Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

Dear diary

January 7, 2020

Dear diary, what a day it’s been. …

I never know where this blog is going to wander.

Some days it wakes up late, isn’t where it should have been. On others, it strolls about, looking at the shops. It rarely buys anything, but occasionally posts a letter on its way home.

On still others, it examines the news, roots through a pile of old journals and training logs, hears an old tune in its head, thinks it’s made some tenuous, possibly spurious connection, shambles into the studio, and cranks out a podcast.

Yes, yes, yes, it’s time for a literary edition of Radio Free Dogpatch, the first of 2020.

 

P L A Y    R A D I O   F R E E   D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Shure SM58 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “As Time Passes,” from Zapsplat.com, which also supplied the sound of a pen scribbling furiously on paper. Yeah, I know, I could’ve handled that myself, but I was on the threshold of a dream. Speaking of which, The Moody Blues supplied bits from “Dear Diary,” from “On the Threshold of a Dream.” Finally, “Remember, thou art mortal” was lifted from “History of the World, Part I,” by Mel Brooks.

R.I.P., William Greider

December 29, 2019

William Greider went west on Christmas. He was 83.

His résumé was impressive, and eclectic. The Washington Post. Rolling Stone. The Nation. He found out where the bodies were buried, and he dug them up.

He worked with Hunter S. Thompson, and spoke kindly of him when the gonzo chieftain passed. And The Nation‘s John Nichols did likewise for Greider, noting:

I knew Bill as a quick-witted comrade in the press corps of too many campaigns to count, a generous mentor, an ideological compatriot, and an occasional co-conspirator. He taught me to see politics not as the game that TV pundits discuss but as a high-stakes struggle for power in which the Democrats foolishly, and then dangerously, yielded far too much ground to increasingly right-wing Republicans. … He wrote truthfully, boldly, consistently, without fear or favor, and without the empty partisanships of these awkward times. He was our North Star.

The Mad Dog in Winter

December 24, 2019

Your Humble Narrator at The Arizona Daily Star circa 1980, when his thoughts were not of retirement, but rather escape. Photo: Alan Berner

We may not have ourselves a white Christmas, but it certainly won’t be one suitable for test-riding that shiny new bike I’m not gonna be getting from Sandia Claus.

A chilly rain started falling at midafternoon on Tuesday, shortly after Your Humble Narrator got a short trail run under his tights. All in all, it feels like a marvelous evening for tamales smothered in green chile with a side of Mexican rice.

And for dessert? How about a heaping helping of deep-dish thought about who’s gonna be making it rain around here next year, when a certain somebody taps into that there Socialist Insecurity instead of working for a living?

“Working for a living.” Ho, ho. As if delivering the old hee, and also the haw, requires a strong back and a hand truck.

But deliver we do. Yes, yes, yes, it’s another thrilling episode of Radio Free Dogpatch! We’ve taken a dump right on your porch, and just in time for Christmas, too. Remember, lift with your legs, not your back.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Rode PodMic and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “On the Job,” from Zapsplat.com. Freesound.org contributed the typewriter (theshaggyfreak); ticking clock (straget); wind (eliasheuninck); footfalls in snow (duck37fm); traffic (edo333); and the elevator going down (LG). Eddard Stark comes to you from the late King Joffrey Baratheon’s gruesome collection of Halloween ornaments. And Darth O’Grady comes to you from the Death Star trash can via Sony ICD-UX533 recorder.

Of artists and safety nets

November 13, 2019

No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is a story in the Colorado Springs Sun, mentioning President Nixon, written by Your Humble Narrator in the Year of Our Lord 1974.

Thank Cthulhu I’m not an artist like Russell Chatham. We hacks have a safety net.

Here’s mine: This past weekend, Herself signed me up to start collecting Socialist Insecurity payments beginning in March 2020. If I live that long, and assuming that Agent Orange doesn’t redirect all SS monies to his Wall or his wallet, I will receive a princely sum indeed, each and every month.

After accounting for inflation, it’s roughly equal to what I was paid as a copy boy back in 1974, when I first got into the writing racket.

I figure I can score a used Chevy Express 1500 for about 12 large. The monthly payments should take about 18 percent of my income, which sounds about right. The camping gear I’ve already got.

And parking down by the river? It’s free! Winning!

R.I.P., Deadspin

November 1, 2019

Deadspin’s writers conducted their own exit interviews.

Well, shit. Now I wish I’d been a Deadspin reader. The writers who, after being ordered to “stick to sports,” told their Great Hell overlords to eat a bag of dicks seem like my kind of people.

Nitwits who disliked the often-political tone of my columns, “Mad Dog Unleashed” and “Friday’s Foaming Rant,” often suggested that I likewise “stick to sports.” I did no such thing, because everything is political, and happily my editors and publishers never added their voices to the shut-the-fuck-up chorus, though like Deadspin we often found ourselves owned and/or licensed by eejits.

It’s a dire state of affairs and regrettably far from uncommon. Over at The Nation, Dave Zirin tugged on Deadspin‘s founding editor’s coat, and Will Leitch spake thusly:

“I will say that craven dopes like these people buy media companies all the time, and they slowly suck the life and vigor out of them until they are shades of their former selves. Usually, people who work there have no choice but to stomach it and make tiny but real compromises because they have families or mortgages or medical bills or real-life stresses. It is to the ultimate credit of everyone at Deadspin that they did not roll over to ridiculous and incompetent non-plans and brainless edicts out of self-preservation.”

