Archive for the 'leadership' Category

Just call me Moses…

Wandering in the desert

Technorati released their “State of the Blogoshpere 2008” report and the discussion about its conclusions has begun.

Here are my comments on the initial conclusion drawn from, or highlighted by, Galley Cat:

“Only Two Percent of Bloggers Can Make a Living”

I have a healthy disbelief of many of the assertions of revenue at the top end of the reported scale. I also note two significant points:

1. Two bloggers cited as making over $1,000 per month had books already or launched their blogs and books around the same time. In other words, the PR machine was primed.

2. At the other end, “Among active bloggers that we surveyed, the average income was $75,000 for those who had 100,000 or more unique visitors per month (some of whom had more than one million visitors each month). The median annual income for this group is significantly lower — $22,000.” (emphasis supplied.)

I scanned the report and will probably write more about it as I analyze it, but for those of you who haven’t found your way to Galley Cat or Media Bistro yet, here’s my comment:

I think ad revenue potential is vastly over estimated by, surprise, those whose business is vested in selling traffic. Been blogging for two years and have seen lots of changes, most for the better. One thing remains constant, the refrain that “content is king” uttered by someone who is making profits selling their traffic with your content; usually uttered at the same time they say “we can’t pay you but just think of the great exposure.” The ones making money seem to be doing so by exploiting those willing to give their work away.

On the other hand, many small businesses are not prepared to take advantage of the opportunities focused sponsorship would offer them. For example, I find a product I might give up precious real estate on my blog for. I reach out. They love the idea, but they don’t know the first thing about widgets or code or how to do what they know in concept they ought to be doing. “I’m a small business and don’t really know how to do this kind of thing.”

Larger businesses who get it, don’t want to allow bloggers any control over what goes on their blogs. (Asian dating services? Oprah’s latest diet? Puh-lease.)

I refuse to host soulja-dancing re-fi ads, diet ads, or Kraft Singles ads on my blog and Adsense never rose to a full dollar of revenue after one year.

Syndication is another concept that seems to be growing but it appears that most of those doing it, still struggle to find a business model that works. They are reaching out to established savvy bloggers providing quality content, but still very uneven in the “benefits” they can offer to the bloggers providing the content they’re selling. “just think of the clicks you’ll get!”

If advertisers could figure out how to eliminate middlemen like all these – and find bloggers like me, we would all be happy. At present it seems hard to find each other in the wilderness of the blogosphere. Just call me Moses…

Povo Mojo

I thought this name, Povo, was shorthand for Post Modern Viewpoint or something. Turns out it’s Portuguese for people. As in “by the people, for the people”. This is a wiki meets yelp sort of website. All about events, happening, opinions and sharing resouces.

Tomorrow, I am speaking on a panel of bloggers hosted by the new Povo website folks. The other panelists include:

I’m honored to be asked and looking forward to a lively discussion. When the host is a guy who’s blog is entitled “Loaded Gun” you know I’m doing my homework!

One final thought:

With more magazines going belly up each day, more magazines and newspapers laying off writers every day, why is “blog” still a four-letter word? People look down their noses if you’ve “only” published electronically.

They trumpet post-election day newspaper sales as a sign that print is not dead. If they looked closer they’d see people bought newspapers with the historic headlines to keep for posterity or sell on e-bay or both. Those lined up for the next day papers did not subscribe.

Tomorrow will be good. I’ll keep you posted. Click the event page here for more info.

Election Night 2008 – a Triumph of Hope over Fear

We walked to Oak Street in Chinatown and were excited to see the longest line we’ve seen there. As we moved closer, we saw that it actually snaked around the block!


It felt like there was electricity in the air. I had goosebumps thinking about it. Looking at the older Chinese people, the young Haitian and Dominicans, we appreciated anew how diverse this city and our neighborhood is. Or at least can be, in a moment. It still doesn’t feel this way in daily life.


But this is what this election is about. It’s about how things might be, it’s about hope, it’s about seeing the best in our selves and saying Yes we can.

