Back.

Alright, my bad everyone. Read the post below…I was busy.

So the weekend…

Yankees game was pretty damn sweet. My mom and dad were treated by some work clients to a suite for a Royals game early in the week, and the man in charge of hosting that event works out of New York. Apparently they got into discussion on how I currently live in New York and have been wanting to make it out to Yankee Stadium at some point. So the guy generously gives them his contact information and tells them to have me hit him up to watch Friday’s game against the Rockies from a suite. I get this call sometime on Thursday, claim the tickets and call up my homie Greg — who will be a Sigma Nu brother in about a month — and he agrees to come down from Long Island to see the game with me. That stadium’s pretty incredible. The suites are ridiculously swanky, the fans are pretty wild and it’s just overall pretty awe-inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the K and seeing Royals games there, but this is different. Back home, “going to a Royals game” basically means drinking in the parking lot until the third or fourth inning, buying some ten dollar tickets and watching the boys in blue get mercy-ruled. It’s different there…probably because they’re good. The Royals will get there one day.

I slept ALL day Saturday to make up for all the lost hours from throughout the week. I wasn’t really planning on doing too much, Maclean was planning on checking out the gay pride parades because the whole town was going crazy after it passed the night before. I was on the streets when it passed Friday and I was considering checking out some of the festivities (I’m not gay…but history happened while I’m here. Might as well try and see as much as possible so I can say I was there, ya know?) but I had pretty much come to the conclusion that I was probably just going to stay home or something.

Then I remembered about the Gold Cup final.

USA vs. Mexico for a spot in the “dress rehearsal for the World cup” (which we placed second in 2009). I hit the internet and scoped out NYC’s premier soccer bar and noticed that they had a $30 open bar. I packed in my shitty fake ID and hit the road up towards the bar. It’s located underneath (meaning DIRECTLY underneath) the Empire State Building in a pretty swanky neighborhood. I was worried I wouldn’t get in, but thank god I did. Had a good time from then on out, no need to go into too much detail, though. If you know me, you can do the assuming, haha.

Football Factory NYC

 

I know I promised to give a little bit of detail about the story I’m working on — sorry. I’m not going to. It’s not even that big of a deal, there’s just a bit of risk when it comes to reporting this kind of thing. I’m not even writing it though, I’m just doing the bulk of the research. So therefore, it’s not a big deal, don’t worry. Maybe I’ll talk about it some day in the future. We’ll see how things go. Forget about it for now.
Saki’s writing that story, so I think I might be taking the byline for tomorrow’s/Friday’s article(s). Neither of those are heavy at all, just simple stuff like the last two. We’ll see what happens in the next few days.

I’ve officially run out of all money (had to scrounge up nickels and dimes to do laundry tonight) so it’s a miracle that Friday is my first payday. Finally going to buy an iPod (after mine got stolen at the Big XII basketball championship in March). I’m also thinking about buying these bad boys sometime soon…

Middle pair, or ones below. Still haven't decided.

 

All the best
AJ

 

I’m sorry, I’m sorry…

I’ve been beyondddd busy since my last entry. I told you that I’m probably not going to blog on the weekends, but I haven’t posted Monday or Tuesday because I’ve been staying at my Mom’s hotel room (she was in town, had to take advantage of the fresh linens and air conditioning while I could). They charge ridiculous fees for wi-fi there so I couldn’t get on to update this thing. Trust me, she was bugging me to update just as much as some of you were.

I’ll re-cap the weekend and as much as I can of the past three days at work (I’m on some confidential shit with this next story…my name isn’t even going to be on it for contributing because it’s that sketchy). I’m not writing it, I’ve just been doing the research, but the risk still exists. I’ll tell as much as I can.

 

I’m currently on pace to have a full head of grey hair by the time I return. I’m going to make Anderson Cooper look like a 13-year-old.

Deuces.

All the best
AJ

P.S. I’ve still been raking in solid numbers the past few days when it comes to the amount of people reading this thing. Thank you so much, I promise I’ll give you something new tonight.

