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Posts Tagged ‘Fog City Journal’

Dennis Herrera has announced his candidacy for the Mayor’s job in San Francisco. A long time ago, Dennis was one of my Facebook Friends. I didn’t ask him to befriend me. The request ostensibly came from him, but it’s highly probable that a clerk or an assistant in his office sent out blanket Friend requests and somehow, purely as an afterthought or by mistake, included my name.

This was during a brief time in my Facebook life when I was receiving requests from politicians left and right. And like the naïve novice I was, I accepted them all, flattered that I was actually in their thoughts. Later, I learned otherwise. I was caught in the midst of a drive by every politician in the state to build up their Facebook Friend list to establish their viability as candidates. I never received a request from Gavin, though. He apparently had enough friends. One more anonymous blogger would have been a mere redundancy.

At any rate, one day I asked myself a question, “Why is my Friends’ list packed with noncommunicative politicians?”

Answering myself, I said, “I don’t know, but I’m getting rid of them.” So, I systematically went through my list and purged all politicians, except one guy who attended the same university I did. I thought about old school loyalty when I finally decided to leave him on my list. I’m thinking of removing him, though. He hasn’t responded to my post informing him that we are school buddies.

I want to make it clear that I have never met and have no intentions of ever meeting any politician whose Facebook Friend list numbers above 20. There is such a thing as overdoing a good thing. This isn’t to suggest that I’ve never met a politician. I have. Many. Up close. Personal.

I must have had a run of bad luck because everyone was either egotistical, arrogant, or an asshole. None had mastered the essential political skill of faking sincerity. Every single one of them, man and woman, could have profited from several private sessions presented by Sally on How to Fake a Political Orgasm.

I’m not suggesting that any of the above adjectives or descriptions apply to Dennis Herrera. In fact, a guy from New York State can’t be all bad. My best friend in the Air Force was an Italian kid from the Bronx who taught me to speak Italian. Unfortunately, the only word I remember is lapis, meaning pencil. So, if I ever walk up to you, Dennis, and say lapis, I’ll expect you to reflexively reach for your pencil.

On the other hand, Herrera may be Hispanic for all I know, or even Portuguese. According to one source, the surname Herrera is Derived from the Spanish herrería, meaning place where ironwork is made, the Herrera surname means “worker in iron, a blacksmith.” According to the Instituto Genealógico e Histórico Latino-Americano, this Castellan surname originated in the Villa of Pedraza, in the province of Segovia, in Castile and Leon, Spain.

Now, that’s a commendable generic genealogy for a politician. It has all of the right words, iron, worker, Castellan. I’d be proud of these credentials myself except I’m not Hispanic.

Even so, if I were Dennis’s agent or something, I could work with these quals. A few examples of pithy themes: “Man of Iron. Faster than a speeding ballot. More powerful than a loco voter. Able to leap tall issues in a single bound.”

But I’m merely speculating. Regardless of his birth pedigree, Dennis Herrera is undoubtedly a nice guy. Unfortunately, I won’t be voting for him. I’m a registered voter of another planet. Nevertheless, I spend a good deal of time in the Bay Area and the city, receiving updates from relatives and a gay expert on politics who lives in the City.

However, Dennis, if you ever need a positive and glowing review on this blog, have your campaign manager write one and send it to me. I’ll run it under my name.

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Around this time of the year, I begin to think about the blogs that I read regularly and boil them down to a select group that I call My 10 Favorite Blogs. Except this year, try as hard as I could, I’ve only been able to come up with My 5 Favorite Blogs. How come? When I began blogging  a couple of years ago, the blogosphere was overloaded with blogs, and for some reason, I seemed to like all of them, or many of them anyway. Everything was so new. What a relief from the sterile reporting and analysis of the mainstream media. Picking my favorite ten was easy then. Almost everything I read was at the top of my daily reading list. As a last resort, when the time rolled around for my Top 10 list, I arranged them alphabetically and lopped off all of those below the first ten. Mechanical but functional.

This year my selection process isn’t going along as smoothly as it used to. I’m puzzled. Has the number of blogs decreased? I don’t think so. In the Bay area alone, there must be several hundred, maybe a thousand. If you don’t believe me, check out CBS5’s Eye on Blogs, the brainchild of Britney Gilbert. She’s compiled a list of Bay Area Blogs complete with links to each of them. Quite an accomplishment.

What about quality? In my judgment, the blogs I check regularly are well-written, topical, and timely. So, there must be another variable to explain my difficulty in selecting ten blogs that I like above all others.

