#OccupyOakland

October 25th, 2011

Posting a piece of shocking video from the #OccupyOakland protests/police clash tonight. That’s home for me. Just wish all my friends, any SFSU j-school alum, current and former teachers, and Xpress News staffers a safe night. Well…as safe as they can be in this climate.

More videos at link below:

Meanwhile, I'm watching #OccupyOakland unfold through Twitter. Visceral & raw. Check out the video gallery: http://t.co/7h2iY8Jt
@ChloeS
Chloe Sladden

I caught another video, equally as disturbing…though I have some questions about the editing and its editor. Healthy skepticism. But still disturbing. You can’t make this stuff up.

PHOTOS from Golden Gate Xpress: http://www.goldengatexpress.org/2011/10/26/occupy-oakland/

(Fond memories of my college paper days at Xpress. I miss it.)

PHOTOS from the Oakland Tribune: http://www.insidebayarea.com/top-stories/ci_19188125

The Cain, Cain, Cain coverage

October 23rd, 2011

Herman Cain
photo credit: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Okay. I’ll say it…

I’m fascinated by the media coverage of Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. Over the last two weeks, I’ve consumed all manners of analysis and opinions on the former pizza chain executive’s rise to the top of the GOP field.

The Associated Press says he’s “stumbling in the glare of the national spotlight.” The New York Times has shed light on his introduction to Washington as (gasp!) an industry lobbyist, despite his appeal as an outsider. Miami Herald’s Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. has flatly implied Cain “seems embarrassed he’s black.” Cable news network pundits have praised and criticized the catchy and simplistic nature of Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan, though through poorly stifled laughter. And just about every popular black news blog site — namely The Root, The Grio, HuffPo’s BlackVoices, and Loop21 — has attempted to decipher his seemingly lackluster appeal to black voters.

I’ll admit I’ve been much more interested in black political pundits’ and columnists’ take on the “Black Walnut.” The mainstream media’s coverage of Cain has been predictable. The “Big Guys” have been careful to avoid racial land mines. And much of their hardline analysis has been fair.

But I’ve been disappointed in how many tired comparisons I’ve seen drawn between U.S. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas and Herman Cain. I think it was last week we heard Cornel West hurl “crack pipe” jabs at Cain on CNN. And there’s the various black bloggers echoing Pitts Jr. in decrying Cain’s racial politics an identity crisis. The argument could be made that this sort of ethnic commentary is just as predictable as the main stream approach.

I always get the feeling this commentary is based on the assumption (not fact) that, because he has dark skin and is a Republican, Cain suffers from acute Uncle Tom-itis. This is not to say that all authors of commentary critical of Cain subscribe to a common credo — that Democrats, by default, have all the answers to black problems. Too much of what I’ve read and heard is often recycled rhetoric from race debates waged decades ago. Can we (ethnic newsmen and newswomen) move on?

However, in defense of the ethnic press and punditocracy, Cain himself hasn’t made it easy to shelve the race and morality commentary for a focus on issues. In the last two weeks we’ve learned a few things: (Albeit entirely possible that some of it is taken out of context…)

- Cain once wrote that Jesus (Christ) was killed by a ‘liberal court’
- Cain told a CNN anchor that blacks are “brainwashed against the GOP
- Cain prefers we call him “black American” and not “African American”

…there’s more. But I don’t want to belabor the point, which is that Cain leaves room for character attacks for lack of depth on just about every issue important to voters. Now that the 9-9-9 plan has been thoroughly analyzed, Cain is seen by the media as flailing to keep his lead in the polls.

But I’d implore the ethnic press not to fall back on the tried-and-true Uncle Tom commentary. As entertaining as some may find black-on-black rebuke, it informs no one.

Cain could do enough stumbling from now until primary time that he trips on his own sword. An unfortunate example: his boasting of lacking knowledge of foreign leaders. “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” may not be on his mind…but Cain was the topic of conversation at Sec. Hillary Clinton’s meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai last week.

Now THAT is emasculating.

Upstate apple picking

October 16th, 2011

Took a trip with my cousins to upstate New York. We stayed with Tangie’s friends, in their home in Woodstock. On the way back to the city, we stopped at Minard Farms in Clintondale for apple picking.

