Saturday, March 28, 2009

Status updates

I posted this online last night before I went to bed.

Jebus, why did I have Mu losing and Ku advancing...

I found these waiting for me when I woke up.

Jonathan: because you're a sinner

Amanda: because you're a Communist

With friends like these, no wonder I have mental issues.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bracket Fail

Yep, I will fully admit that I did not think MU could pull it out against...well, anyone really. Keep in mind, I spent four years watching Quinn Snyder dry-hump the basketball program into the ground as he looked to score his next key of coke...

Do I like Mike Anderson... not really. But I'm not sure even a Final Four spot would change my mind on that one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New York's MTA eats babies and kicks puppies

The MTA today is going to increase subway and bus fares.

And hearing people talk about it, you would think the MTA was actually getting ready to sacrifice a virgin to the public transportation gods.

There was enough wailing and gnashing of teeth back home when the KCATA wanted to extend the bus tax just to keep the busses rolling, but that 'political outrage' sounds like a toddler's temper tantrum compared to some of hte outrage and protest here.

This is one of the only G-rated protest pieces I have seen at one of our stations in Brooklyn.

UPDATE: Gothamist seemed to like the photo.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Saddle indsutry

Nobody denies that newspaper have been having a tough go these past few years. What with this newfangled internet and Twitter business all the rage, it's tough for a journalist to stay relevant — or even employed.

A good friend of mine saw this long ago and after a few drinks enjoyed comparing the newspaper industry to the Saddle Industry.

Yes, horse saddles.

Think about — everyone used to have one. It was you mode of transportation, and every city had one or two saddle makers for the entire ctiy, no matter how remote the outpost was.

But then Ford had to go and mass produce the automobile and gum it up for all those saddle makers, putting many out of business and forcing a nation-wide industry to reevaluate its place in modern business.

So what does this all mean? Well, I found this fantastic interview with a current Saddle Maker — Yes! Some did survive! — and to listen to him talk about his industry and how it came out in the end is remarkable.

Along with just the ingenuous spirit of saddle makers
and how they survived the twisting and turning changes of their own industry, it is also interesting to replace Saddle Makers with newspapers and realize we might be looking in a mirror.

"Yes. The industry has also specialized into segments. In the old days we were called manufacturing “jobbers.” We made saddles and tack and “jobbed” everything from bits to saddle soap. Not many do that today. People started specializing in pads, protective equipment, whips, bits, and spurs. So the industry is segmented now and everyone specializes in a particular part. That’s a big change from the 50s and 60s."
— Dan Crates, saddle maker
Hm, newspaper outsourcing specific jobs in a labor intensive newsroom and printing processes? News organizations becoming more specialized in the way of Technology-only, Sports-only, Politics-only and doing relatively well?

Maybe we had a few too many when we used to talk this wild talk in the hey-days, but I think it is fairly telling and might behoove some of those Mine Shaft operators to talk with some of those old Saddle Makers, or Buggie repairmen to find out how they survived the demise of their own industry.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

If this bracket is a rockin'

Then post it shamelessly in your personal blog.

Srsly, people... this might be the best I will do throughout this whole tournament. Facebook and ESPN agree.

I'm No. 1!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

Sweet mother of gawd. This city can throw down when it comes to this holy Irish day of green beer and goofy hats.

If it can be made green or Leprechaun-y, then New Yorkers have figured out how to do it and call it an important part of their heritage.

Breakfast of Irish Champions!

It was a pretty great day of drinking in Central Park, hanging with faux Irish and watching a crowd 20 blocks long of Firefighters march up 5th Avenue.

Seriously, how many off-duty firefighters are in this city?

The parade starts, officially, at 8 a.m. and people march up the Avenue until about 5 p.m. Firefighters, police, EMTs, Emerald Societies, Irish Clubs and anything that has a kilt walked in this parade and was cheered by the undulating drunken masses that lined the streets.

Yeah, even this guy marched.

It is actually kind of neat how old-school they keep the whole affair. no floats and only two motorized vehicles are allowed in the whole thing — the lead and ending cars. Everything else is marching, bands and bagpipes.

Afterward, LJ and I decided to grab some cart food and hit the free admission at the Met. Crowded on both accounts, but still cool to see. We thought we could sneak into a relatively quite Mexican joint in Mid-town, but even that was packed with people who could not get into one of the several bazillion Irish Pubs in Manhattan.


Then we ended our 11-hour march for the Irish by heading back to the safe enclave that is Brooklyn. Click the photos for more from our lunacy that is St. Patrick's Day NYC 2009.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Free Parking

This is going to sound irritatingly like a terrible Seinfeld episode, but what is the deal with parking in Brooklyn...

Sweet Jesus... Let's start over.

I am fucking amazing when it comes to parallel parking. I was already good bombing around KC in a Honda finding all the hidden free parallel parking — esp after the Power and Light takeover downtown.

However, I have the added advantage of driving around NYC in a Mini Cooper so I can wedge the SOB into some really tight spots everywhere.

On the night before the street sweepers come through the neighborhood the streets are like a hellish game of musical chairs to make way. Nobody wants to wake up at 6 a.m. to move their car for the sweeper.

Above is my result from last night.

Not impressed?

That is a pen. The back bumper was just as close, but the owner of the car came out and started questioning why I was taking pictures and setting a pen between our bumpers... It got real awkward.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Mine Shaft collapses in KC

Welcome to the KC Star!

It's hard to jump on the bandwagon of people slamming The Star for the next round in cuts, layoffs, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I still have friends there who toil away until the midnight hours working their less-than-famous beats (We can't all be overpaid sports columnists).