I had goosebumps in line. Every time I think of what it must feel like to be a African American parent and now be able to look your child and say truly, there is no door shut to you. Of course it’s not true, but the visible hope that it might be true, one day, is before us. It appears within reach with more substance than suggestion.

When they show the tapes of the Civil Rights movement: the fire hoses, the dogs, the police – the power of the white/majority State unleashed against her own citizens seeking the dangerous benefit of being granted the privileges of exercising their full citizenship and humanity – how can you not cry? And people who lived through those attacks get to feel the sense of a promise fulfilled. It’s so incredibly moving.

9:45 PM – Ohio, Pennsylvania both have been called for Obama. Our little Enna three years old, called us to let us know she wants Obama to win, and Ennyn her little sister is on the potty.

11 PM – while steeling ourselves for a long night we see the announcement : President Elect Barack Obama.

3 AM – have not stopped welling up, tears of joy spilling down my cheeks, often.

I feel vindicated. The weight of every racist attack I’ve borne, rests lighter on my psyche. I didn’t know I was still carrying them. That the weight of approval was no longer behind the those who would be victimizers. The moral pendulum has swung in favor of all of us who have come so close to having our spirits crushed.

My heart is singing for every parent of a child of color who can now hope for better things for that child. For every parent who can make them promises, and encourage dreams and really believe it, perhaps for the first time.

I note that the McCain campaign headquarters is uniformly white. How does one even find a room so homogeneous? How does one do it while proclaiming the podium to speak “for the people.” That McCain’s concession speech was gracious and expressed values in stark contrast to the racist, fear-mongering campaign he ran. This belies his allegiance to politics of old.

The multiple thousands of people, from every walk of life from celebrities like Oprah and Rev. Jesse Jackson, to regular citizens, women and men, parents bringing children to witness this historic event.

President-elect Obama’s victory speech was somber, acknowledging the considerable challenges we face:

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

But also inspired us to be our best selves, as individuals and as a citizenry:

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

He wisely called on history from both sides of the aisle. The speech was in many ways, like well-written wedding vows. It predicted the tough times ahead and the likelihood that we will not love him the next four years the way we do tonight. But he promised to help us be our best selves; to be honest with us. We are much better off for facing these challenges with this partner and how we weather them will be a measure of our character as much as it is a measure of our political process.

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Boston Public Market and the Leather District residents trying to make a difference

Yay for the LD!

Such a nice surprise to walk out on a crisp Fall day and find the banners up.

New LD Banners

I believe the LDNA is responsible for negotiating donations from the film crews who temporarily disrupt our lives (and build sets in the alley behind our building all night). The negotiations have succeeded in getting us those “big belly” solar powered trash compacting bins as well as some nifty new banners. WELL DONE!

Recently, news of progress on “our” permanent public market came to my attention. It wasn’t clear to me how we were supposed to be getting this information, only that we hadn’t – despite asking. I asked my contacts among those advocating for the Boston Public Market.

I have received neighborhood queries about what was happening. Everyone during the “Hello Greenway” event who wanted to show me beautiful architect’s renderings got questioned. They seemed to have plans and drawings of everything but the public market. I asked them to tell me anything they could about the promied public market. Not one person could tell me anything. Not one. Only one guy who was pleading his case as “just a volunteer”. He basically said “not my job” ask the conservancy people. Just then, Mumbles himself walked by and said “that’s the man you need to tawk to, he knows everything!”

Expressed my joy at Louisa Kasdon’s piece and my dismay at learning about through the newspaper when I have been (and I know others have as well) asking for progress reports and getting vague “working on it” answers.

(Seems to me a little communication could go a long way. Even if it’s to say “here’s the three things that have to happen next: 1 is scheduled for x date and Sue is handling it, read our blog for updates, or contact Sue…” We are, or should be, in the same boat, rowing in the same direction. I’m here to help and willing to do more than support them at fundraisers. I’ve been asking. I know I’m not alone.)

