pay the $150 asking price on craigslist.

Still, without actually attending, I can mostly agree with the review. Sufjan is helluva talented, and yeah some of his songs make me get a little teary, and damn if he isn’t cute. Which is exactly the problem, he sometimes over does the cuteness, and sometimes gets a little too ambitious (even he had to know the 50 state thing was going to get old fast), or overkills a good thing (the wings, the Avalanche CD). Still though, he tries, which is more than you can say for a lot of people. Sooner of later he’ll realize that when he doesn’t try so hard he makes some pretty amazing music.

(Sufjan trying too hard)

As for me, well that’s in the eye of the beholder I guess. I think the description of New York isn’t totally off base, but then again I still don’t think I consider myself a complete New Yorker. I’m more of a citizen of the world…

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rest in Peace

Just in time for Halloween, now you even have to feel guilty about dying, because your burning or rotting body is polluting the air and water. I mean really, can't death be the one time you can finally stop caring about all the suckers you left behind?*

*That said I think the whole expensive casket/headstone/giant spaces of land/embalming thing is kind of crazy, but I also think death is the one time you don't get to tell people what to do.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Doggie Howser + Animal= Great Music

Even though they kind of seemed like they didn’t want to be there, Two Gallants put on what was perhaps the best show I’ve seen this year*

I have been listening to their new CD and EP kind of non-stop lately and unlike some of bands, they are actually just as good live as recorded, at times even better (like when they played three songs into each other with obviously rehearsed yet improvised feeling transition mini-songs).

I probably would have enjoyed the show a lot less if I would have been on the floor closer to the stage where not only would I have to be much closer to people than I prefer, but would have had to endure a mosh pit (Really? People still do that?)

From my seat directly behind the soundboard, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that drummer Tyson Vogel looked exactly like what Animal would like if he was a person, and Adam Stephens looked like a scruffier much cooler version of Neil Patrick Harris (See Photographic evidence below). And according to this interview, Vogel most likely is modeling himself after Animal, but I doubt Stephens wants to be compared to Doggie Howser, MD.

Regardless, it was a good show, despite the fact that it made me slightly more depressed than I was going in, and they seemed kind of like they were just fulfilling their obligation to ROCK (and were possibility as depressed as me).

Animal and Tyson Vogel

Neil Patrick Harris and Adam Stephens

*Disclaimer: I have been to about three shows this year, but that makes Two Gallants no less brilliant.

Saying Things are Over is so Over-Rank Them Instead!

So evidently The New York Times thinks Brooklyn is over because Heath Ledger moved, which is nothing short of the lamest reasoning ever. I would argue that it’s not Brooklyn, but the whole of New York City that’s over because it can’t stop talking about itself as if it was the only place that mattered. But I digress.

And besides, that’s not the only reason why The New York Times is wrong. Some group of urban planners named Park Slope one of the ten best neighborhoods in the country (take that Williamsburg!) It turns out though that they’ve decided that Park Slope officially ends at 17th Street, meaning I missed it by four blocks. But that’s ok, I’ll enjoy being slightly on the outside looking in, afterall, paying to live in a “named” neighborhood is so over.
(Above: an artist’s rendition of Park Slope)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Show a lot of things in a Little Time...MONTAGE!

This is the "montage-o-rama" of the bike tour I did a few weeks ago. (Even Rocky had a montage)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The world has a nostalgia problem, short-term nostalgia problem. At first I thought maybe it was a problem exclusive to my generation. After all, how else do you explain the reemergence of leggings, Transformers, Strawberry Shortcake, etc? But every generation has this problem, there are countless baby boomers that can’t let go of the psychedelic music of their hey-day, and hell, all those old people will still tell you war stories if you’ll listen. (Of course it’s interesting the differences in the things that the generations nostalgiasize, but that’s a different topic.)

I have realized recently though that it’s not just a matter of generational nostalgia for glory days past. The collective culture is in love with looking back (but not too far back and not to critically). I don’t have the real answer as to why this is, but I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that we’ve run out of new ideas. This has been the case with music and movies for years, the amount of sequels, re-makes, and covers or re-appropriation of other media into new forms (the movie based on the play, based on the book) just keeps growing.

Recently though we seem to have a sick nostalgia for tragedy, and not with any good purpose either because the tragedies that we nostalgiasize are either pop culture-y ones, or are simply regurgitations.

