Monday, April 28, 2008

Long Live Print?

The San Jose Mercury News office. Photo by Martin Gee.

As someone who works for print newspapers and magazines as a writer and designer, I believe in print media. Of course, I know print in the future will never be the same with the creation of the internet and online news, but there's something nice and solid about having a newspaper in your hand. You can't read the news online while you're on the subway or while you're waiting for someone outside, you just can't. In terms of design, there's so much thought put into the layout, like picking and positioning the photographs, typeface, headline size, deciding which article goes where in terms of the importance of the story and the quality of the photograph (you can't have a shitty front page picture), and just so much more. It's an art. Sure, it's the same with websites, but there's more weight to printed papers.

That's why all the stories about the decline of print make me sad--the changes within printed newspapers like the slimming down of the New York Times, the layoffs at major publications like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News (pictured above and here) and newspapers shutting down their printing productions and focusing on line, like the Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin. Jobs are even being outsourced to India.

There really isn't anything that could be done about it. Newspapers aren't making that much money--the cash is in the web. That's why, while I don't like the design of the new table of contents pages of the New York Times (expanded to about two pages), I do appreciate and understand the need for it. It creates a much-needed link between print and the web. By using both mediums to their full-potentials, maybe print has a fighting chance, at least, I hope.

Motorboat, Bengali-style

In the Naf River, back in January.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Duke Riley & Mister Squirrel

I interviewed Duke Riley yesterday, both for my own curiosity and for the Brooklyn Rail. While talking about Duke's submarine, his driftwood bar on Plump Island, his takes on nonprofits, the waterfront, development and globalization, not paying rent, living in a pigeon coop, the Greenpoint Terminal fire and the clothing store that came out of it, boating, his tattoo shop and more that I can't think of right now, he had in his shirt a baby squirrel. He found the squirrel in Cape Cod, where he spent the previous weekend. He tried showing me how the squirrel runs up his leg, but he wasn't wearing the right pants. Making a pouch out of his shirt with safety pins and carrying around a water bottle and pine nuts (the only thing the squirrel would eat), Duke carried the squirrel to a nearby cafe and then to the park. I asked if he had a name, and Duke decided to name him Mister Squirrel.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Making a Canoe

Gluing down the fiber-glass cloth in March.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Choice of a Word

I trust Kayley's musical tastes (Sufjan Stevens, Decemberists, Architecture in Helsinki, Beirut) and in order to whet my appetite for new music, I turned my ears to Andrew Bird. I have to admit, this was also partly due to the fact that he's adorably hot, as seen in this video, also sent to me by Kayley. And, hey, he sang with Wilco during their 5-night residency at Chicago's Riveria Theater in February.

Andrew Bird (you gotta use his entire name) reminds me of Sufjan Stevens, but not as light, if that makes sense. Anyway, that isn't the pointof this entry.

Looking through the New York Times' website, as I tend to do, I noticed Andrew Bird's name and I clicked the link. That led me to one of the Times' new blogs: Measure for Measure, of which Andrew Bird is a writer for, along with Suzanne Vega, Roseanne Cash and Darell Brown.

In the first entry, Bird begins by talking about his upcoming drive to a studio in Nashville (three days after Josh and I got back from Tennessee) and the aspects of driving vs. taking a tour bus. From there, he goes to various tangents, all of which involve his musicality.

What I'm interested in is his choice of words, or as he titles the entry, "Words Will Tell." He comes up with his melodies first, which is easy for him, but lyrics are trickier. He does it anyway, because he has to.

During his everyday living, specific moments/words/noises/ideas catch his eye, which is how I write, in terms of poetry. In the process of writing "Oh No," a song to be featured on his upcoming album, he came up with the title because of a kid crying on his airplane.

After the title, Andrew Bird goes on to explain his lyric-writing process. He throws in childhood locations (Lake Bluff) and childhood thoughts (a bridge that, to him, marked the end of the world because that vicinity was all he knew then). Strung together, it sounds lovely.

It's just as simple as that. A certain phrase catches your ear and you think to yourself, "That sounds mighty nice/poetic/beautiful," and it becomes stuck in your head until you write it down. From there, you either save it for another moment or continue to play off that moment.

Or, as Andrew puts it:

"Words get under my skin the same way melodies do. Something catches my attention and I file it subconsciously. It often begins with an archaic or obscure word I have not defined. I just like the sound of it and its elusive meaning gives it a mysterious shine."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

On This Day...

Happy Birthday to myself!

So they include Ethan, but not Desmond? Come on! Desmond's gorgeous and has great episodes!

