Click here for SFR on MySpace

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

my face hurts

Am having weird SDS, Sudden Dehydration Syndrome, whereby out of the blue I've got a terrible headache and can barely swallow for being so parched. Feel that I have only drunk about three glasses of water in the last decade. Wonder why it's so important to drink water and yet so difficult to do so. Weird random glitch in human machinary. Hmm. Am almost done and ready to go home. Wish there would be something delicious to eat at house but fear there is nothing to eat, delicious or otherwise. Only dogs will wait for me.
Also must mention that previously mentioned Dan Frosch April 20, "Look Out Santa Fe" arrives within hours (possibly within the hour), so look out again SF. He's baaack.

Felt Anonymous

Well, in a journalistic era where the validity, credibility and use of anonymous sources is under serious debate the most high-profile anonymous source, Deep Throat, has outed himself. You can read The New York Times article on The Vanity Fair article that outs Mark Felt, as well as the VF article at this link.

taking a deep breath

OK. Outtakes has been shipped to the art department (well, the art desk anyway), which gives me at least 45 minutes before something lands back on my desk. Blogging is probably not at the top of the list of things I should be doing with my 45-minute reprieve but, well, I've decided to view my brain like a mailbox that gets stuffed to the brim twice a day (kind of like my actual mailbox here). If you don't empty it how will there be room to put new stuff in it?
First things first: weekend goals.
Did not tan as it was cloudy and/or rainy all weekend. Was bitter up to about half an hour ago about the fact that today looked like beautiful poolside weather but now it's clouding over. Must make some reasonable attempt to think less often about the weather. Or at least talk about it less.
BBQs. First BBQ was told explicitly not to bring any food. Brought birthday cake anyway. Turned out to be one of 2 birthday cakes. This turned out to be perfectly fine as Finn and Tate, my friend Rick and Jen's identifical almost-four-year-old twins wanted cake before anyone else did, so we were able to let them have their cake and then have another with candles and singing for Jen's birthday. Also, must be noted, that Jen made me cheese enchiladas to eat and we laughed about the fact that many years ago (10? Jesus), her and Rick used to serve me those raw vegetable platters when I came for holiday meals because that's what they figured vegetarians ate.
Walked. Walked a lot. According to women's walking health challenge people I have walked more than 55 miles since walking challenge began. This may also explain why the main thing I did all weekend was:
SLEEP. My God, I slept like crazy. I had about two naps per every activity I accomplished (load of laundry followed by nap. Game of pool, followed by nap.). Was worried by morning that perhaps all this sleeping indicates some kind of unacknowledged depression, but Jonanna thinks, perhaps, it's just Lyme Disease or something.
Did not go to GoGos (see SLEEP). Did see Bing and Buster Keaton film Friday night. Fabulous!!! Did go to Red Ball for a little while. Sight of models up and down in outfits for fashion show required more SLEEP almost immediately afterwards. Or maybe that was the Cosmopolitan. Have noticed that drinks that are sweet make me instaneously exhausted, while non-sweet drinks do not. So have diagnosed myself with some kind of sugar sensitivity and decided to avoid sweet drinks as much as possible (Excepting the need for an occasional frozen margarita, particularly if I know I can go home and go to sleep).
Did take care of Lalo, Darius' cat. Which included watching him jump off balcony in what appeared to be sudden kitty suicide bomber move. Didn't want to leave him outside so stood on patio whispering loudly "Lalo!" for 20 minutes until he leapt back up. Cats are amazing how far they jump.
Did hang out with friends. Also with self, although mostly with unconscious self.
Did read book. "On Writing" by Ellen Gilchrist. Normally could do without books about writing, but I like Gilchrist's actual writing a lot so I made an exception. Was perfect "it's raining all day on Saturday" activity and, best part, the chapters were short so I could read one, pass out, wake up, and read another.
Woke up today oddly rejuvenated. Funny to think ONE EXTRA DAY off can make such a difference. Of course, normally I don't sleep half the weekend.
So, in summation: food, pool, music, movie, friends, reading, sleep, sleep, sleep.
Oh, also, set new goal during weekend which was to not run over tourists. Set this goal out of necessity as everywhere I went there were visitors wandering in the middle of the street. Clearly SF is marketing itself in towns where getting run over is less of a threat or, perhaps, in towns without cars, as most of the people kept looking at the cars with no visible recognition.

Prairie Dog Companion

prairie dog

I don't have time to write right now. This is the flip side of 3 days off—Tuesday morning hell. Still, have to at least take a moment to acknowledge how great it is that Santa Fe is the type of place where removing prairie dogs humanely is a city law! This in response to weekend story about the prairie dogs at the Railyard that are being relocated to Socorro. We were just talking about those prairie dogs over the weekend, because it used to be when you were at the light at St. Francis and Cerrillos and looked over they'd all be sitting by the side of the road watching the traffic (and occasionally flinging themselves into it). What is it about those prairie dogs? It's not just me and my tendency to anthropomorphisize (can't spell right now and spell check won't help me for some reason) everything. Everyone (well, except people with strong feelings about "varmints") feels this way about prairie dogs. This reminds me of a funny story from one time when a prairie dog was hiding in the dog house I used to have under my car port. It was yelling really loudly so I called "Vector Control" at Santa Fe County. The guy who answered asked me to imitate the sound the prairie dog was making which, like a fool, I readily tried to do. The guy said, "Oh, he's just saying he misses his mom."
Oh Santa Fe.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Quest for Fun

OK, less than two hours to lift off (assuming we get done in the next less-than-two-hours what needs to be done). Here are my Memorial Day Weekend Goals.

* denotes footnote.

1. To stop being so goal oriented. It's not 1985 for God's sakes.
2. To lie at pool and tan untan parts of body (within reason) (also, if it rains all weekend like it is right now I am going to be pissed at…um, the weather)
3. To read more than two pages of a book in one sitting.*
4. To go see The GoGos on Saturday night at Route 66 casino ("Vacation's all I ever wanted...")
5. To not be lame and actually bring something to BBQ at BBQs.**
6. To clean my house, but only in a make-nice way, not an obsessive-compulsive "I only have two days off" way.***
7. To walk dogs a lot.****
8. Hang out with friends
9. Hang out with self *****
10. Avoid 132 East Marcy Street ****** and not let myself come in "just to check email." *******
11. Take care of Darius' cat ********

You will know if I succeed in said goals if this is my last post for three days.


* particularly given that I need to write a summer books preview for Summer Guide. But I plan to read in the "by the pool" way, not the "I'm on deadline" way. See Goal #1.
** Will write book one day titled "The Only Vegetarian at the Barbecue," possibly as autobiography, definitely not cookbook.
*** This may seem as though it thwarts Goal #1, but relaxing in clean environment easier than relaxing in crazy All My Clothes Are On My Bed environment.
**** and not just because I feel guilty.
***** Not in New Age way.
****** that's where SFR is located.
******* No, I don't have Internet access at home. I know this seems bizarre and retro but I decided at some point that I get 10 hours a day of DSL at work, why do I need to go online at home? Answer: I do not. Thus, home is Internet-free zone where only old-fashioned things happen, like reading, listening to music and, um, butter churning (blech)
******** but not in "oh yet another responsibility because I'm so goal-oriented way," rather in a relaxed Zen-like benficient, "friendship is eternal" kind of way.

As the interns say: peace out.

I feel a Leno joke coming on—pun intended

Trying to be a good person and not laugh at the story FDA gets reports of blindness from male impotence drugs" on the front page of the New York Times's web site.
Life is hard for men.
Maybe now it will be less so.

Here's how holidays work

at ye old Santa Fe Reporter
Monday we are closed, thus:
Friday is Monday
Thursday is Friday
Wednesday is Thursday

That means today we have Monday deadlines. Monday deadlines without Monday ennui. It's so brilliant, really. I am a big fan of the three-day weekend, although perhaps if they were less rare I would not be.
I am going to edit the cover story now and then perhaps return and mention last night's fun show at El Paseo.
In case I am sucked into the black hole go see Bing perform tonight at The Lensic for The Buster Keaton film. It is going to be fun.
And also drive carefully. It's Friday, aka, COP DAY. (This is not paranoia; on Friday the cops all come out and pull people over. I'm telling you).
And remember, it doesn't matter WHAT you barbecue, only THAT you barbecue.
Have almost finished making modifications to the way the blog looks. I think. Actually I'll probably keep tweaking. I'll know I'm done when I'm done.
Is that Zen or what?
(That's probably not Zen at all. I'm way too goal-oriented to be Zen).
I think finishing this cup of coffee is a bad idea.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