The 40th Anniversary of the Summer of Love
Really? This is a thing that deserves three floors of the Whitney Museum and countless magazine features? A bunch white people took a lot of drugs, had a lot of sex, and gave the figurative finger to the “man.” Forty years ago. Jesus. What about the civil rights struggles and riots, or what about what’s happening now?

The 10th Anniversary of the Death of Princess Diana
I never really got why anyone in England, much less in America cared about Princess Diana when she was alive. But holding huge memorials 10-years after her and her rich boyfriend died? But she was such a good person! Kind-of. Yes, she did good things, but that was part of her job. Mostly she looked pretty and wore fancy dresses, and lived a very, very, very opulent life from the money of the people of her country (including of course the working poor, since the royal family are paid with tax money).
There are thousands of people living and dead that have made vastly more significant contributions to the lives of oppressed people, yet they get no spotlight. Princess Diana was the Angelina Jolie of 1997, a celebrity who wasn’t 100% self absorbed and therefore was a god.

The 6th Anniversary of 9/11
Yes, 9/11 was a tragedy. And yes it certainly changed ‘merica. It was a scary mess, and losing someone in such a senseless way is probably something that you don’t get over ever, no matter how many years pass. So as a nation and as individuals, sure we should “Never Forget.” Just like we remember the Alamo and Pearl Harbor, right?
The problem is I think we aren’t remembering it in the right way. Throwing a pity party year after year and naming things “freedom” while there’s still a huge hole in the ground and more people have died in the mess of a war that we started in the name of 9/11 than died that day, isn’t honoring anyone, least of all the people they are memorializing.
And in all this looking back, still very few bother to ask why it happened to begin with. In 40 years will the historic memory of 9/11 be a bunch of tacky American flag kitsch and shit called “freedom” instead of the real ways that our greed fucked up the world? Probably.

We can’t look forward, we can’t look at the present, and we don’t know what to look at when we look back.

(Photo: probably one of the only good things that MTV has produced in the last decade, from a series of ads about AIDS, hunger and poverty that we banned)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Great Lakes, Not so Great Times

When I noticed a few months ago that BP was acting like its initials stood for “Beyond Petroleum” instead of “British Petroleum” I was pretty sure it was just a green bandwagon jumping publicity stunt.


From Environment Michigan:

“BP talks a lot about being 'Beyond Petroleum,' but their plan for increasing dumping ammonia and toxic sludge into Lake Michigan from their oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana shows they're certainly not beyond polluting our Great Lakes. Even after mounting public pressure, including over 55,000 petition signatures urging them to stop their toxic dumping plans from Environment Michigan supporters and our sister organizations around the region, BP still intends to go forward with their refinery project, even if it means more pollution for Lake Michigan. They have not committed to a plan that would ensure that no additional pollution would be dumped in the lake.”

Thursday, July 5, 2007

What's Wrong with American Fashion

Crocs are still the biggest thing wrong with fashion in the world. And I would be tempted to say that the second most grossly offensive thing is the 80’s resurgence, but really it just makes me giggle. No, the second most infuriating and offensive thing in the world of fashion is undoubtedly American Apparel.

Exhibit A: Hello Ladies, American Apparel hates you, now please spend $50 on this metallic swimsuit.

1) The clothes for men, babies and children are normal and simple. The clothes offered for women are almost exclusively metallic, spandex, and hideous (as seen here)

2)You are asking for it, and if you aren’t asking for it, you should be. It’s no secret that the powers that be at AA are huge mysogistic perverts. Their ads (as seen here) feature young and underage women in unambiguous soft-core porn poses. And the sexual harassment lawsuits from employees (senior partner Dov Charney reportedly asked a young store employee to have sex with him, exposed himself to several employees and conducted board meetings nearly nude) Oh and he also thinks that you are asking for a beating, “women initiate most domestic violence.” Charney asserts.

Exhibit B: Sure our clothes weren’t made in a sweatshop, but that doesn’t mean that we give a flying fuck about worker’s rights.

According to this article the “progressive” clothing chain that kills two hipsters’ birds with one stone (looking stupid and feeling superiorly good about ones self) hates unions almost as much as they hate women.

