The new new journalism.

I’m disappointed by the stupid soundtrack, but there’s still something about this that cracks me up:

Man wonders why AT&T truck has been parked in the alley for three days. Man looks closer. Man realizes AT&T worker — in orange vest and hardhat — is actually using the bucket truck to pick oranges off a neighbor’s tree.

Now see, if he were doing this in Iraq, we’d celebrate his entrepreneurial spirit.

Having never lived with a fruit tree, I’m of two minds. My friends in Florida say that once you get over the thrill of having a mango tree in your yard, after you make the first mango ice cream and mango chutney and mango smoothie and mango grilled with fish and so forth, you look up at the tree and realize: I’ve got about a million more mangoes to go, don’t I? And then you start praying an AT&T truck rolls down the street and steals a few, before they start to fall on the lawn and rot. The next thing you learn about fruit trees is, they really require a great deal of care to give fruit worth picking — thoughtful pruning and spraying and so forth, and if you don’t, pretty soon the apples get wormy, the peaches shrink to the size of golf balls and you start perusing garden catalogs online, using the search term “maintenance-free.”

On the one hand, I could see that AT&T guy as a blessing. On the other, it’s always courteous to ask before you pick. On the third hand, maybe he did ask; what does the guy with the video camera know, really? On the fourth hand, this is what journalism will look like in the future; this is “citizen journalism,” comrades. Enjoy the future!

Speaking of future journalism, here’s something else you’ll have to get used to — major metropolitan newspaper columns about anal sex, including a bulleted list of tips for how to make it work for you. I can only chuckle wryly, recalling the approximately 70 million times I had something excised from a story on the grounds that it was too spicy for our readers. I once wrote a fashion story about the strategic removal of pubic hair that, by editorial fiat, never once used the term “pubic hair.” I was scolded for trying to pull a fast one on a less dirty-minded editor by including the name of the rock band the person I was writing about played in (Catherine’s Horse). I recall the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when hours were spent in meetings, trying to draw a shaky line between the sexual practices that were most often involved in the disease’s transmission and the sensibilities of our readers, whom the editors all assumed were 70-year-old nuns, apparently. And now here’s a column about how to do one of these very same dirty deeds! I never thought I’d live so long.

As recently as Jan. 3, 2005, I worked for a newspaper where, on orders from the corner office, the word “butt” was verboten. Not two years later, butt-f*cking. It is to laugh.

(A friend of mine tells me a story about how her syndicated column, which on this day discussed the merits of sucking fat about of one area of the body and injecting it in another, caused a stir with editors. Why? Because she wrote that fat was sucked from one’s “butt,” and oh my we can’t say that, can we? She was encouraged to substitute the word “hips” instead. I tell you this so the next time you see a story about “hips-f*cking,” you’ll know what it’s about.)

OK, bloggage: Here in southeast Michigan, I wake up every day and open my newspaper with a certain wreck-on-the-freeway fascination, because it appears that our free-fall to the bottom of the economic barrel is not over. Our unemployment rate is over 7 percent and the state is bleeding population in an arterial spray. The day before yesterday came the news that we lead the nation in home foreclosures. (Guess what our rate of increase between 2005 and 2006 was? Here’s a hint: Nationally, it was 42 percent. Give up? OK. In Michigan, it was…drumroll please…127 percent. Yes! Michigan is in the house! Or out of the house! Whatever.) Yesterday came the news that Ford Motor Co. could not have lost more money last year if they’d set fire to the building and used a dump truck to drop $100 bills into the flames for 12 months straight. And today comes the story I’ve learned to look for in the days immediately following these gloomy announcements. I reproduce the headline here because it didn’t disappoint:

Ford CEO says bonuses needed to retain talent

This happened after the Delphi bankruptcy filing last year, too. The company announced it was cutting the rank-and-file’s pay by 50 percent, but paying seven-figure bonuses to certain members of the management team so they wouldn’t leave. A reasonable person might say, “So? Let them leave. Don’t they share responsibility for this debacle?” Well. To read these stories, not only is this a stupid question, the sort of thing only a blue-collar numbskull would ask, it shows your utter lack of understanding of how business works. Said the CEO:

“Now we are in a tough situation right now, and we are in a turnaround situation, and we need the absolute best, skilled and motivated team in all of the positions. That is the way we are looking at it, is to make sure that we are paying for performance, even though it is really a turnaround situation. We need that performance … more than ever.”

It’s times like this I regret not going to business school.

Posted at 10:14 am in Current events, Media |

31 responses to “The new new journalism.”

  1. Connie said on January 26, 2007 at 10:36 am

    I never got much pleasure out of having persimmon trees when we lived in Seymour. Then I found out how many people would love me if I let them pick my persimmons. (Somehow that sounds dirty!) The only good thing about persimmons was the annual fall visit from the flock of Cedar WaxWings stopping by for a day or two on their way to points farther south.

