Thursday, January 31, 2008

Oh Johnny, How You'll Be Missed...

When he spoke to us, he wore a hard hat, just like we do, so we wouldn't be afraid of him....AND he walked amongst us and let us touch his skin and clothes....

Mysterious Traveler Entrances Town With Utopian Vision Of The Future

All I need to know about life, I didn’t learn in J-school

My journalism professors in college liked to keep it real, sometimes painfully so. The following is just some of the advice I was given during my time in J-school:

1) Journalists are poor. In fact, if you want to make money, pretty much any degree-based career choice is more lucrative.
2) Speaking of college degrees, you don’t need one. Yeah, that’s right the people getting paid to teach me were telling me that I didn’t need the education I was getting.
3) If you get good grades, no one will want to hire you. The logic here being that if you had time to pull all A’s then you weren’t doing enough actual journalism (interning, writing for the college paper, etc)
4) Whatever you do, don’t go to grad school. This came from my favorite professor, she held a PHD in Journalism and said that going to grad school for journalism was a waste of time.
5) Newsrooms are pretty laid back places, and journalists are notorious for their lack of fashion sense.

Were they right? Well kind of. If you believe the New York Times Style section (and you also believe the definition of journalist is white middle aged man who works at Vogue) then my professors were waaaaay off. These dudes are balling! ($5,000 outfit? Well that dispels #5!)
(one such journalist is pictured above- hey buddy, nice shoes..)

If however, you are more a fan of reality, then my professors were right on the (lack of) money. Even is thinks we make more than we do

As for the degree and grades, again kind of. I doubt my A’s ever got me a job, but I’m sure they didn’t hurt, and as for the journalism degree, it’s true that a lot of the journalists and editors I’ve meant didn’t major in journalism, but I’ve never regretted learning about AP style or practicing reporting by being forced to go to court.

Finally, are newsrooms laid back? In my experience, no more than anywhere else. True, I can wear jeans to work at the magazine now, but I could wear jeans when I worked at a mortgage company and those people aren’t really known to be cool. In fact the EIC of one of the newspapers I briefly worked at in Michigan forced the men to wear ties and the women to wear pantyhose. So it really depends. Although, this piece about newsroom swearing is amusing.

Oh and grad school? I’ve been thinking about it for a few years now.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What’s a Canadian to do?

So, this post on Gawker points to an article that claims racist white people in the south use the code word “Canadian” to refer to black people when they want to say something racist but don’t want to overly offend (the logic I guess being that no one would be offended by dissing Canadians).

The article was based mostly on a memo from a Texas attorney, but seems to being used here as a way of saying, (to quote Gawker) “Dumbass American rednecks have finally caught on that racism and the use of ugly racist terms to call black people might no longer be palatable to the American ear.” But really, categorizing the whole of the south based on one memo and a few anecdotal examples might be a bit illogical. And making sweeping comments categorizing all white southerners as racists-mullet having “white trash” might in itself be just as racist.

Yes there are a lot of racist jerks in the south, and yes their brand of overt racism is disgusting. But what about the subtle covert racism of liberal white northerners? Isn’t that just as disgusting? For example, isn’t the abundant and widely accepted use of the term white trash offensive to people of all races?

New Yorkers should take a break from patting themselves on the back for their progressiveness to listen to the things they accept hearing. I could provide a few anecdotal examples of both subtle and overt racism that I’ve witnessed in my few years in the alleged capital of progressive thinking, but I wouldn’t want to categorize millions of people based on a few examples.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another Thing Wrong with Health Care in 'merica

A side effect of not having health insurance is that you can go decades without visiting the dentist. Probably people with insurance still do that, it’s not a very pleasant place. Not me, I’ve been taking full advantage of the costly privilege of not letting my teeth rot out of my head. So imagine my surprise today, when I went to the dentist after only six short months to discover that since my last visit they had installed flat screen TVs with cable at all of the patient chairs. Fancy. But mostly disturbing and wrong.

For the following three reasons:

1) How much money does my dentist have? The answer is of course a lot more than me, but probably still less than my insurance company. None of which is surprising, yet still, you can’t sit in a chair outfitted with a spittoon and a flat screen TV and not feel like those extra charges for your fillings didn’t help pay for it.

2) Are we this desperate? No one will argue the point that TV is getting worse and worse, even the people on TV seem to be shrugging and saying “well, what do you expect?” Is there some sort of mathematical formula that says that the worse TV gets the more inescapable it should become? If I wanted to I could watch TV at home, at the gym, at work (online), on the subway and walking (on an MP3 player), in a taxi (one of those new fancy ones), on a plane (Jet Blue), and now while having dental work done. What next? Bathroom stalls? Probably…

3) You can’t actually watch TV while having dental work done. Because you have hands and arms in your mouth and in front of your face, not to mention loud sucking, drilling, picking, sanding equipment. Looks like doctor money bags didn’t think that one through…

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Young at Heart....

Family is by nature troubling. You love them, and they love you, if you're lucky, but a whole different set of rules apply as far as conversation goes. Like for instance, what do you say to your grandmother, whom has always voted democratic, when she tells you that she is favoring Mitt robotic muppet Romney? It's a delicate balance. She's the sweetest old woman in the world. You tell her calmly why you are not so fond of him. Other times though you just bite your tongue.

