Just shut up.

You meet the strangest people on Twitter. The chairman of the Michigan Republican Party is running for chairman of the national committee, and modestly tweets that his “Blueprint for a GOP Comeback” is “pretty darn good, if I say so myself.” Hmm. Well, that throws the gauntlet, doesn’t it?

We cannot continue to lag behind on this (new media) front. I have used every resource there is to communicate our message in Michigan. I Twitter; I blog; I vlog. I have a Facebook page. I am LinkedIn, and I’m a regular on YouTube. I learn from my teenage age sons about the newest ways to reach young people. I am committed to taking New Media to the next level at the RNC and creating an environment that encourages young people to compete to present the best ideas and the most innovative messaging.

Good for you, Saul Anuzis. Young people don’t care if you write “teenage age sons,” because traditional usage is so MSM. Actually, that passage sort of depresses me. I’m not sure I want someone at the top of the RNC spending all his time on Twitter, blogging, vlogging (a term that I cannot bring myself to speak aloud; is “video blogging” so much more onerous to say?), Facebooking and Linking In. I’m sort of sour on social networking these days. I’m thinking, what’s the damn point? I am networked nine ways to Tuesday, and most of it is an utter waste of time. Work gained from LinkedIn, despite vigorous effort? None. Facebook? Fun but ultimately less entertaining than the worst episode of “30 Rock.” Twitter? I keep trying to Tweet or whatever, but can’t shake the feeling Twitter is for people who find Facebook too intellectually challenging. As for video blogging, if I wanted to watch Ann Althouse drink wine and watch “American Idol,” or two homely eggheads discuss the Top 10 U.N. Stories of 2008, there’s already a place for it, and it’s called public-access cable.

I think I’ve reached my tipping point in the media revolution. The vox of the populi reveals itself more, day by day, as hot air and blah blah. I no longer read Jeff Jarvis (not that I did much, anyway), for fear of hearing of yet another skill I have to add to my media toolbox: Oh, now I have to report, write, summarize in 140 characters, shoot and edit video, podcast, video blog, regular blog and something else? Well, that leaves lots of time for thought and analysis. I was chatting with a friend in the dead-tree media world the other day, and he said, “We tried video. We cut a reporter free, trained him, turned him loose, and you know what? It takes him three days to do the video equivalent of a 12-inch story, only it’s not as good. He used to be able to write two of those in one day. Tell me how this is an improvement.” I couldn’t do it, except to add that I could probably do a story like that in one day, but he’s not hiring, anyway. It’s still a good question.

What exactly is the point of all this connectivity, all these channels to tell the world what we’re cooking for dinner? I thought I’d get Kate a cell phone by now, but her friends would bankrupt us sending text messages all day. (Typical text message they send to one another: “wazzup?”)

Anuzis isn’t a tool, however:

We were once the party that America trusted on national security. But when intelligence failures and poor planning led to unexpected challenges in Iraq, America lost faith in our party. We were once the party of fiscal responsibility. But when members of our own party led the way in pork barrel spending, which led to the fattest federal budget in history, America lost faith in our party. And we were once the party that had convinced America that we “shared their values.” But when Republican after Republican was exposed as a hypocrite who said one thing on the campaigntrail and behaved a different way in their personal life, America lost faith in our party.

That’s what you have to work on. Content! Content! The medium is not the message.

And so our new year begins. I drank my New Year’s champagne on Friday night, taking down the Christmas tree and eating tomato and mozzarella paninis (thanks, brother Chas, for the panini press for Christmas). Against all odds, I have high hopes for 2009, and I’m not sure why.

Give me your best predictions for the next 12 months in the comments. I’m going to bed and having a busy Monday, so I won’t be back until afternoon sometime. Peace out.

Posted at 1:16 am in Media |

34 responses to “Just shut up.”

  1. Gasman said on January 5, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Predictions? With Anuzis effectively pronouncing a party wide mea culpa on hypocrisy and incompetence, I predict that he will not ascend to the heights of RNC chair. His “I’m hip ’cause I Twitter” strikes me as comically dorky. It showcases just how out of touch with America the Republican party has become. However, as one who is hopelessly liberal, I’m rather enjoying the show that the Rs have been putting on.