Minard Farms, Clintondale, NY.

Minard Farms, Clintondale, NY.

Minard Farms, Clintondale, NY.

Minard Farms, Clintondale, NY.

Minard Farms, Clintondale, NY.

RIP

October 5th, 2011

Steve Jobs

Thank you, Steve.

My first Apple product was the second generation iPod. Never owned another brand of music player. #RIPSteveJobs
@aaronlmorrison
aaronlmorrison

Yankee game

July 22nd, 2011

Yankee game

First time I’d been to the new stadium. Great seats. And they were playing the Oakland A’s. Didn’t matter to me who won that one — although the Yanks spanked the A’s. Thanks for the invite, Damond.

I’m a Harry Potter fan. No, really. I am… bordering on obsession.

This obsession only grew when I finally saw the last Potter film and completed the very first two book in the series, all in the span of a few days. (Yes, I did it backwards.) I’m determined to read the rest of the series before winter. (UPDATE: I’ve finished the book series and winter’s more than a month away.)

Potter in the subway.

A quick background: I remember the day my mom brought home a paperback preview of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was for my sister. I had no idea why she didn’t think I’d want to read it. My sister was hooked. She and my mom sped through all the books as they came out, although my sister stopped at about book five.

My love of the stories grew from seeing the movies. And as I mentioned before, I hadn’t really picked up a Harry Potter book until this summer. And I’m not ashamed to say I read through the first two in three days. (There’s so much more detail that isn’t shown in the films!)

My step-sister Kim and I braved (because we I really don’t like) Times Square to visit the Harry Potter Exhibition at the Discovery Channel museum. The exhibit showcased props and costumes from all eight Harry Potter films. One word: awesome! I felt like a kid again.

Potter class

This is a photo of Divination professor Sybill Patricia Trelawney’s costume, as well as a few props from the scenes in her class. (I had to be sneaky about taking photos. Security prohibited all photography in the exhibit.)

Potter class 2

This is the cabinet from the scene where…well…see for yourself.

Later that day we enjoyed Chinese food in honor of nondescript Asian Harry Potter character Cho Chang. And then later that evening we saw the final film. IMAX 3D! Loved it.

I understand, and accept, if I’ve just lost lots of cool points with you.

Page None

July 4th, 2011

June was one hell of a month.

It began with me as an employed journalist at a 110-year-old New Jersey newspaper, participating in a week-long fellowship at a United Nations meeting on AIDS. I returned to work recharged and excited about a special project. And then I was laid off. All of that in the span of two and a half weeks. (I would have been at the paper for a full year next week.)

I ended the month feeling as though I’d been forced into rehab — having gone from personal highs for a young journalist’s career to corporate-ordered sobriety. Cold turkey.

Former colleagues, industry friends and family immediately began circling the wagon. “You’ll be better off,” some said. “I’m sure you’ll land well,” chimed another. “I’m not worried about you,” one kindly boasted.

Of course they are right about one thing: I’ll land. The laws of gravity dictate that I must. But land where and doing what? That question echoed constantly in the first few days, as I tried to convince those who had called and emailed their condolences that I wasn’t that stressed. I was going to take my time, I told them. I would apply to jobs that I actually wanted to do. And I would try to enjoy having a little time off this summer.

I kicked off that whole enjoying summer plan by walking to the theater near my apartment to see “Page One: Inside the New York Times.” (The a/c was busted in the theater, which meant matinee tickets were reduced to $5. When’s the last time you paid that little for a movie? And while I’m asking questions, when’s the last time you paid for news?)

On its surface, “Page One” is a decent documentary. It almost convinced me that I’ve chosen the right profession. I laughed at all the jokes. I understood all the lingo. I knew I was witnessing an example of the daily miracle that is the newspaper business. Magically, it all ends up on the page and at your newsstand or your doorstep or your mobile device.

“Page One” also reminded me how much the profession has changed since I decided to pursue this career in high school. (That’s eight years ago, now. Yikes!)

