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Another Concept of Journalism

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Another Concept of Journalism

I was knee deep in my first day of horseshoeing horseshit – copy editing a prospective magazine article about sexism in Jordan as written by a Western feminist – and was growing weary very quickly.

Copy editing, I suppose it was bound to come to this. I am now on the other side of the journalism fence; I ply the heavy hand of a fledgling editor. I can now reconcile my preciously retained notions of self-pity and allow them to fly freely. The magazine editor is a man in a pitiable situation. In the unspoken words of all writers: “All editors suck.” I truly do pity my own copy editor, the man that horseshoes my horseshit, and I really wish that he would spare himself the pain and leave my horseshit to stand on its own four wobbly legs. Yes, Captain, let my articles stand like a newly born colt, fresh out of the rear end of a fat momma horse.

But that would not be journalism.

That would be horseshit.

I take a break from editing and read from a book:

[Quote] There is another concept of journalism . . . it’s engraved on a bronze plaque on the south-east corner of the Times Tower in New York City. [End quote]
————–
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Brooklyn, New York City- September 23, 2008
Travelogue Travel Photos
————–

It was by now far into the night and I was in Brooklyn. But, in all definite terms, I was truly in the need for another concept of journalism. So I woke the Dinosaur from his slumber in the bed which stands behind my desktop Headquarters.

“Hey Dinosaur,” I said, “Lets go on a mission.”

The Dinosaur groaned, but rolled out of bed anyway. The fact that he is a dinosaur does not seem to damper his love for middle-of-the-night missions. Soon we were out the door and riding the Q train in to Times Square, where, I assumed, we would find the Times Tower and the much sought wisdom of the bronze plaque.

As the train rolled on I took notes in my little bent up, beaten and battered notebook and the Dinosaur tried peering over my shoulder to watch the scrimshaw show at work. If, somehow, he could read my chicken-scratch I am quite sure that his expectations were not adequately satiated. I was probably writing about boobs.

But boob writing or no boob writing, I tried to interject the occasional funny comment into the living ether of human conversation as the subway rolled through the dark tunnel into Manhattan. I am unsure if my jokes tickle the Dinosaur where they should, as he usually seems to take me seriously and, all too often, returns my senseless banter with attempts at intelligent discussion. But I could not blame the Dinosaur for trying, he has yet to fully recognize that my talk is, more often than not, only about boobs.

The Q train soon came to a screechy halt and the Dinosaur lead the way up and out of the station and into the melee above. “34th street, Times Square.” This is where the new year’s ball drops and billions of tourist-ants seem to be in a perpetual year-round search for it below. (Well, they seemed to be searching for something, anyway. Perhaps we were all just drawn to the bright lights like flutter-bugs on a dark night.)

There was no shortage of bright lights in Times Square, but I am unsure if they were working properly. Even after looking at them – and the advertisements they radiated – for a reasonable amount of time, I still did not feel the urge to dig out the sole $5 bill which was tucked loving in the liner of my vest. Perhaps the engineers need to make these shining beacons of commerce shine brighter; for the bacteria milling about beneath seem to have grow resistant to their consumption provoking power. Or maybe it is just me.

I followed the Dinosaur as he lead the way through the blinky, blinky, bright Times Square night. The sidewalk was packed with people moving everywhere very quickly as if they were stand-ins for some NYC fast paced action movie. The Dinosaur and I politely kept to our respected walking lanes along the pavement as we were carried on by the tidings of the human sea. Suddenly, a 10 foot tall wobbly stick-like tower sauntered about before us. We stopped in our tracks.

It was a fashion model.

She stopped walking directly in front of the Dinosaur and asked him in a think Eastern European accent if he had a cigarette (he did, dinosaurs are just like that, you know, handy fellows to have along). Waiting for her cigarette to be fished out of the pack she peered down at me from her towering height. I peered up at her from my sullen depths. She was wearing a long tube like thing which masqueraded as clothing. She looked very much like this:

The fashion model soon enough received a cigarette from the Dinosaur, but her wobbly, wind blown head was still pointed downward in my direction. I began thinking that she may have been weird. The three of us stood unmoving upon the sidewalk in the center of the flowing tide of humanity as a large boulder in a river.

