Friday, April 24, 2009

Thank You Daily Star

A couple weeks ago I was walking out of work with a colleague.
"You know," the person said, "If someone in our newsroom got sick, nobody would help out, nobody would visit that person. It's not like the police or firemen who take care of their own. It's just not like that here."
Right now the daily newspaper industry is going through seismic changes. Storied newspapers that have served communities for decades, sometimes more than a century, have gone under. The reasons why are complicated and I don't want to write a treatise on the demise of daily newspapers. Save it for the media fellows in institutions and universities across the country.
We had another round of layoffs this week. The fourth, maybe fifth, round since I arrived.
It's been hard on everyone. Unified is not a word I would use to describe my newsroom.
Nearly two years ago I discovered the tumor in my testicle. Before we could conclusively say I had cancer, I had to go into the hospital to remove my testicle and wait for the results of the biopsy. The surgery had me laid out for two weeks.
At the time I had barely reached my eligibility for health care at the Arizona Daily Star. After all, I had been there about nine months. I didn't have much time accrued for sick days off.
So my colleagues -- reporters, editors, staff and even the publisher -- pooled their resources together and helped me out. People donated their sick days. The human resources staff tweaked my paperwork to make sure everything was covered by health care. People called. People wrote. People visited me. Gifts were sent.
Everyone helped me. There's a lot of people I still need to thank in person. There are people to which I will forever be grateful. Words will never be enough.
With all the changes in this industry and all the desperation at the Daily News, I started thinking about my friends at the Daily Star.
Thank you. Sincerely.
Thanks for helping me. And thank you, years later, for being an example of a newsroom that helps its own.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back...sort of

My hands are filthy. They look old...dry, worn, cracked, old. Im tired. I'm having some strawberry thingy at a starsmucks. My bike broke down and im waiting for a ride. Ive put this off for awhile now...i figured this time is as good as any. My hands hurts though. More and more i see my hands taking shape of the grips off my bike...curled, doted with spots of dryed on grease and dead bugs. My hands are really filthy. Back in mid November, my Grandfather died. It was called complications of cancer. I dont know what that means. The night he died, his potassium dropped and he crashed. I knew right away cause i heard the phone ring...followed by screams and tears.

I dont talk about it much. I dont know why. I figured, thats the way he would have wanted it. Don't worry about...would something he'd say. I try not to. Following David's death, I spoke at this funeral. I didnt hold back...I said God Damn in church. Thats how david was...God Damn this and God damn that. Made me smile when i told a story how he used that little phrase for just about everything. Thats who he was. As happy as i was to see my grandpa pass on...let me back up a bit and clarify. When he went into the hospital, I sort of knew he wasnt coming back home. And he didint. He spent the last few weeks of his life in a hospital and a convalescent home. He kept asking when am i coming home. I knew, well, i figured, he just wanted to come home and die. I was happy because he didnt have to deal with all the god damn things anymore. He was at peace...

I wish i can say all is well. But with a death of a family figure head often leads to the down fall of ones family. Mine is no different. Slowly it seems, the fam has said f it all. And im in a agreement. Death often brings out the worse in folks, allowing them to say and do things that they normally wouldnt fathom. I stopped paying attention. Since my grandfather's death, ive done whatever normal person does...dives into work. Since November ive been working none stop. Ive volunteered for every project that has come up...sending me to the more seedier sides of LA County, Las Vegas, the IE, and i think SF...soon. Working damn near 12 plus hours a day...with zero end in stop. Life has been one thing after another...Since ive started writing this, (see first sentence), worked till 9 or so, grew more grey hair, sat in a at least 15 meetings, nodded off a few times, and asked some guy if he was a federalie...He have me an odd look.

In the end of it all...ive seem to have found Lety. My friend Josh Levy said, "you look happy." Brook and Omar say, I glow. I do. She makes me happy...and ive fallen in love. I dont want to sound like...all buttercups and hearts and shit. I'll end this here...

More to come...