Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fear and Loafing

Somebody wake up Ben Bagdikian. Comes now word that Creative Loafing Inc., owner of eponymous alt-weeklies in Atlanta, Tampa, Sarasota and Charlotte, has added Washington City Paper and the Chicago Reader to its quiver. We confess to only a passing acquaintance with the Creative Loafing papers, though we've always regarded them as a sort of backwoods cousin to New Times Village Voice Media, Randy Quaid to VVM's Chevy Chase. Now they appear to be traveling upmarket. We'll spare you the standard handwringing and garment-rending over media consolidation, but we would like to offer one plea to the Chicago Reader's new Loafer overlords: Don't fuck with the Straight Dope.

Also: Don't forget to add your Andy Van De Voorde description to the pile below!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Who's the Man?

"He looks like a Holocaust survivor in a Men's Wearhouse suit." -- Current New Times VVM employee

Friends! As most New Times VVM team members know, there exists a mover and shaker within the company who inspires fear and offends fashion senses wherever he slithers. His name: Andy Van De Voorde (hereafter known as, "VDeV"). A shadow dweller, he is the New Times VVM hatchet man who fires staffers across the land without notice or explanation, tweaking the organization (well, such as it is) to ensure its readership receives only the best journalism, week in, week out (i.e. stories about dicks).

But, as we learned recently, not all New Times VVM scribes are savvy enough to understand their employer's canny style of management. More to the point: Few staffers, we realized, would be able to recognize VDeV even if he molted on their keyboard. And thus, in the spirit of helping others, we hereby announce a new little endeavor: Those of you in the know, would you kindly leave in the comments section -- anonymously, if you choose -- your best description of Mr. VDeV, just like the one above? Using the descriptions, we will enlist the services of a sketch artist to render the visage of VDeV, so that future generations of VVM employees will recognize the embodiment of cold death before he arrives with their walking papers. You can also probably poop on the drawing if you like. Let's have some fun!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot ...

Our vigilant interest in New Times Village Voice Media has taught us many important lessons (when in doubt, think with your dick, for instance), and this week we once again learn that in one's pursuit of that heady, chode-scented brew of sod and sweat ( ahem), one is never exempt from the swift steel of the guillotine. We can only imagine that the human resources department of New Times Village Voice Media is a busy, busy place.

LA Observed reports on the departure of Kate Sullivan (her blog is here, but she didn't grant us permission to read it -- don't tell her we sent you). She is being replaced by Randall Roberts of the highly-esteemed Riverfront Times, who proves he's a dutiful soldier in New Times' Village Voice Media's assault on language by saying, "My plan all along was to be in LA. Getting the job was the icing." (His inscrutable blog is here.) The analogy brings to mind that timeless chestnut from web-guru-cum-music-writer Bill Jensen: "At some point, the bullshit gets so thick that you have to flush the toilet and clear the air."

Speaking of Bill, the SFist posted a letter from his departing underling, SF Weekly web editor Matt Stroud, who apparently doesn't know how to take marching orders from vaguely threatening out-of-town bosses, and who was a little put off when he realized said bosses were encouraging a bit more bloodlust in a publicity-stunt boxing match with a crosstown rival from the SF Bay Guardian. Seriously. Needless to say, this seems hilariously ill-timed for the Weekly.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Alt-Country -- Highlights From the World of Weeklies

An Alt-Weekly Death Watch contributor recently made the comment: Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in. Yes, AWDW took a break. But shit, these talented fuckers didn't, and it became so painful to sit on the sidelines and watch as they practiced Extremely Powerful Feature Writing that we simply couldn't help ourselves. So then, to the magic...

Alt-Weekly Death Watch is having a contest! The first person to forward us the memo instructing New Times VVM staff writers to write thousands of words about boobies, butts and dicks will receive a signed copy of Mike Lacey's vagina. Seriously, what's wrong with these people?

With the recent departure of Michael Tortorello, that just about completes the mass exodus of Minneapolis City Pages editorial staff members that took place in the wake of New Times VVM's acquisition of the paper and subsequent installment of the clearly talented and genial Kevin Hoffman as Editor in Chief. Are we the only ones to notice that the irony in New Times VVM's constant bragging about all the awards it receives is that it is also constantly chasing away its award-winning journalists?

