April 2010 Archives

More Savage

I'm reminded of John Stuart Mill's famous quote "Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives." This quote could have been written by Dan Savage, but was written by an English economist & philosopher who lived between 1806 and 1873. As you can see, petty name calling between liberals and conservatives has been going on for many generations.

I don't think professional journalists should their published articles include emotionally charged words like neo-fascist (page 379) or Nazi to describe conservative Americans just because they are conservative or liberal Americans just because they are liberal. I find it offensive when Democrats use it to describe Republicans like President Bush. I find it equally offensive when Republicans use it to describe Democrats like President Obama. So, James's Rule One is "Only use the word Nazi to describe someone who openly describes themselves as a Nazi and not as a generic word for evil."

I agree with Dan Savage that no group should be discriminated against nor demonized to support any politician or political party. I just don't feel comfortable in the way Mr. Savage made his point. Is Mr. Savage's article that was written in a disrespectful way, using provocative language, really good journalism? When on page 382, I read that he "threw my lavender gauntlet" at the Republican party, I simple stopped taking Mr. Savage's writing seriously. What happens when we forget civility in public discourse? Dan Savage goes beyond what Bill Buford did in "Among the Thugs" and became an active player in his own story. Should you report on a story that you created yourself? Should someone who calls themselves a journalist do things to provoke their subjects? For example, should you eat a cheeseburger while interviewing a strict vegetarian if you are writing for BBQ World Magazine or Grilling Magazine? Should anyone's "publicity stunt journalism" articles be included in a book like "The New Kings of Nonfiction" or a university journalism class?

Final Draft of Duluth's Lakewalk, by JPB

Chapter One, One citizen's viewpoint

"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race."
- H.G. Wells

Nearly every day from March until November, I make an honest effort to bicycle or walk on Duluth's Lakewalk. I prefer off road, paved trails where there is little chance of becoming road kill by an inattentive motorist. The Lakewalk has no steep hills to bike up or ride my brakes down. Unlike city streets, there are no recycling boxes or trash cans to avoid, no bike eating potholes to avoid, no possibility of running into someone's mailbox, having to dodge parked cars, or get my eardrums blasted by someone's thunderous car stereo.

Before a bike ride, I check the Weather Channel, inspect my Trek 800 Antelope bicycle, fill up my bike's water bottle, make sure that I have some money just in case I get a flat tire and need to take the city bus back home, and lastly do some warmup stretching. Sometimes, I eat two containers of Dole, Mandarins on Orange Gel. These tasty treats this rich in Vitamin C and appear to give me about a two or three-mile per hour increase in my overall speed for twenty to thirty minutes after I eat these.

What is it like to start a bike trek about noon from Lake Place Park and bicycle five miles to 47th Ave. East? I got really hungry, decided to eat lunch at Sammy's Pizza, and because I was very hungry, that pizza tasted very good. You might say that my lunch was one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten.

Over the years, I've encountered many friendly people on the Lakewalk. Once, my bicycle chain slipped while I was shifting gears. While I was attempting to get the chain back on the gears, another bicyclist stopped and offered to help me. This man stayed with me until I had gotten my chain back on the gears and I was able to peddle away.

Being a lifelong Duluthian, I have seen what the Lakewalk has become and what was before the Lakewalk was constructed.

Chapter Two, Let's take an imaginary bicycle ride into the past, before the Lakewalk was real world asphalt, concrete, and wood.

"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self--reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel . . . the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood."
- Susan B. Anthony

Before the construction of the Lakewalk, there were few public access points for people to enjoy Duluth's lakeshore. The four public access points were the Ship Canal, Leif Erikson Park, Lester River, and Brighton Beach. Ever since the 1970s, walking and bicycle advocates dreamed about a cross-town bike path. But, their cycling dreams only went as far as written proposals and lines wishfully drawn on city maps.

Walkers and bicycle riders made their own "informal foot paths" along the railroad tracks between Canal Park and Brighton Beach. The term "informal foot path" was coined by my father, a professional outdoor writer, to describe footpaths created by walkers and bicyclists where no official footpaths or bike paths exist.

However, for walkers or off road bicyclists who used these informal paths were trespassing on private property. The private property was owned by railroads, small scale industry, warehouses, junkyards, and filled in areas created by dumping the debris and rubble from demolished buildings. As a child, I saw this section of the lakeshore was littered with bits of carved stone, piles of broken bricks, and iron plumbing pipes. I wondered why anyone would discard two steel office safes in a landfill? Where Lake Place Park now stands was a flat stretch of land for a railroad yard and abandoned warehouses.

Additionally, these informal paths were narrow, uneven, were often muddy, and passed through thick underbrush. Residents and tourists often walked along the active railroad tracks, which is always dangerous and illegal. Only the brave and the bold chose to trespass across private property to reach the lakeshore for daytime fishing, swimming, and rock collecting. While at night, these areas that would become the Lakewalk became dark stretches of land that attracted lovers, teen drinking, graffiti artists, and drug dealers. In short, with limited public lakeshore access, far fewer residents and tourists visited Duluth's lakeshore then they do today.

During the 1970s, Duluth Canal Park was a declining industrial area and Grandma's Restaurant was the only popular destination in Canal Park for ordinary citizens. What is now a city block long parking lot between Canal Park Drive and South Lake Avenue was a major junkyard surrounded by an ugly fence and connected by a railroad spur. Canal Park was a place people normally drove through, not drove to.

Amy Norris, employed by Duluth Parks and Recreation Department, told me that in the 1980s the first phase of the Lakewalk, located on the lakeside shore of Canal Park to 27th Ave. East, was constructed along with Interstate 35 in Downtown Duluth. Before the construction of Interstate 35, Canal Park and the lakeshore were occupied by warehouses, a railroad yard, junkyards, and a few low-income homes

During the 1980s, communities of all sizes and all over the world were rediscovering their waterfronts. Abandoned or underused industrial land was transformed into parks, restaurants, retail shops, and hotels. Following this worldwide trend, Duluth city planners revised a one-hundred-year-old plan to create a world class park on Canal Park's lakeshore side. This park plan appears similar to today's Leif Erickson Park's Rose Garden, but the city never had enough money to construct the park as this plan proposed. Thus, city planners applied for and obtained Federal Enhancement Grant Money to build this project that a part of the 1986 Downtown Duluth Waterfront Plan that proposed the Lakewalk, along with a number of other enhancements to improve the quality of life for Duluth citizens. In 1992 and again in 1994, the Duluth I 35 extension and Lake Place won Federal Highway Administration "Excellence in Highway Design" awards.

Duluth city planners used the federal grant money to use waste rock, created by digging out the space for the Interstate tunnels, to greatly extend the lakeshore and create the first phase of the Lakewalk. Without the waste rock, the city of Duluth could not have afforded to extend the lakeshore and thus build the Lakewalk on the expanded shoreline. First, dumping the waste rock onto the lakeshore - and to build reefs to encourage recreational fishing - saved millions of dollars to dump the waste rock far from the construction site. Second, just notice where the shoreline is in relationship to the concrete wharf known as Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum in photos before and after the Lakewalk was constructed. It is a common practice to extend shorelines with waste rock from nearby construction projects. For example, New York City's World Trade Center needed to dig out a vast area of soil and rock that was then used to create new land that became Battery Park City on the west side of Lower Manhattan.

According to the Duluth Parks and Recreation Internet page, Duluth's Lakewalk official southern end is at Bayfront Festival Park. The trail from Bayfront Festival Park to Canal Park is on existing concrete sidewalks.

However, some city park maps show the southern end as the intersection of Morse Street and Canal Park Drive. This part of the trail has an entrance gate and the "Determined Mariner" statue. Trail construction coincided with the construction of the Interstate. The first section of the Lakewalk was constructed from Canal Park to 21st Ave East. Then the trail's second section extended from 21st Ave. East to 27th Ave. East. The Lakewalk now actually ends at 47 Ave. East. However, for some reason the Parks and Recreation web site as well as Goggle Maps have not been updated and still show the trail's northern end at 27th Ave. East.

The technical terms used by architects and city planners to describe the Lakewalk is a Greenway or a linear park. These are parks are longer than they are wide, designed for recreational use and non-motorized transit. Such long and narrow parks are common throughout the world, the most famous being the Promenade plantée "walk with trees" in Paris, France; the High Line in New York City, NY; and the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis, Minn. However, the Canal Park section of the Lakewalk could be unique in the world in having three trails constructed along the same corridor.

The first trail is a seven-foot wide boardwalk that is intended for pedestrians, which starts at Canal Park and ends the Fitgers Inn pedestrian bridge. The boardwalk is constructed of an extremely durable hardwood known as Ipe. The second trail is ten foot wide asphalt trail, intended for bicyclists and rollerbladers. The trail's southern end is at Canal Park and the northern end is at 47th Ave. East. The third trail is a twelve-foot wide gravel path for carriage rides that extend from Corner of the Lake Park to Morse Street.

Between Corner of the Lake Park and Leif Erikson Park, a double track railroad was reduced to one track to make room for the boardwalk and the bike path. Between the Northland Vietnam
Veterans Memorial and the Fitger's bridge the bike path narrows to eighty inches wide or about half the width of the rest of the pathway. The bike path is far too narrow for the four wheel surrey bikes or bike trailers to pass each other without one detouring onto the boardwalk.

This section of the trail is so popular that during the summer so many people use that section that I've seen human and bicycle traffic jams on the trail. To my untrained eyes, there appear to be more people on the Lakewalk than on Superior street sidewalks. Some members of the UMD's cycling club avoid that part of the trail to avoid the crowds. I would really love to see that trail section widened to at least the width of the other parts of the trail.

Along the Lakewalk are information kiosks, parking lots; the 580 foot long "Image Wall" crafted from 1.27 million ceramic tiles that portrays images of Lake Superior maritime activity, designed by artist Mark Marino; the International Sculpture Garden, the Northland Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, and many other attractions.

According to Tom Kasper, Cit Gardner, and Visit Duluth, the Lakewalk attracts more than one million trail visitors each year. However, I was unable to find who or how this number was determined. The Lakewalk is a world class showcase for a city to make an asset of what was not so long ago underused industrial property. The Lakewalk has become a signature draw and icon for the city of Duluth. It plays an important role in keeping Duluth citizens healthy, while giving them a safe path to bicycle or walk to downtown employment. Currently, this section of the trail is now 6.2 miles long.

The Lakewalk section between 27th Ave. East and 36th Ave. East, with an expensive 125-foot bridge over Tischer Creek was completed in 2008. The 36th to 47th section was completed in 2009. Despite this extension, many runners and bicyclists still complain that the Lakewalk is still too short for a great run or bike ride.

Think of the Lakewalk as part city sidewalk, part scenic drive. For people walking along London Road between 26th Ave. East and 32nd Ave. East, the Lakewalk is the only direct way to go from one avenue to the other avenue, other than a long detour by walking uphill to Greysolon Road. On East Superior Street, the Lakewalk provides a much needed second sidewalk on the lakeside side of the street. Compared to city sidewalks, the Lakewalk offers a shorter and safer route connecting major Duluth parks, hotels, restaurants, shops, the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC), and Bayfront Festival Park.

As the Lakewalk attracts people and whenever people gather at one area is a place where small businesses can find a way to make a profit. Trail users can rent bicycles at the Canal Park Lodge and from Wheel Fun Rentals. Families have already put up Lemonade stands on the trail and used the Lakewalk fence to post notices. A number of home owners have spruced up their landscaping alongside the Lakewalk.

Chapter Three, Bicycle into the future

"For instance, the bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon."
- Bill Strickland

In 2010, City planners hope to extend the Lakewalk's third phase will extend the trail from 47th Ave. East to 60th Ave. East. In 2011, the Lakewalk's fifth phase will connect Highway 61 to Brighton Beach. City planners have not yet decided upon a bridge or tunnel will span Highway 61. Also planned for 2011, the Munger Trail is planned to be extended from 75th Ave. West to Canal Park, linking up with the Lakewalk. In 2012, the fourth Lakewalk phase will connect 60th Ave. East to Highway 61. If I was in the market for my first home, I would choose to buy one that is within a half-mile of the Lakewalk. I also suspect that longtime walking and bicycle advocates will be very happy that their vision of a paved, off-road, cross town trail will finally be complete on the day the fourth and last section of Duluth's Lakewalk officially opens.

Albert Einstein once wrote, "Life is like riding a bicycle in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving." Duluth must keep on moving forwards into the future and keep building bicycle pathways to connect all Duluth neighborhoods into one bicycle network. While imaging a better future for humanity, H.G. Wells wrote, "Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia." Within a few years, I can imagine that Duluth will become a cycling utopia.

Chapter Four, Dairy Queen Delight

"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride."
- John F. Kennedy

After I get back to Canal Park, I usually reward myself with a large ice cream cone at Dairy Queen. I then bicycle uphill to my apartment, carry my bike into the building and into my apartment. I park my bike besides my window overlooking the Canal Park. I drink some water or orange juice and don some stretching before I start something new. While I write these words, I can see both my bike in the foreground and the Lakewalk in the background. Unlike some bicyclists, I do not have a pet name for my bicycle. Yet, when I'm maintaining my bike I sometimes talk to it about our next bike ride.

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Fun Lakewalk facts

I asked Jim Miller, Associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, Duluth about the rock that was used from the construction of the Interstate 35 tunnels.

He replied, "Good question. There are several types of rock observable along the Lakewalk. Some is derived from the local 'bedrock' exposed along the shoreline these are mostly 1.1 billion-year-old igneous rock (basalt, gabbro) and some sedimentary rock (exposed in the vicinity of Leif Erickson Park). But some of the blocks along the lake walk have been 'imported'. Some of the big blocks along the stretch below Fitgers are pieces of dark iron formation from the Mesabi Range. Other whitish blocks are a rock called anorthosite that may have come from the quarry at Carlton Peak (near Temperance River State)."

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In an e-mail interview, I asked Sam Cook, Outdoors Writer/Columnist for the Duluth News Tribune about his impressions of Duluth's Lakewalk. Mr. Cook wrote back, "I like the variety of areas that the Lakewalk passes through from Canal Park to 47th Ave. East. I love biking or walking the more wooded area from 26th Ave. East to 36th Ave. east, crossing a creek or ravine along the way, basically being flanked by trees. That's because I love being in the woods. But I also really enjoy the Canal Park end on a warm summer night with lots of tourists in town. I imagine Duluth as a San Antonio, with its river walk area, or as Ottawa, with its path along the Ottawa River. I like to hear snippets of tourist conversations as I walk the Canal Park section on a summer night, and we almost always see someone from Duluth we know. In that way, the Lakewalk contributes to a sense of community."

When I asked Mr. Cook about the triple trail on Canal Park's lakeshore, he replied, "I don't get to a lot of other cities, but, no, I don't know of any other three in one trails. I think it's a tribute to city planners that our trail accommodates several different kinds of use." I agree that I'm not aware of any other city park that has three different types of trails side-by-side.

I then asked Mr. Cook if he was aware of any Duluth News Tribune employees or anyone else who use the Lakewalk to commute to and from their workplace? "I have fellow employees who bike to work, but I don't know if they use the Lakewalk or not. I suspect some do. I use it myself when I bike in, riding down from the hill, then catching it at 26th Ave. East and riding on downtown. If everyone started his or her day this way, we'd all be much happier at work, I think. You ride along that lakeshore next to that amazing body of water in its various states of color and texture, and you think how lucky we are to live here." I would add that taking more trips using human powered transit would require some changes in our thinking about commuting to work, as well as providing shower rooms and changing areas at our places of work. These are possible tasks, but ones that will require some effort to bring about.

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In an e-mail I asked Ken Buehler, Depot Executive Director, about extending the Lakewalk to Brighton Beach, he replied, "Duluth's best loved tourist attraction is Lake Superior! Extending the Lakewalk and providing more access to the lake itself at Brighton Beach is only going to enhance our guest/visitors experience. The St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Rail Authority has granted access to the North Shore Scenic Railroad's right of way to accommodate this planned expansion. Having our train run alongside it is good for the us as more people see and hopefully want to ride the North Shore Scenic Railroad while enjoying their visit to Duluth." In short, trail users will be inspired to ride the scenic railroad, while scenic railroad riders will be inspired to use the trail.

When I asked Mr. Buehler if the future Northen Lights Express or NLX will assist bicycle riders, day riders and bicycle campers. Mr. Buehler replied that "The NLX trains will have bike friendly cars that will carry people's baggage and their bikes, canoes, and kayaks." I can see that this ability to transport bulky baggage gives the NLX great advantages over other forms of public transportation such as airplanes and buses.

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The Lakewalk trail clearly benefits the people who use the trail. But, what about people, who will for whatever reason, will never use the Lakewalk? Missouri Bicycle News Article posted an article that stated that "Trails raise nearby home values an average of $13,000."

In Dec. 2003, the Indiana University Center for Urban Policy and the Environment released a study exploring the impact of the Monon Trail and other greenways on Indianapolis (IN) property values. Here are some of the results (courtesy of Connie Szabo Schmucker, Executive Director, Indiana Bicycle Coalition):

The study used local housing data to help determine whether living close to the Monon Trail added value to a home. Then, using sophisticated statistical techniques, they were able to show what Realtors already know intuitively: People pay more for properties with good schools, nice parks and amenities like the Monon Trail. . . .

For homes within 1/2 mile of the Monon Trail (10.5 mile trail), the sales premium is $13,059. Approximately 8,862 households are located near the Monon Trail. If this premium applies to each of those homes, the total increase in property values in Marion County associated with the Monon Trail is $115.7 million.

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Trails provide a measurable boost to local communities. In an online article, "Build it and they will come and spend; Pennsylvania's Pine Creek Rail Trail" had this to say about the economic impact of bicycle trails. The Rails to Trails Conservancy conducted a survey there last year that proves the adage heard in the movie Field of Dreams: "Build it and they will come."

The survey found that not only do they come, but they contribute to the local economies. While the trail has cost about $12.6 million to build since 1995, the Pine Creek survey determined that visitors spend from $5 million to $7 million a year, most of which is spent in the local communities along the trail.

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When I asked Anthony Cullen, a member of the UMD Cycling Club, about a trail network from Hinkley to Grand Marais, he replied, "If this was to be done it would definitely be awesome! I believe the trail that is currently being worked on is the north shore trail that currently starts in Silver Bay and goes about forty miles." When I asked him to imagine a network of paved trails from the Twin Cities to the Canadian border, he replied, "Yes, I can imagine this. Our club has traveled from Duluth to Canada, so this would definitely be of interest."

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Lakewalk's Unkind Curb Cut

According to American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, a curb cut is "A small ramp built into the curb of a sidewalk to ease passage to the street, especially for bicyclists, pedestrians with baby carriages, and physically disabled people." In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires that curb cuts be present on all sidewalks.

The Lakewalk is intelligently designed and easy to use, with the exception of the pedestrian bridge located at South Street, between 16th Ave. East and 17th Ave. East. This bridge links South Street with the Lakewalk. A metal sign names this structure as Minnesota Bridge numbered 69838, a pedestrian bridge that is built over Interstate 35 and links South Street with Duluth's Lakewalk.

Unfortunately, at this location the curb cut from street level to the bridge is misplaced ten feet to the left side of the South Street bridge entrance. The curb cut should have been place directed in the center of the bridge approach. Or, there should have been a wide sidewalk between the ten-foot distance between the curb cut and the bridge.

As this access ramp was built, the surface between the retaining wall to the edge of the curb is 47 inches. However, there are only 32 inches of flat and therefore usable sidewalk for ten feet between the curb cut and the bridge. Updated and revised in 2004, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities state that walking surfaces should have a clear width minimum of 36 inches.

Yet, I'm sure that the guidelines did not consider that in this situation there is a concrete retaining wall on one side of the sidewalk. This means that when a wheelchair user traveling from South Street to the bridge must make a sharp 90-degree angle right hand turn on a steep grade, and then up a narrow sidewalk. To make matters even worse, as you can see from the photographs this ten foot long sidewalk is now partly blocked by wild bushes growing alongside the Interstate's retaining wall. First, it appears this bridge approach is now not compliant with the amended 1994 ADA guidelines. Second, I've seen bicyclists, especially when pulling trailers with small children or tandem bicycles, having trouble riding through this misplaced curb cut.

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According to the Duluth Art Institute, the Knight Creative Communities Initiative, created Twin Ports Pathways a committee to support bicycling in Duluth. With the assistance of local supporting organizations and businesses, Twin Ports Pathways funded seven artists who were hired to design custom-made bike racks in downtown Duluth. According to the web site, "The budget for each bicycle rack includes a $1,000 honorarium to each artist whose design is selected, and up to $2,000 for materials, fabrication, transportation and installation." However, just one out of seven bike racks was installed under the pedestrian bridge connecting the Lakewalk and Fitger's.

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Along the Lakewalk there are many memorial benches for the enjoyment of trail users. Amy Norris told me that someone can purchase a Lakewalk memorial bench for $2.500 dollars. I consider that a good price for something that tens of thousands of people will enjoy for about sixty years.

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Sources:

Amy Norris, Duluth Parks and Recreation
anorris@duluthmn.gov

Anthony Cullen, UMD Cycling Club
culle088@d.umn.edu

Jim Miller, Associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences
mille066@umn.edu

Ken Buehler, Depot Executive Director
KenBuehler@aol.com

http://www.duluthmn.gov/parks/lakewalk.cfm (Duluth Parks and Recreation)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promenade_plantee

http://www.thehighline.org/

http://www.dsmic.org/documentstore/TransportationImprovementPrograms(TIPs)/2009 2012/Air%20Quality%20Review.pdf

http://mobikefed.org/2004/03/trails raise nearby home values.php

http://www.bikingbis.com/blog/_archives/2008/7/28/3812918.html

http://www.bikingbis.com/blog/_archives/2007/10/29/3283156.html

http://www.wheelfunrentals.com/ListLocations/49

http://www.duluthartinstitute.org/html/RFP_bikeRack.pdf

Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune, March 31, 2010, "OUTLOOK 2010: Plan to connect trails in Duluth unveiled"

http://www.dsmic.org/Default.asp?PageID=539

This site has a link to the June 2003 Duluth Superior Metropolitan Bike Map. Despite being dated, this map shows many Twin Port's bike trails, several of which I was not aware of. The site also has much useful information to bicyclists that makes this my most highly recommend link in this article.

Life on the Grind: the Story of a Young Sea Creature

***couldn't log into webx on the link sent via email***

A deck of cards. Fifty-two of them to be exact. The front side, or face, of each card indicates its relative value. Each of the 13 different values appear four times apiece in a standard deck, once in each suit - hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs.

People have been using playing cards as a pastime for centuries, from the individual time-killing classic solitaire to competitive cribbage tournaments. For most people, cards are just that, a pastime.

Mr. M isn't most people.

He doesn't look like much. He stands about 5'8", with very little meat on his bones. His choice of clothing ranges from formal, brand-name polo shirts complete with jeans and spotless white Nikes to sweat pants and a dirty t-shirt. He usually has facial hair that fits into no particular style - laziness aside - and he completes his presentation by masking his dark, wavy hair underneath an Augusta National ball cap.

Although he looks harmless, he's the guy who will take all of your money if you aren't careful. He looks the part of a college student, something he used to be. He recently gave up on the academic life. Rather than paying through the roof to fund an education he was never particularly interested in, Mr. M decided he'd rather use his mysterious character and incredible competitiveness to turn a profit. His life now revolves around check-raises, three-bets and filling up on the river. He's what the gambling world calls a rounder - someone who earns his or her living on cards, but he prefers to consider himself a professional grinder.

His game is Texas Hold 'em, by far the world's most popular form of poker. It's the game that took the world by storm in 2003, when amateur card player Chris Moneymaker parlayed $30 into a seat in the Main Event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nev. The main event is decided over a game of Texas Hold 'em in the no-limit variety (where players may bet every chip they have and can win as much as they have in front of them). In Minnesota, No limit Hold 'em is illegal in casinos and card rooms, mostly because player's fortunes can change drastically from hand to hand. It's nearly impossible for a poor, inexperienced player to keep his or her money longer than a few hours at a tough no-limit table, thus making it difficult to keep a game running, possibly why bets are capped in the land of 10,000 lakes. In spite of the incredible swings, which can take a vicious toll on the most skilled players in the world, Mr. M prefers to play no-limit. He has to go the home game route to do this, but the casinos and card rooms have several high-limit games available to keep people like Mr. M around. His favorite game in Minnesota is $5-$60 spread limit.
Texas Hold 'em is played by dealing each player two cards face down, known as 'hole cards'. Three cards are then placed face up in the middle of the table - the flop. A single card is placed face-up - the turn or fourth street. A final card is then placed face-up - the river or fifth street. The flop, turn and river are all community cards anybody can use in conjunction with his or her hole cards to make the best five-card hand. The strongest hand wins the entire pot. A round of betting takes place once the hole cards have been distributed, as well as after the flop, turn and river cards are shown.

Just 21 years old, Mr. M has been playing poker for money since he was 15. He first began playing in small home games with his friends. Back then everybody put five dollars into the pot and would start with the same amount of chips. He and his friends would play until one person was left standing with every single chip. Back then, the winner took everything aside from the second-place finisher's five-dollar refund.

Things are a whole lot different now. Mr. M often heads to Running Aces Harness Park, a horse racing track with an adjacent card room in Columbus, Minn. He goes there to play in the $5-$60 spread game. He usually buys in for $800, quite the leap from the five dollar games of his youth. He doesn't like to talk much when it comes to his exact winnings, but it is not uncommon for him to return home to Duluth $1,000 heavier after an all-night session.

It's Friday afternoon. Time for Mr. M to punch in. He'll be at Running Aces this weekend.

His weekend on the grind starts with the turn of the key to his 2001 Buick Park Avenue. A quick peek inside the four-wheeled machine gives the impression its being used more as a suitcase than a source of transportation. The back seat is littered with empty Gatorade bottles, hockey equipment and clothes. Despite the car's spaciousness, it is essentially limited to carrying the driver and one other person. The back seat is literally out of play thanks to being taken over by the never-ending pile.

It's a two-hour drive to Running Aces, so Mr. M gets off Interstate 35 and pulls into the parking lot of the nearest BP. He stops at the pump, gets out, begins pumping gas and then walks into the convenience store, fuel still pumping. Apparently he doesn't see anything unusual about letting twenty gallons of highly flammable gasoline trickle into the belly of his Park Avenue without his supervision.

"What's gonna happen? Will my tank be any less full if I'm not there when it's pumping?" he asks sarcastically. "I think they'll still let me spend my money in here."

He wanders around the store for a couple minutes while his thirsty car fills up. This time he's going with a cool blue Gatorade and a Snickers candy bar. He finally walks up to the counter, where he grabs the last of his road-trip necessities - an individual cigar, that will later be emptied and re-filled with another substance prior to being burned. A have a nice day from the lady on duty and he's out the door.

Mr. M spends most of the two-hour drive talking about what he plans to accomplish that evening. He has a pretty good idea of how busy it might be, and what familiar faces he could be running into that night. He sheds a little light about his philosophy on poker, which is tough to follow at first. One thing he doesn't talk about is how much money he plans to come home with. The only thing he'll say is that if everything goes to plan, he'll bring home a bigger roll than he left with.

"I just hope there are tons of action fish out there tonight. It gets pretty crazy a little later into the night when people have been drinking for a while," he says with a twisted smirk on his face. "People play so bad. They'll sit there and crush Captain-Cokes for hours, and eventually they stack off."

He finally arrives at the office. The parking lot is full for the most part, a good sign for a shark like Mr. M. After walking through glass doors at the front entrance, he walks right past the blackjack and Chinese Poker tables. He's not here to play those types of games. At the back of the card room floor are more than 30 poker tables, most of which are filled. Almost every table features a variation of Hold 'em. Time to get to work.

He walks up to the guest services counter to sign up. After a twenty-minute wait he takes a seat at the $5-$60 game. He's now officially on the clock. It takes no more than three hands to realize why most people can't play in this game. Not only do people buy in for insane amounts of money - sometimes more than $1,000 - but that money is then thrown around as if it were pennies. A few hours pass buy and Mr. M isn't doing well. He's lost his entire buy in.

"I'm stuck," Mr. M says. By this he means he is currently down quite a bit of money. He goes on to say that he has to keep playing because one of his best friends hasn't shown up yet.

"My friend Mr. Variance will show up eventually, I'll get my money back," he says.

Who on earth is Mr. Variance? Well, he's actually not a real person. What Mr. M is referring to is the concept of variance, which basically says that if enough hands are played, the odds hold up and restore any imbalance in the game. To put it simply, he's had some tough luck so far tonight, and if he keeps playing the same way he'll start making money when the cards start falling more in line with odds.

Four hours later, his chip stack is climbing. He takes a small pot with top pair. A few hands go by before he rakes in a pretty big pot, this time by forcing everyone else to fold.

"Did you have it?" the older gentleman in seat five asks.

