Who listens to bloated aging Baby Boomers who took all the jobs and made all the rules so that Gen X’ers could never get ahead in the marketplace anyway?

Mike Francesa is basically the king of sports talk radio in the New York City area, which, by definition if you live in ego-centric New York City or its environs (within 100 miles), makes him the king of sports talk radio.

Based on reports, Mike Francesa, age 56, ripped into one of the leading Mets bloggers, first by insulting his hygiene (this from a man, whom I’ve seen in person, who could generously stand to lose a few pounds). Still, that sort of classlessness is de rigueur for talk radio, particularly sports talk radio, and is sadly endemic to our society. So I’m not going to debate its appropriateness, or complete lack thereof.

No, Francesa added to his talk: “who reads blogs anyway?

Well, Mike, plenty of Gen X’ers do, particularly those who write them and who couldn’t land jobs in traditional media (or get promoted or get new ones at bigger papers) because of bloated, egotistical, aging Baby Boomers like you who sucked up all the jobs, then changed the rules and qualifications for entry level and mid-level promotions, which might have been fine except that those rules never applied to you, Boomers, in middle and upper management and in the even-slightly-higher profile jobs.

No, asshats like you have made a career out of “do as I say, not as I do,” while fucking over the economy to fatten your wallets and bellies, and then had the temerity to cry about your retirements drying up in a poor economy that you created. Yeah, Mike, I read blogs. I write for two of them. So do a lot of Gen X’ers who got shut out of your fucking industry and others because of your bloated, whirlpool-sucking presence.

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The Icepick Begins

I’m in the mood for a re-boot. Or at least, a bit of a re-imagining of the blog, maybe just for a couple of days or weeks, maybe permanently.

I suppose, I’m tired of being angry. When your 3½-year-old can self-ignite a Three-Mile Island-sized meltdown — seemingly with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe — over shutting off the TV, or leaving for preschool, or coming to dinner, you start to wonder if you’re looking in the mirror at a Yoda-sized image of yourself, and that maybe you should be a better dad in changing that image — on both sides of this metaphorical mirror — for the better. Or perhaps it’s an extension of the Terrible Two’s (or Trying Three’s, or whatever they’re called).

Anger seems to be enveloping us all, a lot of it warranted, a lot of it unfocused, a lot of it downright scary, and almost no one is looking in the mirror. When a person like this can attract a following by both patronizing and stoking that anger, when a person like this can incite near riot-level rage without any personal accountability and deflecting the blame onto her perceived enemies, you have to be worried about where the country is going (and, no, retromingent tea partiers, er, pirates, I’m not talking about our government, or, to borrow FDR’s sometime sobriquet, That Man in the White House). And that’s to say nothing of the anger people pour forth that reveals, unintentionally or not, once privately held prejudices and racism, an impossibility of identifying with anyone who doesn’t look exactly like you, and a lack of simple empathy and self-reflection (again, look in the mirror; or look at 1930s Germany; take your pick).

OK, so there’s that.

Then there’s baseball. Readers of this blog sort-of know I was once a sportswriter. To borrow a baseball analogy, I never made it out of the Short-Season Class A newspapers up the organizational ladder to The Show, though I twice covered MLB games (call it my own version of a September call-up, if you will).  That was more than a decade ago. No, I’m not still bitter.

But I still love baseball, more so now as a fan, more so since my still-current rooting for the Mets since I left the Yankees (er, since the Yankees left me), and even more so for a reason I’ll discuss in a moment. The Mets came in fourth place in their division last year, finished 12 games below .500, are off to a dispiriting 2-4 start, and are losing 8-0 in the fourth as I write this. The Yankees won the World Series. I’ve always been a big believer in buying low and selling high, but I digress.