Duane Reade sells the shittiest umbrellas EVER

Seriously. It was raining today when I went to get lunch and I had to re-open that thing about 45 times and I looked like an idiot. Bring your own umbrella if you ever come here, don’t buy one in the city. I already dedicated a post to umbrella-complaints like two weeks ago so I’ll move on.

So the story that I’ve been talking about — basically since my first day — FINALLY GOT PUBLISHED. Thank god. I’ve read so much about this subject and interviewed so many people about it in the past week. I could probably go on CNN and discuss it live on camera and what not.

I know, I'm going to make sure I have a mugshot next week

Β Read it here.

I’m just glad we finally got this thing out. It was an interesting one, people are so passionate in Illinois about the passing of this law, and on the other hand, people in L.A. are either absolutely terrified or incredibly furious. We pretty much dug it out of absolutely nothing, too. No other large publications had given it much attention, including the Chicago Tribune, which just ran like one or two small features about it. I honestly believe the California ordinance is going to get a lot of national intention, because it’s going to put so many people on the streets that, quite frankly, can’t be on the streets.

There is one thing I would like to clarify, though. If you know me, I’m never one to backtrack the things I say; I usually say things and that’s that. I’m worried about how some of this stuff came out though, particularly with the phrasing in this article. I would never write a formalized response to this, because that’s stupid, but I want to make damn sure my friends and family know this: we were absolutely NOT saying that people in California have any problem with anyone that has a developmental, physical or mental disability. I got some really heated emails with people saying that we were blaming the ordinance’s origin on (non-existent)drug use, fighting and general mischief of the developmentally disabled. That’s not what it was. The ordinance stemmed from complaints about “Sober Living” group home residents causing a whole lot of problems. We probably could have phrased a few things better, but I’m not at all apologizing for everything. I’m simply clarifying something so the people closest to me don’t misread it like a lot of people have. I spent so much time and effort on this story because I saw the pure, raw injustice that lies within that California ordinance’s — arguably unintended — intention. This thing is going to put so many people with serious disabilities on the streets in a State that is notorious for its shortcomings when it comes to lending a hand to those short on chips.

That’s all I have on that. Saki and I discussed a new way of how we’re going to approach our story-gathering, so I’m expecting our upcoming stories to step up in quality. I’m proud of what we’ve done so far, but it’s going to get better. I’m very excited about that.

I got moved to a new desk, though. It kind of sucks because I sat next to Saki and we could work on stories so much easier that way, but I have my own little name-tag on this one and it’s an actual desk, rather than a slot on a long table. I lucked out MASSIVELY. But, I’m low man on the totem pole, so I’m not going to get too used to it. Once a new reporter comes in, I’m probably going to get the boot.

I’m cool with that though. I’m just happy to be here.

Yankees game with my boy Greg (pledging Sigma Nu next year, hung out with us a ton this past year) tomorrow night, in a suite. It’s gonna be beyond dope. Sorry for no pics this time, I’ll get a few tomorrow.

All the best
AJ

“You a f**king cop or something? You better not be, man…”

(As of right now, this blog has reached 1,004 total views. Thank you.)

I’m not stupid; most “cool” people (musicians, athletes, politicians, celebrities, animals, children, etc.) hate journalists. People think that we will quote every single word they dribble out. It isn’t quite like that; we can quote every word they dribble out if we want or need to. But still, people don’t want to say a single word to us unless they’re trying to peddle their flavors-of-the-week by way of our story.

Today was international Go Skateboarding Day. Saki helped me pitch the story to our editor, and thankfully, he gave me the green light to cover it. So I make my way through the Bowery and Chinatown to the skatepark, which was located underneath the Manhattan Bridge. Keep in mind, when I woke up this morning, I thought I was just going to be sitting at my desk doing research for tomorrow’s story. That being said, I’m standing at the gates of this (absolutely freaking packed) skatepark in a bright pink Polo, Sperry Topsiders and a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers (thank god I chose jeans over khakis). I look like the exact visual interpretation of what these kids hate.

With this story, I was taking the angle of “These kids get harassed by cops all the time. How good does it feel to finally have a day where cops aren’t a problem?” I made my way to a few skaters and introduced myself in a completely ineffective manner:

“Hey man, I’m writing a story about Go Skateboarding Day for the Huffington Post, what’s it like to finally have a day to skate without being hassled by cops?”

