Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

media. music. feminism. food. city-dwelling. story-telling. and other things.

Posts Tagged ‘D.C.


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Diavlog: Conor & Elizabeth

I recorded a bloggingheads segment Monday with Conor Friedersdorf for his channel on bloggingheads.tv. I guess you call this “vlogging.” I have been vehemently opposed to vlogging (ask Rachel Steinberg) since 2006, because no one looks good in web-cam close-up. Also because a lot of bloggers are better writers than talkers, including me. But I talked to Conor for nearly an hour, about: men’s role in feminism, Hugo Schwyzer, James Poulos, women’s ‘privileged relationship’ to the natural world, subsidizing birth control, vasectomies, my partisan political apathy, Gary Johnson, what’s new in eating disorders, David Brooks, Phoebe Maltz-Bovy, ‘elites’ behaving like traditionalists, goat cheese and arugula, old-fashioned cocktails, Portland bartenders migrating to Los Angeles, the farmer’s markets of Indiana, D.C. media culture and the things you’re supposed to say on the Internet.

Anyway, here’s the test clip I sent Conor & my very first test vlogging attempt:

I swear I get a little better.

You can check out the whole thing here.


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February 29, 2012 at 8:10 am

Curio: Back to Paying Attention to Things on the Internet Edition

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A few things.
And a few sentences about each.
[And because I’ve been out of the loop for a few minutes, we can pardon my lack of timeliness, can’t we?]

1. Just got around to reading this awesome faux-profile by Ann Friedman about Washington’s “DC Lady Mafia”—a parody and a rebuttal, of sorts, to this unintentionally hilarious New York Times piece about DC’s young male journo scene. Hell yeah.

In only a few years, these young women and others like them have become part of the journalistic establishment in Washington — but you wouldn’t know it from reading The New York Times. Once they lived in modest studio apartments and stayed out late, talking about grammar, feminist theory, and ready-to-wear collections while their male counterparts appeared on cable television. Now the members of this “DC lady mafia,” as they began calling themselves because no newspaper style section deigned to give them a nickname, have become destination reading for — and respected by — the city’s power elite. Indeed, arguably they are themselves approaching power-elite status. [emphasis mine]

While we’re on the topic, I’m also kind of sick of this whole ‘brave new world’ of digital journalism narrative. Ezra Klein may have been delighted at discovering the act of reporting after he’d already been finding success as a blogger —

“I came here, and I had no professional affiliation,” Mr. Klein, 26, said over lunch at Potenza, a decidedly grown-up restaurant in downtown Washington. “I just had a blog that was mine, but I came out here and was trained as a magazine writer, and that was just a much more formalized way of journalism. You made calls. People answered calls. You took down what was said in a respectable account, and that began to influence my blogging. It became a lot less of an ‘Ezra affair.’

— but a lot of bloggers and web journalists I know (myself included) still started off at daily newspapers or student newspapers or some sort of outlet that required reportage first, opinion second (if at all). As Conor has eloquently laid out before, one of the problems with movement journalism is that it encourages blogging and opinion and analysis from young journos before they even learn how to tell a proper story. But that’s a rant for another day, or another blogger.

Anyhow, we may be the last generation of journalists to come-of-age if not primarily in print than at least not exclusively web. Although another problem I have with this narrative is that it’s generally only concerned with young journalists following the DC-baby-pundit/Gawker-media-mouthpiece model. These are the writers that are most visible, the ones that have made Names for themselves, so it makes sense. But I’ve got a friend who went from beat reporting at the Boston Globe to beat reporting for AP to a newspaper fellowship in Abu Dhabi. Another who started at the same Columbus, Ohio business paper I did and now helps run an online business magazine. These kinds of writers go under the radar as far as the general media story about young journalists is concerned. Exhibit A:

[…] Douglas Brinkley, the Rice University professor and historian who is working on a biography of Walter Cronkite, expressed nostalgia for an earlier, more in-the-trenches generation of correspondents who didn’t rely on Twitter posts and linking to generate content. “I’m not making a judgment,” Professor Brinkley said [Ed. note: Really? Than what the heck do you call that statement?] .

“What I don’t like is that before, people would start in foreign bureaus all over the world before making their way to Washington. You would be pushing into your deep 20s and have a really deep global background. What you’ve seen is a devaluation of serious journalism in favor of reporters who are able to create a brand identity.”

Besides negating the identity of tons of 20-something reporters out there, this idea (which one hears from older journalists all the time) is quite insulting, as if we’d all rather sit in an office all day than actually get to see the people and places we write about. Give us an environment where more than the most well-funded media outlets can afford to send their reporters out in the field to report—I’m not even talking the bureau in Dubai, dude; how about something happening down the street?—and, you know, I bet a lot of us degenerate young turks would be more than happy. But there’s not time, or money, for that at most places, and so reporting takes place through emails and phone calls. I get tired of being told to live up to a model of journalism that hardly anyone is willing to support anymore.