"Sir, I was full," Mr. M replies.

As time continues to pass and Friday night turns into Saturday morning, Mr. M has not only recovered his original loss, but he's now up a bunch. His chips are stacked in towers, each worth $100. He has at least 22 of them now. When the game breaks just after 7:00 a.m., Mr. M finds himself on a 12-hour break. He used to be known to sleep in the Buick at times like these, but he recently found a better option.

He hops in his car and sparks the ignition. He lets out a deep sigh, obviously relieved that he turned an ugly night into another winning session.

"A minor upswing," he says with a degree of cockiness. "I was so stuck there for a minute. It just took me a while to figure that one guy out. He had no idea what was coming once it got to that point. Did you see me felt that guy in seat two?"

He puts the car in drive and jumps back on I-35. This time the destination is the Hamline University campus St. Paul. One of Mr. M's friends lost a roommate last semester. Mr. M is now the beneficiary of the bed vacated by former Hamline student. He calls his friend to let him know he's arrived. Shortly after, the friend lets Mr. M into the building. After walking up two flights of stairs and navigating the hallway to room 315, M. M can finally crash.

He opens the door and heads straight for the empty bed. He doesn't take time to notice the heaping pile of shirts, shorts and socks in the carpeted floor or the plain white wall adorned with posters of star athletes. He barely even says a word to the friend providing him with a free hotel stay. Within ten minutes, he's asleep and dreaming of making plays on weak players and raking in more chips than he can count with his aces full of jacks.

After sleeping off Friday night's shift, he gets out of bed and tries to regroup around 6:30 p.m. Because he won big last night, he can afford to spend a little more freely on recovery food. When asked where to go for a good meal, a Hamline student refers Mr. M to a popular sandwich shop in downtown St. Paul.

Taking the referral without asking questions, Mr. M sets out in search of a delicious meal. He becomes enamored once he enters the sandwich shop.

"This is the real deal," he says with wide-eyes, comparable to a small child on Christmas morning. "There's just so many local gorges. I don't even know what to do."

After deciding on some variation of a turkey sandwich, he dives in. He doesn't let the mouth full of food stop him from talking about his battle plans for tonight.

"I'm going to make so many plays tonight. Saturdays are huge at Running." His words are hard to follow amidst the lettuce, cheese and turkey rattling around between his teeth. "It's really all about putting pressure on people. They don't like it. Plus you have to get your money in when you have the stones. I like to get at least three bets in (per card) when I'm full."

And that's what life is like for Mr. M. He spends most of his week hawking his fantasy sports teams on the internet, watching the big game on television and doing whatever else he feels like with no organized planning involved. Once the weekend hits, he finds the most profitable game he can and grinds it out. He doesn't win money every time he's dealt a hand, but he gets paid off when he hits a big hand, and minimizes his losses when the cards don't fall his way.

With the kind of success he's had, he has his eyes on bigger and better things. He's planning a trip to Las Vegas, Nev., the center of the gambling universe at the end of May. Planning is a pretty loose term in this case. He doesn't have plane tickets yet, and is in no hurry to book himself a flight and hotel room. All par for the course in the life of a grinder, who does everything on a moment's notice.

The timing of his trip coincides with the World Series of Poker, which commences at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino. All of the professional card players, as well as many rich flounders flock to Las Vegas when the World Series starts. Mr. M hopes to get a look at some of the no-limit games on the strip, which according to his sources, are very soft. The main reason he's going, though, is to buy into one of the smaller events on the WSOP circuit. With just a little luck he hopes to finish in the money in whatever tournament he enters. That would likely enable him to buy into the $10,000 WSOP main event, which had 6,494 entrants in 2009. The winner of the 2009 main event, Joe Cada - who was 21 at the time - took home over $8.5 million.

"I'm going to go out there and start small, mainly because I don't have much no-limit experience. Live experience anyway," Mr. M says, acknowledging that he's seen plenty of no-limit flops online. "You always here about people going down there and losing the shirt off their backs. I have some no-limit experience with home games but that's a hell of a lot different than sitting at the Bellagio."

Is it realistic for Mr. M to see himself taking a seat at the World Series next to the poker gods who taught him how to play by sharing their expert knowledge in training books?

"I'm taking a minor shot," Mr. M says. "I'm not going out there hell bent on being a superstar and coming back a millionaire, but let's be realistic. I'm not flying out there to give my winnings away."

Good luck.

What a great idea. Go Dan Savage.

I have a lot of respect for Dan Savage here. He's pretty brutal toward the GOP, but I'm mostly ok with that. For a gay, cross-dressing, sex-advice columnist to throw himself to the wolves of the Republican party must have taken such courage, or at least passion toward the cause he believes in. And I love how blunt he is. Honestly, I probably couldn't have done any of what Savage does in this article. I would be entirely unable to put myself into such a hostile situation and, after the fact, I would probably be almost as unlikely to write as critically of the experience as Savage did. And I love the points he makes. The GOP preaches liberty and justice for all, yet uses homosexuals as a convenient scapegoat for any social problems they encounter. Granted, someone could probably find plenty of ways to chastise the DFL as well, but not many ideas, from a Democrat or Republican, could be as clever as Savage's was. My question: Is Savage unfair to his newly-found conservative "party-mates?" He has very strong opinions going in, and doesn't seem open to changing or examining them. Is this a problem? Or has Savage earned the right to be close-minded in response to the party's close-mindedness toward gays? A tough question...

Written with Attitude

The strength of this piece is the sarcastic attitude in which it is written. The writer is irked with the republican party; but rather than trying to publicly embarrass them, he allows them to embarrass themselves.
This isn't so much narrative for the sake of a story. This was written because the author had something to say. He was trying to prove a point, and I can think of no better way than with an entertaining narrative.
It didn't really raise any new questions for me though. I feel like we've already covered everything. I suppose we could talk about what the smart-ass tone adds to or takes away from the story.

A different piece of "investigative" journalism

I thought Dan Savage had an interesting idea, become a member of the GOP and try to change it from the inside out. I think his bias was very clear, but I think that was the point of the article. He wasn't a real Republican, he was, in a way, a "spy". He had his own agenda and was pretty clear about it. I liked his idea of electing the most extreme conservative, in order to show how foolish th GOP is. Trying to get the party to shoot themselves in the foot to realize they need to change is a bold move. However, I don't think it will ever work... I respect Mr. Savage's courage to drop himself in the eye of the anti-gay storm. This article help reiterate how foolish and ignorant some conservatives can be, but I don't think conservatives are the only ones with extremists among them. I think it'd be interesting to see a conservative infiltrate the Democratic party.

Question: Is it OK to have stories that are clearly biased in an every day news publication?

Too Savage?

Dan is a good writer, to be sure. And he definitely has opinions. Is it bad that he expressed those opinions in such an incindiery and provocative way? Or is it just effective writing?

I think that since a worse writer might not have elicited as many strong reactions on the blog. In this sense, the piece of writing was effective and well-done. Good writing doesn't need to be respectful, polite, or politically correct for it to be good writing. That is important to remember. Being able to offend someone means that your communication has a certain degree of emotional power.

Should we only look up to and idolize writing that is respectful and polite?

politics?

I don't really know how I feel about this piece. I am more moderate when it comes to politics. I have my beliefs and stuff that I am passionate about, but I also take all sides and people into consideration. At first I thought this piece would be really interesting to me. Once democrat turned republic that could be entertaining, which it was at first. Then I just thought it was kind of pointless. I thought the way he ended it was kind of weird to. So he just joined the republican party to point out things that are bad about people who are republicans? Or was he truly in there, because he believed in some of their ideas, but wants to make them more open to other ideas? I agree with what Callie said. Savage is an entertaining writer, but I think that he may need to just stick with his columns and not really non-fiction narrative.

Blog due 4/27 (that's all I got)

I am an opiniated person, so I really hated this piece. I didn't like this guy and made it hard for me to want to read what he had to say. We have very different beliefs and thought I respect others beliefs and opinions, he slammed mine. I think before reading this, I never thought that having the writers opinion was a big issue. I retract the statement now that I have read this story. But I have read other stories that have had opinion in it, so how much opinion is too much? I think opinion is ok if you don't slam the others points of views.

Don't quit your day job

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I thought Dan Savage is a really entertaining writer. I also think that's what he should stick to writing- entertainment. I thought it was pretty clear in his voice that he is a sex columnist and while his idea of "changing the Republican party from the inside out" seems like a good topic to write about, the way he went about it seemed unprofessional to me. His motivation seemed more about openly mocking Republicans than actually making a political change.

As I write this, I am thinking that I would like to read a similar article with the roles reversed; to hear about a Republican turned Democrat to, at the risk of sounding like George Orwell, overturn the party. But I'm having a hard time believing that would ever happen.

Journalism or Propaganda?

I was not a huge fan of the piece. While it was entertaining and I did appreciate the point it was trying to make, I found it offensive. Not because of Savage's views at all, but because of his utter disregard for everyone who is Republican. He makes sweeping generalizations about everyone in the party, as well as basically mocking every gay or lesbian person who is afraid or has not come to terms with their homosexuality. I wouldn't call this homophobia; I would call it humanity. It's a scary thing for people to come out of the closet, no matter how progressive our culture claims to be. They are signing themselves up to make their lives a statement. That can be exhausting and lonely. The piece as a whole was written for entertainment, not quality, in my opinion. I found a few typos, and I wasn't even looking. In short, it was sloppy. I feel that it was included in the book as propaganda to push the author-- or editor's-- own political agenda, and not as an example of good writing. In my opinion, even editorial political writing should be done with a basic respect, not necessarily for the ideas, but at least for the people of the opposing view. When you start with this, your argument will be much more effective. All that being said, it was a very interesting read and exposed some very disturbing truths about the Republican party and their meetings... if they were true. However, Savage's mocking, sarcastic tone diminishes his credibility for me. I wonder if he's exaggerating, and therefore the repulsive things he reports don't carry as much weight.

dicey stuff

I think savage's piece was interesting but just not the right topic to be talking about in this light. I do not have a huge major view either way in politics, thats just how I was raised by my parents, but I know enough to know that this is some dicey writing. He was not writing for a piece of narrative non-fiction at all. He was writing to bash republicans up and down because he thought he could make the transition for this piece smoothly and write about his experience. (bare bones what I got) Just the fact of who he is as a person and as a writer makes it that much more difficult to relate. I am also non-biased towards any sexual position, I was raised in that way too, so the fact that he is a gay man does not strike me in any way. But for him to come out and say that republicans are homophobes probably wasn't the best thing he could put in the story. I think he needs to take a page out of Sam Cook's book here, and weigh in the fact that in this new hostile environment, he couldn't predict what was going to happen, he could only write about it non-subjectively. I agree with a few other people when they said they thought he should just stick to his democratic roots and be content with that. There was no need for him to go to these party events and throw his voice in them, taking every negative thing he can about the opposing party. It's just not the right context to be writing about that kind of stuff. Keep to your opinon pieces about sex and relationships, because (IMO) he had no business "being in their platform".

Not a politics fan...but didn't care

Last week I posted about the fact that whether or not the topic of something is appealing to a reader, that tends not to matter as long as the writing is engaging and you like it. That is how I felt about this particular story. I am not a big politics fan, nor do I get upset when people don't agree with me on a certain subject. But none of that mattered as I read today's story. If this had been written by other authors we have read this semester I probably would have stopped reading it (just kidding, it was short I would have read it anyway...just kidding again) but Savage wrote in a way that made me want to keep reading. However, I know this is contradicting what I have written before about not wanting to hear an authors voice when they are writing a story. A story should be about the subjects. To that i argue that Savage IS the subject within this story and therefore it is acceptable to have his voice heard. I wonder what the rest of the class though of this particular style of writing.

Good writer, bad idea...

I hate to say it, but I really enjoyed Savage's writing! The content however, was a bit flawed if you ask me.

He is a strong writer and it was refreshing to read something so opinionated. I could tell he probably is an opinion writer and he should be. I think his style of writer is something a lot of us could learn from when writing our own narrative.

The content I would not agree with. He wants to help the democrats by helping the republicans and but in the end it seems like he is really just helping the republicans. It doesn't make sense. Plus, I think he paints an unfair picture of the Republican party. Obvioulsy, I am bias being conservative, but really? He makes it seem as though all republicans are full of hatred and against equal rights. If i was someone reading this without any political knowledge I would leave the story thinking republicans were evil. He doesn't even attempt to show any other side of the republican part. But I guess, in an opinion piece you don't really need to show the other side, or do you?


Savage Politics

This story was really interesting to me in two regards: I'm studying Political Science and the type of story Savage did is comparable to mine - we both were trying to expose flaws by going 'inside'. I have a lot of respect for what he did, certainly more courageous than I was with my story.
It was hilarious to hear the responses from the homophobes in the Republican party. A little old lady said she knew a gay couple, making her not a bigot. Another said that it was just a false impression that outsiders have. And then he goes on to ask Ellen Croswell what to do about this "homosexual problem" - her response solidifies Savage's thoughts. Also, Savage tries to introduce an anti-discrimination against gays amendment and the party determines that homosexual amendments can't be brought up unless its anti-homosexual. So funny.
However, his writing style was a little lacking. I liked the story, but his sentences didn't flow like some of the other stories we have read. There were a few run-on sentences that didn't work for me.

Savage writes with a strong voice

Dan Savage writes with a very strong voice. It is clear that he wants readers to know what he thinks and he isn't afraid of being blunt or honest. Based on the style of his writing, you can tell that he is a columnist. I like when writers provide a clear sense of their voice in their stories, but I amlost think that Savage's voice comes off a little too strong. At the beginning of part one he refers to himself as a "commie-pinko drag fag sex-advoce columnist with a 14 year old boyfriend" (p.375). After reading this sentence, readers get to know Savage right away. It is evident that he is comfortable with who he is, but he also tells us what other people probably think about him, and he doesn't seem ashamed by that. He just threw everything out there right away. He also starts off one of his sentences by saying, "Well, let me tell you something pal..." (p. 375). It is evident in this sentence that he is using sarcasm and he wants readers to know that he is an empowered man. He states his opinions about the republic party and candidates very explicitly as well. Based on his writing, Savage seems like he could be a strong, influential man.Question for the class: What do you think about Savage's voice in his articles?

Inside-out reporting

I'm not positive on whether or not Dan Savage will be successful in his "from the inside out" reworking of the Republican party, but I do like his idea. As far as the writing goes, you could tell he was a sex columnist. His style was blunt and had an extremely large voice, but he pretty much had to with this topic coming from his point of view. I really liked the scenes at the Republican get-togethers, he painted the tension in a way that made me feel it. I'm wondering if the class thinks that Savage's sex column style added or took away from the piece.

dan savage

I give Savage major props for standing up for something he felt so strongly for and being willing to share it with a larger audience. However, I didn't think he executed the writing very well. I could tell he writes an advice/opinion column for a publication, but honestly it was a little refreshing hearing the opinion of a writer, since we haven't read many opinion pieces. A story like this one really opens the eyes of the reader to what actually does happen in politics and I was surprised at some of the comments certain sources said in his article. I thought his idea behind the story was an interesting one and I don't think it would have had the same impact if he was actually a republican. His writing was comical at times, but he also grabbed descriptions and dialogue from people that made me really think about the struggles people have in politics.

Writing for your Audience and not Shitting Yourself

I think before people get on their J-School high horses about Savage not really being objective when trying to integrate into the Republican Party, they should take a step back and rethink the Savage's audience and purpose of his piece. It was not objective, traditional journalism. He went into the piece trying to make homophobic Republicans look bad. He writes a sex advice column for an alt weekly, so his audience leans far left. His intent was to entertain, garner some publicity, and ultimately, expose the hypocrisy of homophobic Republicans. I thought he did all of this very well.

Something that we read much earlier in the semester that has stuck with me, and frequently has come to mind when reading some of these stories, is Bryson's concept of not shitting yourself. If no one remembers, this was the story when Bryson partied with the soccer hooligans, and the hooligans all recall the last journalist who tried to document their revelry. That journalist ran away when 'it went off,' or, as the hooligans put it, that journalist shit himself, and probably failed to file a decent story.

Doing narrative journalism requires courage. Going into a hostile political environment and making a scene is something that not a lot of people would do. Savage had an idea, and he went out and did it, never once mentioning cold feet. Maybe he didn't think it was that big of a deal, maybe he gets off on that kind of stuff. Regardless, when a writer ventures far outside his comfort zone, doesn't shit himself, and comes away with a good story, I find it inspiring.

clearly Savage has a strong voice

Despite a few things, I didn't like Savage's story very much. What I did like about it was that he was standing up for what he believes in. His story is definitely powerful. Here he is, a gay writer for a sex advice collumn doing everything in his power to make "fellow" Republicans uncomfortable. He has guts. However, the way he went about his investigation about gay rights from a Republican stand point I didn't understand. Rather then being at all objective, he is quick to call each and every person in the Republican party a homophobe. Yikes. The end paragraph was well written and got his point across. He said, "Leave us out of your platform and I'll stay away from your convention. But, if we are in the platform, I intend to return." In my opinion, there's no denying Savage is a good writer, but his style isn't for me.

Savage should stick to sex advice

The basic premise of Savage's approach is flawed. First off, "the best way to change an oppressive, backward, socially malevolent institution... is from the inside" (376). He claims that this is his intention when he submerges himself into the Republican party. Yet, he supports everything he hates about the Republican party in order to help the Democrats do "better" in the Fall.To his credit, he goes onto say that, "the better the Demos do, the sooner the Repubs will realize their "social" conservatism is a losing game (378)." That'd be okay if he had any evidence to support that this would actually happen in the progression he suggests. If I base my liking of this article on the content- what Savage stands for, I hate it. If I base it on his writing style...I love it.

Savage is a good writer! I would have been happy without the slurs but his writing is undoubtedly powerful. Probably my favorite part of this piece is at the beginning of part two. The very first paragraph tells us the direction that the rest of the story is going. How did he do this with so few words? I'm amazed at how short this article was and how powerful it was. I think the majority of the short articles we've read have been "feel good," soft news pieces. This is clear, concise, and hard.

Setting himself up for failure

Savage tried something new with this piece and I think he did it poorly, or maybe I didn't understand what his point of joining the Republican Party was. I think that if you are going to submerge yourself in a different culture or group than your own, you should look at it objectively and this was definitely not his intent. His whole idea of changing the party from the inside was stupid because obviously you can't change someone's opinion on a hard topic, especially if they're surrounded by many people that supposedly feel the same way. I thought that Savage's goal was unnecessary and he was setting himself up for failure from the beginning. He should stick to his democratic ways if that's what he obviously believes.

Star Jones, Monica Lewinsky and Chad Lowe! Oh my!

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Coco lived an interesting few months at this bar, there's no denying that. And there's no real point or moral to this story either. There's not much denying that. That said, I was entertained by Henson Scales' story and, perhaps due to its miniscule total length, enjoyed reading about wanna-be celebrities at this "hot spot" (Star Jones, Monica Lewinsky AND Chad Lowe! Whoa!). But I do have a lot of questions. Like: As she was working at this club, did she know she'd be writing a magazine piece on her experiences? Was she writing this as she worked there? What's her background as a journalist? If she has none, this is a pretty good effort from a cocktail waitress. I want to know more about Coco Henson Scales than I do this fading club that she wrote about. I liked the voice she uses. Her sarcasm when dealing with these whiny celebrities is perfect, I want to think I'd be able to write this way about famous people too.

My only real complaint pertains to the story's ending. Granted, it's probably appropriate for the conclusion to be so abrupt. After all, that's probably how her decision to quit came about--abruptly. I simply would have liked more. Much like the Val Kilmer story, there's nothing earth-shaking going on here, but it's a fun read and I wanted it to continue. Perhaps until Paris Hilton or, I don't know, Rob Schneider stumbled into the club. This story was like reading the gossip column, but pretty well written. I enjoyed the fun she had with it, and the story's simplicity. Go Coco.

Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous

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I have to admit, I was so distracted by the celebrity crazies in this story, that I paid no attention to the quality of writing. I mean, Naomi Campbell is screaming for pink drinks, Barbara Bush is puking outside, and all of the name-dropping is just so glamorous. I'm not quite sure what the point of this story was, but it was vastly entertaining. I'm curious about who this Coco Henson Scales is. Is she a journalist? Is she a waitress/actress? Why is she working here? Is she a freelancer? This was published by the NY Times and I looked for other stuff about her but couldn't find anything. Oh, well. Guess I'll have to wonder.

I guess the best part of Scales' writing for me was the voice. She managed to come off incredibly arrogant while at the same time a little self-deprecating. It was fun to read about this crazy world of the obscenely wealthy and famous from the perspective of someone who's just out to make a little cash so she can buy cute clothes. I didn't get the ending, though. If there was some greater meaning to the "You just figured out how to do your job" line and the shrug-then-walk-away, I totally missed it. It just seemed abrupt and meaningless to me. Anyone have more insight on that?

After I read this story by Ms. Scales I thought... "What was the point?..." Then I realized that the point was just to show the mediocre life of a hostess. It did not have a over-arching grand lesson for anyone. Just that this is the life of a hostess at a fad restaurant where the drinks are over-priced and the service is great if you know the right people. I feel that Ms. Scales was a nice woman when she started and then developed into this cold-blooded, sadistic witch. She seemed to despise any and everyone that came into the restaurant. Heck, she even mentioned how it is entertaining to mess around with people waiting to be seated. Whether it was accepting bribes, or making them beg, she seemed pretty harsh. Overall, this was a nice read and it helped emphasize that regardless of topic a creative and detailed writer can write just about anything.

Update on my writing piece: I am almost done with my final draft and hope to begin the editing process by Friday. I think I have a nice "narrative" feel to my piece and hope that I can turn this into a nice profile of the Kaspari's. I will update my draft on the blog for more input from others. Thank you.
-Ethan

I feel so . . . enlightened.

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Writer and gay rights supporter Dan Savage attending Washington State Republican party events remind me of the time when I was photographing, for my photojournalist class, the April 15th, 2009 Tea Party protest on the Lakewalk park between the DECC and the harbor. Dan Savage encountered homophobic rhetoric for short-term political gain. I also encountered a similar rhetoric of fear at the Tea Party protest. Many of these people expressed similar fantasy fears toward anything or anyone that they considered being Democratic or Liberal.

I like Dan Savage's structure of description, dialog, description. I had expected that "the rich" Republican Party would hold their 43rd District Caucus at a fancy hotel, renting a large convention room. I was surprised to read that instead the Washington State Republican party had rented a room far too small for the number of people who attended the event. I also expected a Republican convention to have a catering service serving up cheese and cracker platters, washed down with Starbucks coffee, instead of "bad store-bought doughnuts and worse coffee" that was not covered by Dan's five dollar entrance fee. It is funny that you can get some very odd ideas about people or events unless you have some direct experience with them.

Dan Savage's reporting on the King County Republican Convention was an entertaining and informative read. This was one of the articles that I wish was longer, as I was disappointed that it ended so soon.

I wonder if in 1998 did Dan Savage return to that Republican Convention? I wonder what Dan Savage thinks of the Tea Party?

Is every story a story?

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This touches further on what we talked about concerning newsworthiness in a type of writing that doesn't revolve around news.
The girls experience sounds typical of anyone who has worked a job like that; even for a short time. I get that it is a story; and an entertaining one at that. The girl is essentially a glorified babysitter. But what was she getting at?
If the story had ended with her saying that she was not only going to quit, but go back to the boring jobs she had before, that would have seemed complete provided she actually made some comparisons between the two fields.
I got that both jobs sucked, but she didnt explain which one sucked worse. That was a shortcoming.

Entertaining, but journalism?

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While I was entertained with the piece, I am wondering what the point of her piece really was. While I enjoyed the behind the scenes look at the lounge and celebrities, I couldn't help but think Coco could've done more with it. There is so much culture in the restaraunt business, and I'm sure it only gets more intense in a place like this. So, I thought the piece was kind of a long bragging session. This made me wonder: what does it take to me a journalist? Is Coco a journalist? I naturally lean towards no, but this class has made me open up to completely different types of writing. The story reminded me of something I'd see on this: http://waitress-stories.blogspot.com/ Entertaining, no doubt, but journalism?

Blog Due 4/22 (sorry no creative flair today)

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So I thought this peice was an interesting read but it didn't really answer the question, why do I care? I know throughout the semester, after almost every reading, we have asked that question... what was the point of reading it? But I think that sometimes it doesn't have to be that complicated. As Julin stated last Thursday, its a person doing something for a reason. I think it's funny to talk about Chelsey Clinton because, she is almost famous... thank goodness for Bill and Hillary... ha!!

I do like how good the writing it is. I think it had some great humor without humiliating the subjects. I wonder if my story has enough humor or too much and I want to make sure that I'm not making a joke of my source. I also am having some thoughts about if I should be in the story or not. Is it possible to put myself into the story at the beginning but then fade out and just hear dick's story. I feel it works so far, and everyone I have made read the peice don't feel that it's confusing. So I think I'm going to keep it that way. I have to add some more to the story though, I feel there isn't enough depth. and I still have to figure out how I want to talk about Dick's drug allegations/arrests and where I am going to put them into the story. But I think I will be proud by the time I finish on Tuesday!! :)

Chelsea Clinton...Bail!!!

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This was an interesting piece. It was written by someone who seems to have little to no narrative nonfiction writing experience; she worked dead-end office jobs and then, by luck, became a hostess at a popular restaurant. I thought that was rad. The story provided an interesting and honest look into what the high-life is like. It was much different than the celebrity magazines or E! True Hollywood Stories. She made these celebrities and socialites look like spoiled brats - it was awesome.
Her writing style was very descriptive. Her use of dialogue with Naomi Campbell gave me a clear picture of how she talks and what she is like - "give-me-a-drink-I-need-one-please!" and "I want a pink one." Also, it was surprising how fast those ritzy restaurant fall out of vogue, which I think was a subtle theme in this story.

50/50...

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I am not really sure how I feel about the reading, The Hostess Diaries: My Year at a Hot Spot, by Coco Henson Scales. Half of me really enjoyed it and then the other half asked myself what was the point. I really liked the description that Scales used in this story. It made me have an exact picture of what this club/restaurant must me like. She described every little detail and that made it so interesting. The detail made me drawn in to the story and it made me want to continue reading to the end. It also helped that it was a shorter read. This story was a good example of what narrative and detail add to a story. After reading this I realized that I need to add more detail to my project so it can provide entertainment for the readers and draw them in more.

One reason that I didn't know if I really like this reading all that much is because I didn't really understand the whole point of it. After I was done reading it I thought to myself that was entertaining, but what was the whole point of that? Was it that she got to experience that stuff and then she realized she want to move on to a new career? I just thought it was kind of a random story, but overall it was entertaining and it kept me focused throughout the whole reading.

I'm with Coco

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The story was great. It doesn't need a point or a moral. It doesn't attempt to answer the question "why do I care," and that's ok with me. In fact, I don't really care at all about the night life of Monica, Star, and Chelsea Clinton. But it was an intriguing perspective on that culture. It was an informative insight. Most of all, it was written well, with lots of detail. That holds my attention and entertained and informed me, even if it informed me of irrelevant and petty things. It was worth reading and I can only hope my story turns out as good.

This another example of an author spinning straw into gold. It can be done with any story, and the way my story currently looks, that is an encouraging thought. It can be done. Coco could do it. Michael Lewis could do it. Bill Bryson could do it. Dave Barry could do it. I can too.

This story sort of discourages me from my plans of hostessing this summer, but it was hilarious and I wanted to read more. I liked the story about Monica and Hillary Clinton, I'm sure scandals like that happen in swanky restaurants all the time. It was interesting to hear the story from Scales' perspective as a woman who has the power to reject who can come into the restaurant and how it gives her an ego boost. How honest. The detail she uses in describing celebrities is great because I can picture exactly what the situation would looks like. (like when she describes how overly nice the Bush daughters are) So ok, this story is not puzzling, it doesn't harbor a huge amount of TENSION, but it was fun and kept me very interested.

Honest voice in writing

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I really liked the piece My Hostess Diaries: My Year at a hot Spot by Coco Henson Scales. She used a great amount of description; I was able to imagine what the restaurant, the VIP lounge and the people looked like. I really like how the narrative included a variety of different scenes. I really enjoyed the scene in which Scales and her coworker were trying to get Monica Lewinsky to leave the restaurant. She mentioned that Lewinsky "shimmied past the other tables" and "stormed" back down the stairs. Scales makes it seem like Lewinsky was running around frantically to try and avoid Chelsea Clinton. It was actually quite comical since Chelsea Clinton wasn't even in the restaurant. I also enjoyed the scene involving Star Jones because Scales clearly illustrated Jones' behavior and personality. She wrote, "Fully clothed, Star is on her hands and knees on the bed, laughing. Her fiancé is behind her, hands around her waist, mimicking a sex act" (p. 364). I like that she mentioned this behavior because it gives readers a sense of how inappropriately Star Jones was acting in a nice, public restaurant.

