Not even close.

Fort Wayne magazine sent me an issue for the second straight month. I’m mystified, as I’m not a subscriber. Last month’s was apparently a gift from Northeast Indiana Public Radio, but I dunno about the one that arrived today. Maybe Alan and I are getting the And Stay Out former employee kick-in-the-pants package; the magazine is published by the newspaper company.

It arrived in time for lunchtime reading. Cover line: “Is downtown Fort Wayne on the verge of being hip?” I turned inside, to see if the question was answered in the world’s shortest magazine article (“No.”). No. Flipped to the society pages. Oh look, there’s a local mover/shaker, and yes, his name is misspelled. He only ran the city’s largest hospital and had his name in the paper regularly for a matter of years; I guess it’s an understandable mistake to call him Rittenheim instead of Ridderheim. I took another look at the cover. The woman closest to the foreground in a seemingly candid photo of one of those verge-of-hip downtown restaurants is one of the contributing writers, which I assume was not coincidental.

Note to readers: If you have to pre-select well-dressed, demographically correct young people for a posed photo of a downtown hot spot, I’d say hipness is not only not on the verge, it can’t even be seen coming down the road. Better luck next month.

Oh, but I guess I can afford to sneer, watching the Home Run Derby take place in my very own town (yes, watching on TV — the air conditioning’s better here). When the camera pulls back to show the stands, you can see the skyline. Alan’s down at the park fiddling with his boat, making sure the running lights work. (“Why does Daddy spend so much time with his boat?” Kate asks. “You know what it’s like when you have a new toy?” “Is the boat a toy?” “A-yup.”)

Not much bloggage today, but I do have this, Slate’s explanation of why Labradors are America’s favorite canine breed. I love Labs, but I don’t have the energy to run them 60 miles a day, or however far they have to travel to take the edge off. Neither, it’s clear to me, do many of the people who own them. They’re still good dogs. Enjoy, Mindy.

Also, it looks like my ol’ pal Leo has started a company-sponsored blog. He links to me; we’ll see how long that lasts (snort). Best of luck, Lenny.

Posted at 9:53 pm in Uncategorized |

19 responses to “Not even close.”

  1. alex said on July 11, 2005 at 11:05 pm

    Leo’s effort�and for that matter, Tracy Warner’s at Fort Wayne’s better paper�both strike me as the ‘blog equivalent of Christian rock-n-roll. Yes, these guys are a bit more clever and personable there than they’re allowed to be on their respective op-ed pages, but they still seem to be hogtied by management nonetheless.

    Of course, I’ve been spoiled by Eric Zorn at the Chicago Tribune, whose employers have successfully coopted the form by letting him do it the no-holds-barred real way. For instance, Zorn wouldn’t be pretending that Hillary’s the Dems’ frontrunner. He’d surely point out that Hillary was annointed by Fox News for the benefit of angry white men and their wives who don’t think for themselves, that the Democrats want to win and would never choose someone so divisive and unelectable. He probably has. I probably missed it because he’s so prolific�and always good considering the amazing volume he churns out.

    If this is the local press’ effort at winning back a more sophisticated readership, then I’d say Zorn’s the benchmark they ought to shoot for.

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  2. Mindy said on July 12, 2005 at 8:23 am

    Thanks, I did indeed enjoy that take on the Lab as trendy knick-knack. I see far too many clueless people who can’t handle their Labs, and it always makes me wince.

    The L.L. Bean catalog has been a remarkable work of fiction now for five years at least. Those calm dogs pictured standing next to the smiling couple in their smart new attire must be on the verge of collapse from exhaustion or else drugged. The fall catalog is the worst–everybody is pictured with a well-behaved Yellow Lab enjoying the great outdoors. There’s also a full page showing a pile of Lab pups snoozing on a huge dog bed. As if! And to think that the Orvis catalog is even worse.

    Labradors shed a great deal, a fact that rarely gets mentioned in print when the downside of Lab ownership is discussed. At least for me this makes a good excuse to buy the spinning wheel that I can’t otherwise justify.

    Hey, I’ve been getting that Fort Wayne magazine for months now and can’t figure out why or even how it found me. Each issue arrives with a warning that my subscription is up and that I need to renew. Every time I toss it in the recycling bin I wish that one of the knitting magazines I hoard were printed on such nice paper.

