My Story - End of Semester Update

As far as journalism goes, my previous opinion stands. I still think that this job can be an adventure. I still think that working in this field will bring many different types of opportunities, not let me do “the one thing I was trained to do.” I still think that a respectable degree is what separates honest credibility from citizen blogging. And I still like being a sarcastic idiot.

However, after taking this course, my eyes have been opened to other areas concerning journalism.

It has always been my natural instinct to shy away from the political scene. My gut always tells me to change the channel. I’ve never held a picket sign. I don’t watch debates. Bumper stickers make me want to hit things with my Suzuki Grand Vitara.

I did vote in the 2009 national election because I like Obama’s charisma and personality and am strongly opposed to Amendment Two. I also voted in the 2009 presidential election because I wanted to do all that I could to make sure that Sarah Palin would not have a snowball’s chance in Hell to ever run the United States of America. Plus, you get a cool “I Voted” sticker.

Writing the paper on the St. Petersburg mayoral election was really hard for me. I thought it would be easy, because I did not follow the campaigns at all. I had a clear, unbiased agenda with zero background knowledge on either candidate. It took me more than six hours to write.

I don’t understand politics or the issues at hand. No matter which candidate is speaking, the words sound the same to me. I think they are meant to sound that way. To me, politics is voting for the personality that you hate the least.

I ended up getting an A on the assignment, but it was not easy or enjoyable. I did find out something new about myself: I will never write for a political beat.

Another thing that I learned about journalism is that you can make an article a little subjective as long as the news is still there. This was very helpful to me. In Writing for the Mass Media, every sentence had to be completely objective. This is hard for me because I do not like producing work that is automatically summarized to sound like every other person’s work. There is no room for creativity. Without the ability to add a unique spin to a worthwhile piece of writing, what is the point? Seriously.

I had a lot of fun with my beat stories. Choosing my own topics within my beat and writing in my own tone was really cool. It was almost relieving, because I finally realized that I would have fun doing this as a real career. It also gave me an excuse to be active and talk to people, which I normally would not do.

Another thing that I enjoyed about this class, were my classmates. I really like how most of us have the same classes together, such as Beginning Reporting. I’ve taken Writing for the Mass Media, Visual Communications and Photojournalism with some of the same students and they are all awesome people to accompany me on my beginning journalism adventures.

No journalism class is complete without Brian Walsh, sitting in the back corner, killing professors and students with his omnipresent stream of wit and sarcasm. No class is complete without Tiffany Farnum sitting quietly in the corner, occasionally laughing at Walsh. Where would a class be without Nikki Ezelle’s “in your face” attitude and side conversations between Angela Moneck and Kelsie McClain. I can’t forget Katie Pentedemos, Melissa Harford and that crazy Filipowicz. Colby Cole is also an important piece to the puzzle; where would Walsh and I be without someone to tease in class?

Then... there is me. I’m an observer.

I can only imagine what kind of people I will meet in this field in years to come, as I watch the friends I have now become successful, published writers.

I’m looking forward to it.


Miller Finally Receives Bad Karma for Making Fun of Swine Flu

DAYQUIL, FLA -- "I'm gonna punch every swine in the face," she said, in between Kleenex tissues and coughing up her god damn lungs. "I don't know how this happened."

Miller had reported a constant stream of lethargy over the past week, but was not experiencing any cold/flu symptoms. While at her current occupation this past Friday, she started feeling woozy and got those awesome flu chills that everyone knows about.

She also advises all of her blog readers to stay the hell away from liquid Nyquil, unless they want to lay awake for 6 hours and "trip balls."

"It's like, when you have a fever you feel really out of it already," she said, "but after a shot of Nyquil you're stuck in the zone. Lost in your own head - random thoughts and images - the same song stuck in your head for hours on end. Chills. No sleep. Bad chills."

"I still feel like death," she said, on the couch inside her Madeira Beach home. Miller currently has a 5-page paper, beat story, photojournalism assignment, and 8 online lectures to watch. The only thing she has enough energy to do is sit on her ass, watching Iron Chef and pretending that her chicken noodle soup is actually Eel Osobuco, with a light tomato glaze.



You'd think people would be worried about the Swine Flu...

As I step through the trampled grass blades and massive crowds of people at Vinoy Park this Sunday, the sweet smell of funnel cake and grill fire floats through the air. Nothing is visible in the midst of hungry souls, except for a sea of heads, foam-topped cups and mouth-watering signs:

Funnel cakes!
Hand-dipped onion rings!
Butterfly fries!
World Champion Barbeque!

Ribfest 2009 is here.

Every year, St. Petersburg lets some of the best grill masters in the world claim a spot on park grounds, to kick up the flames and the flavor of their craft. National touring bands take the stage while eaters enjoy with sauce-smeared faces.

Thousands of rib-lovers invade the city, parking on neighborhood streets or in illegal parking spaces, blocks or miles away. The lines at each stand stretch into the center of the park. The last ones in line stand in a crowd to keep from cutting into the park’s walkway.
Deciding which barbeque line to jump in may be overwhelming. Each stand has billboard-sized advertisements to help people decide whose ribs are better. However, these are the best grill teams in the world. They all display the same messages: “World Champion! Best Ribs! Award-winning!”

