The trip illustrated (for me, at least) how much the world has changed and continues to do so. And not in a good way.
For example, if you were of a certain age and watched the new show "Pan Am" you were reminded how wonderful air travel used to be. Well dressed passengers and impeccably coiffed stewardesses, actual food and free booze. Airline employees who actually smiled. And then I got on a plane and was shoved into my seat like an egg into a carton after being greeted by a gate agent who wasn't cheerful enough to work at the Department of Motor Vehicles. A very large man who would be best described as the "before" ad for Jenny Craig in a shirt that might fit Britney Spears walked down the aisle barefoot to the restroom.
And then there was this interchange between me and the steward-- excuse me, flight attendant.
Flight attendant: "Would you like a snack?"
Me: "What do you have?"
Flight attendant: "Peanuts or pretzels."
Flight attendant: "We're out of peanuts."
And then there was my first trip to the new home of the Mets, Citi Field. Or, as it might be better described, a shopping mall and food court that happened to have a baseball diamond in the middle. Ear splitting music as every batter walked to the plate. Six dollar hot dogs. Eight dollar beers. (Thankfully, we ate before the game.)
Ah, but there's a museum as you enter the park. With a ton of stuff commemorating the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers, in case you didn't know, are one of the teams who bailed on New York City in 1957. Paying homage to the Dodgers in the new Mets Stadium is like giving Monica Lewinsky a wing in the Bill Clinton Library.
One old black and white photo caught my eye in the museum. A shot of the stands in the fifties. Women in hats and men in ties.
Combine that image with the weeble on the plane, and you could see how we have become a nation of slobs. And class has gone out the window.
But back to the treadmill that is 2011. In the coming months we'll be doing things a little differently on this blog. The posts might not be as frequent, but they'll probably be longer. (After eleven hundred posts, you understand the thinking.) Besides, I do have to make a living.
Speaking of which, the blog will remain free, even though several industry people have told me lately that I'm out of my mind not making this site subscription-based. With that in mind, I'll meet you half way. A "donate" button has been added to the right side of the page under the heading, "Throw the Grape a chocolate bar." In other words, if you feel you've gotten something of value out of this blog, and you're so inclined, drop me a buck or two for my chocolate fix. (Or a lot more and help pay the mortgage.) If you're a typical broke rookie reporter, you don't have to do anything. The advice here should be available to anyone who wants it, regardless of financial status.
In the near future I'll be telling you of three success stories which prove that market size means nothing. Three tales of clients who each jumped about 150 markets. We're going to nuke that myth down to the molecular level.
We'll talk a lot about the upcoming election and how to cover it fairly. There will be new rules to follow, since the old ones have apparently gone out the window.
I'm also going to be asking you guys to send me links to great stories, so we can share them with the rest of the class. You not only learn by working hard, but by watching the good work of others.
And we'll talk a little about life in Palookaville, dealing with the psychological aspects of living a thousand miles from home in a city where you don't know a soul.
This country is at a turning point, and so is our industry. It has always been a young person's business, but now those young people have more influence. It's a big responsibility, and one every journalist needs to take seriously.
Hopefully you'll be up to the challenge.