Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Media-generated lists of merit, awards, magazine covers and always seeing what you want to see -classic absurd Leonard Pitts Jr.
Today I have the latest case of some Classic
Leonard Pitts, Jr. behavior, wherein not
actually knowing the facts in a situation isn't
a barrier to his having an opinion.
As predictable as the sun-rise in the East,
Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald sees
race, rather than simple laziness, cronyism,
cliquishness, brown-nosing or any other other
motivation to explain away results about a media-
generated list he doesn't particularly care for.
Not that he could be bothered to actually look at
"The fact that the list is (from what I've heard,
I still haven't opened the links) lily white only
See the rest of the post at Richard Prince's blog,
Journal-isms at the Maynard Institute.
The institute is named for the former Oakland
Tribune editor Robert C. Maynard, who became
quite well-known for his frequent TV appearances
on ABC News' This Week With David Brinkley and
PBS' MacNeil Lehrer Report, under a post titled
Black Pulitzer Winners See Media Lists as
As an aside, please try to think of an African-American
reporter, columnist or editor from west of Chicago
-not named Clarence Page- that you frequently see
on the three Sunday morning network TV chat shows?
Or even an Anglo reporter.
No, really, go ahead.
And for the record, throw into the mix the fact
that both Denver and Dallas have already had
Black mayors while supposedly-sophisticated
Miami and Fort Laudedale have... well, you know,
Meanwhile, the Usual Media Suspects & Guests
from the East Coast continue to dominate that
Sunday morning public policy niche despite rarely
if ever bringing anything new to the party to discuss.
And yet, that pattern merits not a squeak in
newspapers here or elsewhere from the likes
I hate to be the one to break it to you all,
but as has been the case for years and years
in American society, in places large and small,
lists are not complied and awards are not given
based entirely on merit.
For instance, consider the case of the NFL's
Pro Bowl selections for the past forty years or
People magazine's annual 50 Most Beautiful
Neither is very realistic or objective, as in the '70's
and '80's, the same offensive linemen were honored
year-after-year, even in down years, while players
at other positions were honored in a more honest
fashion, based on their individual sack stats and,
frankly, whether they were seen on national TV a lot,
and could be seen, which always explains why more
Cowboys get honored than seems mathematically
It's simple -they get more exposure.
And it's no accident, either.
In that era, certain players were mortal locks to be
named even before the season started unless they
got injured during the season and missed large chunks
of playing time, while a few rare others, like Dolphins
center Dwight Stephnson, were mortal locks
precisely because they actually were that superior
to their competitors, as evidenced by the fact that
the Electors at the NFL Hall of Fame voted him in
during his first year of eligibility, 1998.
I don't know whether it's true or not but I have
heard a story that when Stephenson first became
Hall eligible, Edwin Pope of the Herald spoke on
his behalf at the annual meeting of select pro football
correspondents and past Hall enshrinees, stood-up
and said simply, "Gentlemen, Dwight Stephenson."
Then he sat down.
There wasn't anything else Pope needed to say because
Stephenson was so self-evidently a dominant player
of his era, and maybe the best ever at that position.
Likewise, People's annual best-seller is built to a large
extent on the opinions of a handful of powerful Talent
Agencies and publicists pushing -"strongly suggesting"-
clients of their who have a new film, album, exhibit
or something consumer-oriented coming-out that
the editors at People know will have some built-in
consumer interest or buzz.
They want to capitalize on that so that everyone in
the interaction is happy: agent, publicist, star and
And that goes double for all popular Women magazines
that you see no mater what sort of store you go into,
whether Target, Publix or 7/11, like Vogue.
It's not journalism that decide who's on the cover,
it's strictly marketing.
Above, longtime South Beach Hoosier favorite Rachel
McAdams on January's Vogue magazine in time to
promote her new Sherlock Holmes film.
At Vanity Fair magazine, http://www.vanityfair.com/
they've long taken a much-more political and provocative
sensibility on these matters, by consciously choosing to
have a great editorial mix, with inspired and talented
journalism from the likes of Bethany McLean,
formerly of FORTUNE magazine, and someone who
really knows how to tell a story involving business,
as I've written here before.
But they still want to sell lots of magazines!
Which is why actresses Abbie Cornish, Kristen Stewart
and Carey Mulligan are on the cover of March's issue,
as seen at top, Mulligan being an Oscar-nominee.
(See October 9, 2009 Los Angeles Times,
'An Education' Carey Mulligan glows with a girl's innocence and
insight and inhabits the role of Jenny in a way viewers will never forget
Plus, sometimes, the magazine editors throw in that sentimental
wild card to remain on good terms with someone who has
been out of the spotlight, for whatever reason.
Like any group of people responding to questions about
a list, or even a survey, some people take it very seriously
and try to be meticulous in their responses, while others,
if the subject is more mundane, answer whimsically
or even in a way intentionally designed to get away
from what the original intent of the list is, and highlight
someone or something else, to prove a point.
Our old friend -the wild card.
I know that, you know that, but not Leonard Pitts, Jr.
I used to see that a lot when I was younger and read
the Village Voice and saw their annual musical picks
for best this and that, their Pazz and Jop Poll, since it
seemed like every reporter and columnists doubled-down
on wild cards.
