Remembrance of things past.

If I could turn back the hands of time, as Tyrone Davis sang, there isn’t a whole lot I’d change. A few boyfriends would remain strangers, I would have paid closer attention in high school Russian class, I would have taken more chances. But for someone whose big mouth has gotten her into so much trouble, I don’t regret all that much. The remarks that were hurtful, yes. The ones that gave voice to a truth everyone in the room was thinking but which were impolitic to give voice to, not really. Every step on that road took me to this spot on the road, or not exactly on the road, more like off in the ditch, spinning my wheels, shrieking to passing traffic, “Sure! That road seems like the one you should take! But beware! Beware!” — I don’t mind this spot too too much. All part of the journey, etc. Soon the tow truck will arrive, or maybe it won’t, maybe I’ll start walking, and…

OK. Abandon metaphor.

My point: If I had it to do over again I wouldn’t have chosen journalism. Time Inc. laid off nearly 300 people yesterday, eliminated three bureaus. Yes, yes, the next Britney Spears story in People may not have five reporters, what a tragedy, etc. I don’t want to sound any big themes about journalism here; in a lot of ways we made our bed and now we’re lying in it, only it turns out it’s no longer a bed but just this sort of narrow cot, and people keep falling out, and…

Abandon metaphor.

What particularly cheeses me is the timing. Speaking out of pure selfishness, this could not come at a worse time. For me, anyway. Too young for retirement, too old to make a graceful sidestep into another field, it seems that those of us who were drawn to journalism by its two great movements of recent memory — New Journalism and Woodstein-style investigation — are now in the worst possible position. Tough times may make tough people, but they also shred a few in the bargain. Again, speaking selfishly, those 289 jobs eliminated yesterday represent 289 lives turned upside down, and not all will be righted. Yes, it happens in every industry. No, I’m not asking for sympathy. I’m just taking note.

Pout, pout, pout.

I remember, many years ago, my newspaper sent a couple of reporters to some training sponsored by our parent company, Knight Ridder. They came back with their heads spinning; some Free Press people were at the same session, bitching about their latest degradation — the paper would not employ stenographers to transcribe taped interviews. How were they supposed to do their jobs, etc. I feel like Scarlett O’Hara, starved to a ravenous husk, remembering the antebellum tables groaning with food as she’s puking up that radish in the Twelve Oaks garden.

As God as my witness, I’ll never…well, I’d better get to work.

But first! Bloggage! Because that’s why you come here, right? A few snarky remarks, a report on how we’re doing in the D, maybe a dinner menu, and then some tasty linkage, after which we turn the floor show over to the commenters. See? We evolved a new form of journalism, justlikethat. Let’s make it pay for the proprietress, and we’ll all be happy. I will, anyway.

Salon reports on the latest alt-foods craze — raw milk. One of my college boyfriends rented a place in the country for a while, next door to a dairy farm, where he bought gallons of raw milk for something like a buck or two. I mentioned this in passing to my mother, who nearly leapt from her chair in alarm, then commenced telling a hair-raising tale about a girl she knew who got undulant fever (medical name: brucellosis, for you Zevon fans) from drinking unpasteurized milk. She made me promise never to touch the stuff, and I did. It was an easy promise to make, as what little I’d had so far was sort of like drinking liquified butter. In the Salon story, people say raw milk keeps them away from sweets. I’ll say — liquified butter will do that.

It made good coffee cream, I’ll allow. Still: Thank God for Louis Pasteur.

With a 10-year-old in the house, “American Idol” is simply an element that we must live with, and the lack thereof would make life impossible, kind of like oxygen. Eric Zorn tried to put up his dukes against the juggernaut of humiliation that is the early episodes, but on this, I’m more with Jody Rosen at the Slate AI blog, who points out “you couldn’t help but suspect that most of the ‘bad’ singers were actually savvy performance artists, angling for a few minutes of airtime.” Yup. And there were teachable moments, just the same; Alan told Kate the moral of this story is, “Always wear a bra.” How true that is.

Do you hate Pachelbel’s Canon in D? Rob Paravonian does.

UPDATE: And while I was feeling sorry for myself a little while ago, I forgot to thank my lucky stars that while I may not work for the New York Times, that also means I’ll never have to write a story like this:

For some people, the most elusive aspect of owning a vacation home that sits beyond big-city borders isn’t finding the time to enjoy it. It’s finding someone to service the deluxe appliances inside.

“We called Viking over the holidays every year,�? Rosemary Devlin said of her half-decade-long (and mostly futile) efforts to schedule manufacturer service for her mutinous dishwasher. The appliance was installed along with a suite of Viking cousins when Ms. Devlin and her husband, Fay, whose main house is about 20 miles north of Manhattan in Irvington, N.Y., built their six-bedroom ski house on Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, Vt.

I mean: Whew.

