Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eat this.

Lately, I've been obsessively debating the gloomy future of print media with just about anyone I come in contact with. However, despite my daily intake of wrist-slashing NPR news reports and alerts on publication closures and massive layoffs, the discussion didn't quite reach a fever pitch for me until a few weeks ago. I was having dinner with a group of bloggers, when we got on the topic of print media vs. blogging. It went something like this:

Me: The New York Times cannot die! If it comes to the point where we have to make a choice between letting respected news media go or having to pay for it, I will gladly pay for it.

(who mostly posts stuff pertaining to race issues): That would never work. People expect content on the internet to be free. Global Voices Online is a great site that gives local, independent perspectives...

Me: Geezus, people blow money on stupid stuff from eBay all the time. More importantly, the press serves as a fourth branch of the government...checks and balances, democracy, the free world! Blogs can be useful and interesting, but they just don't hack it when it comes to reporting the news.

Blogger: But plenty of articles misreport information and have biases.

Me: You have a point.

Since it was a dinner hosted by my sister and her husband, or maybe because I was suffering from spring roll-induced lethargy, I let it go. In retrospect, as nice and funny as the blogger was, it's infuriating. As we all know, many blogs rely on a steady stream of information first reported by journalists from the mainstream media so that the blogger can aggregate/link/bitch about. Of course, there's the argument that some blogs scoop papers with intimate, on-the-ground info that reporters couldn't possibly dig up on their own in a similar time span. But there is a big difference between a pithy blog post with a fragment of key information and a well-researched, well-reported story that's been vetted by fact-checkers, top editors, copy editors, and any of the multitude of professionals who get a look-see before the story goes to print.

Our well-established news media, along with its savviest, experienced reporters and editors, must not go the way of the Columbia Basin Pygmy rabbit: extinct.

Upon further rumination, instead of fighting each other, perhaps the answer is uniting the best newspapers with the best blogs (Lockhart Steele's Curbed Network comes to mind), to strengthen content, keeping everyone relevant. The New New York Times, online paid subscription required.

And to fulfill my blogging responsibilities, this Time Magazine piece by Walter Isaacson couldn't have said it better. I share his sentiments, and have even ranted in recent weeks: "If iTunes can do it, then why can't the freaking L.A. Times do it, too??!!!"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Eat the head.

I saw this ad for the first time yesterday on the local Chinese TV station and immediately laughed out loud. Whether or not Tmobile got their money's worth pimping it out to a largely 1st-generation Chinese-American demographic is another issue.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Je t'aime, Berlin

Many people, when considering the ultimate European city, think, "Why, Paris, of course." Non moi. As a cheese-obsessed, Godard-loving, Carla Bruni-listening, otherwise exuberant Francophile, my non-lustrous opinion of the croissant city has always confounded me. And that is why I return, time after time, looking for that moment of clarity where I raise a glass of Pernod over the glorious stench of an oozing cut of Camembert and say, "Ah, oui...Paree." Recently, in a moment of economic denial, I got a ticket to Charles de Gaulle and joined a friend for yet another attempt at love. The awesome Velib bikes almost sealed it, but ultimately, it didn't go so well (vomiting literally ensued). Eventually, I made my way east to visit some old friends, and while I haven't entirely given up on Paris, I'm still happy to say, "Ich bin Berlin, all the way, yo."

On my second night in, an American-expat friend of mine invited me to a birthday party, well attended by filmmakers, artists and ethnomusicologists. It was held at an intimate bar with a beautiful chandelier in Prenzlauer Berg, where the crowd passed around a bottle of Polish vodka masquerading as a fat feathered rooster. I was hungry -- having lost my appetite the previous three days when I was still in Paris. Their menu was beautifully simple, and painted on the wall:

Not feeling quite ready for a heavy meat sauce, the bartender/waitress prepared the most comforting, delicious bowl of spaghetti with a tangy cheese, cracked pepper, olive oil, and I think a little lemon juice. Here she is, working behind the cozy front counter:

I still think about that spaghetti.

Gulasch Bar:
Winsstrasse 9
Prenzlauer Berg

When I left the bar, the streets were quiet, the TV tower radiating overhead like a spindly, stainless-steel matriarch on Quaaludes.

For brunch the next morning, my friends Mareike and Achim had their usual Sunday fare: coffee, bread, assorted cheeses, butter, honey, pate, jam, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit and a bouquet of fresh flowers.

Later, they took me to Mueggelsee, the city's largest lake. Due to the sub-freezing temperatures, it ended up being a magical walk on water alongside speeding ice sailors and skaters, culminating in hot ciders and mulled wine.

In the end, I didn't take nearly enough photos or spend nearly enough time, but you get my point.

Friday, February 6, 2009

2046: A world without blemishes?

Way, way back in high school, I sat next to a kid in science class who once prophesied that there would be no more ugly people. Natural selection, he announced, would have it so that the weak, stupid and unattractive would be weeded out of the gene pool. And launched today is Modelinia, a website all about, what else, but models -- here to prove that even though there are plenty of non superficially-beautiful people still evolving in the human race, the end for us might be near! ...You think I'm only kidding.

Wherever the truth lies, I, a self-proclaimed intellectual freak with a penchant for despising all things materialistically impractical and low-calorie, thoroughly enjoyed my viewing experience of Modelinia. My prediction? Bye-bye cable TV.