And at The New Republic, Alex Shephard grabbed Deadspin‘s media-bro mismanagement by the plums and squeezed, with a nod to Gawker’s “How Things Work,” observing:

“It is tempting to see the demise of Deadspin as another depressing instance of how things work: a private equity firm full of almost comically idiotic media bros blunders into a successful media property and destroys it because the only thing it knows how to do is juice ad impressions. But the collapse of Deadspin is so spectacularly stupid, so clearly self-inflicted, that it has an epochal quality. If there were any justice in the world, the site’s absurd decline, which could not better contrast the integrity and talent of Deadspin’s staffers on one side and the craven shit-eating of their corporate masters on the other, would serve as a wake-up call to the powers that be. Since there isn’t, it’s almost certainly a harbinger of much worse to come.”

Much worse to come, indeed. I’ve never been a sports fan, but I’ve been a fan of good sports writing, especially when it didn’t have much to do with sports.

And I wish I’d caught Deadspin‘s act before it turned into a vulture capitalist’s turd.

‘You got to know the right people’

September 29, 2019

O, ’tis true, the druck traffickers are a shower of bastards.
Just say “No” to them drucks, kids. Especially in traffic.

“You got to know the right people,” indeed. Starting with a good copy editor. Or at least one who isn’t on drucks.

Tour de Fence

July 7, 2019

The Sandias as seen from the bottom of Elena, near the casino.

My invitation to Le Tour having gone missing in the mail, I’ve been compelled to ride my own damn bikes around and about in the Duke City.

The high side of the circuit, before dropping down to casino country and then climbing back up.

Between outings I’ve checked in with my old Live Update Guy comrade Charles Pelkey, who is sending his daughter Annika off to Iowa today. She’ll be working for Mayor Pete. No word yet on which horse Chazbo is backing.

In other news, my man Casey B. Gibson did a little surprise gallery for that Boulder-based journal of competitive whatever whose name eludes me. Seems they needed pix from road nats in Tennessee, Casey had them, and that, as they say, was that. Money even changed hands, which is always nice when one is on the job.

Another member of the tribe, Andrew Hood, is the only one of us actually on the scene in France. It being a slow day (team time trial) I joggled his elbow for old times’ sake to see what’s what. No reply yet, because The Hoodlum is a total pro — on the clock, doing the beez-a-neez, and probably not even into the rosé yet.

Meanwhile, The Guardian is doing a live update this year, and it’s not half bad. They’re kicking the shit out of Cyclingnews. I may have to pass them a few of the millions I’ve banked from my stints at Live Update Guy.

Words to live by

April 2, 2019

“New Associated Press guidelines on suspensive hyphenation, you say?
That certainly whets the appetite.”

Neither I nor Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) was invited to the 2019 American Copy Editors Society conference this past weekend in Providence, R.I.

Of course, I only edit myself these days. And having spent a dozen or so years hanging out with copy editors for a paycheck, I don’t regret missing a chance to hang out with them on my own dime.

But the Turk found the slight particularly galling, since like any good deskman he lives for The Craft, even taking his meals in the office, from a bowl that sits atop tattered copies of Webster’s New World College Dictionary and Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.

Can’t find my way home

February 11, 2019

Good thing it doesn’t matter when a virtual press runs, because someone has been intercoursing the penguin as regards his self-imposed deadlines.

Radio Free Dogpatch is intended to be a weekly affair, scheduled for Fridays, but just ask the penguin how well that’s worked out for him (whoops, too late, he’s exploded). To date the thing has reared its ugly head weekly, semimonthly, and on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays.

After three or four goes at this most recent episode, which came this close to becoming a plain-vanilla blog post, I’m starting to think Wednesdays are the ticket. Showtime. Whatever.

In any case, and without further ado, here’s episode 19 of Radio Free Dogpatch. Too bad I couldn’t get it finished in time to win a Grammy to go along with all my Pulitzers, Reubens, Emmys and MacArthur Fellowships.

Oh, well, there’s always next year.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Editorial notes: Shannon Hall wrote about the meanderings of magnetic north for The New York Times. Steve Frothingham has been following the trials and tribulations of ASE and the various media-consolidation stories for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. John McNulty wrote about super-salesman Elmer “Sell the Sizzle” Wheeler for The New Yorker way back in 1938. And Sam Dean of the Los Angeles Times gave us a peek at Zwift’s e-sports ambitions.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited in Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro, adding audio acquired through fair means and foul via Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack (no profit was taken in an admittedly casual approach to various copyrights). Speaking of which, Buck appears courtesy of the 1935 William Wellman film “Call of the Wild,” while Nick Danger took a break from his Further Adventures to ask directions to The Firesign Theatre’s Old Same Place. The background music is “Crusin” from Zapsplat.com. And Blind Faith wrapped it all up with “Can’t Find My Way Home.”

And in other news …

January 31, 2019

VN and BRAIN, together at last.

… we have this. More later.