When American Apparel heard the news of workers wanting a union (and disputing things like no paid time off, lack of affordable healthcare, production methods, and (most shocking) treatment by supervisors) the management held captive meetings with employees, interrogating them about their union activities and sympathies, solicited employees to ask the union to return their union authorization cards and threatened to shut down the plant if the workers organized. Nice. Real “liberal.”

In a society where carrying a canvas bag proclaiming, “ I’m not a plastic bag!” seems to be the best we can hope for in the way of awareness and action, the antics and support for American Apparel is still as hideous as their clothing.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Give me a Freegan Break

This doesn’t annoy me nearly as much as the showy no toilet paper yuppies and certainly not as much as the backwards thinking involved with these products. In fact I must admit that for the most part I agree with these hippies.

Of course not without exception: dumpster diving and trash picking is something poor people have been doing, well, probably since there has been rich people to throw out perfectly good stuff. Buying things at garage sales and taking them off the street is just ingrained as good sense in people without money. Truly, the lower your income, the more resourceful you have to be.

New York City is probably one of the worst places in America to be poor, yet one of the best places to find almost anything for free. And while I don’t begrudge these white people from middle and upper class backgrounds taking things from the trash (it’s public domain after all, it should be equal opportunity), I do take offense that they have co-opted it as their idea.

Only when people who retired early from investment banking start realizing that there’s a lot of waste and a lot of nice stuff in there does it become a news item (they probably came to this realization by remembering how much nice stuff they once chucked themselves). Producing less waste, consuming less, reusing more, all of these are necessary and their ideas and actions are in the right place, it’s the self-important “revolutionary” approach that is annoying.

Poor people might not pick trash to save the environment, but their impact (or lack of impact) on the environment is probably considerably more over their lifetimes since they buy less in the first place, have smaller homes, cars, etc. The New York Times however, isn’t likely to print an article about poor people picking trash, as it wouldn’t be as self-congratulatory to it’s perceived readership.

Side Note: A vegan eating meat so it doesn’t go to waste rubs me the wrong way; it seems like morals that are a bit too flexible. (Couldn’t they just give the meat to a meat-eating homeless person?)

Monday, June 18, 2007

The New Coney Island

Gothamist posted the plans for Coney Island, and there’s no other word to describe it than creepy. Adding hotels doesn't make it more attractive or appease people who wanted to save the character of Coney Island, it just adds to the sterile Disneyfiycation of the place.

Coney Island is Coney Island because it feels a little trapped in time with the sideshows and old rides and boardwalk. The idea of it as a vacation spot is absurd, tourists come to New York for New Yorky things, if they want amusement parks with overpriced hotels, Six Flags, Cedar Point and Disneyworld are going to win out.

As for the condos, they of course ruin Coney Island more than anything. And who’s going to live there for that kind of money? Trust fund hipsters? Maybe, it might be ironic, or post-ironic, or something. And that would be the biggest crime, turning Coney Island into Williamsburg…

Related: The plans claim the Wonder Wheel will stay even though it is technically in Astroland, yet it doesn’t appear to be included in the drawing. Other rides are for sale though, at surprisingly low prices.

Update: Oh and it turns out that on top of it all the developer is a massive racist: "The hotels, Mr. Sitt said, would offer black residents not only jobs, but careers. The Russian immigrants, who enjoy a 'quality of life and activity by the water,' would flock to the hotels and nightclubs. Jewish and Italian-American residents would get the "quality retail, bookstores and entertainment venues" that they want."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

New York's Sexiest Vegetarian

Let me just preface this with saying I think this whole thing is a bit silly.

First of all how does the fact that you don't eat meat make you more sexy? But most importantly why are only celebrities allowed to compete? What they don't get enough attention?

That said, I think I should totally win "New York's Sexiest Vegetarian" for the following reasons:
1) I am a lot less annoying than most other vegetarians and celebrities
2) I live in New York
3) I have been a vegetarian for 14 years and have never had a piece of KFC on the sly
4) As evidenced by the photo above I am totally sexy

Also, so much for being the capital of the world, turns out New York is only the number four best city to live in as a vegetarian in 'merica (damn you West Coast hippies!)

UPDATE: So PETA has named the Sexiest Vegetarian for 2007: Carrie Underwood (I don't know I think she won 'merican idol or something), all I can say is: LAME!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Land O' Plenty

I just read about photographer Chris Jordan today, his stuff isn't the most amazing photography I have ever seen in my life, but it is pretty cool.

