Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Poem that Keeps on Giving...

We do continue to get complaints about the "Fuck the World" Poem. We have to wonder how many meetings the faculty and administrators had to go through to make this decision. One of the local Catholic high schools that is gender specific, but whose name we will not mention except to say that it could rhyme with Magnatius, have stopped the sale of the latest Grapevine because of the poem. It seems an angry poem by a homeless person is too much for the young people to handle (more likely too much for the parents with the large checkbooks). We have heard that the school is smarting from offensive banners that were hung in the gymnasium around race that angered African American students and parents. It seems that the banners were startling when the future Wall Street executives entered the gym for a discussion about race in America. They could not have another incident over offensive language, and so the Grapevine was kicked off campus. We are fairly certain that the future titans of industry and government studying at our local private schools are not aware of words such as fuck, and so therefore would be startled to read it in print.

Many of the catholic schools do a great deal for homeless people in the area with outreach and assistance. One winter we had one of the unnamed schools open up their gymnasium so that homeless people had a warm place to stay during the winter. But on the other hand, we must consider the number of gymnasiums, football fields or practice facilities that were built displacing poor people. I actually remember a few of those low income people saying "Fuck the World" when their homes were bulldozed for expansion of one particular high school.

I thought that it might be a good idea to pass out the Grapevine on the way into the confessional, but Kevin reminded me that using profane language or more accurately, reading profane language is not a sin. The sin is using God's name in vain, reading profanity is not a sin as long as it is not done on campus I guess.


Friday, November 18, 2005

The END is Nigh!!!!!!!!!

I was driving to a speaking engagement today and was flipping through the radio channels when I heard a promo for our local Fox (Tabloid) News station. The first thing I heard was something along the lines of, "The END is Coming! Are we all going to die?!" I immediately panicked because I was behind someone with a bumpersticker that read "If the Rapture comes, this car will be driverless." I didn't want to risk slamming into them if they suddenly were carried up into the sky... my insurance premiums finally just got lowered, after all.

This was Fox 8's pitch for its upcoming "special report." Their website features a picture of the Earth, with the foreboding sentence "The END is Coming," followed by "Tonight at Ten."

How are we supposed to be bothered watching TV if the END is coming tonight at ten?! Shouldn't I be going over to my parents' house and hugging my mother and repenting and stuff? I frantically searched their website looking for information about the END. But there seems to be very little information about the END on their website, and it doesn't even make it to the national website. It's probably classified, like in that movie. We're pretty lucky to have such ace journalists in Cleveland who caught this story and are courageous enough to tell us about it. I'll be sure to be watching tonight from my duct-taped bunker/fallout shelter.

I do wonder how it is that Fox 8 managed to get this scoop and keep such a tight lid on it. I mean, a story like Armageddon is pretty huge, especially if it's happening tonight at ten. Even the Mayans gave us until 2012.

With the END so close I need to get a few things off my chest. First: Mom, I'm sorry about that time when I was a kid and I taped He-Man over your soap opera. To my sister, I'm sorry about the time I told you that the Tooth Fairy was using your teeth to build a weapon to kill Santa Claus. Also, I'm sorry about that time I filled a Santa hat with fake teeth and told you that she succeeded.

Dad, I'm sorry about that time I called 911 while Scarface was playing and the cops showed up because they thought you were a drug lord, and then I blamed it on Mom and you almost got divorced.

Finally though, I want to apologize to the loyal readers of this blog and The Homeless Grapevine. As a reporter, I really dropped the ball by not catching that the END is approaching so rapidly. If by some miracle, we avoid the END tonight at ten, please have pity on us and know that until the END comes, we'll still be there with other stories that even the ace reporters at Fox 8 don't report.

Reporting from a secure and undisclosed location with an "x" in lamb's blood painted on the door,

Kevin E. Cleary

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

How Much News Will You Force Us to Watch??

