Posts Tagged ‘newspapers’

The carcass is still alive, or why you won’t see me at City-Wide Open Studios this weekend

October 18, 2012

First a shirt factory, then a newspaper, now a newspaper and an art gallery, at least for the weekend. Photo: Thomas MacMillan/New Haven Independent.

City-Wide Open Studios is New Haven’s annual (15th) autumnal art cornucopia, where dozens of artists throw open their doors, literally and figuratively, to thousands of visitors over three weekends in October.

And for the first time in nine years, the prodigal daughter, returned from California, was able to partake in CWOS — the L.A.M.P. Festival, whose pretty lights lured the moths of the art world to downtown the first Friday night of the month; and some of last weekend’s gems at one of the festival’s anchor sites, the studios at Erector Square. (Let’s just say you sometimes appreciate things more when you move away, then return …)

But I’m taking a pass on this final weekend (Oct. 20-21), the traditional Alternate Space portion of their program. No way in hell am I going. (Apologies to Colin Burke, who did his damndest to try to get me to see his camera obscura, which will be in an old delivery truck in the parking lot.) Too painful for me.

This year’s alternate space happens to be the New Haven Register building. The artists have pitched their figurative tents and canvas and other media where — until March, when the Journal Register Company contracted its printing and distribution to The Hartford Courant — the printing press and the mailroom were situated and people were gainfully employed.

It’s the place where I crammed at least 25 years’ worth of work into 11 1/2 years, producing the Weekend section and interviewing hundreds of legendary and not-so-legendary performers as the entertainment editor/music writer. (It was two and a half full-time jobs in one 55-to-60-hour week for one wretched paycheck.) It’s a place where I worked my ass off, a place where I did a damn good job for too long despite a lot of obstacles, a place that almost killed me, literally. (In this case, a brutal case of sleep apnea that started percolating in New Haven and exploded three years after I moved to California.)

And now, it’s being used as an alternate art space for CWOS. That’s usually reserved for buildings where the business is dead and gone — say, the Smoothie Building, in between its days as an undergarment factory and an overpriced apartment building; or the Armstrong Building, the striking, stilted, early-’60s structure along Long Wharf, after its days as headquarters for Armstrong and Pirelli Tires and before becoming a vacant ornament at the entrance to the Ikea parking lot.

In this case, though, the carcass’ heart is still beating, if ever faintly. As someone who gave her all to newspapers for three decades — and most especially in that place — I don’t know whether this weekend saddens me or just plain pisses me off.

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Well, here comes my next step, ready or not — help!

July 2, 2012

The exit off 84 in Waterbury that will get me home.

This is something I just posted on my Facebook wall …

Monday, July 2, 2012, 3:30 a.m. PDT

Well, friends, friendly faces and kinfolk …

I don’t know how I’m gonna do this, but just past halftime of 2012 — this year of great change — great change is finally hitting me. And, ready or not, I have no choice.

I’ve pondered this the last two days — told my mother and a handful of friends — and up until this past evening, I wasn’t 100 percent sure. And even now, as I polish and finish this letter I started two days ago, it feels somewhat surreal. But after recording my lead vocals last night for “Out of Step” with The Backstabbers for the forthcoming Reducers tribute album, I feel I’ve done the last thing I’ve needed to finish here in Fresno.

Drazzle drazzle, drazzle drone — time for this one to come home.

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Life in Limboland, Part 1: ‘He’ — or what the hell AM I, really?

April 23, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I kinda sorta rejoined the work world last September. The Fresno Bee, the newspaper that brought me out here eight years ago from Connecticut — and the very place that laid me off three years ago — brought me back, as an on-call copy editor.

Things would be different this time, though, as befitting a newspaper and staff that had been decimated over the previous three years — no benefits, and the hours weren’t set in stone. But since the rest of the already-stretched staff was facing furloughs the final quarter of last year, it meant, between that and the regular staffers’ sick days, that I would pretty much get full-time hours.

Okay, not ideal. But after 2 1/2 years without a job, four months after the unemployment ran out, and being fucked with every way to Sunday by the work world — more than 300 resumes sent out, 99.9 percent of them without the decency of even a “Fran, you suck” in return, and the few places that interviewed me treating me terribly — it was a huge sigh of relief to be able to make something resembling a living again.

I could pay the rent, pay off some bills, pay down the credit cards, and pay for some doctor bills should I need to. And, as it turned out, the money came in handy when my car was totaled a month later and I needed another one. And I came back to a lot of open arms and hugs from my ex-and-once-again colleagues. That was great. And I think it said something to the world at large that, in the midst of the newspaper industry’s self-destruction, the paper that laid me off thought enough of me to bring me back. And, for the first time, as a woman.

And, for the first time in a long time, I would feel useful. That’s a powerful thing. The worst aspect of my distended unemployment hell wasn’t the fear of being broke, as stressful as that was — it was the uselessness. The constant messages of worthlessness hammered into me from the world at large, and from God — whatever God is — itself. Try fighting that in the midst of the stress that comes with a gender transition, willya?

It was a good thing, going back to the Bee. It wasn’t going to be forever, but it would get me on my feet. And all would be well — a great springboard to much better things.

Well, seven-and-a-half months later, I find myself rut-stuck — trapped, even — in Limboland. For one, the Bee is in such straits that, even in a quarter of more furloughs, my hours were slashed to, for all intents, nothing two weeks ago. No warning, either — went from three-, four-, five-day weeks to one day scheduled in the coming month. I was called in last night, and it was the first work I had in nearly two weeks. My next scheduled day is two Sundays from now. Nothing after that.

And again, I find myself with no job prospects, not knowing where to turn. Same as a year ago. And the year before that. And the year before that. But that will all be another post, I guess.

But just as badly, I’m going through another nifty little bit of limbo that has me questioning everything all over again.

It all has to do with two little letters, which I hear a lot:

“he.”

Leading to the inevitable follow-up:

“What the hell AM I?”

I won’t go through this again.

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