There is an odd and confusing column by LA Parker in today’s Trentonian. It is rather odd because Parker, a professional writer and reporter, criticizes local bloggers and Facebook posters as ineffective do-nothings. His is a bold call for Action: “We need more hands on deck instead of mouths that roar about every penny, position, or publication.”
Yeah, like I said. Real Odd, coming from a guy whose supposed profession is to report (”roar” is reserved for opinion-writers, after all!) about “every, penny, position, or publication.” That’s called Journalism, LA.
It’s kind of confusing, for a lot of reasons. The first is… I kind of think he may be talking… at least a little… about me! But I can’t tell!
It’s very hard to tell exactly who the target(s) of his criticism might be. You see, he names none of the bloggers he finds objectionable (Irresponsible, maybe?), nor does he cite any examples of any posts on blogs or Facebook or any social media that have led to his particular outburst.
Parker follows the example I cited yesterday of mayoral candidate Eric Jackson’ Trenton Times column, similarly free of names, dates, facts, or any specific arguments intended to back up whatever argument he is making.
However, I suppose Parker felt some ingrained need to provide some specific names and dates to support his claims, because he does provide a few examples. But he must have pulled them out of his ass, because they don’t have anything to do with the matter at hand. Weird, right?
Catch this: “In Trenton, people would rather blog about a real-time murder occurring just outside their window instead of stopping the crime. They are cut from the same cloth as those who allegedly watched or listened as Winston Moseley plunged a knife into Kitty Genovese.”
When, exactly, did someone in Trenton “blog about a real-time murder occurring just outside their window instead of stopping the crime.” When?
And these anonymous individuals are “cut from the same cloth” as those who stood by when Kitty Genovese was murdered?!?!?!?
What the Fuck, LA?? How do you take that jump? Are you serious?
I’m afraid he is. Because from Kitty Genovese (and, for the record, LA, in March 1964 when she was murdered in Queens, NY, I was 8 years old in San Francisco. And blogging wasn’t invented yet), he jumps to nearby Hamilton in 2013.
Parker mentions the unsolved July 2013 murder of Shakir Williams, shot at a house party where none of an estimated 100 people reported any details or leads for a suspected murderer to police.
What in the name of Joseph Pulitzer does this have to do with bloggers and Facebookers? I have no freaking idea!
He proceeds from these gruesome examples – which, again, have nothing to do with his thesis – to state that Trenton needs people to DO Things, and not just talk:
We constantly hear from disillusionists, obstructionists, and Facebookers. This is an open invitation for those who know that building strong communities requires a house-by-house, block-by-block effort.
Trenton needs more alliances and less [sic] liars, more builders and less bureaucracy, less [sic] politicians but more people involvement.
I think LA Parker needs fewer (not “less,” LA, fewer!) weekly columns, and more editing!
Overall, this column reads as something slapped together around the barest nugget of an idea. He spun off a few paragraphs, realized they were too short, so he kind of threw in the stuff about Genovese and Williams to plump it out.
What a mess!
As I said at the top, without having any idea what is raising Parker’s bile, who the undistinguished – entirely unnamed – and do-nothing bloggers and Facebookers might be who are the subject of this anonymous attack, this cannot be taken at all seriously.
So, why do I even bother to take note of today’s piece? After all, this column is pretty typical of Parker’s work. Why does this one rankle?
Because I can’t help thinking that, in some degree, LA is talking about me. Over the last week there has been a lot of Facebook and Twitter activity. What with the final ejection of Tony Mack from office, the initial flurry of brooms cleaning City Hall under the direction of Acting Mayor George Muschal, and the (finally!) heating-up of this spring’s elections, a lot of people have a lot to say. And Facebook and Twitter is where people go to say a lot of it.
But there have been relatively few old-fashioned political “blog” posts in the last few weeks. Dan Dodson has written a few times. Ditto Mr. From the Front Stoop. Pat Stewart, may she rest in peace, has passed. Robert Chilson and Michael Walker have been pretty quiet lately. And what Dodson and Mr. Stoop have been writing about has been pretty unobjectionable.
But me? I have to say that, after several months when I have been largely quiet, I’ve been a little busier. Over the last ten days I’ve written three columns about Eric Jackson that have been fairly critical. It’s not that I have anything personal against the man, but he and his campaign have been the most active lately, and have been taking several steps that I find questionable.
His campaign has been involved in a violation of the City Pay-to-Play Ordinance, he accepted a dubious endorsement from Ewing pastor Johnnie Vaughan who personally benefited from an allegedly no-show patronage job under Tony Mack.
Both of these moves I criticized for violating the spirit of his self-proclaimed “zero tolerance” policy toward corruption. He reiterated this policy in a remarkably fact-free Trenton Times op-ed yesterday, about which I had some rather emphatic words to say.
(I suppose this is turning into my Fourth Jackson column, then!)
Hmmm… I published that blog post yesterday morning. And LA Parker publishes his incoherent rant against “some upstart city blog, another one of the countless websites in Trenton manned by people who think criticism makes them a community activist or clairvoyant” online last night at 8:57 PM.
Could there possibly be a connection, you think? Possibly, possibly. But of course, there would never be any way to know for sure.
But it is some coincidence, don’t you think?
So, even granting a possibility that there is not one word in Parker’s screed that is directed my way, is there anything in his column that I can take to heart.
No, not really. I started this blog four years ago when I ran – very unsuccessfully, I will add – for City Council. That run was after several years serving Trenton in such ways as sitting on the city’s Zoning Board for a dozen years; attempting to help the Trenton Library by attempting to establish a Foundation, raising tens of thousands of dollars in the process until blocked by the Library’s then-Chair and former Mayor Doug Palmer; and serving as a Democratic Committeeman and member of the city’s Democrats’ Executive Committee until work commitments forced me to resign.
My blog started as a result and an offshoot of the other work I was doing, not as a replacement. And that has been true of other social media commentators in this town. It’s true of Mr. Stoop, Dan Dodson, and was true of Pat Stewart.
So, to read criticism from the likes of LA Parker that refers to me and my brethren – however indirectly – as “disillusionists, obstructionists, and Facebookers” pisses me off.
Unless, of course, I read his rant as a direct response to the piece I wrote yesterday. Which means that I must have pressed some buttons, touched some nerves, and made some people angry.
In which case, I say I must be Doing Something Right!!!
But, as I said, I will never know for sure. LA didn’t bother to name any of his targets, so I will just ignore the criticism and continue to do what I do.
There is one line in which I find myself in complete agreement. His last line in today’s column.
“It’s put up or shut up time in Trenton.”
Indeed. “Put up” has to mean saying what you mean: naming your subjects, making your arguments with facts and evidence, stating plans and platforms with specifics and not warm & fuzzy appeals to emotion. And meaning what you say.
It’s put up or shut up time in Trenton, Candidates!
It’s put up or shut up time in Trenton, Press. That means you, LA!
It’s put up or shut up time in Trenton, Voters!
It’s put up or shut up time in Trenton.