Although the message may come off a bit preachy at times, his new series: Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait is a really interesting idea: to read that 2 million plastic bottles are used every 5 minutes in the US and then photograph it (above). Well, it makes me feel good about using the same water bottle for the past four months- germs be damned at least I'm not wasteful.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Ah! This is just the kind of article I needed to read right now. It's like the New York Times and The Onion decided to join forces on this one. But really it's just a case of life being more amusing than fiction.
Here's what makes this story so great:
  1. This quote: ''If you're a cop and you're arresting people and you're confiscating the marijuana and keeping it yourself, that's bad. That's real bad,'' said City Councilman Doug Thomas.
  2. He only got caught because he's paranoid when he's high and called 911 because he thought he was dying.
  3. As if all of this hadn't won him cop of the year, when he got caught, he blamed his wife. Awe.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Enough Already: Crocs

This is long overdue and even a bit outdated, but it needs to be said none-the-less: These hideous shoes need to be banned.

Now, I’m no America’s Next Top Plus Sized Model or anything, and I’m not on the cutting edge of fashion, but I know how to dress myself, and I have the good sense not to leave the house, or even stay in the house in something so disgustingly offensive as these shoes.

It may sound a bit like a conspiracy theory, but I think that crocs are a dangerous world-wide epidemic on par with the trend of combining celebrity names, or caring what Britney Spears does. They must be stopped.

No one seems safe–people who seem otherwise perfectly sane are voluntary seen by the whole world in shoes that can best be described as clown shoe/clog/bedroom slipper hybrid. I don’t care if they are comfortable or not, my bathrobe is comfortable, but I don’t leave the house in it, because I have something that the croc wearing world could use a healthy dose of: Shame.

The is a lot wrong in the world, some things give you hope in humankind and others, like the popularity of such deplorable footwear, and spas for napping make one think that maybe Devo really was right after all.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stupidest thing I've seen today

Most days people say things that are more clever than me, which sometimes threatens my massive ego. But luckily I always come across at least one really dumbass thing that secures my air of superiority. Today its a spa designed around napping. Now I've been know to do a new-agey thing or two (I do after all go to yoga twice a week), so I am not above paying to relax, but for fuck's sake- paying for a power nap? That's just plain stupid.

Starbucks doesn't charge that much for coffee, or you could, I don't know, just leave work before dark. If you are paying $24 to take a nap, you have too much money, way too much, and you should send some me right now. The only place I would pay to sleep is a hotel, where give you little soaps and let you sleep as long as you want, with out forcing you to do so in something that looks like it was designed by Steve Jobs.

I just can't wait until this place goes out of business and the city's homeless gets a supply of futuristic beds that elevate their feet above their hearts.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Step 23: Swim Across the Alantic Ocean

Google must be fucking with us again. The boyfriend decided to look up driving directions from New York to London (you know for weekend visits) and google suggests I swim 3,462 miles across the ocean and then make a slight right at E05. Very funny google, very funny. I think they are giving my swimming a bit too much credit too, they say it will only take me 29 days and 10 hours. Evidently the Atlantic is the only swimable ocean in the opinion of Google Maps, try to put in Los Angeles to Tokyo for example and it tell you it can't be done.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

And so it Goes

Kurt Vonnegut died.

I read Cat's Cradle when I was too young to really get it, and Man Without a Country last year. He was an interesting man, with a lot of interesting things to say:

"If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind."
Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Remembering Newspapers

Yet another post about my obsession about the state of print journalism.

Jack Lessenberry, a columnist for Metro Times Detroit (where a slightly younger, more idealistic version of me once interned) wrote this week about a Detroit newspaper editor and ownership shift that I am too young/too lazy to have paid much attention too. In his column however, he does sum up pretty succinctly what I have been trying to say about the tends in both newspapers and magazines:
"Newspaper companies, not just those in Detroit, seem to have made a decision to publish newspapers for people who do not like to read. They are putting out papers for those who would rather watch television.

That might have made some sense in somebody's head at some cocktail party somewhere, but I can report I have talked to actual humans who prefer watching television to reading. Talked to them at length, in fact. The truth is that they don't want a newspaper that looks like television. They just don't want to read, period. People who do want to read find increasingly less and less in newspapers in general."

