We're still stuck in the mud here. No one has been able to comment on posts or visit the archives since our move to a new online publishing system a week and a half ago. Blinq's blunk. The 'why' part is complicated. There's lots to sort out still with the move, but the online folks are working on it.
So I haven't been posting, just working on the column, which I can report is now a full-time, permanent gig. I passed the tryout. I'll move to two a week shortly. Meanwhile, I've been trying to figure out the space requirements -- a blog can be any length, but a column requires me to tell a tale in 17 inches. It's a skill, and it getting a little easier.
I think writing for you all made it easier to write for the paper's readers who are hungry for voice. It's been an adjustment actually talking to readers on the phone instead of dealing by email. My favorite came today, after the piece on the H.J. Menningen collection of mid-century U.S. print advertisements.
No. 3 is in ... the town that got hooked on eBay. The idea was to explore how this little pocket of Lumberton, N.J. could be the part of America with the highest rate of wheeling and dealing on the online auction service. It has to do with Barbies and smelly Ben Franklins, but read for yourselves:
Daniel Rubin | On eBay, no one tops these people
By Daniel Rubin
You almost expect a sign on the Mount Holly bypass that would read:
"Entering Lumberton, feedback rating 99.8 percent positive."
I forgot that a return to print meant a return to those 3 a.m. wake-ups -- the sort that turn your mind on like a switch, and set it running through everything you wrote. It always finds something to feast on.
In this case, as my second column was already rolling off the presses, it was the fact that I described listening to' 70s Rolling Stones with Tony McCloskey, just back from Afghanistan. Accurate, but in the interest of shorting an already long sentence, I missed the opportunity to give a detail that would help build this portrait of nursing a beer with a sensitive, salty sort - a South Philly guy who'd just done a very intense year based at Bagram Airbase.
The album was Black and Blue. We were listening to "Hand of Fate," among other things.
I wanted to thank you all for the heart-felt and snarkolicious comments. It's clear a bunch of you got used to reading this space, and aren't happy that it's been shuttered, de-listed from Philly.com. Lots have written about the paper's blindness regarding Blinq. I don't think they were blind. They just knew a metro column takes time to develop, and wanted me to start off as strong as possible. Would they be happy if I did both? Don't even think about it.
The hardest part of preparing to write a column has been trying to think in 17 to 18 inches. Blinq was pretty eco-friendly, requiring the sacrifice of no trees. There was no limit as to how much or how long I could write. A column is haiku in comparison. The trick is to find the right angle that serves the subject best, and I don't mind saying this has not been easy for me yet. The first draft of the first column didn't have the clear lines and blythe spirit of a good blog post. It came out like fettucine szechuan. I've written two columns so far. One has required four re-writes, and that's before being red-pencilled by the Sith Lord who edits me. And I'm not done with it. The other came easier, thank God. Maybe this week we'll launch. Be kind - I know who you are. Later.
A correspondent from the other cubicle was moved to write a little something for this space to mark the death of Molly Ivins.
Carrie Rickey writes:
Ordinarily Id say that we should declare a moment of silence for the passing of Molly Ivins, the Lone Star State political scribe who dubbed then-Governor George W. Bush "shrub" and opined of a dim congressman that, "if his I.Q. slips any lower well have to water him twice a day." Yet given Ivins silver-tongued wit, lets just declare a moment of Molly-isms. She was even funny about the surgery, chemo and radiation therapies for the breast cancer that ended her life at 62. "First they mutilate you, then they poison you, then they burn you. Ive been on blind dates better than that."
Speaking of back then ... a Channel 10 promo with the Stylistics from 1982.
Former "Scene" columnist Clark Deleon on finding out the first name of the Drexel Dragon.
Former arts writer Len Boasberg on the high price of recognition.
It looks like Michelle Malkin may want to change her itinerary during her fact-finding trip to Iraq.
The conservative blogger/commentator has been among those hammering the Associated Press for weeks about whether an oft-quoted Iraqi police source really exists. The officer, identified as a Jamil Hussein, had been a source for a controversial November report about militiamen burning and shooting six people during an attack at a Sunni mosque in Hurriya.
Eason Jordon, CNN's former top news exec, this week urged the AP to allow an independent panel to investigate whether Hussein exists, after neither the Iraqi government nor the U.S. military could confirm his identity. So Malkin started to raise money to sponsor her boots-on-the-ground reporting, which includes other fact-finding matters. She'd travel with Curt of the Flopping Aces blog, which has done the most reporting on the wire service's reliance on Hussein. Flopping Aces typically calls AP's reporting on this and other incidents, "getting news from the enemy."