Friday, April 02, 2004

'Borderless & Without Edit' Indeed

This little gem needs no comment from me. Drudge is a complete ass, a pathetic journalistic-wannabe, and at times a right-wing thug. Or more precisely, a too-willing boy-toy dupe of lots of right-wing thugs. Still, none of that erases the fact that he's helped usher in an era in which most adults have forever put aside their childishly naive and passive habit of depending on big corporate media to serve up everything they need to know to be properly functioning citizens. Now they can easily become educated about public affairs, if only they'll do the modest work to seek out a range of diverse sources and voices, many of which are on the web. Enuf said about that for today. Now back into your dark little hole you go, Matt...

Who Said Internet Forums Aren't Enlightening? In the mid-'90s, online conversational forums, like the pioneering The Well (later folded into the online zine Salon) were supposed to be all the rage, and a killer app. But they've mostly taken a back seat--way, way in the back--to other more interesting, more adaptable conversational tools--like blogs, for instance (please duly note my bias). Sometimes their wishy washiness is a function of the lack of intelligent comments they seem to draw from various posters, others more a product of the clumsiness of the particular tool (which is's problem, I'd say). But that only means that the effective online forums one comes across too rarely these days tend to stand out that much more. I'd say Steve Fitzgerald's Lakewood Buzz easily qualifies as one of the better ones. Just check out this enlightening discussion from his evidently bright, discerning readers on the Fingerhut-Voinovich Senate race. And note how the moderator (presumably Steve himself) gently but firmly butts in to keep the conversation on track. Take a bow, Steve, for a site that I think is simply the leading local example, a Mercedes among misfits, in combining true online journalism with passionate community conversation and empowerment. And as long as you're checking out his Lakewood Buzz site (which I simply insist that you do), why not also take a gander at his equally compelling blog about all things Lakewood, on You'll find it here.

The Softer Side of Ayatollah Ashcroft. Jeffrey Rosen is a smart, subtle writer. A lawyer and law professor at George Washington University, the guy for years has still somehow found a way to regularly produce streams of thoughtful, well-written pieces on the law and law-related subjects, mostly for the New Republic. And so when I noticed that he recently decided to tackle the subject of Attorney General John Ashcroft, this time for the Atlantic Monthly, I read the piece closely, since his byline guaranteed that it would be an intellectually honest attempt to take a fresh look at all the evidence about his subject. Unfortunately, I'm afraid to say, I was pretty disappointed. Rosen tries his best to deliver a revisionist critique that John A. has been misunderstood, and that he's actually a more complicated character than has been suggested by his uniformly bad press. I wasn't really persuaded; instead, I think he got spun by a campaign-related mandate to soften the image of a guy whose very name has become something of an automatic invitation for booing by the Kerry campaign, and for good reasons. But I do feel a bit of pity for Ashcroft. I think his hard-right fundamentalist father did a number on him, and now we're all paying the price (though perhaps only for a few more months). But take a look at it yourself and tell me if you think I'm wrong (and as you may remember from my many shots at the domestic Ayatollah, I do have my deep biases about this guy).

Dorothy Does Cleveland. If you're smart and self-assured enough to be reading this, I would guess that, like me, you also have more than your share of wild, impulsive, partly lost/partly wandelust-struck old pals who alternately delight and disappoint you. But whenever they resurface, as they always do, it's a cause for deep celebration of the soul. And this week I got two such blasts. The first came from my friend Dorothy, who not so long ago was a serious comer in Cleveland, a young powerbroker in the foundation world, running a Cleveland Foundation-connected group called Grantmakers Forum (which, as I used to tease her, entailed regularly convening trust fund folk to hear which ephemeral bleeding-heart cause should be their guilty-conscience flavor of the month).