He goes on to talk about how since newspapers have been trying to be TV they have lost readers in larger numbers and it is because of this not solely advances in technology that newspapers are dying.

The more and more the evil corporate chains buy up papers, the fewer publications escape the infotainment trap. Even those who seem to can get sucked in, the summer that I interned at Metro Times (2003) I sat in on a meeting with the local fox station about how we could partner with their morning broadcasts to promote our stories. Luckily they editors were all left with such a bad taste and the broadcasters didn't seem too keen on the story about gay bath houses in Detroit. The partnership, to my knowledge never took place.

Update (4/19): Mother Jones decided to send me two issues at once, so I've been busy reading the March/April issue in the last few days and every article in it is really good this time around. This one: Breaking the News, kind of says it all on this topic though.

Giggle Bites

The boyfriend (also known as Mark), reads this comic a lot. And today sent the above over to me.

It's mildly embarrassing but totally true- I have no idea how big a GB is. When I finally got a MP3 player last year, I thought "Well I like music, and I own lots of music, I should get a big one." So I got a 30GB one and put all my music on it, I have since realized that my MP3 player has a hard drive almost a big a my laptop and is only half as full. I don't use my MP3 player to store photos or video or any of that nonsense on- hell, I'm surprised I can use that thing at all.

Technology is confusing and the further I get immersed in it (and learn about it/write about it) the more that I feel it's treated like a secret little geek club. They could explain it to us in terms that soccer moms would get (like 10,000 cat pictures= 1GB) but they don't want to. They want to carry on feeling smarter than us, and making us buy MP3 players with hard drives as big as our computers.

Eh, I don't blame 'em really. I like feeling smarter than people too.

Paper or plastic

Oh Brooklyn politicians! Sometimes you can be so misguided, and sometimes you seem to get the idea.

It may seem like an odd issue to get enthusiastically behind, but it is the political issue that I've been must active and interested in, in the last few months. Sure, it's not the most important or pressing issue, but I think why I am so behind it is that it's something that is practical and beneficial and easy for people of any city or social standing to do. It's activism that doesn't feel like activism, so people might actually do it. It's putting something in your shoulder bag or old lady cart instead of the 20 plastic bags per item C-town seems to think you need. And the impact on the environment, animals, and oil dependency can be immediate and tangible.

I guess what it comes down to is that I used to be really idealistic, but more and more I am a grumpy old lady and don't have much faith in people to do the right thing. This is something I can actually see happening. Baby steps and all that.

Side note: When I searched for a picture of a plastic bag, and I got the above as a result. The photo was linked (perhaps unsurprisingly) to a California Green party website with a story about how last month San Francisco was the first city in the US to ban plastic bags. See those hippies have good ideas sometimes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

"dead tree media"

I didn't read this whole article, because really how many pages can you read about an office move?

But I did read it long enough to:

1. feel nostalgic for an era of print journalism in which I have never worked


2. want to vomit a little over the use of "mod cons" in place of modern conveniences.

Number two basically explains its self and if I wasn't so lazy I would write the editor who let the phrase slide a stern email.

But let me if you will expand on number one a bit more: I think journalism is an exciting and necessary profession (which you know is luckily since I happen to be in it). Despite my formal training and short time at daily and weekly newspapers, a monthly magazine, and ugh, a company newsletter, I would be woefully prepared to be a reporter in a time even as short as 15 years ago.

Sure, I typed my high school papers on a broken typewriter, didn't use email or the interweb until late 1999, and am still far less tech savvy than many in the field, but I've also worked in offices when the computers have gone down and everyone sat there helpless and uncomfortable, me very much included.

Is it ironic that I am a print journalist, who gets 95% of her news online or on TV, who wants very much for the old traditions not to die, yet increasingly works on the interweb side of the media and would be hard pressed to research a story without a computer?

Don't ask me I learned irony from Alanis Morissette.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Isn't it Ironic?

In one of my English classes in high school we had to bring in the lyrics to a song and talk about the form and meaning like it was a poem. I brought in a Tori Amos song because I was so terribly deep and brooding.

If I had the assignment today I would like to think that I would bring in this cover of "My Humps" and explain a line by saying " I think what she's trying to say is that she would like to own the power that her body has over men and turn the patriarchal tide to use it in her favor, for wealth that she has systematically been denied."

