Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's never not time for Triple T

This is the guy who starred in my favourite Super Bowl ad ever. Yeah, it's not timely per se, but next time you think of not voting remember this.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Playing DJ

Before we get to the post: I read Saturday that AP US History classes now offer a Unit on the 80s. FUCK, I'm old.

My most recently completed DJing project was for Angela Dangerous. She's one of our alums and she's also one of my favorite people to email with, guaranteed to get at least one great forward every few weeks. She's interning at Marie Claire in NYC this summer and in a recent correspondence said that she needed music. I joyously obliged.

"Not Going Home" — The Elected: For some bizarre reason I didn't get into Blake Sennett's band until recently. It's a shame, because this is a perfect song (passionate and driving with some great AM radio harmony energy). I could have seen it live a couple years ago. I'm a dope.

"Heart and Soul" — T'Pau: My friend Paul owned like one CD when I was growing up, this was it. I don't know about the rest of it, but this song is great. Echoey pop melody and a Star Trek reference of the band's name.

"Mascara" — Killing Heidi: This band from Australia sure knows how to write a rock song. It recaptures the best things of the early 90s alt-rock sound. Also, I have to try to obscure it out on at least one song per playlist. I owe this one to WEQX in Vermont, one of the only good things about living in Albany.

"At The Hundredth Meridian" — The Tragically Hip: Growing up in Buffalo we listened to lots of CFNY and this band from Toronto. This one of the songs that anthemized my teen years. I still think it's a shame that such a driving rock band became kinda easy listening.

"Metal Mickey" — Suede: This song alone might make this playlist worth it. I loved these Brits when I was in high school. I let this languish for years on my shelves unlistened. So British, so good.

"The Minstrel Boy" — The Corrs: Saw them on PBS one Friday night and fell in love with their fusion of traditional Irish folk songs and fun pop music. The next day I was stoned (as was this woman who had seen the same concert) by empty Corrs racks at Border's. As for this song ... who doesn't love traditional Irish music about the poignancy of war and glory.

"Toss The Feathers" — The Corrs: Paired with the previous traditional folk song, this instrumental kicks the band of sisters and brother into a festive gear.

"Your Wildest Dreams" — The Moody Blues: "Nights in White Satin" is probably the band's biggest hit. But this pop song, while perhaps lacking in gravity, makes up for it in melody (plus how about the synth intro?).

"Sad Dress" — Belly: One of the great bands of my high school years. An under-rated song from the band's debut album. Tanya Donelly wrote heartbreaking altrock songs better than anyone.

"Frozen" — Curve: The 90s Britrock version of the Wall of Sound. Every Curve song was a trance-inducing dirge.

"Why Can't I Be You?" — The Cure: Dance to obsession.

"If She Knew What She Wants" — The Bangles: This song has a very college studnet interning at women's mag in NYC to me, but nothing personal.

"Battle Of Evermore" — The Lovemongers: It's the Wilson sisters of Heart covering Led Zeppelin, and in my eyes much better. (From the soundtrack to Cameron Crowe's Singles.)

"Answering The Door" — Rachael Yamagata: Off the barely-registered-a-blip Loose Ends EP. Another sad song from Rachael Y, this time about (heart)breakups.

"Landspeed Song" — Tanya Donelly: Tanya Donelly was one of my first rock star crushes. She would never need to tempt me with a song like this. Of course, she's married with kid now.

"These Are Days" — 10,000 Maniacs: When you work with teens, you can't help but dispense some advice. Carpe Diem, Angela. And also watch the video to this song if you can manage to find it (I had a bitch of a time).

"In California" — Neko Case: Live version of this song about the Golden State, though the way Neko sings this song, Cali doesn't seem so golden.

"Fallen Angel" — Poison: Without hyperbole or sarcasm, along with "Every Rose ..." this is my second-fave consecutive song pair ever (behind "High and Dry" and "Fake Plastic Trees"). And it's about L.A.

"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" — Poison: Poison fun fact: someone in the fall 92 freshman comp classes at Arizona quoted from Poison's "Something to Believe In."
I know this because that essay was excerpted in the university's Guide to Freshman Comp handbook.

