A Century of Stories

If each of my Daily News bylines represented a year, that is.

Now that I’ve hit 100 stories (and counting), I find I’m introducing myself less and building an institutional knowledge that, with the departure of our last veteran reporter last month, is more important than ever.

Some of my most-praised writing so far came while I was in the woods celebrating the end of my first quarter-century. The story of a model airplane, a father and a daughter could have fallen flat, but I think I propped it up with What It’s Really About: Love.

But one of my most consistent hits has been covering the public utility, who didn’t have many nice things to say about The Daily News at a 7 a.m. meeting that didn’t go unnoticed.

Then again, the comments really flood in with even a mention of Longview’s new water supply.

When I’m not busy holding local governments accountable, I’m chasing down the newsy angles of 15-year-old baseball.

The Schereville, Ind., 13-15-year-old team came to Longview for the Babe Ruth World Series in August, but stayed on Mayfair Lake north of town thanks to a wealthy friend from Kitsap County. Photo by Brooks Johnson
The Schereville, Ind., 13-15-year-old team came to Longview for the Babe Ruth World Series in August, but stayed on Mayfair Lake north of town thanks to a wealthy friend from Kitsap County. Photo by Brooks Johnson

And this month I’m helping keep the Friday Night Lights on by helping the sports desk with football coverage.

In other news, the new J Mascis album is great, I’m terrible at fantasy football, and the Avett Brothers put on a great show on the eve of my one-year anniversary with my wife — though Seattle’s The Head and the Heart did one better the week prior.

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On the Cover of The Daily News

To the tune of, well, you get it.

I’d say I’m as rooted in my new job as the hops vining up the side of my house, and the clips keep climbing likewise.

My official beats now are the city of Longview (where I get to do stuff like this); Lower Columbia College (graduation tomorrow); and Cowlitz PUD, our ever-scandalous public electric utility (here’s this month’s quagmire).

It’s fantastic getting to meet people I might otherwise never even see — like Dr. Fuesler —and be the mighty check on governments that, even at the local level, have plenty to hide.

And then there are the squirrel bridges:

The Longview Sandbaggers and Squirrel Fest mascot Sandy B. McNutt unveil Longview's fourth squirrel bridge during opening ceremonies of the 2013 Squirrel Fest. Photo by John Markon.
The Longview Sandbaggers and Squirrel Fest mascot Sandy B. McNutt unveil Longview’s fourth squirrel bridge during opening ceremonies of the 2013 Squirrel Fest. Photo by John Markon.

It’s a strange place, Longview.

Of course I’m still working toward getting my byline on the cover of the Rolling Stone (see what I did there?) so I popped out a review of the ramblin’ Jonathan Warren and The Billy Goats for the Indy this week, alongside Bozeman, Mont.’s surprisingly solid Panther Car.

In other news, Americans are using the word “nil” with increasing frequency, though experts predict a drop-off by mid-July. Cheers.

Whirlwind week

Or, week and a half.

I’ve been everywhere, it seems, meeting just about everyone I’ll need to know and seeing everything I need to see to cover Longview, Lower Columbia College and Wahkiakum County. I’ve got the stories to prove it, too.

My first cover story also became my first owned issue, and I even claim credit for the headline:

FirstA1 It’s always nice to see a packed Parks and Rec meeting following a real ball-breaking issue like this.

And don’t miss my favorite lead I’ve written so far: “Jesus came to town in a gray Honda Civic with Oregon plates.”

But I’m still a music man, too, so I got to write up the review for Missoula’s psych-pop “scuzz rock” quartet Skin Flowers.

And don’t miss photographer and close friend Tim Goessman’s 2011-2013 Missoula DIY reflections. He unveiled the little-before-seen archive of photos from the scene we were both very invested in, and the results are a good look at what makes it tick. Even got a shoutout on the Indy’s arts blog.

Off to a City Council meeting; is my tie on straight?

Sound Start to the Year

This week I was asked to churn out a quick review of Lavoy, the Spokane-via-Alaska synth pop group in Missoula tonight, and a complete reversal of that description in my general praise of British producer Burial. While the former had better criticism (at times I just wanted to help the band more than the reader), I had good fun in a few lines in the latter. Go forth and read Brooks!

On the Headwall front, Facebook has a new algorithm, and I think it targets scheduled posts, especially those with links. In other words, Facebook wants money for exposure. So if you’ve been missing my clever posts, blame Mr. Zuckerberg. I’ll be decoding the way into your feed all month. Or year, if I must.

Oh, and the newest issue is available online, in addition to an e-edition I’ve linked to in the cover below. Cheers.