Huh. That turned into more than ‘just a few sentences.’ Let’s keep the rest of this brief then, shall we?

2. Blisstree talks about “orthorexia.” Which was not a word I even knew existed, describing a concept I am very familiar with.

3. Megan Daum has an interesting take on folks’ ire towards Planned Parenthood:

Here’s my theory: When it comes to parenthood, the whole notion of planning can be so overwhelming that it feels better to leave it to fate.

Sure, we know that the respectable, socially responsible thing to do is to think hard about when and how many children to have and to take the necessary steps – abstinence or birth control – to avoid producing a child that cannot be properly cared for. But as any parent will tell you, there is no “perfect” time to have a baby. It’s always going to be a showstopper.

And I suspect that’s why a lot of people, pro-life and pro-choice alike, like to think of parenthood as something that was foisted upon them rather than actively pursued.


Written by ENB

April 19, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Curio: Photo Edition // USA, Pt. 2 // California, Chicago, Cincinnati, Covington, Columbus

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Today, Conor posted one of my photos on the Atlantic for his ‘What America Looks’ like series, which reminded me that I never got around to posting my second round of travel photos. Ahem. Well, here we are. And it’s even, unintentionally, alliterative. California. Chicago. Cincinnati. Covington, KY. And Columbus, OH. Drive-thru liquor & cigarettes, Covington, KY CVS, Venice Beach Isabel, Slake Magazine, Venice Beach You Are Loved by Creepy Children party, Echo Park Andersonville, Chicago // Indoor tent Hazardous Chemicals Chicago, Opening Day Liquor cabinet, Short North, Columbus, Ohio Bikes, Venice Beach, California Santa Monica, New Age Bible & Philosophy Center Bar Ladies Sharonville, Cincinnati, Ohio Wrigleyville

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April 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm

no moss

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the secret

don’t worry, nobody has the
beautiful lady, not really, and
nobody has the strange and
hidden power, nobody is exceptional or wonderful or
magic, they only seem to be.
it’s all a trick, an in, a con,
don’t buy it, don’t believe it. the world is packed with
billions of people whose lives
and deaths are useless and
when one of these jumps up
and the light of history shines
upon them, forget it, it’s not what it seems, it’s just
another act to fool the fools again.

there are no strong men, there
are no beautiful women.
at least, you can die knowing
and you will have
the only possible

— Charles Bukowski

Greetings from our nation’s capitol. I was here just a few weeks back – first for a wonderful Liberty Fund conference on Hayek, then to work from an office and visit friends and quake with terror at the Thundersnow!. I went back to my parent’s house in Cincinnati for a few days, and then just narrowly missed Chicago’s Great Blizzard, arriving there the Friday after the storm to find my friends, of course, building an igloo. I stayed in Chicago for nine days, and upon returning once again to Cincinnati I figured, “Why stop?” So last week I threw together the framework for a NorthSouthEastWest, 1.5-month bout of itinerantism. Nomadism. Vagabondness. Call it what you will (just not “transient train hopping;” that phrase has gotten me in trouble before during a Teach for America job interview). I hitched a ride with some family down to Washington, D.C. for a few days. I’ll be Amtrak-ing from here down to New Orleans, then hitting up Los Angeles and possibly other cities in California, followed by Chicago and Panama City Beach, Florida. All of these locations have been chosen because of proximity to friends, with the exception of New Orleans, where I have just long wanted to go and never been. In some places, I may be working on some Exciting! Things! with friends. In others, I may just sunbathe. And work, of course. I’m lucky to have a job I can perform from wherever.

So, that’s happening. I have been twittering my rules for nomadism, which have so far included:

Step 1 // Buy a bigger suitcase.
Step 2 // Buy a fancy DSLR camera
Step 2.5 // Learn to use fancy DSLR camera…
Step 3 // Come up with pretentious name for travels. I like saying this is my ‘Bukowski phase’
Step 4 // Hitch a ride with a cowboy. Otherwise known as my Uncle Bruce. http://ygrog.com/gyf6vwbj
Step 5 // Love affair (duh)
Step 6 // Good friends with futon, tofu stir-fry, Lambic. And a sun-porch.

I assume there will be more. Along with pictures of skylines. I’ve already been taking a lot of pictures of skylines. And I promise a travel-worthy March mix soon…

But really, what I want to do in this post is link to this and this. Two pieces by Ann Friedman, about her own recent travels.