(Full disclosure: My dream is to one day shimmy through the doors at 620 Eighth Ave., ride the elevator up to the news department, plop down at my own desk in the bullpen and phone Mayor Bloomberg’s office as he kicks off his campaign for a seventh term as head of New York City.)

The film attempts to offer a behind the curtain look at the Times’ operation, but the real driving forces of the film were media columnist David Carr, reporter Tim Arango and blogger-turned-reporter Brian Stelter. Freshly unemployed, I wondered if their stories, their behavior and their backgrounds could serve as inspiration for my climb back up the news media ladder.

To borrow a line from late funk musician Rick James, “Cocaine is one hell of a drug.”

Carr kicked his habit and went on to become a husband, father of three and New York Times reporter. (Perhaps if I just … oh, never mind.) Much was made of his sympathetic drug addiction story, but little was mentioned of the professional work he’d done to make him a commodity at the Times. It was as though a Times Co. recruiter found him strung out on the street, cleaned him up and brought him to newsroom. Clearly, the addiction story alone was more cinematically sexy. I don’t doubt his résumé, whether or not it was read in that scruffy voice of his, would impress just about anyone.

We found out, as credits began to roll, that Arango — the young, dreamy reporter in his late 30s — had been named chief of the Times’ Baghdad bureau. No mention of his time at Fortune or anything before that. He’s hot. He has a job at the New York Times. Good for him.

Stelter, the chubby-but-slimming 25-year-old and famed TV blogger, landed at the Times at age 22. His hugely popular blog TV Newser, which he started while in college, got him where he is. At least that’s what the filmmaker would have us believe. (See! Who says writing a blog from your dorm in your drawers won’t get you anywhere?)

I left the theater happy I saw the film, but no more informed about life at the New York Times. It was an encouraging reminder that anything is possible in this business. For that first week of unemployment, I likened seeing the film to the cigarettes one might enjoy while using nicotine patches. I’d like to tear this patch off my arm now and throw the box in the garbage recycling. I’d like to be an employed reporter again.

I’ve had some amazing experiences early on in my pursuit of a media career. From my beginnings at California newspapers as an intern, to stints with the Associated Press and then full-time employment with Gannett, still the nation’s largest newspaper publishing company — it’s all been fulfilling.

It’s fulfilling until it’s over. With no ‘page one’ of my own to write for, no ‘priority one’ news website carousel to break news on, and no special projects to pour my heart into, this blog will have to be it for now.

I’m not one for self-pity parties. I’ve got great mentors, industry friends and personal friends who are helping me follow the yellow brick road — albeit paved with tattered, bloodied newsprint.

July is going to be one helluva month. Wish me luck.

Success

July 4th, 2011

My tomatoes are turning red! Horray! Puttanesca, tomato-basil sauces! Yippee! Fresh cut slices of tomato! Joy!

Tomatoes turning red

I guess I spoke too soon the other day.

Ramen

July 2nd, 2011

It doesn’t sound very glamourous, or gourmet. I’ve long read many blogs and Yelp-like sites which proclaim Japanese noodle bars trendy in the quick, dine-alone food scene. And usually food trend stories send me running — away from the superficiality and perversion of foreign food cultures. What’s “hot” today is soon to be yesterday’s crepe stand or waffle cart.

Sigh. Who am I kidding? I gave in.

Momofuku

I went to Momofuku. A bowl of the signature ramen contained two pieces of slow-roasted pork shoulder, a parboiled egg, small bits of cabbage and a few other garnishments. All of that served in a very tasty light brown soup-stock. Cost: $16.

Did I think the price was a bit much? Sure. Was I dissappointed? Nope.

Garden beauties

June 28th, 2011

Recently, I spent a few hours snapping pictures at the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. The garden is beautiful, and so are the ladies I had the pleasure of making the images for.

Jessica in the herb garden

Wendy in the herb garden

My good friend Jessica and her friend Wendy have started a monthly cooking and nutrition series on Brooklyn Community Access Television. (Thursday — 6/30 — is their launch party at Panda NYC in Manhattan. 7pm.) The shots above are two of many. Jess and Wendy may use them for their website. Either way, I had fun.

Food Heaven Made Easy

Check them out on Facebook. Their official website is still in the works. Their website is officially up. Check it out here.