    I concur with your weariness of keeping up with the Joneses technology-wise. The buzz over Twitter has eluded me. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but the 140 character limit is the soul of idiocy. Can we also not dispense with typing with our thumbs? The opposable thumb is a marvelous thing in our evolutionary development, but is this really their highest calling? I see that Sprint will no longer support e-mail on my phone. Oh, the horror! It’s enough to give one the vapors!

    Other predictions: less of everything. I think that our economic travails will make us think twice about doing things – especially technologically – simply because we can. If I can’t be reached by 5 or 6 different technological gadgets while I’m sitting on the toilet, well, that’s a sacrifice that I’ll happily make for the cause. How the hell did we ever survive as a species when we weren’t “connected” to everyone, every damn minute of the day?

    Nancy, I worry about you. Go to bed. It’s too damn late in your time zone.

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  2. beb said on January 5, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Gasman was alrady said pretty much everything I had to say.

    The problem for the Republican party isn’t that they’re hip to the new technology, it’s that they have nothing to say. They have lots of bloggers, but none like Digby, or Atrios, or Josh Marshall. All they have are people like Michelle Malkin or Ann Coulter. The GOP haven’t been fiscal conservatives since Reagan. They don’t believe in protecting the environment, the finacial markets, or protecting people from con artists and flim flam men. Until they can come up with a beter excuse for being Republican besides hating black people, they are in deep trouble.

    Predictions for 2009? Israel will surplant the USA as pariah of the world for their massacre in Gaza.

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  3. brian stouder said on January 5, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Since I like shooting fish in a barrel, here are my butt-blogging Predictions For 2009: none in sports, except that Lewis Hamilton, newly named as a member of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, will repeat as Formula One world champion…if Formula One doesn’t implode and go out of existence before 2009 ends


    Politics: After a rousing inaugural address, our new president will have a productive first 100 days, and the pundits will be left to quibble over whether his opening 3 months was the best ever, or (leaving aside his vigorous opening) whether the 100-day measuring stick is unduly arbitrary(!) and therefore meaningless.

    The GOP’s Great not-White Hope, Piyush (Bobby) Jindal will go down in scandal (hey – if any state can give Illinois a run for the muck, it’s Louisiana!)

    Entertainment: Whoever gives the acceptance speech for Heath Ledger’s Oscar (for his work in Dark Knight) will leave the teary-eyed house standing and cheering

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  4. mark said on January 5, 2009 at 8:18 am

    “Until they can come up with a better excuse for being Republican besides [sic] hating black people..”

    “Israel will surplant [sic] the USA as pariah of the world for their massacre in Gaza.”

    Dumb and dumber.

    Prediction: By mid 2009 Obama will realize that current efforts to sustain an economy built on bad debt by the issuance of more bad debt will not work, and he will abandon the bailout efforts in favor of savings and investment. The Dow will fall below 7000 before then.

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  5. Jeff Jarvis said on January 5, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Come on back. I won’t give you homework, I promise!

    The video story is instructive. Making video has been defined, by default, as making TV stories and spending forever doing it. Look, instead, at how Kara Swisher at the Wall St. Journal uses her Flip video camera: After lunch with a source, she’ll turn it on for a minute and ask a question and that’s that. Video can be used to illustrate stories (pictures that move and talk!). Similarly, Twitter need not be another way to publish stories. I use it to ask questions. So does CNN’s Rick Sanchez (the other day he asked whom he should interview that day about Israel). These are tools that can be used in many ways to make the job easier and the journalism better. So it’s not more work but can be less.

    Follow the light….

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  6. brian stouder said on January 5, 2009 at 8:30 am

    By mid 2009 Obama will realize that current efforts to sustain an economy built on bad debt by the issuance of more bad debt will not work, and he will abandon the bailout efforts in favor of savings and investment. The Dow will fall below 7000 before then.


