Brand new day

MediaNews Group officers and executive management
MediaNews Group officers and executive management

I don’t know what to think. I woke up this morning, and there was a note from Amy Gahran with news I never thought I’d see, on a scale and with a potential to upend or at least slightly bend a bunch of things I’d assumed were unalterable in their trajectory.

I don’t know if John Paton’s a knight in shining armor. I don’t know what the price of his arrival is. After all, becoming CEO doesn’t mean you’re a superhero.

I need to see what’s coming. I need to how it can work. After all, Paton’s thing so far has been small and midsize papers. I don’t know how that will work here in our environment, with the on-rushing push toward regional and away from local coverage.

I need to know if his idea of “digital first” is something individual, atomized, lightweight or faceless, branded and conversation-shy. I need to know if “digital first” is more iPad apps, or a rebirth of blogging. Is it doubling down on Facebook and the Apple Store and other “safe” walled-garden platforms?

I don’t think this makes online safer here or in Denver. There will probably be more shakeouts. It likely just means a brighter spotlight shining on everyone’s efforts, more scrutiny on footwork. There is no safety. I work with people who have yearned for direction from the company for the longest time and, just as Paton arrives and gets settled in, are now on the brink of being swept out of their careers. The promised land isn’t promised to everybody.
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The price of gas

Pump'd, 7/31

Here’s the 10th picture I ever posted to Flickr on July 31, 2004. I took it with my first cameraphone, a Samsung flip-phone model on Verizon Wireless whose name I can’t remember — only that it had a camera lens built into its hinge. I think this was a gas station somewhere in Oakland, maybe the Shell at the corner of International Boulevard and 5th Avenue. I figured I’d look back at gas prices back in the day after a conversation with my mom back in D.C. I’ve been semi-diligent about tagging tank and receipt pictures in Flickr over the years.

Chevron off I-5 near Bakersfield

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Up top is the view from a Bakersfield station during a San Diego-and-back road trip in March. I think that may have been a personal highest-ever-paid price. Below that image is one of today’s prices at the station just up Park Boulevard from our place.

Some city summers never end

Up on the roof

I should be sick of making everything look like this. Not everything looks like this when it is happening. It is just a setting on an app, a way to make things look washed out and slightly degraded and marginally more interesting than they were when they were happening.

[…] One side-effect of the digital turn in music culture has been our relationship to the objects that populate it. We’re more and more becoming nostalgic not for specific things from our youth, or even for our own memories, but for the surfaces and shapes of old-seeming objects, and for generalized types of memories. […]

West toward Karl the Fog

I ought to look through my Flickr archive, or my map. I wonder just how many pictures I’ve taken in San Francisco vs. Oakland. I spent a little time but I’ve never lived there. With a little diligence, I could figure it out, make a map of more moments and resonances: rooftop cookouts, birthday parties in public parks, regularly pilgrimaged hillside vistas, streetscape snapshots.

San Francisco skyline

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Limpiamos y comemos

Cleanup crew (ii) Caña Cristianos y moros con Coke hecho en Mexico at Caña

Sundays are for cleaning house. Sometimes you do it on your own when you wake up and you feel sickened enough by time’s passage, the marker of a new week and the mark of not having done something to earn, let alone observe that newness. Sometimes you welcome help, or you offer it.

And when you’re done, or you’ve moved and sweated and waited and paused and listened enough, Sundays are for getting to walk down a couple of short streets to a nearby restaurant you’ve heard of and even seen written up but never visited. You get to eat something simple and tasty, sit under unexpectedly warm partly sunny sky and talk about your year in travel, where you’ve gotten to go once you left home and where you still want to go someday.

QR aesthetics

AMC Bay Street Emeryville lobby ad for 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

Ankita and I were going to Bay Street to see a movie, probably “The Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” at the Bay Street multiplex in Emeryville, and I remember coming out of the theater and seeing this promotional lobby ad. I’d not heard of “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” or its actress Elizabeth Olson, and I vaguely knew of John Hawkes. But I sure know what a QR code is.