I like how honest Scales was in this piece as well. She didn't only include positive characteristics of herself and her co-workers and the customers, but she included negative aspects of each of the characters as well. Scales admits that she was fired from her previous office jobs and she admits that she got an ego boost from turning people away from entering the restaurant. She confesses that the owner wants his restaurant to be an "oasis of rail-thin beautiful women" (p.368) and she must seat unattractive customers in the corner or dim the lights to diminish the amount of attention brought to them. The way in which she describes the actions of the celebrities was very honest as well. She described Naomi Campbell's childlike behavior, and she provides a vivid image of what Barbara Bush looked like as she was hunched over on her hands and knees on the sidewalk. Scales objective of writing this piece obviously wasn't to make the celebrity customers look good. Maybe she wanted readers to realize that celebrities aren't as perfect as the general public might assume them to be. Scales story seemed very candid. I wonder what the celebrities described in the story would think about this piece of writing. My question for the class is: What do you think Scale's purpose in writing this piece was?

Good Entertainment

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I really enjoyed this piece. It gave me the chance to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. I thought it was interesting to hear about all the behind the scenes stuff that goes on as a hostess at a nice restaurant. The story flowed really well. It kept me reading. Even though there wasn't really a big issue going on I still cared. I think the writer is to thank for that. I would like to know how she condensed the story into being so short. I am sure she had so many details and stories within the story that she could have told the reader. I think she found a good balance.

Did I tell you about my last pedicure...?

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I really enjoyed this story by Coco Henson Scales, I liked the style that she wrote in. This story made me laugh and kept me entertained through the entire thing, and that wasn't the case with all of the other stories in this book. The way that she talks about the celebrities that come in and how she treats them and they treat her was hilarious. That's our society, you're sick of your desk job so you do something totally different, while it has it's high points, some aspects of it still suck. I commend her for taking such a leap with her career path though, even if she did have to deal with the same amount of crap.
I thought it was hilarious the way she portrayed Barbara Bush, first thinking it was the grandma and then walking outside to find the girl on hands and knees. When she spots Monica Lewinsky and escorts her out the backdoor so she can avoid Chelsea Clinton was just classic. People would kill for a job like Scales just got by chance and out of being board with her hum-drum lifestyle in an office. All the while though, this job turns out to be just like her last and gets old after a while, you can only talk about pedicures so many times.
I guess i have a little trouble understanding where this piece fits in with the rest of the stories in this book, but at the same time, I don't care. I really enjoyed it and I'm glad it was in there. After she wrote this though, were there any issues she ran into with the restaurant and the people she talked about?

It is what it is

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I thought today's reading was very enjoyable. Not only because it was short, but because it kept me entertained throughout the entire thing. While I am struggling to find the point of why this type of writing is in this book, I can appreciate the details that are in the story and help make the story more colorful.

I also agree with a previous post that this semester has taught us that stories are there to be stories. There might be a bigger picture or a deeper meaning, or there might not. Having or not having one does not make a story. You read a story, and are kept interested in the story by the way it is written. You can say that you read a story because of the topic it is about, but if you get into it and find the writing is horrid, it's going to be rather hard to see the story through until the end.

I thought Scales was a little intense at some times. I had to wonder when she described the Bush daughter dry having a "moment" outside the club: did she ever read that and if so what did she think about it? I think Scales was in a delicate position being privy to many moments that celebrities might not want 'us' to know about. I think her writing was done borderline of a style that might have made those she interacted with upset at time.

Barb Bush gets down.

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Scales story was a fun read, rather different then most of the pieces we have read in this book, the story is a fun, inside look at working in a night club. The tone was very informal and its clear that she is a great writer, as the story had tremendous flow. I really liked how she ended the second "paragraph" talking just a little bit about herself and how she spends all her money on her appearance for her job. Then when Naomi Cambell comes in, and she is clearly very fond of her, Her manager tells her that the outfit that she was so fond of was the same one she was wearing last time she came in. That to me was very clever and showed her voice and personality to us, which in turn helped me understand her numerous encounters with these celebrities. I can see what everyone is saying about "the bigger idea", my take, doesn't matter for something like this. Its more like a mini-notebook of a years stuff put into a story you would tell your friends. Which makes it entertaining, there is not supposed to be any hard fact or idea, its just a good read. She is just saying to us, here is a little bit of who I am (semi-bitchy, SEXY), what I did, (Nightclub job dealing with famous people), and what it was like, (crazy, fun, hectic). It makes for a good short piece of nonfiction writing. IMO. She gives you a very sharp, clear look at what is was like working in this crazy position for a year, that was her big idea, and that's fine, because its well written and narrated, and quite humorous.

I'd like a pink cocktail

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I loved the pice that Scalse wrote about her experience as a hostess at a swanky nightclub. I found myself laughing out loud. This is one of the pieces that I would have been okay reading an extra 20 pages. I've noticed a lot of people are making the argument (or just a statement) about the story not having much purpose. If we've learned something this semester, and we've learned much more than just one thing, it's that it's okay for a story not to have bigger meaning. I'm taking this story, just as a did with Orlean's, at face value. It's funny and it's entertaining. I finished reading it because I wanted to.

I'll never be a host at a night club like this. I'll never have to entertain celebrities. I'll never know what that's like. I'm happy that Scales gave me a glimpse of it.

I'm a little shocked about how bluntly she described the celebrities that she hosted. She is by no means sensitive when she described their etiquette. I loved how real her descriptions were. Her bluntness definitely came off as bitchiness which only added to the entertainment.

Loved it. It was short. (Just kidding)

So what?

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I really had a hard time caring about Scales' experience as a hostess. I found the read easy and it kept my attention, but I was a little thrown off by her lack of depth. For most of the story, I though Scales was kind of a bitch, turning people away just to boost her own ego. She was okay with having the job for the sole purpose of being sexy and spent all her money on clothes her boss wanted her to buy. Not to sound like a raging feminist, but these details made it hard for me to respect Scales as a journalist.

Which after just typing that last sentence makes me wonder: is Scales considered a journalist?

Long story short: pretentious restaurants draw in pretentious celebrities. What else is new?

What was the Point?

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I feel like I missed something. Upon finishing Scales' piece I found myself scanning back through, looking for meaning. Attractive female becomes fed up with office job, gets hostess job at swanky nightclub, nightclub loses prestige, hostess leaves. Am I missing something?

The anecdotes were fun and the overall piece was light, quick, and fairly entertaining. But I don't feel like I learned anything I couldn't have already guessed about swanky nightclubs. There wasn't a 'big idea' she was driving at, whereas with other pieces in this book had two or three big ideas. This was a year's worth of diary entries condensed into twelve pages. Meh.

Coco knows how to write

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I really enjoyed Coco's piece on so many levels. First off, I was a hostess for three years and I can totally relate with the unruly customers always expecting more and also the feeling you get with helping people and making them feel good. I loved her line about being with people on their date and birthdays because that was the one thing I like about repetitively bringing people to their tables; you get to share that little part of their special evening with them, even if they won't remember you the next day.

Also I enjoyed the part when she spoke of her clothing and how she tries to not wear the same thing twice. My best friend is the exact same way and I totally envy her style and ability to match articles of clothing so they always look fresh. I was happy to see my friend shares this passion for fashion and inspires me to indulge in this field.

Finally I found Coco's piece to be enjoyable in the fact that it was a narrative piece, but didn't feel narrative. Her use of detail really made the story flow and I wasn't hung up on the idea that it was her own voice telling the story. Overall very nice piece and the length was very refreshing as well.

Scales the peacock

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Having little experience with nightclubs, I found Coco Henson Scales playing the role of a nightclub hostess a bit eye opening. From king-sized beds to dealing with the rich and famous, Scales sure did have an interesting job. Of course, the crazy antics of Monica Lewinsky and Naomi Campbell are the exceptions to the normally well behaved customers, or at least I hope so. I did like the article and it is the reason why I'll never apply for a job as a nightclub host.

1. I like that this was a short story that I could read at one go, especially when compared to Wallace's Host article.

2. What did Coco Scales do after she quit her job at Hue? Did Coco earn a journalism degree or is she a self-taught writer?

Coco's story

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I really enjoyed reading Coco Henson Scale's story in New Kings. Her details made me laugh and I was entertained the entire time. I think that this type of narrative reporting is the most interesting because it takes a real-life job and exposes it to the rest of the world. I have been a host at a restaurant and I definitely know what it's like to deal with rude customers and have to make people wait for an hour. I tried googling Coco Henson Scale and I only came across this story, so I am guessing that this is her only story that was published in the NY Times, which is an impressive feat by being her first story. I think she gives a face to the celebrity world and that it isn't all glamorous. Celebrities are human beings and some are just jerks. I would be a little embarrassed if I was Star Jones and especially Barbara Bush. The true personalities of these celebrities was depicted in this narrative and I think the story made the NY Times because it was exposing the side of the celebrity world that doesn't get written about. A story like this solidifies to me that you don't have to have a ground breaking story for it to be accepted by readers. I think all the narratives in New Kings this semester has accomplished the goal of letting their sources tell their stories and I find stories like that the most interesting. Some journalists like to hear their own voices in their work, but that turns me off to the piece of writing unless their opinion and viewpoint matter to the story. In this case, Coco's experience and memories at this job was the story and I think she worked in details beautifully.

Be a persistent freelancer, get your career ball rolling

What it the best way to prove that a story is worth anyone's time? What is the best way to prove that your writing is worth one or two dollars per word? Are you interested in writing about Tiddly Winks to earn a few extra dollars?

Stewart O'Nan's time management advice works for any career. I liked Joseph Conrad's quote about a successful writing career is, "starting and not stopping." His tips on writing are common sense advice, yet I know that I'll become a better writer when I use these. What about giving us student journalists some advice on writing a few Letters to the Editor? You don't get paid for your writing, but you do get published.

Susan Orlean's "A Passion for Writing" simply means that we writers need drive, need passion to research, write, edit, and sell our manuscripts.

Why did you want to be a writer? Because I love the art of writing. I love the sense of achieving a goal by creating thoughts in my mind and translating my thoughts onto a screen as words to be read by my readers.

Do you love language? Yes, I love it when a difficult sentence comes together, much like a lion tamer feels when one of her cats learns a new trick.

Are you deeply curious? I remember walking past Duluth's Endion Depot and wondering what was the story behind the structure.

Are you a bit of a control freak? Yes, as I tell my readers what I think they will find interesting and in the order that will make my manuscript an entertaining read.

Do you find the world and the people in it a marvel? Yes, I do. What is it about the Twin Ports that makes some people want to live here? What is it about the Twin Ports that makes some people want to move away as quickly as possible? In short, start by looking at the world around you with a childlike sense of wonder and then start searching for a question that needs an answer. As Orlean last sentence describes, "It's about being in love with something - and love is never silly."

Post a brief update on your project here

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Please provide a brief update on how your stories are coming and what you expect your story to look like for Tuesday's deadline. In other words, what have you done so far and what do you have left.
I do hope that you'll have the chance to create a well developed draft of these articles so that you will have time to give it a critical revision. That, as we know, is where good writing becomes great writing.

Wrapping it up

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The last chapter of Telling True Stories answered the question "when is it ever possible to use this?" Throughout the book we had been given advice about how to successfully write narrative journalism; there was always that nagging thought in my head that it would be impossible to actually write freely like they described. And it seems that is next to impossible to become a narrative journalist. This section didn't offer much encouragement other than if you are passionate and hardworking enough you can make it. It was interesting to read that most narrative journalists don't start off as such, instead they usually get bored of their job at a daily newspaper (or an engineer) and write what they want in their off time. As many authors in this section hinted at, it is a real risk to be a full time freelance writer.

I thought The Perfect Storm article was great. Junger is this really humble dude, who loves learning interesting stuff, and does treework. It was awesome that he seemed not to care if his writing sold, as long as he told an interesting story. He was completely caught off guard by how successful his book was. It was rad that even after he hit the jackpot he still does tree work just to keep himself grounded.

How often does this happen, as with Junger, where you can write whatever interests you and make a living doing it? Sounds like the life. Even if he didn't hit the 'jackpot' with his book do you think he would still be doing it, fighting the good fight? If you're telling a story that's important would you even care about getting paid? I don't think so.

Whatever Sells

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Interesting reading for today. The interview with Junger was really encouraging to me. I love the idea of just writing whatever you want and then pitching it, as opposed to writing what people want to hear. I know that doesn't usually work out so well for writers, but it's always fun to read about someone that did it successfully. It was significant to me, too, the stories he sought out. He was interested in dangerous jobs, so he sought them out and wrote about them. I would like to be that ballsy, to just go for whatever topic interests me and write about it, just determine to MAKE it worth reading because I think it is. I would like to think of myself that way, but I know the professional writing world is a lot more pressurized than college writing... so maybe I'll sell out. Who knows.

The last section of Telling True Stories was definitely the stuff I don't think about as much-- agents, publishing, promoting, advances. Not my favorite stuff to deal with but it was good to get some tips. I feel like the business side is often not the strong point of a writer, so maybe we're all in the same boat with this. O'Nan's rules were helpful but basically the same rules that every other writer in this book has given us. I did think it was interesting what Atwan said on page 276, that the advance means nothing about how successful your book will be. The publisher can still back off and publish a small number of copies if they decide they don't think it'll sell. After the description of how competitive this field is, it seems like it would be hard to find a publisher that would stick by you, as Atwan suggests you do. I love writing but the selling part sounds like it sucks. Bottom line, though, I guess, is that you'll do it if you love it enough. I wonder if anyone in our class is planning on pitching their final pieces for this class to any publications besides Lake Voice and the Statesman, and how they're going about that? I would be interested in having a longer discussion about that.

Telling true stories and Perfect Storm

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In this last Chapter of Telling True stories I found myself both excited and afraid of becoming a journalist. Jim Collins offered great insight on how to get started as a freelancer, that to just plunge in to freelancing is kind of risky. I also like his lessons on how to set up a proposal and a query letter. My favorite entry had to be Stewart O'nan's piece about how to write a book. The seventeen rules can be applied to almost any kind of writing, narrative non-fiction, fiction, editorials, etc. His rules weren't too complicated "Isolate yourself... Enjoy yourself, always keep your notebook with you..." all these small steps help form good habits and rituals for writing. I found Susan Orlean's final lesson to be very helpful. I think it's important to ask yourself "Why do you want to be a writer?... Do you love language?...Are you deeply curious?..." knowing these answers will help make your career a lot less work, and a lot more fun.

The piece on Mr. Junger was very interesting. I loved that he went out and started his story before he even had a contract. The man has guts, he is a mixture of Mike Rowe form "Dirtiest Jobs" mixed with the cast from "Deadliest Catch". The man picked out some real blue collar jobs and wrote about them. I love the tenacity that he has and how almost every assignment he had he started without a contract. I hope I can have half the courage that this man has as a freelancer.

Duluth's Lakewalk

"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race."
- H.G. Wells

Nearly every day from March until November, I make an effort to bicycle or walk on Duluth's Lakewalk. Speaking for myself, I prefer off-road, paved trails. On these, there is little chance of becoming road kill by an inattentive motorist. On these trails, there are no steep hills to bike up or ride my brakes down. There are few piles of litter to avoid, bike eating potholes to avoid, the possibility of running into someone's mailbox, having to dodge parked cars, or get my eardrums blasted by someone's thunderous car stereo.

Before a bike ride, I check the Weather Channel, inspect my bicycle, make sure that I have some money just in case I get a flat tire and need to take the city bus back home, and lastly do some warmup stretching. Sometimes, I eat two containers of Dole, Mandarins on Orange Gel. These tasty treats this rich in Vitamin C and appear to give me about a two or three-mile per hour increase in my overall speed for twenty to thirty minutes after I eat these.

What is it like to start from Lake Place Park, bicycle five miles, eat a pizza for lunch at Sammy's Pizza at their 47 Avenue East restaurant, and then bicycle another five miles back to Lake Place Park? Answer, I got very hungry from my bicycle ride and therefore I ate one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten.

You can meet many friendly people on the Lakewalk. Once, my bicycle chain slipped while I was shifting gears. While I was attempting to get the chain back on the gears, some other bicyclist stopped and offers to help me. This man stayed with me until I had gotten my chain back on the gears and I was able to peddle away using my own leg muscles.

"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self--reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel . . . the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood."
- Susan B. Anthony

Before the construction of the Lakewalk, there were few public access points for people to enjoy Duluth's lakeshore. The four public access points were the Ship Canal, Leif Erikson Park, Lester River, and Brighton Beach. In addition, walking and bicycle advocates were dreamed about a cross-town bike path since the 1970's. But, because of a lack of funding, the city of Duluth built few paved trails

Walkers and bicycle riders made their own "informal foot paths" along the railroad tracks between Canal Park and Brighton Beach. However, for walkers or off road bicyclists who used these paths were trespassing on private property. The private property was owned by railroads, small scale industry, warehouses, junkyards, and filled in areas created by dumping the debris and rubble from demolished buildings. The lakeshore was littered with bits of carved stone, broken bricks, iron plumbing pipes, and even two discarded steel safes. Where Lake Place Park now stands, was a flat stretch of land for a railroad yard and abandoned warehouses.

Additionally, these informal paths were narrow, uneven, were often muddy, and passed through thick underbrush. Thus, people often walked along the active railroad tracks, which is always dangerous and illegal. Thus, only the brave and the bold chose to trespass across private property to reach the lakeshore for daytime fishing, swimming, and rock collecting. While at night, these areas that would become the Lakewalk became dark stretches of land that attracted lovers, teen drinking, graffiti artists, and drug dealers. In short, with limited public lakeshore access, far fewer residents and tourists visited Duluth's lakeshore then they do today.

During the 1970's, Duluth Canal Park was a declining industrial area and Grandma's Restaurant was the only popular destination in Canal Park for ordinary citizens. What is now a city block long parking lot between Canal Park Drive and South Lake Avenue was a major junkyard surrounded by an ugly fence and connected by a railroad spur. Canal Park was a place people normally drove through, not drove to.

Amy Norris, employed by Duluth Parks and Recreation Department, told me that in the 1980's the first phase of the Lakewalk, located on the lakeside shore of Canal Park to 27th Avenue East, was constructed along with Interstate 35 in Downtown Duluth. Before the construction of Interstate 35, Canal Park and the lakeshore were occupied by warehouses, a railroad yard, junkyards, and a few low income homes

During the 1980's, communities of all sizes and all over the world were rediscovering their waterfronts. Abandoned or underused industrial land was transformed into parks, restaurants, retail shops, and hotels. Following this worldwide trend, Duluth city planners revised a one- hundred-year-old plan to create a world class park on Canal Park's lakeshore side. This park plan appears similar to today's Leif Erickson Park's Rose Garden, but the city never had enough money to construct the park as this plan proposed. Thus, city planners applied for and obtained Federal Enhancement Grant Money to build this project that a part of the 1986 Downtown Duluth Waterfront Plan that proposed the Lakewalk, along with a number of other enhancements to improve the quality of life for Duluth citizens. In 1992 and again in 1994, the Duluth I-35 extension and Lake Place won Federal Highway Administration "Excellence in Highway Design" awards.

Duluth city planners used the federal grant money to use waste rock, created by digging out the space for the Interstate tunnels, to greatly extend the lakeshore and create the first phase of the Lakewalk. Without the waste rock, the city of Duluth could not have afforded to extend the lakeshore and thus build the Lakewalk on the expanded shoreline. First, dumping the waste rock onto the lakeshore, and to build reefs to encourage recreational fishing, saved millions of dollars to dump the waste rock far from the construction site. Second, just notice where the shoreline is in relationship to the concrete wharf known as Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum in photos before and after the Lakewalk was constructed. It is a common practice to extend shorelines with waste rock from nearby construction projects. For example, New York City's World Trade Center needed to dig out a vast area of soil and rock that was then used to create new land that became Battery Park City on the west side of Lower Manhattan.

According to the Duluth Parks and Recreation web site, Duluth's Lakewalk official southern end is at Bayfront Festival Park. The trail from Bayfront Festival Park to Canal Park is on existing concrete sidewalks.

However, some city park maps show the southern end as the intersection of Morse Street and Canal Park Drive. This part of the trail has an entrance gate and the "Determined Mariner" statue. Trail construction coincided with the construction of the Interstate. The first section of the Lakewalk was constructed from Canal Park to 21st Ave East. Then the trail's second section extended from 21st Avenue East to 27th Avenue East. The Lakewalk now actually ends at 47 Avenue East. However, for some reason the Parks and Recreation web site as well as Goggle Maps have not been updated and still show the trail's northern end at 27th Avenue East.

The technical terms used by architects and city planners to describe the Lakewalk is a Liner Park or a Greenway, and is classified as a recreational and non-motorized transit park. Such long and narrow parks are common throughout the world, the most famous being the Promenade plantée "walk with trees" in Paris, France; the High Line in New York City, NY; and the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis, Minn. However, the Canal Park section of the Lakewalk could be unique in the world in having three trails constructed along the same corridor.

The first trail is a seven-foot wide boardwalk that is intended for pedestrians, which starts at Canal Park and ends the Fitgers Inn pedestrian bridge. The boardwalk is constructed of an extremely durable hardwood known as Ipe. The second trail is ten foot wide asphalt trail, intended for bicyclists and rollerbladers. The trail's southern end is at Canal Park and the northern end is at 47th Avenue East. The third trail is a twelve-foot wide gravel path for carriage rides that extend from Corner of the Lake Park to Morse Street.

Between Corner of the Lake Park and Leif Erikson Park, a double track railroad was reduced to one track to make room for the boardwalk and the bike path. Between the Northland Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Fitger's bridge the bike path narrows to eighty inches wide or about half the width of the rest of the pathway. The bike path is far too narrow for the four wheel surrey bikes or bike trailers to pass each other without one detouring onto the boardwalk.

This section of the trail is so popular that during the summer so many people use that section that I've seen human and bicycle traffic jams on the trail. To my untrained eyes, there appear to be more people on the Lakewalk than on Superior street sidewalks. Some members of the UMD's cycling club avoid that part of the trail to avoid the crowds. I would really love to see that trail section widened to at least the width of the other parts of the trail.

Along the Lakewalk are information kiosks, parking lots; the 580-foot-long "Image Wall" crafted from 1.27 million ceramic tiles that portrays images of Lake Superior maritime activity, designed by artist Mark Marino; the International Sculpture Garden, the Northland Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, and memorial benches. Amy Norris told me that someone can purchase a Lakewalk memorial bench for $2.500 dollars. I consider that a good price for something that tens of thousands of people will enjoy for about sixty years.

According to Tom Kasper, Cit Gardner, and Visit Duluth, the Lakewalk attracts more than one million trail visitors each year. The Lakewalk is a world class showcase for a city to make an asset of what was not so long ago underused industrial property. The Lakewalk has become a signature draw and icon for the city of Duluth. It plays an important role in keeping Duluth citizens healthy, while giving them a safe path to bicycle or walk to downtown employment. Currently, this section of the trail is now 6.2 miles long.

The Lakewalk section between 27th Avenue East and 36th Avenue East, with an expensive 125- foot bridge over Tischer Creek was completed in 2008. The 36th to 47th section was completed in 2009. Despite this extension, many runners and bicyclists still complain that the Lakewalk is still too short for a great run or bike ride.

"For instance, the bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon."
- Bill Strickland

Think of the Lakewalk as part city sidewalk, part scenic drive. For people walking along London Road between 26th Avenue East and 32nd Avenue East, the Lakewalk is the only direct way to go from one avenue to the other avenue, other than a long detour by walking uphill to Greysolon Road. On East Superior Street, the Lakewalk provides a much needed second sidewalk on the lakeside side of the street.

As the Lakewalk attracts people and whenever people gather at one area is a place where small businesses can find a way to make a profit. Trail users can rent bicycles at the Canal Park Lodge and from Wheel Fun Rentals. Families have already put up Lemonade stands on the trail and used the Lakewalk fence to post notices. A number of home owners have spruced up their landscaping alongside the Lakewalk.

Suppose that you are interesting in renting an apartment or buying a home within a half-mile of Duluth's paved trails? Even if you don't plan to use the trail yourself, buying land near a paved trail is a good investment. According to the Missouri Bicycle News Article posted an article that stated that "Trails raise nearby home values an average of $13,000." In 2010, City planners hope to extend the Lakewalk's third phase will extend the trail from 47th Avenue East to 60th Avenue East. In 2011, the Lakewalk's fifth phase will connect Highway 61 to Brighton Beach. City planners have not yet decided upon a bridge or tunnel will span Highway 61.

Also in 2011, the Munger Trail is planned to be extended from 75th Avenue West to Canal Park, linking up with the Lakewalk. In 2012, the fourth Lakewalk phase will connect 60th Avenue East to Highway 61. If I was in the market for my first home, I would choose to buy one that is within a half-mile of the Lakewalk. I also suspect that longtime walking and bicycle advocates will be very happy that their vision of a paved, off-road, cross town trail will finally be complete on the day the fourth and last section of Duluth's Lakewalk officially opens.

"Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving."
- Albert Einstein

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Sidebars

I asked Jim Miller, Associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, Duluth about the rock that was used from the construction of the Interstate 35 tunnels.

He replied, "Good question. There are several types of rock observable along the Lakewalk. Some is derived from the local 'bedrock' exposed along the shoreline - these are mostly 1.1 billion-year-old igneous rock (basalt, gabbro) and some sedimentary rock (exposed in the vicinity of Leif Erickson Park). But some of the blocks along the lake walk have been 'imported'. Some of the big blocks along the stretch below Fitgers are pieces of dark iron formation from the Mesabi Range. Other whitish blocks are a rock called anorthosite that may have come from the quarry at Carlton Peak (near Temperance River State)."

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Sam Cook, Outdoors Writer/Columnist for the Duluth News Tribune told me that the following about his impressions of Duluth's Lakewalk. Mr. Cook wrote, "I like the variety of areas that the Lakewalk passes through from Canal Park to 47th Avenue East. I love biking or walking the more wooded area from 26th Avenue East to 36th Avenue east, crossing a creek or ravine along the way, basically being flanked by trees. That's because I love being in the woods. But I also really enjoy the Canal Park end on a warm summer night with lots of tourists in town. I imagine Duluth as a San Antonio, with its river walk area, or as Ottawa, with its path along the Ottawa River. I like to hear snippets of tourist conversations as I walk the Canal Park section on a summer night, and we almost always see someone from Duluth we know. In that way, the Lakewalk contributes to a sense of community."

When I asked Mr. Cook about the triple trail on Canal Park's lakeshore, he replied, "I don't get to a lot of other cities, but, no, I don't know of any other three-in-one trails. I think it's a tribute to city planners that our trail accommodates several different kinds of use." I agree that I'm not aware of any other city park that has three different types of trails side-by-side.

I told Mr. Cook that my friend Howard Hendrickson told me that he believes that good weather is the main factor in deciding if people walk or bicycle a nearby trail or not. I then asked Mr. Cook if he believes if Howard's opinion that weather influences trail use is true or not?

Mr. Cook replied, "I think your friend Howard is exactly right about weather influencing use of almost any trail. Most people like nice weather, and that's what makes them want to get outside. One exception might be that when we have a big northeast wind and the lake is really rocking, people will come to the Lakewalk downtown to watch the waves come crashing in or feel the spray that flies ashore. Duluthians embrace a lot of different kinds of weather."

I then asked Mr. Cook if he was aware of any Duluth News Tribune employees or anyone else who use the Lakewalk to commute to and from work? "I have fellow employees who bike to work, but I don't know if they use the Lakewalk or not. I suspect some do. I use it myself when I bike in, riding down from the hill, then catching it at 26th Avenue East and riding on downtown. If everyone started his or her day this way, we'd all be much happier at work, I think. You ride along that lakeshore next to that amazing body of water in its various states of color and texture, and you think how lucky we are to live here." I would add that taking more trips using human powered transit would require some changes in our thinking about commuting to work, as well as providing shower rooms and changing areas at our places of work. These are possible tasks, but ones that will require some effort to bring about.

When I asked Mr. Cook about the possibility that Duluth could be the midpoint of a paved trail network from the Twin Cities to Canadian border, Mr. Cook replied, "Certainly, I think that connecting the Lakewalk both from the west and to the east would bring more use to the trail within the city. Duluth would be the primary destination (motels, restaurants, etc.) allowing people to explore in either direction from here. That said, I think most people tend to use the trail in shorter stretches, from a few blocks to a few miles at a time. Not many people are going to hike/bike the entire length of such a long trail."

Mr. Cook ended his letter by saying, "Hope that helps, James. Let me know if you need more."

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Ken Buehler, Depot Executive Director, has written that "Duluth's best loved tourist attraction is Lake Superior! Extending the Lakewalk and providing more access to the lake itself at Brighton Beach is only going to enhance our guest/visitors experience. The St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Rail Authority has granted access to the North Shore Scenic Railroad's right of way to accommodate this planned expansion. Having our train run alongside it is good for the us as more people see and hopefully want to ride the North Shore Scenic Railroad while enjoying their visit to Duluth." In short, trail users will be inspired to ride the scenic railroad, while scenic railroad riders will be inspired to use the trail.