My Life as Sitcom

I just finished telling Jonanna, as we took a brief break on the dilapitated picnic table out our back door, my conviction that my life has turned into a sitcom, as evidenced by last night. Darius and I went to the Cowgirl. A. I am at the Cowgirl way too often, in the same way that sitcom characters always go to the same places all the time (the same bar, the same coffeeshop). We bickered over who had to sit with their back to the wall and split a brownie sundae (which I really wish he'd stop ordering as I'm powerless to resist them). Then Emily and Sandra came up. Just like in a sitcom, where the group of friends just keep arriving to the same places. Em is on crutches having fractured a bone in (near?) her ankle. B, secondary plotline. Had a trip planned, broke her ankle playing basketball, pushes back trip etc. Witty conversation ensues. Other minor characters come and go, say hello etc. Darius and I continue on to play pool—recurring plot line. We play very very badly (also recurring and, in my opinion, due to sugar coma). See Rocque Ranaldi spinning. Am informed by him that his mother googled him, found my blog and gave him the pages where I mentioned him. Sitcom character Julia Goldberg reacts in true form by becoming speechless and wishing she'd spontaneously combust. Refrains from running from room only by fact of wearing four inch shoes that she has fallen down in many times (which are, for the record "cactus" color, according to former shoe-buyer sister). Darius and Julia walk back to his car, which is now parked next to Jonanna's car. Darius very amused by Rocque's mother finding Julia's Blog plotline. Amused and teases her all the way home. Julia finally gets home, exhausted, only to learn she's lost her pedometer. Calls Darius, who finds it in his car. He then text messages her at 6 am when said pedometer rudely wakes him up because it has an alarm that likes to announce, "It is 6 am" for no apparent reason. (No reason other than its alarm is set for 6 am and I can't figure out how to turn it off).
OK, granted, it's a character-driven sitcome with no plot, but there have been many of those. Maybe all small towns feel like a sitcom. Maybe having a regular job and being at the same place with the same people every day makes life feel sitcomish. Maybe I am way too much a product of the '80s and am seeing things through that culturally-deprived lens (although I'm not really culturally deprived). I don't even like sitcoms and never watch them.
I think I need to get more than 6 hours sleep tonight.

Shirley Baca, no dope

I thought The Trib did a better job with the E Shirley Baca story than The AP did in the story The New Mex carried, at least in terms of explaining the judicial reasons Baca's statements upon arrest were suppressed. The upshot is the charges were dropped due to lack of proper miranda rights. The best part of the story are the comments on the new mex page, particularly one from a reader saying it's a good thing being a dumb ass isn't against the law (no freakin' doubt).
I will say I agree wholeheartedly that it's aggravating that here's this woman who preaches a "Zero Tolerance" about drugs who gets caught with dope at the airport (which is a dumbass place to have contraband) and gets off scott free, all the while claiming she was framed—a really ridiculous claim that she should either backup with at least a theory or stop repeating. Personally I wouldn't mind learning that all public officials were secret pot smokers; it would at least explain a lot of their dopey decisions.

morning media critique

I found the disparity between The New Mexican and The Journal Santa Fe's stories on the death of Lance Cpl. Jonathan Grant in this morning's papers striking.
The Journal story, Mourners Remember Marine as a Hero begins with this lead about the Pojoaque resident killed in Iraq earlier this month when his vehicle was hit by a land mine:

"Since childhood Lance Cpl. Jonathan Walter Grant was turning the curveballs life threw his way into home runs."

The story continues to talk about Grant being raised by his grandmother and how much he loved her. How he married his girlfriend after she got pregnant when he was "a junior or senior in high school" (I don't know why this couldn't be determined but, apparently, it couldn't). The story went on to talk about how Grant will be remembered as a hero, describes the photos of Grant as a child, how he always wanted to be a Marine, played sports and worked hard to give his children the father they never had and dropped out of high school so his girlfriend could finish.
Aside from the one vague fact mentioned, it's a respectful story that strives to capture who the man killed was, what he meant to people who knew him and the kind of story one would respect about the first soldier killed from northern New Mexico. It makes, also, passing reference to the fact that Grant's uncle was declared missing in Vietnam.
The New Mexican story, on the other hand, Pojoaque remembers soldier killed in Iraq begins by talking about Vietnam Veteran Frank Montoya Smith who knew Grant's uncle, Robert Trujillo, who was declared missing in action. He isn't quoted, but Ed Lucero, another Vietnam vet, is, discussing the fact that at least Grant's family has closure. The story segues into a Korean War vet remembering other fellow soldiers who didn't make it home. There is almost no information about Grant and who he was, except for one quote from the cousin of Grant's fiancee that Grant was always taking care of the kids.
I found it odd that the story was set at Grant's memorial service but focused on the recollections, barely, of other vets, with very little focus on Grant, the soldier was killed. Strange that two stories at the same event, with headlines ostensibly about the same thing (a town remembering their first soldier killed in Iraq) would have such very different focuses.
Frankly I learned more about who Grant was from the people who knew him and posted on The New Mex's comments after the story than I did from the story itself. Also found it interesting that a small political fight broke out in those comments over the war itself. I think in some ways the story was geared more towards that, though, than towards making the reader really feel the loss of the man himself, which the Journal story achieved and which, I think, should have been the point of the story. The New Mex had much better photographs, however.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Digital Procrastination

I felt so frantic r.e. impending deadlines/holiday that I rammed through a bunch of stuff quickly and then found myself in an odd, albeit brief, lull, where the next tasks seemed a bit ovewhelming. Wandered down the street and caught part of The Blackhawk Protest in front of Video Library. Then came back and set about doing what I'd meant to do for a while which is start moving some of my links into categories etc. Also deleted this morning's poll on anonymous sources. A, it looked stupid and B, no one was taking it.

bad blogger, she is I

Memorial Day weekend approaches. Three blissful days of rest, sunshine and my annual futile attempt to pot pretty plants and coax them through three months of life. I curse my black thumb and set out yearly to refute its genetic disposition toward overwatering, underwatering, accidental root severing and the like. Time might be better spent deweeding the yard but it is always less rewarding to take away than to add.
But I blather.
My two days of silence—didja miss me?—came without warning. Every now and then it happens, the unthinkable: I have nothing to say. I do not fight those moments but, rather, I embrace them. Oh still, still mind with nary a thought, how sweet is your rest.
Actually I was just crazily slammed. No matter how many years I tackle the Monday, Tuesday shuffle still there are weeks where the machine throws me for a loop, an hour lost here, an hour screwed up there and before you know it I'm in frantic mode and there seems to be not even a moment to gather my thoughts.
And, sadly, that mode is still in effect. Monday's holiday means accelerated deadlines as of... NOW through Friday so it's time to hustle. This hurried atmosphere did not keep us from discussing this New York Times story on the trend against anonymous sources and all the various media issues that engenders.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Lazy Sunday, Lazy Thoughts

In a few minutes I am going to walk somewhere... Downtown Subscription maybe, or perhaps The Tea House, sit in the sun and edit the cover story. Am hoping my brain won't explode en route. Friday, after work, needing to make my 10,000 steps per day goal, I went for a post-work walk and ended up with some mild form of heat stroke. Hot all night, splitting headache, dizzy. Kind of ridiculous, really. I know that people who believe in ayuverdic stuff have told me often that I have that "hot" body type that makes heat kind of unbearable—in fact, ayuverdic or not, it's true. I really don't like being overheated but, still, an hour walk at 6 pm shouldn't do a person in. Although, in my defense, it was really hot out Friday. And now for that matter. Still, if it's going to be hot I better acclimate (I haven't in 17 years but maybe this will be the summer). Although Darius' pool is open I can't bear the thought of putting my bathing suit on at the moment. I know, vanity is one of the 10 deadly sins (7 deadly sins? How many are there? Lack of any formal religious education sometimes problematic), but it's also considerate really. I don't want anyone else's brain to explode. I can't believe I'm going to be on the beach in a month. Maybe I should walk to San Diego. Fortunately, I know from experience, my refusal to be hot and miserable will soon overcome my vanity. Possibly a few hours from now. It is hot out.
Last night, post Cowgirl dinner, a few of us went for a nice summer night walk, and ended up at The Plaza. I hadn't realized there was a blu102 event and we could hear the funk music from three blocks away. Rocque Ranaldi (who is becoming as ubiquitous a presence at Santa Fe events as the local bellydancing troupes) was spinning and the Plaza was filled with people. Young kids dancing, tourists dancing, teenagers dancing. There were older couples, clearly dressed up from dinner, who stopped and danced. I have to say it was one of those great Santa Fe moments and if I could snap my fingers (actually I am capable of snapping my fingers) and transform one thing about Santa Fe, I would make downtown like it was last night every night all summer long. Plus, I'd add a dozen food vendors and I'd take the ropes down from the grass. That way people could come downtown, get a cheap meal, sit on the grass, dance, whatever. Quite frankly, I'd do it at lunch too. Who cares how many food vendors there are downtown? Let the marketplace decide. Let downtown be the kind of place people hang out, all kinds of people. It was really, really nice. Now if I could snap my fingers and make a few other things happen, I'd lower the price of real estate to something resembling reasonable, stop all the revolting huge commercial and residential building being approved at breakneck speed on the southside and make something good happen in the Railyard once and for all.
But Sundays are no time for griping, particularly when I have work of my own to do. And the sooner it's done, the sooner I'll be poolside. And the sooner I get poolside, the sooner I can work on tanning my stomach.
Finally, a BIG thanks to Tom Blog who troubleshot my javascript problem on Friday (which turned out not to be my problem, but a problem with the code). He's instructed me on how to make it work, which I'll probably do on Monday. Thanks also to Lee and Tom of The Donagale Express for their offers of help subsequent to Tom's initial tackling of the problem. I'm sure they would have figured it out quickly as well. I, on the other hand, might have spent the rest of my life trying to figure it out and would have, based on previous experience, refused to ever read anything that might have helped me figure it out. Thus I've set a goal to actually start reading a bit about html, css etc., rather than persist in this endless trial and error method I've got going on. All in all, I'm pretty good at teaching myself stuff, but I think I'm at, or close to at, the point where I could use a little instruction.
OK, I'm hitting the street, um, sidewalk.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Foiled by Javascript and my Inadequacies

