Tuesday, February 19, 2008
The Powers of Inversion
Hello and thanks for coming. I hope you wiped your feet, as we keep it very clean in here. This is a serious place for serious business, and serious business means cleanliness at all times. We don't have carpet yet, but we're working on it. This is still in the early renovations process. Did you see what the floors looked like before this? Good lord, what a travesty. It was like the basement of a Myspace dungeon here. Ten-year-old gifs gathering dust in the corner, wallpaper peeling so bad I had to reboot my Windows 95 just to see what the picture was.
At any rate, we're sitting at a bar right now at happy hour, which doesn't seem like a major occurrence for you, but I have to admit it's a rarity to actually get out in time to soak in this $2 beer frenzy on an average week day. This is part of the schedule newsrooms work on -- late nights, crunching deadlines and always something lingering to be attended to that makes it hard to peel the hands away from the computer at the end of the day. So the concept of walking out of the building at 5 p.m. every day seems as ridiculous as if I told you they had installed a waterslide at the Merrill Lynch headquarters (They didn't. It was a Moonbounce, I think).
Which is funny of course because journalists are some of the hardest drinking people I know, and some of the people who deserve it most at the end of many days, just from the sheer amount of obscure complaints from septagenarians who think its somehow my responsibility their newspaper was wet this morning (it isn't). And since we can't make it to happy hour, we have to pay full price for our liquor, which again isn't fair since — and this is a fact you probably didn't know — journalists are actually only paid in biweekly satchels of shiny glass beads, only redeemable for buffalo hamburgers at the Solstice Native American Reservation outside Akron, Ohio.
But then of course the bartender here, an attractive young woman maybe 30 currently smothering under the undue attention from the sports jacket wearing businessmen lining this place, just said she doesn't have health insurance so she hopes she's not getting sick. So at least we have that going.
Which leads me to the point of this posting, which if you haven't noticed is the moment I've lost my blogging virginity. And it's to you! How nice! Um, so ... do you want to get some breakfast or something? Oh, ok, well you have my number, so maybe I'll see you around sometime.
The point is, there's a ubiquitous sense among journalists, particularly us young and foolishly optimistic bunch.
(I have to interupt here and explain that the main in the pink shirt sitting next to me just drunkenly asked me exactly what I was looking for "on that internet?" I told him I didn't exaclty know; what's anybody looking for out on the internet, I asked?
Joe — that's his name — said I type too fast. "You need to slow down. You can't always move forward. You won't catch anything by moving forward. It will fucking find you. It will FUCKING FIND YOU." Now he's hollering at girls 40 years younger than him who just walked past. Happy hour is fantastic!)
As I was saying, there is a ubiquitous sense among us that our talents are being aggregiously underappreciated in the very sphere they are most suited for. It is not that the jouralism industry is dying (it's coughing up blood, but not dying yet) or even that newspapers are dying (they are). But it's the radically maddening feeling of watching a rocket ship launch from the back of a steam-powered train but being onboard neither. So here we stand, a backpack full of training in the old ways and a head full of instincts about the new but being neither asked nor relied upon for our opinion on either.
And all I can think to do is sit at a bar after escaping the newsroom a few hours early and hack away in digital bits while a man named Joe slaps my back and tells me I'm a good kid while asking the bartender a half dozen times which receipt to sign.
I don't really want to be in the happy hour crowd, bookmarking my workday with a buffett of beer and rote recitations. That's where this comes in — welcome to my stopgap outlet, the placeholder until somethiing new emerges. It's a big gap — a really do hope you wiped your feet. We need to keep it clean in here people.
(Moments after I posted this, another guy standing next to me just refered to my newspaper as a "rag," then railed against illegal immigrants and how we need to be worried about the future of our young people. "Just like this young guy here, how old are you?" I told him my future was OK. "Well, you must have a rich daddy or something." No, actually. My Dad's dead, but I didn't say that. Then he went on about how we should be shooting first and asking questions later. Yikes.com.)