However, it is easy to jump on the What-the-Fuck-was-Zieman-thinking bandwagon — especially after remembering the all-newsroom meeting he held that left some of the reporters all in a general state of agitation and confusion back in the day.

I blogged about this back in 2007 when I experienced my first big newsroom meeting about cuts and such. At the time, Zieman was just the executive editor and was trying to reassure us, his flock of reporters, that everything was going to be OK.

He did this by saying that working for the paper of record in KC was like working in a collapsed Mineshaft where we were all stuck and could potentially die., I feel bolstered about the indusrty already...but bear with me, he had an overhead and a dry erase marker to demostrate what he was saying.

The "rescue crew," which was a metaphor or euphemism or something for the Internet, was going to save us all! HUZZAH! But, in the meantime, we will just need to hold our breaths a little longer until they arrive and endure some cuts, oxygen poisioning and possibly dysentary.

He made references to the fact that people won't make it and would not survive the coming stick-figure Internet rescue squad, but eventually we would all persevere.

Additionally he added that "We need to be as concerned about reader penetration as McDonald's is about hamburger penetration."

Um, what, boss? I can only hope that this general state of confusion and bewliderment is what is leading that fine institution.

But this tale of dying miner reporters and how Quilt Books would save the KC Star did not stay within the confines of our newsroom meeting. No, from what I heard a year later from other reporters, Zieman was taking his story of Minshaft snuff and sharing it as a motivation point to other newspaper editors around the country.

Well, looks like everyone in the business got a taste of the KC Kool-aide.

The internets are on their way.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Last Editor

Jim Bellows died this week.

His death, like a lot that he did in his life, was fairly unceremonious and was left as a footnote in the news of today. He was the Man Behind the Curtain at many newspapers that eventually bit the dust. He promoted and championed great news and even better news writers only to watch many of them go broke or out of business — save for a handful that do well today.

As I was trying to decide what to do with my life after high school, an old teacher handed me his book, The Last Editor, as a way to help make up my mind. I was already thinking journalism, and I think he gave me the book in some effort to dissuade me from the profession.

Bellows was not just at the front line of great news, but he was also at the front line of a dying industry and we only now seem to understand and what he really meant in those pages he wrote.

The '60s and the '70s saw the corporatization and bastardization of many good newspapers. Two- and three-newspaper towns quickly were trimming the fat and closing doors on institutions that had been around forever.

Company men came into his newsrooms and laid people off and ended entire news runs becasue papers were not being read — let alone the new technology of television news and computers that were still on the horizon. He worked at dying newspapers, the second string in major cities, becasue he got a thrill from being the underdog.

The underdogs today are web-based, more nimble and much more entertaining.

We, journalists, bemoan and whine as jobs are lost and more papers closed today, but Bellows was there originally in the first round of cuts in an industry that, 40 years later, still has no clue who its real audience is or how to connect with them.

His book should be required reading for those who are still in the news business and want to save the whole cluster-fuck business.

Bellows ended his career, if I remember right, working with web products to bring news directly to its reader. Maybe we should have seen then, back in the hey-day of the 90s where this whole business was going.

Friday, March 06, 2009

A night with the NY Barfly

I never really had the chance in KC to sit down with other bloggers to pick their brains and find out what made them tick; find out why they did what they did for pretty much no pay and only the reward of being an internet fame-ball.

I always got the cold shoulder from most in the KC blog circle (aside from a few notable favorites — Tony, I'm looking at you) because I was never the most relevant or serious about the shit I posted in the foul dumping ground.

And, back then, I never cared.

But it was interesting last night to get to sit down for a couple of hours over drinks and cigarettes to talk with another successful blogger about, well, blogging.

The WW has never been a professional blog, fuck no. But it's been a nice place to keep in touch with those back home.

I was there, last night, for my other projects and attempts at carving some kind of professional space on this unforgiving inter-web. After last night I think we walked away with some interesting insight and a new ally in the ongoing blog fight.

If nothing else it was at least a chance to drink some Brooklyn Lager and talk with another fun cocktail geek.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Fatty Crab and the scarriest subway ever

Got two seats at the much-hyped Fatty Crab for its opening night. Had some great food and even better whiskey. The dish we settled on was a rice-noodle, sausage and shiitake mushroom with a poached egg on top.

We also had some incredible sliders made with soy-based beef patties and spicy sauce.

When standing on the platform waiting for a subway, it's always kind of a crap-shoot on what kind of subway you will be getting.

Usually, the trains are pretty nice, clean and up-to-date. Other times, you are stuck on a train that is from the early 80s with faded yellow and orange seats.

Last night, as we stood on the plat form heading back to Brooklyn, this ancient relic of a subway came rattling up to the platform. It was only three cars and everyone (all 8 of us there) seemed to gasp as it stopped and opened its doors.

It was for employees only dropping them off and picking them up along the lines to man station booths and clean the stations.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow day in Brooklyn, again...

The damn snow will not stop. This time we got about eight inches of snow. The whole city ground to a halt. Work canceled, schooled closed and even the diner across the street opened up late... for eight inches of snow...

The Drifts on the deck make it look a little more dramatic.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Wine Expo 2009

The New York Wine Expo brought wine experts, fancy Frenchmen and some of the city's finest winos to the Javits center — a fancier version of the old Bartle Hall.

There is something very odd about drinking the Wines. The salesmen are far pushier and the experts more... expert-y. But in the end, everyone still ends up getting sloppy drunk.

For more, check out my Photo page.