I asked Mr. Buehler if Northen Lights Express or NLX will assist bicycle riders, day riders and bicycle campers. Mr. Buehler replied that NLX trains will have bike friendly cars that will carry people's baggage and their bikes, canoes, and kayaks. This ability to transport bulky baggage gives the NLX advantages over other forms of public transportation such as airplanes and buses.

I asked Mr. Buehler about the possibility of building a chained network of paved trails for the Twin Cities to Grand Marais. He replied, "I am a great fan of the North Shore Hiking trail (Gitchi-Gami State Trail). I have spent many hours on it and can see the benefit of having a hiking trail from Hinckley to Grand Marais. People will be able to take the TRAIN from Minneapolis to Hinckley and walk north as well as take the train from Duluth/Superior and hike back."

"However, my experience with nature loving guest/visitors is that they are very welcome and appreciated but that their economic impact is marginal. This is a market that we will encourage to ride the TRAIN and make available to them all of our resources for carrying bikes, nap sacks and tents, but their economic impact on the region, because of their choice of recreation, is minimal when compared to a family of five up here for a weekend at a hotel with meals, attractions and souvenirs as their preferred way to enjoy our community. This is not to discourage the trail users, but it is reality."

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The Lakewalk trail clearly benefits the people who use the trail. But, what about people, who will for whatever reason, will never use the Lakewalk? Missouri Bicycle News Article posted an article that stated that "Trails raise nearby home values an average of $13,000."

In Dec. 2003, the Indiana University Center for Urban Policy and the Environment released a study exploring the impact of the Monon Trail and other greenways on Indianapolis (IN) property values. Here are some of the results (courtesy of Connie Szabo Schmucker, Executive Director, Indiana Bicycle Coalition):

The study used local housing data to help determine whether living close to the Monon Trail added value to a home. Then, using sophisticated statistical techniques, they were able to show what Realtors already know intuitively: People pay more for properties with good schools, nice parks and amenities like the Monon Trail. . . .

For homes within 1/2 mile of the Monon Trail (10.5 mile trail), the sales premium is $13,059. Approximately 8,862 households are located near the Monon Trail. If this premium applies to each of those homes, the total increase in property values in Marion County associated with the Monon Trail is $115.7 million.

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Trails provide a measurable boost to local communities. In an online article, "Build it and they will come and spend; Pennsylvania's Pine Creek Rail Trail" had this to say about the economic impact of bicycle trails. The Rails to Trails Conservancy conducted a survey there last year that proves the adage heard in the movie Field of Dreams: "Build it and they will come."

The survey found that not only do they come, but they contribute to the local economies. While the trail has cost about $12.6 million to build since 1995, the Pine Creek survey determined that visitors spend from $5 million to $7 million a year, most of which is spent in the local communities along the trail.

Local spending

While some of the spending for "hard goods" such as bicycles went to businesses around the state, local spending for food and snacks totaled $2.5 million to $3.6 million and for lodging tallied between $1.3 million to $1.9 million.

The trail's impact on the economy has been great. 82% of the respondents said they had purchased bikes, accessories or clothing for an average expenditure of $354. Further, 86% reported they spent money on such "soft goods" as lunches, ice cream, drinks to the tune of an average $30 per trip.

Another boon to the local economy, 57% said they spent at least one night in the area. On average, the overnighters spend just more than three nights per visit and spend $69 per night.

Owners of general stores, restaurants and hotels in towns along the route were interviewed, and they all agreed that business had picked up since the trail opened, and many had added new products and more employees.

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Anthony Cullen, a member of the UMD Cycling Club, told me that even if the Lakewalk was extended to Brighton Beach that their club would not use it for club events. The Lakewalk would have to be connected to the Munger Trail to achieve the required 20-mile minimum distance for them to have a worthwhile bicycle ride. Mr. Cullen says that their typical day bicycler rides range from 20 to fifty miles, while their overnight camping rides are about one hundred miles.

When I asked Mr. Cullen about a trail network from Hinkley to Grand Marais, he replied, "If this was to be done it would definitely be awesome! I believe the trail that is currently being worked on is the north shore trail that currently starts in Silver Bay and goes about forty miles."

When I asked him to imagine a network of paved trails from the Twin Cities to the Canadian border, he replied, "Yes, I can imagine this. Our club has traveled from Duluth to Canada, so this would definitely be of interest."

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Lakewalk's Unkind Curb Cut

According to Wikipedia, "A curb cut (U.S.), curb ramp, dropped kerb (UK), or pram ramp, Kerb ramp (Australia) is a ramp leading smoothly down from a sidewalk to a street, rather than abruptly ending with a curb and dropping roughly 4-6 inches (10-15 cm)."

The Lakewalk is intelligently designed and easy to use, with the exception of the pedestrian bridge located at South Street, between 16th Avenue East and 17th Avenue East. A metal sign names this structure as Minnesota Bridge numbered 69838, a pedestrian bridge that is built over Interstate 35 and links South Street with Duluth's Lakewalk. You can see a wonderful view from the bridge of the Lake Superior, Duluth's lakeshore, and Park Point, if you can get on the bridge.

Unfortunately, at this location the curb cut from street level to the bridge is misplaced ten feet to the left side of the South Street bridge entrance. The curb cut should have been place directed in the center of the bridge approach. Or, there should have been a wide sidewalk between the ten- foot distance between the curb cut and the bridge.

As this access ramp was built, the surface between the retaining wall to the edge of the curb is 47 inches. However, there are only 32 inches of flat and therefore usable sidewalk for ten feet between the curb cut and the bridge. Updated and revised in 2004, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities state that walking surfaces should have a clear width minimum of 36 inches. Here are the guidelines as written up in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities

http://www.access-board.gov/ada-aba/final.cfm

403 Walking Surfaces
403.1 General. Walking surfaces that are a part of an accessible route shall comply with 403.

403.2 Floor or Ground Surface. Floor or ground surfaces shall comply with 302.

403.3 Slope. The running slope of walking surfaces shall not be steeper than 1:20. The cross slope of walking surfaces shall not be steeper than 1:48.

403.4 Changes in Level. Changes in level shall comply with 303.

403.5 Clearances. Walking surfaces shall provide clearances complying with 403.5.

EXCEPTION: Within employee work areas, clearances on common use circulation paths shall be permitted to be decreased by work area equipment provided that the decrease is essential to the function of the work being performed.

403.5.1 Clear Width. Except as provided in 403.5.2 and 403.5.3, the clear width of walking surfaces shall be 36 inches (915 mm) minimum.

EXCEPTION: The clear width shall be permitted to be reduced to 32 inches (815 mm) minimum for a length of 24 inches (610 mm) maximum provided that reduced width segments are separated by segments that are 48 inches (1220 mm) long minimum and 36 inches (915 mm) wide minimum.

(There is a nifty graphic that better illustrates the concept below the written description.)

According to the text and the graphic, the maximum length a sidewalk can be 32 inches wide is 24 inches, not the ten feet or 120 inches on this current bridge approach.

Minnesota pedestrian bridge 69838 was built in 1989 and was built before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. So, therefore, this bridge approach is now not compliant with the amended 1994 ADA guidelines.

Yet, I'm sure that the guidelines did not consider that in this situation there is a concrete retaining wall on one side of the sidewalk. This means that when a wheelchair user traveling from South Street to the bridge must make a right hand turn on a steep grade, and then up a narrow sidewalk. To make matters even worse, as you can see from the photographs this ten foot sidewalk is now partly blocked by wild bushes growing alongside the Interstate's retaining wall.

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Sources:

Amy Norris, Duluth Parks and Recreation

Anthony Cullen, UMD Cycling Club

Jim Miller, Associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences

Ken Buehler, Depot Executive Director

http://www.duluthmn.gov/parks/lakewalk.cfm (Duluth Parks and Recreation)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promenade_plantee

http://www.thehighline.org/

http://www.dsmic.org/documentstore/TransportationImprovementPrograms(TIPs)/2009-2012/Ai r%20Quality%20Review.pdf

http://mobikefed.org/2004/03/trails-raise-nearby-home-values.php

http://www.bikingbis.com/blog/_archives/2008/7/28/3812918.html

http://www.bikingbis.com/blog/_archives/2007/10/29/3283156.html

http://www.wheelfunrentals.com/ListLocations/49

Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune, March 31, 2010, "OUTLOOK 2010: Plan to connect trails in Duluth unveiled"

http://www.dsmic.org/Default.asp?PageID=539

This site has a link to the June 2003 Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Bike Map. Despite being dated, this map shows many Twin Port's bike trails, several of which I was not aware of. The site also has much useful information to bicyclists that makes this the most highly recommend link in this article.

Freelancing and finding a passion for writing

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In Telling True Stories, I really enjoyed the section called "A Passion for Writing" by Susan Orlean. She talks about how every writer must have a passion to write. How else will they be able to write about things they care about and interests them. I agree with her when she talks about how she hates being an outsider and hates not being included on things. But as writers, we need to find the ability to discover people we have never met before and to feel like an outsider. There is a connectiveness that writers should have with who their writing about and this creates a great narrative. She also says that being a narrative writer comes with burdens of physical and emotional discomfort, but always remember there is a payoff in the end with a great story.

I enjoyed reading the article about Junger because it gives a different viewpoint on what narrative journalism can be used for. I have had a small experience doing freelance and its exhilarating making your own schedule and working one on one with your sources. I like spending a lot of time with sources and really trying to figure them out and they story they want to tell. I guess I didn't realize that making a lot of money being a freelancer would be a bad thing but Junger makes comments on how it makes him uncomfortable. I think that being a writer is also being a form of an artist and I think many artists are very insecure about their work so maybe that's why he feels this way. I'm not sure, but I think that being a freelancer gives writers the freedom to set their own schedule and take time to get the story they are looking for.

Turned off: the story of Mark reading these articles

I pretty turned off by both of the readings for today--the Jungers interview and the Freelance section of "Telling True Stories." These pieces, I assume, are meant to show that careers in freelance writing do actually still exist, but here they seem so unappealing I'm not sure I want one.

First, my beef with Junger: He seems to be doing well and is certainly a success story, but he hates it! He hated the fact that his most successful piece of work made him a millionaire. It took away his ability to be Sebastian Junger, the journalist. I don't like the thought of that. Any of the journalists currently being laid off across the country would probably gladly trade places with Junger, but he'd probably accept the trade. That's not good. If the journalists that are having great success seem just as unhappy as those living paycheck-to-paycheck, something is wrong with the industry. I'd love to have written "The Perfect Storm" and, I think, I'd love to make $1.2 million for a story of mine; but I don't think I'd want to be Sebastian Junger. He'd rather chainsaw trees or hang out in Sierra Leone relying on his wits (which I respect, but do not aspire toward) than live off of his successes. This is worrisome as a prospective journalist not wanting to wait until I'm 38 to have any sense of where my life is headed.

As for "Telling True Stories," Jim Collins' section ('Making it as a Freelancer') upset me as well. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but his suggestion seems to be "whore yourself out as a journalist until you find someone willing to pay for your services." Working for an Airline magazine?!? That's supposed to be my motivation as a freelance journalist? Last time I was on a plane (spring break), the magazine mostly featured two-paragraph restaurant reviews and the featured article was "What to do in downtown Durango, Colorado." Really??? Airline magazines? Ick. I did like this quote from Collins, however: "Approach potential subjects saying 'I'm gathering material for an article that I think could be really interesting.' Most people are excited to talk about their lives, work and predicaments." This rings true. Rather than explaining what the heck LakeVoice.org is to elderly interviewees I could have used his line and it probably would have been equally affective and required a much simpler explanation.

My question from today's readings: Am I being too cynical here? Is my nose to the sky or am I on a mysterious high-horse? Is scrounging for PTA newsletters or airline magazines an acceptable use of the skills required to be a journalist? Or could the same skills be better utilized, more lucratively, in a different field? I did appreciate some of Jack Hart's advice. "Be skeptical of victim stories" is a great heads-up and "Don't create false heroes" is good to remember as well. On whole, however, I was not a fan of today's readings.

Crossing Over, the section by Samantha Power, was the one that caught my attention through this section. The first part talks about her struggle in writing about hte atrocities of multiple genocides throughout the world and the lack of response that the United State shown again and again in such circumstances. Obviously when it is worked like that, people are going to care. Her struggle was writing about something that ALREADY happened, some of them years before, and keeping people intrigued in her story. While I am not, nor do I plan, to write on multiple genocides through out the world, Powers doesn't bring up a situation that many times we are faced with; especially as student and aspiring writers. How do we take an angle and make it so that people care about what we write about even though tis been done before? How do we find that different angle that makes our story the one to read and still teach something new? I am still struggling to answer these questions for myself. I think Powers shows that more research is a way to go about finding a new angle in a story. Go back to the beginning and find out what happened that not many people know about, and open that topic up and take it apart piece by piece.

A second part that I found interesting, and IMPORTANT, is on page 283. " Handing the story over to my characters was key. A writer should develop a strong voice, but not one that rises to such a pitch that is distracts readers." I think this is the most important information we can learn as prospective writers. If you are going to write about yourself, that is fine and dandy. But when you are telling a story about someone and they are giving their time to tell you about it. Guess who I don't want to hear in the story? You the author. Lately at the station the producers have been hounding the reporters to "do a stand up in the field" or "put yourself into the story". But I have to ask myself...why? What do I add other than another face? I am literally just saying information I have either learned through research or something the people I am writing about have told me. Why not just let them tell it? It happened to them.

Definitely more useful than "Getting to Yes"

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I loved how practical this section was. This wasn't abstract platitudes of journalism theory, it was real-world solid advice about how to make a career out of narrative writing. It was also a very real look at what the life of a freelance or narrative writer is like. It is no easier for these professionals to garner motivation to get up off their couches and go find, report, and write their stories than it is for us students to get up our couches and find, report, and write our stories. Graduating from school doesn't magically change us into productive, motivated, efficient, content-producing machines. I loved the anecdote about how he tied himself to his chair with a piece of yarn.

The analogy of book-writing to gambling is a good one. You can't really bank on making a killing. You have to either be able to afford playing the game for fun, or you have to be willing to risk the loss. Either way, the bright side is that you can, to a certain small degree, make your own luck. With yarn. You make your luck with yarn.

Writing something I'm proud of

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Samantha Power said that she came to the conclusion that she should only write a book if she cannot live with its absence, when she has a question that must be answered. I wish this is how journalism could be. Unfortunately, in the daily grind of journalism, journalists are forced to write stories that maybe don't matter that much. On a slow news day or week your editor might assign you a story that you could care less about, a story you know hardly anyone will read. I wonder if journalism has to be this way. Are we just not putting in the effort to find stories worth telling?

I know what this is like first hand. UMD is a fairly safe campus. Crime is relatively rare, other than the underage consumption ticket or occasional burglary. I have to write a story every week regardless of if there is a story to write. I have to write a story no matter what. I hate it. I hate writing a story I know isn't worth reading. I hate putting my name on it. But the Statesman needs to fill that space. That leaves me often time writing something I don't care about. If the writer doesn't care the reader sure as hell doesn't.

But, at the end of the day, that is the name and game of journalism write now. Sometimes we have to write stories that aren't always the most interesting. The stories that we can't live without, the stories we are proud of, make the not so significant ones worthwhile.

4/20 entry!

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I found the interview on Sebastian Junger to be very interesting. I thought it was very interesting how he talked about just going out and looking for stories. He didn't really have an assignment he just went and found stuff on his own. He said that he was clueless and would just go out with people who knew what they were doing. I found it really cool how he talked about just getting in a car and driving out West by himself to hang out with smoke jumpers. He had no assignment and no contract he just really wanted to go and write about them. I admire that he was able to go and do that. I don't know if I would have the courage to not have an assignment, but just go out all on my own and follow people to write a story. I think that is really interesting that he goes and does that.

I liked the reading in Telling True Stories a lot. One thing that I liked was when Jim Collins talks about making it as a freelancer. He says that, "while getting started as a freelancer, you must spend as much time pitching stories (and accepting rejection) as you do writing them" (264). I found that to be helpful, because a lot of times writing can cause you to get discouraged and that advice lets you know that you will be turned down, but you need to keep going with your writing and keep pitching your stories. Another thing that I really liked is when Susan Orlean talks about the physical and emotion discomfort that a narrative writer may face. She says that when she is out reporting she often times wants to just give up and go home, but she forces herself to stay, which she is then able to find a story (285). I liked this part, because it reassures me that it is okay to feel that discomfort. I have experienced that in my reporting and writing II class. It is so hard to go out there and talk to people, but you have to force yourself. Once you force yourself you are able to put your story together and you are glad that you actually did it. I wonder how long it takes for someone to be comfortable with the whole reporting aspect of journalism? Then again, do they ever or is it something that you just have to deal with if you have a passion for writing? Overall I thought this reading was helpful and interesting.

Helpful advice in last chapter

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Freelancing was interesting to read about. I never knew just how much money a writer could make by selling their pieces. As much as I enjoy writing, I don't know that I would have the courage to depend on it as my sole base of income. Actually there's no way I would attempt that. I admire those who do though. I really liked the section that said to write a story only you can write. No other writer is going to have the exact same background or perspective as another. So by talking about past childhood memories, or particular hobbies that the writer enjoys, the story idea would hopefully seem fresh and new to readers. O'Nan's section said that as a writer, you should finish what you start, even if you fall out of love with it. I can relate to this because once I took a break from writing our final project, I lost some of the drive to keep working on it. It was like I pressed pause and had forgotten my train of thought.

I also really liked the Robert Frost quote: "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." So true. Sometimes I just need to park myself in one spot for what seems like forever just to focus on WRITING and WRITING ONLY. Otherwise it's too easy to get distracted with a million other things I "could" be doing.

take on freelancing

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I'm happy to say that I took a strong message away from today's reading. The section in telling true stories about freelancing and success in the magazine world made me forget any ideas I ever had about working in either capacity. A few years ago I thought working for a magazine like Sports Illustrated and strictly writing big feature stories was a realistic goal. I now see that goal as pretty unrealistic, which is fine, especially after reading this article. I thought I'd mention that I found O'Nan's piece on not stopping to be a little weird. He gets a little carried away with his rules, such as suggesting writers "Take your lunch hour. Take your sick time. Sit in the bathroom and think about your writing." devote most of their focus to their projects, even if they hod other jobs. He says "Do a good job for your employer, but do a better job for yourself." I found some of the advice he gives to be very useful, especially the parts about holding yourself to a deadline and staying involved to avoid letting the project sit unfinished, but had to laugh a little about being advised to sit in the bathroom lost in thought about writing.

Questions: Is anyone in class interested in a career as a freelance writer? Is chasing a career as a freelance writer any less reliable than pursuing work at a newspaper?

Telling Troof: Building a Career

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I especially liked the last section of Telling True Stories. This section really actually made me believe I learned something from reading it. Freelance journalism is not the ideal career path for many people at all. Jim Collins makes that very clear in the first section dealing with numbers of income for most freelance journalists. It is crazy to me how difficult it is to make is as a self employed writer for magazines and such. That you need to report and come up with a decent amount of your story to put in a query or pitch letter. That the more you can formulate a page turning first impression, the better chance you have for that piece to go to the "editor-to-read" pile. Collins explains that the more specialized and narrow you are, it can reflect in positive good non-fiction writing. It was also interesting how much time and effort this stuff really takes. Stewart O'nan's rules of the trade were a tad farfetched, but helpful. Spend the prime (every waking) hours of the day working on your project for it to be its best. By rule 17 he finally hits it on the head...Enjoy yourself. I do not think that I will ever want to write a book but if i wanted to I would know how, Helen Atwan taught me. She put into perspective when thinking about STARTING and FINISHING a book, you must have the drive to keep it going, no matter how long or hard it may be. The last section by Susan Orlean was my favorite. Her example about the duck hunting story piece put it into perspective for me that the best writing, "the stuff" most likely will come by putting yourself in a uncomfortable position, and thats just the way it is.

Junger is afraid of money??

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I find freelance writing fascinating in that someone can go out and write a story without having a name behind them. I had always thought that reporters simple worked for a newspaper or magazine and because they worked from them, they went out and wrote those stories. This chapter in Telling True Stories completely opened my naive eyes to what journalism really is; telling someone a story. I found Samantha Power's section, Crossing Over: From Advocacy to Narrative the most compelling section. She fully analyzed her book from a readers perspective and what will make a reader pick up her book. I really liked that. My favorite line she said was "Don't ever write a book merely for the sake of having done it; there is plenty of other essential writing to be done." This quote really made me take a step back and think about myself. I have always said I wanted to write a book before I die, but now thinking about I can't see myself having the drive and passion for one particular topic. Maybe I'm too young to even be considering this but it now is a thought I will have to think about.

I found the interview with Sebastian Junger enjoyable as well but couldn't find myself to relate with him as much as some of the authors in Telling True Stories. I do want to pick up a copy of The Perfect Storm and read it now, but I found his approach to life a little interesting. I can understand staying true to yourself, but the way he described receiving a lot of money as a bad thing really puzzles me. Doesn't everyone like money, and he is concerned with having too much of it? hmm. I don't think I could ever have that problem, but I guess that's just me. Anyways, I did like what he said about giving himself time to begin writing a second book, and thought that correlated with some of the authors in Telling True Stories. I get the sense that long narratives take a lot of time and I'm happy to see that Junger isn't going to just hop on another contract to write another book, I suppose part of that is because he really isn't it the whole money thing.

dealing with the ups and downs of freelance writing

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I enjoyed reading the interview with Sebastian Junger. I found his ambition to be inspiring. It's great that he likes journalism so much that he takes the risk of writing his pieces first and then sends it around, even though, according to his agent, "You don't do it like that; you don't write it first." I admire Junger's determination to succeed in this manner. I know I would be apprehensive about writing my pieces prior to getting a contract because it seems like working like that would be a huge financial risk. I would be worried that no one would like my work and then I would have wasted a valuable amount of time working on a piece that made me no financial gain. I also thought it was very humble of Junger to worry that all the money he is now making will take away from the incentive of writing. That shows that Junger really does have a passion for journalism.

I found Jim Collin's piece, Making it as a freelancer, from Telling True Stories to relate to Sebastian Junger's journalistic methods because it focused on how to be a successful freelance writer. Collins started out his piece by acknowledging that "freelancing as a narrative writer hasn't ever been an easy way to earn a living" (264). It almost seems discouraging at first because he states that freelancers need to spend just as much time pitching stories as they do accepting rejection. Although, I know that Collin's piece wasn't meant to turn people away from freelancing; he was just being honest. Conversely, I found his suggestions at the end of the piece to be motivating. He makes it very apparent that he doesn't want freelancers to give up. He tells the readers not to let rejection bother them and I think that's very important because often times when people get rejected they start to lose hope and quit writing.

I am a writer

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This chapter is definitive of my career as a journalist at UMD and it's place in the concluding part of this book was very fitting. The chapter helped me to answer many of the questions that I would expect myself to be able to answer after four years of studying this subject. Do I want to be a writer by Stewart O'Nan's standards? Absolutely not. Am I a writer according to Susan Orlean. Most definitely.

I have learned a very specific skill set that will undoubtedly be put to good use in my future endeavors. By Susan Orlean's standards I am a writer because I like talking to people. I love language. I am deeply curious. I find the world and the people in it a marvel. I am confident that next year, when I'm waist-deep in law school, I will look to these qualities to carry me through. I know how to talk to people. I know what information I need to gather how to formulate questions in order to get that information. I know how to listen. I know how to watch events unfold. I know how to organize the information I've gathered and package it together for my reader.

I can know and love all of this without being a writer the way that Stewart O'Nan is a writer. I do not intend to take my work with me wherever I go. Although I am deeply curious about everything I encounter I will not carry a notebook with me, always hold a manuscript, or write instead of talk. This is my nightmare. I don't intend to have a career like this. I enjoy keeping my work and leisure time separate. I don't mean to say that Stewart O'Nan doesn't but I do mean to say that I wouldn't be able to if I followed his rules. In fact, reading his journalism philosophy gives me a bit of anxiety. I could never work the way he does.

The other notion in this chapter that I am slightly uncomfortable with is the possibility of constantly trying to sell myself. I just can't do that! I feel like I have a fairly good idea of what it takes to compose a query letter and grab the attention of an editor and a reader. But selling yourself as a freelancer seems a step far beyond that. I would, however, LOVE to work as a literary agent. I think that's one of my new dream jobs. I could definitely sell someone else, not myself. "All agents are looking for literary writer whose work is powerful enough that readers will never forget the experience of reading their work-- and will want to know about whatever subject they turn to next" (280). Please sign me up!

I love everything about this chapter, even the parts that scared me. It is so conclusive to this book at to my career at UMD. Thank you writing studies. I have learned SO much that will be applicable the ways that the great writers in this book have taught me to write and far beyond what they could imagine.

Withholding Details

I found Sandlin's voice and style to be much different than any other author we read so far. His prose was so much more meandering and thoughtful than other authors. He took his time making his points. Often I found myself wondering what the hell he was getting at; where the hell it was going.

In that same vein, I thought that he waited to reveal his most powerful stuff (the stuff about the Okinawa combat zone) until page 345-347, nearly 30 pages into the piece. Either he made a mistake (which is what I think) or he had supreme confidence in his ability to hold his reader's attention, which didn't show with his meandering prose. What is it worth to withhold your best stuff for 30 pages?

What a quote. Throughout the story, I couldn't help but think that maybe it isn't such a bad thing that people have lost track of the war and its atrocities. I mean, do we really want to know some of the terrible events that happened during such an awful time? I know that I don't need to know the details of all the killing my grandfathers may have done. And as I read this I wondered, "so what, people are forgetting painful memories" but then, on page 360, the moral of the story burst forth when Sandlin said, "Sometimes only those who remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Exactly how I felt throughout this piece. Yeah, maybe the general public doesn't know where Okinawa is or who led the invasion of Normandy--but is it that big of a deal? I appreciated the way this story unfolded. An author with a legitimate question, why does no one care about the war anymore, searches for an answer and we learn with Sandlin as he writes; I even reached the same conclusion he did.
It's unfortunate for the thousands of "forgotten" veterans that their good deeds in WWII are no longer glorified or remembered, but I don't think anyone should have a problem with the horrific aspects of war being swept under the carpet.

Losing the Reader

is something that doesn't happen in this story.

I was intrigued by the self-analysis or journal type of feel to this story. It was largely a story about his own experiences and thoughts on the Loss of the true essence of War. That gives me some consolation regarding my own story. Writing about my own experiences is always something that makes my journalism instincts feel a bit squeemish. But maybe that can work.

I liked the balance of entertainment and education. There was some doses of humor, but I learned a lot about WWII in the meantime. This all goes back to structure. This story had all the content of a history textbook. But it was a much better read. Strategic structure.

War as a story

What I remember most about his piece is how he said we need people to tell the stories of WWII for us to know and remember what happened. This reminded me of something we read early that said that stories make who we are and shape our world. I like that a lot of time was spent talking with people trying to get a true account of what the war really was like. It was definitely a way different account of the war than anything I read in history books. I also like the way it was structured.

Hitler's Ghost

I loved this piece. It was different in that it read almost like a memoir, one man's journey to find out what's up with war. I liked that style-- it might not have been kosher for a newspaper, and it was interesting because it wasn't a memoir of his own life but of his country's journey, but his voice was really strong and lacked that cocky vibe we've gotten from a lot of the other writers in this book. He does write with authority, though. He's earned that with his research, I think. The story resonated with me because my dad's probably the exact same age as this guy-- just missed the draft for 'nam, but his dad was in World War II. Because of that he really has a fascination with that war, he reads books about it and talks about it a lot. I think because his dad never talked about it, he had to find a way to relate to it for himself. The ending was well-written, but a little too high on the ladder of abstraction, to use a term from class. He basically just wrapped everything up by telling us the deepest meaning of his story. I would rather have figured it out on my own. Maybe if he'd ended a few paragraphs early, with the images of he and his friends playing their games, and Hitler's ghost dying... that would have stuck with me better. Just a thought.

The Horrors of War

One of my grandfathers was also in World War II. The theme of people that were there being unable to relate it to people back home rang true for me; my grandpa never spoke of it, only that he didn't like Spam anymore.
Where was this article when I was learning about WWII in high school? This provided a much more comprehensive understanding of the war. It must have taken years to research. It was interesting that he didn't include any personal interviews. He filled that spot with transcripts from journalists and what little he could find of veterans recounting their experience.

4/15 post

I really like the reading for today. I thought it made some good points about the importance of remembering our history and the importance of sharing the stories. And all the stories, not just the seemingly popular ones. How 'cool' did I feel when Sandlin would drop some important names of a particular incident in WWII and right away I was like "oh yeah I know what they're talking about" and then two seconds later another name or title or name would be said and I would have no clue what was being talked about. It shows how important it is to have people that are able to tell stories and keep the memories of many people alive and also the importance of narrative writing and the telling of a story.

