Thank You

Sometime in the past 24 hours, From the Desert to the Sea‘s total “hits” passed 200,000.

It means so much to me that so many visitors come read what I have to say every day. So thank you.

This blog will keep going. However, the frequency of posts will slow, and the focus of them will be more personal. This is because I’ve started a new blog for the company for which I work, Dolan Media, and I need to prioritize writing there.

Dolan is a publisher of business and legal information and so the new blog — called From 50,000 Feet — is completely focused on those topics. My role will be more like a reporter and editor, sharing things I think will be of interest to people in the business and legal realms. I will also share with you some of the best of our company’s reporting and blogging.

I can’t help being me, so the new blog will probably have a disproportionate focus on the business and legal subjects with which I am most familiar — environmental issues, the practice of PR, business and public policy — but I can stretch. That’s one great thing about the blogging medium. It’s not my job always to have the best information or ideas; just to point you there.

Dolan has newspapers and related websites in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, Oregon, Idaho and Minnesota. There are links to all of them here, and on my new blog. The new blog also links to all of our affiliated blogs, where you’ll find a wealth of good writing.

I’m working with a fearless group of editors and web designers. We’re in the process of bringing the tools of social media to our readers in what we believe will be new and useful ways. I’m grateful for the opportunity the company has given me to explore and help create the future of news and information.

But I’m also so grateful for being able to talk to the readers of this blog for the past two years–and for all your support. I’m proud of a lot of the work I’ve done here, and I’m not done with it yet. But please visit my new thing, make a comment if you’re so moved, and tell your friends.

Thanks again.

Consumer Group Can’t Be This Naive

It’s kind of cute. Apparently, the consumer group Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood really thought the people who make Dove soap came up with their much-praised “Campaign for Real Beauty” for some reason other than to sell bars of soap. But the scales have dropped from their eyes all right! According to the LA Times:

A consumer group accused Unilever of hypocrisy Tuesday for running conflicting advertising campaigns — one for Dove that praises women and their natural beauty and one for Axe that the group said “blatantly objectifies and degrades” them.

The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood launched a letter-writing effort on its website and demanded the company pull ads for the Axe line of grooming products for men, which one online pitch says makes “nice girls turn naughty.”

Unilever shouldn’t be commended for Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” while promoting products with a starkly different message, said Susan Linn, the consumer group’s director and an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

“The campaign says they’re going to help girls to resist a toxic marketing environment but they’re creating that environment as well,” Linn said.

Both campaigns are clever attempts to push the right buttons to stimulate their respective target audiences. In this case, there is probably zero overlap between the horny teenage boys who are supposed to buy Axe and the skin-texture-obsessed women who buy Dove beauty soap.

The consumer groups surely understand this. They’ve just found a good PR angle to draw attention to themselves, albeit by insulting the intelligence of the rabble they seek to rouse.

Nevertheless, a flack tries to keep Santa alive for another season:

Continue reading

Yankee Class

Last night, the New York Yankees were defeated by the Cleveland Indians, 6-4 and thereby ousted from the playoffs. Normally this is something in which I would take devilish delight. But not today. Because that loss is almost surely the end of the remarkable tenure of their manager for the past 12 years, Joe Torre.

Just for fun, I followed the game via an open thread on Bronx Banter, a Yankee fan blog affiliated with Jon Weisman’s great Dodger Thoughts via the Baseball Toaster. I’ve checked out that blog before, but generally didn’t hang around because it struck me as a place where someone might throw a piece of loose concrete at your head and everyone else would say it fell off a building.

I made up my mind early not to be a “troll.” Even though I’m a confirmed Yankee-hater going back to 1964, I didn’t want to be rude to fans who might be grieving. When Yankee pitcher Chien-Ming Wang gave up four runs in the first two innings and was gone in the second without having gotten anyone out, grief loomed closer. You can’t count a lineup like the Yankees’ out, ever, but the tone of the fan comments got gloomy right away. I tried to keep my comments positive, though. These guys seemed to appreciate a boost now and then; plus I didn’t want any chunks of concrete flying my way (some did anyway, but I think it was a case of mistaken identity).

torre-baseball-card.jpgAs we now know, the Yankees home run prowess went for naught as each dinger flew over the fence with no one else on base. Bronx Banter is a far more profane world than Dodger Thoughts, but I found myself increasingly protective of these guys. The community around that blog were tough-but-tender types. And far more than I, they recognized they were watching the end of something — the end of Joe Torre’s astounding 12-year reign as manager during which he brought the Yankees into the post-season every year.

For these fans, Joe Torre is a complex kind of father figure. He’s a gentle man, wise and kind, with a record of success you can’t argue with. But fans being fans, they always wanted something more from him. In his case, I think they wanted him to be more brutal. He was the too-nice father who let Roger Clemens pitch Game 3 even though he was in no shape to do so. He was the befuddled father who let Wang pitch Game 4 even though he’d massively failed in Game 1. Since the last Yankee world championship, the perception is Torre “let” inferior teams like the Diamondbacks, Angels, Marlins and finally the hated Red Sox overcome the Yankees because Torre made bad decisions. There’s nothing more painful and infuriating than watching your father fail in front of everyone else.

After years of raging against him, it started to sink in that he was really going to leave. George Steinbrenner had promised to fire him if they didn’t win the playoff series with the Indians, and they didn’t win it. Some Bronx Banter posters were already discussing whether Joe Girardi or Don Mattingly should replace him, but most of them refused to play. The unimaginable was happening. It was Joe’s last game. Continue reading

Sorry To Be So Quiet Lately

About a week ago, I came down with the flu, despite which I did a lot of work, including a business trip to Minneapolis that was exciting but didn’t do much for my health. So it’s been hard to keep up with the minimum of what was required of me, and this blog has become an off-hours project.

In fact, pretty soon, it’ll go into a suspended state. For a good reason. But more about that later.

In the meantime, I’ll try to give this blog a bit more of a pulse. So here’s something that struck me as interesting: Continue reading