Well, I've just wasted more time than I can stand to admit attempting to load a poll onto this blog. Apparently, it won't load or, possibly, I am html-challenged. Sigh. Anyone who can help me troubleshoot this will be given a major shout-out (I know, very motivating).
In other news:

It is like so summer. I wasn't quite ready for the sudden 90 degrees. On the bright side, my friend Darius' pool is open. On the downside, people may go spontaneously blind upon viewing me in a bathing suit. Or turn to salt. Or stone. Or something.
But, toward the goal of less jiggle I have joined the WOW Sunbelt Challenge. Info on this project from the Office of women's Health can be found at this website Basically, I've attached a pedometer to my jeans which is now tracking my every step. My goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day which, in the course of three months will put me on a virtual course through Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico (which are not, for the record, the states I would choose to walk through if, for some reason, I decided to spend three months walking across states). Now, for those of you who know me, you might find the prospect of me signing up for some health-related walking challenge a little out of character, and you wouldn't be wrong. This is what happens when you accidentally become friends with people involved in public health issues. God I miss my crack-addict friends (note to FBI: I'm joking). So, wish me luck. How many times do you think I have to walk around the block to reach 10,000 steps a day? A million? In all seriousness, I have a very competitive nature and plan to try very hard to make it to Louisiana. Maybe we all get imaginary gumbo when we're done.
In other news, yesterday the papers announced that City Councilor David Coss had announced his possible consideration of running for mayor. Coss mentioned this to me a month or two back when we were both at a social function, but I guess I didn't realize it was news (so much for that killer news nose). In all seriousness, Coss is one of several councilors rumored to be a mayoral contender. Also Pfeffer, and Wurzburger, and I wouldn't be supershocked if Ortiz jumped in either. Not to mention Larry running again. And realtor Karen Walker, who already said she was running. And Muni Judge Fran Gallegos, also "considering" running. And God knows who else. This is why it would be a good idea for the city's Charter Commision to revamp the charter for runoffs before the next mayoral election. First of all, the city needs some shaking up and it doesn't need a mayor elected by 25 or 30 percent of voters. Runoffs will clarify and change the entire tenor of the election and help ensure that the next mayor was, at least, the majority of voters' first or second choice. So go charter commission.
On another note, I think these stories about people "considering" running for office stuff BS. Basically, it really isn't a news story, it's a cheap way for prospective candidates to let as many people as they can know (without lifting a finger or spending a dime, except to call the dailies' city reporters) that they might run if they get enough support. You get a page 1 story about a potential candidacy and no one calls, you're in trouble.
Speaking of trouble, this story about wild horses really bothered me. In a nutshell, the House is blocking the government from selling wild horses because those horses have been "ending up in processing plants and on the tables of foreign restaurants." I mean, I'm glad they are blocking it, but I just feel really sickened at some of the things that happen in this world of ours. And things that happen to animals and children, who can't protect themselves, are the worst.
I can't offer a segue, but here's my next topic.
Both The New and The Journal had stories today about the RFP for the next LANL manager. The New Mex's story seemed more thorough (which was surprising, I usually think of The Journal as having much better LANL coverage), but there were several things in The New Mex's story that seemed weirdly unexplained for the average reader. Or, perhaps I should say, for this reader. They were:

1. In discussing the criteria for the RFP, one of the areas given the greatest weight is science and technology, "bidders must show they can foster an environment of scientific skepticism..."

Now, a quick google search helped me out here, as I learned that scientific skepticism is not the same as good 'ol regular skepticism. According to Wikepidia:

"Scientific skepticism or rational skepticism (UK spelling, scepticism) sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry, is a scientific, or practical, epistemological position (or paradigm) in which one does not accept the veracity of claims unless they can be scientifically verified.
This article does not deal with philosophical skepticism which is the school of thought in which one critically examines whether the knowledge and perceptions one has are true, and whether or not one can ever be said to have true knowledge."

In other words, the next LANL manager needs to test the science to make sure it works, not just walk around saying things like, "Yeah, right, that's gonna clean up radioactive waste."

2. I didn't really understand how one is supposed to synthesize the idea that the RFP scores each contender on a variety of factors numerically with the fact that "the person selecting the winning proposal" is Thomas Paul D'Agostino..."he is functioning now as the landlord for Los Alamos..."

Um, three things.

1. Why is he choosing if they are being scored? That doesn't sound like the most epistemological thing I've ever heard. I mean, even the hot dog vending permits in Santa Fe had a committee evaluate their proposals.
2. What the hell is "the landlord for Los Alamos"
3. Who is this guy again?

I have, at this time, gotten nowhere in answering the first two questions, and made little headway with the third, except to learn that in the late '90s, D'Agostino was a DOE representative who attended a 10-month program at the College of Naval Warfare. This from an online government newsletter archived on the Internet:

"The CNW, the senior-level program at the Naval War College located in Newport, Rhode Island, focuses on national security policy and strategy, national security decision-making, and joint military operations. Tom D'Agostino, who was recognized as a "Distinguished Graduate" for his contributions and for graduating in the top 10% of his class, states that "my experience at the Naval War College was exceptional and unique. The College provided me with the knowledge and expertise to deal with national security policy issues, understand and implement different decision-making processes and tools, and most importantly, interact with senior civilians and military service members on a variety of national security concerns." According to Mr. D'Agostino, "a significant benefit of having a DOE representative at the Naval War College was that it provided the opportunity to explain the Department's role in national security." Upon completion of this program, graduates receive a Masters of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies."

Believe it or not, there is almost nothing else about this guy out there. But I've only done a perfunctory search. I thought I might go do my work now and play Crazed Internet Detective later.

Still, I have to say, when it comes to this whole LANL RFP my guess (or vote, if I could figure out how to put this freaking javascript poll up) is that the fix is in already as to who the next manager will be.
But, ya know, I'm a bit of a skeptic, the regular—not scientific—kind.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

damn you steve terrell

Mr. Terrell, of The New Mexican and the much more established Blog very unkindly forwarded me a blog questionnaire/chainletter type thing about my musical tastes, which I've been instructed to forward to five other bloggers or suffer blogistan repercussions. Normally I would ignore such chain-letter solitications, but he publicly announced he's sent it to me on his blog, so I have no choice but to eschew all the brilliant, hard-researched commentary I'd planned to blog about today and instead answer these questions.

(New readers, for the record, I love Steve Terrell and I have nothing brilliant to say today or, arguably, any day.)

Here goes:

The last CD I bought was:
Erykah Badu Live
Song playing right now:
Lucinda Williams, "Drunken Angel"

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me: (At least they are in the "recently played" playlist on my ipod

1. The Roots, "Love of My Life"
2. Stevie Wonder, "I Believe"
3. Aimie Mann, "Save Me"
4. Tribe Called Quest, "We Can Get Down"
5. Floetry, "Tell Me When"

Five people to whom I’m passing the baton: (And I hope they forgive me, particularly as I don't even know some of them. I don't have a surfiet of blograderie in my life, being new to all this. Soon, perhaps, I'll have more blogfriends to harass).

Zelie Pollon

Yvonne at We Are Not Sheep

Gregory Pleshaw

Joe Monahan

Nate Downey


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Morning Porn

During the 2004 election season, my morning email contained, regularly, dozens, if not tens of dozens, politics-related spam. Mass-generated "letters to the editor," "op-eds," RNC newsletters, DNC missives, updates etc. I had not, to my knowledge, requested or signed up for any of this, although I admit I was somewhat fascinated by this weird punditized ghost in the machine. I would sleep at night and in the morning, dozens of opinions awaited me. None of which were really worth reading, but still. My other observation, at the time, was that the political spammage's arrival had coincided with the disappearance of what had previously been an overabundance of regular old porn spam. And I mean like heavy duty porn spam every morning (it never arrives after 10 am; porn spammers, like pundits, apparently work nights). Given a choice, I'd rather face opining by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth with my morning coffee than farm girls getting it hard (or whatever), although some mornings it is a bit of a toss up. Anyway, the election came and went and, lo and behold, the political spams have all but disappeared and the regular kind is back. With a vengeance. Now, I know you're thinking to yourself: "Is this girl brain dead? Spam block you fool." And normally I would agree with you, except that as the recipient of other mass-mailed items that I actually need (like press releases etc), spam blocks can be dangerous. I know, having employed them once for a month and managed to miss half the mail I needed to see. Spam blockers, at least the one I've got, are not sophisticated enough to differentiate between pornography and press releases from the governor's office. Which should tell you something.
OK, it's early. I've got two new interns to meet with and train, a cover story to read, allergies to battle, a publisher and a budget to contend with, dogs to walk, people to see, blah, blah, blah. Back later. If you need me, I'll be looking at porn. (Note to federal agents reading this blog: that was a joke. I delete the porn immediately and it's not my fault I've been targeted by pornographers).