“I like your style,” she finally spoke down to me.

She was weird.

My top hat, vest, pipe, and suspender combination should have been enough to make any fashion-ready human cringe in repulsion and perhaps dribble vomit upon themselves, but I was surely forced to admire her comment by the strength of its own ludicrousness.

“Thank you,” I replied with a tip of my hat. “I like your style too, in fact, I look up to you.”

The humor of my reply seemed to have gotten lost somewhere in between the gutters from which I spoke and the sky-high ears of the fashion model. My joke fell back to earth perilously defeated and maimed – its back was broken and its head was bashed.

Needless to say we walked away from each other, she was a weirdo, you know. But I must say with pride that I held my tongue from making a joking reference to the irony of a fashion model telling me that she liked my thrift shop/ Moroccan market fashion until a later time in the evening.

For the Dinosaur and I had a mission: to find out what was etched into the brass plaque at the south-east corner of the Times Tower. But first we had to find the Times Tower. Now, was the Times Tower the one that drops the big ball? Or was the Times Tower the building that the New York Times is in? Neither of us could solve this riddle.

So we went to the ball drop tower first and circumambulated it to our discontent. The only plaque that we could find was made out of plastic and said:

Michael Garver
General Manager

This was clearly not the plaque we were looking for.

So we tried to find someone to whom we could ask directions to the New York Times building, but our gazes only fell upon chubby folks with cameras. They certainly did not live in New York City and their directions could not be trusted.

But alas! there before us on the sidewalk was a Statue of Liberty doing a street performance for the tourists! He would have to do.

“Hey Statue,” I called up to him. He was standing on some sort of pedestal and was holding an American flag. The Statue looked down at me. “Do you know where I can find a brass plaque on the south-east corner of the Times Tower?”

I could tell by the look on the statues green face that even though he made a career of welcoming the poor, the downtrodden, the meek, and the tourists he did not know anything about brass plaques. He lowered his spiky crowned head down to me and I re-asked my question into his green-painted ear. It soon became evident that not even the Statue of Liberty could be of any help to the Dinosaur and I, so we left him behind to continue being a statue. The tourists were delighted.

The Dinosaur then pointed out a couple of police officers across the street. The police in tourist districts of New York seem to be set up on each street corner more to give directions than to arrest felons. They are actually known in these parts as mobile gun-totting tourist information booths. From my travels I know that officials love nothing more that to feel officious, and usually delight in setting straight a bewildered tourist or a couple of men on a mission.

The Dinosaur and I were on a mission.

I asked about the plaque and the New York Times.

“42nd and 8th.”

We now had a good lead and ran to the specified corner. There, standing behemoth before us, was the tower that housed the majestic works of the New York Times. After an accidental awe-struck moment, I regained my composure and withdrew the compass from my vest pocket and followed its lead to the south-east corner of the tower.

There, beneath the huge glass monolith that housed the pre-eminent newspaper on planet earth, the Dinosaur and I found:

Nothing.

Yes, nothing; just a big glass wall with a revolving door that led into a sterile looking, wood floored lobby with a grumpy sentry posted at the gate. That is right, there is nothing etched into the bronze plaque on the southeast corner of the Times Tower. There is not even a bronze plaque.

Just nothing.

Perhaps this truly was “another concept of journalism.”

Though it is a concept that every rag tag journalist who has ever poured his life, mind, guts, and toes into writing a magazine article already knows: the great words on the page today are the trash, bum-blankets, and papier-mâché of tomorrow.

Journalism is an all for nothing kind of game.

I did not have to lure the Dinosaur out of his den to find this out. We went home. I returned to copy-editing and the Dinosaur to his bed which stands right behind my desktop Headquarters.

Links to previous travelogue entries:

  • Businessmen Cellphones
  • Cockfight Video Censured by YouTube
  • Wisdom of China

Another Concept of Journalism
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Filed under: New York City, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Polis, Republic of CyprusMap