"Also I believe that she would like us all to 'check it out'."

ps. It really does take something like this (and 12 years) to redeem Alanis for teaching a whole generation the wrong meaning of the word ironic*

*In another one of my English classes in high school we were forced to listen to Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" and write similar poems using "irony." I would of course look back now and call the exercise ironic, but I wouldn't want to mis-use the word.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Birthday Gift Idea #2

Once they invent the hoverboard for in honor of my birthday I am betting that they won't have all the kinks worked out, so I introduce to you Birthday gift idea #2: The helmet.

And even if they don't invent the hover board guess it could be used to not die whilst ridding my bicycle.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Is nowhere safe?

I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't know this was happening in my own borough. I've been to Coney Isalnd a few times and found its time warpped, un-disneyifcation refreshing and dare I say, even a little charming, even if it was kind of scuzzy.

Condos in Coney Island? Is no where safe any more?

Egg and Cheese on a roll: $1.75

I have a like/hate relationship with New York City. While I think that it is enormously overrated, It also, by virtue of being full of some many people, has a lot of interesting things to do, and it is a good place for my career for the time being.

That said I have never much warmed to New Yorkers themselves. There is of course no city wide identity of a "New Yorker" for it is a city of 8 million individuals (or some such bullshit).

Sure there are normal people in New York, kind people, funny, interesting, blah, blah, blah, but you don't interact with these people in your daily life very much so it's easy to forget that they exist.

Most days you come in contact with jerks on the side walk, jerks on the subway, jerks driving, jerks in stores. Basically 8 million individuals acting as if they own the joint, and hell bent on fulfill every "New Yorkers are rude" stereotype.

But something restored my faith in humanity a little bit this morning. Food street vendors. Particularly the man who owns the breakfast cart in 50th street between 6th and 7th ave. He not only sells delicious breakfast foods for very low prices, but always smiles and genuinely acts like he is glad that you are paying him money. In a world of self centered no shit giving and poor costumer service, his egg sandwich and donut cart is a beacon of shinning light. or something.

It's just refreshing to have someone not be a jerk in New York. This morning for instance, a homeless woman came to the cart while I was waiting for my egg sandwich, she asked for a coffee and donut and told him that she had no money. He said "no problem" and gave it to her.

I can't boycott all corporate chains, because damn those Frapicinos are delicious, but I bet that would never happen at Starbucks. I'm just saying.

* That is not the man nor the egg cart in the picture, that is in fact the only Native American street food vendor in New York who was pushed last year from selling his Mohawk food in the his normal spot by the city. But that's a whole other story. I just liked the picture.

What We Call the News

What we call the news indeed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Couldn't Give a...

The general opinion about Americans the world over (aside from we are fat, have no taste and are ruining the world) is that we are by and large a cheery, friendly, upbeat people.

Sure, occasionally back in the Midwest (and even in "we too cool to care" big city) people smile and strike up conversations with strangers, something that is a sure sign of crazy in many other countries.

I maintain however that we are not the grinning-happy-go-lucky masses that we to a certain extent even believe ourselves to be. We are in fact a country full of people who don't increasingly don't want to be bothered and couldn't give a shit. Myself very much included.
The anonymous nature of most of our interactions plays a huge part in this, providing us with all the safety of a padded suit and a ski mask to be bigger and bigger jerks.

A few recent examples:

When I phoned the corporate headquarters of an un-named company yesterday to inquire about using an image in an article, I was hung up on as soon as I said the name of the magazine. Naturally I called back, and the following exchange took place:

Me: "Hi I just called, I think we got disconnected."
Woman in charge of all calls coming into a major company: "No we didn't, I hung up on you."
Me: " Why would you do that?"
Woman: “Because you keep calling here and I'm sick of it.”
Me: "I have never called before."
Woman: "Well somebody keeps calling about subscriptions."
Me: "I'm an editor and I'm calling about using a photo in an article in our magazine, that's why I asked to speak to your press department."
Woman: "Oh, oops."

Yeah, oops. She just wanted to be left the f*ck alone, she didn't want to have to talk to me and figure out who I was or what I wanted.

Similarly, the woman last year who wished me dead, simply because it would make her job a little bit easier and she could get back to reading blogs or playing solitaire.