Here’s the response from Janet Christensen of the BPM Board:

The popularity of the “farmers’ market” on the Greenway October 4th underscored how great it would be to have the market again next summer– and also how wonderful it would be to establish a year round Boston Public Market hall on or near the Greenway! Yes, there is a Boston Public Market Association operating for several years now and while the outdoor market was always a success, our long range goal is the permanent market hall.

[ed note: I specifically asked what residents could do to express support for the year-round public market:]

What fans of a year round Boston Public Market can do is write to Secretary Leslie Kirwan, Office of Administration and Finance. Room 373, State House, Boston, MA 02133  and let her know that you believe  a permanent market hall would be a very important community space!

Currently there are monies designated  in the Environmental Bond Bill which are very important to getting this project off the ground.  While the Legislature passed the Bond Bill and Governor Deval Patrick has signed it,  the Office of Administration and Finance has to authorize the funds.
We are a non-profit association and we need funds to get the public market established!

Yes, the seasonal outdoor market is very popular and we are beginning to work on plans for re-establishing it next summer, but right now we need public support for the permanent market hall.  And the best way Boston residents can help us on that is to write to the State House!

As to location, our fervent hope is that the permanent market will be on or near the Greenway, though it is impossible at this time for us to guarantee any of our wishes.  Also, in answer to a question raised, the expenses of our outdoor market were very high and issues for the farmers and vendors of unloading and parking were difficult to say the least.

We hope that Boston residents will continue to support us in our efforts.  Not only will the public benefit from a local supply of fresh nutritious farm products and specialty foods– but Massachusetts farmers and specialty foods producers from across the state will gain a new and enthusiastic market!


Well that’s all I got right now, folks!

What can you do? Write a letter. Now.

  • Secretary Leslie Kirwan, Office of Administration and Finance. Room 373, State House, Boston, MA 02133

Let’s keep the momentum going. We all have to do our part. Hey, maybe Wilkerson can make a donation from that stash she has in her bra? Or maybe she can wield some of that influence…

The Candidates and the Environment

Talk about the stain of sins..okay so it’s maybe a tad less exciting than seeing the virgin mary in your toast, but..we thought it was pretty wild.
Coffee stain in our Cordova Inn, shaped like Alaska

And then there’s this:

Getting the theme? But why take my word for it?

See what Environmenatal Magazine has to say.

Here are a few tidbits:

  • Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)

Obama: Opposes drilling in ANWR.
McCain: Has opposed drilling in ANWR, but now says he is “glad to accept new information” about the possibility.

  • Offshore Oil Drilling

Obama: Opposes lifting the ban on offshore oil drilling.
McCain: Reversed his opinion in June and now supports lifting the offshore oil ban.

  • Public Lands

Obama: Does not support rolling back protection to allow drilling in the West. Has stated that he will increase national park funding and will work to conserve more land.
McCain: Cosponsored bill to allow handguns in national parks. Sponsored bill to restrict flights over the Grand Canyon. Has opposed bills on wilderness designation.

So who, exactly is the change guy? Could this explain why the McPalin crew is tanking faster than you can say overblown stylist budget.

Hello Greenway! A beautiful Day to Celebrate “Green” Boston

Lying back on grass looking up what used to be a hideous raised highway. Enjoying blue skies.

The dedication and debut of the Rose Kennedy Greenway took place under sunny skies. Throngs of Bostonians came out for the celebration that really put our best face forward. City kids from Charlestown represented (with a “my kind of town”), dance groups smoking hot or sultry, krunk to gospel, to breakdancing, even ballet.

The Dewey Sq market was bittersweet. Okay, it was sweet, I was bitter. I mean it’s kind of false showing off for the visitors “our farmer’s market” when they took it away from us! Then there was the “green” vendors giving away books on fast food – hello? And the Globe passing out “Green” supplements. Um, paper = opposite of green.

Still, it was a day full of smiles and joy. Kids rolling down grassy hills, playing with art installations, fountains. A calliope, a ferris wheel. There were free food vendors (Olivia’s organic salads) and water stations everywhere. Even the Hard Rock got in the act, being a good neighbor and giving away pulled pork sammies.

