Okay, so I have now officially become one of those people who gets a blog on FasterSkier, updates it for a while, and then drops it when they realize that it actually takes work and does not lead to instantaneous fame, fortune, and book deals like Bill Clinton’s. Apparently, my last post was in November, which is just embarrassing.
Now, I know that pretty much the only reason you people even go to FasterSkier is to read about what I’ve been up to, so I’m sorry to have kept you on pins and needles. But, wait no longer! In this post, I will try to update you on all the things I’ve accomplished in the last eight months without putting anyone to sleep.
So, going back to November. Actually, I don’t really know what happened in November, but in December I left for Europe, and went to the Tour de Ski. Unless you were living under a rock (or like normal people you don’t pay attention to bylines), you probably knew that, so I’m not going to go into it in any detail. Suffice to say that highlights include a Topher locking himself in a bathroom, risottos of various flavors, and a Sarah Palin sighting in Oberhof. If you want to see my personal photos from the trip, you can look at this album.
After I got back from the Tour, I went back to school in New York, and cross-country skied a grand total of two more times over the entire winter. Then, between January and April, I spent pretty much all of my time doing schoolwork, as one might expect a graduate student to do…even a journalism graduate student.
This “schoolwork” really consisted of writing a bunch of stories. Of these, the most important one was my masters thesis. As far as masters theses go, I’m pretty sure the one you have to write to make it out of Columbia Journalism School has got to be the easiest out of any Ivy League graduate program—it just has to be 5,000 to 7,000 words, which for those of you who are out of academia or the writing profession is a mere 20 pages. My cat could do that, and I don’t even have a cat. However, for me, at least, this was still pretty hard.
Fortunately, because I managed to sneak my way into this rad investigative journalism program at Columbia, I had the privilege of working with a pretty awesome advisor. His name is Wayne Barrett. If you want to know what Wayne is like, you have two options. Your first-and-more-comprehensive option is to read this article. Your second option is to think of Marty Hall, subtract eyebrows, and replace skiing with journalism, and then you’re pretty much good to go.
Wayne basically gave me and his other advisees a few suggestions of stories to work on; in my immeasurable wisdom, I decided to pick the one that involved public finance and pension funds because those seemed like two things that would be good to learn about. Wayne gave me all his files on this story, and then I started accumulating files of my own, and eventually my locker came to look like this:
For this story, I spent a lot of time in the basement making phone calls, went to one meeting, and met one anonymous source in a Starbucks, which was pretty cool except for when the guys at the next table tried to have the homeless guy sit down with us. Eventually, I got the story published in the Daily News—though it ultimately got pulled down due to some miscommunication (not due to any errors!). Its permanent home is here. The whole process of writing, editing, and publishing it was a pretty fun experience, and though I’d like to think I could have tackled projects like this if I’d stayed at FasterSkier full time, the truth is that while Bill Marolt may have a six-figure salary, he is not yet to the point where he is developing large condominium projects, paying for lobbyists to do his bidding, or slamming Michael Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policies as he gears up for his campaign for mayor in 2013—at least, not to my knowledge. (If it is to your knowledge, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-841-4199, and documents can be shipped to me care of my mom, 87 Second St., Hallowell, ME 04347.)
Other stories I wrote in the spring included the ones I did for my radio class. If you didn’t know, radio is pretty cool. Don’t take it from me—Andy Newell and Sam Evans-Brown think so too. In any case, over the course of the spring semester, I learned how to make radio stories by sticking microphones in peoples’ faces and then cutting up their answers with fancy computer programs. I also hosted our weekly broadcast a couple of times…shirtless. (The best part about radio is that nobody knows you’re not wearing a shirt.) (Also, for the record, I don’t know why that show that I hosted sounds like it’s broadcast out of a didgeridoo, but it’s not my fault.)
Eventually, it got to be the end of May, so then I graduated, which was pretty rad. Also, I am selling a blue gown. Or trading for a pair of Carbonlites or a mountain bike.
Seriously though, once I got my masters degree, it was only a matter of time: the New York Times was on the phone three days after graduation, and now I’m working as a metro reporter making seven figures and living in a sweet studio apartment on Park Avenue, since that’s what people with masters degrees do, right?
Haha, wrong! Gotcha! This may seem baffling, since most people, like me, do get into journalism for the money and women, but in fact, I am not making seven figures and living in a studio apartment on Park Avenue.
Instead, I am living in a single dorm room at Farmingdale State College on Long Island. There is no kitchen, and there is no alcohol allowed inside, but fortunately, there is a good consolation prize in the form of a high-quality dining establishment just across the street:
Okay, seriously though…starting a few weeks ago, I became an intern at Newsday, which is the daily paper covering pretty much all of Long Island, and a little bit of the city. It’s a pretty awesome paper—first of all, it’s a tabloid, so I get to have headlines on my stories like this one:
Second, they actually do really good journalism, and it’s been a good place to work. It doesn’t have the same name recognition or horsepower as the Times and the Wall Street Journal, but they’re very well respected, and have won a whole bunch of Pulitzer prizes. If the Times was APU, Newsday would be kind of like the Craftsbury Green Team.
Among the things I have discovered so far is that in general, Long Island is a pretty horrendous place to try to exercise. Outside my dorm (next to the Hooters), the road is a six-lane north-south race track that connects two of the island’s main east-west highways. I do a substantial amount of my training on the service road for the Long Island Expressway, which affords me an excellent view of people sitting in traffic on their way to work while simultaneously supplying sufficient particulate matter for my lungs to get a double workout. (Mom, don’t worry, I’m not actually training ON the expressway—the service road is, like, outside the guardrail and has a huge shoulder and generally no cars.)
There are a few bike paths, including one that goes to this sweet beach, but I’ve only done it once because they’re not actually that friendly there:
Anyways, I’m here for about four more weeks, then I have a 10-day vacation to go see my sister in Canada, and then I start a new, real job at this place called the New York World. It should be pretty sweet—I’m going to be covering city politics—and extra special bonus is that it comes with health insurance. While the job is in New York City, it’s only for about 10 months, and then most likely I will be trying to get a job somewhere with more things like snow and mountains, and hopefully equal levels of corruption to be exposed.
I’ve kind of fallen off the FasterSkier wagon, but hoping to maybe get involved a little bit more some time in the near future. If anyone’s ever in NYC and needs a rollerski tour of Central Park, you know where to find me.