So Mark Felt was Deep Throat. Very interesting. Not least because, just six years ago, Felt said “I’m not guilty of disclosure, leaking it to the press, or anything like that” and denied his Throaty status. In 1979 he wrote that he had “never leaked information to Woodward and Bernstein or to anyone else.” Liar, liar, pants on fire!
Update: Here’s the Vanity Fair story. Also, these guys probably feel reeeeeeally stupid today.
31 May 2005 |
Forgot to link to a trio of Wilmer-Hutchins stories last week: Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s, and Saturday’s. That last one is probably the one most worth your valuable time, if only for the opening sentence: “The Wilmer-Hutchins school district has $2.8 million in bank debt, $3 million more in teacher salaries it can’t pay and $70 in the bank.”
And no, there are no missing zeros in that last number — $70.
31 May 2005 |
The Jenville Show, in which host Jen discusses cooking with indie rockers like Beulah, the Wrens, and Iron & Wine. Quite humanizing.
This post is really just an excuse to link to photos of the aforementioned Jen’s infant son Arlo, who is one of the cutest children in the history of the universe. (And I’m not one to be easily bowled over by cute kid photos.)
I mean, come on: this? And this? And this? And this? And this? Sooo cute.
30 May 2005 |
I mention this only because it’s not listed on Amazon (and thus I can’t list put it on my wish list, where I’d remember its existence), but my oh my do I want Nao Wave: Brazil Post Punk 1982-1988. “A definitive collection of ’80s-era Brazilian new wave/post-punk. From the cries of the oposicionistas, to the obscure first Agentss 7” single, to clubs such as Napalm, Madam Sata, Rose Bom Bom, and Aeronauta, all the way to TV Globo, “não wave” reached the post-punk ghettos of Rio/São Paulo via US and European artists such as Gary Numan, Fad Gadget, Snakefinger, and Liquid Liquid. Through much of the 80s, dozens of releases revealed an invigorating and vigorous generation of bands: Ira!, Smack, Mercenárias, Muzak, Voluntários Da Pátria, Chance, Vzyadoq Moe, Akira S & As Garotas Que Erraram just to name a handful. After Brazil’s release from 20 years of military dictatorship, the newly-found liberty the country experienced during the 80s generated an urban cultural explosion completely without precedent.”
Sounds like it would be a great decade-later counterpart to this. As well as this, which I’ve only seen bits of but which seemed truly mindblowing. (If, like me, your mental image of Tina Turner was forged in the “Private Dancer” ’80s, it’s a necessary reeducation.)
27 May 2005 |
Store Wars. Featuring Ham Solo of the Millennium Scallion.
26 May 2005 |
How to cut your phone bills.
The growing pains of Lonely Planet.
Get Your War On takes on Mugabe. “Hell, invisible mayonnaise makes more sense than fueling an arms race between India and Pakistan.” And: “I had a great idea for a comic about the Pentagon’s post-9/11 progress in teaching Arabic skills to its military personnel. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a clip-art picture of a committee of retarded snails with one thousand thumbs stuck up their butts slowly backing away from a burning tower into a bottomless pit of molasses.”
Recommended listening: Connie Price and the Keystones (wide-angle early ’70s soul); Spoon’s Gimme Fiction (soooooo good…a big jump over the last one, even though they’re jumping backwards); The Go! Team (ohmygod so good! sounds like the best theme music to ’80s Nickelodeon anime ever — and/or Beulah on Zoloft); Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois (I didn’t think it could happen, but it’s better than Michigan).
25 May 2005 |
Best ever name for a “New Jersey shopping mall magnate”: Zygmunt Wilf.
25 May 2005 |
Site of the day: cryingwhileeating.com.
Truth in advertising, that.
25 May 2005 |
Any Milwaukeeans in the house? Turns out I’ll be on talk radio station 1290 WMCS tomorrow morning from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m., talking about my Nigeria stories.
24 May 2005 |
Here are my Nigeria stories from the last three days:
- From Saturday’s Religion section: “For centuries, Christianity has been primarily a white, European and North American religion. But the explosive growth of Africa and Asia, combined with the success of evangelization there, will change that forever.”
- From today’s front page: For generations of Nigerians, ‘missionary’ was a synonym for ‘Irishman.’ Thousands of Irish Catholics left Europe for the wilds of Africa, braving heat and disease to bring the message of Christ to heathen animists. But today’s missionaries are working in the opposite direction. They’re native Nigerians who talk about healing the secular sickness of the West. And these Catholic Africans are crossing the oceans in unprecedented numbers to return the favor Western missionaries once paid them. ‘They have a saying: “Africa has AIDS, but North America has theological AIDS,”’ said Philip Jenkins, a professor of religious studies at Penn State who studies Christianity in developing nations. ‘“Our continent’s being devastated by one thing. Yours is being devastated by another.”’”