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  3. Nance said on July 12, 2005 at 8:55 am

    The L.L. Bean lab — or maybe it’s the Orvis lab — is named Boom. All their dog-nest photos, all their personalized-dog-stuff photos in fact, featured Boom’s name. At one point I think they offered a grave marker for your beloved pet’s final resting place, and, once again: Boom. The next issue featured a note assuring upset customers that Boom wasn’t really dead, that there really wasn’t even an actual, in-the-flesh Boom, that it was just their default dog name for product samples.

    If Spriggy hadn’t come with his name already attached, I was tempted to name him Boom.

    As for the magazine, I’m starting to see the basis of those staff meetings where FW magazine was touted as a huge success for the company, with circulation far outpacing goals.

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  4. Nance said on July 12, 2005 at 8:59 am

    Oh, and a note about clueless dog fanciers: One of my neighbors was admiring Spriggy and telling me how much her daughter wanted a dog, and they were thinking about breeds, etc. She said they wanted to be sensible, though, since one of their friends had gotten a Jack Russell puppy at the same time she had NEWBORN TWIN BOYS and, amazingly, found the trio too much to handle. The dog, not the babies, went back to the breeder after a week.

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  5. Michael G said on July 12, 2005 at 9:04 am

    “Christian rock” — great comparison, Alex. The “Sacramento Bee” has an excellent columnist who was given the opportunity to run his own unsupervised company sponsored blog on the SacBee web site. He did an excellent job until, inevitably, some politico complained about an (accurate) item. Then the paper went all cowardly, bowed to the tyranny of the lowest common denominator, and began filtering his stuff through two or three editors. Instantly the heart and life went out of the blog. I exchanged a few emails with the “ombudsman” before realizing that he didn’t have a clue about what I was saying or what a blog was or how editing effected a blog. I also came to understand that his principal function was to defend the paper regardless.

    Some time ago I had a neighbor with a chocolate lab named Woody. I think I once saw Woody get up and walk around. On one occasion, the neighbors tried to interest Woody in chasing a frisbee. Woody tried to please. He really did. For a frisky dog, he did an excellent imitation of a doormat.

    Haven’t received my Ft. Wayne Mag yet so there is, after all, some measure of exclusivity to being on the mailing list.

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  6. Michael G said on July 12, 2005 at 9:11 am

    affected a blog.

    Boy, all my nice MS Word formatting sure went south as soon as I posted my comment.

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  7. colleen said on July 12, 2005 at 9:41 am

    I’ll clear up the mystery of FW Mag….if you’re an NIPR member, you’ll get it. Part of our no budget for marketing marketing campaign. I always feel like the mag is talking about another city. FW is just NOT that cool and happenin’, even with the “society photos”.

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  8. Nance said on July 12, 2005 at 9:55 am

    Michael, if you haven’t been there, it’s really hard to explain to outsiders how much newspaper editors work from a position of capital-F Fear. Some of it is justified — the only reason more bloggers haven’t been sued is that the money simply isn’t there, at least not in the deep-pocket quantities it is in companies like Gannett, Knight Ridder, Hearst and Time Warner.

    But more of it boils down to the fact it’s simply easier to play it safe. Editors will happily bore their readers to death before they run the risk of phones ringing in outrage. They live in terror of becoming the focus of an organized boycott, or even an internet-based bitching campaign. On an even more mundane level, they fear missing a corporate goal for reader-friendliness or demographic purity or whatever, and opt for the Sensible Parenting story over the Interesting Personality Profile, on the grounds the former is more “useful.”

    Every so often I check a web forum called Testy Copy Editors. Last week someone posted the news that their paper has a new policy on photos of underage female athletes, apparently sparked by a few reader phone calls about pictures of 15-year-old Michelle Wie in her backswing — they must be selected and edited so that “the reader’s eye is not drawn to inappropriate areas of their bodies.” I. Ask. You.

    When I started in the business, editors scoffed at readers who threatened to cancel their subscriptions over something they read that offended them. They knew that such temper tantrums were only occasionally carried out and, when they were, the readers almost always started back up again after they’d cooled off. William Safire once wrote that every columnist should cultivate a “constituency of the infuriated” — people who will turn to your column just to see what that ignorant asshole has to say today.

    And what does cancel subscriptions? When readers notice the last two weeks’ worth of papers is sitting by the front door, still rolled up, and they can’t think of a single reason to open them up (after all, they know how to be a sensible parent already). And friends, those folks ain’t coming back, because why should you pay to be bored, and get a grocery bag full of newsprint in the bargain?

    Christian rock, indeed. I’ll give them a hat tip for trying, but in the end, it’s just a bunch of Amy Grant albums to me.