"Born Of Frustration" — James: A vastly underrated Brit band from the 90s. Dreamy Britpoprock. Not many better songs to break out of prison to.

"Give a Little Love" — Rilo Kiley: This is the version that should have been on the album.

"Be My Baby" — Glasvegas: Live cover of Motown by way of Scotland's latest sensation. I'm iffy on Glasvegas actually, but this cover rocks.

"Make Your Own Kind of Music" — Cass Elliot: Prominently featured in the opening sequence of Lost Season 2, this song has a perfect marriage of melody and lyrics.

"Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The Funk)" — Parliament: There's never been a band like this since, not even close. When you have a party in NYC, you have to play this song.

"Cruel Summer" — Bananarama: Prominently featured in The Karate Kid, this song is more California to me than the Beach Boys. A must for any Best of the 80s pop songs mix, not that this is, but nevermind I'm rambling.

"If Love Is A Red Dress" — Maria McKee: A great song to wander streets to. New York has great streets to wander. Perfect match?

"Help, I'm Alive" — Metric: The song that leads off my favorite album of 2009. Everything about this album feels urgent, like this could be the last time you hear a song this cool.

"The Act We Act" — Sugar: Great song. Great album. Great band. The music of high school resonates in ways that no song now can.

"Open Your Heart" — Madonna. Highly under-rated Madonna song that captures the best of pop music—longing.

"Sway" — Bic Runga: This Aussie's breathy singing actually sounds to me like falling in love feels like to actors in cool movies. I spent months trying to figure out the name of this song.

"Get Out The Map" — Indigo Girls: Another great wander the streets of New York, though this one feels more Saturday afternoon walk.

"Belong" — R.E.M.: Listen to this song while people watching during a subway tide to Brooklyn.

"It's Oh So Quiet" — Björk: This amazing genre-cornucopia song from Björk so perfectly captures the all-night energy of New York.

"Dancing Queen" — ABBA: This is another song for the playlist of the party you're going to host when go back to college and tell people about your way-cool summer in New York experience.

"I Can Dream About You" — Dan Hartman: Boy wants girl. Boy writes thoughts down. Boy puts thoughts down to great beat. Boy has great pop song.

"Lost In Your Eyes" — Debbie Gibson: It took me years to be out and proud about loving Debbie and her music. She has to be on a playlist.

"Summertime" — Janis Joplin: Perfect song for a student interning between her frosh and soph years at a mag in New York City. It's the beginning of summer in the city whose hearts fuels the world, the possibilites are endless.

"A Day In The Life" — The Beatles: When endless possibilities lead to feeling like you've got two lives going on, listen to a combination of two songs.

"Don't You (Forget About Me)" — Simple Minds: A playlist needs some 80s, right? SPEAKING OF THE 80s, I read yesterday that an AP US History class taught a unit on the 80s.

"Two And Two Made Five" — Ned's Atomic Dustbin: More retro-music, this time early 90s altrock. A staple band on MTV's Alternative Nation, Ned's energy was a high school car ride staple, too.

"Ven Conmigo (Solamente Tu)" — Christina Aguilera: Great pop song. Great dance song. Great song and you can practice your second-language diplomacy skills.

"The Way You Look Tonight" — James Darren: From an era when music had lots of class to go along with its cool. I fear this innocence is forever lost in our times, but never in music thanks to songs like this.

"Spin The Bottle" — The Juliana Hatfield Three: Songs about hooking up will neve go out of style.

"Red Dirt Girl" — Emmylou Harris: Neither will powerful songs that tell sad stories and wanting to escape.

"I Take My Chances" Mary Chapin Carpenter: One of the best American songwriters of the last 50 years is also a great singer. Carpenter, daughter of Harry Chapin, carries on the storyteller tradition of songwriting with a graceful deftness.

"Fanatic Heart" — Black 47: Music should never cease being an engine of social revolution. These boys from Ireland, Seattle and New York are also wicked fun.

"Political" — Spirit Of The West: The politics of love.

