Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

Happy Juneteenth

June 19, 2020

What a brilliantly simple illustration for an essay on whether the “b” in “black” should be capitalized. I appropriated it from The Atlantic.

I made Juneteenth very famous, as you know.

No, I didn’t. And neither did that other peckerwood.

I’m not big on holidays. They were nothing to look forward to in the newspaper biz. Whether it’s Arbor Day or Zoo Lovers Day, the paper must appear. And no matter what capitalist fantasies motivate the business decisions at Gannett and Alden Global Capital, a newspaper won’t publish itself. Yet.

Once you’ve eaten a few dozen “holiday” meals at your desk while decoding a school-board story written by a functional alcoholic the term “holiday” loses all meaning.

Most holidays are dubious, anyway. Christmas? Sorry, not one of mine. Thanksgiving? Is that the one where George Washington threw his wooden teeth across the Potomac and killed a turkey perched in a cherry tree? Fourth of July? That’s the “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” one, right? Except for, you know, those people.

Then there’s Juneteenth. LIke Independence Day, it commemorates a beginning, a first step on a long march to a battle that seems to have no ending.

Though the celebration has its roots in Texas, I don’t recall hearing about it when I was in school down there. Too busy teaching us about how John Wayne fought Communism at the Alamo, I guess.

We never heard anything about the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, either.

And so I suffered from ignorance, a condition with which I continue to struggle. It, too, is a long march. The trick is to keep putting one foot ahead of the other while keeping your eyes, ears, and mind open.

Here’s something I stumbled across along the path. It drew my attention because I’m an old newshound, a retired copy editor, and I love watching the language as it tries to evolve to meet the times. It’s an article in The Atlantic by Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor of philosophy and law at New York University, and it’s titled “The Case for Capitalizing the ‘B’ in ‘Black.'”

Water logged

June 2, 2020

The rain was bucketing down last night, and we have the bucket to prove it.

It rained like a mad bastard here last night, with lightning strikes aplenty and one thunderclap that sounded like the SWAT team triggering a flash-bang before hitting the door.

The cacti got a charge from the evening’s rain.

The weather probably kept the cops and citizens from doing it hand to hand again downtown, as they did on Sunday night. Call me simple, but I don’t see how setting Dumpster fires and trashing the KiMo Theatre advances the Revolution.

Nor do I believe one achieves peace through superior firepower. The Albuquerque Police Department apparently broke out the flash-bangs, tear gas, and rubber bullets in honor of the occasion, saying some miscreant fired on them.

But hey, this is Albuquerque. If you don’t hear gunfire when the sun goes down, that just means everyone’s busy reloading.

The journalism performed in honor of the hullabaloo was so comically inept that it’s hard to get any sense of what actually went down. Much noise, very little signal.

Why, it’s enough to make a fella open up one a’ them whatchamacallits? Social-media accounts! I hear they come with cute kitten videos and everything.

It’s snot right

March 15, 2020

Everything these people say for public consumption should come with an asterisk and a footnote reading:
“Caution. May contain toxic amounts of bullshit.”

The New York Times has stepped on its old gray dick again, with a headline reading “Trump Tests Negative.”

These bozos still don’t get it. The man is a documented liar a thousand times over, and yet they insist on feeding us preposterous bullshit like this.

The Washington Post gets it right with “Trump tests negative for coronavirus, physician says.” See how easy that is? Absent independent verification, you attribute the statement.

“Hey, we never said that shit. His doctor did.”

If the sonofabitch said the sun rises in the east, I would step outside to see for myself. And on more than one morning, too.

Just say what?

February 13, 2020

“Recovery is possible?”
Not based on my experience with bicycle racing, it isn’t.

OK, I’m bent, twisted, more than a bubble off plumb.

I know this about myself, and I came to terms with it long ago.

But I can’t be the only person who finds this “dose of reality” amusing.

The 2021 Escalade Multiplex

February 8, 2020

This beast has nearly as much screen real estate as my living room. The difference is, my living room gets better mileage and won’t be found parked on top of a cyclist because I was having trouble deciding what to watch.

Call me old-fashioned, but when I read a statement like this

The most important screen for any driver of the new Escalade is the 14.2-inch digital instrument cluster that sits just behind the steering wheel.

… I long for the days when editors, like, y’know, edited, an’ stuff.

I would argue that “the most important screen for any driver of the new Escalade” is the fucking windshield.

Our man at The Verge doesn’t get around to wondering whether this mechanized multiplex is a good idea until quite late in the piece. Given that the curb weight of the 2020 2WD model is 5,311 pounds, you may consider me a strong “No” on that question.

Nobody needs 38 inches of OLED on the ROAD, which s/he shares with pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and other, lesser autos, like UPS trucks, cement mixers, and SWAT-team armored cars. You want to play with screens, get a living room and a comfy chair.

R.I.P., Dirt Rag

January 30, 2020

Ah, Dirt Rag, we hardly knew ye.

Well, this sucks.

Dirt Rag has been in the bicycle-journalism racket exactly as long as I have. We both rolled around in 1989, though I was mostly on a road bike.

American Cyclery is getting a seismic refit and, eventually, it is to be hoped, a new owner.

I never thought of myself as a mountain biker. And Dirt Rag was never just a mountain-bike mag. Maurice Tierney and the gang were into art and culture and all manner of good shit. Did you know Mo is a deejay at KALX, 90.7 FM in Berserkly? True fact.

Also, this:

The oldest bike shop in San Francisco is on the block. American Cyclery built my Soma Saga Disc for me, and they did a stellar job. I haven’t had to do jack shit to that bike except ride it and fix an occasional flat.

I thought Friday was the day when all the bad news dropped. Trust the bike biz to get it wrong.

 

R.I.P., Jim Lehrer

January 23, 2020

It’s -30- for Jim Lehrer, co-founder of “The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour” on PBS.

Lehrer started out as a print guy, and maybe that’s why I liked him. He worked for papers in Dallas, where he covered the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and then shifted to TV, where he and Robert MacNeil were all over the Watergate hearings. He went on to moderate a dozen presidential debates.

MacNeil praised Lehrer for his “very direct manner of interviewing” and his “extraordinary ability to listen.”

“You know the hardest thing to do on TV is listen,” he added.

Sometimes the hardest thing is to watch, especially given the motley crew of talking heads that fills screens these days. Unlike the bulk of them, Jim Lehrer will be missed. You can read his obit in The New York Times here.

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.