    And all the tools will say (in unison) “it’s Obama’s fault!” – while everyone else will remember the stone silence from these same folks with regard to President Bush’s presiding over the quickest, greatest, and most painful market crash of our lifetimes


    Since peaking at an all-time closing high of 1,565.15 on Oct. 9, 2007, the S&P 500 has lost 52%. The Dow has lost nearly 47% since closing at an all-time high of 14,164.53 on the same day. Since hitting a bull market high of 2,859.12 on Oct. 31, 2007, the Nasdaq has lost 54%. “The wealth destruction is phenomenal,” said Tom Schrader, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus.

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  7. mark said on January 5, 2009 at 8:34 am


    I said “current efforts”- which have been planned and implemented by Bush, not Obama.

    My prediction may be a bad one, but it is not a criticism of Obama. Lighten up.

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  8. brian stouder said on January 5, 2009 at 8:57 am

    OK Mark – I’ll ‘peace out’.

    One other prediction: the proprietress will witness something and then write and publish one of her typically penetrating pieces on it, which will again draw national attention.

    Not necessarily another Goegelin-style (sp?) IED (internet-expose’ discovery) (although that would be big fun); but a macro thing from her unique perspective. A Motown-centric story with national implications? (whether related to our auto industry, or the contageous hope that our new president is cultivating, or some such) Or some small event which encapsulates something larger….Nance is too good at this stuff to remain our secret

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  9. nancy said on January 5, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Oh, Brian. I do have a credentials request in for the auto show, but I’m guessing the odds are 5-1 for denial. I asked to attend as an unaffiliated freelancer with no specific assignment, which is generally asking for the high hat. I could have lied, but I don’t like to do that beyond confirming that no, your ass doesn’t look fat in those pants.

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  10. coozledad said on January 5, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Nice essay by Nick Curry today. The only people not feeling helpless these days are the idiots plumping for Armageddon.

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  11. jeff borden said on January 5, 2009 at 10:42 am

    1. Pakistan will deteriorate further, emboldening both internal and external radical jihadists and further complicating the worsening situation in Afghanistan. Hardliner Bibi Netanyahu (sp?)will be the next leader of Israel. The invasion of Gaza will be seen as a huge error within the next year.

    2. The national unemployment rate will surpass 10%. Home values will drop another 15% as the flood of foreclosures continues to create supply where there is little or no demand. Retailers will look back on 2008 as a good year compared with 2009. Fewer Americans will attend college because tight credit will prevent them from getting student loans. Hot businesses will be auto repair shops (to keep those beaters running longer), second-hand and consignment stores, etc. At least one major U.S. municipality will begin selling sponsorships or signage on its city-owned vehicles. Not bus boards, but snow plows, garbage trucks, etc.

    3. Obama will be surprisingly effective in his first few months in office, largely because an exhausted nation wants him to succeed after eight years of George W. Bush. He will continue to disappoint the more left-leaning portion of the party by hewing to a middle ground. The global view of America will turn 180 degrees as the new president charms and impresses other world leaders.

    4. The Republican Party will be in nearly total disarray. Hardliners will continue to insist the GOP was walloped in 2008 because John McCain wasn’t conservative enough. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner will be the snarling face of
    Republicanism by working to thwart any and all initiatives proposed by Obama, adding to the party’s image as a cabal of older, angry white men. Efforts to broaden the party’s appeal to women, minorities and social moderates will be thwarted by the evangelical wing. Jeb Bush will declare for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida.

    5. One word: hydrogen. Interest in ethanol and other grain-based alternative fuels will tumble as nations confront the enormous cost of turning over vast quantities of potential food stuffs for fuel. The race will be on to catch up to Honda, which already has a production-ready hydrogen car. The Obama administration will push for more research on hydrogen energy in the U.S.

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  12. Deborah said on January 5, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Regarding Twitter, Facebook, texting – I’m not big on small talk, hate large parties, I much prefer intimate dinner parties where conversation is deep and meaningful. Maybe that’s why I find those media outlets unappealing. Friends at work couldn’t stop talking about Facebook, so I tried it, but I just don’t get it??