Here is a sweeps weeks trick that I saw on Channel 43 at the 10 p.m. newscast. They teased a story that was "only on" their 11 p.m. news on Channel 19. So, we were watching the one hour long news on Channel 43, but we had to stay for the following half hour on their "sister" station to get even more news. This involved having to sit through the same weather, the same lead stories to find that one "new" story.

If the FCC were a real regulatory organization, they would not allow these joint operating agreements between two precious and limited free broadcast outlets. But then to have one outlet withhold news and force the viewer to tune into the other broadcast is criminal. How do we take these guys serious if they are doing commercials for their own entertainment shows and passing that off as news; having news reporters advertise news on their other station; and doing fake news stories about new products or trends that are actually product placement news? They have turned news into at best a commodity and at worst a platform for selling goods and services.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Fake News Leads

On Thursday November 10, our high energy hero, Ed "Jimmy Olsen" Gallek created news where there was none with his story of Cleveland Police Patrol cars sitting in high crime neighborhoods--and this was the lead story. First, how is this news? Second, who cares? Third, how about a shot of Ed Gallek urinating on an empty police car in a high crime area--that would be news?

The whole story was confused in that it was not clear whether we were supposed to believe that this was good or bad. There were no studies, no other police forces interviewed. Just a few anonymous "Man on the Street" interviews walking down the street who thought that "it was a stupid idea." Again, who cares what some stranger says about this policy? Hey, how about an interview with a convicted criminal from jail asking if they are deterred by empty police cars? Gallek had the nerve to throw in a line about the need for manned cop cars instead to deter crime. When did we allow some silly reporter to start adding commentary to news stories with no balance from the other side? We have a new Mayor, rising crime, schools in trouble, and this is the lead story during sweeps? There isn't even any sex or blood in this one. Either go all the way with the tabloid angle or do real news--(Channel 19+43 =Channel 62?), but this fake news is wrong all the way around.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Do We Need the Humor at the End of the Broadcast?

So the local news is a half hour in length on Channels 3,5, 19 and an hour on 43 and 8. Add in sports (not real news), weather (again not real news but history and gambling), commercials, and mindless chatter and there is really only 8-10 minutes or 16-20 minutes of news on the hour long programs. The three local networks are cramming the day into 10 minutes. How is it possible dedicate 45 seconds to 1 minute on a lighter story at the end of the broadcast? On Friday night 11/4/05, Channel 3 had a "news" worthy story about a camel that continues to escape and wander down the road. Then the booming trusted voice in news, Tim White, made some smart ass comment that was vaguely sexual and that was the end of the news.

The blood, crime and sex are up front then there are commercials, scandal, weather, commercials, sports, and finally the funny story. Are the weather, commercials and sports so stressful that we need a funny story to relieve the tensions? Shouldn't the funny story be placed between the crime and the blood? How do we trust these broadcasters if the entire broadcast is just a prelude to the punchline at the end? Do they need to make us laugh as part of the local news like they are auditioning for the Tonight Show or Daily Show? Will somebody please answer all these questions? We need to know what the thinking is here. How about a full half hour of real news?
In keeping with our coverage of the coverage, I've been debating covering the live debates between fake candidates on "The West Wing" tonight. I am, however, waiting to see if either fake candidate mentions homeless people at all tonight. I think it was shameful that in 2004 we devoted so much time to Swift Boating and useless controversies like gay marriage and spent so little time discussing the substantive issues which face our country. John Edwards seemed to be the only major party candidate to realize that there is a social divide in America between those who don't have to worry about procuring basic human necessities like food, shelter, health care, etc. and those who struggle every day to meet these demands.

Vice-Presidential candidate Pat LaMarche of the Green Party (see interview in Issue 68 of The Homeless Grapevine) actually put her money where her mouth was last year and conducted a tour of homeless shelters across America before the Vice-Presidential debates here in Cleveland. She wasn't able to stay in the Community Women's Shelter here in Cleveland, but she stayed with an individual who was formerly homeless.

The fake candidates tonight will probably not address the biggest controversy of our times because it hasn't happened in their world: the Iraq war. They may make passing references to spending large sums of money abroad while our own people go hungry, but I doubt it. It is my hope that these fake candidates will still spend time talking about our country's real issues, since our own leaders are still avoiding them.

