blog, sweat, and tears


Posted in Uncategorized by mcw2424 on November 16, 2009

I happened across this ad in the services section under the tab creative and was immediately drawn to the title. This woman is offering a variety standard house care services – child care, pet sitting, green house cleaning – but I feel that there might be a story tied to the diva title she designates for herself. It seems unlikely that someone would designate themselves with such a tag if they do not have a vibrant personality, which would work well in an interview. She also has past experience as a former daycare owner and for 30 years as a nurse, from which stories could arise. It may end up not being worthy of followup upon inquiry, but I have a sneaking suspicion there is something to this ad.

This ad posted under legal services also caught my attention. It is for Rollie McCarter Investigative Services, who offers private investigation for a number of circumstances. Obviously they have a number of stories and I think an interesting perspective to the story could be a comparison of how p.i.’s are portrayed on television and in the movies versus real life. This one may also prove to be difficult because I am not sure how willing they would be to talk about past cases. May be worth following up on though.



The Digital Buddhas

Posted in Uncategorized by mcw2424 on November 16, 2009

Here is a podcast that compliments my story on the Disco Biscuits in NoHo, which can be found two posts below.


Posted in Uncategorized by mcw2424 on November 9, 2009

I have never been to Cincinnati and from all accounts of people I know who have in fact been to the city, I never intend to vacation there. All preconceived notions aside, I decided upon the website of their primary newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, to review.

Upon first glance, the website has many of the features I would look for if I lived in the area and needed a quick dose of up-to-the-minute news, including weather and traffic. The ‘Find It Fast’ bank on the right of the page also seems like a helpful amendment as it contains many non-news related features people actually would pick up a paper to find – classifieds, lottery results, sudoku, etc.

The ordering of the news on the website kind of threw me off, as I would expect the most important news to be towards the top of the page, however right after local news, they have obituaries listed. Placing this toward the bottom of the page or at least behind the Ohio or national news section would seem to make the most sense in terms of grabbing reader’s attention. People come to the website to peruse the news and if someone was in fact logging on to find an obituary, I’m sure they could probably do the proper searching.

Also, not the best look for a news website is the link to a photo album from a ‘Naughty Neon Party,’ containing a bunch of bug-eyed 20-something’s at what appears to be some incarnation of a rave. Again, okay to have somewhere on the site as it pertains to local nightlife, but probably not the best look to be so predominately displayed on the front page.

The bar at the top of the page containing the various sections of news is also a little hard to navigate as when it is scrolled over, it produces two drop down menus, both containing the same links.

Overall, the site appears quite jumbled and would benefit from less information. The storie headlines are really bunched together and difficult to skim through. For example, the Boston Globe website has a similar National and World news section with two links to stories and then a link to the main National/World news page, compared to the ten crammed into a comparable space on the Enquirer page.

The website most likely becomes easier to navigate upon repeated visits, but for people who wander onto the site looking for a particular story, I can see how it could be quite burdensome.

Arrests surrounding Disco Biscuits Northampton concerts

Posted in Uncategorized by mcw2424 on November 2, 2009

Bassist Marc Brownstein peered into the crowd Saturday night, grinning from ear to ear, and the crowd stared right back, eagerly anticipating his next move.

bisco band

Disco Biscuits on stage Saturday night

“This is such a great crowd here in Northampton. We fucking love you,” said Browstein, before launching into a cover of Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” signifying the next stop on their current 32-date fall tour. The Disco Biscuits had succeeded in blowing the doors off a nearly sold-out Calvin Theatre for a second consecutive night and the venue was brimming with swaying hands and bobbing heads.

Outside was a completely different story, however, as the police geared up in an attempt to curb a repeat performance from last January. When the band played the theatre on Jan. 16 and 17, there were 14 drug related arrests and six were transported to the local Cooley Dickinson hospital to be treated for apparent drug overdoses.

During the band’s Oct. 9 and 10 residency at the Calvin Theatre, Northampton police made 49 arrests as a result of numerous drug and alcohol sweeps performed in the neighborhood parking lots, alleyways, streets and local hotels by uniformed and plainclothes officers. Most of the arrests were made at the Quality Inn hotel, located a couple blocks from the venue.

Confiscated was a laundry list of drugs, including more than 600 hits of LSD, 45 grams of cocaine, two nitrous oxide tanks, and varying amounts of Ecstasy, Klonopin, Xanax, mushrooms and a number of class E prescription medications.

Eric Suher, who runs Iron Horse Entertainment Group that owns the Calvin, allowed local authorities to heighten police presence by permitting officers inside the theatre. By most accounts, their efforts seemed futile.

“I saw one group of kids pool together $100, buy a huge bag of K[etamine, a common animal tranquillizer, used recreationally to create a state of dissociative anesthesia], and proceed to sniff the entire bag off a key,” said concertgoer Sean Grealish of a drug deal he witnessed inside the venue. “It was really pretty disgusting.”