After about 5 rejections, I figured out that it wasn’t going to work. I switched a few words around, and this worked a lot better…

“Hey man, have the cops ever f**ked with you when you’ve been skating? Tell me about what happened…”

That was the ticket. I dabbled in skating at one point in life and I am still friends with a lot of people who remain very tied-in to theΒ  KC skating community. I’ve sat at lunch tables and heard the way these guys would talk about their run-ins with the police. Getting a ticket or getting hassled by the cops almost gives you credibility within the skating world because everyone shares that widespread hatred for the pork and beef. A few of them asked me if an undercover cop — one even looked at the previous pages in my notebook to make sure I was actually a journalist — but once it was established that I wasn’t, they gave me a lot of good stories and information. I started heading back to the office, but the story was canned because there was no way we would make deadline. However, my day of field reporting will not go to waste. I’m going to spend a fair amount of time gathering the stories and testimonies of professional and amateur skaters to try and build this thing into a bigger feature. There’s an interesting angle here (which I’m not going to say, because I don’t want my stuff getting jacked) and I’m going to try hard to make this story happen sometime this summer. That’ll be my big one if it pans out.

Oh, and I shook hands with Compton Ass Terry today, who’s hands down the most bad-ass person I’ve met here. In case you aren’t familiar, enlighten yourself:

I’ve got some interviews tee’d up for the morning, and I feel comfortable promising another story going up tomorrow night. Keep your ears open.

All the best
AJ

Blue Valley’s favorite A-Hole is back in the game, baby.

After all the work last week, I finally got my first national byline.

Click here for the story on Huffington Post

Following suit with my previous years in the world of media, I’ve pissed a massive quantity of people off, too. My email inbox is full-to-the-brim and if you take a few seconds to read the comments, there’s a good handful that would like my head on a platter come morning. This isn’t the first time I’ve faced this though; I got this kind of stuff for damn-near every single column I published in my high school paper. Some parents even wrote to our principal suggesting I be suspended or even kicked out of the school. Thankfully, those communists didn’t get their way.

If you read my story, there’s a paragraph towards the bottom that says something-along-the-lines of: “When it comes to these budget battles, there’s a shit-ton of emotion.” So as my credibility gets knocked by every teacher in America, please remember that I called this: These people are going to flip on me, because this is a very emotional subject to them. Understandably so, as well. It should be noted that I didn’t talk to a single teacher (The last source is the director of the Teachers Association, but he has never taught a class in his life. He helps them handle their business and present their demands) and I didn’t talk to a single school board member. These were the opinions of the community members we spoke to, not mine.

Nonetheless, it feels good to be back under everyone’s skin. I have a feeling Wednesday’s story will probably cause a small stir too, but not this large. We’ll see, though. I had a good time with this one.

On to the weekend…

I was freaking EXHAUSTED Friday night, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything substantial. This weekend kind of flew by and details are fuzzy to me at the moment, but I’m pretty sure I napped upon arrival and then did nothing for the rest of the night. Classic.

Saturday was a bit cooler. Apparently Washington Square Park basically turns into a New York version of Venice Beach with a ton of street vendors everywhere. There was a ton of cool stuff, and given that my dad is a rather quirky individual, there was plenty to gather for his Father’s Day presents.

Maclean raised a very valid concern when I came back to my place: I hadn’t been out to party once since I’ve been here. We decided to fix this dilemma by hitting the bars. It’s all a bit fuzzy, but we made our way to a 90’s-music bar on Third called Joshua Tree. It was absolutely ridiculous, the music was incredible but the drinks were insanely expensive. That being said, neither of us had ANY money at the end to get a cab and the subways are pretty sketchy at 3 am. My shins still hurt from that 40 block walk home. Never doing that again.

All-in-all, solid stuff in Barbosaland. In the future, I’m probably not going to post on weekends a lot. Who knows, though.

All the best
AJ

“Ask me about my Weiner…”

So I got published today…kind of.