If enough self-selected people play the new wild card,
often enough, at some point, everyone else in media
is talking about the wild card because they don't want
to be left out of the conversation.
Who are they?
What have they done?
Who are they represented by? (William Morris, ICA, Gersh?)
Are they connected to anyone we already know?
Are they the new "X"?
(X being anything from the media's pick for the next
Paul Newman (Matthew McConaghey) to the next
Italian sex-bomb (
The question never asked is "Are they actually talented
or a coming fad?"
That's entirely beside the point.
At some point, the wild card overshadows the people on
the list that everyone agrees on, i.e. a Charlize Theron
vs. Shania Twain fight never materializes at People
because they're mortal locks.
Fearless prediction: Whenever the fabulous Shania Twain
is ready to come back to the public with a new CD ,
People magazine will be there, ready, willing and able
to give her a cover story where she looks amazing.
(It's just that in her case, she's already amazing looking.)
Because if they aren't, US will be.
The real fights come over the low-hanging fruit, since they
are in the business of getting consumers to purchase copies
of the magazine and reading the ads and patronizing the
advertisers, not deciding whether Leighton Meester
is more deserving of inclusion than Ashley Greene in
being in the Most Beautiful People issue.
At their level, it's whoever has the buggest project coming-up.
Like any media-generated list, it's as weak as the persons
making the list.
And in the case of Pitts, a totally-predictable
Herald columnist who uses phrases like "so-called"
more than all the paper's other columnists combined,
someone who never brings anything new to his
rhetorical soap box battles, that lazy cruise-control
of his has reached the predictable point where his
NOT knowing the facts involved in a particular
situation doesn't preclude him from weighing-in
with his cliched comments, his admission in the case
above that he never even saw the list but comments
anyway, being proof positive of my point.
Happy "res ipsa loquitur" over at One Herald Plaza!
Video: Bethany McLean on the Hedge Fund Era
FINAL REPORT RE: GROSS MISMANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH AND THE HB CRA
Above, Hallandale Beach City Hall Complex on S. Federal Highway/U.S.-1, where attention to details and appearances has never been their strong suit in the nine years I've lived here, since returning to South Florida after 15 years in the Washington, D.C. area. Thanks to the city's incompetent, myopic and poorly-managed DPW, the spotlights seen above in 2011 on the city's monument sign, at the corner of U.S.-1 & S.E. 5th St., have NOT worked since June of 2012. Which is to say that they have NOT worked since City Manager Renee C. Miller has been in place. But attention to details and appearances really DO matter when you are a government, and the situation with the lights is but the tip of the iceberg. The city's log of Visitors & Lobbyists, which is required by law to be up-to-date, was TWO MONTHS old as of last Friday. Really. August 7, 2011 photo by South Beach Hoosier. (c) 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights ReservedBROWARD INSPECTOR GENERAL FINAL REPORT RE: GROSS MISMANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH AND THE HALLANDALE BEACH COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY
A problematic model: Hallandale Beach CRA under city manager’s thumb
Broward Auditor looks at Hallandale Beach CRA with eye toward recovering misspent funds By William Gjebre* BrowardBulldog.org The Broward County Auditor’s Office has begun looking into whether Hallandale Beach should be required to repay some of the millions in tax dollars allegedly misspent due to “gross mismanagement” by city officials.
A problematic model: Hallandale Beach CRA under city manager’s thumb j.mp/13xk92t— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) May 15, 2013
Broward Inspector General: Hallandale leaders don’t know what they’re talking about, By William Gjebre* BrowardBulldog.org. The Broward Inspector General’s final report on the “gross mismanagement” of millions in tax dollars by Hallandale Beach is sharply critical of city leaders it says have shown a “basic misunderstanding” of what’s gone wrong.
Broward Auditor looks at Hallandale Beach CRA with eye toward recovering misspent funds j.mp/11ysUve— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) May 13, 2013
Broward Inspector General: Hallandale leaders don’t know what they’re talking about browardbulldog.org/2013/04/browar…— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) April 23, 2013
Csaba Kulin re Hallandale Beach City Attorney Whitfield's comments re ethics at City Hall
Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach and Hollywood.
If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect.
This is particularly true in the town I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, just north of Aventura and south of Hollywood. There, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent.
Sadly for its residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with lots of potential because of its terrific location, yet its citizens have become numb to its outrages and screw-ups after years of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, they wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road.
I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog that could do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable but skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.
Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change.
If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY here among Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru simple public scrutiny, or requires a degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of incompetency, cronyism or simple negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.