That said, I don't know how i feel about the sources throughout the story. I would have liked to have an actual conversation retelling stories about the war or saying what they remember of the war (whether from class or from life). The stories obviously had to come from some sort of conversation, be it personal, phone, or email. If this entire story is based on phone and email sourcing, that is another aspect that needs to be addressed.

War

I liked the narrative that Sandlin used in this. The way he described the porcelain tiger and the significance of mementos was an interesting way to start the story. He explains how he views the war; the way he describes it paints a picture and really stood out to me. "My war was a dreamy, gliding epic, a golden tidal wave of eternally cresting triumph..."

It's so true that anytime someone mentions WW2, the same few events are always brought up. No specific stories, maybe because they are too painful. I know anytime the war was brought up around my grandpa who fought in it, he clammed up and became this silently irate person. To him, talking about the war was like reopening a wound that had been healed. This made me wonder, what is it about a journalist that allows them to talk to war veterans and have them respond so candidly? There has to be some component of their personality that makes a war vet so willing to expose such a painful part of their past.

Lee Sandline

Both of my grandpa's were involved in World War II. My eldest grandfather who just passed away this summer was a tail gunner of a B-52 bomber during some of the most important battles of the war. (Normandy and Berlin) SO it is really cool for me to read this chronological storyline of the war, I think it is a great way to write this piece. ALot of the information seems a bit scattered and unattributed, but if he is writing it from first hand reccolections or stories I do not think that should be a main concern for us as readers, beucause it ovbiousl reads well as a narrative story. He is gathering details from most likely a ton of different sources to piece this together, such as the media toward the war in this time, such as after Pearl Harbor. Sandlin seems to piece together multiple accounts of war from differing points of view. I think his structure is very useful becuase with most of the information dying away around these times, it is much more diffucult to recall these events now, unless you are to gather alot of information like Lee did and put it together against a war vs. peace model.

4/15 blog entry

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I found today's reading by Lee Sandlin to be interesting. I liked how the author included that many people don't know about the war and that there needs to be people to tell stories to help remember. I liked how she went around and asked family, friends, people younger, but nobody seemed to be able to tell the author about the war. I know personally that I really don't know anything about WWII or the history of our country and that is really sad actually. People fought for our country and established many things for our country through the wars that we have had, so it is important for people to remember them. I liked how the author ended the story to..."World War II ended as war always ends-by trailing off into nothingness and doubt" (361). That shows again that history kind of just fades away. If there were more people to share the stories of our history would people remember them more?? This makes me think of a part from the last section we had to read...they talked about how journalists our the rememberers for the tribe. If journalists shared more stories about our history, would it make an impact?

WWII story blog due 4/15

I really liked the structure of his writing. I liked how right away in the beginning he tells us that he is writing a story that hits close to home. In someways it makes the story more emotional to me, knowing that he was involved with a veteran. My grandpa was a pilot in WWII and he never talked about his time over there. I liked how it went back to the time it happened, and through chronological time. The Tiger was an interesting way to start the story. It would have been cool if he could have tied it in at the end. But I do like the end quote "by trailing off into nothingness and doubt."

I wonder what the story would be like if he didn't put his own personal story in at front? Would the story be lacking? How else could he have started the story??

WWII For Dummies

I thought that the story for today was captivating, but I'm not sure if it's journalism. There were no primary sources other than stories, so I'm wondering where he gets all of this information. With that said, it's an effective piece nonetheless. The comprehensible history of WWII was unlike anything I've read on it in the past. It was gritty, raw, and real-unlike the history books I've gained my knowledge from. Also, he does a great job in tying the war into a larger picture, with the Vikings. This shows us that war really hasn't changed that much, save technology. I wonder what the class thinks about the lack of an interview, and if the piece would be any better with a first-hand account.

structure

I really enjoyed the way that Sandlin structured this piece. As we read more and more of these stories I begin to question whether writers structure choices are on purpose, but for this one I think he had a definite plan of where the story was going to go and I like that. Also I enjoyed how the ending did bring the reader back to the begining vaguely with the reference to his childhood play times but didn't over do it with a bunch of fuzzy hoopla.

While reading this I did have one question that kept popping into my head. How does he know all this stuff? He does make reference to some articles and radio programs, but all the details he uses seem unreal!

Reporting on wars.

I know so many individuals who are currently serving in the military and also veterans and Lee's narrative is compelling because she is trying to tell the "true" stories behind war, specifically WWII. What I liked most about this story was the investigative reporting she did. This could be considered a historical piece, but so much investigation was needed. I liked how she covered the way the media portrayed the war and gives a valid point on why we remember only certain parts of the war such as Pearl Harbor because it was seen in the media so often and still is today. She strives to explain how the media censored and restrained many news stories that reporters wanted to publish about the horrific things soldiers were going through. But, most of these stories weren't run because the image of the strong, attractive solider that the media was portraying didn't want to be ruined. I think today the war in Iraq has also in a way been filtered by the media. Obviously we see more graphic content of war then 50 years ago but most of the time we only hear about the same things over and over again. How many times have we heard a story about a road side bomb, but never a story about the solider's family who died. I think covering a war would be one of the hardest things to do as a reporter because where do you draw the line of how much you should tell your reader. I remember in Media Law last semester we debated about a certain photo that was published of a solider that was dead. For the general population is this a good thing to show? I think it is. But, for the family I would not agree with printing it but which side do you choose?

The gap between war and peace

I was very intrigued by Sandlin's article Losing the War. I like how Sandlin used the repetitive theme of peace and war. At the beginning of the story Sandlin states that through his reporting he found that there is an extremely vast gap "between the experience of war and the experience of peace." (p. 318) Also toward the beginning, when Sandlin's dad avoided talking to him about his war experiences, Sandlin claims that the truth about war is that "the sense that what happened over there simply can't be told in the language of peace." (p. 320) I really like how he phrased both of these thoughts. It tells readers that it's hard for soldiers to talk about their experiences because they are brutal and don't want to relive it, without explicitly stating it like that. I also like how Sandlin ended his story by referencing the gap between war and peace again. He wraps up his story by saying, "War ends at the moment when peace permanently wins out...when the next generation starts to wonder whether the whole thing ever really happened." (p. 360) I think this was a solid finish for his story because it fit with everything else he was saying throughout his story. War ends when people stop talking about it and worrying about it and are actually able to move on with their lives. But it doesn't completely end until the next generation because the men who fought in the war aren't yet at peace because many of them still have startling nightmares about their experiences at war. Can journalism help close the gap between war and peace? Can journalism help inform the later generations so that they are more knowledgeable about what happened during war?

Are we finally losing the war

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In this week's reading Lee Sandlin offers us quite interesting perspective on a war that we are all familiar with but that we were never around to see. I think that Sandlin probes the question, "do we see it now?" At one point Sandlin describes the war from his own eyes as "a metaphysical struggle." Although he describes that this is the way he saw it when he was a child, I get the sense that Sandlin believes that the general population looks at the war this way still. On page 322 he writes, "but that just shows how little anyboyd really understood what was happening to the world."

On page 320 we read the end of the beginning. Sandlin writes, "That' the truth about the war: the sense that what happened over there simply can't be told in the language of peace.

And so, Sandlin gives us a "lyrical history" lesson. Taking us through WWII in a beautifully composed essay. On his web site, Sandlin said that he writes historical essays based on events people are familiar with. He relies heavily on the work of others for facts on these historical events. Yet, he brings interesting perspective, including his childhood, his relationship and interactions with his veteran father.

What I find interesting is that Sandlin admitts he doesn't fancy reporting. He wants to know what happened but he would never want to call to see what happened. My question for the class is, what type of reporting is this? Obviously we see a narrative in Sandlin's work but where is it coming from. If he doesn't like reporting, what is he doing?

Displayed tiger, hidden memories

I really didn't know how to review Lee Sandlin's essay "Losing the war" until I found how he describes his own writing on his official web site, "I write historical essays, based on events that I or people I know are familiar with -- the sort of thing that used be called 'belles lettres.' My mother-in-law called it lyrical history. It's also sometimes been called 'the poetry of fact.'"

Lee Sandlin talks about the war in Korea, wars among the Greek nations of Homer's time, and World War Two. I think it is too bad that Lee Sandlin didn't interview an amateur history buff like my own father or myself. I could have, and still could today, tell Mr. Sandlin hours and hours of details about World War Two.

For example, my own father was in only one battle, really a minor skirmish, in Germany in February of 1945. My Dad was on foot patrol in a German forest when a German sniper, hidden in a big evergreen tree had opened fire on his patrol and injured one of his buddies. My Dad was the first to realize where the German sniper was hiding and fired one round with his rifle into the tree. After my Dad fired his weapon, two Germans began to curse loudly, and then the sniper and another soldier climbed out of the tree and fled deeper into the forest.

I am thankful that my father's army division had the second shortest days of combat of any American army division during the war. The army division that had the fewest combat days had one day of actual combat.

My dad told me that he was disappointed that he never found out any details about the skirmish, such as if he had even hit the sniper. I suppose that is one reason why vets don't like to talk about their battles, because they really know very little about these battles themselves. You fight a battle then move on, having little time to collect memories or battle trophies.

On page 317, I wonder where did Sandlin find the fact that there were just three suburban shopping centers before World War Two?

A good example of narrative journalism happens on page 319, when he describes the memories of World War two, "like a wrecked landscape smoothed by a blizzard."

On page 320, the description of a woman rushing around her apartment hall asking people if they were listening to the radio reminds me of another "defining moment" that happened on 9/11 when everyone, including the people working at the local post office was watching the events happen on portable television or listening to reports on radios. On page 324, I liked his phrase of introducing Pearl Harbor as "a knock on the door, that weekend day in December."

On page 321, Mr. Sandlin uses descriptive phrases such as "orthodox history" and "standard autopsy." Of course, Mr. Sandlin could not include many major factors as to why many American World War Two vets don't like to talk about their involvement in the war. Most of these young men had grown up believing that their fathers had fought World War One that was named as "The War to End all Wars." Consequently, these young men thought that American would not fight another major war and thus it came as a deep shock that their generation was fighting Germans again, on some of the same battlefields that their fathers before them had fought years before.

On page 345, there is an example of Eugene Sledge's self-cleansing of the marines' speech like "all fouled up" and "when the stuff hits the fan." In the 1980, in the PG movie Airplane, the character Ted Striker says the earthlier version of that quote, while in the next shot is of the "stuff "flying into an office fan.

"She's got that fey look as though she's had breakfast with a leprechaun."
- Dorothy Burnham.

Starting on page 351, Lee Sandlin talks about Feyness and that was one of the most original takes that I have read about World War Two. This was a very cool way to start the last act of the chapter.

P.S.: In 2010, American is now fighting two wars. But, unless you personally have some direct or indirect connection to someone who is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, these two wars have a surreal aspect to them, like watching an episode of LOST.

Lessons from the "Hart" and daily habits

I thought the Lexicon for writers was a great dictionary to have for writers. I loved how he wen into almost every part of a story, from scene setting to character development to structure. I also loved the tips from Lane Degregory on how to find good stories. I thought the "fake" booking reading idea for getting stories was funny. I thought that both of these article had great insight on how to write a good piece of writing, and where to start gettting ideas for writing.

Nurturing Narratives

What i found most interesting about today's reading in Telling True Stories was written by Jack Hart "Nurturing Narrative in the newsroom." Right now being in Editing 2 and dealing with a publication, what he talks about some things into perspective as an editor working in a newsroom. He writes about how editors need to be involved with their writer right away into the process. It also takes the initiative of the reporter to communicate with their editors and let them know what they are planning. Being an editor, I think this is the most struggle I have with working with reporters. I don't get enough feedback or else I don't get any from my reporter. Feedback Loops is another interesting concept he talks about that deals with the checking of sources and information. Sometimes I think this part of the editing process is overlooked because editors have a trust with their reporters and may feel that they don't need to bother doing this step, but I think this is a huge part of the editor/reporter relationship.

Is emotion always appropriate?

Probably my favorite section in part VIII was Jack Hart's 'Storyteller's Lexicon.' We talk about these plot points and storytelling formulas in my playwriting class a lot, and they've been really helpful for me in my writing. I never actively thought about things like complications, climaxes, and dialects until recently. Chekhov's shotgun rule is a great reminder for me, too, because I tend to be TOO detail-oriented, digressing into the unnecessary and cluttered. I also want to try DeGregory's tips, things like "Read the walls" and "Eat lunch alone" and "Talk to strangers." Since I've been taking journalism classes, I find myself doing these things more anyways, trying to find a story everywhere, but it can't hurt to be even more consciously doing this. I guess my question would concern the very first paragraph of the introduction, where they include the very factual, emotionless paragraph about the car crash deaths. It seems like Kramer and Call are making an argument that this is too harsh, disconnected, that nobody talks like this. But would it really be appropriate to write something like that in a conversational tone? I think for things like that, unless they're true narrative pieces where you're talking to the family and giving some background, it's probably more respectful to just give the facts and let people feel what they want to feel about it.

4/13 blog entry

I really liked this part of the book. There were a couple things that stuck out for me during the reading. One was in Beginning in Narrative by Walt Harrington. Harrington says that, "as journalists, we are also the 'rememberers' for our tribe," (228). For some reason I really liked this, because it reminded me that we tell the stories. How we narrate and represent the story is how it is going to be remembered for along time. We have the ability to share the important and not so important stories with everyone. Another part that I really like is Lane Degregory's tips on ways to find great story ideas. We talked about these tips today in my Reporting and Writing II class and they just really stood out for me even more after reading them. I am struggling with trying to dig up and find something to write about for my reporting and writing class and these tips are very helpful. A couple of them that I liked were talk to strangers, play hooky and give everyone your phone number. I don't know if I would be able to actually do all those, but I want to try doing at least one to see where that gets me in finding something to write about for my next story. If you give your number to someone, will they actually call you with a story about them or something they know of? I don't know, but I guess it couldn't hurt to try.

I have felt kind of out of my element during these journalism classes, because they push you to REALLY step out of your box. This part of the book helped you see through some of your obstacles.

TTS pt. Ochocinco

I enjoyed the section with Jaqui Banaszynski and Alex Tizon's dialogue about their series Across America, shortly after September 11th. This was a gift for the people of Seattle I think because they took a great angle by Inviting the readers for the "journey", when they didn't even know where it would lead them or what to. Theme was only later established because the piece was written with so much emotion and passion, which is evidence of good reporting. I thought the large Chicago group piece was entertaining too, I had never thought of such a large story with so many people working on it, It was cool to see the process from the reporter and editor's POV, of how the layout was made, trimmed down to the 4 part process about air travel.

Degregory's tips were semi eye opening. His approach to this style of journalism really tells a tale in itself, that he is the best. Finding stories for him is just so easy, but I think writing about everything and anything like he says is not the hard part, it's seeing if the readers will come with you. Taking pieces nobody else wants is not something I would normally think of as a tip, maybe a tip to get fired. It is easy to see he is a tad cocky but a very talented writer and formulator of master narrative. It is crazy how much he pays attention to little details and turns them into what he does. He is very good.

the stories of our lives...

I think this section was very helpful and reminds us all that everyone is a story teller and therefor everyone has a story (just not like Steve Hartman thinks). Our stories are told without effort everyday and it's within those tellings of stories we are able to use and sometimes notice our narrative tendencies. Degregory's part was very helpful to me. I have always believed that getting started on a story and finding an idea that not only I find interesting, but that other people would want to read about, is one of the hardest parts of writing for me. Many times I fear that what I find interesting will bore others to tears, while at the same time not wanting to bore MYSELF to tears with a story I don't see any point in writing. For me the reporting part is the most fun part. As lame as it sounds I almost get some sort of high off of it and can't wait to tell people about the person or people I have interviewed and everything they have told me. My room mates are more than likely sick of that.

One of the more helpful sections

I really enjoyed this section of Telling True Stories. I particularly liked Lane DeGregory's section, "Narrative as a Daily Habit." Some of his ideas we have seen from other writers and talked about in class ("Tip #7: Celebrate losers"), but many of them I never would have thought could produce story ideas. Nearly all of his tips involve stepping way out of your comfort zone and approaching strangers. Which, with practice, becomes easier and less awkward.

I also liked Jacqui Banaszynski and Tomas Alex Tizon's section, "Two Visions, One Series." I liked not only the content of the story, but also how it was set up, with every other paragraph told from a different perspective.

A few of the sections in this part of Telling True Stories seemed to be about taking what appears to be a bunk story idea and turning it into something fantastic, which is what poses as the biggest problem/question for me. These writers get these ideas from their editors that no one else will take on and they end up transforming them into great stories. I guess I am a little apprehensive about how to go about doing that..

Daily habit or day before habit?

Lane Degregory's piece about how to go about finding a narrative story to write was really helpful to me. A lot of what she said is what we learned in reporting and writing II. I think we all know that it is true, if we go out in the community and spend time we will find a story. That is basically what she is saying in every point she makes. Narrative journalism takes time. I think the only thing that is preventing us from writing great narrative stories is fear and effort. I will be the first to admit that in reporting and writing II I waited until a couple days before our first story was due to go out in the community and talk with people. I kept putting it off and putting it off. I was scared. Going into the community and talking with people should be a daily habit for a journalist but often times especially in school I think it is more of a "day before the assignment is due" task. I think in order to write good narrative we need to overcome our fears, go out in the community, talk with people and do work. I especially like how she said she would just listen to others conversations and then talk with them about interesting things she heard them saying. The story about the man at the graveyard is great too.

The shotgun rule, a new addition to my lexicon

Jack Hart's section, "Nurturing Narrative in Newsrooms" struck me as being really sound advice. First he says newsrooms should, ideally, adopt a Hollywood-like understanding of writing to truly create good narrative. Then he bemoans the fact that newspaper writing has become a corporate endeavor, designed only to make money for the paper's owner. Hart had me after two paragraphs. As much as I enjoyed Hart's initial semi-rant and his subsequent advice, I'm consistently astonished by the mixed signals this book sends readers regarding the use of tape recorders. Here, again, Hart recommends using a tape recorder to "overcome the accuracy problems caused by stale notes and overwhelming quantities of material." Ok, but I cannot help but feel as though this is the third or fourth time this book has flip-flopped on this issue--and I know what Sam Cook would say about recorders. I don't use a tape recorder, I don't think I'd like it. But should I be using one? Am I doing myself a disservice by not using one? I don't know, I've been given multiple answers to that now. That said, I did appreciate Hart's advice for the most part, especially the section entitled "A storyteller's lexicon." I particularly enjoy kicker quotes and like logic behind the shotgun rule.

Finally, some closure to the ongoing discussion we've had about where nonfiction narrative belongs in the professional news environment. I've often thought of that section of a newspaper as being for the sentimental yuppy demographic of a target audience.
These authors put it a different way. These stories aren't always meant to stir emotion or jerk tears, but to simply provide readers with a bigger picture of their community for the sake of cultural understanding and awareness. "Spot" news says, "This is what's happening;" the narrative says, "This is us; this is where we live...now you know."
It depends on a given publications style of voice, but I think that real "stories" about people work best when it is clear that the publication makes it part of their mission to provide cultural context rather than just report hard news.

Tip #6: Creepy

I thought that the Banaszynski and Tizon interview together was both valuable and helpful for me. It was interesting to hear them discuss how their story took its own shape, from the very beginning. Their interaction and insight showed how well the two work together. I liked most of the tips in DeGregory's section, but found certain ones to be a bit much. Specifically, tip #6-Ignore important people, seemed pretty creepy to me. I would like to read the final piece she came up with on Strawberry's wife, to see if her paparazzi-like strategy came across well in writing. I'm wondering if the class thinks that following someone around without talking to them can lead to a real story, or if it's questionable.

Colors of the Rainbow

I thought that the group that Carrillo formed and was a part of was most interesting. I had never thought that newsrooms would have any issues of the sort. I like the way they used colors to describe the different personalities of the group. I tried thinking what color I would be if I were in that situation and came to the conclusion that I needed more experience.

What I liked most about the team was that they came from different beats and allowed different perspectives to the conversations. This also reminded me of what Kiernan had to say about working as a team on the airline piece. I really thought it was cool how they combined all the different perspectives they gained from the day into one piece. Very cool stuff.

"Play Hooky" - Lane DeGregory

The section that stuck out in this chapter of the text was the "Narrative as a Daily Habit" piece by Lane DeGregory. Each of the 13 tips given were already touched upon elsewhere in the book, but laying it out in quick explanations was helpful. The personal stories behind each piece of advice allowed me to visualize what was meant, such as "Florida Fur", "Momma V", and the man getting buried in a coffee tin. Plus, how could one ignore tips such as "Play Hooky", "Ignore Important People", and "Hang Out At The Bars"!

I also bookmarked Jack Hart's "A Storyteller's Lexicon"... Probably important, but not as interesting as DeGregory.

Narrative as a daily habit

Lane Degregory describes narrative journalism from the perspective of a daily habit. She provides tips on how to come up with story ideas. I found these tips helpful because I often struggle when it somes to thinking of interesting and newsworthy story ideas. However, I also felt a little discouraged by a few of the tips as well. I have a very introverted personality and it seems as though some of the tips are geared toward extroverts and they made me feel a little apprehensive about reporting. For instance, tip #1 is titled "talk to strangers." Within this section, Degregory says to "be a nosy neighbor" and "chat with people everywhere you go." (p. 239) I don't like being nosy and I don't like stalking people and I rarely strike up conversations with people I don't know unless I absolutely have to. Can introverts still be good reporters and dig up the interesting stories? However, I frequently use the third tip Degregory suggested when I search for story ideas, "read the walls." I have found a couple of story ideas from posters that are hanging up at school. I came up with my final project story idea after I saw a poster advertising the spring drag show on campus. Although I am a little apprehensive to try some of Degregory's tips, others seemed very helpful.

Learn to crave criticism

Kramer and Call's chapter on Narrative in the News Organization gave us, as aspiring journalists, great perspective on narratives place in journalism. Up until this point I hadn't given much thought on how narrative occurs. I've read about how to read, write, and research for narrative but not how it fits into an overall operation. I particularly appreciated Batz and Carrillo's insight regarding their respective working groups. Kiernan's experience working with 64 reporters on the American Airlines story was intriguing as well. I think we often like to think of writing as a solo activity. This chapter gave us much insight on working in groups.

When Harrington described his relationship with the father of a boy who passed away I really got a sense of what he meant by intimate journalism. You really have to be a great reporter to make a source understand exactly what you want from them. When the father asked Harrington, "So you want to konw what I think when I say my prayers in a quiet room," I thought, whoa!, good for you Harrington.

The passage that sticks with me the most is "Learn to crave criticism." I am not always the best at using criticism as a tool to help me. I am quick to judge the person criticizing me and size them up to see if whether or not I should trust them more than myself. Craving criticism will help me to accept it better and accepting the criticism will help me become a better story teller.

I also got the opportunity to read the Pulitzer Prize winning piece on Joshua Bell. I can see why Abel wants to recreate a similar situation. I loved this piece of writing. The writer was able to incorporate history and context with ease. Everything about the story was fluid. I was surprised at how much dialog the writer incorporated into the story. This is something that I am testing out with my narrative piece. I'm not only taking my reader to scene I'm taking them to where I did my reporting (the conversations I had, etc.)

Apple iPhone Apps for narrative Journalism?

I am watching a CNBC special titled "Planet of the Apps."

http://www.cnbc.com/id/34316207

I wonder if there are any phone apps that would be useful for narrative journalism?

Use an authoritative and companionable news voice!

Standard news voice reminds me of Dragnet's catchphrase, "Just the facts, ma'am." We student reporters need to learn how to develop our own intimate writing voice that gives our readers the facts, while being "friendly and real" to our readers to retain their interest in an increasingly competitive sea of news outlets. In short, how can our writing style appeal to our readers' brains and their hearts at the same time?

I really liked Lane Degregory's thirteen writing tips. I liked how talking to strangers got her a tip about a man who so loved his coffee that his sons and daughters buried his ashes in a coffee pot. As the only real world person that I personally know that is named Lane is a man, I had assumed that this Lane was also a man. Only a quick check with the "About the contributors" section corrected this mistake.

I also like how the series "Crossing American" in the Seattle Times was written up. I would really love to be a reporter on a tenth anniversary trip from Seattle to New York.

Bob Batz wrote the most important article for us student reporters. Bob Batz suggested many good ideas on how to start up our own narrative reporter groups. Narrative journalism is a good, healthy thing for journalism in general and for our reporting careers in particular.

By the way, one of the most powerful words you can use is the word, imagine. Imagine is a word that triggers your reader to start thinking and to become an active participant in your story.

Pretty rough

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I left.
This isn't what I'd say to you if you asked me, "how was studying abroad," as so many people have, but it is true. Six weeks into the 18 week program I withdrew.
But I wouldn't tell you that, at least not upfront. No, if you asked, I would probably smile and tell you, "it was good. I learned a lot." Although...this is also true.
Until now I've been hesitant to bear the complete truth about my experience. I've been too embarrassed to talk. I've been hesitant to seek the counsel of those who will give me insight. I haven't yet faced what I've done. Here I go, or do I mean went? [Cheesy]
It was just about the time that I started to think I could navigate the halls of the University of Minnesota Duluth with my eyes closed that I decided to go international with my education.
[A quarter of a million students studied abroad last year and I was one of them. DO I NEED THIS?]
At that time, and still now, studying abroad seemed like such a buzz word on college campuses. An insignificant passerby in conversation. Something that people just do. So when two friends suggested that we try it together while we ate dinner one night, I made it a mission. Those two friends ultimately decided not to go but their decisions had little effect on the ones I went on to make.
I thought, "I'll do it."
Well, the presupposition of that sentence indicates that I am or was at one point able. As I would come to learn, proper presupposition was clouded by my tendency to think I can do anything.
[the point I'm trying to make below is that of course I thought I could go with a non-umd program]
UMD coordinates some study abroad programs but students also have the option of seeking out non-UMD programs. This route is a little unorthodox and despite the smaller amount of support offered on-campus for such programs, students still choose this route when it means a cheaper price [or a better fit]. [explain USAC? Explain frustration with Deb Good] I chose a non-UMD program in Brighton, England- a coastal city just south of London with a reputation for art and entertainment.

[scene, where should I take my readers? Should I take them to Brighton with me? Obviously.]
I stepped onto foreign soil for the first time when I arrived at Heathrow airport in London on January 29th 2009.
I traveled from London to Brighton by bus. A two hour ride. I later learned that Janelle, an Oaky in the same program as me, had taken the same bus ride. In a blog that she maintained for her friends and family back home Janelle wrote about the beauty of the landscape on the ride:
"The first impression I had was green. The land surrounding the highway was a wet, lush, verdant blanket of rolling hills and pastures...The hills rolled past and revealed large houses, which, if I were a more mundane person, I would describe as "quaint". I loved them, not just for the older architecture or the latticed windowpanes, but the distinctly comfortable, lived-in feeling I got by watching them flick by."
I neither saw nor felt anything that she did. My ride may have been in the same bus on the same route as Janelle just hours earlier but our rides were completely subjective.
I was distracted by the hole in my stomach, the kind where you can't imagine ever having any desire to eat again. Somewhere along the way I had been prepped for this. Culture shock, right? Could it really happen this fast?
[Insert scene of seeing flat and flat mates for the first time]
On January 31st, three days after my passport was stamped for the first time, I sat in my bedroom with my suitcase tucked under my bed and its contents [filling] my new home and wrote this:
"The culture shock is wearing away each day. I felt physically sick immediately when I got here...I'm trying to be very patient with myself and remember that I am not alone. I can do this...Min Young and Lucy helped me get through the first night. I only cried a little bit. Min Young gave me a Korean charm and Lucy made me English tea...My stomach feels better today. I hope it does every day or I won't be eating."
[Need scene/development showing my desire to leave]
[Need scene/develepment making decision to leave]
[Need scene/development about hardships afterward]
I walked in and said, "Hi Deb, my name is Kristen Krebs. I studied abroad in Brighton, England last spring. Do you remember me?"
She looked at me with a smile and said, "The name sounds familiar."
A little generic but I'll take it.
I said, "Okay. I actually came home early from my experience and right now, in one of my journalism classes, I'm writing about what that was like. I wanted to consult you as a professional in the field and ask you some questions about what happens when people do come home from their experiences early because I assume it happens."
"Actually it doesn't," she said.
Hm. That's not what I thought I was going to hear. In fact, had I heard five months ago, I probably would have been crushed.
She went on, "I hope that doesn't make you uncomfortable."
It really doesn't. I'm okay.
At this point she got up from behind her desk walked behind me and shut the door to her office creating a barrier between me and the people outside who might be quick to judge me about the heart-to-heart I am about to have with Deb Good. I assumed she was trying to protect my privacy in this seemingly "uncomfortable" situation. It made me laugh.
What a relief. Not that Deb Good's door is closed- that mine is.