"The Drinking Song" — Moxy Fruvous: One of my fave bands from high school. This song about aftermath is just about perfect and I can think of no better way to close.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Groceries with the famous and cool // Prepositions are just technicalities

In the last few years since starting to watch Top Chef on Bravo, I've become more and more of a food snob. To that end, I've stopped buying fish from Trader Joe's because it comes wrapped in celophane and have replaced that with fresh, paper-wrapped fish from Whole Foods. And just to make my snobbery even higher up the sloped nose of snootiness, I shop at the new, mega-Whole Foods in El Segundo. (The legitimate reason for this is that I am regularly down there to get lunch at some cool local establishments and that Whole Foods always has everything I might want given it's mega-sizedness.)

But the other day after errands had sent me to Santa Monica, I decided to hit the Whole Foods in Santa Monica, which had recently been renovated. Upon walking in I was in the produce section, which as it turns out was my primary motivation for going—I wanted fresh fruit. While scoping the organic nectarines, I noticed the shiny blonde locks streaking through a woman's long, straight, brown hair. Seeing her in profile, she's kinda cute and ... she's wearing very hip cat's-eye glasses that immediately remind me of Lisa Loeb's glasses from the "Stay" video. Suddenly she's even cuter.

Then I'm struck by the lightning bolt realization that this is in fact the Lisa Loeb—the object of millions of current 30-somethings idealized girlfriendom when they were finishing high school/in college. Wow! I'm shopping with Lisa Loeb!!!

Since moving to Los Angeles in August 2002, I've had three sightings of female celebrities that gave me pause. The first: Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine on Star Trek Voyager at the Bed, Bath and Beyond in Manhattan Beach). She was super tall, skinny and well seeing someone buying towels at a BB&B humanizes them a lot. The second: Catherine Bell (formerly of JAG now of Army Wives, pattern?) at Barnes and Noble in Tarzana. Let's just say "caught" and "staring" and "kinda even following" were involved. The third: Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) at The Fonda during a Lily Allen concert. This one resulted in me choking even though I had a legit opening to talk to her (we had each been body checked by someone and when we looked at each other she smiled at me, as in wtf just happend to us?).

This is the fourth part of the quadrilogy. The last thing I want to happen is to get caught staring or even perceived of as following. Once was enough for that hot-faced embarrassment. I go back to the nectarines and start squeezing looking for good ones—firm enough that they won't spoil in two days. Honestly, it takes at least seven minutes to find three that I like. I am not stationary-stalking her.

After picking up some nectarines, I grab a bag of organic cherries and notice that Lisa Loeb is still in the produce section. I head to the seafood case, which is at the back of the produce, because I decide to get lunch here as well; also, this will get me out of her zone, right? On my way I stop and take a look at some dates and pre-cut mango for a couple minutes. As I head over to seafood, Lisa Loeb is talking to the fish guy asking to get her order skinned. I wait for the only associate to finish with her before I can place my order. We're totally buying fish together. Well, that's what I would have said when I was a freshman in college.

Now I take advantage of the glories that are a remodeled Whole Foods and decide to wander the aisles and also pick up some potato chips (which I'm out of). The fish case is at the northwest corner of the store so I have to head south to find the snacks aisle. It's like the third aisle away from me. As I turn left there's Lisa again. Now we're obviously on a first-name basis. Seriously, I have a flash of concern that I'm unintentionally broadcasting a kinda weird-guy vibe.

N.Y. Cheddar? Sea Salt? Sea Salt and Black Pepper? Baked? Kettle cooked? Organic? Thai? Sour Cream and Onion? The wall of over-priced non Frito Lay chips overwhelms me. They all sound great. Perhaps I was telling myself this so that I'll linger a bit longer as I notice that she's still searching for some kind of snack (maybe a salsa?). Seriously, if she ever stumbles upon this I am banned from that store, even though the point of this is just to illlustrate how weird it is living on the westside of L.A. :(

OK, just grab some fucking chips—they're all gonna be good—and get out of the aisle. I pick up the N.Y. Cheddar, which incidentally were fabulous. I see LL two or three more times as I wander past over-priced stainless steel and aluminum water bottles, a wall of hot sauces, prepared deli foods, gourmet cheeses with unpronounceable names and frozen burritos with friendly sounding names like "Amy's."

