Sunday, January 18, 2009


Well, the Brooklyn Baby is sleeping a lot better since the last entry. I think the culprit was that we had stopped giving her baby Zantac. She's nine months old now and we had thought her digestive system was up to it, but after she went off it she began to stay awake, and cry as has already been exhaustively documented elsewhere in this blog.

Now she's just starting to crawl, but she hates to crawl forward. She can move backwards pretty efficiently, and that's all well and good, but most of us don't go through life walking backwards. Even crabs move sideways.

She's trying to do it, but it's scary to her. In fact last week I walked into her bedroom as, for the very first time, she tried to do it. Randi, the Brooklyn Baby Momma was behind her and Stella Rae was on her hands and knees. She had what can only be described as a determined look on her face. This is when I entered the room.

"C'mon, you can do it!" Randi cheered. "C'mon. Crawl!"

Stella, and this is no lie, steadied herself and--honest to blog--made the decision that she was going to crawl forward. It was an amazing thing to see. Her eyes got focused, her face assumed a mask of defiance, and she set her body to do it. This was a revelation. Right then and there I learned something about human nature. We DECIDE to crawl. We don't just do it because of some nameless instinct that covers our bases evolutionarily. It's a choice made by babies, and it's fraught with risk and reward like all human endeavors. The reward, as we all know, is obvious. But the risks? Not so much so.

But here was the risk. To crawl forward Stella Rae rocked back and forth a few times and then, like a sprinter exploding from the starting blocks, she kicked her back legs out, and her little body SPRUNG forward. So much so that her little arms and hand weren't ready for it, and she did a complete and total face plant on her play mat. She, in effect, did the motion we do for leap-frog, without the part where you land it. Instead she just fell flat.

And then, oh, the tears. You can imagine, I'm sure.

But Randi and I were so proud. In fact I kind of laughed as she cried, which maybe sounds horrible, but you have to understand how amazing it was for me to see this. My little girl decided to do something and she did it. She didn't succeed at it, and she's been kind of guy shy about crawling ever since, but I feel so lucky that I got to see this in person. It would have been so easy to miss. Timing truly is everything.

Now she's, I think, decided that maybe she's not so crazy about this whole crawling thing anyway, and is trying to leap-frog (sorry Stella for the callback!) to standing and then, presumably, walking. She's holding herself aloft with admirable posture, even though her muscle control and balance isn't quite there yet and might not be for some time. But she's an independent lass, and will do things, as best as she can, her way.


I just escaped a massive round of layoffs at my firm, a well-known media company that shall go un-named here. It is a strange thing, scary and invigorating at the same time, kind of like a near death experience, at least as far as our money goes.

The magazine era truly is over. Most of the cuts were from the print side, and this is a great tragedy. I still think magazine are the most efficient way of telling a detailed, but still current, story. The web is fantastic for current news, but people generally won't read anything of length, or even that is more than one page. As I've found out on my job that's not an opinion, that's just a fact.

But it is what it is. And as much admiration and love as I have for magazines, and I do, I can't say I was sorry at all to move to the web side of where I work. It had a faster pace, the newsroom had a much flatter hierarchy (the magazine always had an institutionalized pecking order that you had to pay heed to) and it's more of a writer's medium.

The latter point might seem counter-intuitive to some reading this. Aren't magazines the ultimate medium for a writer short of novels? Well, no. At least not where I worked. The magazine, you see, was an EDITOR's medium, not a writer's. We would report the story and write a draft but the editors made it into what you saw on the page. If that meant pretty much re-writing it from scratch, so be it. In my years at the magazine I saw very few stories that didn't get any changes in tone or voice somewhere to reflect the editorial point of view and institutionalized biases of the top editors. And, worse--at least for me--after a while I realized that if I wrote in that voice I had a better chance of getting a story in the mag with a minimum of drama. I can't say I did this a lot, but there were times I would be surprised to find myself writing in the crotchety, older-guy voice that I heard in my head at all times. It didn't happen often, but I was aware of it, and had to be on guard against it.

Of course I would also write things that, I thought, were very much in my voice, and were good, too. And they would still come out on the page as if they were written by a crotchety, smarty-pants, old guy. I guess they couldn't help themselves.

So, compared to that the web is very much a writer's medium. Mainly because so much copy has to move so fast that there is no time for re-writing everything. And also because it's just not the nature of the beast. You can have a perfectly enclosed world view in a magazine. In fact it's a goal. Playboy attempts to basically have the essence of Hef in every page for good or bad. Esquire is for the wanna-be poon hound and "man's man" who thinks he should dress better. GQ is for that same guy, only with more money. Those are correlating examples, and all for men's magazines, but I think you get the idea.

But the web doesn't allow for this kind of unity. It's far too messy, far too sprawling and thanks to the global nature of the web itself reaches far too many places. Add in user comments and you have a whole new can of worms. Our top editor keeps the machine rolling, and edits things when he needs to but he doesn't have the same need for control that I had seen elsewhere. But he still has control. It's kind of a paradox. The more loosy-goosey nature of editing a big website requires a less monopolistic editing style in order to stay in business. So that it can grow. Meanwhile every iron-handed print editor has seen his or her empire crumble.


Lauren said...

Glad to see that you're safe to write another day, Dave - and that Stella's doing well. I'm sure that she'll start walking well before our kid, who's content to pull herself across the floor on her stomach.

David Serchuk said...

Hi Lauren,
I survive for now, we shall see 6 mos. from now. Stella is now standing, but still hates to crawl. It's like it's beneath her.

And a kid that drags herself across the floor can at least be used in place of dusting. ;-).