After thinking about it for a minute or two, I’ve concluded that the problem is me. Over time, my interests have shifted. For one thing, I’m not into politics the way I used to be. Maybe I need another election or a scandal to pump me up. Nah. Scandals are so commonplace these days, they’re kind of like clouds of gnats circling around my ears.

I think my declining interest in politics began when I started blogging on Open Salon. The variety of topics and styles of writing that I encountered there led me to think about wider more varied fields of interest as topics for my own blog.

And that’s how it stands at the moment. I have found writers and bloggers beyond my original boundaries. And from my newly-found peers, I’ve compiled my list of a very few favorites, writers who rise above the crowd. Here they are.

·       The Ax Files heads my list this year. I stumbled across the author a long time ago and was struck by her originality. Her name is Alexandra Jones, and she has a captivating way with words combined with a facility in observation and interpretation that can lead you to think you are there with her if you let your imagination go. You won’t be disappointed if you check out her essays.

·       The Renaissance Lady is a prolific author and the repository of a volume of information equal to that in many libraries. I became aware of her blog on Open Saloon and quickly added her to my Favorites list. Her interests are eclectic, ranging from politics to a casita inhabited by spirits in New Mexico.  She writes fascinating material with originality and passion.

·       The Fog City Journal is an online newspaper rather than a blog, but if it were a blog, it would rate with the best. Publisher Luke Thomas is a world class photographer who captures a variety of activities in San Francisco that he uses to good effect throughout the publication. Add to that a stable of top writers and analysts and you have an A-One site.

·       CBS5 Eye on Blogs isn’t, strictly speaking, a blog but a compendium of Bay Area blogs with commentaries by the site’s mastermind, Britney Gilbert. She’s a product of Tennessee where she operated a similar site for a television station in Nashville. Luckily, her talents caught the eye of someone at CBS5 and now she applies her talents to Baghdad by the Bay, as Herb Caen called it. Good for Ess Fff.

·       Jeannie Watt’s Blog on eHarlequin is my latest favorite. Jeannie is a writer of romance novels set in the modern West, primarily Nevada. A product of Nevada’s Cowboy Country, she writes about cowboys most of the time, but she has touched on the ordinary people of small town Nevada in a few of her novels with marked success. I am including Jeannie Watt in my list for a special reason. I have never been a reader of romance stories. I stumbled across one of her books in the bottom row of a book rack in a supermarket one day, thinking it was a story about cowboys. And it was. But it also was woven around a hot romance between a cowpoke and a teacher, which made for a charming story. Jeannie’s descriptions of ranch and cowboy life were so realistic that I became enthralled with her writings. In her blog, she talks about her own life in a small ranching community as well as about the business of writing. She has many fascinating things to say and that’s why she’s the only writer of romances whose works I read.

Okay, that’s my truncated list of favorite blogs for this year. I’m publishing the list well before the New Year because I’ll be on an extended vacation shortly and won’t return until sometime in 2010.  I’ll undoubtedly be enjoying my family more than I enjoy blogging.

But, I’ll be back.

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Last year, I created my first brown-nosing list of my favorite bloggers. Well, it worked like a charm. A whole bunch of famous people wrote back with kudos galore. They were just being polite, of course, but insincere compliments are better than no compliments at all. Right? Right.

I still love the bloggers on last year’s list, but this year I’ve found a few new ones that enthrall me. In no particular order of preference, here they are.

Sin mordasas is a politically-oriented site in Spanish. The author is Ivonne Acosta Lespier, a noted Puerto Rican author and radio personality. A Facebook Friend recommended the site to me and I found it to be entertaining and informative with a political outlook roughly akin to mine. That the site is in Spanish may not appeal to all, but in my case, I overcame my linguistic shortcomings to some degree by using Google’s Translate tool. Yes, subtle meanings are often lost in translation, but it is nevertheless possible to understand a little bit about the politics of Puerto Rico, which is better than none.

The title Boricua en la Luna may be misleading since the site is in English. The author is a daughter of Ivonne Lespier. A professor of English at a university in Ohio, the author’s writings represent a wonderful look at the feelings and experiences of someone from Puerto Rico living in the middle of the U.S. Heartland. But more, she illustrates her writings with fantastic pictures of rural Ohio taken by her and her husband on their regular motorcycle jaunts. Spectacular!

On a lighter side, bordering on a part of me people rarely see, I stumbled across a site titled Love is an Exploding Cigar. This is a site that consists of comments by a group of seven authors of romance novels (I warned you about my quirk). The main thing that struck me about these women is the very ordinary, everyday, mundane (redundant?) lives they lead. Most of them have full time jobs and write when they have time. Yet, they produce a steady output of top-selling romantic fiction. I ran across this site after I read a novel by Jeannie Watt, one of Cigar’s authors, who, so far, has specialized in modern Western romances set primarily in Nevada’s Cowboy Country, a vast tract of emptiness populated mostly by cows, where Jeannie lives.

