Posts Tagged ‘Journalism’

Space cowboy

April 24, 2021

“Night has fallen on the desert.” That’s Ken Layne, beginning each episode of “Desert Oracle Radio.”

Daylight has fallen on the desert — and in celebration, I just dropped a few coppers into Desert Oracle Radio’s tin cup over to Patreon.

It felt overdue. I’ve been eavesdropping for free, the way you do when you can. But suddenly, while listening to this week’s episode, I thought: “If I’m gonna keep riding this old greydog through the Mojave, I should really buy a ticket.” So I did.

There’s a lot of talk lately about what new “technology platforms” are doing to “traditional media companies.” Yeah, I suppose. You get to write, or talk, or whatever, with a minimum of interference from “gatekeepers.” And if you’re lucky, maybe the audience will forget that information wants to be free, become subscribers, and kick a few Dead President Trading Cards your way.

Most of what I read about the newsletter boom centers on its threat to old-school newsgathering operations. But Will Oremus at Slate seems to hit the nail on the head when he notes that the Substackers are mostly about commentary and analysis, not straight, original reportage of the kind we used to get from our daily blats before Gannett snatched ’em up.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the commentariat has snuck off the reservation. Even in my little backwater, cycling journalism, management realized early on that “analysis” was a whole lot cheaper than sending staffers to the scene because it could be done on the cheap, at the office, where they could keep both eyes and at least one thumb on the indolent tippling slackers. No airline travel or rental cars, no hotel rooms or restaurant meals, no credentials, no worries. Plus the office has reliable internet. Crank up those MacBooks and pound out the thumbsuckers, bitches.

Now the commentariat has realized they don’t need management skimming the cream from their milking of the audience, assuming they’ve built one and can monetize maybe 10-15 percent of it. Good for them, and good for us, especially if it drives management at “traditional media companies” to think about actually suiting up for the game, which is to say covering the news.

As a bush-league blatherer myself I try to keep semi-informed, so I help nurture a variety of operations, from large to small, outfits and individuals I’d like to see thrive. The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Atlantic. Charles P. Pierce at Esquire. Adventure Journal. Padraig and the gang over at The Cycling Independent. And now Ken Layne at Desert Oracle.

Sometimes it’s about the news. Sometimes it’s about the commentary. I’m a sucker for a nice bit of writing, like I heard in last night’s Desert Oracle Radio episode. It put me in mind of some of the grumbling I’ve heard from Hal Walter lately as Weirdcliffe starts to seem a little too big for its Wranglers.

What if, some day … what if we stopped working hard and stopped doing what we’re told? What if we moved to little specks of towns all over the country? Not the places that already have an organic bakery and four coffee shops with more almond milk than coffee beans, but the places built for things that no longer happen and where nobody ever came up with another workable idea. Old mining towns, old cattle-ranch crossroads, the mostly abandoned towns on Nevada’s U.S. 50 or U.S. 6. The real Las Vegas, an hour east of the wealthy island of Santa Fe. Far-eastern Oregon and Washington state. Places where you could maybe afford a house for your family, your friends, whatever arrangement makes sense. Clean air; hopefully, enough water. Clean streams for fishing. Walk your dog out the back door and into the wild. Keep a garden to attract the bees and the hummingbirds. Why not? What are you waiting for?

Shoveling

January 7, 2017
Behold the Driveway of Doom.

Behold the Driveway of Doom.

Jaysis. Some days, the writing, it goes smooth like butta.

And some days, it goes more like shitting broken bottles into a flaming toilet. Something of a pain in the keister, is what.

This is the grotesquely scenic route toward explaining the recent dearth of bloggery in these environs. With mots of the bon variety proving elusive I felt compelled to corral the few I was able to catch, hoping eventually to assemble them into a remuda of paying copy.

Nix.

Notions kept arising with malicious intent, like Martin Sheen surfacing in the lagoon en route to snuffing Marlon Brando in “Apocalpyse Now.” False paths with bad endings. Curiously shaped bricks that, while fascinating in their own right, didn’t quite fit in the wall.

Gah.

Also, it snowed. One of those obnoxious, featherweight snows that, coupled with a stiff north wind, basically glazes a steep, north-facing driveway like a cop’s donut if the homeowner is distracted by journalism and forgets to clear it first thing.

Sheeeeeeeeeeeeyit.

While all this was going on I was striving mightily to avoid the actual news, which, wow, talk about your false paths and bad endings. The road goes ever on and on. Here be dragons. This way to the Dark Side. Thus I shunned The New York Times and NPR in order to remain blissfully ignorant and focused on the task at hand, viz., to wit, earning the meager handful of coppers I require to purchase my common groats and lentils.

And now I believe I need a break from all that. It’s the weekend, f’chrissakes. The toilet will still be on fire come Monday morning.

 

The weather is here, wish you were beautiful

October 15, 2010
One shot, three seasons: Summer in the lawn, fall in the trees and winter on Pikes Peak.

One shot, three seasons: Summer in the lawn, fall in the trees and winter on Pikes Peak.

Deadlines suck. Like The Turk, I’ve been indoors more than I care to be lately, in my case generating bicycle comedy for fun and profit (well, for profit, anyway, and only just barely). This is particularly irksome because we’ve been enjoying a stellar fall here in Bibleburg. It’s 76 right now — 76! — at 5:45 p.m. on Oct. 15. Imagine my amazement.

This will change, as it must. Tomorrow and Sunday look pretty damn’ nice, and wouldn’t y’know, I have to clock in for a couple of shifts in the old VeloBarrel. Come Monday, the weather should become a bit more seasonal, as in 50-something with a chance of showers. Ick.

After that, it’s the Colorado lottery, which means exactly what it sounds like — a total meteorological crapshoot, which I must say keeps life interesting, like the wining jug in John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row,” a punch blended by understudy barkeep Eddie using any booze left in glasses by the patrons of La Ida. A Palace Flophouse roommate, Jones, first pans, then praises the concoction:

“You take whiskey,” he said hurriedly. “You more or less know what you’ll do. A fightin’ guy fights and a cryin’ guy cries, but this —” he said magnanimously — “why, you don’t know whether it’ll run you up a pine tree or start you swimming to Santa Cruz.”

That’s the sad part. Pine trees we got. But Santa Cruz … not so much.