The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnick said it so well recently:
The future of writing in America — or at least, the future of making a living by writing — seems in doubt as rarely before. Thanks to the Internet, the disproportion between writerly supply and demand, always tricky, has tipped: anyone can write, and everyone does, and the beginners are expected to be the last pure philanthropists, giving it all away for the naches [Yiddish: emotional gratification or pride --Ed.]. It has never been easier to be a writer; and it has never been harder to be a professional writer. The strange anatomy of the new literary manners has yet to be anatomized: the vast school of tweets feeding on the giant whales of a few big books, the literary ecology of the very big, the very small, and the sudden vertiginous whoosh; the blog that becomes a book; the writer torn to pieces by his former Internet fans, which makes one the other. … The same forces that have hampered writing as a profession have empowered reading as a pastime: everything ever written, it seems, is now easily available to be read, and everything is.
A Boulder “angle” to this story? People here, as everywhere, are showered with a seemingly limitless supply of excellent “content,” should they just bother to lift a finger toward their iPads or Kindles. The bare-bones Daily Camera seems to satisfy most people’s appetite for, and time for, local news. KGNU’s Morning Magazine, The Blue Line, Boulder Weekly and Boulder Magazine all contribute significant local coverage. Any possible business model for someone to do additional local reporting certainly eludes me. Boulder Reporter will linger on, as a place to air grudges, kudos, and maybe (at times, out of sheer perversity and force of habit) hard-news reporting.
It’s definitely worth your while to read the Daily Camera’s coverage of how a group of Boulder city and county police apparently collaborated to kill an elk on Mapleton Hill, then steal the carcass, then not report their actions. The website’s many pages of reader comments are also revealing, both of some important details and of the huge public reaction to the event.
Amazing, disturbing and revealing in so many ways. Not only does one mourn the loss of this beautiful animal, but one must now acknowledge the emerging picture of a culture of lawlessness in our police force (remember our recent story about two Boulder Police DUI officers and their own DUIs?). Surely the rot goes all the way to the top of the police hierarchy, and surely personnel changes need to occur, starting at the top. North Boulder and Mapleton Hill are so chock-a-block with liberal lawyers, judges and City Council members (past and present) that I predict heads will indeed role — indeed, that the process is already underway. If that doesn’t occur, then we’re really in trouble.
Further, is this incident not also evidence of a culture clash between North Boulder’s liberal, animal-loving citizenry and people who, though they may work in Boulder, are part of the gun-toting, hunting, yahoo element that is out there, in Colorado and beyond. I can’t help thinking that the cops involved intended their act to be, not just a way of bagging a trophy and taking meat home to their freezers, but a premeditated and hostile affront to people living inside the (to them, effete) Boulder bubble. In other words, a statement writ small of the polarization and class hatred that’s sweeping the land.
UPDATE: New developments were breaking Friday morning, with Chief Beckner tweeting that two officers involved have been placed on “Admin Leave w/pay.”
We awoke this morning to a delightful surprise: two inches of snow that had not really been forecast. It was the soft kind you could kick into a cloud, and it was a relief, easing our worries about a second winter of drought that would probably guarantee water rationing next summer.
Safe and warm inside, we were content to read our newspaper of record, finding several quite fascinating stories continuing to unfold.
WHITE SURPRISE:Mt. Sanitas and a distant Flagstaff looked ethereal after light overnight snow. (Reporter photo)
The city and state were both busy grappling with the uncertainties of implementing recreational marijuana use, as was handily voted into the State Constitution in November. The officialdom speak quite concretely of preparing to accommodate, regulate and tax the stores that will sell recreational, not just medicinal, marijuana. Oh brave new world.
Before liberal Boulder could totally revel in this display of tolerance toward Smokers of the Weed, they immediately had to swallow hard at two fun-loving CU students who brought THC-laced brownies to a 9 a.m. history class (“Early Modern Society”), leading to scary overdoses on the part of several, including the professor who, per the Camera’s report, took one bite that put her in the hospital for 24 hours. That’ll help CU attract the academic creme de la creme of America’s high schools to good old CU.
CU was rebuffed by one would-be football coach — one who appeared quite scary with his snarly-looking face and brush haircut — then rapidly bagged a more pleasant-seeming fellow instead. Sigh of relief. For all the absurdity that is now big-time college football, we can’t help but pay attention, this being still, blessedly, a university town.