The Ax Files, authored by Alexandra Jones, is on the SF Bulldog site as well as on Open Salon. She is a captivating wordsmith already well known in the Bay Area who is now spreading her wings to a national audience with her recent, well-received debut on Open Salon. Check her out. I am sure you will like her. Lately, she has been chronicling her travels and has expressed a wish to travel more and record her impressions. At last word, she was on an Amtrak train out of Chicago bound for SF.

Give Peace a Chance is a site authored by Roseann Allen Mathews of Little Rock. She has a kidney ailment and is searching for a kidney donor. Several potential donors are being tested now, and it’s my fervent wish that the quality of her life improves measurably. On her site, she shares her experiences and her views on a variety of matters, including politics. When I found this site, I thought it amazing that anyone with a liberal political outlook lived in Arkansas. Happily, I was badly mistaken. The state isn’t quite as far to the right as I imagined.

In the first paragraph, I mentioned my last year’s list and included a link to it. All of the sites I mentioned are still on my preferred reading list. But a few need updating.

Sweet Melissa was a relative newcomer a year or so ago. Now, she’s at the pinnacle of political blogging in the Bay Area. She still maintains her Sweet Melissa site, but she is now syndicated in the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. But wait. There’s more. She participates regularly on talk radio programs and appears on television. She will go further one of these days.

Last year, I predicted that Beth Spotswood would someday become The World’s Most Famous Softhearted Blogger-Philosopher. I’m sticking with my prediction and expanding it. She will become The World’s Most Courageous Softhearted Blogger-Philosopher. Read her I’ll Flip You. Flip You for Real for her own personal account of her recent life. I am sure you will agree with me that she is a courageous woman indeed.

SF Willie is an outstanding philosopher-blogger whose insightful writings have remained at the highest level over the past year. I fully expect a continuation of his excellence. One thing to be careful about if you read SF Willie, he has more facts stored upstairs than an encyclopedia. Challenge him on a fact, and you will have dealt yourself a losing hand. Fold ’em before you watch all of your chips disappear.

The Fog City Journal remains my news outlet of choice for the in-depth analysis of political issues. Fog has a stable of outstanding writer and contributors, and their stories and analyses are often illustrated by the world-class photography of honcho Luke Thomas. One of the Fog’s top journalists is Elaine Santore, who writes the Crackberry Chronicles, a regular column about goings on among San Francisco’s political elite and City Hall denizens. She also authors occasional special features, and I would hope to see more of the latter in the coming year.

The CBS 5 Eye on Blogs site may technically be described as a blog accumulator rather than a blog. But a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. This is the go-to site for as complete a list of Bay Area blogs as you will find this side of Quadrant Four in the Galaxy M-40. But better yet, the site’s creator, Britney Gilbert, a transplanted Tennessean, selects the best of the comments from her list of indexed bloggers each day and summarizes them in her own captivating style. A serious blogger should check this site at least once a day.

Okay, I am exhausted. Time for a Diet Coke. Brown Nosing for Fame is hard work.

p.s Please let me know if one of these links doesn’t work. Attention to detail isn’t one of my strengths.

And site owners, operators, and writers, if I’ve misstated something about your site, let me know and I’ll correct it.

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This is the gist of a discussion posted in Facebook’s US Politics application. Here is the topic heading as it appeared in Facebook: “Topic: attention high-schoolers: please stop voicing your political opinions”

One would think that the ensuing discussion would have set an adult tone if for no other reason than to serve as an example for high-schoolers to emulate.

But, no. True, some comments reflected logic and reason, but a substantial number descended rapidly to the squalling baby level. If any high-schoolers read the comments, they might conclude that remaining in the crib for thirty-years or so is a preferred future for aspiring pundits and talking heads.

Somehow, the discussion became a shout-down between the pro-anti Ayn Rand group, which led me to believe that a student had read a book or two by Ayn Rand in a class on something or other and voiced his/her opinion.

That’s how high-school and college students learn. They read books, ask questions, and voice their opinions. More power to them.

Unfortunately, they also learn from the behaviors of the adults around them. And when a bunch of squalling adults engages in a food fight right in front of them, they think it’s acceptable behavior.

In a letter to the editor of the Fog City Journal, Ann Garrison commented on the loss of the UC Extension Annex. She said that she once attended the Extension because she either wanted or needed to know something.

Her most telling point was a simple statement: “Knowledge is not just power; knowledge is pleasure.”

Adults quite often dampen or outright kill the pleasure of learning for high-school and college students.

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