Upon leaving, I can't get the cat's eye glasses out of my mind. I have to call someone. I call work just to tell the story because it's the middle of the day and I know we work in the kind of office that we can get away with taking a call from a vacationing co-worker who shops with, OK near, a singer most-famous for a song she released 14 years ago and whom he still kinda crushes on.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I really really wanna work for the Oregon Deptartment of Tourism (or whatever it's actually called)

I just got back from yet another trip to the greater Portland, Oregon-area and the city of Portland/state of Oregon has further and deeper hardwired itself into my future. The only problem I face now is that I have so many things that I already love, my default-traveling-mindset of exploration conflicts with my desire to revisit guaranteed-superfantasticness when I visit.

But given that my trip would be essentially three days meant that I was going to have to make choices. Since I wasn't getting into town until 11:45 Sunday night and leaving Wednesday after dinner, that ruled out the Saturday (and Sunday) Market in downtown. I also scuttled checking out a Portland Beavers AAA baseball game, which I had enjoyed very much the previous two trips.

After Bill picks me up at PDX (recently voted best airport in the United States for the third consecutive year), we head to his condo in Beaverton (just outside of Portland proper and much nearer his job at a tony suburban high school). I proceed to kick his ass at Madden 2008 on the Wii but then lose the second game. [Aren't you glad you follow my blog, Mouse? You get updates about me playing video games!]

The only solid plans for Monday are to head to Powell's City of Books in downtown—literally the greatest bookstore in the United States. It's the Amoeba Music of books. A full city block of anything and everything word/publishing related, but unlike Amoeba they do online orders.

First is lunch. Now apart from the people (three of my best friends from college are in the metro area), the food is the primary reason I love Portland. It's a beer-lover's paradise with great bars and microbrew pubs everywhere. Last time I indulged at the Widmer and Rogue Publick houses. I would have loved to have returned this time, but fortunately my exploration side won this battle, with a great find from Bill.

We opted to check out Hopworks Urban Brewery, which according to its website is Portland’s first Eco-Brewpub to offer all organic handcrafted beers, fresh local ingredients, and a sustainable building with a relaxed and casual atmosphere. Beer + environmentalism = Portland more than almost anything. The beer is solid, not amazing, but certainly no complaints. I try a red and a stout (I think). The food on the other hand was very strong. As an appetizer we split the soft pretzel, which came out as three long sticks on soft pretzel lightly salted with sea salt. A slight exterior crunchiness but warm chewiness inside. Served with stone ground mustard (superfresh). I got the Portabella Mushroom sandwich, which was also excellent. Bill got one of the organic pizzas. Add the al fresco dining under sunny skies in 72-degree temps and it might have been perfect. As someone who loves beer and the Earth, this place is making a strong case for the Portland MUST-LIST.

Next stop Powell's. Fortunately, we get only an hour in the parking meter, because I could have stayed there for the entire afternoon. I end up with six books ... used editions of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink and The Tipping Point, and Daniel Yergin's The Prize (a history of the oil industry) and then new editions of Maus, Shopcraft as Soulcraft and The Kingdom and the Power. $71 in the end, but I was helpign the Oregon economy, right? Btw, in that hour I investigated at most 20 percent of the store and most of that was rather cursory. This is literally an entire day store.

After Powell's just kinda tooled around downtown, walking the Pioneer Courthouse district and getting coffee at one of the 54,000 Starbucks that are located in Portland.

For dinner we went to my second favorite bar in the world, The Kennedy School, which is owned by McMenamin's brewers. I had previously referred to this as a MUST when visiting Portland, so this was one of the few things hardwired into the itinerary. Sadly, we had pretty gawful service just slooooooooooooooooooooooooow with no sincere acknowledgement of the delays bringing beers or even asking how we're doing. But it'll take more than bad service to keep me from coming back.