The plans for the new museum and cultural centers are beautiful. Volunteers were pleased to tell visitors all  about the designs and the art that is coming. Finding someone who could articulate accurately the permanent public market plans, however, that was quite another story. That elusive “carrot” was promised for our concessions, our willingness to live in the contruction zone all these years. I could bury the new museum with all the construction dust that came in through windows, even closed ones.

Almost no one can tell us now what’s happened to the public market plans. Not even one measly little flyer at any of the Conservancy booths. Not one talking point on the greenway flyers. Not one architect’s rendering of that promised market. Shows how important it is in the plans. But the positive aspects of a public market were on display for all to see in that mirage of the Dewey Square market: farmers and artisans meeting face-to-face with city residents. Visitors sampling organic foods, buying local apples. Tourists picnicking on the greenway lawns.

I hope that people will see how a public space, like a permanent market such as Seattle has, such as Toronto has, Cleveland, even Philly, creates a gathering place for the city and her visitors, a venue for our local farmers and artists. The market, if we ever see it happen, will be a  gem in Boston’s green crown and the fulfillment of a promise that seems hard to track. Like flickering lights from the Illuminale displays, it seems so close, we just can’t grab hold.

See the Greenway Conservancy site here at

Banish those who would ban books – like McPalin

Even if she “just asked” about how the librarian felt about banning books, when she’d just taken office and requested resignations from all staff…even if she didn’t outright say she was going to do it….

~ ~ ~

A friend left me this message the other day:

“So, why didn’t you warn us about Sarah Palin? You go all the way to Alaska, spend a week there and don’t warn us about Sarah Palin? What’s up with that?”

In an attempt to answer this inquiry, I queried my buddies in AK and did a little thinking about this topic myself. After all, my one week in Cordova certainly makes me qualified to render an opinion. Just as Sarah Palin’s proximity to Russia makes her qualified at International relations.

Buckle your seatbelts.

“Think a better looking Dan Quayle.”

This is one of the best examples of damning with faint praise I’ve ever heard.

In Alaska, there are not a lot of qualified leaders. She is a very simple person, with best intentions at heart. Not an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination, but these days, how many politicians are…She was not a real effective mayor in Wasilla though either. She is attractive and had very few enemies (which is not hard to do when you haven’t been in politics that long…)

Then, apparently she also tried to claim credit for the tax windfall, but that came out of a five year surplus she inherited.

An email I haven’t verified also states that she increased government expenditures by 33% while claiming to be a fiscal conservative. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million.

Normally, someone who forgets about separation of church and state (it’s in our Constitution, go ahead and check, I’ll wait….)

…and is ready to speak in tongues and claim a hotline to heaven is easy to dismiss. But then when they become “the Decider”… I get worried. You’d think I might be upset about Palin’s Pentecostal Past. Not as much as the other creepy, immoral stuff that’s coming out.


This story of Palin’s abuse of power and her willingness to run her public office like a power-hungry high school cheerleader or a lecherous sexual harasser, creeps me out even more. Asking the town librarian how she feels about banning books the same week you’re asking everyone for resignations to prove their loyalty to you is just morally reprehensible. It’s also illegal or at least legally actionable.

This story is worse than the list of books she supposedly wanted banned. (A false rumor, that was quickly clarified) The McCain campaign’s “explanation” reveals more unseemly info about her willingness to abuse power and McCain’s comfort level with that than anything else.

We should be talking about these issues instead of what church she belongs to!

As Joni Balter said in the Seattle Times, McCain wants this to be about personal narrative. Not the issues.

Finally, McCain’s demand that Obama apologize to Palin for the “lipstick on a pig” comment is just macho, condescending, pseudo-chivalry that reveals how little “about change” he is. Is she not competent to raise her own objection? I just want to say “She started it!” Her pit bull and hockey mom comment preceded Obama’s. But this childish tit-for-tat detracts from the bad news about the economy, the war, the corruption in the Bush AND the Palin administrations.

