Tag Archives: media

newly occupied media

12 Dec

Newspapers for 99%, such as the Occupied Chicago Tribune, are sprouting up all over the country

Miles Kampf-Lassin tells the story of the Occupied Chicago Tribune:

“This week, the Occupied Chicago Tribune officially came to life. The first issue, printed Wednesday evening, will be distributed throughout the city—far beyond the Loop’s financial district, where Occupy protests have been held since late September—in the coming days. It includes a feature on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s budget cuts and their effects on Chicago’s poor, an interview with two seniors arrested protesting social service cuts, a timeline of the global Occupy movement, a look into why hundreds of thousands of people are moving their money out of predatory banks, commentary on the Occupy movement from Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges and more.

“As winter sets in and more Occupations transform their tactics while being evicted from their encampments, the role of independent media sources … will be increasingly important.”

Similar publications to the Occupied Chicago Tribune are springing up across the country, including the Boston OccupierOccupied Washington Times, and the soon-to-be-published Occupied Providence Journal.

As winter sets in and more Occupations transform their tactics while being evicted from their encampments, the role of independent media sources dedicated to honestly reporting on and informing the Occupy movement will be increasingly important. We are extremely excited for the part this newspaper can play in helping to advance the goals of the Occupation: Now is the time for a new kind of politics that puts the priorities of ordinary people above those of big business.”

Hopefully folks like Cornel West and Barbara Kingsolver will take a break from writing for Wall St.’s paper and lend their voices to our own struggling protests.

thoroughly kottke’d

24 Jun

I got thoroughly kottke’d this week. (Not sure if Jason ever thought his last name would be verbed, but it’s officially happened.) One site shouldn’t offer so many great tidbits from the peripheries of history and culture. I get bogged down in my own fascination, and three or four ‘Draft Saved’s later, I don’t know what to write about, and even if I did, I’d feel like a hack for just regurgitating a week’s worth of another blog’s already regurgitated content.

But I guess if the hack shoe fits…. Here’s a handful of fascinating facts from everywhere, collected on kottke.org:

1. I really enjoyed looking back at the Boston Globe‘s real-time news feed circa 1900. Headlines were scrawled on blackboards hung from the awning above the Globe’s classical storefront. One of the boards in the above photo reads “US Forces Invade Central Solomons.” The writer cleverly notes how similar this turn-of-the-century system is to a 21st-century home page.

“This isn’t the first time the paper has tried a free, real-time, ad-supported product. From at least the turn of the century until the 1950s, Globe staff shuttled back and forth throughout the day from the newsroom to the street. There they wrote breaking news headlines and sports scores on four blackboards and two enormous sheets of newsprint. Behind the Globe’s windows? Ads.”

2. Also from the Boston Globe, a report on the global economy as experienced in the purchase of an ice-cream cone from Boston’s famous Toscanini’s, ice cream the NYTimes says is “the best in the world”:

“The story of this scoop of ice cream, as it moves from raw materials to finished product, captures the myriad forces that are pushing food prices higher. … A cyclone in Australia wiped out sugar beet crops. Uprisings in the Middle East have threatened to disrupt oil supplies. Growing demand for milk by Asia’s rising middle class affects the over-the-counter price of an ice cream cone at Toscanini’s.”

3. For all the foreign turmoil going on (hiking our ice-cream prices), I was encouraged by—of all things—the US military. Why? Turns out it’s got a system of daycare and early-childhood education that could be a model to replicate nationwide.

“Perhaps the most impressive achievement of the American military isn’t its aircraft carriers, stunning as they are. Rather, it’s the military day care system for working parents. While one of America’s greatest failings is underinvestment in early childhood education … the military manages to provide superb child care.”

4. Kottke includes another tidbit that’s equally surprising and inspiring. It’s a quote from Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, the top non-commissioned officer in the Marine Corps:

‘Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is pretty simple. It says, ‘Raise an army.’ It says absolutely nothing about race, color, creed, sexual orientation. You all joined for a reason: to serve. To protect our nation, right? How dare we, then, exclude a group of people who want to do the same thing you do right now, something that is honorable and noble? … Get over it. We’re magnificent, we’re going to continue to be. … Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines.'”

