Friday, June 3, 2016

Tassel Flip Tuesday!

Yesterday was my son's big day as he graduated with his BA in Performing Arts/Dance from Queens College. Yep, that's a pretty big deal...

The last five years were a real challenge for both of us - due to transferring from an area community college, housing issues that made commuting necessary for almost a full year, car troubles that made that commute difficult for a minute, a vicious rehearsal schedule and finding the funds to pay for it all. But yesterday was a the culmination of all the crazy when the school's president welcomed the class of 2016 to the QC alumnus pool.

And yes, I cried like a baby. Cried 'til I literally an out of tissues. Pretty cool day, still!

Proud of my not-so-little guy, I really am!

After the cap-flip: Squirrel and his mom

Graduate Selfie!

All Smiles
Squirrel and his bestie

Monday, March 14, 2016

Smack Dab in the Middle: The New Sandwich Generation

As an editor, I assign lots of stories to writers. Back in 1998 or so, the publisher of a magazine I'd just started working for suggested an article on what she called the Sandwich Generation - folks who were raising children and taking care of aging parents. 

Don't remember which local writer I pegged to pen the story, but I remember being so awestruck at the story s/he told. There was an entire struggle that so many people were experiencing but I knew nothing about.

Because my mother passed away from a breast cancer metastasis about year and a half before my son was born and my father died suddenly 13 years later, the idea of figuring out eldercare arrangements while coordinating play dates and carpool schedules was a pretty foreign one to me.

But now, right in the throws of the crazy that is the US Presidential Election Campaign, I suddenly have a good idea of what the meat squished between those two pieces of bread feels like.

Newsflash - I'm far from conservative or Republican. I lean so far left that I'm almost horizontal - no joke - so, outlandish promises, dirty political commercials and the like are things I'm use to experiencing every four years when national election time rolls around. 

This time, however, there is a distinctly different vibe to the whole thing.

I'm seeing and hearing xenophobic vitriol that is dripping with hate and "we don't like your kind" rhetoric and punctuated by violence against men, women, students and older Americans. Last week, a photo taken in Chicago after a cancelled rally showed a woman in a full Heil Hitler pose. A few days before that, a man was sucker punched in the face by a lunatic as he was being escorted out of the facility another rally was being held. Just before that, an Hispanic man was spit on by an angry protester and a Time magazine photographer was body-slammed to the ground by a Secret Service Agent. Yes it was all very shocking to see, but it was also very familiar - because it looked so much like the grainy black and white footage shot in the pre-civil rights era 1960s when peaceful protests for the rights denied to some in the general population turned very, very violent.

All I keep thinking each time another incident occurs is "Didn't my parents do this before? Haven't we marched this march and fought this fight already?

My son, now a senior in college and preparing to vote for the second time in his life, is soaking this all in. He is fervent about reminding people on social media and elsewhere that the rhetoric isn't cute, but cringeworthy and outright dangerous. I see him rolling up his political sleeves and prepping to put in some serious work to get the word out that the agitation is ugly and dismissive in a way that is not good for anyone. 

If it were possible to roll the clock back 65 years or so, I know he'd have been seated at a lunch counter or protesting in front of fire hoses and police dogs. 

That my parents were on the front lines a generation ago and my son is now doing the same is an eerie feeling, one I can't quite adequately explain - mostly because I thought we'd moved so far past this that it's totally disappointing to be here again. I feel like my generation somehow dropped the ball.

The saying goes "If you do not stand for something you'll fall for anything."

So keep standing tall, kiddo. Keep standing tall.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Phan Media: A New Web Show for Hudson Valley Artisans

Anyone who's ever been here knows that the Hudson Valley is rich in artistic talent. The area between the Capital District and New York City - on both sides of the Hudson River - houses a bevy of creative energy. From painters and musicians to designers and script writers - you name it, we've got it.

Now a new creative arts variety show aims to highlight all of it and bring it to you weekly via the World Wide Web.

Phan Media is the brainchild of Shawn Strong, the owner/director of Phanatiks Entertainment, a Newburgh-based video production company. Designed to be a regional equivalent of shows like Fuse TV and "The Sauce" it provides a combination of interviews, performances and updates as to what's going on in the area and when.

"Phan Media is a multi-faceted thing. It for the local artist, the independent artists, the indie artists, the venues, the art galleries, the dance studios and those artists who really aren't seen as much," Shawn says. "It's like a bus with a whole bunch of painting on the side, painted by a whole bunch of individuals. It's en route to places all over the Hudson Valley."

Still in pre-production, the show will premiere in June with an inter-active live-stream kickoff party where fans can meet the hosts and see what the show is actually all about. Here's a sneak peek: 

To help ensure the program can fund its programing, Phan Media has just kicked off a Crowdfunding campaign via Indie Gogo. To find out more about it, check out

For more details on the show's premiere check out

And to hear more about Phantiks Entertainment straight from Shawn himself, check out:

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Iconic Woman Quiz

Although I usually don't do them often, quizzes are kinda fun. Apparently, the Iconic Woman I really am isElizabeth Taylor - because "[I] do whatever [I] want to do and do it with sass" - apparently taking on the world and not caring what people think about it, according to my results.

Wanna know which iconic woman you are? Take the quick quiz to find out - then let us know all about it!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Journalistic Integrity...

So, yeah, I spend my days copy editing a daily newspaper. I've been there a little over a year and I like it a whole lot less than I did when I started. Sure, the commute is a hassle, the wicked weather that often is Upstate New York in the winter and my different every day schedule that reads more like a retail one are all trying, but those are minor annoyances compared to what make sitting behind the copy desk so arduous. What really, really makes me want to scream on a daily basis is the journalistic standards we don't uphold.

I knew I'd never get rich in journalism, but I got two degrees in it anyway and made it my livelihood. I managed to keep roof over head as a single parent for years when my son was in grade school by taking pictures for, writing in or editing for somebody's publication for years. Often, that involved working a few freelance gigs on the side (like I said, this field is not about the big, fat paychecks), but bringing stories to the masses via staffing or stringing for a newspaper, ezine or print magazine was always a part of the mix. It's not just what I do but who I am.

Sometimes, my side gigs involved teaching college students this fine art. From darkroom fixer-to-water ratios to the wonders of the AP Stylebook and media literacy, I've spent lots of time behind a podium giving instruction. Suffice to say my instructors taught me well and I've done my best to pass that onto the students in which I've given instruction over the last 25 years.

But what I'm seeing on a regular at my copy desk now often flies in the face of one of the most basic tenants of journalism: fair and balanced coverage. See, like justice, journalism is also supposed to be blind and present the information as is.

The publication I now edit has a basic rule about coverage: all fires, major police busts, or anything that involves loss of life, even if it is 60 miles away and on the very outskirts of our coverage area, is to be covered always. Unfortunately, good news that happens in those same areas is often not even mentioned, which creates a huge problem: if you only report bad news about a particular area, you run the risk of totally slanting the coverage and your "fair and balanced" coverage goes right out of the window.

Think about it: if you live in a rural area and all you ever hear about the neighboring cities is bad news, what does that do to you perception of the place? Exactly. It's uneven at best and ethically unsound at worst - yet it's regularly encouraged by management, so much so that no one really even bats an eye about it much.

It hurts to see things we are supposed to stand for ignored, it really does.

As nice as it is to be gainfully employed - as I've grown quite accustomed to eating on a regular basis - I travel to a windowless office daily to do something that goes against most journalistic principles I have. That's a horrible place to be, y'know?

It will make an interesting "what not to do" example for my students someday, though...