Category: Lingo Yarns

The Big “D” 

Well, we broke the news to the kids tonight. We told them how mommy and daddy were still great friends but we didn’t want to be married anymore. I was surprised to hear my son say now he had a better chance of getting a new little brother. My daughter was actually excited about having more people in her life. I don’t think the ramifications of what we told them sunk in. It will later.

In a world where most couples end up in divorce, the spawn will now have more in common with the other kids at school. Hmmmph. Strange. I always thought that since both Sally and I came from parents who never experienced divorce we wouldn’t either. How naive was I?

What I find interesting is that we’re better friends now, just not together anymore. To quell the rumor mill here is the dirt. Sally is buying out my share of the Boise Weekly. She is the most competent publisher I’ve ever known and the Weekly will continue to excell under her stewardship. I’m still writing for the Weekly, just not managing the editorial or any other myriad of jobs I did over the years. On occasion I will act as a consultant or work on special projects. Right now I’m the online Forum moderator and will make sure it doesn’t degenerate into some awful thing like the Neurolux message board.

Candy Cities 

As I was working in the garden yesterday contemplating Steven Corbert’s satirical address at the White House Press Correspondent’s dinner—in which “W” was sitting not more than 15 feet away on stage—I recalled something he said. He was saying hello to politically notorious people in the audience including Mayor Nagin from New Orleans who is now famous for dubbing his town the “Chocolate City.” Corbert then added that Washington D.C. was like a chocolate city, but with a marshmallow center. But Nagin wasn’t “fresh.” The band Parliament–with musical notaries of George Clinton, Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins and Eddie Hazel–made an album in 1975 themed around Washington D.C. they called “Chocolate City.”

So I began to think. If New Orleans is the new chocolate city, what would Boise be… the white chocolate city? And would that make Meridian the white chocolate city with nuts? Eagle could be the gourmet white chocolate city. Wheras Nampa and Caldwell would be more of a caramel filled white chocolate. I still don’t know which one would have nuts but I believe the farther west one goes the more nutty it becomes. Sun Valley, on the other hand, would be more of a carob, because it’s not really a chocolate,it just pretends to be like one. These are things I do in my garden now that I don’t maintain office hours.

Studio Time 

Well, the studio is coming together. I’ve been receiving Ebay packages on a daily basis full of wood type. Last weekend I drove to Seattle then Portland to pick up a small press. A few days ago my poster press arrived and I’ve been playing with it. Sorting type has become a zen thing… the A goes here, the X goes there.

I’m excited to begin my first projects. So if you have any posters you want done, give me a call. I’ll post pictures here as I get them done.

Back to the studio.

Anniversary 

My mother is buried in a San Antonio, Texas cemetery. The last time I was there, laying my grandmother to rest in the ground just a few feet away from my mother, I noticed that Heloise (as in the columnist who penned Hints from Heloise) is buried in the same cemetery. Being a journalist I caught the funny epitaph that appeared on her headstone. It read…

“–30–”

Ebay Obsessed 

Since my sabbatical has begun I have been searching, something that I will enjoy in as creative way possible. I returned this week from the San Francisco Center for the Book, a small facility that hosts letterpress and bookbinding workshops in addition to small exhibitions. I found out while there that Boise artist Eve-Marie Bergren travels there to teach encaustic classes, but what was really exciting was the three large letterpresses they had. That was what I was there to learn about.

I’ve always been interested in letterpress, the way the type embosses the paper creating a 3D effect. I’ve also always liked the Hatch Show Print and Yee Haw Industries designed posters, which they do on letterpress. I think that Boise needs something like this and I’ve been searching locally for a press. (If you know of a flatbed proof press in someone’s garage—specifically a Vandercook—you can let me know right away and we’ll have a bar tab at a local watering hole as a finder’s fee.)

About 5 months ago I purchased a whole bunch of lead type and cabinets at an estate auction in Caldwell. Since then I guess you could say I’ve been obsessed and within the last few weeks have been searching and buying wood type on Ebay. My garage/studio is now filled with wood type, letterpress equipment and strange things. I’m always looking for more (see comment about finding a press above).

Hopefully, a press will be found soon and I can get started making posters. I guess you could say the sabbatical is going well. At least I’m having fun.