5.4 Headwall template - final-real_Layout 1

Mountains Beyond Mountains

… of which I’m feeling pretty on top for a newly minted quarter-century-year-old. Aside from seeing Alabama Shakes at Grand Targhee and Belle & Sebastian in SLC (photos below), I’ve received another birthday present of sorts: I’ve been made the online editor for Montana Headwall as well as its Facebook curator. (Notice the Facebook link, which I highly recommend you click and ‘like.’) The quarterly outdoors magazine publishes user-contributed trip and gear reports, which I’ll be in charge of making attractive and accessible. Not to mention I’ll be adding my own adventures to the mix, like last week’s discovery of the crazy amount of fish at Lake Hebgen near West Yellowstone. I’m excited, what can I say.

It’s been busy (overtime busy) at the Post Register as we transition to a new CMS and InDesign at the copy desk. It’s been nice teaching instead of being taught (Quark) for the past two weeks, as I know shortcuts and secrets that have aided the migration. I’ll be taking over the A section a few days this week as the assistant copy chief acquaints herself with the whole ordeal. Again, very exciting.

Fun stuff coming up at the Indy, but no spoilers just yet. Instead here is some work I’ve done recently and photos of the bands I had promised:

This ran on B1 (Sports) as the main art during an issue between Chukars games recently.
This ran on B1 (Sports) as the main art during an issue between Chukars games recently.

In hindsight I wish I had done some sort of reverse type, but font choice, not color, dominated my thought pattern. Might as well stick with one theme and show off my first sports page (again, playing with fonts):

Slow news day in sportsland to run a Pirate as the centerpiece, but the All Star break will do that.
Slow news day in sportsland to run a Pirate as the centerpiece, but the All Star break will do that.

And here is Stuart Murdoch of Scottish indie-pop kings Belle & Sebastian, followed by Brittany Howard and Co. of the super-soulful Alabama Shakes:

Thousands turned out for Salt Lake's first Twilight concert of the summer season, including my Kaimin mates interning at the Tribune this summer.
Thousands turned out for Salt Lake’s first Twilight concert of the summer season, including my Kaimin mates interning at the Tribune this summer.
The Targhee Music Festival, while not large as far as festivals go, drew a lively crowd on the last day of its run this year.
The Targhee Music Festival, while not large as far as festivals go, drew a lively crowd on the last day of its run this year.

The Middle

Or at least very close to it. And already I’m putting out A1s:

Holiday covers have to be subtly cheeky, see.
Holiday covers have to be subtly cheeky, see.

Pretty happy about that, as you can guess. Just a few more weeks refining my Quark skills before we switch to InDesign, where I should really shine (what with the 400-level course, 10-day intensive training and general usage).

Speaking of general usage, I updated my resumé, clips and my LinkedIn profile to better reflect, well, the last two months. They’ve been busy, what can I say (see below).

Another reason I named this post “The Middle” was to have some segue into my Jimmy Eat World review, though there wasn’t really a transition there anyway. A good band with a so-so album, a careful balance to strike.

Anyway, not to keep you too long, here’s a photo of Idaho Falls’ Whiskey Sasquatch from a few weeks ago. They play rockabilly this and rockabilly that and cover the Ramones multiple times a set, completely sincere.

The lead singer/guitarist won the 2011 Bukowski Fest costume contest at Missoula's Wilma Theatre. He took Walter to the next level.
The lead singer/guitarist won the 2011 Bukowski Fest costume contest at Missoula’s Wilma Theatre. He took Walter to the next level.

In Case You Missed It

I realize I have yet to post the result of a semester studying and reporting on the personal economy of the Fort Peck Reservation. Well don’t let me put any more words between it and you:

Necessary Alternatives

I would post some of Sam Wilson’s great photos, but go watch the video first and find the photos speckled throughout the best long read I’ve written. Don’t skimp on the other stories, especially Taylor Anderson’s Fort Belknap story with multimedia by Hunter D’Antuono (whom I’m trusting with my wedding photography). I’m happy to have come up with the title of the package that went out in print and online: Vast Expenses. Headline writing is good fun.

Meanwhile, in Idaho Falls: heat. The heat wave that is baking the southwest is definitely reaching its fiery fingers into the northern West. It’ll be in the 90s all week — what better time to be looking for a sea kayak on Craigslist. Also, here’s today’s West cover package:

White space is to design as silence is to orchestration.
White space is to design as silence is to orchestration.

I’ll be in Missoula on my first three-day weekend before working July 4 and after, just in time to catch this band I was lucky enough to review, Ivan & Alyosha. They sound like the subtle sadness of a gray Seattle day in a light folk rock way. Perfect.