Of the total of 63 arrests made at the four Northampton Disco Biscuits concerts this year, only two were of local residents. The other 61 were of people who traveled from outside the Western Mass area to see the band.

Not all arrests were for drug related. Of the 49 October arrests, 37 were for open containers or underage possession of alcohol.

The band has a checkered past with drug use at their shows. In July, a college student from California that attended the Disco Biscuits annual festival in upstate N.Y., Camp Bisco, was arrested at the Albany International Airport for attempting to board a plane with seven Ecstasy pills, two sheets of LSD and a small amount of marijuana.

The band does not condone drug use in any way. A group of fans unite at shows under the name The Digital Buddhas, after the namesake of one of their songs, to promote and support “clean and sober Disco Biscuit fans that love to get down and dirty,” according to their mission statement on their website. They set up a table at most shows and host a meeting during set breaks to discuss their experiences at the night’s show.

“The Buddhas’ approach to recruiting members is through attraction rather than promotion,” says east coast regional coordinator Daniel Hertz. “We have no opinion on drugs, but [we] exist and function solely to provide support for each other, so we can go in groups and have a great time at shows.”

In January, Brownstein was quoted saying he was surprised at the amount of arrests at the Northampton shows. “It’s really unfair to the 99 percent of our fans who are good kids,” Brownstein said.

They are currently on a break before resuming their tour on the 28th in Kalamazoo, Mich. The tour is in support of their new album, Planet Anthem, set to be released early in 2010.

bisco billboard Question

Posted in Uncategorized by mcw2424 on November 2, 2009

Your website focuses covers a wide range of areas (Idaho to New Mexico). What is the difference in content posted on your main site ( and the sub-blogs that focus on specific locales? Is there any overlap in content that goes between the multiple sites? Is it your belief that a story based in Bozeman be of interest to a reader in New Mexico?

Audacity of Hope

Posted in Uncategorized by mcw2424 on October 26, 2009

Controversy surrounding the now iconic Obama “Hope” poster arose in January of this year when a blogger uncovered that the photo originally attributed as the basis for the poster, a Reuters photo, was not in fact the image used by artist Shepard Fairey in creating the poster. Rather the picture is of Obama at a 2006 media event to raise awareness for Dafur, taken by Mannie Garcia for the Associated Press. In turn, The A.P. claimed Fairey owed them credit and compensation. Fairey sued The A.P. in February seeking declaratory judgment on the basis that he had the right to use the image under the “fair use” entitlement of copyright law. The A.P. countersued in March saying he misappropriated their image. The story has since been brought to the forefront of national attention as on Oct. 16, Fairey admitted to using The A.P. photo in creating his poster and then destroying evidence to hide that fact.

Associated Press

Associated Press

The “fair use” clause is a slippery slope because there have been a number of cases throughout history that have created a blurred precedence, as detailed by Greg Lastowka in the NPR piece. Fairey is claiming that he used the profit from the sales of the posters only to create more posters, therefore his use of the image was non-commercial and protected under fair use. The other claim is that the his image is transformative. Rather than using the image for strictly news reporting purpose, he is transforming the meaning behind the image to create a political statement.

One has to wonder how much the outcome of the case will truly effect Fairey. If he loses the case, there will  be a redistribution of the profit earned from the image, but Fairey has claimed that he hasn’t made any money from his work. Also, the media attention garnered by this story and the sheer cultural impact of his poster, Fairey has already earned himself a recognized name. This goes a long way in the art world as people will now be seeking out and anticipating future work of his. Obviously he has shot himself in the foot by admitting to destroying the evidence, as his defense team has since withdrawn from his case, but one would have to admit that Fairey’s fifteen minutes of fame is far from over.

progressive republican

Posted in Uncategorized by mcw2424 on October 16, 2009

Here is a link to a story I did for Amherst Wire on Meghan McCain coming to UMass to deliver her talk entitled “Redefining Republican: No Labels. No Boxes. No Stereotypes”

Meghan McCain

Meghan McCain

Three Story Ideas

Posted in Uncategorized by mcw2424 on October 5, 2009

Here are three researched story ideas for Monday’s (10/5) class:


1) The Disco Biscuits are playing two concerts this weekend at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton  MA. I happened to be in attendance the last time they played the venue in January and I noticed a heavy cop presence outside the venue. Tuesday after the show I found a Mass Live article stating that there had been 14 arrests for drug violations and nearly a half dozen taken to the hospital for suspected overdosing. There were also reports that police assistance at the Hotel Northampton, across the street from the venue, was needed. For my report, I would like to answer the question as to why the band is being asked back to play the area if their fan base is a cause of so much concern? It would be worth my while to talk to the Northampton police to see how they are gearing up for the shows, the hotels in the area to see if they are taking any precautions for the two nights, and most importantly, someone from the venue (manager, promoter, etc) to get information on why the band had been invited back. Clearly there is a liability that there may be a repeat incidents and I would ask questions about whether the money made from two near sold out performances outweighs any potential risks. The story could be pitched to any number of local area news sources (Gazette, Mass Live) because the people that live in Northampton would have a vested interest in what goes on in their town.

