Friday, December 8, 2017

Proceed With Caution, Please...

So, yeah, there are a lot of males who have behaved badly and are being called to the carpet for their past actions. Hats off to the women who have had the courage to step forward and display their inner turmoil in such a public way. Remarkable courage - especially since, as always, their motives, recollection of the events or their level of participation (whatever the heck that means) are all questioned. Yeah, still amazed over here that the "Well, what did SHE do to bring on such behavior?" is almost always the default and also that it takes about four accusers on average before folks seem to be at least willing to accept the idea that the accused may, in fact, be a flaming bag of puss who fooled us all (one woman telling her story just never seems to be enough, strangely.)
But I'm also amazed that, after all the sexual and workplace harassment awareness and legislation the Clarance Thomas confirmation hearings ignited waaaaay back in the early 90's, we seem to be right back where we were before Anita Hill testified. Seriously, what is the deal with that? I thought we DID THIS mess already...
And what is up with assuming that if the accused is a Black man that the fix is in and it's a grand conspiracy to bring the brother down? Please at least be open to the idea that even good people who have done tons for the community at large can - and do - treat folks very badly. The two are not mutually exclusive.Also - a gentle reminder: The idea of inappropriate touching, advances, propositions, vocalized expectations of sexual "favors" and reduction of women to mere body parts happens all. the. time. Many, many women experience it and most of us keep quiet so we don't have to experience victim-blaming or being told to forget/ignore it when we do complain to higher-ups. That being said, every woman's "This is what happened to me" story - and the "I don't believe her/them" comments - are potentially triggers for lots of people. There is a lot of emotional distress happening right now as a result of the headlines, make no mistake about it. Please don't discount that when you wade in to express your opinion. Women are watching. More importantly, young women - and young men - are watching, too. How we treat this thing collectively and individually will tell them a lot about how they are expected to behave.
This is a systemic issue that won't go away with one, five, 10 or even 100 firings or forced resignations. It's bigger than that, and until we recognize that, come correct and try to address all the contributing factors - the biggest of which, I firmly believe, is rape culture in this here land of the free - none of the piece-meal efforts will add up to anything, and, as I'm starting to see, women will be blamed for calling out other folks' favorite politician, news reporter or entertainment company CEO. Say it with me now: IT. IS. NOT. HER. FAULT. IT'S. HIS. Dismissing it away or referring to it as just a fluke, a "minor" transgression, or her word against his (and he said he didn't do it!) just ain't cool. So stop that. Like, yesterday, please.
Words are powerful. Please use them accordingly.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

We're Baaaaaack!

Toss the confetti - Tri-County Woman Magazine is back!

For the last several months, we've been diligently planning editorial, re-designing the website, connecting with writers and gathering all the things we needed to get this show on the road again. Just finished putting the finishing touches on the site and, quite frankly, it feels like we've given birth!

Tri-County Woman Magazine was always designed to be a place to celebrate women who live, work and play in and around Orange, Ulster and Duchess Counties. The folks who do the heavy lifting - the designers, editors, writers, photographers et. al. all call the area home. The enjoyment behind putting the issues together is so intense. The work is hard, but we smile a lot, we really do!

The thing about producing a periodical is that once you meet that deadline and everything is just where you want it to be, you have to start from scratch and start building the puzzle that is a magazine again. But we rocked the heck out of it!

For now, new content will be posted every other month and our next issue is set for January 1, 2018. If you have any ideas for things you'd like us to cover, email us at tricountywomanmagazine@mail.com and let us know. We'd love to hear from you!



Sunday, September 17, 2017

New Year, New Stuff

So....

Tri-County Woman Magazine first came onto the scene in 2005. It was in print through 2008, becoming a web-based publication until 2010. Although the awards won for its editorial, design, web content, and calendar are still hanging in my office, it's been away for far too long.
Tri-County Woman's new social
media avatar...

But all that will change soon because we're re-launching the webzine later this fall.

Part of the impetus behind the move was that there still isn't a publication in our region that focuses on women and all the wonderful stuff we do - whether we are stay-at-home moms, recent graduates, corporate CEOs or retired professionals. Not only are we amazing, but we roar pretty loudly most times. There should be an outlet for that. Tri-County Woman is a great vehicle for just that.

We're feverishly working behind the scenes to get the visually fun but very user-friendly website up - and utilizing the expertise of area designers, graphic artists, photographers, videographers and writers for our content. We're churning it out to make it a place that women who live, work and play in the region will want to again head to for information on everything from places to go, health & wellness, parenting, relationship, upcoming event, support group and dining information.

I'll keep you updated on the progress and give you the launch date as soon as we get a little closer. I'm excited about bringing it back to you, I really am!

In the meantime, like us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for information
and give-aways.

We'll see you soon...

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good Riddance, 2016...

It's been a looooong year, it really has. Celebrity deaths, Brexit, refugee crises and the shocking US election aside, this year was filled with a particular brand of crazy that never really seemed to let up.

My family and I suffered lots of personal losses - including a very dear, Stevie Wonder-loving breast cancer sister and the bestest cat in the world. I have friends who lost spouses and some others who had some extremely major health scares. And yes, the hits to the music and entertainment world were unreal as I'm still reeling from Prince's passing. Hard to believe that brilliant mind is just done, it really is.

But you know what? Somehow, we made it through. A little worse for wear and a bit heart-heavy, but still standing. The adjustment to the new normal seemingly begins almost before the shock of what just happened even wears off.

Humans are remarkably resilient. Not sure if we are, as the adage says, actually made stronger by adversity, but getting through those really rough patches you think will take you out says a whole heck of a lot.

So keep standing. Keep pushing for what is right. Take time to mourn whatever loss you've encountered then re-adjust your sails and keep it moving.