Sorry about yesterday, it was a long one. The story that I’ve talked about all (goddamn) week changed its form once again and a good handful of sources I had spent hours looking up either didn’t feel like picking up their phones or couldn’t “talk about this…call ______”. So when I’d end up calling _________, I’d have to press seventeen different buttons on the phone to get through their stupid automated menu, only to reach a very undesirable final destination: their voicemail.

That, all day. That’s why I didn’t feel like sitting down with this thing last night. On to today…

As far as starts go, today’s start wasn’t perfect. There’s a place called Bully’s Deli across the street from the office where I always snag a dope blueberry muffin to eat for breakfast. I kept with that trend this morning, but being in a hurry to get in and work on my story, I didn’t watch the guy grab it or wrap it or anything. I get into the office, get settled and start to unwrap this beautiful culinary masterpiece that I plan on bestowing to my digestive system. It’s a freaking cornbread-coconut muffin. What the hell is that? What kind of Nebraskan/Hawaiian hybrids live in this city and order this junk? I’m already fuming as I eat this monstrosity when I hear one of the front-page editors that sits behind me let out a big “WHOAH!” as he stares up at one of our TV’s. This is when the news broke that Representative Anthony Weiner announced he was going to step down after getting caught for sexting. Kind of a big deal.

Saki always comes in around 1030, so I started getting everything set up so we could immediately attack my story as soon as he got in, because as far as I knew, he didn’t have any stories due. I get on the phone with one of my sources and get a pretty solid interview, when halfway through, Saki starts calling me on my cell phone. I call him back after the interview, and he tells me that our editor put him on coverage for the Weiner story. Theoretically, with me being Saki’s bitch for the next 7 weeks, this meant that I needed to help him. Apparently he spoke to our editor and he okay-ed my story for tomorrow, so I started white page-ing and calling every name Saki heard on the streets so I could find some potential leads. Since Saki lives in Brooklyn, it made sense for him to be the one attending the presser, so I just sat back in the newsroom and looked up every piece of info that was asked of me.

So the presser goes on (with some pretty ridiculous stuff occuring in the middle of it, YouTube it) and Saki tells me to gather every piece of information I can about Weiner’s upbringing and early political career. I write up a few hundred words by the time he gets back to the newsroom and he starts writing. Since this was Saki’s story, I assumed the role of fact-checking and looking up any questionable piece of information he had gathered. Every now and then, he’d have me write a few sentences while he did something else, but for the most part, I basically provided facts. This goes on for quite some time and I don’t even notice that it’s 7 o’clock. He’s needing less and less information at this point, so I had some ample time to write up a solid 600 words to my story. Come 9 o’clock, he finishes up and tells me I can go.

This was on my desk when I got back...a pretty fair assessment.

Ironically, after logging 12-hours of pretty much nonstop work, I wasn’t tired in the least bit. I start getting ready to go to the gym when he calls me and asks me for the correct spelling of my name so he can list me as a contributor. I reminded him to omit the periods in between A and J and hit the gym. Upon arriving back, the story’s up.

Even though I had a few paragraphs written, it’s hard to gather a ton of information on your own and then completely paste in a few paragraphs of someone else’s work. That being said, my stuff is pretty isolated and spread out throughout the entire article. I’m totally cool with it, though. I’m sure my Grandmas were probably expecting to read some word-for-word accounts spewed from my brain, but this was Saki’s story. I’m still in disbelief that, four days into the job, I spent 12 hours covering the biggest news story in America today. Sure, ours probably isn’t the biggest story, but you know what I’m saying.

Without further ado, here’s the link. My byline is at the bottom.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/16/anthony-weiner-resignation-local-farewell_n_878821.html

Expect my story tomorrow.

All the best
AJ

I’m too tired…wait until tomorrow…

I’m way too tired to type everything out that happened today.

Don’t be mistaken, it was a solid day, just very taxing and tiring. I took a huge nap immediately after and I plan on going back to bed here in a few minutes. HOWEVER…the story I talked about yesterday got pushed back until tomorrow. We’re talking to some solid sources in the morning and this thing has some serious potential. I’m very excited about it and hope it goes well.

 

I’ll link to it when it’s published. Wish me luck, tomorrow’s a big one.

All the best
AJ