Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fighting for Pages.

The Stranger's Eli Sanders recently wrote an absorbing feature on the San Francisco alt-weekly debacle that's been escalating since 1995 when Phoenix's New Times (now of Village Voice Media fame) decided to pit its recent purchase, SF Weekly, against the San Francisco Bay Guardian for absolute bay area supremacy. As you begin plodding through the sprawling column (weighing in at around 11,000 words), it becomes evident whom Sanders is siding with. His allegiance is obviously with the Guardian, which was founded in 1966 and has since been locked arm-in-arm with the ever-burgeoning city through decades of both progression and controversy. Whether you interpret it as such or not, Sanders reveres the Guardian as a San Francisco institution that quite frankly deserves better than to be undercut by a brash, uneducated entity with its eyes set on extinction, not coexistence. I agree with him.

The Chicago Reader (my alt-weekly and employer) has gone through similar trials and tribulations since 2007 when it was bought by Creative Loafing, a small alt-weekly chain owned by Ben Eason that attempted to branch out by purchasing both the Reader and the Washington City Paper and ultimately failed (well, Eason failed when he went straight bankrupt). Creative Loafing is still in tact, however, minus the Eason clan and is now owned by its once largest creditor, Atalaya Capital Management. The Creative Loafing alt-weekly chain consists of papers in Chicago, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Charlotte, and Sarasota. Since Atalaya won the chain in an auction in August of 2009, Creative Loafing has been an ever-changing beast, adding and subtracting publishers, marketing gurus, and CEOs.

Sounds pretty confusing and boring, huh? Well, maybe it is, but the parallel I'm trying to draw between Sanders' column is that these institutions (and mind you, the Reader is a 40-year-old Chicago institution) are beginning to get undercut, regardless of their reputations. Is it right? No. Do these fluff-driven, chain-building conglomerates give a shit? No. Whether it's internal or external, it's damn frightening and the publishing industry is weak and cracked enough to let them weasel in. The fight may come, but it often means taking a few good pops to the jaw.

Make sure to read The Great West Coast Newspaper War by Eli Sanders. It's fantastic.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This One Isn't About Sports.

I know you don't read my sports posts. I know you don't care that I find sports to be the epitome of physical competition, infinitely fascinating, and a blanket solution to social disruption and prejudice. I know this. It's cool. So for this post, I think I'll recap my trip to California (mainly in photo form). Nothing too over-the-top. You know, just a nice and quick non-sports-related post with pretty photos. Everyone loves pretty photos, right?

Last weekend (March 3-7), Michael Short (Shorty) and I journeyed to San Francisco, California for a long overdue vacation chocked-full of fancy hotels, sunshine, staring at crackheads, good eating and drinking, scenic drives up California Route 1, Alcatraz visits, and solid hangouts with San Fran friends. It really was a delightful time. Emily Williams, an accommodating ex-girlfriend-turned-good-friend (a rarity, I know), played the part of "This is where we should eat because it's delicious, and I love it" for the trip. She pretty much ruled and directed us to little nooks of the city that I had never visited before. She gets a gold star.

Other friends harassed on the trip included Ryan Garrett, who turned 29 during our stay and valiantly took it upon himself each night to drink 47 gin and tonics and hit on anything that appeared to have breasts. He's swell and entertaining. And although the hangouts were sadly limited, we also enjoyed time with one Jason Crase and a true Cincinnati westsider in Jennifer Paff.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite photos from the trip, along with a little commentary (none of which has anything to do with sports):

Emily and Jason on the first night we got there. We ate at Katana-Ya and then headed to this endearingly shit dive joint called the Nite Cap. Emily knew the bartender who upon being told that she had friends in town asked, "Why the fuck did you bring them here?"

That lighting was completely by accident, but let's just act like I did it on purpose anyway. The other gentleman in the photo is Emily's boyfriend, Graham. Everyone is watching these dudes:

Phantogram. Decent shit electro-duo with a doofusy, aging scenester who found his golden ticket when he enlisted a dreamy, hipper-than-thou female singer. Heard this story before? Artsy projection and light show guaranteed.

The next series of photos was taken during my and Shorty's drive up the much-gushed-about California Route 1 on Thursday. You know what I'm talking about, that curvy road along the Pacific Ocean that shows up in every Audi and Mercedes commercial. I was definitely most apprehensive about this part of the trip because I'm the one that really pushed to do it. I mapped it all out, rented the car, and everything. Given, Shorty's about as easy going as they come, but I was still relatively nervous about the day crapping out. Luckily, the weather ruled, and so did I for planning such a spectacular day of touristy bullshit (commentary unnecessary).

During the day on Friday we visited this heap:

Alcatraz! I mentioned Sean Connery (The Rock) and Clint Eastwood (Escape From Alcatraz) at least three separate times because I think I'm fucking hilarious. Probably the most touristy thing we did, but who gives a shit? It's goddamn Alcatraz. Audio tour highly recommended.

Photos from what became a marathon of a Friday night, including a Nobunny show.
Saturday included some shopping, burritos, and music, but to be honest, I got tired of taking photos and decided to ditch my fancy new camera at the hotel. We did however check out what remains of Sutro Baths.

And there you have it. Definitely one of my better vacations. Now, I get to prep myself for Justin's five-day solo visit beginning this Wednesday. Oh, goodness gracious is it ever going to be a romp. I plan on having my camera in hand throughout much of it, so expect another photo blog very soon. I know everyone loves those.