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Blogging the Absurd

August 7th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon


While we’re on the subject of extremely smart journalism students,
ZACH SIRE, one of my former literary journalism students at UC Irvine has started a blog called Sire Says that you must bookmark immediately. Why? Because Zach has a wonderfully intelligent, soulful, entirely quirky and creatively absurdest voice as he comments on…well, whatever he feels like.

In his non-blogging time, Zach is a gifted nonfiction writer whom I believe you’re bound to hear from in the future.

But, in the meantime, like many writers these days, he blogs. In Zach’s case, he blogs about “the absurdities that everyone else is too busy to notice.”

For instance, in the past few days he has commented on:

1. The new operation Deport Yourself plan (okay, they call it something else) that ICE has come up with to allow immigrants without criminal records to “self deport.”

2. A truly strange job ad on Craig’s List.

3. Why George Bush is not Batman.

4. Those unbelievably annoying “CAPTCHAS.”

5. The occasional serious issue, like this one.

6. And the very weird reasons that Floridians call 911.

There is also a lot on American Apparel, Cindy McCain, grammar, and….resumes.

Anyway, check it out.

(And for WLA’s conservative readers: Yes, yes, I admit it, you’re right, so you don’t need to say it: Zach, like his former professor, is part of the liberal media cabal. Yet, if you keep reading you’ll note that he throws many of his satiric darts with bi-partisan abandon.)

Posted in American voices, blogging, media, writers and writing | 5 Comments »

5 Responses

  1. WBC Says:

    Cute — I like that someone so young takes the time to get to know and like Cindy McCain. She IS kind of cute, and cool — jet pilot, NASCAR driver, and size 0 jeans. What’s she doing with that old-looking guy, anyway, since she had the money? (She doesn’t seem like she’s in it for the power — coming from her independent wealth, the scrutiny must be a mixed blessing.)

    Speaking of old guys, Celeste — what do you think of the Blowback piece in today’s LATimes Opinion by a Prof. Emeritus Shaffer, of Cal Poly Pomona, opining mightily against Green Dot’s takeover of Locke, one of your pet concerns. He blames Steve Lopez and the Times for his recently optimistic piece on the school based on a visit, and says Lopez is obliged to keep visiting (until he sees what a disaster the experiment it is!). What’s his beef or personal stake in this, as a retired old professor, anyway?

  2. Celeste Fremon Says:

    WBC, thanks for flagging the Shaffer piece. At your suggestion, just now went over and read it.

    Shaffer and his comrade Walter Coombs, have written me a few emails citing the evils of Green Dot. As with this piece, what they have to say is part fact, but a lot of spinning, exaggeration and an interpretation of things that are essentially neutral as malevolent.

    I don’t know what their vendetta is, but they’ve assuredly got one. I probably should spend some time talking to them to get a better idea of their POV.

    Not all of the criticisms are unwarranted at all. But, even with the facts he has right, Shaffer tends to see things through the darkest possible lens. (And many facts he doesn’t have right, or has only half right, and the half he leaves out makes a huge difference.)

    As I said, in that post that pointed to the Lopez piece, I think the Locke story is the great eduction story of the year—certainly in LA, and possibly in the nation. But great stories aren’t just sunny puff pieces. They’re complex and loaded with ambiguities—and much is at stake. That certainly describes the Locke situation.

    There are lots of…shall we say… challenges .

    And there is increasing centralization of authority going on as Green Dot grows so quickly. That’s probably going to eventually have to undergo a shift to insure onsite control.

    And discipline at Locke is going to be one of the big tests. Everybody knows this. I’ve been talking with Steve Barr (and everyone else) about the issue, quite literally since the board voted to honor the Green Dot conversion petition.

    Special ed is also an issue, and so on and so on. BUT nobody who’s doing the work at Locke is blind to these things.

    This is why I really, really wish some reporter would just plant themselves at Locke, and watch the whole thing happen, warts and all. If I have any way, as Listener said, of getting some student or students—to just hang out and listen and watch, I’m going to do so. (None of my classes this coming semester are suited to it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find another way.)

    Anyway, it’ll be interesting to watch, even from a (comparitive) distance. I’m going to try to spend a little time there the first few weeks of school.

    Why in the world Shaffer is so agressively betting on the Locke conversion to fail—really hoping for it to fail, it seems—-is beyond me. What is the shining alternative? The mayor’s plan? Admiral Brewer’s grand vision?

    The district spent two years and a bunch of Gates money turning Jefferson high school into the supposed paragon of Small Learning Communities. Yet, as usual, they wouldn’t relinquish any kind of control and continued to be whiplashed by the union. So what happened? Jefferson’s test scores not only didn’t go up, they dropped.

    Green Dot ain’t perfect. But they’ve got a lot of good ideas. And when you go to those schools, the kids are….happier.

  3. Woody Says:

    Are all of Celeste’s friends commies?

  4. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Hmmm. Let’s see.

    (Pause as Celeste does brief mental inventory of friends.)

    Nope. I know a few cops who aren’t commies. (Some of them are, though.)

  5. richard locicero Says:

    Celeste I haven’t seen the article on Green Dot but the reason many are sceptical of Charter schoo;s (or Vouchers) is the paucity of evidence showing any dramatic difference in outcomes. Again, a good suburban district – like Irvine or Newport-Harbor – will show excellent results which suggest that factors like income, parental involvement, presense of books in the home etc, have a dar greater impact on success than the administrative organization of the school.

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