Sources
Deb Good (study abroad coordinator at UMD, personal interview)
Min Young Yoon (letters, skype interview)
Janelle Bernales (blog)
My personal diary

Sources yet to use
personal travel records/itineraries
Facebook messages between Joel Gyolai and myself
Mark and Sue Krebs (parents, personal interview)
Joel Gyolai (boyfriend, personal interview)
mass e-mails sent out by me to friends/family informing them of my

Anchor Bar

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Packed into its seven large tables and underneath several antique stores worth of trinkets, the Sunday afternoon lunch rush begins at the Anchor Bar. The crowd is a mix of hungover college students and a after-church crowd consisting of the elderly and their families.

They all come for the food. The Anchor Bar's menu is a simple one; it consists entirely of burgers. (Technically you can order a grilled cheese if you're a vegetarian, but no one ever does that.) The variety of burgers available is impressive however. There are 15 different 1/3 pound creations to choose from, with options ranging from the bizarre: the Cashew Burger (topped with fried cashews and mozzarella cheese) and the Hawaiian Burger (topped with a slice of grilled pineapple and mozzarella) to your more standard cheeseburger and bacon cheeseburger.

Fries can be added for a buck, which everyone does because they are ridiculously good. They are made by placing a potato in a contraption that looks similar to a can crusher. The contraption slices the potatoes into french fry shapes, and into the deep fryer they go. As the menu puts it, 'They were potatoes a minute ago.'

The after-church crowd casually converses, with the conversation frequently steering towards the eclectic collection of antiques mounted on the walls and ceiling of the dim, cramped bar. There seems to be a general maritime theme, (maps, globes, ropes, a harpoon, paddles, life preservers, dozens of framed pictures of the gigantic ships that populate the Duluth/Superior harbor in the summertime) but if you look hard enough there is some weird stuff to be found: A pair of old military helmets, a set of bongos, mannequin heads, a prosthetic leg and foot, a book containing a complete list of new Wisconsin statutes and ordinances enacted for 1977, the list goes on.

A table of grandparents with their grandchildren becomes enamored with the gigantic plastic sailfish that is roped in directly above their table, until their food arrives. The baskets of burgers and fries are carried out by the only cook on duty, a short-haired, plump old lady with skin creased deeply by decades of cigarette smoke. 'Here she comes, Ms. Superior...' a UMD student jokingly sings to the tune of the Ms. America jingle at a nearby table.

His friend offers a meek laugh, still reeling from an unpleasant encounter with the bar's waiter. The friend had asked the waiter 'what beers they had,' to which the clearly aggravated waiter replied 'Christ, do you really want me to name all of them?' Which he then sarcastically attempted to do just that, rattling off 15 or so different names until finally the student, obviously newly legal, settled on a Bud Light. The Anchor Bar is not renowned for its customer service.

Another member of the hungover college kid table returns from the bathroom having discovered another piece of the bar's charm. The bathroom's ceiling is covered in graffiti. There's the offensive, (Mike B is a CUNT) the uplifting, (Jesus is love) and a whole lot of unintelligible ramblings that seems to be typical to bathroom etchings. And they are etchings, literally carved into the wall.

Suddenly his tales of bathroom literature are interrupted by a cacophony of shrieking and stomping. A group of five people enter and head straight to the bar. There are four females, two dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, two dressed like they came straight from a nightclub. They are accompanied by a man who looks like a parody of a pimp: he's wearing a white Sean John tracksuit matched with his impeccably white Nikes. Below his crispy gelled hair stylish glasses perch, tinted a light shade of brown, which matches his mulatto skin. And, of course, he is wearing a gold chain and several rings.

At two o'clock on a Sunday afternoon their intentions are clear: They came to drink. After taking a shot at the bar they find a table and continue ordering drinks. Their conversation is much more interesting than the grandchildren's sailfish fascination, or the college kid's rehashing of weekend shenanigans. Although they speak in loud, quick bursts, which renders most of their discourse indecipherable, it's clear that it is a vulgar, sexually charged discussion. Needless to say, the crew accelerated the exodus following the lunch rush; the Anchor Bar cleared out quickly.

*************

On Friday night the Anchor Bar is packed. The college kids are back, putting in work for their impending hangovers. Crusty barflies are entrenched at the bar, 20 cigarettes deep into a 70-cigarette night. With the exception of one table at the far end of the restaurant, families are absent. A steadily growing group of people linger by the entrance, waiting for a table to open up.

The jukebox blares over the loud crowd. Linkin Park, Beck, Meatloaf, 3-6 Mafia, Journey, Tim McGraw - there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the music selection. Any top 40 hit in the last 40 years can and will be played, and only the college kids seem to mind, or notice.

There are two working televisions at the Anchor Bar, both located behind the bar. A Lifetime movie plays on one of them. Some of the barflies watch impassively, others ignore it completely. No one asks to change the channel, although, as some college kids note, both the Bucks and the Timberwolves are currently playing. The other TV is tuned to Animal Planet. No one pays any attention to the poor wildebeast being devoured by crocodiles.

A similar feast is happening with a Gallybuster not 15 feet away. A Gallybuster is the Anchor's biggest burger. It consists of three 1/3 pound patties topped with American cheese housed between two flimsy buns. This Gallybuster quickly devolves into a sloppy mess of ketchup-covered ground beef chunks, interspersed with bits of disintegrating bread.

In one of the more perplexing displays of wasting money, three people sit at the bar's slot machines. These are not you typical casino slot machines however, in that they don't pay out any money. They take money, people press some buttons, lights flash and electronic wheels spin, then the machines ask for more money. This group of people engages in this expensive, pointless routine for 45 minutes before moving on to pool.

One of the waiters, understandably stressed due to the large crowd, argues with a middle-aged patron. This argument, which seems to happen fairly often, is over the Anchor Bar's 'no plastic' policy. Only cash and local checks are accepted here. There is an ATM near the entrance, but it comes with a $2.50 surcharge. The patron, after voicing his displeasure with the policy, goes grumbling to the ATM. Next time he'll be sure to bring cash.

*************

It's Tuesday night and business is slow. A family of six, a table of college kids, a table of tatooed 30-somethings, and a handful of crusty barflies is all there is. CNN and NBC's 'The Biggest Loser' flicker muted on the televisions. Ms. Superior is back at work in the kitchen, quickly flipping burgers while pleasantly chatting with a waitress.

The ceiling in the bathroom has been painted black, although some of the more vigorously etched statements remain visible. Two of slot machines are out of order, although no one attempts to play the one working machine.

One of the barflies asks a college kid, who is sitting at the bar paying for his meal (with cash of course) if it's supposed to rain tomorrow. The kid replies "Fuck if I know, I think the weatherman said it could but you know that they don't know shit." The barfly, taken aback by this vulgar response, quickly turns away. The kid, who overestimated the barfly's crustiness, sheepishly tips out the bartender and makes a quick exit.

"How's the food?" the waitress asks one of the regulars politely.

"It's great, as always," the barfly repies.

Of course it is. In the eclectic chaos that rules the Anchor Bar, the food reigns supreme.

the worst story i could possibly write.

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Dave Telker has never been any good at finishing things.

He never finished college. He never finished chasing his music dreams. He never finished the hot rod he promised to build for his dad.

So when Dave walked up to the front of the gymnasium to receive his graduation certificate, he was not smiling because of the piece of paper. He was smiling because he finally finished something.

What he finished was Teen Challenge, what is officially known as 'a faith-based drug and alcohol rehab program.' In short, Teen Challenge helps addicts get their lives back. With some help from Jesus.

I first met Dave at a Teen Challenge choir practice a few weeks back, after watching him
rock out on his guitar. He's blonde, not quite short, with glasses and a gray t-shirt. He gives off a country rockstar sort of vibe. He has tattoos on both arms. They're themed. The right arm, with its ________: music. The left, with its red flames: hot rods. His two passions. He catches my attention because he seems a little more into this choir business than most of the guys.

Two of the guys have microphones and are singing. Their names are Mike and Joe. At the risk of sounding cliche, I will describe them quickly.

Joe is quiet. Mike is not.

After the band breaks up to join the group practice, Joe walks back and joins Shawn at the sound board. Shawn is the sound guy. He is tall and dark and doesn't like to sing. He wrangled himself a job running sound for just that reason. Some of the guys are still a little sore about it. He is my first friend here and I am sitting, or hiding, by him in the back so as to stay out of the way as much as possible. Joe sidles up to Shawn and starts fishing.

"Did it sound okay?"

"Yeah. I mean, I'm no musician."

"Was my voice loud enough?"

(It wasn't.)

Pause. "You could put a little more into it."

-->quote about the dave show<--

The practice is not quite what I expected. I decided to write this story after the teen challenge choir came to my church on a Sunday morning. They were neat and tidy in white collared shirts, ties, and slacks. Sure, they had scars and tattoos on their faces and hands and everywhere else imaginable, but they were well-behaved. Practice is a little bit of a different story. It's not that it's pandemonium, or even close. But it's definitely borderline rowdy.

They are being directed, or more accurately corralled, by Nona Harkness, a middle-aged woman with white-blonde hair and a pink suit coat. She doesn't look very street-savvy. She actually looks pretty churchy. I met with her a couple days before the practice to get the scoop, though, so I already know she's tougher than she looks.

-->church girl quote from nona<--

According to every single TC worker that I've talked to so far, she's being modest.

-->miracle worker quote<--

Voices begin rise from the run-down, oval-shaped gymnasium as Nona has them warm up. They are not quite in perfect pitch. They are shaky. They are all singing the melody with only one or two attempting a harmony. These are the voices of the users. These are the voices of the dealers. These are the voices of the alcoholics.

They are shifting from foot to foot. They are elbowing each other in the ribs. They are someplace they never would have expected to be: choir practice.

After the warmup, as the last of the stragglers walk in, Nona raises her voice.

"Let's just go ahead and pray."

Two of the men talking in the corner don't hear her. They keep talking. Only when everyone starts laughing do they realize that they're being watched. They stop talking a little bashfully.

The laughter fades and then everyone bows their heads.

Everyone.

Nona prays to bless their choir practice. She ends with "We ask that you would consecrate these songs, that they may bring blessing to our lives and to the people who hear them."

Shawn starts the accompaniment cd and the magic starts. Nona becomes a choir director. She bounces. She floats. She mouths the words. She paints an invisible masterpiece with her hands.

You are stronger, you are stronger
Sin is broken, you have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus, you are Lord of all

Nona says "Could you show me some confidence and stand up?"

The men all stand instantly. All fifty-something of them. With this standing motion something seems to happen with their singing. Simply put... it gets better. They go from shaky and uncertain, off-pitch and diversified, to one strong voice. It swells and grows and fills the gym and takes on a life of its own and whoever is listening feels something funny happen in their throat.

This must be the voice of recovery.

This must be what TC director Paul Harkness calls "Giving them their song back."

This must be why Dave decided maybe he could finish something.

-->quote from Dave about how a lot of the guys aren't into the choir<-- Dave would know. He spend twelve months with the choir, and now he is graduating-- finishing-- tomorrow. He sits comfortably on the couch with his legs crossed. He has a cup of Caribou coffee in his hand, now his only addiction as far as beverages go.

Dave didn't always drink coffee. He used to drink beer. Lots of it. Dave drank so much, in fact, that he couldn't get out of bed in the morning without a drink. So much that he couldn't make his music career stick. So much that he never could finish building that hot rod he promised to his dad. He drank so much that his family begged him to go to rehab. Thirty or sixty days oughta do it, they thought.

Well, he one-upped them.

He signed up for twelve months. And a choir.

-->quote about the choir<--

But how does music fix an alcohol addiction? Or for that matter, a meth addiction? That can't be all it takes. What's the secret? Why does Teen Challenge have a 74%(?) success rate while every other court-ordered rehab program falls behind?

In Dave's opinion, it's not the music, although he'll be the first to say that it helps. But in Dave's opinion, it's something a little bit more... spiritual.

-->quote about how faith has helped him<--

Mike _______ has always had trouble saying no.

-->still have to get the interview<--

When they ask Mike to do solos at choir practice, he says yes. When they ask him to help varnish a door, he says yes. When they ask him to help with an Easter play at a local church, he says yes. Mike calls this a problem.

-->quote about how he can't say no<--

At least now Mike is saying yes to choir solos and church plays, which most would argue is better than what he was previously saying yes to.

At choir practice Mike sits in the very last row, leaning back in his chair with his legs spread, looking like he owns the place. He appears to be one of the troublemakers of the group. He sings "mi mi mi" loudly and off-key. He yells to his buddies from across the room. He says things like "This goes out to all my native friends" and "that was worse than my best day drunk."

A new song begins and Dave is conducting with his flaming arms.

He was pierced for our transgressions
He was crushed for our sins
The punishment that brought us peace
Was upon him
And by his wounds, by his wounds
We are healed

The song then goes into a well-known hymn.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

The voices fade out and when I finish frantically writing the words to the song in my notes, I scribble in the margin. "It's hard not to get emotional."

When the call goes out for the day's soloists, Shawn calls out from the back. "Mike ______, get up there."

Mike puts up a pretense of refusing with an embarrassed "oh my gosh." He is already getting out of his chair.

He stands with two of the other guys at the front. Nona hands him his mic and almost hits him in the face. Mike, never one to miss an opportunity, stumbles back and says dramatically-- and loudly, might I add-- "It's all right! I'm okay."

The song begins and we seem to be having trouble getting the right pitch. Mike raises his eyebrows and says "Whew!" into his mic. He continues singing but now he's holding his mic further away from his face. Maybe he's uncertain. Shawn motions for him to hold it closer. A minute or two into the song and we've found our groove.

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
Emmanuel
Rescue for sinners
Ransom from heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

Now the choir breaks into two parts, with Mike and the other soloists singing that same chorus and the rest singing something new.

All our hope is in you
All our hope is in you
All the glory to you, God
The light of the world

After the song's over, Nona decides she wants to do it in a different key.

"Shawn!" Nona directs her attention toward the back. "You have to go get that cd from the garbage that we threw away."

Shawn leaves, presumably to dig through the trash, and just like that I am left to cover sound. He comes back a moment later rubbing the cd on his shirt and laughing.

Nona needs three more soloists.

A young man in the right-hand section starts to get up, then sits back down. It's too late to change his mind, though. The guys all start chanting "Come on, Darrell!" and he stands up again and walks hesitantly to the front.

Darrell stands behind a mic stand with one hand in his pocket and the other holding his sheet music. He stares intently at the piece of paper as the music starts. Darrell has a shaved head and an over-sized red t-shirt. He's pretty goofy when he's sitting with the group but up front he seems to feel out of sorts and doesn't really have an expression on his face. The two other soloists are standing on either side of him, angled slightly to face him, and holding their mics instead of using stands. The overall effect makes Darrell look like a kid reading a monologue in a school play.

After practice, Nona and I search for a place to sit down. We pull a couple chairs up by the window in the room adjoining the gym. There's a pool table right next to us and this seems to be a popular point of transit.

Nona collects her thoughts about the practice. "That was a little off. A little bit unfocused."

She thinks that may have something to do with the urine tests everyone had to take yesterday. A few of the guys were caught with tobacco, which carries the consequence of 30 extra days in the program. Everyone is still a little on edge. After all, there's nothing worse for the ego than a urine test.

Nona finds a cd player and brings it back to play us some of the new songs she'd like to start doing. We're soon joined by Dave and Joe.

"I'm kind of on a quest to find something with a little more kick."

The songs she begins playing for us are gospel, through and through.

"I've tried to go that direction before," she explains, "but have gotten some resistance from some of the guys who are a little sensitive to that."

She says it carefully and I'm a little surprised at the insinuation. We are interrupted by Paul Harkness, the Duluth TC director and Nona's husband. He brings her a cup of coffee, a spring in his step, singing. "I'm smelling coffee, doo-doo-doo-doo..."

Nona and Dave, who is now perched on the edge of the pool table, bounce comments back and forth as the music plays.

It's almost disappointing to listen to such a tightly canned thing as a recording, after the beautiful chaos that was just the Teen Challenge choir practice.

"That's how an electric guitar was meant to be used," Nona says almost dreamily.

Dave does an air drum solo as he listens.

"It's over the top, but that's kind of the point," he comments.

After a few minutes, Nona, Dave and Joe seem to forget I'm here and start discussing the practice again.

"I felt an attitude today. That wasn't my imagination, was it?" Nona asks the guys.

"Hmm-mm," Joe answers immediately.

"No, there's an attitude," Dave says. "It was a lot of peripheral stuff, what with the tests today and the heat goin' bonkers. There's something for you," he says, now turning to me. "When you got fifty-five guys living together and singing together, sometimes choir practice is tense for reasons having nothing to do with choir."

"You didn't get set back yesterday, did you?" Nona asks Dave hopefully, referring to the tests.

"No."

"Dangit."

Dave begins to talk about his plans after graduation. Nona interrupts with "We need to find you a girlfriend!"

"I'm going back to college and we'll worry about that later," Dave says with admirable determination.

Joe is already married with kids. Being in the program keeps him and Joanie apart a significant amount.

"Yeah, it's not an easy thing, being here," he says. "[Joanie] lives in Cloquet."

Suddenly the subject changes and we're back to talking about Dave's departure. The conversation is much like a pool game, with trains of thought bumping into each other and bouncing off the walls.

"It's gonna stink when Dave and the other guys leave," Joe says.

"I'm trying to work with Dustin, get him worked in," Dave says, referring to the second guitar player.

Dave's imminent departure seems to loom over everyone who is invested in this choir, and for good reason. He's the guitar player, student director, and in all honesty, whatever he needs to be.

"I get doin' too many things up there, I start to feel like it's the Dave show," he says with humor.

"It was a little over the top last week when you went over to the drum set with your guitar," Nona agrees with her familiar raised-eyebrow smile.

"I was just gonna keep a bass drum beat!"

Nona begins to round up guys to give their testimonies for the next choir performance. She snags a guy named Rich. He's wearing a Vikings jersey and a black Ecko United sweatshirt.

"Did I do all right last time?" He asks uncertainly.

Her response is warm. "Yes you did. It was perfect."

"It was my first time doin' it."

"It was a blessing," Nona assures him.

Another guy in a gray sweatshirt walks up. His name is Mike. He has the same troublemaker vibe as Mike ________. "Next time I give my testimony," he says, "I'm gonna drag on and on. 'Well, it all started when I was little. And I learned to talk. And then I had trouble with boundaries...'" He trails off and everyone laughs.

The next practice I visit is a week later, on a Tuesday. The choir is getting ready to perform at a car show on Friday. They just found out about it recently-- a few minutes ago, to be precise.

The Tuesday practice is for the more dedicated part of the choir, and it's only ten or fifteen people. Mike is present but not paying much attention-- he's in the back with his work gloves on, sanding a door. He has a bright orange shirt on and a razor blade in his pocket. A power drill sits on the door. Sawdust is everywhere.

Nona plays a new song for the guys. It's Carrie Underwood: "Jesus Take the Wheel." Not the most predictable choice for this crew. For the car show, though, it seems appropriate.

Mike is now varnishing the door. His gloves are covered with an oozing brown liquid. It looks a little horror film-esque.

In the front, Nona is trying to arrange everybody. "If we could take this configuration and make a..." She spreads her arms to indicate that everyone should make a semi-circle. They begin to drag their chairs to accommodate, and the resulting noise sounds eerily like Saruman the White declaring war.

Nona wants to try something with a little soul. She's convinced Darrell, who happens to be the only African-American in the choir, to solo again.

The Easter play ran the two weekends leading up to Easter Sunday. Mike had to be at every single rehearsal and every single performance. He spent hours helping build the sets (??? check on time???). He had one line.

-->Mike's line... something about 'Jesus, if you say you are God, tell us this...'<--

He pulls it off pretty easily. He is jauntily self-assured as he delivers the line. He uses sweeping hand gestures. He's wearing a robe and has a braided rope around his forehead. From my seat it looks like he has eyeliner on. It's a transformation, indeed.

Louis Rough Draft

There it sits, a hole in the wall café on 4th street between 5th and 6th ave in Duluth. The small restaurant does not seat more than about 30 people. A woman with frizzy hair bustles around. She sits, or walks, or runs, or more poetically, floats around the small café pleasing her customers with such ease. Penny Briddell may be behind all the madness at Uncles Louis, but she is front and center when it comes to the operations of running the place. The owner does not have a sob story or a rough upbringing. She just works hard, really, really hard.

Into to fire here: Maybe

That hard work almost came to the ground one Sunny Duluth day in 2007. Smoke was pouring out of every hole in the café like a steam engine or your mother the first time she catches you drinking underage. There was about 4 or 5 minutes of silence with a mix of a few sobs during the flames. Due to the breakfast focus of the café, it was already closed for the day and luckily no one was inside. The Duluth Fire Department was called much to the shrigrin of ooh's and ahh's from a crowd of about fifty that had gathered at a safe distance to watch the hopes and dreams of the staff slowly smolder to the ground like a midsummer bonfire. The omelet and gyro loving student and the Hillside faithful wondered if they were going to ever be able to enjoy their favorite breakfasts and lunches for fewer than 10 bucks again. Hundreds of letter poured into Penny's mailbox from residents supporting the café and wishing and praying the 50's style order up café would reopen as soon as possible. Or there would most likely have been a ton of angry Duluthians who not going to be getting their proper nutrition each morning. And you can get it hot and early. 6 AM the coffee is brewed, eggs cracked, and toast toasted.


The Hillside community of Duluth has been treated to the breakfast place since ???. The staff is always friendly, and the people are always hungry, and the portion sizes are visually appealing for even the hungriest of the hung over college students who pile into Louis every weekend, and I mean PILE. The capacity is 55? So, usually during the busy hours everyone else patiently waits their turn outside to walk into the doors of the aroma of breakfast heaven. They seat themselves, they wait, anxiously, and they scower the menu, which looks more like a Susan King novel about a serial killer who is incredibly skilled in culinary arts. -30?? Choices are what you must eventually trim to 1, which is fine because the next time you come back, and you will come back, you can order something different, and, im not a food critic, but you will probably like it not only for its taste, but for the few bucks you can keep in your wallet for desert, if you have room.

It's a Saturday, overcast with a chance of rain/sleet/snow. The winter is turning into spring, which in Duluth, is still winter. The streets are littered with trash, which no one bothers to pick up. Most likely it is from the Twins Bar the night before. Which is located a stones throw across the street from the café. There are stoplights on either side about a half block from the front doors. Directly next door is a small Laundromat on the east, on the west half there is a small Chinese place followed by Quizno's. The café is not a visual spectacle, but once you walk inside the double doors of Louis, you are greeted instantly with a warming hello. On this brisk day, there are a variety of people in Louis. I sit in the corner and just watch, a man with a long grey beard who appears less fortunate gulfs down French toast, which is absolutely drenched in syrup and powdered sugar. In my experience volunteering at the homeless shelter, I saw people like him, it made me wonder, is Louis providing for the homeless? Either way it gave me a warm feeling. There was a healthy mix of college kids, eagerly waiting their selections they have made from the massive menu, in between the "I was so fucked up last night" and "Oh I barely remember that, what was I doing"? There are hillside natives that have made it a tradition to come to Louis for breakfast, as well as families who are experiencing it for the first time.

far from finished...

We were all there. Lying on our backs. Some were lucky enough to get sweet sunglasses to lessen the harsh light above their head. Drills whizzing in the background send dental horrors running through the head of anyone in ear shot of them. Before we were able to get up and bolt out of the office someone would walk in, clip what looked and felt like a paper towel around your neck, smile, and say "open wide".

The American Dental Hygienist' Association describes a dental hygienist as a "licensed oral health professional who focuses on preventing and treating oral disease". This includes not only just the teeth and gums within in the mouth, but also the entire well being of a patient as a whole. In order to become licensed as a dental hygienist however, the road is long. The road is hard.

No one knows this truth better than the ones that willing place themselves in a position where the likely hood of completing all the school work and programs required take only a few years less than becoming a full fledge dentist.

At Lake Superior College in Duluth, one of the many dental hygienist programs allows only twenty students in a year. Twenty. Out of almost six hundred students; every semester.

My room mate moved from the major of photography, to dental hygiene. If that switch wasn't enough, her amount of schooling almost doubled and she was forced to transfer colleges. Her first year and a half there went smoothly. She was able to get her A.A. degree, which is more or less half of a bachelor degree.

After than she applied to get on the coveted wait list for the dental hygiene program. The wait time: two years. She figured to return to UMD and get a second degree in community health education which she is currently pursuing. By next spring she hopes to have a letter in the mail letting her know she has been accepted.

And if not...then what? What are students who are pursuing a particular degree or job supposed to do when they have completed everything they have had to and just nee to be accepted into a specific program or school? Not only that what happens when the time spent on the list becomes longer then what the people letting you on say it will be?

Bethany Bergstad is a first year student in the dental hygiene program at LSC. She was on the list for two and a half years before being accepted into the program.

"It just took that long; I started taking pre-requisites in high school and then took the first semester in college to finish them" Bergstad says.

Bergstad sits at a chair in the one classroom in the dental hygiene building. She opens a drawer and pulls out a metal jaw.

"We have assigned seats and we are in here all day. Oh the teachers rotate and change, but we stay in here."

She opens the metal jaw and explains that this is what the students use in order to practice their fillings and figure out what tooth goes where. The typodont (the metal mouth) is what all the dental hygiene students begin their training on. The typodont she is handling has two different types of fillings in it. One is a composite filling and is tooth colored. The other is a enamel filling and is made of metal. She mounts the fake mouth onto a pole and tightens it with a screw.

"And then..."she says while reaching towards a mannequin like head "you can attach this head to it and put like lips on it; makes it more realistic as to what a person would be like."

We don't go to a real clinic after the classroom. Real in the sense that this clinic is sectioned into cubicles and not separate rooms. Real in the fact that the patients in the chairs more than likely know the person working in their mouth as they are either a relative or close friend. Real in the sense that all the working age people seem to be watching more than doing anything.

"Six weeks ago we were working on each other in the classroom" she is nervous because in a few weeks they will return to the classroom to learn a new aspect of dentistry: Novocain.

The instructors mill about the room, some are wandering between the main cleaning room and the x-ray lab, while others are sitting next to the students and the patient, watching and critiquing.

"We also have local doctors that volunteer their time to come watch and critique us." Bergstad says. Each patient that is worked on has paper work and not just the simple here is how your teeth are paper work. Every patient must be documented through at least twelve different forms. Each side of ever paper must be filled out.

"The whole process takes about four hours" Bergstad says.

Think about being in a dentists chair for four hours. Usually people freak out with it's longer than forty-five minutes; four hours? And not only that, the person that is inside your mouth for the majority of this time is more than likely a friend or relative that is learning the trade. Four hours?

"First years bring in their own subjects and work on them" Brittany says. She says second year students work on potential strangers when doing their cleanings. Also as first years cleaning time can take the full four hours. Within a year thought the time must be cut down to just over one. By the time they graduate and are potentially working in a dental office: average cleaning should be MAYBE one hour.

Sara Ringold is a second year in the program. When asked about her experience getting put on and getting off the list to get into the program she simply says "it was an experience" and doesn't dive into any further detail.

"Let me just say I was on the list for three years. Once you're in though it's a lot of work and takes a lot of dedication; but it's fun."


Kelsey Janz has big things coming up in her life. Graduation in the spring is quickly followed by her marrying her high school sweetheart. She's excited for these next big steps in her life, but is still waiting on another.

"I just talked with my dental hygiene advisor and she said for sure I am not in the 2010 class and it's a little to early to tell for the 2011 class."

This is even a better outlook then before when it looked like Janz wouldn't get into the program until 2013. "People drop out or get into different programs."

But Janz, like many of the students on the waiting list, isn't just biding her time while on the list. Nor is this the only list she is on or plans to be on. Her dental hygiene pre-requisites were completed so she could get on that waiting list. Her next step is to get a Bachelors degree for dental school and then get on that wait list.

"Hopefully by the time I get onto the dental school waitlist I will have gotten into the LSC dental hygiene program; the estimated time for me to get in to the other wait list is 2014. They're bad everywhere."

So why are these lists so bad? How and who decides what gets you into these programs in order to get out and get going with a career?
******
So my story is far from complete but I am quickly learning the importance of not trying to fit everything from every interview into this writing piece. I feel like every little piece is important but as Sam Cook said, it might kill us to cut it, but that's a good thing.

the fragments i have about the sea creature

Here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.

That popular phrase, heard most often at or around poker tables, defines (insert pseudonym here)'s life. Formerly a college student, (pseudonym) gave up - at least temporarily - on the academic world. Rather than paying through the roof to fund an education he was never particularly interested in, (pseudonym) decided he'd rather use his mysterious character and willingness to compete to turn a profit. His life now revolves around check-raises, three-bets and river flushes. He's what the gambling world calls a rounder - someone who earns his or her living on cards, but he prefers to consider himself a professional grinder.