- And finally, from Sunday’s front page: This story, by far the best of the bunch. You’ll want to read this one, which features satanic frogs, animal sacrifices on Catholic altars, and a hundred Nigerians rolling on the ground while speaking in tongues.
23 May 2005 |
Self-promotion alert: If all goes according to plan, this weekend’s papers will be silly with Nigeria stories, all produced by yours truly.
There should be two in Saturday’s paper — one on page 1 and one on the cover of the religion section — and another one on page 1 Sunday. I think they’re pretty interesting — all on Nigerian religion. The Sunday one you’ll particularly like, I bet.
So go buy some newspapers and support my employer’s bottom line.
19 May 2005 |
Inside Joe Pernice’s house. Anyone else think Joe is looking more like Johnny Damon these days? That may be taking the Red Sox fandom a little far, Joe.
Trivia: The wife whose picture you see in the video is Laura Stein, formerly of Nova Scotian band Jale.
18 May 2005 |
Bravo, Fox. Wise choice. I bet the “advertiser appeal” point is a legit one: While “Arrested Development” may have relatively few viewers, I bet they’re advertising gold (young, educated, high disposable income).
17 May 2005 |
Just because I don’t normally do as I’m told, I’ll throw a little curve ball and follow orders for a change.
Total volume of music files on my computer: 124.54 GB (28,519 songs). Almost alarming. And I’ve got another 100 CDs or so left to rip — not to mention the 1,000-plus old CDMOM discs sitting in boxes on my floor.
The last CD I bought was: Quasimoto’s “The Further Adventures of Lord Quas.”
Song playing right now: “Supernova” by Liz Phair. Ah, college.
Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me: Well, here are the five most played, according to iTunes:
“King of Carrot Flowers, Parts 2 & 3,” Neutral Milk Hotel
“Fruit Tree,” Nick Drake
“California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade,” The Decemberists
“The Rat,” The Walkmen
“My Favourite Chords,” The Weakerthans
16 May 2005 |
Ben Bradlee, the man all newspaperfolk secretly want to be, on the state of contemporary newspapers: “And the newspapers that are left are far better than they were. Jesus Christ, if you looked at the Washington Post in the ’60s, the design was terrible, they were terrible to read and the level of writing and reporting was nowhere near as good, either.”
I always say this when some nonthinker starts going off about how much better newspapers used to be. Go back and look at some of the tripe that landed on doorsteps decades ago — it’s not pretty.
Interesting, though, that the Bradlee interview is with the San Francisco Chronicle — since Bradlee is forever linked to perhaps the biggest diss ever meted out to an American newspaper. In All the President’s Men — the classic movie version of how Bradlee’s Washington Post broke Watergate — the Bradlee character (played by Jason Robards) is being pitched an idea for a new newspaper feature. The idea: A column for people who were too drunk to notice what the weather was like yesterday.
Bradlee responds dismissively: “Send it out to the San Francisco Chronicle — they need it.”
As a Chron guy wrote not long ago: “[T]he San Francisco Chronicle never really deserved as bad a reputation as it’s had. A lot of people date that reputation to a specific line that Ben Bradlee uttered in ‘All the President’s Men’…It’s so dismissive that ever since then I think it’s tarred our reputation. Every national media story about the Chronicle mentions that little anecdote. It’s sort of our claim to fame.”
As in here, for instance.
16 May 2005 |
For those of you wondering what I ended up choosing as a naming system for my new computer — which, by the way, is such a HOT SEXX MACHINE THAT I CAN BARELY STAND IT — I settled on exactly none of your suggestions. Sorry.
Instead, I stuck with the spirit of my previous Louisiana-theme schema and christened my new G5 Huey. Its second internal hard drive is Earl.
That’s right: The new naming system is members of the Long family, longtime kings of Louisiana politics.
Huey and Earl are the obvious first two choices, but there are plenty of other good future possibilities out there, like Russell, Gillis, Rose, George, and Speedy. (Perfect for that hot external burner I’ll buy someday.)
Hell, maybe even Blaze.
13 May 2005 |
It’s the headline I’d dreaded for years: Dallas journalist gets fired for blog.
Well, except the firing is from the university where said journalist teaches on the side, not from her news job. And it’s not 100% clear that the blog was behind the job loss. But still.
Bonus factoid: The aforementioned journalist and I worked together at my old job in Toledo.
13 May 2005 |
Here’s my story from today’s front page. It feels like a culmination of a lot of other stories I’ve written:
For the fourth time since November, Wilmer-Hutchins teachers will have a new superintendent to call boss. But this time they’ll have an entirely new school board, too.
State Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley swept into the troubled district Thursday and swept out the seven-member school board that has overseen the district’s financial collapse.
The district’s new leadership has been assigned a pressing task: Determine quickly whether there’s anything salvageable in Wilmer-Hutchins schools, which are swimming in debt, indictments and scandal. Otherwise, Dr. Neeley said, the district will be shut down, perhaps very quickly.
‘This community no longer trusts the sitting board with its children or its money,’ she said. ‘Whatever decision the team makes, the decision will be one of permanency. No more Band-Aids. No more quick fixes.’…
Dr. Neeley had first proposed the housecleaning in March, when a Texas Education Agency investigation found that 22 of the district’s elementary school teachers were helping students improperly on the state’s TAKS test. That investigation was prompted by stories in The Dallas Morning News that alleged widespread cheating in the district.
‘This is inexcusable, illegal, unprofessional, unethical and unacceptable behavior,’” Dr. Neeley said.
13 May 2005 |
Streaming version of the new Pernice Brothers album, out June 14. At first listen, it sounds like their transition to a Smiths tribute band is just about complete.
You didn’t hear it from me, but if you’re a real fan, preorder it here and get a bonus comic strip about the band.
While you’re on the web site, pick up Nobody’s Watching, their live album/DVD, too. I really, really like it — it’s the rougher rock side of the Pernices that only shows up in the live shows these days. “Flaming Wreck” will rock your drawers off.
12 May 2005 |
Here’s my Wilmer-Hutchins story from Tuesday’s paper, FYI.
Just flew back from D.C. (And boy, are my arms tired!) Got to see Jeremy and Cathryn and Tyler, which was fun. Now to work.
11 May 2005 |
Paul Slocum — self-described “geek artist/musician/hacker” — is the man behind Tree Wave, the closest thing to a music phenom Dallas has produced post-Spree. They make skittish electronic noise-pop out of obsolete computers, including an Atari 2600 and a Commodore 64.
Now he’s started printf(), “a recently formed organization whose goal is to bring electronic musicians and new media artists to perform, exhibit, and lecture in Dallas, Texas. We feel that in a time when our lives are affected dramatically by computers and digital networks, Dallas arts do not adequetely reflect that fact. Initially our focus will be on musicians whose performances are as much about music as they are about video, performance, or process.”
printf()’s first show is May 19, with performances by Tree Wave and DAT Politics, a bunch of Frenchies. Unspeakably awesome video of theirs here.
09 May 2005 |
Signs you might be eating too high a percentage of your breakfasts at McDonald’s: When the woman at the drive-thru notices you’ve bought a new car and gives you a high five.
09 May 2005 |
Okay, I’ll stop the self-fellatio someday, but I thought I should mention that on Saturday I won the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting, which is the top award in my line of work. (Web site not yet updated.)
This is related to these two awards I wrote about a couple months ago. In the National Awards for Education Reporting, there are a number of categories (feature writing, breaking news, etc.) for a number of different media (newspapers, radio, TV, magazines). I won the top prize in investigative reporting and beat reporting. The Hechinger Grand Prize goes to the best of all the winners in all the categories.
While I’m stroking my ego — a habit I really should get out of — I might as well post a couple of the judges’ comments in the competition: “This is great and sophisticated journalism. They caught the cheaters, exposed them and got the system to change as a result of their stories. It’s some of the best investigative work I’ve ever seen in this contest, and very worthy of [the Education Writers Association]’s highest annual honor.”
And: “The Dallas Morning News team exposed what many may have suspected by few wanted to acknowledge: cheating by teachers to boost test scores. Their exhaustive research and clear, compelling writing has forced state officials to confront a troubling trend…Throat-grabbing work!”
And: “Far and away, this entry is the best of the bunch in the beat reporting category. Joshua Benton gives us a powerful portrait of how AIDS is taking a toll in Zambian schools. We liked his hard-hitting pieces on the worst school district in Texas and his statistical analysis of state test scores, which uncovered widespread cheating.”
09 May 2005 |
“Houston school officials said Wednesday that they have found evidence of cheating and other TAKS testing improprieties at 10 more campuses. In three schools, the evidence is so strong that officials are moving to fire four teachers, demote a principal and an assistant principal and discipline three employees. The action follows a similar announcement in February focusing on Sanderson Elementary, a National Blue Ribbon campus where investigators found that teachers gave students answers on the TAKS tests. A total of 12 employees now face discipline or termination, after an inquiry triggered by a Dallas Morning News investigation.”
Or the CNN/AP version.
06 May 2005 |
Stephen Colbert to get own show to follow The Daily Show. Good news, that, although it would be better news if I had cable.