If Obama doesn’t seize the floor and force some debates about real issues, I swear, I’m gonna write in Russell Brand on my ballot. I don’t care if he is a Brit, he’s speaking truth. We let Bush run with scissors all these years and now the country’s in shreds and we’re dangerously close to letting McPalin succeed him.

There’s always Canada.

P.S. Oh, and about the gun handling, hunting issue: While in Alaska, I met a woman named Sue who showed me her snapshots of the moose she bagged. Her shop is called Sue’s Knives. Her moose’s head was as big as she is tall. Sue is not a small woman. Everyone in Alaska hunts. It is less than no big deal. Let’s go back to the issues.

And here’s another take on Palin, courtesy of the Daily Show. My source for hard news. You really should watch this clip.

I’ve got the ticket: Russell Brand and John Stewart. That’s the ticket!

Slow Food Nation – Come to the Table ’08

City Hall – a good place to start.

The Info Booth with City Hall in the back.

Despite emitting the carbon equivalent of a Jurrasic Park Velociraptor on my RT flight between Boston and San Francisco, I believe my place “at the table” was justified.

Here’s why the (SFN) “Come to the Table” conference was a success for me:

First, I got to speak with farmers of heritage breed pigs, turkeys and sheep. I learned a ton from every conversation I had, and session I attended. I will be able to share this information with a broader audience and to do so from a more informed position. And I’ve got a good start on my book.

Second, I got to view three films from the Berlin Film Festival that hauntingly portrayed the connections between food choices and politics. (More on these in a separate post. Soon.)

Third, I got to eat and drink good, sustainably farmed foods and to sample artisanal and sustainable beverages. Stay tuned for my posts on DrinkBoston and Foodbuzz.

Fourth, I got to re-connect with West Coast friends, newlyweds, food writers and chefs.

Queue for Taste Pavilion

Inside the Taste Pavilion. Did I mention lines?

It’s shy of a week past now and already the pundits are praising, critics are skewering, and proponents defending all sorts of things about SFN. I did not go to SFN with an expectation that four days of this stuff would solve world hunger or answer the fair trade issues among producers and consumers. Call me crazy, but that just never entered my mind as a possibility from this one event.

Remember, the longest journey begins with a single step. And, sometimes, a bus.

As an inaugural event, I would have to say this was overall, quite successful. I base this on my highly objective personal observations, my valid and reliable survey of cab drivers hired to transport me from venue to venue, and the official press release.

Cab drivers, you say? More carbon? Yes, SF has Muni and BART. Yes there was a free bicycle storage pen. But, Ft. Mason was way too far away and my events were happening close in time, such that public transport was not always feasible. Why no shuttle buses or pedi-cabs?

And that’s a good example of my final analysis of the event. Not perfect maybe, but great.

Will the Victory Garden feed the hungry of San Fran? No. Is it a productive way to use otherwise unused space? Yes.


Will it foster discussions about organic farming and food supply issues? Probably.


Will it provide organic produce to local food banks? Yes.


Using my unique mathematical abilities, that all = success.

“Taste” Sessions I attended

  • The Apple in the Pig’s Mouth– Prosciutto and American Cider – learning to taste, appreciate the differences aging and production makes. La Quercia, Aidell’s, Zingerman, more.
  • Heritage Pork and Sparkling Mead – Ossabaw is a rare heritage breed pig with unique characteristics and history. Sparkling Mead was a revelation.
  • Eat it to Save it, Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste – Poppy Tooker, a force of nature as usual, explained why the Ark of Taste is so important. Food (including American Guinea Hog) and demos combined with lectures and laughs.
  • Slow Spirits – Irony on the side.

And the Taste Pavilion lines were really too long for much sampling, but I managed. Salumi, anyone? (Getting a theme here?)

Coming up:

What I ate; people I met; comments I heard…as well as, links to other posts of mine on aspects of this event and products. Lessons learned.