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Lonely Journalists Part 2 and why Ombudsman is a really bad word

Maybe before reading this post you might want to read this Salon story on on the two new PBS ombudsman
We've talked, of late, a great deal about ombudsman here at SFR. And we've come to two major conclusions. The first: ombudsman is a terrible word. It doesn't roll off the tongue at all. Second, we are never going to have an ombudsman at SFR, particularly given that we don't even have the money to pay someone to take my phone calls ('cuz that's where the money is going first, my friends).
Beyond that, this budding ombudsman/public editor stuff is worthy of serious examination. Taken in conjunction with the report I mentioned yesterday (Oh dear God, I just hyperlinked to my own previous post. We're META now baby), what's emerging is a total picture of journalism as a completely dysfunctional environment in which the only constant factor is constant distrust. Readers don't trust papers to be unbiased, reporters don't trust readers to understand their stories, management doesn't trust reporters enough to use anonymous sources and the sources, well, they don't trust anybody, which is probably wise. As Janet Malcolm writes in the Journalist and the Murderer: "Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to know what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible."
Malcolm's book (Yes, I'm obsessed with this book; it's the best, if not the only, post-modern psychoanalytic discussion of journalism out there) talks about the fact that journalists employ a bevy of techniques in reporting, but it's all with the cause of getting the information. Sources, interviewees, can be tricked and cajoled into trusting the reporter, but they shouldn't. A journalist is never friends with a source, even though it can feel like that for the source. The journalist is there to get the story.
I think this is at the root of why most people don't trust reporters to be unbiased. It's a kind of weird, way abject skill (one that would likely not be considered a skill in any other profession) to get people to open up to you, to want to hear their story, but to not really care about the. It's semi-pathological, really, and most people would have a hard time doing it. If they were reporting on a topic they cared about, if they were interviewing politicians whose views they disagreed with, if they were doing any of these things, they'd have a stake in it. They wouldn't be unbiased. They don't believe that reporters can be unbiased because they imagine reporters are the same as they are. But they are wrong. But it's also why newspapers have fucked up royally (and TV to a much greater extent, but I don't consider TV news journalism in any sense of the word) with all these blurring of the lines. You can't just make some former political consultant into a journalist. Yes, you can convert and transform some people into reporters, but not just anybody. Now, I probably sound like Malcolm's "full of himself" reporter and maybe I am sometime. I also appreciate that having an insatiable need to just find things out isn't really a wonderful character attribute.
Now to ombudsman. I often think these public editor types are more interesting to journalists than they are to citizens. I, personally, love reading and hearing about how stories come about. Where the tips come from, how the reporter reported it, all that meta stuff. I don't know if the average citizen likes that or not, or even appreciates it as work or what. With all these booming bloggers, it seems that the line between reporting and just reading stuff and forming opinions, is growing a bit shaky, and thus perhaps the need for ombudsman to listen to readers' concerns about stories and explain how a story came to be. I would be curious, if not shocked, to learn that any ombudsman actually convinced a person that bias did or did not exist. The ombudsman is really just there to hear the complaints, with the idea that by hearing them the readers will feel heard. The best ombudsman I've come across ever was in The Stranger which included near-weekly rants about how much the ombudsman thought the editor sucked. It was entertaining.
Oh what is going to happen to journalism at this rate? Corporate journalism seems to think it can win back lost readers by hiring people to insist that the journalism they are doing is unbiased, but now even that plan has a hole in it as two ombudsman have been hired for PBS representing both liberal and conservative points of view. This whole "liberal" and "conservative" viewpoint seems to have been delivered straight from the political consultants to the journalists hook, line and sinker as the accepted way of construing the news, as the schism, the line that newspapers must straddle. I don't believe it. I don't even believe that it exists, let alone that this is what newspapers need to spend all their time worrying about. Go dig up some embezzlement, check out the conditions of the prisons, of the schools, of the streets, of the people who live in the communities being covered. Afflict the comfortable, comfort the afflicted. Journalism isn't all politics and where is Joan Didion et. al when we need them?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Journalists, the loneliest people in the world

I guess it's not my imagination that I often feel alone in the universe. According to this new survey reported on by E&P, journalists and the general public do not see eye to eye, or even eye to foot on freedom of the press, politics or much of anything else.

superblitz, saturation, let's call the whole thing off

Hmm. Just got a press release from the city announcing the results of the police department's weekend DWI Superblitz (no definition included so I can't tell you how a superblitz differs from a saturation, perhaps only in level of annoyance). First things first, I was mistaken when I told you the DWI checkpoint last night on Airport Road was going southbound. It was actually for westbound traffic. I knew as I wrote that that I was probably screwing up. I have a terrible sense of direction and have pretty much mastered the concept of "turn left," but not much else. OK, here's the stats on the city's weekend "superblitz"
Saturday's checkpoint was on Agua Fria and Camino De Chelly.
413 cars went through.
Three drivers were tested because they had been drinking, but they were released.
One was arrested for having an open container.
A transport officer "in route back to the checkpoint made one DWI arrest." (Don't ask me, I'm just telling you what it said).
The Airport Road checkpoint had 536 vehicles go through it.
Five drivers who had been drinking were tested
five people were cited for open containers.
No DWI arrests were made.

I'm not great at math, but here's what I've come up with. 999 cars were stopped at checkpoints this weekend. One person was arrested for drunk driving and one person was arrested for having an open container.

Mo Money Mo Problems

Have just finished reading an AP story, that was a follow on a copyrighted Albuquerque Journal story that I can't, for the life of me, find on their web site. Anyway, the story was about the fact that New Mexico Lottery Chief Tom Shaheen needs a raise or he might leave New Mexico. Right now Shaheen is making $160,000 plus $17,000 bonuses a year. Lottery board chairwoman Claydean Claiborne of Jai wants him to start making $205,000 outright in July. She says it's the only way New Mexico will keep Shaheen and that he's "worth the money." Apparently, our lottery is one of just two that has seven years of sales increases since it began, with $148 million lottery tickets bought in 2004. Board members say Shaheen is the reason our lottery is doing so well.
uh huh. Maybe.
Of course, another reason our lottery may be breaking records is because you have to be pretty desperate to buy a lottery ticket (not across the board, of course). Buying lottery tickets is, of course, just gambling, and gambling usually means taking money from lower-income people. It's also, as this Alternet column posits" a really regressive way to raise money for a state, in part because of its high administrative costs (and certainly paying a director more than $200,000 seems like a high administrative cost). Now, I realize that lottery scholarships help send many New Mexicans to college, and obviously, it's important to find a way to send people in this state to school—particularly given that their families will be broke from buying all these lottery tickets, but I find it really, really disturbing that anyone would argue that paying the head of the lottery more than $200,000 is a good use of money. My guess is that as long as lottery tickets remain available, there will be always be record sales of them in New Mexico, given that most residents here will never make the kind of money Shaheen is. For example, on my way to WF for lunch ($5.95 sushi, best deal in town), I spotted, for the second week in a row, two men, in front of the Hotel Santa Fe, whose job appears to be holding up a sign for an art auction at the hotel. All day. They stand there all day holding up a banner in the sun. What are they being paid? And doesn't it go without saying that the only reason anyone would take a job so awful and uncomfortable would be the lack of opportunity for any other job?
Anyway, speaking of working for money, /Albuquerque is going to start debating a living wage law now. It will be interesting to see if that city's debate becomes as polarized as Santa Fe's did. My money (which is likely more than the men standing in front of Hotel Santa Fe, but significantly less than Shaheen's) is that it won't.

One Hour 'Til Best of SF Voting Begins

That's right, our annual readers' survey goes live at SFR's web site in an hour, so you've got an hour to start reviewing your choices for everything from best band to best green chile and start voting. I'm always rooting for some upsets, but other than that I will leave you to your choices. Remember to read the rules, though, so that your vote counts. Also remember, voting qualifies you for prizes.
In other SFR news, if you're looking for something fun to do this Wednesday, come to our spring singles' party from 6:30 to 9:30 pm at Chispa! at El Meson, 213 Washington Ave. There will be prizes, tapas, $5 mojitos and jazz by Transit, featuring bassist John Gagan.
Finally, for the mother of parties, come to our block party June 8, from 5 to 9 pm in our parking lot (and surrounding streets). This party will be off the hook, with more than 50 vendors (including a repeat by Aware for those of you looking for tattoos in the comfort of our parking lot). Musicwise, we'll have Rocque Ranaldi, Goshen (!), plus fire dancers, break dancers, African dancers, food, drink and more. So mark your calendars, it's going to be a good time.