A look back. The first few days away I revisit what got me here

It was weird this week. Seeing a new issue of Boise Weekly in the newsstands and racks and not necessarily knowing what was inside. I had an inkling, but by and large a lot of the stuff I had not read prior to it getting published. It is strange not to be a part of something that I’ve been working on for five years.

Sometimes an editor leaving a paper will take the opportunity to have a last word, a last statement. Rather than subject readers to a diatribe of thanks, we let the new guy establish his rule over his new dominion. I felt it was better to leave quietly. But, with this blog, I can say what I want, how I want it.

While to many, it may seem that I held just about every position at the paper, and in actuality I just about did, it was a consequence of a growing paper, not my flighty tendency. When Sally and I bought the paper in August, 2001, circulation was down, revenues were more than half of what they were today, the staff was demoralized over the unknown factor of who we were and what was going to happen to their jobs.

There were many difficulties those first six months. Expenses were too large to support the 20 staff. The ad to edit ratio was out of control. And, with the impact of 9/11 one month later, Sally losing her consulting position with National Airlines due to the airplane crisis, and taking over a newspaper with unknown problems until we discovered them hiding in the corner, needless to say, it was a difficult time.

To ensure the future of Boise Weekly we had to take drastic measures. We reduced the staff to a skeleton crew of seven people. Sally and I were both working nearly 80 hours per week or more. I took on art direction, ad design, editing, writing and was delivering newspapers. I even tried doing some sales during that time. Even still, by January, 2002, we almost closed the paper down. I remember sitting with Sally at the kitchen table at our apartment on 8th Street and making the go-no go decision. Closing it down would have meant losing everything we had saved and scraped together to invest in Boise Weekly. It would have meant starting over our careers, beginning to save again for retirement, our kid’s education, any equity we may have built up during the previous 10 years of professional life. But we stuck it out, rolling debt around, taking out additional credit and we limped along until ads started selling again in the spring.

Sabbatical 

Taking some time off

I am taking a break from the Boise Weekly. Call it a sabbatical, or a temporary leave of absence, but I have reached a saturation point and no longer have the mojo for the week to week running of the paper. I am still an employee, but a title change to Associate Publisher or perhaps Editor-at-large (on sabbatical) will appear this next week in the masthead.
In the meantime, I will continue living in Boise, it still is my favorite place to be, but I will be pursuing other interests. As part owner of Boise Weekly I will continue to be involved on some level behind the scenes, but in what capacity we’ll determine later, after I take a break. In the meantime, we will be putting Nicholas Collias, the news editor for BW, into the position of Managing Editor. Our entire staff is excited for new opportunites to run the show and I have full confidence that Boise Weekly will continue to break important stories in the community, cover the arts like never before, enhance and support the local music community, and continue to push and support the arts through various means.
I will be helping to coordinate the Open Studios Weekend in June and will be actively involed in that. I, too, will be opening my studio then as well. Hopefully, with all of my extra time I will have lots of work to show.
What will the future bring for Bingo? I am not sure. I plan on continuing to write this blog on a periodic basis, pursue some writing projects that I have been trying to find the time to do, work on my own personal artwork, go to some art workshops, travel, garden a little, pursue my letterpress and bookmaking interests, go flyfishing, occasionally write an article for BW and seek out other interesting opportunities. I won’t rule out seeking other jobs or positions in the community so if you have an idea or an offer please contact me. I will maintain my e-mail address… bingo@boiseweekly.com and my phone number has always been unlisted in the book.
Here’s to a new era at Boise Weekly.

Newspaper circulation 

The newspaper industry has been losing readers for many years, hence the plethora of niche publications that attempt to reach “younger” readers. Despite these lame efforts–and a smaller readership base–some aspects of the news industry grow. Last week it was revealed that President Bush hailed the growing importance of the alternative press in a new book Strategery (containing interviews with him and his brain). While the aging demographic of daily newspaper readers continues to cause circulation declines across the country for the behemoth publishing groups, the alternative newsweeklies as an industry continue to grow readership. A few weeks ago, our circulation grew past 35,000 copies per week. This is more than double our circulation in August 2001.