Jellyfish, By-catch and McDonald’s? Not in my Happy Meal!

Trying to Make Progress in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Sustainable seafood debates have their own language. Their terms have entered the general food discourse. Check this quote from LA Stages a Fast Food Intervention:

Fast food chains, he said, are like jellyfish in the ocean: with too many in one area, nothing else can thrive.

But he worries that the law could keep out places of more culinary interest. South Los Angeles has the best barbecue in the city, he said, and it has a growing number of cooks from Mexico and Central America making lamb barbacoa and pupusas. “Anytime you try to ban something, there’s a lot of bycatch,” he (Jonathan Gold LA Weekly food critic) said.

Okay, so the jellies analogy is a bit off (the overabundance is an effect of imbalance, not the cause of it) but here’s another interesting quote from the piece:

“Our policy makers abhor nuance and the subtle but distinct qualities that differentiate
fast food from food that can be served fast,” said Mr. Bain.

When was the last time a pushcart hotdog vendor sounded like that in your neighborhood? It’s an interesting article, worth a read.

Two observations:

1. Tried and true, or overused and hackneyed, (take your pick) arguments about governmental interference and individual liberties are being trotted out once again in the debate about whether LA politicians are over-reaching. Trying to protect citizens from themselves, and their taxpayers from the public health burdens, local politicians are balancing the rights and needs of citizens against the rights, needs of others (e.g. fast food restaurants restricted from conducting business in certain areas.)

What people often fail to realize is that government is always balancing rights of one constituency against those of another. It is the purpose of government, more or less. (e.g. smoking, seat-belts, helmets)

2. Sustainability arguments and issues have permeated the common zeitgeist. It now happens that an unrelated food safety or public health debate picks up phrases, concepts and messaging from the sustainability movement. This, I think, is progress. It suggests that our S/O/L/E issues are not a fad and won’t dissapear any time soon.

Come to the Table – A Timely Gathering

SlowFood Nation convenes in San Francisco August 29th – September 1. It will be a gathering of all constituencies from farmers, fishers, producers, growers, purveyors to policy makers, changemakers, film makers, local activists and simply, those who eat.

It’s the mission of the event to debate, celebrate, create, act and learn together over the course of the Labor Day Weekend. Organizers are bringing everyone who cares about food, food systems, farm to table issues and ideas together. Come to the Table!

In recent news we hear of meat processors sins against laws of the nation or their contracts (Coleman Beef and Whole Foods) and those of “a higher authority” (Kosher plant Agribusiness abusing underage and undocumented workers). If this were not enough to convince you that something is wrong with our food systems, then I don’t know what is.

Perhaps some good news is in order? How about the old foodways, gaining popularity again? Before we outsourced our food production to unscrupulous, unethical and/or unclean huge, industrial CAFO, operations there were more sane ways of getting food from farm to fork. May I offer the glass half-full view?

  • City Farms Taking Root.
  • Read about the Sustainable Harvest Alliance led by Wild Idea Buffalo. It’s a stirring and beautiful example of what can be done to bring some sanity back to our food systems. Responsible stewardship of the land and what we harvest from it, and how; these are concepts that will hopefully also become more common in the public dialog about our food.

Wild Idea Buffalo Ribs with Dad’s Sundried Tomato BBQ Sauce

Scarlet Letter, Anyone? Gloucester More Embarrassed than Angry. Wtf?

[ed. note:] Turns out the Mayor’s concern was her town’s Moody’s rating. That explains her fervor in quelling the story. Well, Moody’s seems to have honored her fiscal focus. Wonder if she’ll now get down to the business of addressing the real issue?

# # #

This has my blood boiling scarlet. In one of the most revealing stories about the perverted values of this Puritanical state, the mayor of Gloucester cannot stop impugning the Principal of the high school for revealing unflattering news to Time Magazine.

She has YET to talk about the apprehension or prosecution of the 24 year-old man or men who are responsible for impregnating these 16 year old girls. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that would be statutory rape, right?