His game is Texas Hold 'em, by far the most popular form of poker in the world. It's the game that took the world by storm in 2003, when amateur card player Chris Moneymaker parlayed $30 (I think - need to fact check) into a seat in the Main Event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nev. The main event is decided over a game of Texas Hold 'em in the no-limit variety (where players may bet every dollar they have and can win up to the amount they have). In Minnesota, No limit Hold 'em is illegal, but several high-limt games are available for people like (pseudonym).

Texas Hold 'em is played by dealing each player two cards face down, known as 'hole cards'. Five cards then come across the middle - three cards come at the same time, known as the "flop", followed by a single "turn" card and the last card known as "the river" or "fifth street." A round of betting takes place before and after the flop, then after the turn and river. The showdown then takes place, where the winning hand is awarded the entire pot. Players may use any combination of his or her hole cards and the five community cards to make the strongest possible hand.

This is what I have so far to "set-up" my story. I want to give the general background of the game and life of a "grinder" without getting too technical and risking losing the attention of prospective readers. Once my story is set up I have several "chapters" that I can put in play for the actually narrative part of my story, which I will list below.

-Potential Chapters-
• (pseudonym) being shaken down at Black Bear
• (pseudonym) crushing the 5-60 (biggest legal game in Minn.) at Running Aces, full description of weekend "grinding", including actions away from table
• (pseudonym) tries to sit down and play at the Bear, after the infamous incident
• trying to fully describe/figure out (pseudonym)
• poker "language"
• what motivates this kid?
• his plans to "roll himself" and take a shot in Sin City (Las Vegas)

My very rough draft.

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California is a very important state to my family and I. We went on a family road trip there when I was only one and a half and my grandpa lived out there, so we made many visits. Whenever my family and I would go visit my grandpa we would go to Disneyland first and then make our way to Santa Barbara, where he lived. The last family vacation that we took out there with all five of us was when I was eight. Since my brother is 27, my sister is 24 and I am 20 we decided that we would try and do one of the same family trips that we used to do. We are all getting older and going all different directions in life so we knew that this would be one of the last times we might all be able to go on a family trip like this again.

It was three weeks before we were all supposed to go on our "last" family trip and my older brother Dave got laid off from work and got a new job all in the same day. This started our trip off on a shaky start. He wasn't sure if he would still be able to get the days off of his new job. This was already a huge change from when we were little. When you grow up there are obstacles that pop up unexpectedly through out life and they aren't as easy as they were when you were eight. My brother was able to get work off, and we were taking off for our, what my sister likes to call it, "True Life: I'm on family vaca," Friday, March 12.

We arrived at the airport at 11:20 p.m. and had to drive forty minutes to get to Anaheim, since we were going to go to Disneyland first. Well, when we were little a 40-minute drive in a car isn't too bad, but when you have a six foot five person to right, a five foot nine person to your left and you are five eight and stuck in the middle it's not so comfortable. Did I mention luggage for five adults in the back? But we weren't paying for the car, so we couldn't really complain.

We reached our first destination around one a.m. Us "kids" were getting our own room the third night, but for the first two all five of us were sharing a room. A trundle bed and luggage were covering the floor of the room and the noise of the T.V., someone's Ipod and a dad snoring made it very difficult to get a good nights sleep, but we survived the two nights without killing each other.

Monday was our last day of Disney and it was the most crowded day (statistic of how many people attended that day or have attended so far this year compared to around 10 years ago). I realized that it was the life to be young and get pushed in a stroller all around the park and to be able sit while you waited in, what could be an hour, line. You definitely don't get that treatment when you're 20.

It was fun to go on rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and Peter Pan's Flight, like we went on when we were younger. When you are older you realize how lucky you are to be able to go on a trip to Disneyland and not have to pay for anything, because tickets and food can be pretty expensive, let alone for five people in a family. We also realized how cool of a place it is. When I was eight I remember being so excited to go to Disney again, but when you're old you actually realize all that goes into a place like that and what they have to do to keep it up and running. It really is a magical place and it was cool to experience it again with my whole family.

Our next destination was to Santa Barbara, which was a little over an hour road trip.

-I still have a lot of work to do and need to add my quotes. I also need to look for other sources that I want to use in it. I just sat down and started writing different events that happened from the beginning and this is where I got so far. Once I finish the story about our trip I need to go through and figure out what needs to be included and what should be taken out. Then fill in the missing pieces.

Very very rough draft- The Kaspari's

(start with a scene of them attending church)... Cameron and Pearl Kaspari are devote Evangelical Christians. Heck, Pearl's maiden name is St. Mary. They both grew up in Duluth; Pearl going to Hermantown High School, and Cameron attending Denfield. However, Pearl and Cameron could not have started out in any more different of places. Pearl grew up in a very Christian oriented house, with a father who was heavily involved in their church. Cameron grew up in house that never stepped foot in a church. "I had never been to church in my life, never," Cameron explains. "My parents had never gone to church." So, how did this bartending bachelor end up with a sweet little Lutheran girl?

During the early '40s Cameron Kaspari worked two jobs. During the week he worked down in the shipyard and on weekends he bartended at Green Gables Tavern. "I lived in a hotel; it was eat, drink and be merry." Cameron recalls. "In the shipyards you could make all kinds of money. And for the fellow who was serious about acquiring money, that's the place to be. I didn't care about saving money, but I cared about earning enough money to have a good time. It was kind of a reckless era." That all was about to change when a group of bridesmaids decided to come to the bar for a little late night music.

(Pearl back story...still need to do some more reporting on that)

[[I will be going with the Kaspari's to their church this Sunday. I will be spending more time with them over the next week or so. I know this is not a complete rough draft, but I hope to get good feedback on my story. I am open to ideas.]]

-Ethan Walker

What I write matters. Here's how I know.

You don't know the impact of a story, until you get it wrong

I woke up and like usual, rolled out of bed and checked my email. I slept in late that Wednesday. Late enough that the current issue of the Statesman had already reached news stands.

I'll admit, I've become comfortable enough with the task of writing the crime section that I usually don't even read my own story once printed. There are two reasons for this. One, I don't like to see any typos or stupid stylebook errors I missed. Two, it is weird seeing what I wrote in print. I can't explain it. It's just weird. This week would be different though. I would have no other choice than to read my story. Here's why.

As a scrolled through what seemed like an endless amount of new messages I had received since around midnight the night before, I came across one from the Statesman office supervisor Jessi Eaton. The subject line read, "watch out...". Right away, before even reading the email, I knew I messed up.

The email read:

...the girls involved in the roommate-punch-in-the-face incident were just here looking for you, all pissed off.

I told them to email you and get together if they want to talk about it, but I wanted to give you the heads up. If you do meet with them, have Dave be there.

:)

My stomach dropped and I immediately became really nervous. The smiley face at the end of the email seemed ironic considering I was feeling quite the contrary. How did I screw up this story? I had no idea. But I did, and now I had to deal with it. How could I mess up a story, I do this every week and never have screwed up before.

The next email in my inbox, expectantly, was from a UMD username unfamiliar to me. The subject read, "Concerning the article 'Girl Punches Roommate in Face'". Great. Here goes nothing. I opened the email and nothing could prepare me for the personal attacks I was about to read. She wasn't just mad about the story; it was clear that she was mad at me.

The email read:

Hello My name is____________.
I am a roommate of the two girls you chose to write this article about. I was also the
sober friend of the girl who "called the other roommate to let her in" where is where
your first fact is wrong since I was calling her and I called her around ten times. Our
roommate didn't let us in and that's why my other roommate got angry at her. After a
while the Roommate who had borrowed the other roommates keys, earlier that night, came and let us in. This is where I told her to run back to our room so that nothing would
happen since she had only been home for an hour and wasn't sober yet. But she didn't go
back to our room and my other roommate kept yelling. This is when the girl who locked us in to the apartment tries to choke my other roommate and then punches her in the face. So the girl you portrayed in the article as the victim is actually the attacker.
So as you might imagine when we heard of your article we were quite angry. You should at least get credible sources such as me since I was the only witness to this or the police
who actually, as you would have seen if you would have done decent reporting, have the
story as well. Lastly you might want to pick a more credible source than Sean Huls whom
we have never even met and probably heard this story as an elaboration from someone else.

I will expect a full apology in the next edition of the UMD Statesman adressed with no
names but an apology all the same. One from you and one from this Sean Huls kid who you can tell to come to our apartment, since he knows us so well, and give us an apology for \telling a story he had no rights to tell and knew absolutely nothing about.
I hope you take this into consideration for your future articles because otherwise your
future as journalist will probably be short lived. Or maybe I am getting it wrong and
journalism has no integrity anymore.

-B******* O******** (The real and credible witness you might have used)

Nothing makes you realize the importance of what you write, until you get it wrong. I definitely got it wrong. I felt horrible. Horrible because she attacked me personally and horrible because I made their life a little harder that day. It didn't matter that most of her accusations were unjustified. For example, Sean Huls isn't some "kid". He is a Sergeant at university police. It didn't matter though; I was wrong, not her. She had every right to be mad. I knew that. No one wants to get it right more than I do, but that doesn't change that this time, I got it all wrong.

The Statesman printed a correction in the next issue. To me the mistake is done and over with. For the girls in my story the mistake lingers on. Not everyone who read the original story read the correction. Especially, since it was buried in the middle of an ad page. People who read my story may still think that the victim was the suspect. That's my fault.

My life moved on after the correction was printed. I never heard from any of the girls ever again. I can't say I had a lasting effect on their life, although that is completely possible.

One thing is sure though, you never know the impact of what you write until you get it wrong.

Making a job out of ruining people's lives

This is one thing journalists and police have in common. We ruin lives. Or at least we are told we do. Works out well considering they are my main source for all of my stories.

It was my first big story as a writer, a drug bust in one of the on-campus apartment buildings. A student was being charged with a felony for the ample amount of drugs and paraphernalia he had in his on-campus apartment. He didn't like that I wrote about him, or that I printed his name.

He wrote in an email:

Dear Veronica,
I have a few questions as to why you felt it was necessary to put my name into the small
school news paper. I am only eighteen and from this point on this article will be
associated with my name...I would like to meet with you to discuss possible legal measures I will pursue against the University of Minnesota and yourself... Because of this article showing up in every background check I will not be able to apply for housing off campus, apply for student loans, or jobs. I am not a dangerous human being or an angry person, I am just confused as to how you can dislike me this much without even meeting me. I would really like to talk to you in some sort of capacity so you can know who I am, whether or not you print what I say.

He was right. What I wrote would have consequences in his life. Where he was wrong was that he did it to himself.

Maybe if the story didn't run he would have an easier time finding a job, getting student loans, and finding a place to stay. He probably would, actually. Honestly, that is not something I put any thought into before printing his name.

At the time I wrote the story I didn't think twice about the effect printing his name would have on him. I figured I was just doing my job.

Did adding his name make a difference in the story?

No, probably not.

By keeping his name out of the story was I being dishonest to my readers?

This is where things become blurry to me. I still to this day don't know if I did the right thing. I do know however, that in one way or another I impacted his life. I told everyone about one of the lowest times in his life. I told his classmates what he does when he leaves class. I even published a photo so when he walked down the hall people would be sure to recognize him.

His outlook on life appeared dim to him. Not because of the felony he was charged with, but because of what I wrote. I ruined his vision of what he saw his future being.

"If I had a dollar for every time someone told me [I ruined their life], I would be a rich man," my source for the story, Sgt. Huls of university police said.

Agreed.

One word can make all the difference

Mindy Granly works in the office of sustainability at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). She is the go-to source of the Statesman anytime we need to talk about UMD going green.

When I walked into her office it was my second time meeting with her. The first was the previous year to write a story about her new job at UMD helping with sustainability.

I sat down and she pulled out a folded up version of the news story I had written.

"You wrote the first story ever about me," she told me while looking it over. "I really liked it. Well done".

The well done was followed by a big "but". Of course, she liked the story but there was something wrong with it.

She said that she liked how I recognized what she was doing on campus to promote going green but there was one part of the story that made her look bad.

"I said it so it was fair game," she said. "I just realized maybe I shouldn't have told [you] that."

She was talking in reference to a quote that was her talking about how recycling on campus was poor and she was going to help improve it. This was true, but it made people who worked on recycling in the past look bad.

"They were like 'Hey! We have been working hard at this!'" she said. Her coluges weren't happy with her lack of acknowledging their hard work before she became a part of their team.

Because of this, Granly said she is now more careful about what she says in interviews. Readers and coworkers steadily call to her attention quotes from stories written that they don't agree with.

"Absolutely I read every story written about me. I scroll through the papers and look for anything involving campus sustainability," she said.


Granly recalled a time that she was misquoted by the Statesman...by one word.

"I said 'the past years we have been working on sustainability', it was printed that I said 'the past year,'" she said.

May seem like a minor mistake. So the reporter forgot the 's' on the end of 'year', what's the big deal?

"It made it look like I didn't care about what was done before I was here," she said. People have been working on sustainability for the past 10 years, not just the year I had been here, she told me. Not to her surprise, co-workers brought it to her attention, and they weren't happy.

A small mistake by a reporter caused Granly discomfort at work. She had to explain that she didn't say what was inside what should be sacred quotations, all because the reporter got one word wrong.

___________________
Obviously, my story is unfinished. I have 3 more interviews with sources telling me different ways that what I wrote affected them. My story is already long so I am deciding what additional interviews to use. This draft is a result of me sitting down and writing without stopping. I know it needs organization and work.

Functioning Addict first draft

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I met Keith Lawrence in third grade, by sophomore year of high school we'd become very close and not long after that he became my vice. The thing you'd never guess about this exceptionally bright, overly witty, kind hearted, redheaded soul is the secret life he hid from everyone. A heroin addict and cocaine distributer is not the first thing you'd think of when you look at Keith, and not anything you'd ever suspect about him no matter how well you know him.
Like all things good, Keith's luck changed and his life went downhill. You'll see his rise, demise and reprise through his intimate life with his family, friends, peers, professors, and his own thoughts naked on these pages. He's a self-described hesitantly-emotional person, and his guts are spilled here for everyone who has ever felt like their glass is half-empty. This is the life of a functioning addict.
"I hate waking up, every time I do I'm paralyzed in fear. I can only hope that time crawls during sentencing." This was a text message I received from Keith at 9am on September 15, 2009. This was the first emotion I had seen from him since being arrested in March. That very moment is when I started to realize the gravity of his situation for the first time. Feelings are a strange thing, and feeling someone else's feelings is an all together overwhelming experience. However, if I've learned anything, ever, it's just that "it sucks to grow up, but everybody does."
Years ago at the age of 12 Keith recalls taking his first shot and smoking weed for the first time. After that, he didn't have any interest in doing it again. By 15 he was smoking weed and drinking and taking miscellaneous pills. This all started, he claims, when his first girlfriend broke up with him. "I went through the 'my first girlfriend broke up with me' phase and started taking a lot of pills and selling a lot more." This didn't go unnoticed by his Christian parents, who sent him to treatment for a short time.
At the age of 16, after treatment, his alcohol use basically ceased to exist for a while as he continued with the pills and the pot. "It wasn't long before I started selling everything I was using to support my habit and fell into some people who lead me into opium." Once he got his license later that year, he'd become one of the largest distributers of weed in our high school. Things were going well for a while, but the tables turned shortly after when he began shooting heroin. By the time he turned 17 he'd shot up for the first time, alone, which he admits to always knowing he would do for months or years before.
This is where you may lose a little respect when you learn that the first time he shot up was via his younger brother's diabetic needle. This kept progressing and he began making "starter kits" at night before school, kits that had cotton, spoons, needles, a lighter and a balloon of heroin. He started shooting up at school in the fall of 2006 at which time he was attending Normandale for PSEO. He would have time in between classes to go to Minneapolis to score more product. It didn't take long before things started to spiral out of control.
Keith had started shooting up 6-8 times a day and didn't care where or when he was doing it. "A friend called me and asked that I drop off a bag for him, I realized I was driving like shit on my way there and must've blacked out some time on my way back home." He was arrested and put in juvenile detention after the police found him passed out crashed into a mailbox and landscaping rock literally 45 seconds from his house. He plead guilty to a 5th degree felony and DUI charge. The DUI was on appeal for 6-8 months and eventually was overturned, while the felony charge was adjudicated thanks in large part to lawyer Doug Hazelton.
(Keith's story does not end here. Lives have been changed and poor decisions have been made since then. Currently I'm waiting on legal documents that were put in the mail yesterday.)

First Draft Scoot Vazoon

Ben Torgerson
The first time I met Scott he looked uncomfortable. He was fidgeting in class, and looked like he was ready to run out altogether. He talked feverishly in class, and had a passion for whatever topic seemed to come up in Introduction to Cultural Studies that particular day that was unmatched by any other half asleep student in the class at 10 am Tuesdays and Thursdays. The first big project, I was put into a group with him and 4 other lucky individuals. We didn't know what we had in store for us-or at least I didn't.
After a few weeks of slacking off we finally met outside of class, at the UMD library. We couldn't get a soundproof study room, so we set up shop at one of the tables in a main area. After minimal progress, conversation turned to music. Instantly I recognized that same feverish manner in his eyes and voice. We started talking hip-hop and it was on. Before I knew it, he had begun a freestyle rap at full volume in the middle of the library, much to the embarrassment of the rest of his group, wondering who this kid is. I was wondering the same thing, and eventually I would find myself years later still trying to figure it out.
Scott Vazina has some interesting hobbies. An English and Sociology double-major from UMD, he already has a good job as a local website consultant, building sites and working with clients. He's worked there for five months, and already has three times the clients of anyone else who works there. He's soon getting a pay raise, and is even thinking about moving to a position in the cities. He spends little time talking about the job, however.
Music is Scott's life. He does other stuff, but beats are always on the mind. "I always got instrumentals buzzing around in my head, I really can't stop thinking of rhymes," he explains with that familiar look in his eyes. "I'll take breaks at work and just rap non-stop."
At this point he looks anxiously around the room, turning his body completely around as if to case the place. "I wanna spit right now but there's kids over there," he explains.
He's been working on songs for a full album for two years now, and is now trying to narrow it down from an estimated 100 full length songs already recorded. He plays shows, house parties, open mics-anywhere he can possibly be heard. All roads lead to the album, though.
"This is gonna be my report about 23 years of life on earth," he says. He plans on touring all summer to pedal the disc and get himself heard, the ultimate goal. "If people like it they will, I don't have any delusions," he confidently explains.
Although it certainly is always there, rap isn't the only thing in the mind of Scott Vazina, or Scoot Vazoon as he'll refer to himself in the rap community. There's also Magic: the Gathering. Playing since he was in third grade, the fantasy card game conceived by mathematics professor Richard Garfield is a big deal for Scott. He plays a tournament every week in Duluth, often for over four hours nonstop. It's a $5 entry fee, and they can draw quite a crowd. Last week he won $40, but he's left with a $100 on different occasions and tournaments. He's been through 3 collections in his lifetime. One was lost in a mold disaster 8 years ago at a former residence, along with every single possession the family had in the house. Another got stolen a few years later, acting as a catalyst for a break until freshman year of college, when the hobby came back into his life. "I didn't realize it could be competitive until recently," he says. "Before it was just therapy." Now he's ranked 4th in the region, and in the top 50 in the state.

[[I'm going to a tournament with him this Friday, so I should have a lot more material on the gaming portion soon. I don't know how I'm going to organize it, and I'm sure the structure will change with more reporting. I'm not sure where I want to go from here in the story.]]

Lakewalk, second draft

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Before the construction of the Lakewalk, there were few public access points for people to enjoy Duluth's lakeshore. The four public access points were the Ship Canal, Leif Erikson Park, Lester River, and Brighton Beach.

Walkers and bicycle riders made their own "informal foot paths" along the railroad tracks between Canal Park and Brighton Beach. However, for walkers or off road bicyclists who used these paths were trespassing on private property. The private property was owned by railroads, small scale industry, warehouses, junkyards, and filled in areas created by dumping the debris and rubble from demolished buildings. Bits of carved stone, broken bricks, iron plumbing pipes, and even two discarded steel safes littered the lakeshore.

Additionally, these informal paths were narrow, uneven, were often muddy, and passed through thick underbrush. Thus, people often walked along the active railroad tracks, which is always dangerous and illegal. Thus, only the brave and the bold chose to trespass across private property to reach the lakeshore for daytime fishing, swimming, and rock collecting. While at night, these areas that would become the Lakewalk became a dark stretch that attracted lovers, teen drinking, and drug dealers. In short, with limited lakeshore access, far fewer residents and tourists visited Duluth's lakeshore than they do today.

During the 1970's, Duluth Canal Park was a declining industrial area and Grandma's Restaurant was the only popular destination in Canal Park for ordinary citizens. What is now a city block long parking lot between Canal Park Drive and South Lake Avenue was a major junkyard surrounded by an ugly fence and connected by a railroad spur. Canal Park was a place people normally drive through, not drove to.

Amy Norris, employed by Duluth Parks and Recreation Department, told me that in the 1980's the first phase of the Lakewalk, located on the lakeside shore of Canal Park to 27th Avenue East, was constructed along with Interstate 35 in Downtown Duluth. Before the construction of Interstate 35, Canal Park and the lakeshore were occupied by warehouses, a railroad yard, junkyards, and a few low income homes

During the 1980's, communities of all sizes and all over the world were rediscovering their waterfronts. Abandoned or underused industrial land was transformed into parks, restaurants, retail shops, and hotels. Following this worldwide trend, Duluth city planners revised a one- hundred-year-old plan to create a world class park on Canal Park's lakeshore side. This park plan appears similar to today's Leif Erickson Park's Rose Garden, but the city never had enough money to construct the park as this plan proposed. Thus, city planners applied for and obtained Federal Enhancement Grant Money to build this project that a part of the 1986 Downtown Duluth Waterfront Plan that proposed the Lakewalk, along with a number of other enhancements to improve the quality of life for Duluth citizens. In 1992 and again in 1994, the Duluth I-35 extension and Lake Place won Federal Highway Administration "Excellence in Highway Design" awards.

Duluth city planners used the federal grant money to use waste rock, created by digging out the space for the Interstate tunnels, to greatly extend the lakeshore and create the first phase of the Lakewalk. Without the waste rock, the city of Duluth could not have afforded to extend the lakeshore and thus build the Lakewalk on the expanded shoreline. First, dumping the waste rock onto the lakeshore, and to build reefs to encourage recreational fishing, saved millions of dollars to dump the waste rock far from the construction site. Second, just notice where the shoreline is in relationship to the concrete wharf known as Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum in photos before and after the Lakewalk was constructed. It is a common practice to extend shorelines with waste rock from nearby construction projects. For example, New York City's World Trade Center needed to dig out a vast area of soil and rock that was then used to create new land that became Battery Park City on the west side of Lower Manhattan.

According to the Duluth Parks and Recreation web site, Duluth's Lakewalk official southern end is at Bayfront Festival Park. The trail from Bayfront Festival Park to Canal Park is on existing concrete sidewalks.

However, some city park maps show the southern end as the intersection of Morse Street and Canal Park Drive. This part of the trail has an entrance gate and the "Determined Mariner" statue. The Lakewalk now actually ends at 47 Avenue East, but for some reason the Parks and Recreation web site as well as Goggle Maps have not been updated and still show the trail's northern end at 27th Avenue East.

The technical terms used by architects and city planners to describe the Lakewalk is a Liner Park or a Greenway, and is classified as a recreational and non-motorized transit park. Such long and narrow parks are common throughout the world, the most famous being the Promenade plantée "walk with trees" in Paris, France; the High Line in New York City, NY; and the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis, Minn. However, the Canal Park section of the Lakewalk could be unique in the world in having three trails constructed along the same corridor.

The first trail is a seven-foot wide boardwalk that is intended for pedestrians, which starts at Canal Park and ends the Fitgers Inn pedestrian bridge. The boardwalk is constructed of an extremely durable hardwood known as Ipe. The second trail is ten foot wide asphalt trail, intended for bicyclists and rollerbladers. The trail's southern end is at Canal Park and the northern end is at 47th Avenue East. The third trail is a twelve-foot wide gravel path for carriage rides that extend from Corner of the Lake Park to Morse Street.

Between Corner of the Lake Park and Leif Erikson Park, a double track railroad was reduced to one track to make room for the boardwalk and the bike path.

Along the Lakewalk are information kiosks, parking lots; the 580-foot-long "Image Wall" crafted from 1.27 million ceramic tiles that portrays images of Lake Superior maritime activity, designed by artist Mark Marino; the International Sculpture Garden, the Northland Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, and memorial benches. Amy Norris told me that someone can purchase a Lakewalk memorial bench for $2.500 dollars. I consider that a good price for something that tens of thousands of people will enjoy for about sixty years.

Opened in 1988, the Lakewalk attracts more than one million trail visitors each year. The Lakewalk is a world class showcase for a city to make an asset of what was not so long ago underused industrial property. The Lakewalk has become a signature draw and icon for the city of Duluth. It plays an important role in keeping Duluth citizens healthy, while giving them a safe path to bicycle or walk to downtown employment. Currently, this section of the trail is now 6.2 miles long.

People can rent bicycles at the Can Park Lodge and from Wheel Fun Rentals.

The Lakewalk section between 27th Avenue East and 36th Avenue East, with an expensive 125- foot bridge over Tischer Creek was completed in 2008. The 36th to 47th section was completed in 2009.

In 2010, City planners hope to extend the Lakewalk's third phase will extend the trail from 47th Avenue East to 60th Avenue East. In 2011, the Lakewalk's fifth phase will connect Highway 61 to Brighton Beach. City planners have not yet decided upon a bridge or tunnel will span Highway 61. Also in 2011, the Munger Trail is planned to be extended from 75th Avenue West to Canal Park, linking up with the Lakewalk. In 2012, the fourth Lakewalk phase will connect 60th Avenue East to Highway 61. I suspect that walkers and bicyclists will be very happy on the day the fourth and last section of Duluth's crosstown, paved trail network officially opens.

From March until November, I often bicycle or walk on the Lakewalk, often doing so once each day.


Sources:

Amy Norris, Duluth Parks and Recreation

http://www.duluthmn.gov/parks/lakewalk.cfm (Duluth Parks and Recreation)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promenade_plantee

http://www.thehighline.org/

http://www.dsmic.org/documentstore/TransportationImprovementPrograms(TIPs)/2009-2012/Ai r%20Quality%20Review.pdf

Bowden was there?..

First, I have to say that I enjoyed Tales of the Tyrant a lot, a lot. It was a really fascinating profile of a man that probably hasn't been profiled many times in his career as dictator/uncle/God. Having said that, I must question where all of this information came from. Bowden mentions a number of people that he has apparently interviewed, but these side characters never stay around for longer than a page or two, if not only a paragraph. How does he know all of what he knows with such detail? The only way Bowden should be able to write with the depth that he does, in regard to Hussein, is if he had been in Iraq witnessing the events or if he interviewed Saddam himself. I doubt either scenario happened. I did enjoy Bowden's style though. He told a side of Hussein that I had never considered or been privy to hearing about. But none of that matters if Bowden fabricated it all or at least expanded upon the truth--I'd just like to see his source list.

Saddam Hussein and the world of editing

"Tales of the Tyrant" was definitely impressive. The scope of the reporting and the history that it covered was... well, impressive. I think the beginning was brilliant. Seven and a half pages of an intimate look into Saddam's life, personality, and psyche. I wish Bowden had continued down that track. Instead, he digresses into these 'tales' of Saddam's cruelty, impulsive violence, troubled past, and the fear he strikes into every heart in Iraq. I already know those things. I'm not saying it wasn't a good story, because I think it was. And I'm not saying go easy on the guy, because he would be a hard person to 'go easy on.' But I do think the most fascinating thing Bowden offers is the personal stuff. Who is this guy? We already know he's a monster. Don't pound it into our heads with stories about his mass executions. What does he do in his free time? What is he afraid of? What does he talk about with his close friends? The article does give us some of that, and that's why I wish it would give more-- it was so intriguing that I wasn't satisfied to then be taken on a tour of Iraqi politics. On another note, the editing section was incredibly helpful. My favorite tips were "Love the subject, not your rendering of it (Hull on 207)," and Hiestand's comment that language is not the conveyor belt carrying the idea, but is itself part of the idea (page 199).

Tales of the Tyrant: Serious in depth reporting

The extensive details and specific scenes in this piece are pretty outstanding. It makes me wonder how long it took Bowden to actually be in Hussein's presence, report all the daily findings and information on him, and then actually organize all the information into a story. I thought it was interesting how Bowden explained some of Hussein's quirks about his daily routine or his likes and dislikes. Getting the really detailed descriptions motivated me to keep reading. I looked up the definition of a tyrant: a cruel and oppressive dictator. This description fits the intense stories that Bowden wrote about.(page. 283 when Hussein pointed out all the people who,in his eyes, had betrayed him and they were taken away, not knowing their fate.) This piece of writing is motivating because it shows the product of impressive reporting and obvious shows an extensive amount of time being put into a story.