A press release from the city this morning announces DWI saturations today and tomorrow, between 6 and 11 pm during which "officers will be strictly enforcing all alcohol and drug related offences."
A "saturation" the press release goes on to say "is a group of Officers concentrated in a certain area, strictly enforcing "all" traffic offences.
Well that's one definition. One might also argue that saturations, of which there appear to have been many throughout the weekend, is an excellent way to visually demonstrate what it will look like when we all live in a police state. I saw a ton of cops this weekend (too many, really), although I'm happy to report that my cell phone ticket on Friday was the last face-to-face encounter I had with the police. There was some kind of "saturation" on Airport Road heading south last night at about 9 pm. I actually thought it was one of the most dangerous things I've seen. The cops had the entire two southbound lanes on Airport cut off, and police cars with their lights all down the median lane, which created a lot of visual weirdness (it's hard to drive when there's flashing lights everywhere), plus it backed up traffic for at least a mile. I understand that these checkpoints do succeed in nabbing a number of people, and perhaps it succeeds, also, in creating more awareness and better judgement in the nabbees (although it's mostly just created annoyance on my part), but I find the whole vernacular around saturation points odd. What do they mean "strictly" enforcing? As opposed to what they normally do? Mild enforcement? Benign neglect?
Aside from seeing lots of cops all weekend, I laid pretty low. Friday night I went to the Women's Health Services art opening, "Women in Red," in which "famous" (locally famous) women posed in red dressed and gave statements about "what keeps their hearts strong" to help WHS ( a great organization and this year's recipient of SFR's annual Valentine's Day non-profit fundraiser) promote women's heart health. Heard on the grapevine that First Lady Barbara Richardson was unable to answer the question "What Keeps Your Heart Strong," thus there was no statement from her. Which, if true, is a bit sad. Isn't answering such questions with grace and wisdom the primary duty of a First Lady? Those of us attending the opening had our photos taken with polaroids and wrote down our answers to same questions to post with our photos. I looked like a porn star in my photo and my answer to the question, "What Keeps Your Heart Strong?" was: getting things pierced, writing bad poetry, reading good books, loving my friends." Smoking cigarettes did not seem like a politic answer given the host of the evening. I then watched basketball with a fanatic basketball friend, then headed to The Paramount to play pool but could not, alas, get a table, so I went home and passed out. Saturday I worked out and then went to the booksigning of my friend Sharon Niederman, whose book "Back to Abo" has just been published by UNM press. Sharon and I were in a writing group together long ago and, longer ago than that, she was the Arts and Culture Editor when I was an intern. The booksigning, at Collected Works, was quite nice, excepting the fact that I was accosted by a dour middle-aged woman about incorrect listings in the paper. I made yet another mental note to myself to TRY my hardest not to become a dour middle-aged lady. Perhaps the piercings will help contribute to this goal. Saturday night I patronized Second Street, and then blew off High Mayhem, which was BAD of me, but my allergies and my nose (I think it's infected, gross) were making me woozy. Sunday: breakfast at Baking Company, long walk, long nap, more basketball, and then a little pool accompanied by The Dirty Novels at Bar B. And now here it is, Monday. Where did the weekend go? (Oh wait, I just told you).
I did overhear at Whole Foods a rather crazy argument in line on Sunday. One woman had a million things in her cart, which she had left in line for a second to grab something else (legitimate, IMO). Another lady, with one item, seeing the owner of the cart gone, had gotten in front of her (also legitimate). This should have been, one would think, a negotiable situation. Instead, it resulted in the woman with a million items accusing the woman with one item of being an Anglo outsider who doesn't understand how things work, with the woman with one item countering that she's not an Anglo outsider and then announcing her last name (Ramirez? something), to which the cart abandoner retorted: "Yeah, your married name?" How grocery-store etiquette turns into race baiting, I don't know. I was about to intervene and make one of the woman get in front of me, if only to separate them, but I was distracted by the checker who said to me: "Hey. Didn't I see you getting pulled over on Friday?"
Santa Fe. It really is a small town.

Friday, May 13, 2005

stupid santa fe cell phone law

Any weekend that begins with getting pulled over for talking on the cell phone does not bode well.
So, it's like 4 pm, I'm coming down St. Francis Drive. I'm just about to get off the phone, which has been on speaker, but I can't hear my friend very well, so I'm signing off and, lo and behold, I see the sirens. I try, politely, to pull onto the curb to avoid causing a big backup on St. Francis, which the officer interprets as me trying to get away from him (how? pull onto the curb, jump out of the car and leap over fences?) and comes over the loudspeaker thing: "Pull over the vehicle!" which made me feel like an escaped convict.
Anyway, once pulled over, Officer Garcia was very nice, possibly because I looked and was acting extremely freaked out. It's interesting, as a colleague was just noting, that in theory we should feel safer when dealing with police, but many people, including myself, feel completely scared and nervous, even when there's no reason to do so. Yes, I was breaking the law but a) it's a very dumb law and b) it's not like I'm a drug runner or something or even someone w/out insurance. Sigh. Anyway, as noted many times, I do think it's a tedious law. There's no law against holding other things in one's hand while driving (coffee, cigarettes, burritos), which indicates people think that it's the talking part of the phone/hand relationship that leads to accidents. But you're allowed to talk on the phone if you use a hands-free device. It's illogical and, according to another colleague, has not been proven to reduce accidents. Also, it's irritating to use the hands-free devices and, IMO, way more distracting. Does anyone in the world agree with me? Really, I want to know. Everywhere I go I see people talking on the phone while driving and yet the police are out in full force pulling us over. Shouldn't people support the laws that govern their lives? I support DWI laws and, um, laws against murder and crimes against people and such. But I just don't believe that talking on the phone makes me a worst driver. Of course, I should probably mention that, according to everyone who has ever been in a car with me, I'm a pretty bad driver to begin with. (I actually disagree; I think they are reacting to the fact that I have a bad sense of direction).
So I'm out $101, although the cop talked me into (for some reason) going to court to try to get the fine and points reduced on my license. He seemed to think I would fare well in court and was thus, clearly, not an avid SFR reader or one of my secret fans (who are either very good at being secret or are just plain nonexistent, and probably the latter). For if he was he would probably guess that my prognosis in Fran Gallegos' court are dubious or, at least, 50/50. On the one hand, she does know me. On the other hand, we've made fun of her a decent amount in our 7 Days column. And by we I mean me. Oh well. I guess sarcasm, like crime, rarely pays off.

Hey Ladies

Put The New Mexican's A & B sections together, side by side, and you'll see top of the fold stories about high-profile, high-paid female officials and their plans for the future.
First, we've got City Judge Fran Gallegos, disciplined for ethics violations, sentenced to ethics training and planning a run for mayor (reportedly). There are more than a few things worth pondering here. First off, given that Fran got handily re-elected despite a ton of public trouble, why would she give up her $65,000 a year post for a job that pays a lot less and where she is bound to fare less well in an election. Well, a few reasons. One, more prestigious to be mayor than city judge. Two, it's looking like a half-dozen if not-more mayoral candidates are in the offing, and that could make it easier to win (unless Santa Fe gets its head out of its ass and puts run-off elections in place, which it should do, immediately, or we'll end up with a mayor elected by 15 percent of the voters).
Personally, I think Fran's mayoral run would probably suffer from what I think of, privately, as The Jaramillo Effect. This phenom is a long-lasting Santa Fe syndrome whereby controversial Hispanic female politicans fare significantly less well than their male counterparts. I don't know if Santa Fe is ever going to be recover from Debbie enough to elect another controversial Hispanic woman as its mayor, but I kinda doubt it will be ready to do so in 2006.
B section: Schools Supt. Gloria Rendon wants to stick around for another year. Now, Rendon is not controversial along the same lines as Fran and Debbie (who also are not controversial in the same way, for that matter, just high profile and in the hot seat). But Rendon's tenure does seem to be ending up marked by a great deal of public school problems—from the flack at the high school over small learning communities to the board's still-unresolved awarding of contracts to spurious vendors (Transamericano stuff) to, in my opinion, an administration that is very hard to get a hold of and from whom getting information is often like pulling teeth (you don't even want to hear about the machinations it took to get accurate email addresses from Alta Vista headquarters for school board members to publish in The Annual Manual). Anyway, the rumor has been that Rendon was retiring, but now it looks like she's staying. And there wasn't anyone quoted in the story who sounded overjoyed about it.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Public Editor Okrent's Farewell

I've written about The New York Times Public Editor column before. In the beginning I loved it. Then, as time moved on, I became disillusioned as some of his opinions about how things should work journalistically made less and less sense and as he continued to ignore me when I wrote in! (which is really not very ombudsmanish, IMO)
Now, Daniel Okrent is moving on and has a farewell interview with him that is pretty good, although it probably makes more sense and is more interesting if you've actually been reading The Public Editor for the last 18 months in a semi-fanatical way.
On another note, in addition to being interested in a job as a political joke writer, I would love to have a job as the Public Editor of The New York Times. That would be super dope.
I would not, however, ever want a public editor/ombudsman employed here. I can just imagine some person, parked outside my office, questioning my every move. That would suck, particularly given that I don't even have an assistant to help me make copies.