The mayor’s concern seems to be for the reputation of the city, rather than the welfare of victims or the prosecution of the predators.

She’s holding pressers every chance, meetings excluding the principal, and talking to anyone with a microphone about how no one can verify this story he leaked to Time.

Of course our lame local news has yet to ask her about the prosecution. File this under fekkin eejits!

Truth, Passion, and What I Learned from a Young Girl Today

“My passion is to reach beyond inspiration – to be spectacularly creative.”

Chef Robert Irvine had that quote, in bold type, at the bottom of his resume. The same resume that we recently discovered was, indeed, “spectacularly creative”. In other words: false.

Truth, it seems, is a relative term these days.

Whether it’s sports (“I have never done steroids,”) or politics (plagiarized speeches, grandstanding on morality crusades while banging hookers) or publishing (the new genre of fake autobiography), we have so many examples of dishonesty, that it’s hard not to be discouraged.

Now, even the culinary world’s country cousin (AKA the Food Network) has intersected with the world of deception. First it was “The Next Food Network Star” contestant, “JAG” who claimed false military credentials. Now, it’s Irvine’s fantastical claims, e.g. how many Presidents he’d cooked for at the White House. Both Bush Jr. and Sr. , and Clinton – how many years does that add up to? Does NO ONE fact check anymore?

How quickly FN forgot about the Jag. It stretches credulity that they would not have learned from that fiasco. Perhaps their marketing team has decided that bad PR is just as good as good PR , especially if the latter is in short supply…

Read any of the articles about the fakers and then scan the comments. It’s even more enlightening, in a sad way. Too many comments about why veracity doesn’t matter if someone is entertaining, or claims “everyone” lies on resumes, etc.

Fake Autobiography
As a writer, I’m particularly disturbed by the new genre of authors writing fake autobiographies. Isn’t this what we used to call fiction?

Margaret Seltzer whose recently exposed fake autobiography painted her as the drug-running Blood, mixed-race foster child came to light just after a fake Holocaust memoir was exposed. And who can forget the Oprah-celebrated James Frey whose book “A Million Little Pieces” was also a fake autobiography?

The obvious question: If you write well enough to attract the interest of publishers why not just pitch a work of fiction? Seltzer recently tried to dodge criticism by claiming she was “trying to give voice to people that people don’t listen to.” (That’s the kind of writing that impresses publishers? Really?)

If Jones/Seltzer’s claim were true, I’d expect a foundation set up with funds from advances or sales to be deposited immediately there, a PR campaign already in place, as well as plans to use the money to do good on behalf of these unrepresented peeps from her fake ‘hood.

Still waiting.

All of these things, cumulatively, make me profoundly sad. The evidence of our love-hate relationship with morality, if that is what is being brought to light, is stunning. We’re titillated and quick to judge. Others are quick to excuse, no matter how dressed up the justifying gets, it’s still just rationalizing bad behavior. “Scientists” or “doctors” claim males are incapable of fidelity. Is it true that in France cuckolded spouses care more about the lying, whereas here we care more about the sex? Are we really a nation of fibbers who demand fidelity? How does that math even work?

Change of Focus
To whom can we turn for lessons in leading an honest life? Media celebrities, politicians, sports heroes, new darlings of the publishing world – are these likely or worthy of such responsibility? Religion? I’ve yet to find an organized religion that hasn’t outright ignored its own proscriptions against evil when it suited them. Enlightenment at the end of a sword doesn’t work for me. Peace talks after the slaughter is finished? Not good with that.

One does wish for some integrity in the public world. No one need be perfect, but how about someone who says it’s good to aspire to be better? How about a lack of scorn when one has the courage to say so? For those on the “audacity of hope” bandwagon, remember that others we were eager to bestow with our trust have been revealed to be far too human. It was part of Bill Clinton’s early appeal, Kennedy before him, and the list goes on.

