Monday, May 16, 2011

Order Up

Long before this humble website became the internet's formeost venue for long-form politically oriented pizza criticism, it was intended to be something of a professional (snirk) site for me. I'd link to things I wrote and talk about them and maybe if I ever got business cards printed up I would even put it on those business cards. "Here," I'd say, "go to my website and check out my work." And were someone to actually do that they would find My Work as opposed to My 1600-word Pseud-Opus on Donald Trump and Papa John Schnatter or a heartfelt essay on stuffed crust pizza and The Culture. Those things are "my work" as well, and I'm proud of them beyond reason, but they're also not necessarily the sort of thing that leads to more work. Unless and until The Journal of Rambling and Impressionistic Food Studies launches a For Kids version, they're just things on a writer's website. Which I'm cool with, honestly. But I feel the need to counterbalance them with things that are a bit more professional-ish than that. So, then: here is some of that.

I had a very busy week last week, which was satisfying and unsatisfying in the usual ways. I published a great many words, was paid a small amount for a few of them and no money at all for the rest, and spent the week oscillating between cruising my twitter and refreshing my email for the This Makes It All Worth It props and wondering why I am still writing so often for free. The answer, it turns out, was the same as it has been since I wrote this a longish time ago: I'm happiest writing the stuff I care about most, and I write that stuff best, and few of the places that run things that open-ended are willing to pay for it. (That I'm not getting paid by GQ is a different and more complicated story, but boils down to a similar thing) (And also the GQ situation relates to the other part of writing for free, which is that it allows me to get read by people who might want to pay me later on) Anyway, here's a selection of what I wrote last week. I'm not going to mention what paid and what didn't -- it was, as usual, all a lot of fun. And also I live very frugally so whatever on the money thing for the time being, I guess.

- Twitter Is The Instrument: Meet Baseball's First Tweeting, Crowdsourcing Organist, from Wired's Playbook blog. I really enjoyed this one: it's a great story, and while the piece itself isn't incandescently brilliant in its prose or content or whatever else, writing stories like this is always, always fun for me. And I like Wired, so this felt cooler for that reason.

- Yakkin' About Baseball Part IV, with David Raposa. Nothing much to add to these. They happen every two weeks and make me very happy.

- Profiles in Obscurity, for GQ's Balls Out blog. This is the NBA Playoffs blog I'm doing with Bethlehem Shoals and an increasingly astonishing list of guest-writers -- we've had Tom Scharpling and Carles from Hipster Runoff, and Lang Whitaker and a bunch of others are in the pipeline. The original role I was to have there, I think, was sort of as a chat-specific Joke Monkey, and while I've enjoyed doing that, the editor has also given me room to do some other fun stuff. Most recently, that meant the opportunity to spoof over-the-top glossy magazine profiles by writing two-graf leads for profiles of NBA end-of-benchers. I did one for Troy Murphy and one for Royal Ivey, and there are others coming this week and they were a total blast. They also proved strangely controversial -- after a great response on the day they went up (Royal Ivey even retweeted his, which is amazing), some troll-y blogger dude from Oklahoma City with 5,000-odd followers and a big red face that made him look like a smug char shiu pork roast encouraged his followers to bomb me on Twitter as an offensive anti-Oklahoma bigot because of a joke I made in the Ivey piece about Oklahoma City's restaurant scene. That is, for a joke in a joke piece that was clearly labeled as such. So for a day I had a bunch of Okies calling me a moron and a faggot and so forth on Twitter. Being from New Jersey, I know how it feels to have someone make fun of your home state with no actual knowledge of the place. (Alternately, people who have only seen the Turnpike shred New Jersey for its ugliness, which is kind of like making fun of someone's face based upon a glimpse of that person's colonoscopy) That said, whatever sympathy I felt for these dudes dissipated fairly quickly and I wound up just retweeting the most offensive slag tweets and thanking my lucky stars that there was no such thing as a Twitter when I was young. Because, man, neither 16-year-olds nor (apparently) your more thin-skinned Oklahoma adults are ready for that sort of connectivity.

- And one last one, from this week, is this piece for the very great baseball blog Pitchers and Poets, in which I ruminate on Rico Brogna's Mets tenure -- and, more to the point, on my parents' cluttered home and my own dusty memory attic -- as part of their terrific '90s First Baseman Week. (Paul Sorrento had already been taken, sadly)

And that's that for now. Look how professional of me! I'll see you sometime later this week with 1300 words on McDonald's' "Mr. Snuggles" Sweet Tea/Diabetes Cooler commercial, I'm sure.

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