Archive for February 18th, 2004

Body Art of the Day



photo from a friend of my wife’s in Ecuador. We are still trying to track down the original source….

Full Disclosure


As we were driving down the highway this afternoon, composing
our next vituperative attack on the mono-culture of the Five
Media Conglomerates
the Dowbrigade suddenly realized that he was actually an ex-employee
of one of them!

How could it have slipped our mind! Perhaps a deeply implanted post-hypnotic
suggestion made us forget, and still guides our actions in a sort of
journalistic Manchurian Candidate scenario. But probably we just forgot.

It was about this time of year, in 1970.  The 17-year-old Dowbrigade
had just been unceremoniously deported from the Holy Land for hanging
out with Palestinians and drug dealers, and was at loose ends in Rochester,
New York, waiting for replies to his college aps.

Somehow we got a job (why have we no memory of actually being hired?
Has it been erased or burned out of our memory in a mid-70’s MDA binge?) at the Rochester
Democrat and Chronicle, the main daily morning broadsheet and the Flagship
Paper of the now-nationwide Gannett Newspaper chain. Gannett currently
owns 99 daily newspapers, as well as USA Today, radio and TV stations
and hundreds of web sites.

Back in ’70 they were nowhere near that big, a half-dozen papers in
upstate New York, and the Dowbrigade was a copy boy at the biggest one.

Actually, as the memories flood back, we realize that the Democrat and
Chronicle was not our first exposure to the Gannett family!  In
fact, we used to date a dainty blond by the name of Karen Gannett! Ok,
in the spirit of full disclosure we must admit that they were "play dates",
as we shared a third-grade class with young Karen. However, that may
have had something to do with how we got the job.

In those days editors actually sat at their desks and yelled out "Copy!"
periodically, when they wanted or needed something.  Usually what
they wanted was "Art!" from the "Morgue", which was the pre-digital equivalent
of Google Image Search. If for example, Alf Langdon died, they would
send a copy boy down to the morgue to dig our all the file photos of
old Alf, to illustrate his obit.

Other than that, our main responsibility was manning the teletype machines,
which in those days were actual clattering keyboardless typewriters,
with long rolls of teletype paper which brought in the news stories from
UPI, AP, Reuters, etc. Our job was to rip each story off the machine
as it streamed in, and direct it to the correct editor by placing it
in a color-coded plastic tube and shooting it through a pneumatic pipe
system to the designated desk. Very 20th century.

The Dowbrigade remembers the thrill of being the first person in Rochester
to read the news, even before the writers and editors who would pass
it on to the general public. It’s the same thrill we get calling our
equally news-addicted father and telling him, thanks to our aggregator,
what’s going to be on the front page of his venerated New York Times
the next day.

Also, at around 11 each  night,
when the first editions of the next morning’s paper came off the press,
one of our more eagerly anticipated tasks was to jump into a papermobile, which
was, we were told, a special limited production model identical to
big city police cars, with extra power and acceleration to catch malefactors,
and drive like a bat out of hell to the suburban homes of
Paul Miller, Gannett’s chairman, and Allen H. Neuharth, who was the
executive editor.  They were supposed to peruse the paper and
call in any changes or editorial rewrites they felt were needed.

Of course, the 17-year old Dowbrigade merely loved racing down I-490
in a souped-up American automobile with a lisence to fly and a mission
to complete. The expressway was mostly empty at that hour and we could
really open her up.  At one point we got a ticket for going 95.  The
newspaper promptly had it "fixed", and after that we were unstoppable.

We did actually have some writing responsibilities at the D&C. Our
first paying writing gig was penning the four and five-word blurbs
which accompany
the capsule weather report on the front page. Pithy and humorous verbiage
like "Thunder the weather" and "In between the sleets".Those curious
as to the origins of the unique Dowbrigade esthetic need wonder no more.

Alas, our career as a professional journalist lasted a mere five months.  As
soon as we found out that we had somehow been accepted at a decent college
we began parlaying our journalistic earnings and parental goodwill into
a summer in Europe with the girlfriend before heading off to Cambridge.

However, in the spirit of full disclosure we feel obliged to share this
information. Complete employment histories and archived stories should
be available for all journalists, so that we can get a grasp on where
they are coming from and the evolution of their voices. So here is mine;
you be the judge of whether the Dowbrigade is a sleeper agent for the
Media Mafia.