And woohoo for the New York Harbor mention and two journalists.

Soon Enough...

With spring in the air, I can almost feel the bobbing waves of the Hudson. Almost.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Back to Boat-Building

Working on the as-of-yet-unnamed boat.

I took Rob's boat-building class, Lang on the Hudson, last spring for two reasons: 1. During one Inprint closing during the fall semester, Rob showed Peter, Alex and I pictures of his rowing trip around 2. Because it was my last semester at Lang, I wanted to take a fun, interesting class.

Ever since, I've been hooked. Rob's running the class again and I try to help out whenever I can. In addition to another Whitehall gig through Lang on the Hudson, Rob & Co. built a canoe; both projects of which I've had my hands in.

While I'm horrible at the technical aspects of boat-building (figuring out how to cut a slab of wood in order to fit the mast and have that piece fit in a comfortable seat at the same time), I'm great at following directions. There's something wholly satisfying about cutting, "painting" & "peanut-buttering" (applying epoxy), planing, etc. and having it all work out together in the form of a completed boat. And, even better: nothing beats finally being out on the water in the finished product. I still remember how I felt when I first rowed in the Quixotic last year.

It's also a nice way to amp myself up for rowing season, which I've missed so much. Hopefully, if it all works out with the Hudson River Trust, rowing begins next Tuesday, April 22 at 5 p.m. (not exactly sure about the time) at Pier 40 at the west end of Houston Street. With rowing comes camping, and that's what it takes to make me happy.

Clamping the fiberglass cloth to the canoe.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

To Get Lost

"The alleyways and courtyards of the city still embody the disorienting quality of Kafka's work [Unbearable Lightness of Being]. As cold night descends, the twisting little lanes seem to mock the city plan clutched in a traveler's numbing fingers. Prague defies maps. Prague is a place to get lost."

--"Footsteps: Milan Kundera's Prague - Trumping the Unbearable Darkness of History" by Nicholas Kulish, from the New York Times

IDF on Facebook

At first, when I glanced at the spattering of links in my Google alerts (seriously, what did I do before them?) and saw the word "Facebook," I just assumed it had to do with renaming Israeli neighborhoods in the West Bank as part of Palestine. But, I was wrong.

Like any other member of Facebook, IDF soliders, both former and current, post pictures online. In their case, however, they're exposing the Israeli Army because of information leaks: interiors of army bases, weapons, locations, etc. The Jerusalem Post took it upon themselves to investigate this and, as a courtesy to the IDF, printed only a few of those Facebook pictures along the article.

Several Israeli Defense departments sent out notices to all IDF soliders, telling them to take out any classified information from their profiles. They worry that, since Facebook is basically open to anyone, that those within the Israel network will use that information to their advantage. IDF soliders that exposed extremely classified information were sent to jail for a month.

Yes, it's true you have to be careful with these materials, but I think this is a bit out there. It reminds me of New York City's apparent policy about recording or taking pictures of bridges or transportation.

Monday, April 14, 2008

From Dhaka to Calcutta, We Go

The Moitree, or Maitreyi, Express in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo by Subir Bhaimuk from the BBC.

Today marks the first official run of the Moitree Express (Friendship Express) from Dhaka, Bangladesh to Calcutta, India. This train used to run back when Bangladesh was still Pakistan, but it was shut down during the 1965 war between India and Pakistan (which eventually led to the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War from Pakistan). Fittingly, today is also Bengali New Year's.

My dad said it was a shame we weren't in Bangladesh now so that we might've taken the train. The cheapest tickets are around $8 U.S., which probably means that first class tickets would be around $20 U.S. Looking at the BBC's pictures, it seems like the interior of the train resembles the train we took from Chittagong to Dhaka--the fans on the ceilings, the seats, the doors. Though, our train wasn't decorated with flowers.

My dad recalled his father's stories about taking the bus from Dhaka to Calcutta to his first job when Bangladesh was still part of India. His father, my grandfather, was part of three countries: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; my mother and father were part of the latter two.

I hope, the next time I'm in Bangladesh, I get to take this train.

Bits: Noisy Egypt and He's Dead! April Fool's!


"Cairo Journal: A City Where You Can't Hear Yourself Scream" by Michael Slackman, from the New York Times

Another one of those "never thought about it" articles that I really, really like.