As for my generational viewpoints, I feel like I’ve written a lot on the topic, and I’m not sure what else I have to say on the intersection of American generations. By dint of my very age, I’ll still be writing from the perspective of a person born between 1961 and 1981 (or 1965 and 1979, or what have you). I love reading about the world from the perspective of my fellow members of Generation X, and I would direct you to any of the blogs listed in my primary blogroll for unique insights by these talented writers, all of whom put my meager skills to shame. Bravo and Brava!

So, more baseball. Burying my head in the sand to avoid the national mood, or simply a mood swing by a mercurial blogger? Who knows. Or perhaps in the words of John Bender, who cares?

Well, one person, at least, makes me care.

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Degrees of journalism

Jack Shafer is one of those reliably irritable writers who gets it right more times than not (his crusade against Bill Moyers was one of those times that are not, but other than that, I can’t think of any others right now). He’s the prototypical cranky journo, and the world is better for it.

Right now, I tend to think Shafer is absolutely right about the future of journalism, and the fact that the downturn of today could portend a rise tomorrow. To wit:

Let me say it another way: The barriers of entry into the journalism business have been battered down, making it easier than ever to enter the profession. That will read as small consolation to the journalists who have had their publications shot out from under them—the Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Ann Arbor News (come July 23), and magazines too numerous to tally. But please notice that I’m not saying there has never been a more lucrative or prestigious time to become a journalist. The cash and status associated with the profession are fairly recent. Until the early 1970s or thereabouts, the average journalist made an average salary (if that), and his societal standing was modest.

If the downside of the battered-down barriers to entry is less pay and lower status, the potential upside is that a flood of new entrants into the field could portend a journalistic renaissance.

This hardly aids journos of my generation and the Millennials. Our bosses, most of them Baby Boomers, sold us a bill of goods that said we needed more and more college degrees to be “real” journalists, even though many of them didn’t have Master’s degrees when they entered the field. This isn’t exactly what Shafer is saying in his recent Slate column, but it got me thinking.

To me, this touches on something Laurie at Punk Rock HR wrote about recently regarding MBAs in the work world in general, and what Jimmy Breslin has long said about the reporting world in particular — why the hell do you need a Master’s to be a journalist, or for that matter, a degree from a Journalism school when you should be learning about history, literature and the like in school (with a healthy re-up of grammar lessons, but I’m hardly one to call the kettle black on that one), and learning the how-to’s of journalism as a cub reporter under the tutelage of a seasoned veteran? It’s real-life experience that matters, and that makes good writing.

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Writing slump continues

It should come as no surprise to the regular readers of this blog (both of you) that I’ve been in a bit of a writer’s slump. Perhaps it’s karmic justice for my recent Mets conversion (the Amazin’s aren’t doing so hot lately (and by that I mean, the last three years), but I digress).

Related or not, my writing slump has continued on into speechwriting assignments for my day job, and I’m in a slow period for freelance work. Which means, my inability in getting untracked from this slump is impacting the part of my full-time job I enjoy the most. Much like writing on the blog.

And though the subject matter for my writing outlets rarely, if ever, overlap, I can attest that when I felt like I was hitting my stride in my “real” job, I felt productive at night with the blog (whether any of it was any good is another matter). Though they were unrelated, the two roles often seemed to feed each other, sometimes hours apart.

Seeking inspiration, I continue to remind myself of what Ted Sorensen — JFK’s speechwriter and “intellectual bloodbank,” as Charlie Rose noted — was saying in speeches and interviews over the last year or so, though for all I know, he’s probably been saying this for years: He noted that “mere words” can change the world, that “words matter.”

What am I missing, Part II?

I was tempted to headline this post “Die Newspapers, Die” (no, not as a nod to The Simpsons and translated as “The Newspapers, The”).

I simply cannot understand their beef with GoogleNews. GoogleNews posts a headline and the lede of an article from news organizations worldwide with a link to the full piece on that outlet’s own Web site, and includes hundreds (often thousands) of other links from other papers on the similar topic.