Or good ol' Spirit airlines, whose countless "customer service" representatives gave increasingly less and less of a shit when our bag full of Christmas gifts was lost stolen this past Christmas. (It is nearly four months later and they still don’t give a shit by the way nor have we received any money for our stolen gifts)

And then of course there’s me. I seem to be becoming a grumpy old woman well before my time.

Perhaps it’s because I’m new, or perhaps it’s a little bit of not shit giving on the part of receptionists, but a number of random calls get transfer to me daily. And whether it’s a high school or college student with a journalism project, a reader who can’t find a camera review from six months ago, someone writing a book about a photographer we covered in the 1970’s, or an advertiser, when I pick up the phone, the same thought is in the back of my head: “why can’t you just leave me alone!” I do my best to be helpful and answer questions, but really at the heart of it all I don’t think American’s, or perhaps humans really want much to do with each other.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

How to lose friends and alienate people

This seems like a really stupid idea. And even though it makes me want to vomit, I'm guessing it kind of works, only in the way that saying "hey I got some dumbasses to send me free stuff" can be considered advertising. Still if you are looking to get rid of some friends, or just look like a total douche, this is also a good way.

Birthday Gift Idea #1

With less than 30 days until the anniversary of my birth, I'm sure more than one person is racking their brains for gift ideas. Well I'm here to help, one word: Hoverboard!

I have been complaining for years that we are being lied to, I'm sure the technology exists to make one of these, and I know the demand is there. Even if it's not, when has that stopped anyone? I learn and write about tons of pointless, expensive gadgets at the magazine that people seem to think they can't live without, and I firmly believe the the Hoverboard is one of them.

So hear my plea Hoverboard makers: don't wait for Christmas or a re-release of Back to the Future, deliver the Hoverboard to AweseomeK this birthday season!

ps. I can wear normal shoes when I ride it right?

Taking away the maid's vacuum

Some yuppies have decided not to wipe for a year as a stunt to promote a book and I'm supposed to care.

The idea of lessening your impact on the environment is not noble, it's necessary. But the way they are going about it does more to hinder actual conservation than help it, and it's not like they can even pretned that they are doing it for altruistic means- they are doing it to promote a book, a blog, a New York Times article, they are doing it for fame. And the hook- the gross out factor that will make people want to pay attention is the silliest part of it: no toilet paper.

So they are trying to not make an impact on the environment by not using anything disposable: no more take out- good, canvas bags for groceries: good, but they don't live in the woods, so they make waste- I'm sure they still get mail, I'm sure the woman still uses tampons. And the ban on using any energy? Again misplaced. No cars: good, No TV: good, no elevators and no mass transit? silly (does 10 people instead of 9 on an elevator or 209 instead of 210 people on a subway make a difference? Hardly) And the candles don't make much of a difference when you are still running your washer and dryer.

Beeswax candles and smelly bums are not only a gimmick (used by people who still spend 75% of their days in front of energy sapping computers) but they make people think that changing your habits to consume less and contribute more are crazy hippie ideals that regular people can't/would never do. It makes for less flashy headlines, but Amanda Park Taylor's weekly "Conscientious Objector" column in the L Magazine regularly offers advice on things that people can actually do (like using less water and reusable bags for shopping).

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dark Days in Journalism

I get so annoyed with mass media so often ( I've always been annoyed with much of broadcast journalism, but in the last couple of years print and internet journalism have been veering so much towards tabloid "infotainment" that they are not much better if not worse).

Case in point: Mary Kate f*cking Olsen can now write for The New York Times Ok, granted it is in the style magazine, not the news section or anything and it is about purses, but still. I'm sure they are more informed voices and journalists who might have something more interesting to say than "I like my red Chanel bag the best." Journalists who worked their whole careers to get a Times byline can take solace in the fact that a 20 year old child star got there before them.

The direction that journalism seems to be taking in this country isn't the most disheartening however, the fact that something like this is still happening in the world. Journalists being jailed, tortured and even murdered is nothing new, but there are several things that are especially disturbing about this: The underwhelming reactions to not only his conviction but the fact that prison sentences for journalists had allegedly been abolished in Egypt. And the lukewarm threats: "you shouldn't be able to host a fourm in two years now" oooh, that will show them..

All of this in addition to the hundreds of media jobs that have been cut in New York in the last couple of months- it's all almost enough to make a person lose their wide-eyed idealism. Almost.