Readings for 4/6...

Editing:

I enjoyed reading this section on editing, because it helped me realize more that it is okay to change your story and have multiple drafts. I liked how in the introduction Kramer and Call mentioned riding a bike. They talked about how the first time riding a bike is a mess, just like a first draft of writing. Usually your draft needs work. They say that, "good narrative writing demands a nurturing writer-editor relationship" (197). I also liked how Emily Hiestand talks about the form or an essay and how it doesn't need to have a certain structure, but it should be like elastic (201). One thing that I need to work on with my stories that I am writing is trying to find the right balance with working with an editor. When do you know the best time to meet with them, or how to deal with what you should or should not include? I liked this section, because it did talk about the relationship that you have with an editor and the things that you can do to work on it. I will be looking back at this section again as I work on my stories and as a work with my editor.

Mark Bowden's piece:

I am still not really sure how I feel about this piece. I thought that he included good information and did a really good job on portraying Saddam, but in a way I felt like he never really got to a good point. I really enjoyed reading about all the stories involving him, but in a way I felt like there was something that was missing from it. Was he there meeting with people? Did he ever attend any of the meetings? Overall, he wrote this piece really well I think and did an overall good job with the story of Saddam.

How ya doing now Saddam???

A look into the life of Saddam Huessein, the most feared man possibly in the world. I cannot believe the amount of work Bowden must have put into this story. In the first few pages of the story he writes as if he has spent numerous hours with the dictator. I think he embelishes the fact that he knows a lot about him, but does he really? Who is the person giving him first hand accounts of his office and multiple homes? How did he come into contact with so many people close to him, even as getting close to his oldest son. It was a very diffucult read, it seemed to take many turns and right angles at some point. I like the overall theme that Saddam could blame his bloodshed tyranical ways and attribute them to a patriotic cause. I like the quotes and Arabic words he uses at the beginning of each new idea, and the story that correlates with it. I believe the writing gets to detailed at times, I seemed to have a hard time keeping up with some of what he was talking about, especially things about the Saudi government. It seems that Saddam rose up from the ground into becoming one of the most famous leaders in the world, rarely for foreign policies or positive press. Over the last couple pages I felt Bowden did not do as well of a job as he could to wrap up the story. Maybe it was intentional, probably not, but he did not make me a fan, how can you compile all of this information and long hours of work and end the story like that. Ahhh im frusterated

I didnt really understand the blurb about the Olympics, was Bowden a olympian or was he talking to a man who had won for Iraq? I couldn't quite understand that, anyone catch that?

Editing:

Most likely my least favorite part of journalism. I dont like to think im not doing a good job, and it seemed like that was the consensus from the scholars in this section. There are always part of your writing that can be changed for the better, the more work and decree you put into it, there is always something that can be moved or taken out or reworded. I think after reading it seems the most important things is how you manage your notes. Or how you are able to translate your initial ideas and values of a story and condensing them down to formulate a free flowing, self explaining piece. At what point in the editing process have you gone to far to "sharpen" up your story At what details expense are you trying to narrow the focus in your writing? Slippery slope slippery slope.

The Tale of the Terrible Tyrant Told Terrifically

Besides the playful alliteration in my title, I did seriously love this piece of writing. The immense detail Mr. Bowden had that illuminated just how ruthless Saddam could be was fantastic. He also did a great job in showing the fragile human side of Saddam (crying after an execution, hiding his limp, dying his hair, writing novels). I don't know how Mr. Bowden got a hold of all of these sources without any of them remaining anonymous. I would assume that they would be too scared to talk about the infamous tyrant. I knew that Saddam was a ruthless leader, but what I didn't know was that he had a vision of himself being remembered positively for what he did in his country. Quite honestly, I could not put my book down after I started this piece, it was so full on insight on Saddam and I barely noticed the fact that there were only direct quotes form people around Saddam, never from Saddam himself (I can understand why...). I don't know if I have ever read an article with such detail on a subject without the subject ever being quoted. Awesome.

Research, Research, Research

I wonder how long Bowden spent working on 'Tales of a Tyrant.' I got the impression it was exhaustively researched. Tracking down and interviewing all of those expats must've required a colossal effort.

But getting all of those different voices from different parts of Sadam's Iraq is what gave the story a solid foundation of credibility. I think this piece showed that any story can be made if you put enough time and effort into it. Stories are made from exhaustive research and varied and numerous sources, only then does the actual construction of the piece begin.

I felt the details were lacking....

The title: a complete lie. I was completely taken aback by the amount of details used in the story for today by Bowden. He was able to encompass an entire person and give a look into their life and being, without actually using any quotes from that particular person. It reminded me of class this morning; Hatcher made a comment about journalism and its epic need for quotes from people. Sometimes that is what entire stories are based on and without them, many stories are seen as lacking and not able to give the whole story. After reading this story I don't know if that is entirely true. While it wouldn't hurt the story to have an interview with Saddam, NOT having it doesn't detract from the story as it is written.

The amount of detail used in the story is also a nice reminder of the editing process that goes into stories. As I'm sure is the case, Bowden probably had even more details and moments that he decided not to add in the story. However the ones he did chose let the story flow very nicely and make it a very nice and enjoyable read. The ones he chose give an insight into the lifestyle this man led and the kind of person he was. I think talking to people AROUND Saddam instead of the actual man himself, gave him details and information that he would not have gotten or would have been left out in an interview with Saddam.

The Man, The Tyrant

Bowden's article definitely required extensive reporting and researching. To be able to get some of the information he was able to acquire is mind boggling. Much of the information is/was state secrets. Its impressive that he was able to track down so many expatriates all across the globe. I was also impressed with his ability, through extensive research, to tell the story of Saddam as if he were there. It allowed the reader to get inside the psyche of the man - how he thought, why he thought that way, his personality, etc. This is much different than the conventional media portrayal of him. The story did not make him a sympathetic character, but it did make him a real person.

Bowden was able to say things about Saddam authoritatively, as if he had actually interviewed him. I'm not sure about this technique; I would have liked to know how he obtained all this information. Bowden gave us a few excerpts of interviews with former confidants, but at other times I wasn't sure where the information was from. When is it alright to speak authoritatively about a subject? How much reporting must be done before it is acceptable?

How the *bleep* did he do that??

It is one thing to get inside the skin of The American Man, and it is impressive when you read it. But Saddam Hussein? It was probably some kind of bet with his buddies, and Bowden came out the champion.

Regardless of how he got this access, the writing of the piece is very good. When you get this much access to Saddam, you need to capitalize by relaying all the details you can. But Bowden does it strategically, keeping a semblance of flow and focus amid the deluge of factoids. I liked all the anecdotes, which broke up the straight facts quite nicely. Even the straight facts, however, while being told in machine-gun fashion, were still captivating. Is that due to the subject matter or was it something in the way that it was written. I think the former, as I cannot imagine being as intrigued with that style if The American Man was the subject.

Stubborn Old Men

I took an African Politics class last semester and there was extensive talk about the Zimbabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe. What I found interesting about him is that he is almost 90 years old and still ruling his country with an iron fist. He shows no sign of letting up. I find this fascinating; and I think that this piece takes a more intricate look into the mind of a man who goes so far out of his way to hold his power when it would be much easier to just let it go. What makes men like Saddam, Robert, and Fidel tick? Well, now I have a pretty good idea.
This piece also raised an important question about writing: How important is it to attribute facts and information directly in the story? Bowden seems to just rattle off the information without any indication as to where he got it.

Editing Saddam

I thought that the two readings played nicely off of one another for today. The Bowden piece blew me away with the detail and work that he put into the story. I can't imagine how much research and intense interviews must have gone into the piece. He manages to let us in Saddam's work, personal life, and mind all without a direct interview from the man himself. I wonder if the class thinks that a direct interview with Saddam would have helped the piece at all. I would argue that his strange personality would translate to a strange, probably bare-bones interview. I like it just the way Bowden did it. The editing piece in Telling True Stories shed some light on the Bowden piece for me, and made me think of things that I hadn't before. The Nazario section on Enrique's Journey was particularly interesting for me, because I applied it to the Bowden story. I would imagine that his piece took just as long to organize as Nazario's, because of the huge amount of information. There must have been just as many drafts, edits, comments, and restructurings for Bowden. The editing section reminded me that it's always better to have to much than too little while reporting.

Definition of organizing your thoughts

I really enjoyed this piece. It took me through his life and gave me a look at his world, what is might be like to be him.

It would not have any idea how to structure this story. If I would of had all the information I am sure he had my story would of came out looking like a mess. I would be interested to know how he chose what to be in the story and what to leave out. How did he organize his note? How did he choose how to start and end? With how much information he had this story is extremely easy to follow and as a reader I wanted to keep reading.

It is cool that he never actually quotes Saddam but it doesn't feel like he needs to. Usually, I would assume a profile piece would require a quote from who you are talking about but this one doesn't. Reading it I didn't feel like it was missing anything.

I also liked the writing style. I think the writer took risks. One thing I noticed was how a lot of the paragraphs started with Saddam....
This is something I would as a writer try to stay away from as it might sound repetitive, but with this piece it works.

Reward readers for staying with you

Mark Bowden's piece on Saddam Hussain is undoubtedly one of the harder pieces of writing that we've been asked to read this semester. Keeping in mind the comment I made last Thursday about challenging ourselves to get through readings and think critically even when it's challenging, I made sure to do so with this piece.

I think that the story begins to take shape on page 284. Here, we really get an understanding for where the story is going. "It was what the world would come to see as classic Saddam. He tends to commit his crimes in public, cloaking them in patriotism and in effect turning his witnesses into accomplices."

I'm intrigued by Bowden's style. In each of the sections he introduces a new character in the story. That character plays a significant role in shaping who we know and what we know at the end of the story. I appreciate that many of the characters are reoccurring- that is, they aren't introduced and never referenced again. Wafic Samarai and Saad al-Bazzaz play very significant roles in this piece of writing.

For instance, on page 292 Bowden finishes telling one of Qanbar's stories of an encounter with Saddam's people. The strong, strong narrative and deep understanding of the implications of this story allow Bowden to make this conclusion: "Walls define the tyrant's world. They keep his enemies out, but they also block him off from the people he rules. In time he can no longer see out. He loses touch wtih what is real and what is unreal, what is possible and what is not- or, as in the case of Qanbar adn the wall, what is just barely possible. His ideas of what his power can acomplish, and of his own importance, bleed into fantasy. If I had to describe this moment in the story I was describe it as a turning point. It sets up the story about the invasion of Kuwait beautifully (although that scene occurs several pages later.)

It wasn't clear to me that Bowden actually spoke to these characters until page 295. That was the first time Bowden made reference to himself. Quite honestly, before that page I was asking myself, "how does he know this stuff?" In a similar manner to the conversation we had in class about Ben's narrative use in his story about Chester Creek a couple of weeks ago.

I particularly like conviction in his the conclusion. At first I recognized this as open-endedness but after reading the editing piece I recognize it in a different light. Every story contains an engine: the unanswered question that keeps a reader reading. But at the end the writer must "turn off" that engine. Here's how Bowden does it. "Ten years later a new President Bush is in the White House, with a new national mission to remove Saddam. So the walls that protect the tyrant grow higher and higher." We end with a scene in which Saddam returns to his secret bed. Samarai says something about his loss of touch with reality and the Bowden is able to write (conclude) "This, ultimately, is why Saddam will fail."

Yep, he's right! One year after this was published Saddam was captured. He was put on trial and hung in 2006.

EDITING
Editing is my favorite aspect of journalism so it's not surprise that this section was my favorite of all the sections. The message kept reoccurring to me throughout these tets was teh importance of reading your work as a reader- not the writer. As pointed out in several of the texts, this can be a hard task! That's where editors can be of some assistance. She mentions the use of sentence fragments- which I am hesitant to use. I think you have to be a pretty established writer to use fragments. Regardless, I'm going to try to use them (if appropriate) in my narrative story. She also mentioned "trimming fat." In many cases that seems to be what editing is about and it's what make me feel most accomplished when I'm editing my work or the work of others. But like Jan Windburn and Lisa Pollak point out, editing is not always that easy. Windburn wrote, "As her editor I wanted to do more than say, 'yeah, you're right. It's not working' I had to determine why is didn't work." This is a good example of when editing can be frustrating. it's the time when a writer realizes they have more reporting to do! Anne Hull tells us that revision requires patience.

We must not be too lazy for the editing process. From this chapter I gather that editing is (almost) as essential as the reporting.

Sonia Nazario's example of condensing one hundred notebooks in 35 words was particularly helpful to me. She gave actual examples of paragraphs in her draft and how they transformed during the editing process. For me, this is so cool to see. S


Country controlled by fear

I enjoyed Mark Bowen's profile about Saddam Hussain. I like how he provided basic, yet interesting, facts about Saddam's life. One of the facts that sticks out to me is that his wife was his first cousin and they had five kids. However, he had multiple extra marital relations while he was with his wife. This detail provides insight about his culture and morals. I like how Bowden focused on fear throughout his story as well. Bowden wrote, "In a country ruled by fear, the best way to survive is to draw as little attention to yourself as possible. To be invisible." These two sentences gave me a pretty good idea about how much control Saddam had. But the next scene elaborated on my assumption even more. Saddam wanted some men to finish building a wall within a matter of a day. If the builders didn't finish the wall they would most likely be tortured and killed. Even the people that were instructed to inform the men of their task would be in trouble if the wall was not finished within the remainder of the day. Through the combined efforts of the men they were able to finish the wall on time because "terror had driven them to work faster and harder than they believed possible" (p.292). This seems unreal. I can't imagine how hard and fast these men had to work to keep their "Great Uncle" happy and to save their lives. I wonder what Saddam Hussein would have done to Bowden if he read Bowden's profile on him.

Saddam and editing

I found this piece of writing interesting because it was a profile on a famous figure and not once did the writer ever interview that individual. In this article, Bowden's investigative research is very apparent, especially his interviews with people who were military leaders and friends of Saddams. One aspect I liked about this article is that the writer cut it up into chapters. I was able to better understand the subjects and the information. I can't imagine how much material Bowden had to write this story. He could have written it in so many different angles. In Telling True Stories, Sonia Nazario talks about how to transform your notes into the best structure. She writes about how having more then one draft is necessary. For one of her stories, which began as 95,000 words, she went through ten drafts to cut-down on the length. Between the drafts she did two things
1: she reduced "the length" and focused "relentlessly on the story's central purpose"
2. she had to cut out characters
She says after the story gets narrowed down she was able to write the story sharper and more focused. I wonder how Bowden's process was when writing this article about Saddam. There must have been so much information, but how did he decide what to include. She says writers should ask certain questions when trying to trim down their writing...
1. Is this really necessary?
2. How much is lost by cutting it?
3. How much would be gained by speeding up the narrative?
4. If I keep it, how can I make it better, shorter?

Saddam's power, isolation, and vanity

Mark Bowden's portrait of Saddam Hussein focuses on Saddam as a person, what Saddam loves and what Saddam fears. Bowden spent many hours interviewing people that knew him and researching from public records to compile a highly detailed portrait of a tyrant driven by ambition and cruelty. I would love to know how Bowden arranged his article, deciding what order to put it in, what information to include, and what information to leave out?

For myself, Bowden's nut graph paragraph is on page 277, the one that starts off with "Saddam is a loner by nature, and power increases isolation." The most important sentence in this nut graph is "One might think that the most powerful man has the most choices, but in reality he has the fewest."

I could have titled my review, "Stalin's student Saddam," yet direct references to Stalin only appear on pages 281 and 298. (1) There are many indirect Stalinesque references Saddam achieved, such building statues and self-portraits. Bowden would have written a stronger article if he had given his reader some background on Stalin's personality cult to better understand why Saddam built so many palaces, statues, and self-portraits. It appears that Saddam wanted to create an Iraqi nation where no one could live an entire day without seeing an image of Saddam, his palaces that dominated the landscape, or see his image or hear his name on state controlled media. I think I saw on CNN that it was required by Iraqi law that all homes and apartments have at least one framed picture of "Great Uncle" displayed in their private homes.

Today, nearly all of the statues and self-portraits have been pulled down, while his many palaces either are in ruins or being used as American military bases. The reality of 2010 says much for Saddam's ambition to build his legacy.

I looked up the May 2002 article online, which made it easier for me to research topics.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2002/05/tales-of-the-tyrant/2480/

(1) Joseph Stalin lived was born on December 18, 1878 and died on March 5, 1953. Saddam Hussein was April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. Therefore, Stalin was alive and ruled the Soviet Union during Saddam's first sixteen years of life.

Balding Mans Hair

I found Anne Hull's section, Revisiting - Over and Over Again to be the most informative section in this Editing section of the book. I found what she said about reporting to be very true, that if you haven't done enough reporting, your story will seem like a bad comb-over. I thought that was an amusing way to look at reporting and fitting all of your sources into a story. Right now with my piece I'm trying to figure out how to piece together all of my sources and realize that I definitely need to do more reporting. I don't want my story to seem like a balding man's head.

I loved the detail Mark Bowden used within the Tales of the Tyrant piece. The way he describes how each new character looks really builds them as a person and puts the reader in the story. He uses this description to hint at their personality too, which I found interesting because it's showing the reader, not telling.


A question I have refers to the Telling True Stories book. When trying to find the right angle for your story and you aren't sure what sources are considered good or bad, where do you draw creativity from in order to have a successful story?

Check everything

I felt like a lot of what I read for today was a repeat of ethics class and reporting and writing, but I guess that is a good thing. One thing that stuck out when I read was to never print anything that hasn't been checked. I absolutely hate checking things in my story that I am "sure" are correct. However, I am guilty of making a mistake in a story when I should have double checked what I wrote. It seemed like not a big mistake to me at all but to my source it was. I quoted the police as saying "shattered" instead of "broken". Not a big deal, to me. But they were not happy. Apparently, to police those two words have completely different meanings. Long story short I always check every fact and quote in my stories. I think that is the best piece of advice in what we read. Simple, easy and true. Check everything.

Not digging the constant sidebars

I didn't particularly care for this story. Its length was the initial turn off, but Wallace's style didn't help anything. I simply COULD NOT focus on the story with all of the sidebar information. I feel like Wallace is obviously a realllly smart dude--but he's too willing to show it. Some of the side boxes were two-thirds of a page. How am I supposed to focus on all of the info on the real page when most of the space is devoted to explaining some obscure reference from the first sentence. I could see myself liking Wallace as a writer, but only if he simplifies things as far as his explanations and five dollar words are concerned. Plus, did I mention it's reallllly long??

ethics...

I found this part about ethics to be very interesting. One part that stuck out to me was the part about Playing Fair with Subjects. I found that part interesting, because it talks about how narrative writers must learn how to strike a careful balance (172). It talks about how as a writer our job is for the reader and the subject. I kind of struggle with this part, because if I get to know someone I feel bad knowing that I am going to have to share the good and bad. I just need to keep in mind that it is a "dual responsibility" as a writer. It is important to spend time and get to know the subject that you are writing about, but it is also important to share the facts. How and when do you decide to draw that fine line and balance between the two? I still need to work on that.

Ethics Section

I thought the Ethics section wasn't boring at all. The journalists' personal stories were helpful in that they deal with dilemmas that all journalists do: What should we keep in a story and what should we throw away? I liked when Boo said, "You make a thousand moral decisions in the corse of reporting and writing each story." The aftermath when a source reads a story about them is interesting because they can determine if what was written about them was completely true or not. My favorite section of this chapter was Dickerson's "Ethics in Personal Writing." His story was touching. Here he was, the little boy's uncle writing about this awful shooting that happened to his young nephew. He mentioned that his allegiance to his family trumped his allegiance to journalism. Ethics is tricky, but this section helped to explain parts of it more clearly to me.

Ethics and talk radio...

The section about ethics in Telling True Stories kind of scared me, to be honest. The ethical code of journalism seems to be, for the most part, vague and subjective. I realize that it's really hard to go black-and-white about a lot of this stuff, but can't we have better guidelines than (and I'm paraphrasing here) "feel it out"? Also, Nazario and Hull's problems, deciding whether or not to help when help was needed, really stumped me. Both decided not to intervene, Nazario with Enrique's phone call and Hull with the sick baby, and they probably salvaged their stories by doing so. But I don't know if I could have been in the same situation and not done anything. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just saying it's really tough. I loved Wallace's "Host." Probably the most valuable thing I can take away from it is Wallace's skill in writing about someone to whom he is diametrically opposed in values, politics, morals, sensibilities, and really every area, and actually throwing his opinion in the piece, while somehow managing to remain fair and portray Ziegler in some sort of sympathetic or at least human light. I liked the boxes, they were immensely entertaining, but I don't think a normal person that was reading this solely for pleasure would have the patience for them. Plus, let's be real: are most of them necessary? I wonder if there is a way Wallace could have kept the personality of this piece while making it less formidable of a read.

Balancing Acts

I liked Isabel Wilkerson's section with in the ETHICS section. I think she brought up some significant points that we have thrown back and forth already in our class. The first that stuck out to me was when she talked about 'changing' story and what is appropriate for the journalists to do. She talked about taking the boys out to eat at McD's and whether or not that put a change into the story by her doing that. After the fact however she made a good point that we will be encountering when writing our stories; no matter WHAT our simple presence as journalists will cause some sort of change within the subjects we are writing about. In order to alleviate this in someway I believe you have to spend much more time with your subject in order to get rid of the stereotypical journalists like Wilkerson talks about:"show up, mine them for information, write down whatever t hey say in a notebook, and leave fifteen minutes later". I think in this particular story, if I were the author it would be hard for me to not allow personal feelings to interfere w ith my writing. When the 'ritual' at the end of her story is talked about; how hard would it be not to want to take this entire family out of that kind of situation? I think it will be challenging with some of our class stories to separate personal inputs and opinions and have a healthy balance with our reporting necessity in order to convey an ethical, authentic account of our subjects stories.

Read this story.

I choose Business ETHICS...

I thought it was kind of funny when I was reading some of these sections on ethics and telling fact or fiction. There was many things that we have discussed and that should be obvious. I like the mini-section where Roy Peter Clark talks about being unintrusive after gaining access, but basically to be a pest to get everything you can in Lehman's terms. Part of his section also goes back to do not add, do not deceive, when we had a great discussion about that on Tuesday. Isn't is sometimes necessary to "not tell" the subject something in order to please readers and your editor, but at what point are you hiding to much? There are to many questions with ethics it makes my head hurts.

I liked Walt Harrison's quote on page 170, "journalists claim the right to determine their own ethical relationships", this is why they are so important to the skill. He compared it to anthropology, although thier code is much more clear. This is why the line is so dicey. Some and most of the ethics that are not clear cut are simpler to break. Katherine Boo thinks it helps to maintain a equal relationship by telling them everything on your mind as well.

"Enrique's Journey" makes me wonder again how far some journalists like Sonia Nazario are willing to go for the story. I think I would have said no to it from the beginning. She knew about the amount of danger from writing the story. She recieved over 1,000 phone calls the week following because of the reality and harshness of the story.

Ethics can be a sticky situation but is more then crucial to understand, that's what I got from reading these entries. I guess that's why Billy Madison choose that category for Eric in the academic decathalon.

"Man im glad I called THAT GUY"

4/1 Post... Ethics

I really enjoyed reading Sonia Nazario's part of the chapter that deals with protecting sources. She follows a boy and his illegal journey to the US. She had to reconstruct the story in some parts and she also gave advice to writers to research before going out into the field. I think this is important because you at least want a small background of what your are getting yourself into and if this is a story worth reporting. In this specific story she wanted to investigate the specific dangers she would be encountering and decide on the ways she would approach the situations when they occurred.
She also points out:
1. Narrative stories must convey reality
2. When we interview, we risk our subjects seeing us as something other than journalists
3. To avoid changing people's lives, we might have to withhold some information from our readers

Fact/Fiction line

This section of Telling True Stories provided new ways for me to look at ethics, as well as helpful reminders of what and what not to do. As with the rest of the book so far, I have particularily enjoyed the authors' real-life cases and excerpts of their writing having to do with ethics. I particularily grasped on to Roy Peter Clark's section on page 169 when he discussed not "thinking for" the reader. "You can't interview the dead," he says on the topic. This could be applied to the questions I ask while interviewing someone, the approach I take to an interview, and the overall manner I conduct the interview. I thought it was notable that the section was used from an earlier personal essay, titled "The Line Between Fact and Fiction." I am wondering what the class thinks about the case in the same section about the source with a stutter. Is adapting the interview crossing the Fact/Fiction line?

tough decisions made during reporting

I really enjoyed reading the chapter on ethics. It provided a lot of interesting and helpful information. I was most interested by Sonia Nazario's story Dealing with Danger: Protecting Your Subject and Your Story. I thought it was remarkable that she took on the challenge of traveling Enrique's journey of crossing the Mexican border to the U.S. Nazario faced a great amount of ethical and legal challenges and she provided readers with the decisions she had to make prior to and during her experience. The three important tips that she presented include: 1) Narrative stories must convey reality, 2) When we intervene, we risk our subjects seeing us as something other than journalists, 3) To avoid changing people's lives, we might have to withhold some information from our readers. I thought it was very important that she did not include Enrique's last name in order to protect him from the INS. I understand that if she would have provided medication or her cell phone to Enrique or the other children, the story would have been changed tremendously, but how did she decide when it would be ok to let them use her materials? How did she draw the line between what it life threatening and what is not? It would be interesting to hear from others about when they would allow their sources who are in tough situations such as Enrique's, to use their materials or medications?

Helpful... kinda... blog due 4/1/10

I really liked the section by Walt Harrington: Toward an ethical code for Narrative Journalists. He really touches on some great ways to help decide what is ethical or not. I liked how he says that journalists claim the right to determine their own ethical relationships. It makes sense that if you mess up one story, you could mess them all up with your reputation. I also liked how he helped to decide if something is worth putting in the story. "Is this story honest? Is it a true story, not just a factual one? if I must withhold a peice of info from a story, I ask Myself: If the readers learned about it, would they feel decieved?" It really questions the motto I have had "when in doubt, leave it out." Ethics are a hard concept to grasp though because what one person may seem as harmless, the other may find offensive. How do you find a happy medium??

My inner style tree questions every word

On page 202, Dexter Gordon talks about the style tree that is already growing naturally inside you and me. I think that every time that I write an article that I'm slowly growing my own inner style tree.

On page 206, Anne Hull asks us if we are getting to the heart of our subject matter? How should I find my story's emotional center by reporting, thinking, and rewriting? My Lakewalk story's nutgraf is showing my readers what the Lakewalk is, why it was built, how it was built, and how it improves the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. Just how in heck am I supposed to make my readers feel something for a patch of asphalt that is ten feet wide and 6.2 miles long? How do I find the emotional core or engine of my Lakewalk story? Where can I locate two or more people who are willing to debate the benefits of Lakewalk with me and each other?

The first step that I take in writing up an article is by asking myself what information that my end users, my readers, would want to know or find useful. In short, my four ways to get to the heart of my story are Thinking, Reporting, Thinking Again, and Rewriting.

I was deeply impressed by Sonia Nazario's telling us that it took more than one year to write up her story on Enrique's Journey. Child migration where children move from one nation to another on their own was an unknown topic to me and Nazario's story surprised me. Like Nazario, I also find it is difficult to cut words, sentences, and even entire paragraphs that I had invested much time and much effort writing. Readers don't care how much time and effort you had invested in writing, only that you have created the best story you can with the skills and resources you have today.

Tom Hallman's article is about slice-of-life stories. If you want to learn how to write slice-of- life stories that can touch your readers' hearts and minds, please consider watching the television series "To Heart" on the Internet. If you have time for just one To Heart episode for inspiration, I would choose episode five, "Beneath the Blue Sky" that is a story about high school students in a high school sports festival.

Mr. Hallman had a good point when he wrote on page 216, "The key is believing in yourself."

What is it like to start from Lake Place Park, bicycle five miles, stop to eat a Sammy's Special Pizza at their 47 Avenue East restaurant, and then bicycle another five miles back to Lake Place Park? Answer, I got very hungry from my bicycle ride and therefore I ate one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten.

By the way, does anyone listen to their favorite music while writing and editing their stories? What music do you listen to while you write and edit? Today, I'm listening to "Sound Wave of Stellvia."

This Books Title is Made for This Chapter

I enjoyed what Katherine Boo had to say in her Truth and Consequences segment. I like how honest she says to be with the subjects; "there will be a photo that makes them look fat." I thought this was amusing but also very honest. After writing a story you want to be able to feel comfortable running into them again, and if you can't I like how Boo says, "you should ask yourself whether you really told the truth."

A question I have for discussion after reading this is, what if you do tell the truth and the person is still upset with you? Is it considered bad journalism if you reveal something about a person that they normally would want disclosed?

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