Persecution by Voice Mail

Having recently come out of the closet as a big geek, I have no further shame in admitting to the world (or the various people who apparently load these pages each day) that the notion of time travel has always fascinated me, pretty much ever since I read (and re-read and re-read) A Wrinkle in Time as a small (smaller) girl.
On this particular day, in our year of madness 2005, I would like to go back in time to 1876, track down Alexander Graham Bell, talk him out of the lab and into the bar and get him so freaking drunk that he completely forgets whatever spark of genius/madness caused him to invent the telephone.
The days following the publication of Annual Manual are always, um, what's the word: shitty? Basically, it's call after call from those not included in our listings. People seem to assume that I should be able to somehow, through, I suppose, miracles of physics and weird Jesus-type maneuvers, cause a set number of pages to include infinite amounts of information and a handful of people to do the work of thousands. They expect everything that's ever been thought, done, said or invented to be included in the manual. Furthermore, they are astonished, outraged, confused and angered if they bought an ad but were not listed. I find this particular line of thinking quite aggravating and my bedside manner, such as it is, usually doesn't hold up much past them wanting to know why buying an ad did not result in getting listed. Now, I'm quite sure that if I went around to people and told them that if they paid money we'd write about them, they would find that unethical (rightfully so) and be outraged. But, having spent the money, they seem to be incapable of understanding why that didn't result in getting listed. So I ask you, readers, are people just…ok, ok, I promised myself not to use that word today.
I had intended to write this morning about the David Pfeffer/immigration stuff barely mentioned in today's morning papers, but I've been thrown off course by FOURTEEN voice mails this morning (they weren't all about annual manual, but the two that were so infuriated me that I may need to go walk around the block 10 times to calm down) that I've lost my train of thought. So, more later…

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

ok, this is silly but

I just noticed that one of the sites where there's a link to this blog is having online voting for blogs and my blog is listed and, um, not really getting enough action, folks. (actually the whole poll looks a little lackluster), so come on, vote for me here


So it's Wednesday, the typical day of rest for anyone living La Vida SFR schedule (paper hit the streets this morning, Annual Manual safely ensconsed in its pages), but it's also been a Day of Many Meetings, hence the lack of thoughts for ye old blog. Also, I got my nose pierced yesterday and I believe doing so may have short-circuited my brain (and some would argue that having done so is proof my brain had already short circuited). To be frank, I was surprised by how much it hurt. I always thought that having one's navel pierced was supposed to be more painful, but that didn't hurt so bad. This smarted like the dickens and I don't feel quite right yet (For proof, look at the fact that I just used the phrase, "like the dickens."). Also got my hair cut. Now, despite piercing the nose and cutting the hair, I look exactly the same, almost as if my appearance is some immutable fact I can't seem to alter no matter what I do. Oh well, so much for all that. On the bright side, I think piercing my nose has caused my allergies to retreat, perhaps just in shock. And my hair looks much less overgrown and unkempt. So you can see why I've neglected this blog today—who the hell wants to read about my nose and my hair, I ask you? (Of course, reading is optional).
I had a little email back and forth today w/ a New Mex reporter today who also blogs. I'm not sure if I should name him, but suffice it to say he's one of the best reporters over there and I always like reading him. Today's chat was regarding my feeling that it's WRONG for the Journal and New Mex to follow our stories and not acknowledge the fact that they are doing so. He says newspapers are under no such requirement to say that another paper had the story first. I say, requirement, no, but it's the right thing to do because to not do so negates the context of the reporting. We always say, when we follow a story, for example: "While the New Mex reported last week A, this week SFR has learned B," or, perhaps, "While The New Mex last week reported A, what was not acknowledged was B" or some such thing. Otherwise, it's like the news exists in some weird vacuum, IMO. It's the same as the way the dailies, when endorsing political candidates, only write about the ones they've chosen and why they are the best choice, and make no mention of the other candidates. I think it's weird and a disservice to readers. Now the writers here sometimes don't feel like acknowledging the dailies, but they are required to. A, they can't follow a daily story without new news and if they do follow a daily they have to make it clear in their writing that they are doing so.
In other thoughts, I liked the AP story today about Richardson paying for jokes at The Gridiron Club. I finally found a job I'd like if I ever leave this one: writing jokes for politicians. I think that would be very fun and I think, really, I might be good at it. So, you know, just pass that along to anyone looking to hire a political joke writer.
Blech. I have meetings starting in 60 seconds that will last the rest of the afternoon. Think of me fondly, dear readers, my shorn locks, my swollen nose, stuck in a conference room, dreaming of the frozen margarita that awaits me as soon as this day is done.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Jonanna Widner's new column

For those SFR readers who enjoy Jonanna Widner's weekly music column, J-Spot, you'll be glad to know she has a new monthly online column with Pop Matters and the first one is online now. Check it out!

Bill Richardson's "Coffers", Puerto Rican Money and other thoughts

If you're like me, and chances are you are (albeit probably taller and slightly less neurotic) you read today's Journal North story Richardson's Coffers Already Stuffed and asked yourself a few questions:

1. What exactly is a coffer?
2. Is GOP party chairman Allen Weh serious when he says the party will field a "credible" candidate? Who, exactly, would that be?
3. Why did a Puerto-Rican political consultant named Miguel Lausell give Richardson $25,000?

First things first.

A "coffer" according to Webster's New World Dictionary, is derived from the Latin word (I think Latin) cophinus, just like coffin. It means: 1. a chest or strongbox in which money or valuables are kept, 2. a treasury; funds 3. a decorative sunken panel as in vault, dome or ceiling 4. a cofferdam 5. a lock in a canal

I have no idea why newspapers feel compelled to use words like coffer. Probably because we can't get away with headlines like: Richardson has a shitload of cash

2. Weh can not be serious. Who is really going to take Richardson on for governor from the GOP and get anywhere? A, the guv has $3 million. B, the number of Republicans with the ability to run a succesful statewide race—emphasis on statewide—is pretty freakin' negligible. I don't think the GOP has even been able to find anyone to run for AG yet, not to mention the Mayor of Albuquerque. Of course, I can't really believe people keep voting for Heather Wilson, so, we'll see. Maybe there's a bunch of high-profile state Republicans with money burning holes in their pockets who I've never heard of.

3. As soon as I get a chance, I plan to go to the Secretary of State's Office and look at Richardson's most recent campaign report up close and personal, as I really don't like the way the dailies and the AP just give you a run-down of the top spenders (and I really don't like the fact that I can't view it online. Why is that? I thought they were all online now, but I went to check and the most current one is from May, 2004. How is that helpful?)
Anyway, one of Richardson's top contributors is listed in the Journal story as: Miguel Lausell "a political and business consultant based in Purto Rico." (Richardson also got $5,000 from Sylvester Stallone for some reason).
Anyway, I started wondering about Miguel Lausell and, while waiting for pages to come back to me, did a little websurfing.
From what I can tell Lausell works for Valesquez Magana Lausell, a political consulting firm geared toward Hispanic issues. Read more about them here
Lausell has been in the news quite a bunch over the last 10 years, mainly because he's one of the most gangbuster of the gangbuster Puerto Rican fundraisers around. Puerto Rico has become notable for the amount of money they raise for US politicans, in the hopes of gaining some influence (despite the fact that they can't vote in US elections). Mother Jones documented the phenomon, as well as some additional info on Lausell. The story is called Island of Influence
At any rate, old Bill is listed under the PR firm's list of former and/or current clients (don't know which it is), so I guess, perhaps, that explains why Miguel is handing over some cash. Or, it sort of explains it. Maybe. I'm still thinking, OK?

Speaking of thinking, I've been forced to rethink my belief that the New Mexican would never list me on their local list of blogs as they did so this morning and the web editor, Stefan Dill, sent me a very nice note. I fear for his life now, but perhaps I am being overly suspicious of the powers that be next door. Anyway, you can find my link at this address and now I promise to never say anything bad about The New Mex again. OK, wait, no, I don't promise that at all. (Also, Dill said the paper did post online the photos they ran last Saturday of the convention center and I think, if one can't make it to the Sweeney Center by tomorrow, you should look at them online. For amusement's sake if nothing else).

Finally, yesterday I was pondering the founder's decision to incorporate community journalism into his site, and his belief that online blogging amateur journalists were going to fill the void that regular journalists have left. I started thinking to myself about this blog—what I think it is, what purpose it serves and, most importantly, do I think of it as journalism?
My answer to the latter (I can only answer one self-posed question at a time) was a resounding NO. This blog is not journalism. It's got a newsy component, for sure. I read a lot of media and I do run a newspaper and I am interested in the news. But it's rare that I make a call or conduct an interview for this blog. I don't report for it. I read stuff, I hyperlink things, I mouth off, I do a little preliminary research here and there. Sometimes questions I pose to myself here make their way into our staff meetings and I send the writers off to do reporting, but there's a difference. I don't feel compelled to spell things right here. If I screw something up, I can go back and fix it. I sure don't think of this as definitive information, although I attempt to be accurate to a degree—although a degree that is far, far below the standards we employ for The Santa Fe Reporter. In other words, this is a venue when I feel like writing about something, but I don't think there's anything I have ever put on this blog that I would put in the paper (with the exception, perhaps, of coverage of John Kerry's energy speech here last year, but that was pretty straightforward).
So, to me, that's the difference. I write this blog because, as my friend Darius says of me, "Girl Got Something to Say." But having something to say isn't quite the same as Doing Journalism, in my opinion. And that's my one and a half cents. Back to work, yo!

