Enter Stage Gabbing

It's done

By Steven Martinovich

(August 14, 2000) I well and truly hate to be self-referential when it comes to something I write in Enter Stage Right. To me it is no different then your local news team bragging about the awards their operation has won for their coverage. It's crass. That said, I've done it in the past and this editorial will be about ESR.

In case you missed it, the archive is finally complete. Every article, editorial and award ever run by this magazine is now available online. Frankly, the scale the project surprised me. I started working on the archive in April or May -- it seems so long ago -- and over 1 200 pages later it's finally done. The archive represents a growth of several factors in the size of ESR -- an issue typically runs 120 pages -- and could have been as big as 3 000 pages had I decided to put up every page ESR has ever run. That could happen in the future.

The archive allows you to see how much we've grown and what issues we've covered since the magazine's inception in June 1996. It also allows ESR to explore issues much deeper. As you'll have likely noticed, all of the new articles up this week now have links to related articles from our archive. As ESR grows, those links will form an incredible network of articles that should keep you occupied for hours if you choose to explore further. One area I will have to address in the near future is the size of the index pages for the individual years. They are large and unwieldy and I'll have to come up with a better system.

All of the work on the archive, and believe me it took hundreds of hours, occurred at the behest of the readers. You wanted the archive, you got it. If you'd like to see any other features here, feel free to drop me a line and I'll see what I can do. And yes, I am working on a system to forward our articles by e-mail to other people...the most commonly requested feature in recent months.

Now that I've bored you with all that writing about ESR, I'm going to give you some bad news about another online magazine. On August 3, Intellectual Capital announced that it and its parent organization, VoxCap.com, will be acquired by SpeakOut.com. The magazine has stopped publishing but past issues will remain available online.

Published since 1996, IC has long been respected for the quality of its writers and coverage of the issues. It's also a magazine that I've been trying to get into for over a year now. As some of you may know, I am a freelance writer (many of my pieces in ESR have been published in newspapers across Canada and the United States) but I was unable to crack the lineup of IC. While I count that as a failure, IC's managing editor Bob Kolasky was helpful with his advice on what approach to take with my writing.

IC will be missed as one of the pioneers of online magazines and a model for what I've been trying to do with my humble effort!

Word up

By Steven Martinovich

(July 17, 2000) Yo, what up my black brothers and sisters? I'm clockin' ya...word! Alright y'all, back to the beat.

Sorry, that was meant specifically for black readers of Enter Stage Right, to show them that ESR is their magazine by speaking to them as many of their community do. Was that offensive? The Vice President of the United States seems to think that's okay to "black" yourself up when speaking to African-Americans.

I pity the poor politicians, especially those who campaign in ethnically diverse areas. Each community has their own quirks and eccentricities, patterns of language usage, important issues, food...by the time an election is over, a politician running for federal office in any modern western democracy has likely supported every cause imaginable in their quest for votes.

There is a difference, however, between whoring for votes and being insulting. I personally believe that Al Gore moved past that line when he spoke the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People conference last week.

Gore, whose public speaking brings to mind a quiet petrified forest, has quietly introduced a new variable into this election. Unlike other politicians who may change their message depending on who they are speaking to, Gore modifies his very speech patterns depending on the ethnicity or race of the group he speaks to. An example of that occurred at the NAACP conference.

That petrified forest became the rousing southern black preacher, leading his congregation to God (AKA more government and class warfare) with a journey of incendiary rhetoric and prayer. "Yea, a man may say thou hast faith and I have works. Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works," said Gore, drawing on the Book of James to attack Bush.

While members of the audience shouted "Preach!" Gore took biblical aim at NRA president Charlton Heston, telling "his people" that "because the last time Moses took advice from a bush his people wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, and he may not be packing his bags right now." For a former divinity student who trumpets his own deep Christian beliefs, Gore should know that the Bible states the burning bush was the voice of God itself.

And it's not just blacks getting the Gore treatment, Latinos have born witness to this as well with the Vice President's use of Spanish "palabras" (Spanish for "words"). Oi vey!

Some commentators are debating whether Gore is being insulting or merely attempting to bring in minorities traditionally underrepresented when it comes time to vote, much less serve in office. While his motives may be pure, he reminds me of white people who become black the moment an African-American joins a conversation. You know the types, the ones who sound like David Niven until an African-American arrives, then suddenly they become John Shaft. Although they only want that person to feel comfortable (and show how hip that cracker can be), it's insulting for assuming that homogeneity rules in the black community.

Gore may think he's sensitive to the black experience -- wealthy aristocratic whites raised in the hallways of Congress often are -- but his habit of modifying his speech is insulting and betrays what he really thinks of blacks and other minorities. He may not be a racist, but he does seem to think that the average minority is a media caricature and by using a standard manner of talking to them, he's assured of gaining their hearts and minds. It may work, the audience at the NAACP did give him a rousing send-off and will likely vote en masse for him, but in the long run I'd like to think insulting someone by playing to racial stereotypes will die out.

There is one other thing. Just imagine if George W. Bush had become a homey in his speech to the NAACP...I wonder if the media would have commented on that?

Thanks for reading,

Steven Martinovich

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

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