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  2. Dorothy said on January 26, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Ugh. We had apple trees in Eighty Four (an elderly neighbor told me our property used to be an orchard), and growing up we had a pear tree in the backyard. All that meant was bugs, squishy, rotten fruit, and bad smells. I prefer the produce department to get my fruit.

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  3. LA mary said on January 26, 2007 at 11:35 am

    I’ve got peach trees and olive trees. The squirrels get all the peaches before I do, and olives are very messy. We did actually pick and cure them one year. They were nice, but not worth the effort. I think curing olives is best if you have lots and lots of them, not two tree’s worth.

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  4. Danny said on January 26, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    …and growing up we had a pear tree in the backyard. All that meant was bugs, squishy, rotten fruit, and bad smells.

    Did you ever get any partidges?

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  5. Marcia said on January 26, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Did anyone else think Connie was going to go somewhere else with the comment that opened, “I never got much pleasure out of…”

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  6. ashley said on January 26, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Marcia…yes, ok?

    I have a lime tree in the backyard. I keep my mint plans around it, so I can sit in between them and make mojitos and caipirinhas without getting up.

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  7. ashley said on January 26, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    And I believe it was Deb who once wrote on this blog about Sam Kinison’s line on anal sex: “there’s other ways to hurt ’em”.

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  8. Danny said on January 26, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Yeah, Marcia. I was thinking she was going to write the following:

    “I never got much pleasure out of getting my seven figure bonus, especially during the holidays, when being chaufuerred into work by limo we had to drive by the recently unemployed rank and file protesting in the streets with their starving little children, trying desperately to keep warm by rubbing their hands over the flames of the trash can fires. I mean for goodness sake, can’t the security gaurds have the good sense to keep these people out of sight? It is really unsightly an upsetting. My only recovery option from that ghastly ordeal was to have a mimosa and a massage waiting for me as soon as I hit the door of my luxury penthouse exective suite office. Oh the injustice of it all!�?

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  9. Danny said on January 26, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Ashley, and then there is Buddy Hacketts quote that I heard from Jay Mohr:

    “Whenever I’m not feelin’ too good, I always think of the Siamese twin who’s brother is gay…who’s boyfriend is coming over…..and they share the same asshole.”

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  10. Connie said on January 26, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    Gosh Danny, I wish. My salary has always come from local tax dollars. I do have the executive suite for what it’s worth, but it ain’t worth much. Great view of the parking lot across the street.

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  11. Danny said on January 26, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Hee, hee, Connie. I just thought a little light-hearted fiction would brighten the day. I am happy for two reasons. It is Friday and Van Halen is reuniting for a tour with David Lee Roth. Cool beans.

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  12. LA mary said on January 26, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Oh come on, Connie. We all know that librarians rake in the big bucks.

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  13. Jim said on January 26, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    I remember being the wire editor when the Lorena Bobbit story broke (so to speak). Everyone was in a dither about whether or not to use the word “penis” in a straight-news story. Previously, such talk was strictly confined to medical columns, if then. There were articles in E&P about “the p-word” and editors using their discretion and editing AP stories, etc. Now it’s difficult (I almost said hard) to watch TV without seeing an ad for ED every five minutes.

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  14. nancy said on January 26, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Not only that, but being a librarian is a fate worse than being married to George Bailey. “She’s just closing up down at the library!” is my favorite line in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

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  15. brian stouder said on January 26, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    I like the scene where Clarence is ordering a drink in the bar, and gets them both run.

    The actor who plays the bartender must have done lots of voice work for cartoons – he has a great voice when he says (something like) “That’s it! Out you go! – through the door or out the window”

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  16. John said on January 26, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Sheldon Leonard played Nick the bartender.

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  17. Connie said on January 26, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    My staff thinks I make the big bucks, mostly because they don’t. My take is comparable to a school principal’s salary, I can live on it. Though with my kid at Butler……..

    It is Friday, thank God, and I am looking forward to a quick trip up to Holland for dinner with friends at the restaurant where my brother will be singing. Sunday my guy is gone to Dayton for the day, leaving me home alone. (Butler v Wright State swim meet) Yes! I would say I can do anything I want, but he is taking my van and leaving me with a rusty pickup.

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  18. MichaelG said on January 26, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    I’m with Ashley. There’s nothing like having a lemon or lime tree in the yard. They produce 24 hours a year and they don’t particularly require any attention. We use lemon or lime in lots of things. We have several neighbors who make (OK, cure) olives. With the use of lye it doesn’t take too long. Without, it takes forever. And, boy, are homemade olives good. By the way, Ashley, with the current price of cachaça we haven’t been drinking as may caipirinhas lately. Cachaça used to be a buck or two a bottle and now it’s around $15-$20. We’ve been drinking more mojitos in recent years. Oddly enough, the best mojito talent in the family is my 23 year old niece. My condolences for the Saints. I was very disappointed. They’re a very young team with a very good coach and q’back. Next year.

