Thursday, July 10, 2008

“Hello Readers...Yes, We Need Ya...”

Your Humble LowerManhattanite Kicks Off This GNB Fundraising Post With The Bangin'est Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons Jam Ever Recorded, To Get The Ol' Tote Board A' Movin...

Well, this is an odd post for me. I normally try to bring you folks something informative in the way of news or analysis—or maybe I whip up a scalding pot of verbal / visual grits to be schwa-plapped “Al Green Style” at a deserving, offending target. There's snark, too. Even the occasional bit of video cobbled together in the hopes of rallying the right people (you), and pissing off the even-righter people (Oh, to be-numb the left arm of an enraged Vice-President for just ten measly seconds is all I ask, Lord...).

This post is none of the above—and I must say that what it is is sort of uncomfortable for me to put across, but I will, because it's damned necessary...

It's that time, people—our first time really, here at Group News Blog where I / we ask for you the readers / perusers to come off a little bit of coin and donate to GNB to cover our outlay for the special reportage we have coming up for you—namely, our in-person / on the ground presence at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this coming August. Now, I know “money's too tight to mention” for many of you out there. Times is tighter than a nun's...rusty old change-purse clasp. For everybody. Trust me. Situations and fortunes have changed for us all, readers and writers alike, and as we pinch pennies to get that extra gallon of gas, or scale back the vacation plans (in many cases—postponing them until times are better), or hell...switch to brown-bagging it in lieu of those pricey-ass bought lunches, we here at GNB absolutely understand the strictures you're under.

But bear with me as I lay a couple of things out for you.

We're going to Denver pretty much as a start-up “news” organization, and we'll be coming out of pocket for lodging, meals, probably gas, and all manner of extras (pay WiFi where we won't be able to all use what the arena will provide, copy services and computer extras, a spare laptop battery or two, perhaps a pass-around jump drive), and yes, digital video tape and so on for the multimedia things we've got planned for you.

Those costs'll mount, my damies. And with that, that's where you fine folks come in. I'll keep it real. I hate the idea of asking you, because from jump—the folks here have been all about giving to you. It's been a year since we kicked things off here, pulling ourselves from a month-long muck of sadness, post-the loss of “The Big Fella”...but we did it.

And I'll be damned if in spite of all the work to get the doors open and the shingle hung, it hasn't been a lot of fun. And one of the things that has made this so much fun for us, and ultimately a major labor of love is that it was a chance for us—Jesse, Sara, Hubris, L'il Gator and Evan—to do all the things we really liked and really wanted to see in a blog we ourselves would want to visit every day.

We may not have gotten it all right, but God-bless-it, we have busted our asses trying...working to bring you the very best we can bring you.

We sweat the details—and the big stuff too.

It's one thing to say it...but ironically in a case like this, visuals help mightily. Cue up the mighty, mighty Driftglass from a couple of days ago:

Dear Arianna,

Your Photoshopping sews socks that smell.

Yeah, sure, Poe once said “There is no exquisite beauty…without some strangeness in the proportion”, but this slovenly digital Hydrocephalism isn’t that.

This is just awful.


And, most importantly, entirely avoidable.

So consider this your…iconogenitory intervention, because this is just embarrassing. I mean, you laid out seriously Big Cake to buy yourself a top-shelf blog. Popped for the Mark Levinson Lexus LS 430 sound system. Killer rims. The Guerlain's KissKiss Gold and Diamonds Nipple Rouge.

And you get people like Alec Baldwin, Barack Obama, Walter Cronkite, Peggy Noonan, Jim Webb and most of the rest of the celestial chorus of Left, Center and Right Blogistan to write for you.

You’ve got Best Selling-book income. Speaking-gig income. Blog-ad income. And whatever you have left from the divorce.

(Emphasis mine—LM) And yet for all of the vast resources at your command,

you can't do better than this?


...the “art” is a fucking disgrace.