Because sometimes the only way out is to keep going.

May 2017 be all you hope it will be.

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 https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/phan-media#/story

For more details on the show's premiere check out www.phanmediaweb.com.

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...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Michael Brown: A Conversation With my Son

OK, I tried to avoid it, but now I hafta write about the Ferguson situation.

Yes, I'm a mom who with a son who is only two years older than Michael Brown, the young man who was shot to death by a police officer less than two weeks ago.

As an editor, I spend lots of time each day sifting through wire stories about the unrest and police activity going on in that small town in Missouri. And because there is a television in my workspace, I'm also able to catch press conferences and the like during the day as well.

I gotta tell say this is making me sick.
Lesley McSpadden (R) and Michael Brown Sr. (L), parents of 18-year-old Michael Brown,

I'm not going to wax poetic about the travesty that is shooting an unarmed teen to death - not at all.

I won't try to pretend I can do anything but feel helpless when I see the faces of his parents in the photographs that come across my work computer screen.

I will not say how my stomach drops when the footage of the police in riot gear, shields and tanks with scope riffles roll across the television screen.

But I will say this: my son is beginning to stress about it now. And that simply is not OK.

Today, he sent me a text message asking if I'd heard about the latest shooting, this one in St. Louis, which is only a few miles way from Ferguson. His choice of words told me he was upset and not really too sure of what to do with this information.

Turns out he'd spent the last hour or so watching CNN. He'd convinced himself that the latest shooting - specifically the way in which it was covered - was designed to only do one thing: justify the police action (unruly man brandishing a knife is lawfully killed when he refuses to obey a police order). He called it "death by suicide" and couldn't believe how quickly the media jumped on it.

I told him what I tell my journalism students: timeliness - stories of similar vein happening around the same time - is one of  the seven news values that help editors and TV/radio news producers determine if a story should be covered. Because the dissemination of information was a major problem in the tiny hamlet of Ferguson, the larger metropolis of St. Louis did not make the mistake of even tying to appear that three was information being hidden. The press was around because there was breaking news down the street in Ferguson. St. Louis, probably learning from Ferguson's mis-cues, got the information out to the public via the press as soon as they could. Yes, the investigation is ongoing, but transparency is important to help people know what's happening and figure out a way to deal with it.

We chatted for a long time. By the time we were done, he was calmer and a bit more understanding of the process. Yes, he was still upset, but seemed able to find a place to put that, if that makes any sense.

We will talk about it again tomorrow, I'm sure.

But that we have to again tomorrow, is not OK.

Neither is the idea that we even have to have reminder discussions and talk about "what to do if" and think about safer courses of action (he's a martial artist, too).

That is the legacy of situations like this, unfortunately. teachable moments are usually one-shot deals, not gifts that keep on giving.

I feel that sinking thing that lets me know I can't protect him anymore from everything.

And it absolutely sucks...

Monday, June 16, 2014

It Ain't Her Fault

Allergic to stupidity...
What do you get when a few journalists together in a newsroom and a poorly written press release about an attempted rape comes off the fax machine?

Lively debate.

Here's the scenario: the police beat reporter mentioned that the release included a comment from the district attorney's office about the party the victim went to the night she was attacked and that she may have - GASP! - actually consumed alcohol at said party. The release said she was asleep when her attacker snuck into her room and tried to rape her. Yep - asleep. Not "passed out." Not "highly inebriated." Not "sloppy drunk." Just. Asleep.

The reporter and I had the same question: why was it necessary to mention that she'd gone to a party and possibly drank the night she was a victim of a violent crime?

We saw it like this: had the crime been an attempted robbery and she asleep when it occurred, would the fact that she drank have been mentioned? Honestly, I was surprised they did not mention the type of nightgown she was wearing during the attack.

The other two editors didn't agree. They did not see the terms "alcohol" and "party" as faulting the victim, but only as indicators that she was unable to defend herself. "It just goes to illustrate what a scum this guy really is because he attacked someone who obviously could not defend herself," the desk editor said.

Remember, the information said ASLEEP.  Not DRUNK. Another editor said the wording used probably showed that she was drunk because if she wasn't, she might have been able to fight back. A sleeping person, he said, would surely have been able to react.

But nowhere in the info we got did it say she was unable to react. Or that she didn't. That seemed to me to be total speculation.

And as a result, the reporter did not want to include it in the story. The desk editor overruled her - but suggested that she discuss it with the managing editor if she still had a problem with it. The words were still hanging in a bubble above us - like in a cartoon - and the reporter was out of her chair and on her way to do just that. And guess what? It was decided it was OK to include the info about the party as long as it was attributed to the DA who said it.

And my mouth is still hanging open.

Let me fill in some blanks: the other two editors and the managing editors are male. The reporter and I are not.

Did that have anything to do with the idea that the three of them didn't quite seem to get the victim blaming/slut shaming the DA was trying to push via the release? I'm sure it had a lot to do with it.

And I was HOT for the rest of the daggone day.

Just so we're clear, it is never ok to make the victim of any crime the reason s/he was the victim. I have a real problem with the idea that women in sexual assault situations are somehow the exception. What she wore, what she consumed, whether she kissed the assailant are TOTALLY irrelevant when force is involved or a "no" is ignored.

Asleep in your bed in your own home seems like a place to assume you are relatively safe. The assumption of fault on the part of the sleeper is a stretch in my book.

But, I'm sure the DA is betting that more folks in the possible jury pool will be swayed to think that somehow, the victim does bare some onus because, well, she had the audacity to go to a party and possibly drink the night she was attacked. And you know what? The DA might be right.

And that's a total, total shame, IMHO...

Proceed With Caution, Please...

So, yeah, there are a lot of males who have behaved badly and are being called to the carpet for their past actions. Hats off to the women...