2) Road work has been heavy on campus this semester, notably at the intersection of N. Pleasant St. and Governors Dr. I have heard a lot of people wondering what the purpose of the construction is and have heard speculation from new sidewalks to a rotary. A story on the construction would serve as a informational piece on the work being done. It would be informational to the students as most who live in the North Amherst/Sunderland area are effected by the traffic delays when traveling to and from campus. Ed Blaguszewski, Director of News and Media Relations (413/545-2986), would be a good source, as I have talked to him about stories in the past and he has a grasp on what is happening around campus. It would also be good to ask him when the construction began and why it was not completed over the summer. The story could be pitched to the Collegian for the reasons I stated above.

3) Another story that may be of interest to students is about towing in the area. I lived in the Townhouses last year and Thursday-Saturday nights it is impossible to go outside and not see a bevy of cars being towed out of the parking lot. I know dozens of acquaintances who have had their car towed at the cost of $140, extremely steep price for a college student. And have heard numerous complaints about lack of signs designating guest parking and general lack of guest parking. I have also heard rumors about the tow company, Ernie’s Towing, having ties to the security in the area. I would talk to the people in the office at the Townhouses, someone from Ernie’s, and reach out to students who have had negative encounters with the process. I also know that the Townhouses only issues two free parking passes for each household, problematic for kids that live with three or four people, as each additional pass is $100 for the year. The story could be pitched to the Collegian as it effects students that live in the complex and could act as a warning for students that are considering moving there in the future.


Taking a Hint

Posted in Uncategorized by mcw2424 on September 28, 2009

Following yesterday’s post concerning my recent struggles with public transportation, one can only imagine the glee encountered when I uncovered this Collegian article while searching for a blog idea.

Outlined is a newly instilled PVTA program, available for iPhone or BlackBerry, that will send you e-mails or texts when the bus is running off schedule. As soon as I’m finished with this post, I’m heading over here and installing.

The program uses Google Maps in coordination with a tracker on the bus and while this would exponentially reduce my stress level in an ideal world, there have been reported glitches that cause freezing.

Expect a mid-week post detailing my own endeavors with the new technology.

Amherst turns 250

Posted in Uncategorized by mcw2424 on September 28, 2009


Despite unsavory weather conditions, the locals came out in droves to Sunday afternoon’s parade celebrating the 250th anniversary of Amherst.

The parade, composed of your typical fare, including, but not limited to, horses, cop cars, and even Ninja Turtles, began at Amherst College and finished at the Haigis Mall on UMass campus.

parade love notes

My parade experience began when I arrived at the route following my rain soaked trek from my car, parked about a mile away because of excessive road closures, and to my surprise there was a larger crowd than I had anticipated, umbrellas and rain coats abound.

I was able to catch a first hand glimpse of how the local businesses were affected by the parade as I searched out a dry area to sneak in and catch a glimpse of the Patriots game before the parade began. The Spoke, was packed with people ready for celebration, as evidenced by the large crowd outside on the patio. Too much for my solo self to deal with.

Instead, I ducked into Stacker’s where I caught the first two drives. Almost empty besides one other customer, provided evidence that the parade did not provide a universal boost in local business. Some companies, such as Loose Goose, set up stands outside their shops providing parade-goers with the opportunity to grab a hot beverage, but even those looked largely unfruitful.

Once underway, I moseyed outside to take in some of the sights and sounds.

parade hampshire farm

Considering how big of a part the school plays in the town’s infrastructure, the UMass community was surprisingly absent from much of the parade proceedings, both in the crowd and the actual parade.

The core audience was composed of parents with their children, elderly and high school kids. Perhaps it was the rain or the draw of Sunday football, but their was a clear lack of representation of the college demographic.

The parade itself was entertaining enough for the 45 minutes I stayed. The participants mostly consisted of floats entered by local businesses, youth dance troupes, and horses, lots of horses.

The crowd reaction was mostly positive, perhaps encouraged by the break in rain around the start time. “Of course it rains today for the first time in a month,” says long time Amherst resident Mark Davis, huddled under a canopy with a group of family and friends. But he stressed the importance of the event, stating, “This parade represents the long standing history of Amherst.”

While the parade did not do anything to distinguish itself from other parades, there was no doubt a heightened sense of community apparent on this day of historical celebration.

parade pirates