5. Of course, these topics are outliers when it comes to the military; a good daycare system and one man’s open-minded opinion hardly erase the less-attractive aspects of the institution. I was reminded of some of these aspects—and not even close to the worst of them—reading another post. Kottke discovered a 1969 Playboy Bunny manual and posted the following excerpt:

Bunnies must allow enough time before going to their assigned rooms to report to the Bunny Mother for appearance inspection. The Bunnies’ hair, nails, shoes, makeup and costume must be “Bunny-perfect” and no Bunny is permitted to begin working unless appearance specifications are met. Demerits may be issued for carelessness in this regard. When the Bunny reports to her scheduled room, the Room Director, too, will note her appearance and suggest improvements if necessary.

Sounds eerily similar to being a petty officer in the US Navy.

For more nuggets of reportage from off the beaten path: kottke.org.

secret handshake

21 Jun

Tonight is the launch of a new journalistic endeavor here in Chicago, and it is the best approach I’ve seen. Do we need another lit journal full of soggy fiction and hyperinflated poems? Do we need another political rag for PC intellectuals? A new hub for citizen journalists’ petty anecdotes and diatribes? I don’t think so. We need a print journal that gives us one conversation, one interview, one essay, one short story, and one road trip—and that’s it.

The Handshake offers just that, and it looks to be head-and-shoulders above some of Chicago’s other independent publications. In its influences, informers, and heroes alone, it impresses: Studs Terkel, Hunter S. Thompson, David Foster Wallace. These are some of the true greats in literary and narrative nonfiction, and if they are the standard, then The Handshake will maintain an excellence unseen in the independent publishing world as well as a spot on my coffee table. Check out what they’re up to, and if you live here, go to the launch tonight at Schuba’s.

If you’re looking for the story of its origins, you can find it, for the most part, in Daniel Duffy’s letter from the editor, which I’ve reproduced in an abridged version below.

:: :: ::

“This past Spring, I interviewed J.C. Gabel, who founded one of my favorite magazines, Stop Smiling, in the mid-‘90s. … [We] met at the Intelligentsia in the Monadnock Building in the South Loop of Chicago. Jackson and Dearborn. The Monadnock—that thing is unbelievable. It’s the tallest commercial load-bearing masonry building ever constructed. It’s made of this purple-brown brick that looks amazing when it rains, and its walls slope gently out at the base and top. Inside, it’s all wood and aluminum and marble. Beautiful and ornate. … I love that Intelligentsia. 

Gabel started Stop Smiling when he was nineteen. He got his first advertisers immediately. He got his first investor shortly after that, and he’s been on salary and working three jobs ever since—one with Playboy. And here I was, thirty years old, bartending two nights a week and living on school loans. And I was hungover. “I’m a piece of shit,” I thought.

But then this funny thing happened. … The brilliant motherfucker basically told me how to start a self-sustaining magazine. I stopped thinking about my faults then, boy. I started thinking about how I was going to do what Gabel had done sixteen years ago. I was going to start a magazine.

My high school English teacher … always called me Phineas, referring to a character in John Knowles’ novel A Separate Peace who was a nonconformist, constantly refusing to follow rules and regulations, doing stupid shit like wearing his tie on his head, and organizing a group called the Summer Suicide Society.

There’s another Phineas out there, as well. At 4:30 in the afternoon on September 13, 1848, a twenty-five year-old foreman named Phineas Gage was preparing a roadbed for the Rutland & Burlington Railroad in the forest near Cavendish, Vermont, when the accidental explosion of a charge he had set blew his tamping iron through his head. The tamping iron was 3’7” long and weighed approximately thirteen pounds. It entered on the left side of Gage’s face, under the cheekbone, demolished his left eye, and exploded out of the top of his skull before flying into the air and landing in the woods a good eighty feet away.

The most absurd part of this story is the fact that Gage not only survived, but also didn’t lose consciousness. He was speaking within a few minutes of his accident. … The thing is, however, that when Phineas was strong enough to return to work, the contractors who had employed him wouldn’t take him back because his personality had changed drastically. … Gage, in effect, reverted to savage-hood.

I want the Handshake Media Project to be our tamping iron. I want it to enter our faces, demolish our eyes, and explode out of the top of our skulls before flying into the air and landing in the woods eighty feet away. I don’t want it to turn us all into a bunch of emotionally-explosive, verbally-abusive assholes, necessarily, but I do want it to be a catalyst for change. I want it to change the way we think about things. The way we think about each other.

Phineas Gage, with tamping iron