Despite our growing circulation, we continue to have a predictable number of distribution locations decide they don’t want the paper. Usually it is because the owner or manager of a particular location doesn’t like something he or she reads, so they censor the publication for their customers, like self-appointed morality police. Or, they cave in to one or two customers with a negative opinion about the paper. Recently, a chain of tire stores in the local market asked us to take our papers out because the cover image had “big boobs” and we printed the F-word. Ironically, other publications in the area have published the F-word and they remain in these locations, but one person complains and–poof–we’re gone. I find it also ironic that this same tire store’s name is a euphemism for an orgasm. But, hey, who are we to judge? I say eff ’em.

Another item of interest is that our Web site traffic spiked dramatically last week. While the “Red State, Meet Police State” feature by Nicholas Collias continues to be spread around the Web and attract lots of visitors, last week another story attracted over 30,000 visitors in two days, a new record. The story? It was a Curious Times news item “Surprise! Big Breast and Hard Nipples Won’t Make You Happy.” So while big breast on our cover made one particular business unhappy, another story about breasts made our webmaster very happy. It makes me happy, too.

Legislative Bigotry 

We’ve gone back and forth on one issue in the editorial department this week, but I believe that something needs to be said. Every legislator sitting in the Idaho statehouse who voted “yes” for the marriage amendment is a BIGOT. Yes, a BIGOT. And come election time this fall, if you vote for it, you’re also a bigot. I’d venture to say some of them are also homophobes, but BIGOT is a clearer way of putting it. A BIGOT is someone who discriminates because of race, gender or some other trait. By asserting that a group of people has rights that a different group of people will not be allowed, our legislators act discriminately, and I find it rephrehensible. When I look at their pictures (we have them in this issue for you), I see people who are just as disgusting as racists, Nazis and fascists. I see people without compassion, who don’t believe humans were created equal or that everyone should have the same rights as others. They’re BIGOTS, plain and simple. And if you agree with them, you’re a BIGOT, too.

Web Update 

Last week, our news editor bumped our planned feature to bring you “Red State, meet Police State” about Homeland Security officers harassing a local federal employee for the anti-war stickers on his automobile. Since we posted the story online, our Web site (www.boiseweekly.com) has experienced huge amounts of traffic. While we normally average about 2,000 unique visitors per week day, and about 1,200 on weekend days, last week saw a record breaking (for us) 15,000 visitors on Thursday alone (“hits” were in the 350,000 range). The attention and Web traffic has not let up.

As the story gets posted to conspiracy blogs, political Web sites, libertarian message boards and the like, we continue to see an increase in visitors reading the original story on our site. But a story like “Red State, meet Police State” is not unique. We are hearing more and more about similar tactics being used to silence dissent in this country. Bob Flisser from Flemington, New Jersey, recounted how, “On August 17 of last year, I organized a candlelight vigil to support fallen soldiers and their families, as part of my duties with Democracy for America and MoveOn.org. Police officers in the small town of Flemington–in a red area of a blue state–said that my group was not allowed to stand on a public sidewalk and hold signs, even though we weren’t blocking traffic or pedestrians or making noise. I was handcuffed, arrested, and given a citation.”

Other e-mail and comments posted to our Website contain support and anecdotes from people who feel they have been restricted are coming to us as this story gains “legs,” journalistic lingo for a story that gets spread around. One story, a news article from Eugene Weekly we are reprinting this week in News, outlines the strategy by administration employees. It is just another example.

Not everyone, however, believes the incident outlined in the our story was worthy of coverage or raising alarm over attacks on the First Amendment and our ability to express ourselves freely. Mike Galmukoff of Chimacum, Washington, wrote that our story “was a crock of horse pucky as to the way Collias reported on the incident. But is was a nice lesson in how to write an article fraught with yellow journalism.”

Alan Cossitt wrote, “To put it bluntly, saying that Mr. Scarbrough is ‘anti-military’ is a load of fresh horse manure … save your editorializing for the editorial page, please.”

What’s next? Will one day copies of Boise Weekly not appear on the street because the feds shut down this paper? What is it going to take to shock people out of their complacency? Perhaps the chemical contrails have already pacified us beyond redemption.