After all your views about almost everything are slightly to drastically different than the rest of your family. And your brother has been calling you a hippie ever since you stopped eating meat and started wearing combat boots with dresses in 1994 (even if you have long since developed a much better fashion sense).

It's not just politics and world views that my family and I disagree on, it's mostly, their image of me. You see, I am currently 26-years-old, yet to some members of my family, my age and perceived social development never made it past 1994. Like today when in the same conversation with my grandmother, I told her about how I am mentoring a 13-year-old, and how at first I was worried that I might be too young to mentor a teenager, until I realized that I am twice her age, and having a mentor in her 20s, would probably be beneficial to her. My grandma said, "well, you aren't the far apart in age from a teenager mentally."

I told my mom about it later. She brushed it off, "she probably meant young at heart."

Young at heart.........mentally.
(above Angela Chase circa 1994, whom I used to dress like)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Politicking (Part 2-some ranting)

The government likes to make it difficult for me to vote. They made me jump through more hoops than most to vote by absentee from London during the last presidential election, and now they are trying to keep me from voting in the New York primary next month. (You see, I switched my voter registration from Michigan to New York a year and a half ago when I switched my drivers license, but yet they claimed I wasn’t registered, so on Friday I had to re-register.)

At any rate, my beef at the moment isn’t as much with the government as it is with the Democratic Party (with whom as of Friday I officially registered with). I’ve always looked at them as the lesser of two evils, and only ever took their side because it was slightly less crazy. But they really seem intent on being complete dumbasses. Case in point: the Michigan Primary. The Democratic Party is “reprimanding” the state for moving its primary up to this month, and as a result most of the candidates aren’t campaigning there (only Clinton is, and she’s the only "major" Democrat on the ballot there). It’s really about the stupidest thing the party (and Obama and especially Edwards) can do. The state’s economy is horrible and the candidate whose platform is most in line with both what the state needs and what it values is Edwards, who is spending no time there and won’t be on the ballot.

Instead, the state will likely go Republican, and likely go for Romney, whose father was (from what I gather) a mediocre governor for Michigan 40 years ago. Happier times, indeed, nostalgia is a funny thing like that. Voting for someone because their father was once governor is almost as stupid as voting for someone because their husband was once president.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Victorian Freak Show Never Went Away

Now it’s just called Big Brother, I Love New York 2, or A Shot at Love with Telia Tequila, or the Biggest Loser…

Thursday, January 3, 2008


The only presidential candidate I’ve ever been excited about voting for is Ralph Nader. He was never going to win, but he had some good ideas and he stood by them.Unlike seemingly every other non-republican in the world I was (and still not) all that impressed with Al Gore. Or Bill Clinton for that matter. And you know what? I don’t think that many people were really that impressed at the end of Clinton’s terms either. The clusterf*ck of the last eight years has given the country (and the world?) a case selective memory. These were okay guys, but really still a far cry from the kind of leadership the country actually needs. And John Kerry? Did anything about him really matter? We just wanted to get anyone else in.

But now it’s actually an election again, kind of. And don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see a woman or any minority in office as much as anyone. I have just been feeling more and more that Clinton is REALLY not that woman and Obama is probably not that minority. They are both so gotdamn eager to impress, to the point where they sellout in a big way, the exact thing republicans are always making fun of democrats for.

Clinton is all about Universal Health Care until she meets opposition and then she sells out and gets bought by pharmaceutical companies like everyone else, and she voted for a bunch of Bush’s crappy ideas: No Child Left Behind? Sounds Great. The War? Sure thing, want some more money? For a long time I was on the fence about her because I felt like her personality was the only thing that was criticized, never her politics, and so I though, well maybe she has her sh*t together and people are just afraid of her. But the more I read, the more it does seem like electing her might be like a slightly worse version of the 90s, which, weren’t THAT bad in comparison, but we can do far better.

Obama I can’t completely decide about, but what worries me is I don’t think he can completely decide about himself either. It must be incredibility difficult to toe the racial line your whole life. If you’re a woman, you’re a woman period. But being both white and black, you can never be seen as one completely. And yeah, he’s getting a lot of flack for playing too much on the white side and ignoring the problems of black people in America, but that’s unfair, when Clinton caters to the interests of (mostly men) in corporate ownership no one says she’s ignoring the problems of women, by virtue of being a woman she must be lady-sympathic right? Racial identification aside, what does Obama stand for? He was against the war, but other than that it seems like a lot of vague lip service, just like Clinton he seems pretty interested in keeping the wealthy and upper middle class happy. From everything I’ve read, he’s not a bad guy at all, but I do get the sense that he needs a kick in the pants because he doesn’t seem to stand firm enough and seems, like Clinton, too eager to keep the rich white guys happy.

So that oddly leaves me liking the rich white guy, Edwards, the best. I didn’t even think about him until the last month or so, because I wrote him off as more of the same Kerry, Gore blahness. And yes he’s far from an ideal choice, but he’s the much better not-ideal choice. He’s the only candidate that’s really noticed that working class people exist and that they are the voters and citizens a candidate should be most concerned about. And he’s passionate, and has ideas that differ from the rest (slightly) but still says them. But everyone knows that ideas and conviction often has little place in the election process, so his chances are slim. But maybe Obama will pick him as a running mate, and Edwards can serve as Obama’s conscience