Monday night was highlighted by a stop at the Firehouse Pub in Lake Oswego, Bill's first official I'm-such-a-regular-I'm-the-furniture-bar. This place is great ... cheap, chill, super local friendly and lots of cheap Pabst, which according to Bill is the hipster beer du jour in Portland. Then it's more Madden on the Wii as we had an early morning Tuesday meeting our college friend Robb for breakfast (ended up at Biscuits, a local greasy spoon kinda chain that actually had quite excellent eggs benedict with avocado sub'd for canuck bacon) and then heading up to Mount St. Helens.

On to Mount St. Helens, which much to my surprise is just two hours from Portland. One actually gets to the outer edge of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in about an hour, but that's just to the Welcome Center to the park. [Odd note: unlike other National Parks I've been to, there's no single entry point that charges for a day pass. Instead you pay a la carte.]

It costs $3 to get into the Welcome Center, which has a gift shop, short film and a dozen informational displays. Gift shop overcrowded. Informational displays, kinda cool, especially the old front pages of the newspapers (coincidentally Iran was all over the front pages back in spring 1980, too). The film was HORRIBLE. The subtitles looked like they were made by an old Apple IIe. The script was overwrought, over-written melodramatic crap that opened with playing on the origin of the world "volcano" which is traced to the mythological figure Vulcan "Blacksmith of the Gods." Now imagine some shadowy burly figure hammering red-hot metal on an anvil with sparks in the background as the authoritative woman states this. UGH.

The really sad thing is that the movie had great interviews, photos and information about the eruption. At just 15ish minutes I might still recommend it, b/c of how much you can learn, but it's a really tough call.

But if you go, the main thing you must do is get to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. This is the fourth and final park-service post. It's on the ridge across from the northh face of the mountain, which is what erupted/disappeared. Gorgeous views of the blast and still very present and obvious destruction. Sadly, none of my pictures really do the sight justice. It's still primarily barren with just giant gashes in the land. And the former site of Spirit Lake is just mostly ashen dust.

Johnston Ridge is named after David Johnston who died while on lookout during the runup to the eruption (they knew it was going to blow because of near constant seismic activity in the months before the blast). His last words: "Vancouver, Vancouver. This is it." That's Vancouver, Washington.

These famoust last words brought out a new side in Bill, the guy who tries to be the most annoying person to travel with at a National Park. Prior to getting to Johnston Ridge (JR) I put the over/under at four (knowing full well it'd be way more. But I figured that if I told him four he might curtail it). for the number of times Bill would quote that while we tooled around at the Johnston Ridge center. He had already said it about 20 times.

However, despite easily blowing by the over/under, Bill wasn't even close to the most annoying person at Johnston Ridge. He wasn't even second.

Having been underwhelmed by the poor-excuse-for-even-a-home-movie at the Welcome Center we skip the film at JR. Instead we hike around a short trail up to a higher viewpoint and then decide to sit in on the ranger talk. Now as I'm sure most of us have experienced, rangers and docents at national parks and museums often use metaphors to explain science to the masses. Our ranger's metaphor and demo tool to explain the pressure building up in the magma dome, was the soda bottle.

"Now," he yells out to make sure he has the entire 60-person group's attention. "Imagine, that this shaken soda bottle is the pressurized magma dome ..."

"OK!" exclaims some tool in the audience in response to the rhetorical set up.

Laughter ensues among the rubes surrounding enthusiastically sarcastic guy's anti-witty response. The ranger actually seems thrown off by this guy, which sends a shudder down my spine. Will this guy now punctutate every rhetorical set up or even pause with his own MST3K-for-idiots-type-responses? Will the crowd continue to reward his indulgent showing off? Will I have to throw him over the protective barrier into the valley below? Sure that's lots of ash, but it's not thick enough anymore to protect his bones from shattering on the rocks. After that 1-second, shudder, we resume listening. And luckily, idiot commenter guy learned from Costanza that it's always better to leave 'em wanting more and he's never heard from again.

Then comes someone else who supertrumped Bill and his endless recitations of "Vancouver, Vancouver. This is it." Ranger explains that when a volcano in the South Pacific erupted it spewed so much ash into the sky that the Earth's temperature dropped by three degrees the next year or two. Whoa! I am actually kinda blown away by this really interesting nugget about nature's awesome power.

