You’re never too old to learn something new. I managed to report the results of every contested race in the Grosse Pointes last night in a single tweet with not even a shortened URL, and given my tendency to run on at the keyboard, I think this shows not only admirable brevity but heroic restraint. Ahem:
Millages: Passed. School board: Pangborn, Dindoffer, Jakubiec. Woods judge: Metry. Park council: Arora, Grano, Robson. Park judge: Jarboe.
There is no such thing as platform-neutral journalism. That’s actually 138 characters — two to spare. Good thing the Woods judicial race wasn’t won by the candidate with the double last name.
While we’re keeping it brief, might as well three-dot our way into this note from J.C. that arrived last night from his vacation in the American west, regarding the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald. Dateline Willcox, Ariz.:
Actually, live TV happened all the time in the 1950s and 1960s. Even black and white microwave live shots date to the early 60s. But what happened in the case of Oswald was that they had a pool b/w big old RCA studio camera, a remote truck, and a hardwired, literally, big ol’ cabled connection to ‘telco’–AT&T, just like for a baseball game. Expensive, but to Dallas stations this was a big deal.
That video fascinates me because its so crisp and so clear in its black and whiteness and Dan Rather, Robert MacNeil, Bob Schieffer and so on were so young.
He’s my go-to authority on all television matters. He told me once about the day Mike Wallace came in to our college station, WOUB, for an interview, back in the day when sets were two chairs in front of a lattice screen and a ficus tree. J.C. was running one of the studio cameras. Even then, in the mid-’70s, Wallace looked impossibly wizened and old and not at all like the “60 Minutes” hero. Wallace took his seat and started directing the floor director on how to adjust the lights — bring this one down, that one up, the other one around. J.C., watching through the camera, said it was amazing: “He became ‘Mike Wallace’ right before our eyes.” Years later, he pointed out to me how every new season of “Sex and the City” took the lighting lower and lower (on a lateral plane, not in intensity), until it seemed the gals were living in a world lit only by footlights. Does wonder for female faces of a certain age.
And finally, if you didn’t follow the comments yesterday, please don’t miss Gene Weingarten’s take on the Henry Allen career K.O. It is wise and funny and dead-on, and shows why Weingarten is not a writer to underestimate, either, although I doubt he’ll punch anyone in his final act:
The first thing I want to say is, hooray. Hooray that there is still enough passion left somewhere in a newsroom in America for violence to break out between colorful characters in disagreement over the quality of a story. (Obligatory mature qualification: I of course decry any breakdown in comity and collegiality and civil discourse in the workplace, and urge all young people to maintain decorum and respect others, to be tolerant of opposing viewpoints, to seek compromise, and to not punch each other out in spit-flying scrums.)
Still, hooray. Newsrooms used to be places filled with interesting eccentrics driven by unreasonable passions — a situation thought of as “creative tension” and often encouraged by management in eras when profits were high and arrogance was seen not as a flaw but a perquisite of being smart and right. Sadly, over the years newsrooms have come to resemble insurance offices peopled by the blanched and the pinched and the beetle-browed; lately, with layoffs thought to be on the horizon, everyone also behaves extra nicely to please the boss. In the face of potential ruin, journalists have been forced to reach accommodations with themselves: New strictures, new styles, new protocols, new limitations on what is possible are now meekly swallowed. In the frantic scramble for new “revenue streams,” ethical boundaries are more likely to be pushed than is the proverbial envelope. Some of all this has leached out into the product. We all feel it. You do, too.
There’s more, and you should read it. Bonus: A couple of excerpts from Allen’s peerless journalism, which I neglected yesterday.
UPDATE: Hank weighs in, and considers the gay-insult angle.
Getting back to the election: On my errands the other day, I passed a traffic island in a busy intersection. It sprouted two candidates’ yard signs. Specifically: Abdalla Awwad and Karen Wojcik. When you get depressed about the future, reflect on that little miracle, impossible or at least highly unlikely in Don Draper’s day — an Arab-American and a Polish-American woman, running for municipal seats in a blue-collar suburb deep in the heartland. Although — drumroll — both lost. (Trumpet wah-wah.)
I suppose yesterday’s polling will be spun as a sharp rebuke, or perhaps a warning shot, or maybe even a repudiation of Obama Nation. We’ll see. I don’t know enough about Virginia or New Jersey politics to say one way or another; the NY-23 race is far more interesting, the importation of an out-of-district carpetbagger to oppose a Republican nominee thought to be insufficiently conservative. They can run their party however they want, but so much for all that gassing about why Democrats won’t let pro-life members of their party address their conventions, etc. Make the tent smaller! That’s the ticket. Actually, this is the ticket:
NY-23 is solidly Republican but not especially conservative (it voted for Barack Obama last year), and Hoffman was a relatively uncharismatic candidate with poor command of the local issues.
Carpetbaggers are a hard sell. Although they do bring lots of media attention to their backers. Do I have lipstick on my teeth? No, Sarah, lovely as always.
I have nothing to say about that, either, because Jon Stewart said it all here. Drag your slider to the 2/3 mark, and don’t miss the Beck Test.
And now I have to call some of those folks in that opening tweet. The winner for my local judicial race is a young guy with not a lot of name recognition. But he stopped by my house three times and several times when I was out and about, I’d see him on his lonely shoe-leather quest to ring every doorbell in town. It’s true what they say, folks: It’s all local.
First, the crossword puzzle. Then phone calls.