Monday, May 09, 2005

An Eight Mile Walk, John Steinbeck, Another Piercing, A New Convention Center, and my friend Darius

As the title of this post may reveal, my thoughts are all over the place this afternoon, following a weekend of some heavy and overdue soul searching. I won't reveal to you the full content of this search, as it's not very news-driven, but suffice it to say I had a little bit of a dark moment that began Friday afternoon after work and continued throughout the weekend. Finally, Sunday morning, I walked for about eight miles from downtown, up to St. John's, back around, detouring here and there finding, as I often do, that thinking while walking usually results in a better result than thinking while sitting, or thinking while drinking (which is what I did Friday and Saturday night).
Trying to muddle through my muddled thoughts, I remembered something from John Steinbeck's "Log from the Sea of Cortez," a book I've always loved. I read it as one of my final classes in grad school, which was a Steinbeck seminar, taught by the late Louis Owens, who also was my thesis advisor, and whose death I still mourn and think of. The point in the book, and I don't remember it precisely, has to do with teleological thinking and un-teleological thinking, as well as a spiritual way of looking at the world called, I believe, "Breaking Through," which is basically like an epiphany, but is a very specific kind of ephiphany in which one realizes that everything is connected and either everything matters or nothing does. So these were my thoughts as I walked and walked and walked and as I walked I made some decisions which are, again, not anything anyone needs to hear about.
One of those decisions (and I realize this probably makes little sense) was to get my nose pierced. A few years ago, after something happened that made me feel about half as stupid as what happened Friday made me feel, I got my navel pierced as a way of sending myself a message along the lines of, "You are acting like a 13-year-old girl." My nose piercing is going to serve as a reminder along the lines of, "Some things are as clear as the nose on your face." Anyway, I can always take it out.
Now on a completely different topic, I think SFR readers will enjoy Arts and Culture Editor Zane Fischer's take on the proposed new convention centers, on display in model form through Wednesday at Sweeney Center. I just looked at the pictures in The New Mex (you can read the article here, but unfortunately they don't have the photos on the online version) over the weekend and they made me laugh, mostly because they all look exactly the same, at least to the non-exacting eye who is unable to distinguish between the slight variations of Pueblo and Territorial style. Yawn.
The New Mex followed up with its Nanos/LANL story on Saturday with, they said, information that was deleted from the story before. Still no mention of Kuckuck's problem with the whistleblower that I mentioned a few days ago. Why is that, I wonder? The Journal Santa Fe weighed in on Sunday, positing that Nanos' exit was good for the lab, noting, somewhat weirdly I thought, that while making everyone mad is a tenet of good journalism, it isn't necessarily "good management." I'm completely unclear about why they decided to gauge the situation in these terms, although given how mad everyone always is at me, I guess by the Journal's standards, I'm doing a good job.
On a completely different, but slightly related (more related than comparing good journalism with good nuclear laboratory management anyway), note there's an interesting AP story regarding Craig's list that I think everyone should read. Basically, Craig Newmark, who started, which has been a major competitor to newspaper classified advertising, wants to expand to the role of community journalist, and have a bevy of amateur journalists digging up news and reporting it. The gist of what he's saying is that regular newspapers have become too staid and that's why they are losing readers, and that guts and energy are more important than constantly quoting officials and being "objective." I'm still processing the article, but I'm interested to hear other's thoughts.
Finally, a shout out to my friend Darius, who is one of many of my friends who held my hand during my little existential breakdown this weekend and is a really good, smart, caring person. Now if we could only clone him!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Freestyle—the Movie

Just got an email (yeah I'm at work on a Sunday) that Freestyle, The Art of Rhyme", is coming out on DVD May 24. This is a really dope documentary that traces the underground evolution of early DJs and MCs and has some of the best hip hop footage I've ever seen (true, I like every movie that has Mos Def in it and you throw in some Blackthought and Guestlove and I'm as happy as I get.) But what I loved about this movie was how fresh it was. You never felt like you were hearing anything you'd heard a million times before, or seeing what you'd already seen. It felt as organic as the scene itself was. Part of that is because director Kevin Fitzgerald, aka DJ Organic kept working on the movie for something like seven years, so there's the same feeling of evolution to the movie that there is to hip hop. The movie was part of Fitzgerald's Center for Hip Hop Education
Check it out!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Other People's Typos

I've learned, over the years, that making fun of other papers' typos isn't usually a good idea. Usually, what happens next, is I make some sort of horrific typo myself—often while trying to mock the typo in question. Still, can't help myself. Today's New Mex has a headline that reads:

Pit bulls attack pregnant cow at La Cienga-area farm

"La Cienga" also appears in the story and the cutline.

Since the event in question (which is terrible) was set on Los Pinos Road, I'm assuming that was supposed to be La Cienega. Also, since the typo repeated three times in cutline, hed and story I'm assuming the copyeditor wasn't familiar with La Cienega. So much for the homegrown oldest paper in the West.

So, I submitted my blog to the New Mex's blog page where they list local blogs. Let's see if they ignore me. Actually, let's bet on it. Takers?

Nanos Out; Kuckuck in

As the LANL bloggers predicted, Pete Nanos is leaving the lab and Robert Kuckuck is in (I still disagree with The Times that the bloggers are why Nanos is leaving, but, certainly, they have the inside scoop on all this). The New Mex broke the story this morning after receiving, anonymously, a leaked press release on the changeover. You can read the letter announcing Nanos' departure at on the LANL employees' blog
So what do we know about Robert Kuckuck? Well, he's the guy who retired from Livermore and when he was named as an advisor to help UC fix all of its myriad money problems, a former Livermore employee felt it was time for her to come forward. She claimed (back in Jan., 2003) that Kuckuck did nothing to help her when she reported a myriad of comparable problems. You can read all about it in both The East Bay Express Story Snitch and in San Francisco Chronicle story
If you're not in the mood to hyperlink, here's the abbreviated version from the January, 2003 edition of Federal Daily:

The University of California is facing heightened government scrutiny of its management of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, even as it tries to deal with problems at its Los Alamos, N.M., lab. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., has asked the Energy Department’s inspector general to investigate allegations of mismanagement and retaliation against a whistleblower at the Livermore lab in California. “These allegations, if true, would indicate that the recent disclosures at Los Alamos National Laboratory may represent just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. In the allegations that prompted Markey’s request, a government contractor said nearly $6 million in federal funds were improperly diverted and a former lab employee said she was retaliated against after she reported misappropriation of funds, falsification of records and other problems. The ex-employee, Michelle Doggett, said she sought but failed to receive the help of Robert Kuckuck, then associate director at Livermore. This month Kuckuck was named an adviser to the UC team looking into Los Alamos management issues. The Energy Department has told the university official in charge of the lab’s management to expect that an investigation of problems at Los Alamos will be broadened to include Livermore. The Energy Department, the FBI and three congressional committees already are looking into alleged fraud and mismanagement at Los Alamos. Those allegations include $4.9 million in unaccounted-for credit card purchases.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

From Red Lakes to Men

Thursday dawdles toward noon and I ask myself a few questions. Why, when I play pool several times a week, does my game continue to, overall, stink? Every now and then I get it. The angles make sense, my hands stay steady, my eye doesn't waver and I am, if I may say so, pretty freakin' good. Sometimes I make shots so complicated even I can't believe I've pulled it off. But most of the time, I might as well be blind with the shakes. Nonetheless, despite my poor showing, I had fun last night at Funk Night, the first of many I hope, DJd by Rocque Ranaldi who continues to amaze me with his repertoire. Did you know NWA's "Express Yourself" was a cover? I didn't and had you asked me pre 10 pm I would have said there wasn't nothing I didn't know about NWA. That's one good reason to leave the house; you never know what you might learn.
Speaking of learning. I've spent most of my morning catching up on my Internet journalism reading (while eating a banana which I managed, somehow, to get in my hair. Feel this is connected, intrinsically, to bad pool game. Feel, somehow, that centeredness, or lack thereof, effects in an immediate, often startling, completely goofily, way my eye-hand coordination, of which I have none. Wonder, too, if I should rethink the fact that I often love to dance in public. Should people who can't eat a banana without getting it in their hair, or walk down the street without tripping over invisible objects, really dance around where other people can see them?)
OK, enough babbling.
After the school shooting on the Indian reservation in Minnesota I wrote, I believe, my wish to read something that contextualized the event in some way that had resonance for me as a reader. There's a lot of different ways to read the news. Often, like most people, I am reading it for information. Sometimes one comes across something that is very funny, which is great. Now and then, a piece is more about its structure or technical finesse and, I suppose, when I read something like that I do so more as an editor and writer than a reader. And sometimes a piece transcends its components and you get kind of an electric buzz from reading it, because there is more going on, more being conveyed than what is actually in the story itself. There are different arguments about why this happens (and fancy academic names for everything I just said, but if one is going to abandon academia as I did then one should be excused from throwing around its weird-ass jargon). For me, I definitely have an affinity for journalism with a post-modern bent (OK, post-modern is, I suppose, technically an academic term, but I think it's in the mainstream now), or things that have a meta-context (I think I just made that term up). Anyway, SAME COUNTRY, DIFFERENT NATION from the alt.weekly paper City Pages, written by Mike Mosedale, is just that kind of piece. It takes a step back and places the Red Lakes tragedy into a different context, one in which the media coverage that came before is acknowledged and parsed, and one in which the larger picture, the pathos of the story, comes through. It's amazing when a writer can make a reader enthralled to read about something that has been all over the media for months. I would highly recommend reading this piece.