"So maybe that'll help with global warming," chimes in the woman next to the ranger.

The only redeeming aspect of this anti-funny comment, was that her comment everyone forgot to laugh. My annoyance has reached the kind that one feels in middle school at people one feels superior to, which is why I used the fourth-grader comeback in the previous sentence.

After leaving the volcano we head back to Portland so we can meet up with Bill's parents and have dinner at 110-year-old Jake's Famous Crawfish in downtown, which according to its website is one of the top 10 seafood restaurants in the United States. I'm not sure that I've been to many more than 10 seafood restaurants in the States, but I can't imagine how this wouldn't be on a list like that. I got the rockfish and dungeness crab in garlic sauce. This is one of the 10 best meals I've ever had. The rockfish was flaky/creamy smooth. The crab took the tasty rockfish and elevated it to god-quality food. Jake's, it should be noted, prints a new menu EVERYDAY to reflect what's fresh from the sea. It's not cheap, so I cannot say that it's a MUST, but it's a wish-for without a doubt.

There was excellent wine and good scotch and Irish coffee, too. OK, the story now turns. I had a scotch neat before dinner. At least three and a half glasses of wine during dinner and then an Irish coffee. In fact, I had so much to drink that I even smoked a post-dinner cigarette. That's never a good sign of the direction a night is headed.

After dinner, Andy (from Vegas), Bill and I head to the Old Market Pub. This place is much bigger than the Firehouse, but similar in terms of the friendly townie place. They also have the longest shuffle board tables in history. Seriously these tables are like 18 feet long. We proceed to play king of the table with Bill sweeping through Andy and I. Meanwhile, we're of course indulging in some fine red ale by the pitcher. As the only one not driving ... let's just say I wasn't really monitoring how much I was drinking.


I remember beating in the final game of shuffleboard. I don't remember leaving the bar, though. ... After the game the next, thing I remember is apologizing in the car for feeling really really sick, and saying pull over a lot (though Bill knows me well enough to ignore those pleas b/c I never puke). ... Yelling to leave me in the car and let me sleep there because moving could make me puke. There was more drunken apologizing, which I kinda do a lot. ... Someone reaches in and pulls me out of the front seat, I go worse than dead weight and shift around so that I am near-impossible to carry. Carrier manages. ... Wake up on living room floor lying on comforter at 8:30 a.m. Back to sleep. ... Wake up 10 a.m. go talk to Bill to find out what happened.

Apparently, after leaving the The Old Market Pub there was talk of hitting another bar. But I literally dropped off a cliff in terms of sobriety and nausea. So Bill knew that he had to get me home. Once I got home, he called Andy b/c Bill knew that he couldn't get me out of the car with my being so resistant. Ultimately, Andy went fireman's carry-style to get my carcass.

Final day in Portland is spent sleeping, kicking Bill's ass at Madden and then heading home.

Ahhhhhh, Portland.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Tilting at windmills? Or how NBC Nightly News burned me

I am usually on the side of newspaper, specifically, but more generally news media apologists. I worked as a reporter at the Albany Times Union, a respected medium-sized metro paper; I went to a renowned journalism school, The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications; I have many friends in the media; and I work now teaching students about writing and journalism as an editor at L.A. Youth.

I know how stories are put together. I know that reporters don't write headlines, don't conceive the way a story is presented or illustrated (hardly), how competition works, how deadlines work, and that local television stations in particular steal most of their non-breaking/news conference stories from the local newspaper.

[While waiting for the Rensselaer County District Attorney's office to start a press conference one of the TV reporters complained that their assigments came down after the news director read the newspaper in the morning. A second reporter then chimed in: "At least your news director reads the paper!" Hilarity ensued in the wake of that most pathetic of confessions.]

And I still have burned into my brain a deep empathy for the challenge of finding "real people" to help illustrate a story's point. The people who you use to open the story and who help the readers/viewers identify/connect with the story in the way that the experts cannot. Experts = being talked down to. "Real people" = being talked with.