Unless you have a favorite place that keeps you coming back every year, jumping in the shortest line you see may be the best bet to kill hunger pains.

Big Boned Barbeque appeared to have the shortest line. From 4:30 to 5:45, I stood patiently, trying to decide how much food I should buy when it was finally my turn at the window. I overheard a mother talking to her son in front of me: “Do you wanna get ribs and go back to the car and eat? ‘Cause we don’t have a place to sit.”
According to the Vinoy Park website, events can attract up to 50,000 people. “There’s all different kinds of life out here,” said Jennifer Diedrich, a rib-lover in the Big Boned line. “Lots of places don’t offer events like this,” she said.

People will stand in a line over an hour for different forms of smoky meat. I end up with a half-rack of Big Boned ribs with a side of… pulled pork sandwich. Altogether, the $18 is worth the amount of food they slap on your Styrofoam tray.

The ribs are excellent. The meat sticks to the bone but is still tender enough to bite into. Slathered with their signature sauce, each chomp delivers a tangy zap to the taste buds with an essence of smoked goodness.

The sweet and smoky flavor of the pulled pork blends instantly with the starch of the sandwich roll. The soft bread and tender swine squish together like a big, greasy marshmallow. Big Boned Barbeque from Chattanooga, TN, knows what they are doing behind the grill.

The Zac Brown Band, one of the most popular headlining bands, was the final performance to take the Ribfest stage. They wooed the crowd with over an hour and a half of southern rock and surprise cover songs, like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and “Blackbird.”

Their style of music ranges from slow, mellow tunes to fast-paced guitar riffs with a southern twang that could easily start a hoedown. Their latest hit song, “Toes,” is saved for the last song on the set-list, right before their unexpected encore.
Overall, Ribfest is the ultimate scene for a rib fiend or music fan. This all-day event is held at Vinoy Park one weekend a year. Each day has different musical performances with the same grilled delicacies from places like Big Boned Barbeque or Willingham’s World Champion BBQ.

Although the place is crowded and there is no room to breathe, Ribfest is worth the experience. Just take it from Zac Brown:

“I’ve got my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world – a cold beer in my hand. Life is good today.”


Hopefully city development is something he can Foster

With 53 percent of the votes, Bill Foster won the St. Petersburg mayoral election Tuesday, against opponent Kathleen Ford. For some, the result is not unexpected.

According to St. Pete Times Columnist, Howard Troxler, the formula is simple: “For at least 20 years, every mayoral election in St. Petersburg has featured a critic of City Hall vs. a candidate preferred by the downtown and business establishment.” He said this year’s election was the “same dance, same result.”

Foster’s win is tied to his traditional views of keeping the city going in the right direction. He had support from the city’s police, business groups and former and current elected officials, while advertising his shared views with former mayor, Rick Baker.

Baker proudly endorsed Foster over Ford during the 2009 campaigns.

Ricky Lehner, a 21-year-old USF student, made sure to cast a ballot at the voting booth this year. “I think that as someone who manages a business downtown, he will probably end up being the better mayor for businesses, but this is just me looking for the good in him winning,” he said.

“I wanted Ford to win,” Lehner said. “I don't want Foster to come in and just continue running things like Baker has been, with all the crooked business deals that they (republicans) give to all their business friends.”

Although Ford lost the 2009 race, results show that she did gain more votes compared to her 2001 loss to Rick Baker. With her reformist views that most of the city opposed, she still managed to stack up 47 percent of the votes. That is, of the small percentage that actually voted.

Foster had 24,289 votes. Ford had 21,761 votes. The city of St. Petersburg has 156,478 registered voters. Something does not add up.

The St. Pete Times said that a low voter turnout was already expected for this election, since it was scheduled in an “off year” from state and national elections. According to Supervisor of Elections, Deborah Clark, the turnout would have been higher if St. Pete synched its elections with state and national voting dates.

The city uses this awkward scheduling process to “rid local elections of greasy machine politics” that go hand-in-hand with major national races, according to the Times. However, this also has a lasting effect for voter turnouts in St. Petersburg.

Voter turnout for specific age groups is unknown in this election, but Lehner is proud to exercise his right to be heard.

“Young people think that the decisions being made today don't affect them at all, so they don't care,” he said. “People elected now are the same people who are going to be in power, say, when we graduate college, at which point the young people now might think it matters, but when their opinion really mattered was at election time right now,” Lehner said.

Fiery debate issues teetered until the final ballot was counted this year. Debate topics varied between things like crime control, businesses, Baywalk, the Downtown area and property tax.
One citizen concern was a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays and the possibility of St. Petersburg losing its devoted baseball team.

The Tropicana Field matter is now in the hands of Foster, who says he’s not willing to let the team leave the city, according to a Times article. The Ray’s lease is up in 2026 and Foster would like to see them play through it.

Ford said that the stadium issue is not one of the most important issues to be focused on and had planned to sue the Rays if they tried to break their lease before it expired. “We’re one third of the way into that lease agreement. And I think The Trop is just fine,” she said.

