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November 2002 Archives

November 7, 2002

The Magic of Movies

They were filming a movie over on the next block last night: Mona Lisa Smile, it's called. Looks like a chick flick. It's apparently scheduled for release this time next year.

A flyer from the production company said they were doing one scene: a woman walking down a rainy 1950s street and going into a building. It was about 40 degrees and windy last night. I wouldn't have wanted to be out in the rain, fake or otherwise. Trailers took over parking places for about two or three blocks surrounding the set, and the entire block where they were shooting was blocked off.

The last major film to be made around here was Two Weeks Notice, coming to a multiplex near you next month. That one took over the Fulton Ferry landing for most of a week; apparently there's a big party scene with Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. Most production companies are good about telling location residents what they're up to and how long they'll be up to it. This one didn't, and there were lots of steamed neighbors and tourists. Also a lot of disappointed Asian newlyweds, a steady stream of whom get wedding pictures taken at Fulton Ferry.



Not Precisely Why I Have A Beard

Something very odd and disturbing is going on near my old stomping grounds....



November 8, 2002

The Merriam Webster Word for November 7 Is....

 debacle ð \dee-BAH-kul or dee-BACK-ul\ ð (noun)
1 : a tumultuous breakup of ice in a river
2 : a violent disruption (as of an army) : rout
3 a : a great disaster *b : a complete failure : fiasco

I'm sure the timing was a coincidence, and had nothing at all to do with Tuesday's events.



November 18, 2002

Maintaining Radio Silence

Yes, I know I've been among the absent. Two reasons:

  1. I've been busy. Truly.

  2. I'm so disheartened by this Fall's elections that I scarcely know where to begin, and (relatedly)

  3. I'm talking to some interesting people about some interesting jobs, and the last thing I want to do is blog myself out of employment. I wrote in 1995 about a friend who broke off a budding relationship because she didn't like what she saw about the guy in question on Altavista; this is a lesson I take to heart.

Nonetheless, there's some stuff worth writing about and pointing out. It follows.



Tabs on Cron

Ken Cron was the guy running CMP Publications when I was Editor of NetGuide. He was also the guy running it when I left. Read into that what you want.

Somehow, according to the New York Times, he has wound up at the right hand of Barry Diller, running the media properties that Vivendi couldn't figure out: its Universal film, television, music, theme park and game businesses. Annual sales amount to $12.5 Billion. With a B.

The paper asks, quite rightly, Who is this guy? and attempts to dig out the answer. They do get some good background, but miss the guy's naked opportunism. This is the guy who. as Michael Wolff tells in his book Burn Rate, spent $1 million in 1993 in the apparent belief that he was buying the Internet. (What he bought was a list of AOL "Go" words and the right -- which wasn't Wolff's to sell -- to start a magazine called NetGuide.)

If you want an unbiased opinion of Ken Cron, you're at the wrong weblog. From what I understand, Barry Diller and Ken Cron deserve each other.

(Ten points if you laughed at the headline, by the way.)



Where Are the Bodies?

If you're concerned about the way your government conducts wars in your name, you need to read this unbelievable piece about the First Gulf War.

Here's why I believe it:

  • I know and am proud to have worked with Leon Daniel. When he asks a question, it's a good one, and he rarely stops until he gets a good answer.
  • Patrick Sloyan, like Daniel, is a UPI vet with impeccable credentials -- like a Pulitzer Prize from 1992, back when a story had to be true in order to win a Pulitzer.
  • Why else would the U.S. Government take such pains to hide a war from its own people? From the SF Chronicle:

More than 150 reporters who participated in the Pentagon pool system failed to produce a single eyewitness account of the clash between 300,000 allied troops and an estimated 300,000 Iraqi troops. There was not one photograph, not a strip of film by pool members of a dead body -- American or Iraqi.

Unbelievable. But not nearly unbelievable enough.



Ripped From 8-Year-Old Headlines

The NYTimes has suddenly discovered that cell service sucks because bandwidth demand is outpacing supply. Good story, except it's been true since at least 1994...



Olberman Apologizes

My friend Angela Gunn points out Keith Olberman's public apology to pretty much anyone he's ever worked for and with.

It's an impressive list, and an impressive piece. Olberman, best known for anchoring ESPN's SportsCenter, is ex-UPI, ex-ESPN, ex-NBC, and not-yet-ex ABC. Along the way, he gained the reputation of being the new Howard Cosell -- a man whose intellect and talent encompasses far more than sports but who drives everyone who knows him more than a little nuts.

This is not an apologia; it's a genuine and specific act of public repentance. Well worth reading.



November 19, 2002

Hed Goes Here

Just in time for Christmas, a couple of New York Post reporters have come out with a game that can make you -- yes, even you -- a tabloid-headline-writing machine. From Editor & Publisher:

"The one thing we really noticed in developing this is that most people who played the game, including journalists, ended up trying to make funny headlines, and not even worrying about points," [retired crime reporter Mike] Pearl said. Released this month, Man Bites Dog has sold out (at about $10 a game) from many online distributors.

I don't even need to try this to know it's great. A bunch of years ago, Dick Stolley (founding editor of People and master hed scribe) ran a session at the Stanford Professional Publishing Program. He showed a dozen or so students a bunch of photo layouts and challenged us to shout out heds and deks, based solely on the picture. We had so much fun the session ran far beyond the allotted hour.