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  13. Rana said on January 5, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Despite being involved with a ridiculous number of online networking sites – Facebook, Twitter, blog, blog number 2, redbubble, etsy (and affiliated etsy “teams”), Ravelry… – I can’t say that any of it is useful for much more than staying in touch. The blogging, being more open format, does permit something resembling thought, but I have other projects that need my attention more.

    One thing that I’ve noticed a lot with these and similar technologies (such as PowerPoint) is that people tend to get over-excited about the medium and as a result give little or no thought to the message. There are tons of people on Etsy, for example, who have this notion that Twittering is the magic solution to all their business woes – and yet they have no idea of what makes people want to read a total stranger’s tweets, or how to build up an audience, or any of that. It’s not unlike the “blog it and they will come” philosophy – the idea that any random jane or joe sharing the most banal of thoughts will become the next Pulitzer Prize winner – or, better, novelty book author.

    It seems akin to the idea that if you can sing in the shower, no matter how badly, you can win American Idol – but even low-standard shows still have standards. For some reason it seems really hard to get across to people that it’s not enough to have access to a free platform – you need to have something to say and you need to be able to say it well enough to engage an audience. If what you have to say is boring, and you can’t say it in an interesting way either, all of the technology in the world isn’t going to magically turn you into a celebrity.

    I wonder if some of the reason people think that the medium is more important than the message these days is that they can’t tell a thoughtful, well-crafted piece of work from unedited drivel? So it looks like any ol’ schmoe can succeed, because they can’t tell the difference between schmoes and those who succeed? (Though, given some of the people on tv and writing columns these days, it’s a problem for more than the great unwashed.)

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  14. Terry WAlter said on January 5, 2009 at 11:42 am

    I predict that Nancy will have to resort to shilling her pre-FA bikini shots for $5. There WERE such days, weren’t there? Eagerly awaiting; what’s that breeze- just a shoe.

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  15. LA Mary said on January 5, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Take a listen to Ignacio Castuera on Latino USA http://www.latinousa.org/program/index.html (there’s an MP3 download). I had a sort of rough two weeks of holiday break, but I felt a lot better after hearing him last night.

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  16. Jolene said on January 5, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Wow, Jeff, that is quite a set of predictions! Remarkable in their range and, I think, mostly accurate. I only found a couple of points of disagreement. First, I think it’s generally true that poor economic conditions are associated w/ high college enrollments. When people can’t find work, they seek education to enhance their employability. Where do they find the money? Dunno. Maybe they live w/ their parents. Maybe it’s the least expensive institutions where enrollment increases. Maybe public programs to support enrollment endure when tax revenues are down, if only because actions regarding those programs are less responsive to short-term economic changes than private sector employment opportunities.

    As for whether Netanyahu is elected, I can’t say, but it doesn’t seem like a good idea. If invading Gaza comes to be seen as a bad idea (in the very short term), perhaps electing an even more hawkish leader will be unlikely.

    My predictions? I’ll have to think of some.

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  17. Danny said on January 5, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    No predictions, just this:

    I am SO HAPPY that my adoptive team, the San Diego (Super)Chargers, again were able to lay the smashing-playoff-hopes wood to the collective backsides of the India-no-place Colts. Serves you right for stealing that team from Baltimore. As Richie Cunningham would say: Sit on it, Potsie!

    Now, back to the regularly scheduled program of me not being a bitter Baltimoron. Not bitter all all…

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  18. jeff borden said on January 5, 2009 at 3:15 pm


    I’m basing my predictions on the concerns of my students at Loyola University Chicago, where angst is the order of the day. Those graduating this year are obviously quite nervous about the prospects of finding work in this economy, but the juniors, sophomores and freshmen are worried about whether they will be able to obtain loans to return to school next year.

    To your point about enrollment rising in bad times, it is true some of the seniors are talking about ducking into graduate school for a couple of years while the economy sorts itself out. And some states –including Ohio, I think– are talking about cutting tuition at state schools in 2009 and beyond to help parents and students with the financial burdens. I hope you’re correct and that my prediction is wrong. We’re going to need a very smart, well-educated workforce to compete i the world economy.

    Overall, I’m pretty bearish about 2009. So much damage has been done to our country, including some things we’ve yet to even catalogue. We’re long on challenges and short on resources.