The article also states that candidates want the final decision to be up to the citizens, but Foster believed the city would have lost the Rays if Ford was elected.

Lehner thinks that the Rays should stay and play. “I think from an economic point of view, it would be important for the Rays to stay in St. Pete,” he said.

In his acceptance speech at Ferg’s Sports Bar, Foster claimed that he would work to win over the citizens that did not vote for him in the election: “47 percent of voters didn’t agree with me, and I will work to try and earn their respect every day,” he said.

*proper sources have been cited in submitted version of my paper*


Could a Tampa Bay Talent be the Next Big Thing?

On Wednesday, October 21st, local bands and radio fans gather at the Push Ultra Lounge to watch the 97x Next Big Thing Local Band Search - a live music competition to help fans decide whose music would be worth paying for at one of Tampa Bay’s biggest concerts in December.

The 97x Next Big Thing is an annual concert put on by 97x for dedicated fans. This bay area FM station loads listeners with a variety of upbeat, alternative tunes whenever 97.1 hits the radio dial. When listeners finally get their NBT ticket ripped at the gate, they get to watch more than 10 bands in the stage line-up and rock out to live songs that blare louder than any radio signal.

This year, 97x is looking for a local band to rock the opening stage.

At Push Ultra Lounge on 3rd Street south, the first night of the band search has begun and Shark, a popular 97x DJ, is excited to host it.

The first local band, Marksmen, took the stage in front of the event’s small crowd. This foursome made the lounge echo with their catchy rhythm, crashing symbols and front man that can sing or shriek in harmonious rock melody.

Chris Brickman and Matt Segallos were the first members of the original band. Brickman played lead guitar while Segallos sparked the lyrical side. After a few months of experimenting with acoustics only, they brought along Reed Murray to bash the drums and Sean Allred to pluck the bass guitar.

Marksmen was born.

Connie Alatorre, a USF student and Marksmen fan, bobbed her head along with the band’s tunes. “I actually know someone who is in the band,” she screamed through the air of guitar riffs and amplified words. “See that guy over there jumping around all crazy with the guitar? That’s my friend, Chris.”

Alatorre works with Marksmen’s guitarist at Sam Ash Music Store in Tampa. She came this Wednesday night to have a few drinks and show support for Brickman’s show. “It’s really surprising that there aren’t a lot of people here for a 97x show,” she said.

There were about 11 people standing in front of the stage. Other small groups of people were sitting at the bar-top or at the booths in the lounge area. Some people decided to show their support by sitting outside.

Push Ultra Lounge is one of the more upscale bars in Downtown St. Pete. The brick walls and silver curved bars that run down the ceiling and bar-side wall give the place a classy, yet down-to-earth atmosphere.

Marksmen rocks hard while Annie Urena leans against the corner of the bar-top, facing the stage. Urena is the Generation Y Liaison for Florida Central Credit Union. She works for FCCU by promoting events that the bank sponsors or participates in, while also getting feedback from the bank's younger generation. She uses the most popular social networking sites to get the word across to younger people or anyone that is connected to FCCU online.

“I’m actually uploading a photo to Facebook right now,” she said while her cell phone screen flashed the familiar homepage. “I deal with the Twitter pages, Facebook and MySpace, stuff like that.” She also updates a web page on blogger.com for the credit union.

According to Urena, Florida Central Credit Union is giving $1,500 to the winning band of this 97x band competition. Her job opens many connections for networking and being involved in social events. Aside from this 97x event, she is also in the process of helping with three upcoming television commercials.

This was the first night of the 97x Next Big Thing Local Band Search, but it won’t be the last. More local talent will be playing at Push every Wednesday for the next five weeks, so fans can decide whose music should make it to the NBT stage in December.

The 97x Next Big Thing will celebrate its ninth anniversary at the Ford Amphitheatre this year. Gates open at 10 a.m. Ticket prices range from $20-$65 depending on section choice, plus the added service fees. Some of the headlining bands that will be shaking the stage on December 6th include: Rise Against, Chevelle and Thirty Seconds to Mars.

The opening band is up to the fans.
Listen to the Tampa Bay locals and cast a vote at 97xonline.com.
Annie Urena (left) and fans


Future Reveals Grim Result of Miller's Morning

HOLY FUCK, FLA, Nov. 5 - A University of South Florida student, Nicole D. Miller, is currently losing her fucking mind in her Madeira Beach home this morning. Officials said the onset of this time-lapsing epiphany of analytical pessimism began earlier the previous day, but has lasted until 2:38 a.m.

Officials also said that Miller realized today that she only experiences bad in everything because of the people who cause it in her world and do not even take the time to notice. "It's like, how can you just shit all over someone's day and then politely step over it so you don't get any on you?" she said early Thursday morning.

According to Miller, this constant fatuous bullshit makes her want to "inhale staples" and "peel my face off, so I have something to suffocate myself with."

So far, her coping method is playing Wii and rapping the popular 97x song, No Handlebars, in its entireity.

"Rapping helps me forget about peoples' bullshit for a few solid minutes," she said.

Fuck Life.