"Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road.”---Stewart Brand
one of the aspects of blogs and the internet in general that amuses me ceaselessly is the disdain, frustration, and overall lack of comprehension that many members of the establishment media seem to hold for it. up to this point i've yet to weigh in on the discussion, partly due to my sheepishness about publishing self-referential musings on bloggers and blogging, partly because i haven't felt that i had anything substantive to add to the conversation, partly because i wasn't sufficiently motivated to do so, but recent comments by sportswriter rick reilly have caused my threshold for prickish buffoonery to reach its tipping point. in the event you've not yet read any of what reilly said in an interview to insidesocal.com, here is an excerpt of what he (to which my buddy drew from kissing suzy kolber wrote this hilarious response on deadspin) had to say about bloggers...
...some really horrible crap on there from guys holding down the couch springs in their mother's basement that have never been in a lockerroom but are pining on this and that. And this gives them cache, and then they're being quoted? What? This guy is in his underwear."
I really think a lot of this stuff (on the Internet) is read only by the people's parents. Why do we need to hear what Mortermer Franks in his basement is thinking about it? I was covering the Masters recently, was in the press room, in the clubhouse, on the course. And then I get back and there are three guys writing columns about the Masters, one in Houston, one in L.A. ... watching it with their buddies or their dad.
Why are they writing?
in addition to reilly, there have been many others from the world of sports journalism to lament similar thoughts and feelings. bill conlin, sam smith, jay mariotti, tony kornheiser, and perhaps most prominent among all of them, bob costas, who had this to say recently...
it's one thing if somebody just sets up a blog from their mother's basement in Albuquerque and they are who they are, and they're a pathetic get-a-life loser, but now that pathetic get-a-life loser can piggyback onto someone who actually has some level of professional accountability and they can be comment No. 17 on Dan Le Batard's column or Bernie Miklasz' column in St. Louis. That, in most cases, grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility. Most of it is a combination of ignorance or invective.
It's just a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on bar stools or in school yards, if they were school yard bullies, or on men's room walls in gas stations. That doesn't mean that anyone with half a brain should respect it.
(ed note...costas did call deadspin editor will leitch to clarify his comments, which can be read here.)
you'd think that these guys would be creative enough to come up with something other than the tired, old "mother's basement" slam. for a brief moment the other day i was so enraged by this that i created a blog titled "live from my mother's basement" to chronicle such foolishness, but i barely have the time to write in the blogs that i already have, so it'll probably just sit there.
anywho, with sports being one of the more resistant to change institutions around, these sort of sentiments really shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but they're not alone. many non-sporting members of the establishment have echoed similar thoughts. new republic editor lee siegel coined the term "blogofascism." tom wolfe said that he doesn't read blogs because he is "weary of narcissistic shrieks and baseless 'information.' " dan rather has blamed his demise at CBS on bloggers. vogue editor anna wintour's anti-blog rantings are endless.
i find all of this so interesting for many reasons, not the least of which is that i'd be willing to bet an appendage that each and every one of these aforementioned media people, had they been born in the 1970s or 1980s, would have started blogs at some point, especially in the infancy stages of their careers. they'd be utter fools not to, for of all the great things that abound regarding the internet, perhaps the greatest thing of all is this: it's the greatest talent show in human history. yes, there's an abundance of dogshit out there, and some might argue that this space is one of the biggest turds in the aforementioned dogshit pile, but there's so much more greatness, greatness that might not have ever been discovered due to lack of resources or geographical disadvantage.
in that vein, the internet is also the greatest creative meritocracy in human history. if you're a writer, musician, artist, actor, etc., and you're good, and the cream does having an eerie way of finding its way to the top, people will find you. they will find you and spread the word of your existence virally, thereby giving you an opportunity whereas before one might not have existed unless you were willing to enhance your geographical proximity to, and the ability to kiss the right of, the powers that be.
a somewhat prominent hollywood director recently told me that he thought that "a good blog is the new spec script" and that many agents, producers, directors, etc. were feverish trolling the internet regularly for new voices. this same director also mentioned that he had cast a part in a recent big budget film of his after viewing a previously unknown actor's clips on youtube. the publishing industry's trolling for talent on the net is legendary. a week can't seem to pass without my hearing of someone getting a mammoth book deal from a blog.
speaking personally, starting this blog just over a year ago is probably the best thing that i've ever done for myself professionally, including attending college. opportunities heretofore unimaginable have come my way as a direct result.
it's for reasons such as these, and i've heard this from multiple sources, that most journalism and dramatic writing programs at colleges and universities are encouraging their students to create blogs. i recently received an email from a west coast college student that detailed as much...