Look, I have no formal training in graphic arts. None. And my first Photoshop efforts were, well, nothing to blog home about, but shit, Arianna, I’m just a leeeeetle fella and I’m actually mortified for you. So as a public service to all the young ballplayers out there, let's break this failure down into coachable moments.

First, the web is a Visual Medium, so pick your palette accordingly. If you want to convey face-to-face conflict, pick some images where the story is already clear, sight-lines are clean and the choreography simple.

For example, would the average reader out there even catch on that the foundation for your graphic was this vid capture from...

“West Side Story”?

I sure didn’t.


Given your high profile, Arianna, and the resources you can bring to bear, there was no excuse for this shoddy workmanship; America’s coffeehouses, gentlemen's clubs, call centers, boxcars, and community college faculty lounges are full of unemployed and underemployed pixelslingers whose services are available for very reasonable rates.

Hell, available for reheated pizza and a pot of decent coffee.

Seriously, Arianna, how about bringing the visual content of your blog up to the same world-class professional level as the written content?

And to get you started in the right direction let me point you towards the proven graphic talents of these extremely gifted and politically-savvy artists:

Lower Manhattanite of the Group News Blog.

Mark Hoback at The Aristocrats

And Darkblack over at Darkblack.

Which prompted me to comment thusly:


Don't sell yourself short on “teh skillz” as you point out the third rail that these people kick like Robert Shaw in “The Taking Of Pelham 1,2,3” when they scrimp on the visuals.

You see, above and beyond my being a graphics professional for the last thirty-plus years (got my first sign-painting job when I was 11) and having a certain level of pride in presenting nice things to look at, there's also simple respect for one's readers to take into account. When I surf the web, and come across shitty accompanying graphics to a post or story...I always feel a little bit cheated. Like somebody just didn't care, and roughed some shit off without a thought.

That is a turn off and a half.

I sweat the details, as do you and DarkBlack and Mark because I realize this is a multi-media thing we do. It ain't just about the “command line” any more. Give the people that extra little something to make 'em laugh, or think, or at the very least stick in their heads a little bit in their hundreds of click-arounds during a day.

Plus, a well-done accompanying (or main) graphic gives what you put out there that much more resonance and depth when it works well.

It's one thing if the stuff is intentionally kitschy or roughed off to give a particular feel—but that HuffPo abomination is flat-out, “We don't care”.

We here at Group News Blog care. Straight up. The details are sweated big time.

Patrick Ewing in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter sweated, actually.

(Sweaty Pat Ewing graphic aid to show basic level of GNB dedication to you, the reader.

There's an absurd amount of outlining, fact-checking, assembly and yes...plain, old hard-ass writing that goes into the pieces we put before your eyes and minds. But as noted in Drifty's post excerpt above, and my ensuing comment to it—there's an awful lot of extras we try to give you to keep you interested, maybe a touch titillated, but mostly, to give you the very best, and most rounded experience when you deign to click over here to see what we have for you. There has been a very, very conscious effort from jump here to maximize your experience in every way possible. That includes the exclusive videos produced here under the Group News Blog banner. And all of this stuff takes an awful lot of work.

There's the sheer brain-power, and the basic editorial and artistic skills that goes into every post. And we pour our hearts and souls into this stuff—on occasion to the detriment of health because of working well past the fatigue point a workday, plus familial obligations and the other demands of life beyond blogtopia calls for.


Well...because as I said in the comment at Drifty's: “There's also simple respect for one's readers to take into account.”

We respect you. We care. We bust our asses every way we can. And thus, we come to you on the eve of the convention—a very expensive convention for us to cover, I might add (And that we'll be handling 95% of the bills for ourselves) to ask for a little help—as was said in Eddie Murphy's “Coming To America” “Donations! Donations!”

And to get those “Donations! Donations!” in hand, please visit our PayPal link here.

We don't half-step around here, folks. Because we want to give you the very best—writing and graphics-wise. Here's a little graphic I whipped up for a piece yet to come. You may recognize the poster and movie it spoofs...

That's how we roll...for you. So kick in what you can from your bank-roll, huh?

Trust won't be sorry.