Anyway, as she hit 40, still single and perhaps not so happy about that, she did the smart thing: got off the career elevator and sought out some serious personal renewal. She went off to Harvard for a graduate program, then moved to Washington, D.C. and did who knows what. I'm not so sure what she's been doing, cause she decided to opt out of staying in touch with most of her friends. But I knew her (and liked her) well enough to guess that if I just kept the door open enough, with the occasional reassuring voicemail or email, she might ultimately take up the offer to renew the conversation (and isn't that what good friendships really come down to?). Which she did in an email out of the blue yesterday, giving a few of us 24 hours notice that she'll be at Nighttown (the wonderfully sophisticated east side jazz club/watering hole/restaurant on Cedar Hill, a favorite of the literary set, in part because its very name is a literary allusion) this evening around happy hour. And so I've cancelled everything and I'll head off to see my old pal, feeling not unlike that Old Testament farmer who eagerly welcomes back the prodigal son. I can't wait to lay eyes on her, but I'll stifle the urge to try to engage in Kremlinology, and learn in just an hour or two how happy she really is in this new life of hers. I'll do my best to jettison that stifling-dad side of me that tries to get to the bottom of assessing everyone's mental state (at least those I care about), and just enjoy the moment, reveling in her company. The rest will fall away like talcum powder in a strong breeze.


At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And as long as you're checking out his Lakewood Buzz site (which I simply insist that you do), why not also take a gander at his equally compelling blog about all things Lakewood, on You'll find it here."

Why not take a gander and look at the Lakewood Observer instead?

At least they let people speak their mind without censoring them.

"The Lakewood Buzz is a great place to carry on conversations with one person using ten faux names to get a point out. It is fun to watch the elected officials carry on "serious" discussions with "I.P. Knightly", "Miles Long", "Sunny skye" and other people that are afraid to own their comments.

It is a great place for people to win arguments with themsleves!

It is NOT a great place to put copyrighted work!

Ivor Karabatkovic-"I've had bad experiences with admins and owners of the buzz since they like to post my work without permission. And with a snappy and defensive email from Steve Fitzgerald after asking to take my work off of his website and personal Lakewood blog on the website, I've lost all respect for the buzz and interest with what's on that website."


Jim O'Bryan-"Frank Guan poet laureate for Lakewood. We offered to do a revue of his book in the printed version of the paper. this would have seen one of Lakewood's finest poets get national exposure, and been read by up to 17,000 people in Lakewood. The Buzz would have been mentioned, as it has often been in the paper. Steve claimed The Buzz "owned" Frank! insisting the story be killed. To honor Steve and Frank's agreement, the story which was written was killed. Not the way I support art or try to move the city forward. One of my favorite Observer Vincent O'Keefe called a couple months ago saying that The Buzz was trying to hire him away from the Observer. My answer was simple, "We do not own you." My only concern was that it would fuel the effort by the Buzz to confuse the brands. But it was never mentioned to Vince. He has a family, he is talented, he loves to write, and I do not believe in slavery. The Observer owns no one. To be honest we do not even retain copyrights on the works published, they are retained by the authors, artists, writers, etc. Dare I say the reverse is not true. According to one poster of the Buzz who keeps records of who is who over there, most of those attacks go back to one person using three names. Let's just say they are pretty close to the top of the stack there.

4) I have kept every promise I have ever made to Steve. Steve has kept none. Going so far as to try to copy much of what we have accomplished. Steve was offered a place at the table, that would have seen the Buzz paid for content, he said it could only happen if he was in charge of the whole project! The secret to this project is there is no control, it is democracy, it is Lakewood, it is not Jim O'Bryan.

If the Buzz underlines your principles and the way you think life should be handled, sniping from the closest. One person using 4-6 puppets/names to win arguments and on and on. Then you should post there, you should enjoy it, you should send Steve a check."

This probably explains why the founder, Stevie Fitzgerald, PAST president of the Society of Professional Journalists, is still waiting to have anything of real worth published using his real name!

P.S. I am not Jim O'bryan or Ivor Karabatkovic.


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