"In Baghdad, Iraqis Take Their Humor Extra Dark" by Erica Goode, from the New York Times

It's really...I'm not sure what the exact word for it would be, dark? Maybe. Disturbing? Yeah. It makes sense though, because, after all, what else do they have? But when you hear that your husband is dead and assume it's a Kithbet Nessan joke, and it turns out he really is dead, I just can't imagine how that feels.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bits: Nepal's Elections, Sailing with Words, G Train Blues & Celebrating Israel's Anniversary

Photo by Brian Sokol, from the New York Times


"Nepal's Maoists Prepare for Elections," shot by Brian Sokol for the New York Times

South Asia's getting a lot of attention lately, what with the protests and violence in Tibet and now with the upcoming elections in Nepal. Sokol took pictures in Nepal during the days leading up to those elections and the results are amazing.


"Ving, Vang, Vong. Or, the Pleasure of a New Vocabulary," editorial observer by Verlyn Klinkenborg, from the New York Times

I tend to like Klinkenborg's editorial observers because he writes about things I like, like the outdoors and middle-of-nowhere. First, the title caught me because it sounded like something I'd write. Second, the lede caught me because, of course, he mentioned sailing. I like the concept: picking out those things people tend to not notice. It's wonderful.

I know what he means about sailing (or, for me, boating) terms. I still get confused by port and starboard. (I invented my own little device to remember it: port is left if you're rowing, because they both have four letters. It takes me a couple seconds to remember this while I'm coxing though.) I end up calling everything "thingie," because I'm more about the feeling of rowing and being out there.


"At Last, Some Attention for Subway Line Less Traveled," by Anthony Ramirez, from the New York Times
I hate the G train. With a passion. Along with the brown line (J, M and Z), it's the worse train in New York. Yet, I rely on the G train--it takes me to both my jobs (the Rail at Greenpoint Avenue and the Gazette at Nassau) and it's the only Queens-Brooklyn train line, which is ridiculous anyway. It's sad that the city isn't going to try to improve the line.

What's funny about this article is the relationship between the G and the V train. The V train came about into existence while I was junior in high school in 2001. It changed my route (Instead of taking the F to Queens Plaza for the R to 59th Street, I had to transfer at Roosevelt Avenue.) and also changed the G train. In order to create the V trains, the MTA took cars from the G train, thus creating the short G trains we have today. However, in the article, when someone brought that up at the meeting, the MTA denied it. Why? That's such a petty thing to deny.


"Cynicism trumps pride for Israel's birthday party" by Isabel Kershner from the International Herald Tribune

How much should a country spend on its anniversary and how extravagant should it be? Considering the state of Israel and the area now, the government hopes to cheer everybody up with a huge blowout, but Israelis aren't agreeing. Already, 90,000 Israelis signed a petition asking the government to use the money for better things, like actually helping people through education and other public services.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Bits: Muslim-American, Bridging Indonesia, Bye Bye, Bylines


"Being American--and Muslim" by Shireen Khan from Time

People like the guy from the lede make me mad. And it's funny--you never really think about the staying-power of the hijab's (or, what I grew up calling it, the head scarf's) material, but it's very true. When I used to go to the mosque when I was younger for Islamic school, I had a silk scarf for a while, but it would always slip off.


"Suramadu bridge expected to be completed next year" by Indra Harsaputra & Wahyoe Boediwardhana, from The Jakarta Post

Bridges connecting islands always fascinate me, especially the world's largest archipelago country. I gotta admit, it's funny and sad that the bridge is being built in the name of politics and easier campaigning. I wonder what the design of the bridge is...


"Proposed: Death to Bylines" from Web 2.Oh...Really?

This guy’s idea of getting rid of single bylines makes sense, overall, because there is a process behind journalism—you have the reporter, the researcher, the interviewer (not always the same person, though usually they tend to be), the editor, the copy editor, the layout designer, the photographer, the illustrator, the animator, etc. BUT, I don’t think they all should be given a byline. Photographers are given credit underneath their respective photographs, designers are given credit in the masthead, same goes for copy editors and editors. Within the article itself, shared bylines occur more and more and those who contribute research are always given credit. So he really has the wrong idea.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Seinfeld in Palestine

Haha, so my Google alert for Palestine led me to this gem of an article about Jason Alexander from Australia's The Age.

The writer, Ivor Davis, talks to Alexander about Seinfeld, his latest comedy tour, his acting history and other things, but this bit stood out to me:

"'Last year, I was in the Palestine territories and two Arabs suddenly turned and pointed at me,' says Alexander, who is Jewish. 'For a few seconds I must admit I was worried. But then the guys broke into a smile and began yelling 'George, George...' You would have thought I was their long-lost cousin'"