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/// OP-ED E-MAILS TO BLIGHTY | by David Smith MEAN & SOBER | by Stad DiPonzi Mr. Gerber Scary Babies

Through bleary eyes I bid you good morrow!

We welcomed a wee bab, Maizy, to our world recently, and amidst the deep joys and reduced sleep that a screaming, ravenous poop machine brings, I have discovered a new side of America and humanity in general.

Americans do not use dummies as artificial nipples to calm their babies. When I ask my American wife, “Where is Maizy’s dummy, love,” she normally points at me with a wry smile. Instead, parents employ a huge, muscled, Stallone-esque action hero called the “Pacifier” to quell their infants’ screams. The thought terrifies me, but apparently works wonders on nipple hungry babies.

To stop the little angels from soiling their drawers every few minutes, Yanks utilise something called a diaper and sometimes combine it with a Genie. I don’t know where they find all the lanterns, but the whole thing sounds suspiciously like a German plot to me, so I’m sticking with nappies and a bin.

Breaking the Press Release I

N THIS THE MONTH OF LOVE, roses and romance, I feel compelled to aim my own heart-shaped dagger arrow at West Michigan’s inveterate fourth

estate, those gruff but loveable ink-stained wretches we slurringly call news media. As a veteran of newsrooms both huge and

humble, I suffer a misplaced affection for our own dysfunctional collection of malformed media organs. As a small-ish market, but still with a daily paper and all networks, we are at the gooey center of the news media meltdown. Lots of layoffs and freak-outs, and the first one to figure out a business model gets to live, quality be damned. The resulting local media landscape is one

generally rich in hype and self-importance, unburdened by annoying research, balance, insight or institutional knowledge. On our television screens, giant, scary graphics can roam free, while out-of-breath reporters wheeze out one irrelevant overstatement after another. Oh Suzanne, you had me at “our sources tell us.” I love all our stations – you can’t get a camera out to the police standoff, but I am oh-so-ready for that wall-to-wall JV football footage. In print, having Muskegon, Kalamazoo

and Grand Rapids papers all printed in Walker has resulted in some news well, um, not quite making it to press. But I actually like getting scores or concert reviews long after the event.


Makes me slow my own personal pace and just reflect. Of course there are always the news- papers’ online versions, which are about as navigable and friendly as an East GR side street. Worst of all, what does make it into print

or on air these days seems as controlled and as promotional as a telemarketer’s script. In days gone by, reporters would have actually broken a story about hundreds of Steelcase layoffs. Today, they are merely surprised by the press release and then find an industry shill who says all is well. This just in: waiting for an Amway or Right Place press release isn’t reporting. It’s being a chump. Of course, for pure news boosterism, you

can’t beat Vapid Growth, the Ritalin-racked never-blinking cheerleader of the bunch. While it gets minor props for intellectual hon- esty (um, we don’t like bad news), it gets major demerits for not stepping up as a potential valid model for local social media. What’s worse, this approach seems to be

catching on, with more local outlets devot- ing more time and space to feel-good stories and less to “hard news.” Ours may truly be a market for those who only want unicorns and gumdrops, Maroon 5 and Narnia movies. Cue the butterfly kisses. n

SDP remembers when sizing a photo required a proportion wheel, pica pole and wax pencil, and the term “drag-and-drop” really meant something, by god.

They don’t have cots, cradles or prams either, but rather cribs, bassinets and strollers. It’s like I’m re-learning American all over again. Perhaps I sound a bit creepy in Babies-R-Us saying, “Do you have a toilet in which I can change my little ‘un’s cacky nappy.” Maybe more weird than creepy.

Funnily enough, this experience has also shown me how polite Americans can be. Much more so than Brits, at least in terms of bodily functions. In America, babies spit-up. We would say vomit, barf or blow chunks. “Gone potty” would be just “shat ‘em.” “Pee peed” would be “taken a slash.” Poo noise would be simply, farted or possibly guffed. I can vouch that all of these functions happen regularly in my child.

On a personal note, my little girl has a va-ja-ja. It may seem obvious, but I didn’t really think about it until I had to maintain one. I am finding that girls’ parts are very different to boys. It certainly is a learning curve. I’m also having trouble knowing what to call it without sounding crass. I have hundreds of names for a willy (maybe even thousands). If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be grateful.


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