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  19. Jolene said on January 5, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I couldn’t agree more w/ your last statement, Jeff, but I do feel somewhat hopeful—mainly because I have the idea that Obama has the idea that the country is for the people. That is, he and the people he has appointed seem to understand that investing in ourselves is the way to make things work. I know that’s simplistic, and I know there are many obstacles, but, still, times have been difficult before, and creative, courageous people have found ways to turn things around.

    Loyola is, perhaps, exactly the sort of place where students are likely to have problems. A relatively high-cost institution w/, on average, students from families of modest means.

    I did a little googling after I wrote previously and found that it may be community colleges that experience the most growth in enrollment during economic downturns, but don’t take that as a conclusion. Somewhere, there’s an economist who knows the real answer.

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  20. Sue said on January 5, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    A reply to Danny: You are looking at this incorrectly. The Cosmic Order of Things required the removal of the Colts to make way for a team which was to be given the Absolute Coolest Literary Reference Name in the history of the NFL. Ok, the only Literary Reference Name in the history of the NFL. But still cool. Go Ravens.

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  21. Jolene said on January 5, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    On a less hopeful note, MSNBC just reported that December sales at Chrysler were off by 53% compared to the same period last year. Not surprising, but pretty horrible nonetheless.

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  22. jeff borden said on January 5, 2009 at 4:15 pm


    I also am cautiously hopeful about Obama, but as John Cole of Balloon Juice said when he went from being a Republican to a Democrat, I arrive “pre-disillusioned.” I’ve just seen too many fresh faces get fed into the D.C. woodchipper.

    Still, Obama consistently showed up the naysayers, so I hope that his tenure as president follows that pattern. The nation is truly crying out for a strong leader after eight years of incompetence, malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance.

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  23. Catherine said on January 5, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    OK, this is cool — I’ve had lunch with the newly nominated director of the CIA. Yes, it was 26 years ago and I was a constitutent. What’s your point?

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 5, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    I predict that we will get really tired of hearing the name “Blagojevich” before January is over. The murky crystal sez that newspapers will get thinner, be harder to find in print, and will experiment in different markets with really different formats, 1 in 20 of which will actually work, but that one will be copied slavishly (whoops, that’s a three year framed prediction). Any prediction is tied to the total board-flipping issue of “who’s in charge in Saudi Arabia today” and what happens to those oil fields, but quiet steady progress towards development of alternative energy sources will progress until a sudden, unexpected breakthrough shifts most of the attention into a particular format (wind, natgas, nuclear).

    President Obama will continue to upset and horrify the vigorous, small, but highly vocal ultralib wing of his party until he finally does something that the bulk of the right wing of the nation can agree they can’t abide, shoving them out of the generally “darn it, we want him to do well, mostly, except for socialism” stance they’ve been holding onto so far. Even so, Obama will not found a National Peace Academy, causing Dennis Kucinich to lead his faction out of his party (not a large group, but all Dems will agree they miss his very attractive wife).

    China will negotiate with Walmart for a stake, which will be bought through so many layers of surrogates you won’t learn about it until 2012. The next major terrorism atrocity will take place in the Philippines, which Americans inexcusably like to keep forgetting about. The one after that will be somewhere in the area between the northern suburbs of Paris and Stockholm, Yorkshire and Berlin.

    Clip and save! Either to learn and marvel, or mock me in December (actually, you could start earlier).

    PS — Jeff Jarvis (too many Jeffs around here, which is how i got that darn suffix on my name, i guess) has a good point: editors who think the 6:30 pm network evening news is the template for video are not getting what YouTube and Facebook clips are all about for those who use them. But that is what editors are asking for. Clips, snips, and unique angles are what folks want, not highly produced content. For that, they go to JibJab.

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  25. jcburns said on January 5, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I predict that Twitter won’t be such a hot thing if they can’t keep their site secure enough so that Rick Sanchez, Fox News, the Huffington Post, and Britney Spears can tweet in their own words, instead of those of their hackers.

    Was that more than 140 characters? Damn.