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  19. LA mary said on January 26, 2007 at 1:43 pm


    We did salt cured, oil cured and smoked. They were great but really a pain to make. We were following the instructions give by our Sicilian auto mechanic friend. Next time maybe I should get a book or something.

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  20. alex said on January 26, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    “I’m your penis. I’m your spire of boy desire.”

    Sorry, couldn’t resist taking advantage of my newfound journalistic freedom.

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  21. Dorothy said on January 26, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Y’all certainly are in frisky moods today! From fruit trees to penises (penii?), anal sex and salaries, we’ve just about covered the whole kit and kaboodle today!

    By the way I just want to add I think I can never read or hear the word “dither” enough.

    Happy Friday! I’m off to buy a dog license, mail a package at the post office and get a movie or two at Blockbuster.

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  22. MichaelG said on January 26, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    I’m more of a bystander than an expert, Mary, but the basic process is fairly simple. Soaking the olives in the desired solution of brine, lye, whatever in a 5 gal plastic bucket and changing it now and again. Then there are the options like pitting, adding pimento, etc. You can call them done at any stage you like as the bitterness fades and they also soften a bit. Yum. The net is full of help.

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  23. ashley said on January 26, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Just as the worst tequila makes the best margaritas, it’s the same with cachaca: the cheaper, the better the caipirinha.

    When I was in Brasil, we tried it with the “expensive” (meaning $8 a bottle instead of $2) cachaca, but it didn’t have the kick. We went back to the cheap stuff.

    Now, in the US, the cheap stuff is $15 a bottle. The good thing is, 3 caipirinhas, and you’re toast.

    As far as the Saints, well, they got their ass whipped by the Bears, fair and square. But hey, that’s the best we’ve done in 40 years. I’m hoping for even more next year.

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  24. Danny said on January 26, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Yeah, Ash. I think it would have been a lot more interesting storyline for the Saints against the Colts. I also think it would have been cool to see Saints v. Chargers.

    Ah, well. We’ll see next year.

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  25. basset said on January 27, 2007 at 8:11 am

    “how to go in the out door…”


    reminds me of that timeless verse…

    “How do I love thee
    Let me count the holes…”

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  26. brian stouder said on January 27, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Connie – Nance –

    the young folks and I just got back from the dedication/grand opening gala at Allen County’s main library downtown; it was quite impressive. Indeed – it drew a very large crowd – and the assembled citizenry listened attentively as Jeff Krull (the librarian) made a few dedicatory remarks, followed by several other interesting people (the mayor, the Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, and a few members of the county library board).

    And then they turned the assembled throng loose, to explore all the various areas. I am sure many many pics of the event will be all over the local media (and blogosphere). I believe I saw Mitch Harper as we were walking in. He wasn’t one of the honored guests(!) – as he lead the unsuccessful fight against the renovation initiative.

    Amongst many other interesting things, they have a space set aside for the local arts, and there was lots of interesting displays to gaze upon – plus the artists themselves were there.

    We ended up spending about 21/2 hours there, before Chloe had had enough.

    By way of saying – Librarians in Allen County are now “A” list people!

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  27. Bob said on January 28, 2007 at 12:29 am

    I visited the library too, this afternoon. I made sure that I went late enough to avoid the speeches, and spent some time walking around and looking at the place. A lot of people were there already using the library as a library, too.

    It’s a very classy-looking facility, and the quality of the workmanship is impressive. I took my camera along, but decided not to try to take photos because there was just too much traffic to cope with, and there are still some finishing touches that need finishing.

    Inside and out, it’s an asset to the community.

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  28. Jim said on January 28, 2007 at 1:18 am

    But did they keep the giant globe? That was always my favorite part of visiting the downtown library.

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  29. brian stouder said on January 28, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Jim – I wondered about the giant globe, too – and we went in throught the Ewing street entrance and there it was, just before the children’s services area.

    The Young Adult area upstairs is very cool, and lots of black-clad skateboarder types were wafting around up there. (there’s an interactive large-screen rock music area at the north end of the room, and this was a real crowd pleaser)

    While we were up there, I looked out the window and saw a very large protest march a block north of Wayne street (Berry? or am I crossed up?) We had parked on that street – so this got my attention….not sure what it was, but I suspect it was an anti-war march

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  30. Connie said on January 28, 2007 at 11:48 am

    I received a very nice invitation to the Library shindig on Saturday, great graphics, including a plastic card that I could redeem for ..??? I have no idea. I am sure I will get a chance for a Jeff Krull tour sometime soon.

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  31. brian stouder said on January 28, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    One thing that I was quite taken with, and which our 2/12 year old was enchanted by, was a simple display in the young children’s area. It was a wooden tree with a dozen or so kid-friendly stuffed birds, done up in the colors of native birds of Indiana. Pick one up, and it does that bird’s call. It was wonderful!

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