Meanwhile on TV news, accused Aurora theatre shooter James Holmes looked unshaven in the artist’s sketches of his latest courtroom appearances, but a reporter said he showed no visible medical evidence of rumored recent attempts to harm himself. His parents had flown in from California to be in court with him.
Two Boulder police officers, both of whom had been tasked with dealing with DUI cases, were themselves both charged with being quite thoroughly drunk behind the wheel, and within three weeks of each other. One officer’s mug shot, in particular, had that ruddy look that tends to connote a way-too-enthusiastic fondness for alcohol. Innocent until proven guilty, of course. But the two arrests cannot but arouse curiosity about what in the world is going on inside Chief Mark Beckner’s Boulder Police Department. Camera letter-writer Robert Henson stated the issue pointedly:
When I reread the story [about the two arrests] a number was used, and if you blinked you might have missed it. The number was 44. The number of times Detective Scott Morris has been pulled over. This time he was drunk and on the seat was a bottle of Vodka and a loaded .38. Of all the numbers used on the front page number 44 is the one I found most difficult to understand.
Turning to the environmental news, Bill McKibben came to town and packed a large audience into the Glenn Miller Ballroom to hear his warnings of climate cataclysms and his appeal to students to pressure CU to divest itself of energy-related investments. Meanwhile, the debate over how to regulate fracking in Boulder County has grown intense. Fracking’s opponents defend their disruption of a recent County Commissioner meeting and their impoliteness (at the least) toward an industry lobbyist. Do fracking’s possibly imminent local health dangers suggest it’s no longer time for white gloves at Buckingham Palace and time instead for Gandhian civil disobedience? Democracies don’t relish the latter. But it happens.
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Just a small and pensive overview of these mid-December days, the days when winter starts to move in on us for real. May we have many days of fluffy snow underfoot and face-warming sunshine in deep-blue skies.
A note I just sent to Rep. Jared Polis, Boulder’s man in Congress:
Amid all the “fiscal cliff” talk, I’m hearing nothing in the media that I follow about levying a per-transaction tax on all financial institutions trading in and out of securities positions, sometimes within seconds. Isn’t this the first and easiest source of money (and also a way to curb this hideous speculative behavior)?
We’ll see what kind of response that gets.
ADDENDUM (3 hours later): And while I’m at it (kvetching), don’t we think it’s time the Boulder Police started enforcing the law that says people must stop at STOP signs? In North Boulder, where I do a lot of my driving, it’s getting a little out of hand, like slipping into the “barely slowing down for STOP signs” point at times. Anybody agree, I hope? –BW
The above picture was taken just before the Oct. 2 talk given at Unity Church by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, the program airing twice daily on Boulder’s (and Denver’s) community radio station, KGNU-FM (heard at 88.5 FM in Boulder and environs).
Pictured are (l. to r.) Joe Richey, general manager of Alternative Radio, Maeve Conran, co-news director of KGNU, and Gavin Dahl, Alternative Radio’s newest staff member.
Gavin’s previous position was as news director at KYRS in Spokane. He’s also current president of the board of Common Frequency, an activist engineering nonprofit working together with Prometheus Radio and other groups to support the licensing and construction of new community radio stations, primarily on the West Coast.
Gavin joins David Barsamian and Richey helping Alternative Radio zoom into its 26th year of international audio syndication. Let’s call him the newest member of Boulder’s awesome cast of progressive media activists. A thousand cheers for them all! In the coming years, we’re gonna need them. And, at year’s end, give some thought to helping fund them.
It was mildly encouraging to see President Obama address the issue of climate change in his first post-election press conference yesterday. Unfortunately, he asserted quite strongly that action against climate change, if done at the expense of the U.S. economy, was a political nonstarter. Sigh.
Meanwhile, the very creative video linked to above was part of a 24-hour videocast, “Climate Reality: The Dirty Weather Report,” that was broadcast yesterday and today. The program was produced by the Climate Reality Project, an effort led by Vice President Al Gore. The “dirty weather” slogan stems from the simple maxim that dirty energy produces dirty weather. All of the parts of the program that I watched seemed very professional, fast-paced and entertaining.
You can watch replays of individual segments of the videocast on Ustream or on the project’s site. Meanwhile, maybe you’ll be inspired, as I was, by the above video’s clever theatrics — and its message. There’s a place on the project’s website to sign a pledge to get involved. Oh go ahead.
(Video produced by Symphony of Science. Additional videos in the same genre are on their site.)