I had to take a picture of it, as it’s probably the biggest code I’ve ever seen in public. But for some reason, I didn’t bother scanning it right there: probably my satisfaction with seeing it, and the idea that once I’d gotten back to my laptop, I could have the ease and comfort of looking it up at my own pace with a fast connection. Cool as the code use is, what does it say that I didn’t want to scan it?

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Room for improvement

Grand Lake Theater marquee on small-business parking

It’s the end of Sean Maher’s Oakland Tribune story, “Handicapped drivers outraged by Oakland’s new parking enforcement,” that sticks with me:

[…] This isn’t the first time store owners on Grand have been outraged by parking policies. Many owners protested a short-lived effort by the City Council in 2009 to extend paid parking hours from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. In 2010, many residents were outraged when they discovered that parking violations were enforced more strictly in poorer neighborhoods than in Montclair and North Oakland.

In her most recent revenue report to the City Council, Budget Director Sabrina Landreth said in July the city was then looking at a $7 million revenue shortfall, caused mostly by a lower-than-expected number of parking tickets being issued.

certain Friday nights in certain locations.

Around the office

Ray talks to Jeff Bobble-heads and non-bobble-heads
Jeff Faraudo came over to my cubicle to figure out some phone posting stuff with multimedia guy Ray St. Germain. That’s Ray on the left, hunched over Jeff’s Samsung BlackJack II running Windows Mobile 6.5. Jeff also wanted to get set up on Twitter so he could start posting about San Jose State University football he’ll be covering and so he’ll have the hang of it once UC Berkeley’s Cal Bears men’s basketball season gets under way. Features copy editor Rebecca Parr didn’t look up when features writer Laura Casey was passing by, but I did and liked seeing both of them with my and Danny Willis’ bobblehead dolls nearby.
Gieson talks to Karim behind Randy's back Virginia counts the days

Video game columnist Gieson Cacho is in the background holding forth on a game, most likely to multimedia producer Karim Amara behind those monitors, while senior web producer and movie reviewer Randy Myers just looks up from his desk and back at me with the perfect, long-meeting-honed Buster Keaton deadpan only he can muster. And then, on my way back to my cubicle, I saw senior multimedia editor for mobile Virginia Griffey inspecting a calendar and asked her to hold that pose just for a moment.
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Uptown Wednesday night

Couple crosses Telegraph Avenue

It’s empty out. I’m coming back from a long day at the newsroom. I’m eastbound at 19th Street, stopped at Telegraph Avenue and waiting for the light to change. Then I notice this couple, her in a lovely summer dress, him suited and booted, standing on the corner and waiting for the light to change.

Times like this, I wish my Nokia N82 still worked. Best cameraphone I ever had, quick on the draw, easy to just swing up out of my pocket and into my hand, flick the lens protector aside with a fingernail tip and pop, just like that, a picture. But the maxim about the best camera in the world being the one in your hand still holds.

So up comes my Samsung Captivate, and there I go frantically touching icons and sliding panels to get the app I want activated, and there goes the shot as the couple steps off the sidewalk and are halfway across Telegraph when the shutter finally goes click.

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Meeting Travis

Travis Campbell at The Commonwealth

More talk today with an unexpected connection (re-)made over the weekend: I got to have a beer at The Commonwealth and an extremely interesting conversation with Travis Campbell. I used to read one of his sites, The Black Informant, back in 2006 after I’d started Negrophile.

It turns out he’s moved from Southern California to the East Bay, and he was free to meet me after work today before I had to go to choir practice. He was full of questions about the sites I read nowadays, the opinions I have about certain high-Klout score-holders and the potential of black media and rich content plays. I think

Tacking into the winds

Luke Stangel of Tackable shows off TapInBayArea iPad app

In the wake of last week’s announcements about the coming changes at the newspaper, all sorts of interesting people are appearing. The first one I saw this week was Luke Stangel.

How news stories appear in TapInBayArea app TapInBayArea iPad app home page

Now, like many folks at the paper, I don’t own an iPad. But I do use the Web, play with a smartphone and consider myself open to looking in on and making content for other people to use online. So when Luke came up to Walnut Creek and showed off the app that his company Tackable has created for the Bay Area News Group, I had to hear more.

Offering a bounty on pictures in Alameda

I asked a lot of questions. Luke gave me the answers he could give at that point. I have a feeling I’m not done here.