Wait a second, wait a second -- really?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Masterpiece (Of Shit) Theatre Presents: The Ghost in the Machine

INT. OFFICE – NIGHT. A pervading sense of despair, futility, and dread fills the SF Weekly newsroom. Suddenly, out of the chilling gloom, a thundering, ghostly voice – not unlike Sam Elliott’s, only meaner and without a lick of his frontier soul – shakes the walls, and Managing Editor Will Harper’s eyes dart around the room, trying to find its source.

VOICE: Will Harper … Will Harper … This is the fax machine talking. Do I sound like a guy you’d want to mess with?

HARPER: No, oh great voice in the machine. You sound like Mike Lacey.

VOICE: Goddammit, I thought we fixed that. Oh, well, at least it fooled the Justice Department. (Beep) I am spitting out a piece of paper. (Beep) It’s your next story. We already have a headline: “Unfair Lawsuit Act.” The folks here in Phoenix think that’s a really catchy title. And get a load of the deck: “SF Weekly moves to dismiss the Guardian's lawsuit, which is light on witnesses and evidence.”

HARPER: Wow, that’s just the kind of unprejudiced fact-finding that separates the Weekly from those lefty rags like the Guardian.

VOICE: Put that in the story! Oh, and in the first paragraph, you’ll point out that I grew up in New York, and that I am “famously unafraid of a fight in life or business.”

HARPER: “Famously?”

VOICE (as the lights on the fax machine blink an angry red): YES, FAMOUSLY!

HARPER: Okay, okay. But won’t any intelligent reader see this article as a transparent, desperate attempt by a megalomaniacal owner to use his own newspaper to pursue a personal vendetta against his competitor? We don’t pay that much attention to local news, especially local news that nobody else is writing about. This story is over 2,500 words -- hell, we wouldn’t write that much if the mayor was found face-down in a pile of coke.

VOICE: Well … we would if his transvestite lover found him, and if the mayor had a myspace page. But I see your point: That’s why you’ll make a “full, if obvious, disclosure” that I’m your boss. And at the end of the story, long after everyone’s done reading, and after extensively quoting Village Voice Media lawyers, our hired experts, and, of course, myself, you’ll quote Daniel Farber, a free-speech expert at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall, who will call our argument “intriguing but not persuasive.”

HARPER (reading out loud): “After the Weekly described the argument and the case cited to him, Farber said, ‘It seems like a stretch to me.’” Ouch.

VOICE: We’ve had him dealt with. Any other questions, my boy? I have to tell Hoffman which underpants he’s wearing to the staff meeting tomorrow.

HARPER: Only one. Does this story count against my quota?

VOICE (fading into the ether): Of course … it was your idea!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Alt-Country: Last Week in Weeklies

Things from the woolly world of alt-weeklies that blew our minds and tightened our vaginas:

Exquisite turn of phrase: "Her labia would chafe from friction when she jogged."

Second-laziest attempt at justifying shopworn alt-weekly story staple: "Cockfighting has long been big in Ohio."

: "It's official, cocaine is back."

Most honest sentence in (full, obvious) suck-up job: "Full, if obvious, disclosure: Lacey is my boss." (More on this later)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cover, You're Ass

Just because New Times VVM is splattering about the sea of the Blogosphere, begging its writers to contribute to its ever-expanding list of crap blogs for little or no extra money, that doesn't mean it's ignoring the tried-and-true tenets of old school journalism, namely -- put some boobies on your cover! Congratulations, Phoenix New Times! That cover is ass!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bylines? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Bylines

Are we back? Who knows. Is this a new post? It sure is. Here at AWDW, we are occasionally accused of not using bylines. Without dredging through those icky comments from months back -- in which ostensibly professional New Times VVM journalists sought to discredit our enterprise (which admittedly seeks to discredit theirs) by stomping around the playground screaming, "BYLINE! BYLINE! FAGGOT! MY DICK IS BIGGER THAN YOURS!" -- let us simply point you to a notable curiosity that occurred this week, in a piece where Mike Lacey flung poo at SF Bay Guardian honcho Bruce Brugmann for the umpteenth time. As it originally appeared online, Mr. Lacey's byline was sittin' right there, like so:

Then, shortly thereafter, it disappeared entirely. Like so:

Why would Mr. Lacey want to have his byline pulled? Could it be because the notion of a busy executive editor of a 17-paper chain (and such a dignified one at that) running around flinging poo at indisputably smaller competitors might be construed as, well, embarrassing? Who can say. At the time of this writing, the byline, like Bigfoot and New Times VVM's dignity, remain missing. If you have information leading to the whereabouts of any of these things, you know where to find us.