Little-known fact about Stephen Colbert: He attended the hoity-toity Porter-Gaud School in South Carolina when one of its teachers was sexually molesting more than 40 of its male students. (And school leaders knew about it.) Colbert himself got caught up in it:
Stephen Colbert, a classmate and close friend of [victim Guerry] Glover’s then, remembers feeling sick to his stomach one day and being sent to [molester Eddie] Fischer’s office, which had a door and no windows.
“He checked me for a hernia. He said, ‘Turn your head and cough.’ And he was thorough. I’m 16, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘I just don’t see how it could be a hernia.’ But he’s the trainer. It was so clinical. He says, ‘No I don’t think it’s hernia. You know what, go to the nurse’s office and get an aspirin.’”
Colbert remembers an assembly during his senior year when someone went on stage and did an imitation of Fischer asking a boy to drop his pants. Everyone laughed. “There was no embarrassed hush.”
Colbert, a writer for The Daily Show on the Comedy Central channel, said that while the jokes were common, people didn’t really think that an older man might be having sex with boys. “They didn’t make that connection. There was the sense that ‘there’s crazy Mr. Fischer,’ not ‘Hey, that guy’s a pedophile.’
“But if this story is true, there is a large segment of people who live in downtown Charleston, who work with each other every day and share a common secret that they’re desperately trying to hide. There’s a tremendous wound in the community that has never been addressed.”
04 May 2005 |
Best phrase Googled that found this web site, Vol. 46: “is there pork in skittles candy?”
04 May 2005 |
FYI, CNN Presents will be running a documentary Sunday night about cheating in schools. My understanding is that a significant chunk of it will be based on my cheating stories from the last year. (If you see anything about cheating in Houston ISD or at Wesley Elementary, that’ll be mine.)
I’m off to St. Petersburg, eff-ell-ay, in the morning. Will return Sunday.
04 May 2005 |
Saw the new Enron documentary over the weekend at the Magnolia. It’s a really terrific polemic, sure to enrage you. I left the theater wanting to punch the first rich guy I saw. (Trailer here.)
03 May 2005 |
Further proof that, some day, we will all be bloggers: Mind the Gap, from my DMN colleague Reese Dunklin, and News You Can Eat, from my ex-DMN colleague Teresa Gubbins. The latter includes by far the best ice-cream coverage that Dallas has ever seen.
03 May 2005 |
And here’s my short-and-sweet story from Sunday’s paper. Not even remotely related to education, and featuring grown men crying.
02 May 2005 |
A couple music-related thoughts:
- There’s a 68-meg Quasimoto mix tape available for download from Stones Throw. Quasimoto is, of course, the pitch-shifted alter-ego of Madlib, a crabwalk.com favorite. The new Quas album comes out tomorrow; the remix is by DJ Troubl, who is easily one of the 300 best DJs to ever come out of Poitiers, France.
- Speaking of Madlib alter-egos, I finally picked up Stevie yesterday, by the “jazz” “combo” Yesterdays New Quintet. (The joke being that all five members of the “quintet” are all Madlib, who plays all the instruments under assumed names like Monk Hughes and Joe McDuphrey.) The album is all Stevie Wonder songs, reinvented as fusion jazz with a smidge of hip-hop bounce. Jeezumpete, is it ever good! Perfect party music, great driving music.
- Video of Calexico covering Guided By Voices’ “Non-Absorbing” at this year’s SXSW. Sound quality’s only okay, but it’s still better than GBV’s studio version.
- Speaking of Calexico, percussionist John Convertino has an album out. Piano-driven track available here.
And one non-music note, a posting from Craigslist Seattle: “Hi. I’m a journalist. Or a reporter. Whatever word pisses you off more, I’m part of the mainstream media, the liberal media, the so-called liberal media. I am the epitome of all that is wrong with contemporary journalism. That is why I need you to fuck me until I feel as disgraced sexually as I do professionally.”
02 May 2005 |
More self-love: I’m a finalist for the 2004 Livingston Awards, which is a $10,000 prize for the best work by an American journalist under 35. There are three of them, for local, national, and international reporting (which is why there appear to be so many finalists). I’m a finalist in international reporting, for my Zambia stories last year.
I have precisely zero chance of winning the thing, for the record. But, as Susan Lucci used to say every year at the Daytime Emmys, it’s an honor just to be nominated.
Congrats go out to the other finalists I know: My DMN colleagues Reese Dunklin and Katherine Yung; Anne Barnard of the Boston Globe, formerly of my college paper; Charles Duhigg of the LAT, who I got drunk with a couple times in college even though he worked for the rival paper; and Alec MacGillis, another college classmate of mine and a great education reporter for the Baltimore Sun.
02 May 2005 |