word on journalism
May 8, 2009
The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools
At about this time every year, like
the swallows to Capistrano or the
buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD
migrates to its summer musing grounds
at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles
Home for the Terminally Verbose.
The reason is clear, and never moreso
than as this season —the WORD's
13th —peters out.
It's been a fraught year of high palaver
and eye-popping transition, both good
and not-so-much. An interminable presidential
campaign saga finally did end, and
in extraordinary and historic fashion.
Meanwhile, the bottom and everything
that's below the bottom fell out of
the economy, with families, homes,
entire industries and —of particular
interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded
—dozens of daily newspapers
("I don't so much mind that newspapers
are dying--it's watching them commit
suicide that pisses me off."
--Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating.
What replaces them, from the individual
to the institutional to the societal?
Are we looking at a future of in-depth
As any newsperson or firehorse knows,
it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day
catastrophe --we just have to look
at the car wreck. But even the most
deranged and driven need a rest. As
philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed,
"No matter how cynical you become,
it's never enough to keep up."
So this morning, as a near-frost hovered
over northern Utah, the unmarked van
pulled into the driveway and the gentle,
soft-spoken men in the white coats
rolled the WORD out of bed and into
a straitjacket for the usual summer
trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering
one will be assigned a hammock and
fed soothing, healthy foods --like
tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while
recharging the essential muscles of
cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social
engagement and high-mindedness, in
preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.
up! Comment on the WORD at
and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always
welcome. "There are no false
Lessons learned from spring break
March 27, 2009 | Spring Break's
been over for a week, but it's still on my mind,
or at least on my hand. Why's that? Well, my hand's
still suffering from my not-so-typical Spring Break.
You see, there was no lounging by the pool this year.
There were no fancy margaritas and there certainly wasn't
a cruise. Well, I take that back. There was no cruise-liner
but we did cruise—by bike. And after biking through
250 miles of California Bliss, my "lefty"
is still recovering. It was all worth it, though, for
the Pacific Coast Highway taught this inexperienced
biker a few lessons.
Lesson #1: When the journey gets tough, look to the
beauty in life to pull you through. This lesson barreled
into my mind while cycling through the hills of Laguna
Beach. It was the end of the day. I was trailing so
far behind that the other bikers were out of sight,
and just when I wanted to quit I looked to the ocean.
The blood-orange sun was slowly falling into the sea.
I got off my bike, took a moment to enjoy the sunset,
and from there I found the inspiration to finish strong.
The beauty pulled me through.
Lesson #2: Life's only painful for a bit, so just
keep on trekking. I was reminded of this every single
time I hopped back on that bicycle, to endure more of
what bikers call "saddle soreness." No need
to go into detail of exactly what area of my body was
sore. You get the idea, but thank heaven that just after
a few minutes of riding the pain would subside.
Lesson #3: Life's an adventure, enjoy it. Our
trek was only five days, and like life it was too short.
Luckily, we did our best to soak it all in. We explored
new beach towns, made friends, stopped in at great cafés
and slept under the stars. Oh we had our troubles, too—bike
failures, gigantic hills, and accidents—but we
laughed through them and it made all the difference.
And if you're wondering about my left hand, for
some unknown reason, it's been a bit tingly, almost
asleep, since the trip. However, that's OK with
me, because it's a unique souvenir to a unique