The Problem With Goal Differential


DELHI: Two Indian soccer teams who scored a combined total of 116 goals
in their final games of the season in a bid to win promotion have been
suspended, along with the two teams who let them do it.

Playing separate matches on Monday, Curtorim Gym routed Sangolda Lightning
61-1 – 60 of them in the second half – while rivals Wilfred Leisure
won 55-1 against
Dona Paula Sports Club after leading 6-0 at the break.

The two teams were vying for promotion from the second division of the regional
league in the soccer-mad southern state of Goa.

They started their final matches level on points but Curtorim Gym’s goal difference
was better than Wilfred Leisure’s by five. With team officials communicating
each goal netted by their rivals, a crazy second-half scoring spree

from The
Times of India

Campaigns Finally Get Blogs – Cash Cows


It is becoming increasingly clear that the political mainstream has
finally gotten a handle on the Blogosphere. Its where the money comes
from. From the Kerry to the Edwards to the Bush campaigns, frantic efforts
are underway to tap into the Dean Internet "El Dorado" and harness the
power of the cybersphere for — funneling funds to the Major Media companies!

Just as the Dean campaign did, the Kerry, Edwards and Bush crews are
taking the millions that true believers are sending them in response
to internet organizing, and handing it directly to media consultants,
advertising agencies and the 5 major media conglomerates.

However, it seems to the Dowbrigade that this formula carries less than
a 100% guarantee of success. Look at Dr. Dean. All the advertising in
the world isn’t going to convince the public that Michael Jackson isn’t
weird. And the quality of advertisements themselves is open to serious

Although none of the campaigns is wasting a dime on the predictably
"progressive" Massachusetts voters, since most of the State of New Hampshire
watches the local Boston TV stations, we were treated to the full smorgasbord
of political delicacies. Most of the advertising we have seen on TV so
far has been tepid at best, and
to hear
hype his "Two Americas" 500 times? Why do we need to know that Wes Clark
has a softer, gentler side? How could Howard Dean possible burn through
$50 million dollars with absolutely no effect except to hasten the hard
ride down?

Apparently it is difficult to predict the exact effect advertising
will have on the target market, at least without long and arduous test
marketing and analysis, which takes more time than the accelerated political
calendar allows. For example, as we write we are semi-watching, in the
background, over the screen of our iBook and our crossed feet at the
end of the bed, a commercial.

It is a commercial for Nutri-Grain. It features a hapless office nerd
who doesn’t have time to eat a real lunch and who wanders into a meeting
hungry. All of the other people at the meeting are acting normally but
around their waists they have huge DONUTS, like tractor inner tubes,
all glazed and coated with colorful cremes and juju’s the size of D-size
batteries. If only he’s eaten a Nutri-grain bar!

The Dowbrigade is hungry, but this ad doesn’t make us want to rip the
wrapper off a Nutrigrain Bar. Rather, we are seriously thinking about
a run down
to Krispy Kreme…..

"He uses the Internet almost exclusively for fantasy baseball," said
campaign spokesman Jason Sauer, who added that he wasn’t sure whether,
until recently, Chandler even knew what a blog was.

But that was before Chandler’s campaign turned a $2,000 investment
in blog advertising into over $80,000 in donations in only two weeks.
— who won a seat
in the House of Representatives Tuesday evening — definitely knows what a
blog is now, Sauer said. "It’s that thing that brings in money."

Read the
sad story "Blogs
Pump Bucks into Campaigns
," from Wired News

Two Turntables and a Microphone


Are you dying to learn how to "baby scratch" or "scribble"? Do you long
to learn such techniques as looping, crabbing, and
flaring? If so, run right down to the Berklee School of Music in Boston
and enroll in the first-of-a-kind class "Turntable Techniques".

Taught by Berklee Professor and classical guitarist Steven Webber, the
class is the first in the nation dedicated to the red-hot hip-hop music-making
skill known a DJing, which uses the venerable turntable as a distinctive
musical instrument.

The course has proven so popular that there is a long waiting list to
enter. the textbook, ”Turntable Technique: The Art of the DJ,” (written
by Webber, of course) sells out at the bookstore as quickly as they can
restock it, far beyond the 50 students enrolled in the course.

”It’s really an exciting time right now for DJ education,” Webber
says. ”It’s kind of where the guitar was 30 or 40 years ago in
that more and more kids are buying turntables now. Like the guitar, it
will take time, but eventually people will see that this is also an important

from the Boston Globe