I was on GoogleNews earlier and I saw links to articles from the New York Times, Reuters, the Baltimore Sun, the Miami Herald, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today and dozens more. Do newspaper executives like Thomas Curley at the AP really expect me to remember and type wwww.nytimes.com, uk.reuters.com, www.baltimoresun.com, www.miamiherald.com, www.bloomberg.com, online.wsj.com, www.suntimes.com, content.usatoday.com and so on and then dig through their various sites to find whatever time-wasting esoteric article I was looking for?

Do they really except me to fill up my bookmarks with their sites, and then spend hours clicking each one of them simply to read whatever superficial “coverage” they’re providing today, complete with lightweight sound bites and pointless man-on-the-street perspectives from their Masters Degreed journalists without a hint of Woodward and Bernstein or Jimmy Breslin gumshoeing, lunch-pail reporting? Do they really want to piss off consumers by making them log in to home page after home page, rather than by using GoogleNews’ simple link-through service, which benefits them if they would just put a cork in their collective whines and see that?

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Not so Extra! End of News

With all the news in the last few months about newspaper layoffs and closings, never have I been more depressed about the future of the industry than I was after watching the AP’s Thomas Curley being interviewed tonight by Charlie Rose, which largely mimicked (in subtle message, if not tone) Rupert Murdoch’s recent gauntlet-throw-down to Google.

Newspaper publishers, hear me: Google is not the problem. I have been exposed to more newspaper Web sites (and thus, more newspapers) in the last eight or nine years or so through Google (and through blogs and other sites — more on that in a minute) than I ever would have been as a lonely reader paying for a print newspaper, or by merely typing in random URLs to try to find your newspaper sites without The Google.

No, the problem is you, newspapers. You are the ones that haven’t been able to figure out how to make money off of this opportunity (or rather, not enough money to pay your reporters and editors, rather than paying your shareholders demanding outrageous profit margins in the pre-Recession days and your MBA-holding publishers with zero news sense).

It’s as if a busload of tourists just stopped at an all-you-can-eat restaurant, and the buffet owner blamed the bus company because he suddenly had too many customers.

That you can’t find a way to make a profit with a busload of tourists at your door is the most depressing news I’ve heard yet about the declining state of the newspaper industry.


Apologies to my dear readers (both of you) for my recent hiatus, which likely will continue a while longer. Potty training woes (Icepick Jr., not Icepick Sr.) and the hope-springs-eternal beginning of baseball season have kept me away from posting.

Um, that, and hypocrite that I am, I have rebooted my Facebook account and have discovered that I sort of like it — let my well-deserved flaming commence. But while you’re throwing stones, this brings up a nice segue to another recent misdirected complaint by the corporate news industry — namely, the bloggers-are-stealing-our-content meme.

One of the things I like best about Facebook (apart from the fleeting uptick for my flagging self-worth in posting what’s “on my mind”) is the ability to post links to articles and blog posts from around the Web to share with my dear Internet friends. While the number of times I do this certainly annoys some (if not all) of my six pals, surely, once in a Blue Moon, one of these friends clicks on a link I posted and reads an article on a newspaper site or blog that they may not have otherwise read.

This is a money-making opportunity for these sites — in potential ad-clicking revenue, in potential click-per-view fees, in ad-rate-setting based on increased hit counts. That newspapers are failing to make money off this opportunity is their failure.

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Here’s a thought: Pick up the phone (the landline!)

Maybe I’m getting to my cranky old man stage early, but my pal over at Pussified’s Playlist has hit the nail on the head — I haven’t “dated” in more than a decade, but I cannot imagine what it must be like today if you’re a single Gen X’er, or for that matter, a member of the Millennial Generation. Check out her latest post “does anyone actually date anymore?

Pussified raises the point that the art of the chase, and the art of subtly, appear to be non-existent in the age of Facebook and text-messaging. And while Millennials might be comfortable with that, if you’re single and in your 30s or 40s, what do you do? Perhaps, somewhat like a job-seeker, if you actually go through the trouble of making a real phone call, you’re going to stand out from the competition.

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