Posted at 11:00 am in Current events, Media, Popculch |

21 responses to “Remembrance of things past.”

  1. Danny said on January 19, 2007 at 11:11 am

    I hate to start commenting in a Proustian titled thread like this, but here goes. Looks like Rosie O’Donnell agrees with some of the other linked authors:

    “If you keep serving people crap, they’re eventually going to think it’s a meal,�? Rosie touted. “Three millionaires… one probably intoxicated. So sad.�?

    I’ve never watched one episode, but I sense she is correct. Here is the link.

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  2. Bob said on January 19, 2007 at 11:39 am

    I grew up (I know, some folks would say that’s subject to debate!) on a dairy farm, and was raised on raw milk. Even then, fifty years ago, dairy farmers who sold milk to commercial dairies were required to have all their cattle tested for brucellosis, tuberculosis and possibly other milk-borne diseases, and our herd was certified disease-free.

    Our family went through a couple of gallons almost daily, and we supplied an elderly retired-farmer neighbor who hated the taste of pasteurized milk. Every fall when school resumed, it took me a while to get used to the icky cooked taste of the pasteurized milk served with our lunches.

    I wasn’t a coffee-drinker back then, but I sure did love whipped cream on desserts (still do). That was before the bulk handling systems, and we sold milk in ten-gallon cans stored in a refrigerated cooler and picked up daily by a truck from the dairy. When mom wanted whipping cream, she’d send me to the milkhouse with a pint jar and a ladle to skim the very top layer off a couple of cans from the previous night’s milking. So rich!

    By the way, the taste of raw milk depends on what the cattle eat. We fed cows on grain, hay and silage during winter, and when we turned them out to pasture in spring we had to get used to the stronger taste of the milk.

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  3. nancy said on January 19, 2007 at 11:57 am

    I’m envious, Bob. As in all things, I guess much depends on who gets to you first, and if you’re raised on pasteurization, the raw stuff probably doesn’t taste as good.

    I once spent an afternoon with a retired dairy farmer from the days of small farms and mixed-breed herds, and he went on and on about how carefully he selected his milking stock — Holsteins for quantity, Jerseys for richness, etc. — so as to get the best possible product for the dairy he sold to. It makes me sad to pass factory dairy farms now, all Holstein, all products of careful artificial insemination and line-breeding. It has certainly made more milk for the world. But I wonder what sort of taste we lost along the way.

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  4. brian stouder said on January 19, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    “Alan told Kate the moral of this story is, “Always wear a bra.�?


    And – Don’t wear your pajamas in public

    And – Red-Red lipstick only looks good on Minnie Mouse

    It is thought that Abe Lincoln lost his mother owing to the white snakeroot weeds that the cows got into.

    ‘Course, all I’ve ever had is homogenized milk – so indeed ignorance is bliss!

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  5. LA mary said on January 19, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    I was lucky enough to know Gladwin Hill, who had been bureau chief here in LA for the NYT for years. He was a journalist. He knew Howard Hughes and Ernest Hemingway and Clark Gable and John Wayne. He had been in Spain with Hemingway, was the person who officially identified the voice of Howard Hughes over the phone when the whole Clifford Irving fake biography flap was going on, confirming that it was indeed Howard Hughes speaking, denying any connection with Clifford Irving. I think he had the life and career aspiring journalists imagine is possible.
    He used to have amazing New Year’s Eve parties, writers and politicians and various interesting drunks. I met a Watergate unindicted co-conspirator at one of his parties, low level guy, I don’t remember his name.

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  6. Mindy said on January 19, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    My friend was raised on a dairy farm that her brother now operates. Fort Log (For The Love of God) is now an organic farm and has been for years. I’m ruined forever since having immediate access to raw organic milk. Or was, rather. He sells to the Organic Valley co-op and is no longer permitted to sell milk to anyone else. So now I must buy the pasteurized stuff for lots more than two-fifty a gallon.

    Down the road from his farm is a corporate dairy farm. The animals live their entire lives indoors in cramped pens. One of the organic dairy co-ops, Horizon, operates this way as well. I never buy any brand other than Organic Valley since I won’t knowingly contribute to the misery of anyone, even a cow.

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  7. Joe Kobiela said on January 19, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    I know it hurts when these people get laid off, but being in the auto industry we have been subject to this for the last ten years. My Dana plant at fwa has gone from 2500 to500 in the last 7yrs and it sucks. We did nothing wrong, always made a profit, and put out a damn fine axle, over a 1,000,000 a year. Yea we were payed well but damn it we worked our asses off, no air-conditioning, very heavy and repeditive. I saw a hell of a lot of people hire in and work a week and then leave after a week,heck we had a guy crawl out a bathroom window and climb down off the roof instead of facing the fact he couldn’t hack it. Those are usually the same guys that keep saying we were overpaid. Iam sorry when anyone losses a job, but I wonder how many of those let go wrote about the job losses in the auto industry and did not show any heart about it and now find themself in the same boat.
    (end rant) I just finished another 3rd shift week and Iam tired and my CEO still wants to cut my pay by $ 10.00hr and takeaway all my retirement insurance. But still pay himself a 11,000,000 bonus for doing such a good job

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  8. LA mary said on January 19, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    I just hired someone with a name I think befits a Bond girl: Aida Neptune.

