I took a cab to Bernal Heights after a long, long session at a hair salon in Laurel Heights. The bus ride would have been 45+, and I was just ready to get there. I easily hailed a cab in this ritzy little neighborhood, and told him to head to Bernal.
"That's where the Beatles house is," he told me. "Well, was."
I told him yes, it sure is, and he detected my Southern accent.
"Where are you from?," he asked me. I told him Tennessee, and he immediately began reminiscing excitedly.
"My first love was a little gal from Mobile, Alabama. Boy, did I love that girl. I followed her everywhere."
I grinned at his recollection of his Southern charmer.
"That accent used to drive me wild," he said, his voice trailing, his memories obviously flooding back.
"But she was a tramp," he said suddenly, then laughed enough to fill the whole car.
"She was divorced at 17, that one. I am pretty sure she was cheating on me before we even started dating."
If that's not one hell of a line, then I haven't heard any good ones before.
He dropped me off safely at Ian's door, and I gave him a wad of cash. And I watched him drive off, beaming, through the clear of the passenger's side window.
I was working in the web department alone. I was new to the staff, and was subbing in as a web producer while the more tenured people celebrated at home. I was assured by my boss that nothing ever happens news-wise on Christmas Day, and that reposting wire copy is all I'd really be doing.
It was about half an hour before I was scheduled to go home when someone, a writer or assistant, came jetting by my desk saying something about a tiger loose in the SF Zoo. Thinking there was no way this was possible (people say crazy stuff in newsrooms all the time), I went back to combing for more AP stories.
But within a minute or two the few people working that night became frantic and scurried about quickly. In the midst of the rush someone stopped at my desk: "Did you get this? A tiger got out at the zoo and attacked some kids."
This sounded unbelievable to me, but there we had it: A Tiger had escaped and killed a zoo visitor.
To say that I was prepared to handle this breaking news story for CBS5.com solo is like saying Bush Jr. was prepared for his Presidency. I was green, barely able to navigate the back end of the site and getting bombarded by all sides.
The national network, which had no news of its own, got wind of the tiger attack, and soon they were phoning me up.
"We need you to organize the anchors for a live web hit."
I sat there, stunned. The anchors did not know my name, much less take orders from me. Getting updates on the tiger attack was a chore--everything was happening so fast--and I was the only one in the web department working.
None of the producers had time to help me because they were also short-handed, and the calls and requests from national kept coming. I could barely keep up, and before I knew it I was in tears.
It wasn't as bad as being mauled by a pissed off tiger, but it was a night I won't soon forget.
Oh, and for the record if you get high and drunk and taunt and piss on a tiger--in a zoo or not--don't be surprised when it murders your ass.
Jay is looked to as an expert in both medicine and public health. He has an MD after his name, a sizable following on the internet, a steady stream of publicity, regular gigs speaking at events. He’s also a co-founder of a company that creates new healthcare solutions.
I find it deeply disturbing he would make damaging and potentially dangerous statements and then dismiss them as something he does not believe in.
There is an enormous gulf between writing with nuance and making an inflammatory, sweeping generalization like “anti-depressants are the modern snake oil” simply to “get people to think.” Especially when you fail to follow up with any nuance or by guiding people to help them understand. Posting an excerpt from a Newsweek article that further emphasizes your point - an article that itself was nuanced - is not the same thing.
You can write what you believe in without using fine detail and get people to listen to you. Hell, you can even write bullshit you don’t believe in - as long as it’s not damaging and dangerous, and as long as you aren’t an expert meant to help and guide people.
I love Leah, and her intelligent, measured responses are just one of many, many reasons why.
But starting in the first part of June my title will be Executive Vice President of Marketing and Outreach.
I know, right?
For real, though, I've accepted a new job. I'm going to be the Executive Vice President of Marketing and Outreach for a sincerely fantastic non-profit organization called Modest Needs.
Modest Needs is a charity that, rather than getting people out of financial trouble, prevents them from getting into that trouble in the first place. Modest Needs is the only charity that allows you to donate to individuals on a one-to-one basis--choosing the person or organization that you directly want to help out. It's a lauded organization started by a former professor at my university. In fact, when he launched Modest Needs eight years ago I put a link to the venture on Metafilter. I've been a cheerleader for Modest Needs since Day One (save for that single dubiousness I expressed to the founder when he initially ran the idea by me--sorry for being a Debbie Doubter, Keith!)
This means that I am no longer going to be a news blogger, blog producer, professional blogger, or however you want to describe what I have done for about five years now. While I will be blogging for Modest Needs as part of my role, the position of EVP of Marketing and Outreach will encompass a whole lot more. I will be in charge of promoting Modest Needs primarily online, but also offline, to the best of my abilities. This means I get to decide how best to use the internet to spread the good word about a charity that I fully believe in--the sky's the limit in terms of how I do this or how far it goes. To say that I am excited and overwhelmed by the prospect would be a vast understatement. I get to work from home, make my own hours and work toward promoting something that makes the world a better place.
Am I sad that I will no longer be blogging from a newsroom? Yeah. In a way. It was how I started this career that has suddenly taken a new trajectory, and it has served me well. Recently, before I knew I'd be leaving news blogging, a doctor asked me if I liked my job. I blurted out almost immediately, "I love my job." And that is the truth. It is a blessing and a joy to do what I do day in and day out.
That said, I'm tired. The constant 9-5 publishing of content--even content that primarily links to others' content--can be draining. It will wear you down. It is safe to say I got burned out on news blogging.
That doesn't mean I am not forever grateful to both WKRN and KPIX for allowing me the opportunity to do something not many others get to do--sling opinion and links without an editor. Both stations put a lot of trust in me, and I won't soon forget that. WKRN gave me my break, and KPIX moved me out to my new home in California. Thank yous will never be enough.
My last day writing Eye on Blogs will be Friday. Then I board a plane to Tennessee to see family and friends for a week. Then I fly back to San Francisco the following Monday to unpack, then repack, because on Tuesday I will be in Manhattan for 6 days for my initial week at Modest Needs.
It's all too much, but I relish every morsel.
Onward and upward and all that stuff.
UPDATE: I will have lots, lots, lots more to say about all this, but if I said it all now this would not be a blog post it would be a non-fiction tome. More to come for sure.