In other journalism news, our friend and SFR stringer Dan Frosch has a piece on Alternet titled Land of the Detained that looks, very interestingly, at what happens when immigrants are deported. As usual, Dan has managed to find a subject who thoroughly commands the reader's interest while also writing about something we aren't hearing near enough about in the main stream press.

Also in the land of alternative journalism, SFR stringer and friend Silja JA Talvi's monthly column in Evergreen Monthly is available for online reading. Titled Uncontrolled Substances Talvi makes her case well about the hypocrisy of drug laws, as well as how drug criminalization disproportionately impacts minorities. This is one of Silja's passions and her many years or reporting on the subject make this column well reported and persuasive.

Finally, on a much less serious note, I was happy to see my favorite Salon writer, Cary Tennis, tackle the weird story of the Runaway Bride. His piece Run Bride Run! made me laugh. I do hope, though, not to hear any more about this story. This is one of those times of disconnectedness for me with mainstream culture (they are rare). I just don't get why people are interested in this story. But if anyone can find the humor and depth in stories of love, romance and weird personalities, it's Tennis. He writes the advice column (Since You Asked) for, which I'm pretty addicted to. So addicted, in fact, that a few years ago I actually sent him a question—and he answered it! You can read my question and his answer, titled About Men here.
Just a warning, if you're not a regular reader, you have to watch a brief advertisement to get to the content of the site.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

los alamos bloggers

At the risk of sounding immodest, I feel compelled to say that SFR mentioned Los Alamos bloggers way back in the beginning of March when we published our blogging story
At the time, I thought to myself, "Jgo (sometimes in conversation with myself I call myself Jgo. I made attempts a few years ago to get others to call me this, as well, but only one friend took me on it, and I think he is mostly joking. My nickname of record seems to be either "Jules" or "Hoolia." You can't give yourself a nickname, it seems. It just can't be done- like proving a negative) you should pitch this story to The New York Times. It's got Los Alamos. It's got technology. It's got it all." Normally I'm quite good about immediately following up on my little ideas, but this time I sort of let it slip and, lo and behold, there's a story in the May 1 times titled At Los Alamos, Blogging Their Discontent. I have to say, as a headline writer myself, I think this one sucks (unless it's supposed to have some kind of Shakespearean thing going on with it?
I found the story lacked a certain credibility. I, of course, can't say what impact the blog will have on Nanos' alleged departure, but my guess is, um, nill. For it to do so, one would have to believe that the feds CARE when people, employees, are unhappy with LANL and there isn't a whole lot of evidence that they do. Now, I don't say this to disparage the site at all. I think it's quite laudable, anonymity or not, that some employees there have remained stalwart in their outspoken criticism, despite a great deal of evidence that watchdogs and naysayers do not always come to a pretty pass in such an environment. But their influence, I think, remains somewhat negligible. LANL is a place so unbelievably entrenched in a climate of secrecy and self-protectiveness, that the idea of Nanos resigning because of a blog strikes me as wishful thinking. The Times quoting Los Alamos Study Group Greg Mello didn't do a lot to magnify the credibility of the story. Believe me, I respect Greg Mello and I think he's godawful smart and dogged but, again, he's a true believer. I understand the Times calling Greg. I'd call him too if I wanted a fierce and definitive quote, but this is the thing about journalism and what makes it interesting to read the national news when they cover a story you've got a teensy bit of knowledge about; you can see how they constructed the story and understand the choices the reporter made, as well as the unspoken knowledge behind the story that perhaps pokes holes in its construct.
Anyway, speaking of Los Alamos, this week's SFR has an interview with Jenant Conant, author of 109 East Palace, as well as an excerpt of an early chapter (sorry online readers- no can do on the reprint of the chapter on our web site; only bought the rights to reprint once in the paper, so PICK IT UP).
It's a very readable book, dealing less with the science of The Manhattan Project and more with the characters and people. The story is told through the perspective of Dorothy McKibben, who was Oppenheimer's assistant and the "gatekeeper", so to speak, at 109 East Palace, which was the main clearinghouse for all the work going down up on the hill. I liked the style of the book, which had that nice breezy literary journalism thing, and I liked several of the observations about the people at the time—how the environment of The Manhattan Project scientists and their wives was occasionally like a frat party (I hadn't thought, before, about how young those people were), and how both Oppenheimer and McKibben ended up here because of TB and fell in love with the place. Interesting. A more thorough book about Oppenheimer also has been released recently called American Prometheus, but I haven't read it yet (nor can I swear I will. It looks awfully dense, but I will probably try to plow through some of it, I suppose).
Conant's work is of particular interest because her grandfather, James B Conant, was a main administrator of The Manhattan Project, so she grew up with Los Alamos as a constant topic of conversation, and the moral ambiguity of what finally happened (Nagasaki) was something she was always aware of. I think there's a lot to be learned, right now, from revisiting this story, given what's going on with our country and the rest of the world right now. Nuclear proliferation, in my view, is a looming and ongoing question the US has yet to answer, and the way things are looking right now, the answer the government is lisping towards doesn't look good. So kudos to the LANL bloggers for speaking out. There is never a good time for silence but if there was, this ain't it.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

ethical editing & funk

I am part of an editing list-serv through The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and recently asked the other editors an "ethical editing" question. As a general rule, SFR edits its letters to the editors, mostly for length, but we also fix writers' spelling and grammar, as we would for any other copy in the paper. Recently we received two letters from people at Ortiz Middle School who were angry about a recent article in the paper. I felt, strongly, that they had completely miconstrued the story and had decided it was "negative" (a word people like to bandy about regarding the media). In fact, the story looked at the differences between Ortiz and a local private school, Desert Academy, and was hardly "negative" about Ortiz. Santa Fe schools lose quite a few kids from their middle schools and the writer had spent time there to try to get a sense of how public and private school environments differ. Anyway, the letters both contained grammatical and spelling errors and I, feeling a bit fed up with our readers' apparent lack of critical thinking skills (am still aggro over Fred Phelps fallout, apparently, but that's another story), was inclined to leave their spelling and grammatical errors in. After all, if they feel OK about representing their school by sending errors in their letters to the paper, why should I fix their letters so they sound more coherent as they erroneously attack us?
Most of the editors convinced me that I couldn't change our policy simply to make this point (although a few of the more understanding ones) came up with inventive ways to leave the errors. I chose to fix them. That's today's ethical editing lesson.
OK, Fred Phelps. I met with a few members of the gay community recently in an informal meeting wholly unrelated to the Phelps fallout and explained to them why I believed the reaction to our choosing to write a cover on Phelps was inappropriate (or, not inappropriate exactly; people can react however they want to). Rather, I defended my choice and they said I should write something about it. I'm not going to start using up pages in SFR to defend the paper, but I will put those reasons down here.

1. It was newsworthy that Phelps et. al chose Santa Fe to come to. They did so based on several high-profile events concerning the gay community. We are a newspaper.
2. While the government et. al may have decided silence was the best response to Phelps (and, perhaps, in the context of potentially dangerous demonstrations they are right), newspapers do not choose to write about things or not based on the government's decision about how those things should be handled. I would imagine this is a policy that, at least in theory, all would support.
3. Phelps wanted publicity. Again, this is not our concern. We do not gauge the desires of the people we write about as a factor of whether or not we will write about them. If we did, then no one seeking publicity should get written about? Or, conversely, should people who don't want publicity (politicians w/ DWIs, criminals etc) not be written about because they don't want publicity?
4. Information is power. I know for a fact there were people who read our story and didn't know about Phelps. Now they do, and, I was told, felt motivated to stay involved and informed. That is our job. Many of the people reacting negatively seemed to have forgotten just how insular activist communities can become. It's their job, as the job of a newspaper, to reach as many people as possible.

I guess that's it for now.

Except for THIS. Get your butts to The Paramount Nightclub Wednesday, May 4, where former Friday Funk DJ Rocque Ranaldi will kick off his Hump Funk Wednesday night. No cover. If you haven't heard Rocque spin, you are in for some fun. He's a super great DJ (you may have caught him at SFR's Valentine's Party). See you there!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Arrested Development

originally uploaded by votergirl.
First off, no, this is not a photo I took at May 1 Arrested Development's show at the College of Santa Fe. I did shoot some photos, on my phone, but they look like crap. Now, I was this close to the band, but between the camera-phone, the rain, and the fact that I am, as they say, vertically challenged, the photos looked pretty lame, so I just figured I'd give you a better approximation.
The show was great and anyone who didn't go (which was, apparently, quite a few folks) really missed out. Now, from what I can gather, not that many people know who Arrested Development was. I can understand that. They were only around from 92 to 96 or so and, though they won two grammies, that was more than 10 years ago. Still, the show was really fun, even without the sunshine, and it's always pretty great to see any live music that is well produced in a setting where you can get close enough to really hear it (although as hip hop shows go it was a little bizarre, crowd wise, aka college, aka patchouli).
But, Speech ended the show by asking everyone who attended to tell everyone they knew that they had gone to a hip hop show that wasn't about violence and frontin', so consider yourselves told. And, next time there's a Fan Man show, consider going! I'm actually old enough to remember Santa Fe when there was no Fan Man trying to keep live music from outside coming through our little 'burg, and it was a sadder and quieter time. You can find out more about Fan Man's shows and get on the mailing list here.