Why not turn this focus inward, instead? On the eve of Easter, having returned from the moving and beautiful Bat Mitzvah of my friend’s daughter, I’m inspired to a fresh start. Rather than teach a child to revere a sports star as a hero, why not teach her to revere herself as heroic? A high batting average does not make a child worthy. Being who he or she is, and trying to be good; that makes one worthy. A young girl, today an adult in the community of Temple Beth El, taught me something today. We could do well to remember the passion, creativity and honesty so evident in this girl today.

It is good and right to aspire to being our best selves. It is not enough to say the words, one must do the works. We should fight sarcasm and complacency which are enemies of positive action and happiness. They are defensive tools that come easily when we feel too battered by life to allow ourselves the vulnerability of hope and faith. Find what is true and good, don’t focus on what is true and bad, except where you can diminish it.

Most of us know what is right if we allow ourselves an honest opportunity to reflect on what is in our own heart. Do it, follow it, surround yourself with those who will support that effort. We each get a fresh chance, a fresh start, each day. And speaking of fresh starts, why not include a little mercy and forgiveness? I could use a reminder not to be so quick to judge. Being right about someone else’s failures or flaws doesn’t make me a better person. Being forgiving makes me a better person.

One of the lessons in today’s Bat Mitzvah reading was about burnt offerings – the non-dinner kind. I was reminded how many cultures use smoke to carry hopes or prayers heavenward. I have a New Year’s Eve ritual that would work equally well today.

  • Write on one piece of paper a grudge you’ve been harboring, which you are ready to release.
  • On another, write one thing you hope for this year.
  • Then burn the papers, one at a time while you meditate on each thought in turn.

Why not do this or some other ritual to mark a fresh start? Whatever your religious beliefs, it cannot hurt to take a moment to remind ourselves that it’s good to hope, that there is beauty in the world if we will take the time to notice. That we can and should be our best selves and that there is also forgiveness if we fail.

Happy Spring!

A window into what I’m thinking and writing about.

Whether it's Food & Cooking, Sports, Film, Travel or the Business of Writing can find it all through this page. Use this sidebar and the links below to go directly to whatever strikes your fancy. Jacqueline Church's Facebook profile

Where I’ve been seen, published, cited, syndicated…

  • - Tuesday November 11 @6 PM Povo Blogging Panel. Come to 660 Washington Street in Chinatown at the Archstone Building to see what a panel of bloggers have to say about the state of blogging.
  • - Interviewed by Sarah Turner of Suite101 about Using Blogs to Raise Social Awareness
  • - Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times, Austin American Statesman, BBQ Report, Computer Shopper. See clips here.

For Real on the Virtual Gourmet!

Noted food and wine author John Mariani ran my article Salmon and the Sustainability Zeitgest. Click here to read it!

Books make great gifts, for yourself or others.

Click here to see what's on my Powell's Bookshelf.
Powell's Books

Mark Your Calendars

August 22 - Courtney Hunt's acclaimed film Frozen River at the Coolidge Corner. See Diversions for more.

Caught my eye…

  • The Audubon Insectarium opens in New Orleans. See Getting Down with All that Skitters.
  • Copper River Salmon is so hot, even E!online is commenting on the stars who eat it. Taye Diggs was digging it.
  • Vertical farms? Colbert meets Ethicureans...heaven is for those with humor and ethics, yes? Interesting food for thought here....

On Women and Work

Read my contributions to The Glass Hammer a new blog for executive women.


  1. Tales of the Cocktail may be over but the fun continues. Check the blogs and podcasts for all the news that fit to drink!
  2. The Maori art of facial tatooing is called moko. It is a powerful expression of tribal identity which has only recently enjoyed a resurgence as the colonial Christian prohibitions against it have lessened. Go to the Peabody Essex Museum for this rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of this amazing cultural tradition. The documentary I saw at Sundance years ago on moko, was one of the most powerful films I have ever seen.
  3. The Audubon Insectarium is a new and top-notch attraction in New Orleans. We passed by it and wondered why we'd missed it before. Turns out it's just now opening. No time this last trip, but it's on the list for the next time. Check here for info.

What's on my list?