About 10 days ago, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams called us asking how they could get in contact with one of our students, who'd just published a story about her family's earthquake planning. I said that I'd have to check with Stephany but that I felt pretty confident she and her family would be amenable to being featured as the "real people" on the story.

[Mad props to co-worker Amanda who had the foresight to suggest deviating from our web-publishing schedule and putting Stephany's earthquake story up first, even though it wasn't the print issues's cover story. NBC said that they found the story on our website. On the heels of two quakes, she was thinking news hook, yos!]

I call Stephany and she's excited about it. So I call NBC back and tell them that things are a go and I'll just send each of them the others' contact info so I no longer have to play facilitator. Hooray!

Now my job involves dipping my toes in the dark waters of advocacy and public relations. Part of L.A. Youth's mission is to promote a better image of teens in the mainstream media by allowing them a forum to demonstrate their complexities and honest reactions (with the occasionaly paradoxes and contradictions thrown in). And part of L.A. Youth's mission is to continue to exist. So the potential of national exposure for a story promoting a good public service has us excited. We decide that as soon as the newspaper gets delivered to us (the call came in on a Thursday and the newspaper should be delivered the next day), we're going to overnight mail it to Stephany (so she can show NBC and perhaps it could get used in B roll) and also to NBC. Flood the zone, as Howell Raines might have said.

In the course of my phone calls to Stephany, I noted that without being too obvious, giving L.A. Youth some props would be great exposure for us. She totally understood.

The shoot took place over a couple hours on Memorial Day morning. When Stephany emailed me, she noted that NBC said that they weren't going to shoot the paper. :( But Stephany said that during the interview she told the TV reporter that her interest in earthquake was really sparked by doing the story for L.A. Youth and having gotten the opportunity to interview an expert in safety with the California Emergency Management Agency. :)

So Stephany calls Wednesday to say that the story is airing tonight. By the time we get this message it's already 7:30ish EDT, so it's already aired. We immediately go to the NBC Nightly News's website and watch the story ...

... which of course has ZERO mention of L.A. Youth.

At first, I'm really proud of Stephany and just a little disappointed that we didn't get mentioned, since after all, they got Stephany and her family because of us. But the more time has passed, the more disappointed and even a little pissed I am. And it's not about the lack of acknowledgement but because NBC's decision to avoid sharing credit was bad journalism that ignored the most important part of the story.

In her story, Stephany wrote about how her family has now started taking this much more seriously, specifically because in the course of her story she interviewed a state emergency preparedness expert. Stephany wrote that after a quake last summer, the first one she really felt, she panicked. After that she renovated her bedroom by removing a bunch of things that were in dangerous positions and that her mom made some kits. But that's it. They didn't make any plans about what to do or practice anything. After like literally about 36 hours she and her family resumed their pre-quake lives.

This reaction from her family is NOT exceptional. It's the standard. After a quake that rattles some stuff, people talk a big game about getting prepared but they actually don't.

NBC played dueling violins with reporting. They quoted some stats from a Cali. Safety Commission report noting only like 13 percent of Californians have quake insurance, 30 percent have disaster plans and 40 percent have enough bottled water. Just before that info, though, NBC had the token quote from Home Depot guy about how after a quake there's a double-digit increase in purchases from their emergency-preparedness aisle, flashlights, batteries, stuff like that. But as Stephany's interview with Kate Long reveals (and also the stats NBC quotes from the CSC report), supplies are simply the beginning.

Noting that Stephany and her family got really into this because of the story was not only an interesting nugget, but relevant. Brian Williams intro'd the story as essentially that quake safety is in our collective SoCal psyche and wanted to show how people are prepping. But the actual story, which NBC even hints at, is that not enough of us are prepping comprehensively.

Look, I'm not naive. I was a reporter and I know how this stuff works and that everyone wants to seem like they found their sources, but we're not the competition. Acknowledging how you got the story in this case didn't seem like it would have hurt them. In fact, Stephany got interested in this only because she wrote her story. So it was actually germane. Including it would have shown that most people out here even after quakes don't change their routines. Stephany and her family didn't really. It was her writing about it that changed her attitude.

Come on, NBC, you should be a lot better than that.