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  26. Dave said on January 5, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Wait a minute, Catherine, you’ve had lunch with Mr. Panetta? What will Mary from LA say?

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  27. Danny said on January 5, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    …Probably something about having lunch with Leon’s boss and recommending him for the job.

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  28. Catherine said on January 5, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    It’s an LA thing. Mary’s encounters are usually more A-list than mine. The B thru D-lists are my beat. For instance I just found out that Marlee Matlin is a neighbor, and I saw Meredith Baxter at Whole Foods (looking at baby food, oddly). Donald Trump, not so much.

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  29. Danny said on January 5, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Sue, yeah, I see your point and I am all for literary references, but there was a bit too much history with the Baltimore Colts and Johnny Unitas for that to matter. Plus, the Ravens are still kind of a stolen team (or purloined for you Poe fans), even if the name was left in Cleveland and they got a new team the next year.

    EDIT: Catherine, it’s also a Mary thing because she met famous people back east too. Leona Helmsley for one. She also saw Kurt Vonnegut from a distance, iirc. There may have been others.

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  30. Catherine said on January 5, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Would it count if I dined next to Grace Jones in Boston? (again, strictly B thru D-list)

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  31. LA Mary said on January 5, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Hey, Catherine, Tim Roth lives in Pasadena. Keep an eye out.

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  32. Catherine said on January 5, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I dunno, Tim Roth is probably too A-list for me. Does he have any kids who play softball or soccer? Then, maybe. But I can offer up Michael Gross at my doctor’s office. Y’all can keep Michael J. Fox.

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  33. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 5, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    If the whole year goes as well as my first four days of 2009 went, this is gonna be a good one. Chicago may be corrupt and losing jobs and bone chillingly cold (as my wife kept pointing out), and even has a rather dopey looking Trump building now towering over the skyline, but it really is the most amazingly livable and visually interesting city i’ve ever been in. Think New Orleans or Paris with brutal winters to weed out the uncommitted.

    And it just feels vital and healthy and hopeful, even if it’s all a facade. I hope Hyde Park’s adopted son brings some of that vibe to the Executive Branch, and i don’t blame him for choking up a bit on leaving behind a city like this one.

    I predict an amazing four years. (Oh, and now that i’m back home — Go Bucks!)

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  34. Catherine said on January 6, 2009 at 12:03 am

    I seem to be incapable of raising my head to look beyond the immediate horizon for predictions. I do have a contribution, though. Here’s a lovely little poem from novelist Elinor Lipman, via mrs-o.org (yes, I continue to squander my life over there).

    Michelle, As Well
    by Elinor Lipman

    I write this poem on matters slight
    By which I mean, Inaugural Night.

    My shallow values hence exposed,
    But someone’s got to mention clothes.

    I’ll take you back as I digress
    To Iowa and that black dress.

    A silver belt around her waist
    Opponent’s pantsuits in disgrace.

    I viewed her garb and then I knew
    She won’t wear suits in royal blue.

    Man-tailored jackets grow on trees,
    And no more rhinestone flag pins, please.

    She won’t-nor will her dazzling girls-
    Be seen in Barbara’s two-strand pearls.

    I love her plastic boutonnieres
    We won’t see Reagan-red for years.

    The purple sleeveless dress: bravado
    That V-neck teal in Colorado?

    The fierce print at Invesco Field?
    A Denver high, her shoes low-heeled.

    The black and white seen on The View?
    Back-ordered till the year is new.

    Still, anchor people have to dwell
    More on McCain than on Michelle.

    But we who live by Project Runway
    Crave panache inside the Beltway.

    Support the arts (couture is one!)
    A modern Jackie will be fun.

    Michelle, our belle, icon long-sought
    A ticket back to Camelot.

    And better still, her strengths are mental,
    The Best Dressed list is accidental.

    Come January, let us pray
    We hail Inauguration Day.

    A snowy night, D.C. ablaze
    The end of fashion’s long malaise.

    Her man, their waltz, a splendid gown
    A masterpiece lights up the town.

    Chiffon or silk in black or white,
    Barack in tails…oh what a sight!

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