There are so many different uses for paper. Back in the early 1990s, I worked with then-Anchorage paper maker and sculptor, Karen Stahlecker, on mounting her magnificently vulnerable sculpture, The Fragile Vessel, as part of a musical composition by the same name I wrote for Juliana Osinchuk's debut concert in Anchorage.
To Karen, the act of making paper was itself not just an art, a tedious set of craftsman-like steps. It was a quest for both purity and spiritual connection with her compositional materials.
I remember walking with Karen in June, 1993, down at the Cottonwood Creek Flats on upper Knik Arm, looking for the perfect Siberian Iris flowers to pick. She wanted to turn them into paper for a new idea she was trying to execute. We must have looked at close to 10,000 flowers, seeking the few she knew in her heart would work.
Wasps use paper they make themselves to create their hives, their nests, their homes. Each hive is unique, a natural work of artful utility. Wasp hives might be a useful metaphor for what happens at a daily newspaper. Just as wasps of a particular hive are tied to the culture of their paper home, so employees at any one newspaper or magazine or journal are tied to theirs.
This past weekend, I was looking at this wasp hive pulled last September from one of our trees. It sits in my greenhouse now, waiting through the cold of winter. But as the days lengthen, the sun to the south rises higher in the sky, warming the interior of the greenhouse a bit more each day. Will it somehow come back to life some warm afternoon?
The Anchorage Daily News is asking for new contributors to their Community Voices niche on their editorial pages. Long ago, in the last century, I occasionally wrote music reviews and music articles for the ADN. It was an interesting experience, leading to a warm friendship with Mike Dunham, who was ADN Arts Editor - and my editor - during part of that time. Mike taught me a lot about writing.
I e-mailed Matt Zencey at the ADN, expressing my interest in doing a Community Voices slot. He e-mailed back, asking for me to "do me a favor and pull your two favorite pieces that are closest to the kind of writing and subjects you propose to do for us and send them in." Instead, I wrote two new pieces, and sent them in today. The deadline is either tomorrow or Wednesday, depending on how you read Matt's instructions at the ADN web site - "The deadline is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22 [sic]." The 22nd is, of course, Tuesday.
As I was looking at the paper in the wasp hive last weekend, I was thinking, "Why even bother with wanting to write for the ADN?" Why, indeed...
Last Thursday, Progressive Alaska linked to the immanent release of the Alaska Legislative Council's amicus brief in the Exxon Valdez U.S. Supreme Court case. By Friday morning, one could look at that article's update and read or download the brief. Since Friday, over a hundred readers here have done just that. The ADN finally covered this today, almost four days after Progressive Alaska. Since the beginning of 2008, PA has covered several breaking stories hours, if not days before the ADN.
And there are stories covered here not covered by the ADN. On January 8, I wrote about the UK Times' story about Sibel Edmonds' newest revelations on serious breeches of our national security regarding nuclear technology. Two weeks later, it appears PA is still the only outlet of any sort in Alaska covering this story.
The ADN relegated the very important story of UAA Prof. Rick Steiner's rough handling by the Palin administration to a gossip column, when it merited full coverage by their political and environmental teams.
The ADN's editorials and op-eds don't contain hyperlinks. But most of the blogs listed as "progressive" at PA do. I feel that hyper-link-embedded articles are the state of the art, and are about to take another step up from what is the current default. Steve Aufrecht at What Do I Know? is a step or so ahead of me on this. He's frequently embedding video links and videos of his own into the direct context of his essays. Although the ADN carries video content, and has been doing that for about five years now, it is never directly contextual or linked into the body of their articles.
Whether or not the ADN decides to risk turning me loose once again on their paper and ink, there are a lot of excellent writers in the community. So even though I did bother to make a submission, hopefully, they'll find some good voices for us to read. Meanwhile, I'll keep on making my hives and sculptures here out of electrons.