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  9. Michael G said on July 12, 2005 at 11:29 am

    Problem is they always seem to fear the aforementioned LCD. They never seem to care what I think.

    I find your news about young females in sports horrifying. Who does it say more about, the editors or the readers? There’s your LCD in a nutshell. I think I’m going for a ban on the word “inappropriate”.

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  10. mary said on July 12, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    Off-topic…I’m sorry, but you should check out urbantiki’s sports photos on flickr. I think they’re great.

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  11. Mindy said on July 12, 2005 at 3:13 pm

    Speak of the devil and he will appear. The fall L. L. Bean catalog arrived in today’s mail and features two Golden Retriever pups, not a pile of Lab pups, on the dog bed. Still a full page, though. Much fewer Labs than usual. And there’s–gasp!–a German Shorthair Pointer that looks much like this year’s Westminster winner.

    Acquire a Jack Russell pup right along with two newborns? Now there’s a clueless owner and an unacceptable breeder.

    Spriggy’s name seems to suit him. He’s such a sweet boy. My dog’s name, Eli, was chosen in part because it contains two long vowels. The sounds are supposed to carry over long distances to dogs in the field. This theory was put to the test just last night when the gate wasn’t latched properly and Eli had about half an hour to run loose in the world. Long drawn out shouts of ELI brought a soaking wet but happy dog running home from God knows where after only ten minutes.

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  12. mary said on July 12, 2005 at 4:30 pm


    I didn’t know that about the long vowel sounds. I used to have a crazy but sweet mutt named Sophie, and I got lots of practice calling her. She would tunnel under the fence, eat parts of the fence, anything to escape. She lived to the age of 16, trying to get out to run loose right up to the end.

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  13. Dorothy said on July 12, 2005 at 4:37 pm

    Mindy – if your dog had the same name as my dog, you could give him the nickname we have ready for him, to use one day when he comes in all soaking wet. We named him Augustus, but we call him Augie all the time. Then of course he gets “Augie Doggy.” THEN I realized if he got all wet he’d be (you know you know it) “Soggy Augie Doggy”! yeah, it’s a groaner, but it makes us laugh, too.

    And to Mary – I made Urban Tiki a contact in Flickr last week when I saw his Pittsburgh fireworks pictures. They were terrific! I’ll look at his sports pictures in a bit.

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  14. Mindy said on July 12, 2005 at 4:49 pm

    Soggy Augie Doggy — too funny, Dorothy!

    Sophie is an excellent long-vowel name for a dog, Mary. Maybe it helped your escape artist get home since you had to call her so much. Perhaps I’ll keep the name in reserves if I ever have a female dog. Eli is my last Lab, I think. Nance pointed out that they need gobs of exercise, and I don’t have the endurance for a Lab puppy. My friend, who is ten years my senior, has two Siberian Huskies that she walks great distances every day. Makes me feel lazy.

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  15. Nance said on July 12, 2005 at 4:55 pm

    Urban Tiki’s pix are excellent in general, not just the sports stuff.

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  16. mary said on July 12, 2005 at 7:24 pm

    I liked urbantiki’s soccer pictures featuring a seagull audience, and the cricket picture with the ball mid-air. His fireworks photos were spectacular too, Dorothy.

    Sophie would come home eventually. She used lead my old great dane Charlie astray, and he would run off with her if he fit through whatever hole she made. He would decide to come home pretty quickly, though. Sophie stayed out for two days once. Another time she let herself into a neighbor’s open patio door, and they found her on the couch, eating their popcorn, watching the Three Stooges on TV. My current great dane has a good name for calling as well. He’s Rudy. My current crazy/sweet mutt is Sarah. She used to enjoy an escape from time to time, but her arthritis has slowed her down a lot. She prefers sneaking onto the new sofa for a snooze now.

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  17. brian stouder said on July 12, 2005 at 8:44 pm

    Well, it could be worse; one could be a copy editor for the BBC, and then struggle to refer to terrorist attacks without using the word “terrorist”. And in a melding of two recent NN.C blog entries, people are Googling initial BBC reports and comparing the very same articles as they appeared originally with how they appear now, and (you guessed it) the offending word magically disappears.

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  18. Dorothy said on July 12, 2005 at 10:14 pm

    Urban Tiki’s daughter is simply, sweetly gorgeous.

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  19. danno said on July 13, 2005 at 11:25 am

    FW magazine??? There isn’t enough going on in ‘the fort’ to fill a leaflet!! Nance, when are you going to write for Indy Monthly again????

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