Operations Manager

(These comments about fake and real people are my own views and do not represent the views of The Homeless Grapevine)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

11/3/05: Making up News Where there is None!!

We must start with the worst waste of a community resource: Channel 19 blurring action news. This is a one media outlet that can barely be called a news station. The tabloid news channel claims to be action news, which actually makes one dizzy watching the quick cuts and sentence fragments to communicate the blood, death, scandal, and sex going on in Cleveland. On Thursday November 3, Greater Cleveland and their favorite cub reporter Ed Gallek created a "news" story where none had originally existed. The big revelation that was teased throughout the night of prime time autopsies, game theory, kidnappings, and murders was that predators are sent into schools to VOTE!!! How is this possible? We were treated to women in cars saying that they this is "horrible." Our intrepid hero Ed Gallek looked at voting habits of 700 sex offenders and found that 160 had actually voted. Why was he standing at 11 p.m. in front of a Preston Elementary school "live?" Was the station hoping that one of these sex offenders would be camped at the polling place 5 days before election day waiting to vote? Why did he not mention that only 1 in 7 sexually based offenders were voting? It seems if more sexually based offenders were voting and they could organize themselves against yellow journalists.

Our champion, Gallek did his part for balance by interviewing a man who was on the list and actually put "Sexual Offender" below his name on the screen. Don't you wish this level of clarity in labeling could take place on a national level? Pictures of Bush would carry the label "emperor of the Greedy Empire" or John Kerry on the Senate floor would be labeled "Embarrassing Loser." Think how much better our daily diet of media if Tabloid Gallek were in charge of CBS News. Anyway, the man, Joseph Spicer, said that he did plan to vote on Tuesday. Why the station did not add the dramatic music when Spicer dropped this bombshell is beyond me? Missed opportunities. The underlying message was: "Pure evil is coming to your child's school on Tuesday. GET READY!!"

We already had an election in which only 16% of the population showed up do; we need more obstacles to voting? Without the sexually based offender database, Ed Gallek would have 50% fewer stories. What would he do with all that extra time? It is so easy to pick on these sexually based offenders who have served their time and now face the electronic equivalent of a scarlet letter. They have a hard time finding jobs or housing. They are an easy target. How about showing up at the house of the state legislators who enacted this reporting law demanding answers to what we are supposed to do with these guys now that we have branded them? Ohio allows felons who have served their time the opportunity to vote because they remain citizens. We do not allow absentee ballots at this time except in very specific exceptions (not including being a registered sex offender.) So what did Mr. Gallek expect? It is a wonder that Channel 19 regular viewers are not boarding up their houses and never venturing outside out of fear. This tabloid style and their repeated rants about how bad homeless people are is the reason that NEOCH has taken Channel 19 off our list of media contacts.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Comment on Local News As Sweeps Weeks Start

The Grapevine does not have a lot to communicate about our paper in a blog so we are going to try to comment on other media and their coverage of issues related to lower income people. We are afterall a media and it is appropriate to talk about coverage of poverty by the local media. We begin this experiment at the beginning of November sweeps weeks. It is a banquet for making fun of the local media. Remember Sharon Reed and her naked Sweeps walk? Or the over the top investigative reports? There is plenty of material and plenty to discuss. So we begin on Thursday November 3, 2005, and we will see if there is any interest.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Another Complaint About the Poem.

We continue to hear from readers and some who now claim to be former readers about the poem by "Jungle Lips."

The Homeless Grapevine costs $1.00. We have to view the Grapevine as the HBO of newspapers. We are a premium channel that you the readers have to pay for in order to bring it in to your house. We do not have a children's section. We do not serve young people and frankly 16 pages of depression is not appropriate or interesting to children. We also respect free speech and we will allow homeless people to speak their mind in print without censorship. This is the reason that 5,000 people buy our paper and respect us for our honesty.

Brian Davis