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  9. Jean S said on January 19, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Yes, that NYTimes story was a doozy. My heart bleeds (bleeds, I tell ya!) for those people.

    The past 3 or 4 years, I’ve done my level best to discourage a couple of young folk from pursuing the j-school route. (Also have dissed the idea of a PhD in literature or, say, art history.) And…it never works. My new approach: a bright smile and a cheery “Best of luck!” God knows they’ll need it.

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  10. LA mary said on January 19, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    I don’t know what to tell kids to study. I look at my 16 year old. He writes well, he loves to read, he draws well and has musical talent. Math? horrible. He says math beads up on him and rolls off. Chemistry and biology, great. He has no idea what he wants to do. I think his talents are awesome, but I’m his mother. If he told me he wanted to major in literature or art history I would not discourage him, since it would tell me he wants to keep learning. Right now he has a remarkable intensity and gentleness and creativity and I don’t want to see those qualities overwhelmed by career worries yet.

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  11. Joe Kobiela said on January 19, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    My oldest daughter graduated in Dec after 3.5 yr at Indiana Unv with a degree in Journalism. She starts Monday here in Auburn at the local paper. She is looking at it as a start. I encouraged her to get a job or degree doing what she wanted. It is a lot better to love what you do, even if it pays a little less than to be stuck doing somthing you hate.

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  12. LA mary said on January 19, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    …It is a lot better to love what you do, even if it pays a little less than to be stuck doing somthing you hate….

    Amen, Joe. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what you love to do, but once you do, go for it.

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  13. Bushwick Bill said on January 20, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    Yeah, excuse me for not having any sympathy for laid-off journalists. These are the same journalists who refuse to cover the machinations of the unholy trinity of Big Church, Big Business and the Left who are destroying the American people by exporting manufacturing and R&D to Asia while simultaneously importing slave laborers from the Third World so that those people with the second homes stocked with Vikings can have cheap, docile gardeners.

    Call it karma.

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  14. Danny said on January 20, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    LOL! Bill, I’m not sure I agree that journalists are not covering these issues (at least to some degree), but your karma comment reminded me of the John Lennon song, “Instant Karma.” I was just listening to that song last night.

    Regarding college and careers, I have to agree and I do consider myself fortunate to be doing something I love and it pays enough. Engineering appealed to me when I first heard about it in high school. I knew then that that was what I wanted to do. The math, the science, the creativity of design. What fun.

    My younger brother took a different route. He always messed with computers and got interested in networking and such. He never went to college, but started at a local computer store, went through a few other jobs and ended up being the youngest director of marketing at Cisco. He probably pays in taxes what I make in salary and he has a bunch of PhD’s under him. I think he loves his work, but I wouldn’t trade because of the constant travel and never ending hours.

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  15. Barb said on January 21, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    My point: If I had it to do over again I wouldn’t have chosen

    I think lots of 45+ females feel this way. I know I do. Been trying to change careers and finding that age thing is an unspoken problem.

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  16. Dorothy said on January 22, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Word Barb.

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  17. LA mary said on January 22, 2007 at 11:43 am

    I had no idea the Left was exporting jobs. You’re saying the companies like Walmart and Motorola are lefty fronts?

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  18. Bob said on January 22, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    LA mary, didn’t you know that the scoundrels who have sold America down the river for big short-term ROI numbers on the investor reports are all “lefty fronts?”

    It’s a cleverly-contrived plot by the commie pinko fags; they do all that awful stuff while spouting conservative and neo-con jargon to try to make the right(eous) look bad!

    It’s all a commie plot, supported by a conspiracy of secular humanists, homosexuals, and bra-burning women’s libbers.

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  19. LA mary said on January 22, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Thanks for the heads up.

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  20. brian stouder said on January 22, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    a conspiracy of secular humanists, homosexuals, and bra-burning women’s libbers.

    And the really irksome thing is – those sons of britches won’t invite us to their ultra-exclusive annual convention (where a raucous time is had by all!)

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  21. joodyb said on January 22, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    It’s good to know where your good comes from. I’m astounded how few people care. growing up, our cows were tested 2x a year, the ‘raw’ milk chilled at precise temps in immense stainless steel tanks until the truck came every 48 hours. my mother would never let us eat an egg that wasn’t cooked through, or any sort of raw meat.
    spahn’s dairy gave us 52 gallons of ice cream every year for xmas. we had a special freezer just for ice cream. a nice memory.

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