"And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen."- Preacher Purl encouraging the underdog Hickory High basketball team before the state title game against heavily-favored South Bend Central in 1986's Hoosiers http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091217/
The South Florida I Grew Up In
Excerpted from Joan Didion's Miami, 1987, Simon & Schuster: In the continuing opera still called, even by Cubans who have now lived the largest part of their lives in this country, el exilo, the exile, meetings at private homes in Miami Beach are seen to have consequences. The actions of individuals are seen to affect events directly. Revolutions and counter-revolutions are framed in the private sector, and the state security apparatus exists exclusively to be enlisted by one or another private player. That this particular political style, indigenous to the Caribbean and to Central America, has now been naturalized in the United States is one reason why, on the flat coastal swamps of South Florida, where the palmettos once blew over the detritus of a dozen failed booms and the hotels were boarded up six months a year, there has evolved since the early New Year's morning in 1959 when Fulgencio Batista flew for the last time out of Havana a settlement of considerable interest, not exactly an American city as American cities have until recently been understood but a tropical capital: long on rumor, short on memory, overbuilt on the chimera of runaway money and referring not to New York or Boston or Los Angeles or Atlanta but to Caracas and Mexico, to Havana and to Bogota and to Paris and Madrid. Of American cities Miami has since 1959 connected only to Washington, which is the peculiarity of both places, and increasingly the warp...
"The general wildness, the eternal labyrinths of waters and marshes, interlocked and apparently neverending; the whole surrounded by interminable swamps... Here I am then in the Floridas, thought I," John James Audobon wrote to the editor of The Monthly American Journal of Geology and Natural Science during the course of an 1831 foray in the territory then still called the Floridas. The place came first, and to touch down there is to begin to understand why at least six administrations now have found South Florida so fecund a colony. I never passed through security for a flight to Miami without experiencing a certain weightlessness, the heightened wariness of having left the developed world for a more fluid atmosphere, one in which the native distrust of extreme possibilities that tended to ground the temperate United States in an obeisance to democratic institutions seemed rooted, if at all, only shallowly. At the gate for such flights the preferred language was already Spanish. Delays were explained by weather in Panama. The very names of the scheduled destinations suggested a world in which many evangelical inclinations had historically been accommodated, many yearnings toward empire indulged...
In this mood Miami seemed not a city at all but a tale, a romance of the tropics, a kind of waking dream in which any possibility could and would be accommodated...
"Why do they need that in the Broward County charter?"
"Laws and Constitutions go for nothing where the general sentiment is corrupt."
-New York Times, September 22, 1851
"Why do they need that in the Broward County charter?"
-Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper at April 2, 2008 HB City Commission meeting, in discussing possible inclusion of Broward County Charter Review Commission's proposal for Ethics Commission to deal with Broward County Commission, on November 2008 ballot.
Six YEARS after the county's voters had overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the County charter requiring its adoption, the Broward County Commission had yet to live up to its legal responsibility. That's why!
Corruption Isn't Unique to South Florida, It's the Level of the Stupidity That Is
"[Chicago Mayor] William Hale Thompson was defeated Tuesday after a campaign which he alone made disgraceful. The election was an ejection, a dirty job, but Chicago has washed itself and put on clean clothes. Thompson recognized the [Chicago] Tribune as his chief enemy. The Tribune was glad to earn that opinion. It certainly tried to do so. It has taken the fight to him on every occasion during the long and depraved course of his administration. It is unpleasant business to eject a skunk, but someone has to do it. For Chicago, Thompson has meant filth, corruption, obscenity, idiocy and bankruptcy. He has given the city an international reputation for moronic buffoonery, barbaric crime, triumphant hoodlumism, unchecked graft and a dejected citizenship. He nearly ruined the property and completely destroyed the pride of the city. He made Chicago a byword for the collapse of American civilization. In his attempt to continue this he excelled himself as a liar and defamer of character. He’s out. He is not only out, but dishonored. He is deserted by his friends. He is permanently marked by the evidences of his character and conduct. His health is impaired by his ways of life and he leaves office and goes from the city the most discredited man who ever held place in it."
-Excerpts from April 1931 Chicago Tribune editorial following Republican "Big Bill" Thompson's loss to his Democratic rival Anton Cermak. A friend of organized crime during the Al Capone era, Thompson was the last Republican elected mayor of Chicago. But less than two years later, Mayor Cermak was shot while shaking hands with President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt at Miami's Bayfront Park. He died from gunshot wounds to his lungs three weeks later.
Looking NW towards Hollywood from the State Road 858/Intracoastal Bridge, Hallandale Beach, FL
Hallandale Beach Day to Night Time-Lapse Test from David M. Singh Jr. Hallandale Beach Day to Night Time-Lapse Test by David M. Singh Jr., March 14, 2011 Looking northwest towards Hollywood from the Intracoastal Bridge/S.R. 858 in Hallandale Beach, FL, (left-to-right) Trump Hollywood, Diplomat Residences, the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, the Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach. http://vimeo.com/21009538
Hallandale Beach in The Miami Herald over 25 years ago
"For years people living in and out of its condo-walled sector east of U.S. 1 have wondered what to do about the city of Hallandale. In the 19th Century the condo giants would have served as ideal fortresses. From top floors of the towers, enemy ships could be readily spotted and blown out of the Atlantic. Oceanfront dwellers could have been protected from the west by the Hallandale Beach Boulevard drawbridge and moat called the Intracoastal Waterway. But this is the 20th Century..."
-Miami Herald Broward Columnist Bill Braucher's first paragraph from July 24, 1983.
To which Hallandale Beach Blog can only say, Bulls-eye!