Keep a tabloid reporter from starving. www.areyougame.com




War School

In a way, you can't blame the Pentagon for wanting to keep reporters away from the action. Since the draft ended,  few writers have ever served in the military, so they don't have much idea of what they're writing about. Though it's true that any good reporter can learn most any beat, it's a little late for tutorials when bullets are flying.

So the Defense Department has taken a page from the playbook of any good PR effort: teach the beat. If a big company has a newbie reporter on its hands, the smartest thing the company can do is take the time to educate the new kid. It makes friends, and it gives the company a great opportunity to introduce its own spin from the get-to.

The Pentagon is running a Media Boot Camp, teaching journalists what it's like to go to war. It's a fine idea. One the one hand, it gives reporters some idea about how the military works and what they might face in a combat zone. On the other, it's certain to engender some badly needed mutual respect between reporters and brass. And that can only help in getting accurate, timely and non-hysterical war reportage with actual eyewitness reports.



They'll Be Hearing From My Lawyer

I am not alone.

I've known for some time that there are other Dan Rosenbaums out there. One of them is an economist, I think with an undergraduate degree from Princeton, where he played softball (Google is a wonderful thing). Another is an editor at Tennis magazine. Yet a third contributes every so often to Opera Digest. None of them is me.

I bring this up because there's a music writer in Atlanta named Bill Wyman. He is not the former bass player for the Rolling Stones, though it now appears that some bored lawyer is worried about that. Funny story, and a good read with a kicker ending.



November 21, 2002

Music Music Music

If you know a singer, you know that they're heading into the heavy season now. If a vocalist isn't busy in the months before Christmas and Easter -- even if there isn't a single other booking for the year -- something is very seriously wrong.

For November 1 (All Saint's Day), I was in a pretty successful J.S. Bach's Missa Brevis in A at the church I sing in. It was fun -- a small string ensemble, some brass, an organ, and 14 singers. On November 11, I was privileged to sing in New York City's simple first-anniversary memorial service for the victims of Flight 587. (I'm all the way to the right in this picture; the combo is prominent in the coverage.)

Then last Sunday afternoon, my big choir sang an Ives's Fourth Symphony and John Alden Carpenter's "Skyscrapers" at Avery Fisher Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra. That was a lot of waiting around to do just a little singing, but the Ives in fascinating to hear up close.

This coming Saturday night, my early music group is performing, well, some early music. Small ensemble work is pretty much the polar opposite from something like the Ives, which calls for about 200 people on stage -- nine of them percussionists. This concert will have 11 singers plus continuo. If you're in town, come hear.

And in mid-December, I'll be appearing in the New York premiere of a new work by the Chinese composer Tan Dun, who's best known here for his score of the movie "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon." We'll be performing his "Water Passion After St. Matthew," a truly extraordinary piece of work, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave festival. I'm told it's been sold out for months, but tickets sometimes become available.

And oh yes, then there's Christmas week. But I don't have the music for that yet, so it doesn't really exist, right?



November 22, 2002

Feiss Speaks!

You all know about the Apple "Switch" campaign. One of the spokespeople, a teenager named Ellen Feiss, became an instant Internet celebrity (for some small value of "celebrity") not so much for what she said but because she truly looked and sounded like she was on another plane of sobriety when she said it.

Feiss, bless her heart, has been pushing away most of the attention but gave her first interview to the Brown (University) Daily Herald. Why the Brown Daily Herald? Who knows -- maybe she took a campus tour. Pretty good interview, though -- both questions and answers. If she's a stoner, she's a pretty on-the-ball stoner.



November 27, 2002

More on Boot Camp

You'd think that for a place that had so many reporters, there'd be better stories coming out.

I've been trolling around for reports from the Pentagon's pre-invasion boot camp for journos. By far the best is from UPI's Pam Hess. (Yes, Virginia, there's still a UPI, even with some of the old hands at the switch -- though the institution is of course vastly diminished).

7:30 a.m.: My "platoon," the Third, musters outside the dormitory. As usual, two of our number are missing. It is never the same two people although it is frequently a certain Network News Star. This fact -- along with our inability to line up, walk straight, or follow even the most basic directions -- has earned us a nickname among the Marine trainers that will stick through the rest of the week: Booger Platoon.

It is strangely fitting. We are so bad we don't even know we're bad and we are blithely unconcerned when we find out. We wander around like demented kittens, defenseless and uncontrollable. We wear our Boogerness as a badge of honor. We are most definitely not Marines.....

Let the record show these are not friggin' psychopaths. These are committed, underpaid, brave and physically fit young people who endure privation and follow any order issued to them under terrible conditions by their superiors, no matter how hare-brained, as long as it is lawful. It is not a job I would want myself, nor am I capable of it.

But out here under a cold moon next to a warm fire being addressed as "ma'am," I can't help but be impressed

The NYDaily News's Dick Sisk (an old UPI hand himself) got a little too close to a phosphorus grenade but lived to write about it. Even Grandma eventually turned in a serviceable story, though its first piece was as dry as week-old pita bread.



About November 2002

This page contains all entries posted to Over the Edge in November 2002. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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