Former newspaper nemesis Howard Owens has decided to move on from the sweaty confines of Bakersfield proper. And not quietly so. He went public and announced his transition from Bakersfield to Rochester, New York on howardowens.com.
What's this? My former blog sparring partner has jumped into another ring?
Why would I announce such?
Maybe the blogosphere in Bakersfield has been just a little different since his ousting from his high-and-mighty VP chair at the Bakersfield Californian. He was let go. But why? Does Howard even know? The subtleties in his posts are intriguing as I always wonder, What does Howard really mean? His love for the media industry that shines through his blog might just begin to suffer since he will be the director of Internet Publishing at Gatehouse Media, a conglomerate operating 450 small dailies, weeklies and shoppers.
There's an interesting history between myself and Howard. We once eyed each other over burgers at Jerry's Pizza: blogger meets News Media Internet Pimp VP. We left the pizza-a-go-go with guns drawn—though no shots were fired—yet eventually we had some skirmishes online that I think were tantamount to a small town blog war.
Has the dust really settled, Howard?
Howard drove his yellow pony Mustang and parked it right in front of the Californian building and waited outside for me to arrive. I felt like a reckless teenager as I saw him standing in the shade. He looked like he was about to spray paint "howardowens.com" on the side of the newspaper building. Would I have stopped him or just snapped a photo?
"Want to get a coffee?" I asked.
"Sure," he said. He left his yellow pony right there in front of the Californian building, a big yellow pustule on the street that I half expected to be cleansed by the time we got back.
Suddenly I stuck my hand in my pocket to see if I had any money. It's never any good to ask someone for coffee and then have to borrow five bucks. Just ask Monty Byrom. I pulled out about fifteen.
"I hope you're buying. All I have is a dollar," Howard said.
"Don't worry. I got it."
At Dagny's we didn't get coffee at all. He got a black iced tea and I got my usual strawberry smoothie. This was an important meeting. I was tempted to ask for a whipped cream topping. I held back.
We sat near a window and talked about Howard's transition. We discussed the video revolution on the Internet and youtube.com. I mentioned a possible post-modern travel blog project with shozu.com. We spoke dark tales of Bakersfield Lords and of dualistic shadows of people who may still run the city's high powers. I shared my strange "Gay snuff tape" story where an old professor back in the 1980s insisted I do a paper on "gay snuff tapes". If that wasn't admitting that the Lords have a videotape, I don't know what was. Howard shared his own very interesting barbershop tale, and an eye-opening Air Force vignette. We talked about his new job and responsibilities and what life would be like in Rochester, away from family, but closer to baseball. "It's very positive after being ousted," I said.
"We might still be looking at each other with mutual distrust"
"Hey, maybe it's better this way."
Yeah, life's better without so much drama.
But is the blog?
Although I poke fun at the newspaper, I listen to Howard when he gives me advice about how the newspaper industry is run. He makes valid points; his most recent about why Internet content appears missing from the Californian's database. "Archiving is one of the biggest issues affecting newspapers today. Especially when newspapers have to turn to vendors for their archiving. In a perfect world, it would all be permalinks."
Yet I still can't find Bakersfield.com archived articles on the plagiarism scandal that smashed the Bakersfield print media giant last year. Nothing. Google, or the search engine on Bakersfield.com. I suppose I could go ask the paper, and they might say so look at microfilm. But I want the instant gratification of looking on the Internet. Besides, wasn't the plagiarism scandal newsworthy? They did write about it… and they were good articles… but where are they? I'm too lazy to go ask the Californian, and even though many folks over there read this blog, I doubt if they will comment. I think they're too afraid I'm a prowling blogger, ready to pounce on them, the same way a local artist was paranoid I was going to pounce on Camille Gavin.
Maybe Black Dog is the real blogger to worry about. He's scandalous. Just kidding.
Into Dagny's walked the daughter of Ginger Moorhouse. I think Howard mentioned her name was Ginny. When I saw her I instantly wondered if she or another relative would one day be primped to run the family-owned Bakersfield Californian.
Howard stood up warmly shook her hand. She eyeballed me a couple of times as they spoke. Did she recognize me? Was she wondering if we were going to team up and go postal?
As we left I said hello to James Ratliff from the band The Indians. He sat having a drink and was reading about "reason in writing". Such a philosopher is young James the musician and student…Howard made a slight joke about there being "no reason in writing" to James as we headed out the door.
While Howard headed to his yellow pony and I wandered next to him, headed back to my day job, I joked, "I wonder if your car was keyed."
2008 nick belardes