Hey Cajun Boy. Just thought you'd like to know that my professor was discussing your blog in one of my journalism classes today. He put it on the projector and read a passage from your it that had everyone cracking up.
i responded with this...
good god what has this country come to? if my idiocy is being discussed openly in the hallowed halls of this nation's institutions of higher learning, we're TOTALLY fucked. and just curious, but what was it that had everyone "cracking up?" was it the guidos, the salad tossing, or the genital mutilation?
all of this begs the question: why the seething hate from the media establishment? well, i have my own theory and it's twofold.
the first part of this equation is sheer ignorance. hatred and fear are byproducts of ignorance. people fear what they don't understand etc., and at the risk of belittling racism, old media haters of new media are a lot like racists in this way.
the second part of this equation is resentment. the old media types resent that the formula to success that they followed has been altered, that shortcuts to gaining access to the top rung of the ladder that weren't available to them are now available to others. the old media types resent that the game is changing on them, that the old way of doing things is being thrown out the window, and that their mediums are slowly dying.
life, more specifically, survival, is all about evolution. for any species, it's either evolve or die. unfortunately for these dinosaurs, there's an asteroid rumbling directly at their worlds and it threatens to drive them all into extinction lest they remove their heads from their asses stat.
bill clinton fatigue
i finally got around to reading last week's issue of new york magazine over the weekend and found that kurt anderson expressed EXACTLY the way that i feel right now about the former president. he writes...
Until he was an ex-president, I never felt any special fondness for Bill Clinton. From the start, he seemed a bit skeevy to me. On the night in 1992 that he accepted the nomination, as he dined in midtown with Hillary and the Gores, he was introduced to a reporter from Spy, of which I was then editor. The future president smiled, popped to his feet, and ushered the reporter off for a private chat. Spy had just published a cover story called “1,000 Reasons Not to Vote for George Bush—No. 1: He Cheats on His Wife.” “I want to thank you guys,” Clinton told the man from Spy, “for leveling the playing field with that piece you did on Bush’s girlfriends.” But were there more women? he asked repeatedly in the course of a several-minute-long chat.
Yet despite all his sleazoid tendencies, he was, of course, a pretty good president—and he turned out to be an absolutely exceptional ex-president, the best of our lifetimes. The William J. Clinton Foundation is an ambitious, effective mega-NGO, with pragmatic approaches to tackling the problems that beset the poorest countries—HIV/AIDS, tropical diseases, foul water, undercapitalization. It is to the U.N. what HBO is to PBS, nimble and exciting instead of elephantine and ungovernable.
Each of the last three summers, I saw Clinton interviewed live onstage, and each time I was agog. The breadth and depth of his extemporaneous command of information and nuance—about green economics and technology, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, electoral politics—were extraordinary. He was supersmart, nuanced, witty, casually eloquent.
In other words, so not George Bush. Clinton’s Energizer Bunny philanthropism since he left office would have rehabilitated him on the merits, but by comparison to his successor he seemed like some golden demigod, a living reminder of what an American president could be.
Until this year. For me and most of the people I know, the postpresidential love for Bill Clinton has evaporated completely and breathtakingly fast. No matter how many mosquito nets and microloans he helps supply to the Third World, I’m out of love. I found Bill Richardson’s endorsement of Obama two weeks ago especially gratifying not in spite of its fuck-you to his former patron but because of it.
read the entire piece here...
falling out of love with bill
this skit from this past weekend's SNL was pretty fucking funny...