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Monday, March 30, 2020

By way of introduction


So, when I was interviewed by editor Brian Mahoney the other day for a story in Chronogram about Ulster Publishing's radical COVID-caused contraction, he asked me for a pocket bio. Not having already done this really, this is what I wrote:

A freelance writer and photographer, Dan Barton grew up in Hyde Park [Roosevelt Class of 1985, but you knew that], where his journalism career started on an underground newspaper in high school. He got his English degree at SUNY New Paltz [Class of 1990], where he took a lot of journalism classes and wrote and edited for The Oracle. He then went to work in local journalism - first for the now-defunct Taconic Newspapers, then as a copy editor at the Daily Freeman. In 2004, he joined Ulster Publishing, where was first editor of the also-now-defunct Highland-Marlborough Post Pioneer and then editor of the Kingston Times and part-editor of the Saugerties Times until 2020.

Stated another way, this is my 30th year of doing journalism in the Mid-Hudson Valley, some of it a long time ago in Dutchess, most of it in Ulster and until middle of last week all of it for a weekly paycheck.

This pic I took at Bop to Tottom on the last day
I was in Kingston sums up much.
Enter the virus. While given the state of affairs of the local news industry (a deeper dive into that state is coming in the next post) I did not expect to work full-time for a local outlet forever, I really did not expect my job, along with the jobs of millions nationwide, to be wiped out by a global pandemic. But that's history - it's full of examples going back far before humans, even, of shit happening that no one saw coming AT ALL, coming in and changing everything. Deus ex machina - "God out of the machine" - is one way (in Latin) to say it. In 2020, it's the virus ex machina.

(A note about language/curse words: There will be a few in this blog. Now, those who know me in real life know that when I get really torqued up about something, literally every other word out of my mouth is an F-bomb: "I [expletive] cannot [expletive] believe the [expletive] Mets [expletive expletive expletive expletive] bullpen [expletive] blew it [expletive] AGAIN!" I don't anticipate doing that on this platform; as a writer my view now, as opposed to some years ago, is curse words lose their effect if they're overused. I kind of like the apparent rule CNN had with the Anthony Bourdain show - he got to say "shit" twice an episode and the F-word was bleeped out.

And another note - in journalism sometimes one makes enemies. If you see some kind of post with gross sexual content made to look like something I wrote on this blog or elsewhere, that wasn't me.)

It's clear we're now past the point where we might have expected the coronavirus crisis to be a blip on the timeline, the kind of thing that's a trivia question 10 years from now that most people get wrong. Every day, as the numbers of cases and deaths go up, as field hospitals get set up in convention centers, city parks and college dorms; as refrigerated trucks are lined up and ice rinks repurposed to warehouse the dead; as people we know and love are stricken, sickened and lost, it becomes clear that a bright red dividing line is being drawn right through us like a Sith lightsaber through soft Bantha butter. Instead of BC and AD, or BCE and CE, it may well be "Before Coronavirus and "After Coronavirus." But more on that later.

This blog's goals are varied: To keep me sane. To keep me busy during this Great Confinement/Open-Ended Hunker Mode. To reconnect with my writerly self, which got sublimated as things became busier at Ulster Publishing. (When you spend all day working on other people's writing, getting it up to do your own was, for me, a challenge I could never consistently meet.) To entertain my friends who choose to read this blog. (Thanks in advance, my friends who choose to read this blog!)

Topics will vary, widely. I am fond of saying that a good journalist tries, at least, to know a little bit about everything. I was also fond of saying that doing front-line community journalism meant that you were on the hook to produce a story about anything that happens in your coverage area, from presidential visits to UFO sightings to ex-town officials turning up dead in the river. That said, I'm looking forward to writing about stuff that didn't really have a place in the local news - pro sports, religion, art, history, philosophy, movies, music, gaming (tabletop RPGs and boardgames; my struggles with video games will be a topic of a future post), etc. Politics, from local to global? Sure, why not, as the mood strikes. And feel free to suggest topics; like Rod Stewart sang once upon a time, I'm always open to ideas.

So thanks and until we meet again, may we all remain ever asymptomatic. - Dan 




24 comments:

  1. Dan, Looking for a 'follow' or 'subscribe' button. Looking forward to reading your work going forward. Cheers.

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  2. I look forward to reading about stuff that didn't really have a place in the local news.

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  3. Keep going, Barton. Talk soon over a drink, I hope.

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  4. A pleasure to read, as always.

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  5. Thanks, Dan, for your first post. I look forward to many more. Bro Bob

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  6. Your wit is as sharp as ever and I for one am looking forward to your posts. I would love to unearth some long lost copies of the "SV" It seems a lifetime ago X. Oh wait... it was a lifetime ago...

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    1. Both Dave and I have a stash of old issues - I think his is more complete than mine. Depending on how long the virus crisis lasts perhaps I will get a chance to scan some in.

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    2. Oh, the Student Voice! Memories...
      Your first post was a very good read, Dan. Enjoyed it quite a bit.

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    3. Thanks, Christine! "The Righteous Majesty and Eternal Glory of Henrik Lundqvist" will be an upcoming post, I promise.

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  7. Glad you decided to do this. You, however, failed to mention your internship at the Legislative Gazette. Love you man.

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    1. Love you too. I must have thought that was included under the SUNY New Paltz part but it is a whole chapter in and of itself.

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  8. Congrats on the launch of your blog! I've never been a big blog reader, but I've always had huge admiration for your writing talent on so many levels, and was honored to be expertly edited by you for a while). So I'm really looking forward to checking in on a regular basis. Best of luck with the blog (and everything else). xxoo><><
    Jennifer Brizzi

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    1. Thanks Jen - coming from someone whose writing talent I have also hugely admired for years, your compliment means a lot. :) Hope you're doing OK with all of this.

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  9. Nice beginning. Look forward to more. By the way, I don't mind expletives. (I've been using a lot of them lately.)

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    1. Thanks Sid - I do miss the free-fire cuss-word zone of the newsroom!

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  10. Enjoyed the read. Love you man

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  11. Thanks Dan! Looking forward to more!

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