See, I have also driven cross-country from West to East. Twice. Once to New York, once to Washington. I made both of these trips, which I remember as pretty unremarkable (which is to say I don’t remember much about them at all), with other people. I have gone West when I’m seeking greatness, and East when I’m feeling resignation. West is possibility, East is inevitability. West is risky, East is safe. It’s not that I’ve been unhappy on the East Coast. I have found great friends and professional success there, too. But going West always seems to mean moving toward something new and wonderful. I realize this is just a narrative I’ve imposed on the series of choices I’ve made, but it also feels true in some objective sense.

Well. We’ll see.

Extremely Dangerous Tree

It's all sorts of dangerous out here.

Written by ENB

February 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm

DC v. NY: Food Edition

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When I return to Columbus, Cincinnati, and Athens, Ohio, there are restaurants I’m always excited to revisit. Already, in New York, I’ve developed a few favorite eateries. But were someone to ask me where to eat in DC, I don’t think I’d have anything to tell them. I can think of restaurants that are passably enjoyable—if you were going there for drinks, or happened to be nearby, then eatingin them wouldn’t be unpleasant. There are even a few places I guess I could say I considered “favorites,” though these—Cactus Cantina, Cafe Deluxe, the Argonaut—have more to do with proximity to places I lived then any spectacularity of cuisine.

I’d probably tell you to have brunch at Red Rocks, though that has more to do with the bottomless $9 mimosas than the decent but unextraordinary pizza. Maybe I’d recommend Granville Moore’s, which does have a good beer selection and, I’m told, great mussels, though I’m no mussel connoisseur; the takeout at Simply Ayzen, if you, god forbid, find yourself in Tenley; or the sweet potato fries at Wonderland Ballroom, which I just tried for the first time my 2nd-to-last week in town when some very drunk girls shared their leftovers with me. And Chef Geoff’s and Commonwealth both serve near-perfect arugula salads.

But overall—I have never thought DC’s food has very much to recommend it, and it’s almost always pricey, to boot.

On my first night in Brooklyn last week, my boyfriend, my future roommate and I set off in search of a late-dinner bite within a few blocks of our house-to-be, and stumbled across a newly-opened place on the corner of Graham Avenue and Meeker called Grandma Rose’s. It smelled good, but didn’t sell alcohol, and after moving all day, we were in the mood for a drink. We turned to leave, and the guy behind the counter said, “Hey, I mean, if it’s beer you want, I’ve got a few in the basement of my own; I can get you a beer.” So we stayed. He led us out into a huge back garden area, where we were the only ones there, and brought us corona and bud light in paper pepsi cups from his private basement stash. We ordered $6 sandwiches—eggplant pamesan, meatball, chicken & broccoli rabe—that arrived about half-an-arm’s length in size and were absolutely delicious. The chef—a charming fat, bald man (“That’s the kind of man I want making me a sandwich,” my boyfriend said) who is the owner (and apparently a former Bear Stearns stock broker) sat down and chatted with us about how everything was cooked, and asked if we had any recommendations, and when I told him it was my first night in town, he brought me free gelato. Cheap, delicious, friendly and rule-bending—had I designed it, I could not have schemed a more perfect first-night antithesis to all that is DC food culture.

[Please do not fear: food is one of the few arenas in which I am really not impressed with DC, and in which I am quite impressed with Brooklyn. But I promise I will not turn into one of those horrible people who move to New York and start immediately saying how much better everything is there. Cross my heart.]

Written by ENB

August 6, 2009 at 11:48 am

Posted in City-Dwelling, Culture, Food

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Homeless Drifter

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That’s me.

I left Washington, DC, last Thursday; dropped my life’s possessions off at my boyfriend’s place in New York; headed upstate for a friend’s graduation party; returned to the city; flew to Ohio with a 6 hour layover in Baltimore; am currently at my little sister’s place in Columbus, Ohio; and head back Cincinnati, Ohio, tonight. I’ll spend a month living with my parents before returning to New York (Brooklyn to be precise, Greenpoint to be more precise) for good in September.

I want to write a grand, Joan Didion-esque reflection of my time in DC, about The Meaning of It, and all that, but I’m already losing the shape of things there. Is DC so forgettable? I guess I’ll see. Maybe it’s just been all the movement. It’s hard to be reflective and highly-mobile at the same time.

Written by ENB

August 4, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Long Day’s Journey for the Right

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My article about young conservatives in DC searching for work is up on Doublethink Online right now:

It seems the old saw about Washington being recession-proof has gone the way of the conservative majority. For the city’s conservative job seekers, the legendarily insulated District could not have picked a worse time to mirror ‘Real America’s’ trends.

In Washington, of course, every election cycle brings a certain amount of job turnover, of politicos and policy wonks reeling and rallying with the re-entrenchment of the warring parties. This year, however, the assault on conservatives seems to be particularly strong.

I wrote the majority of the article months ago, because it was slated for the Doublethink quarterly print edition, so it needed a long lead time. But—in a twist of recession fate much like those I highlight in the piece—America’s Future Foundation has opted to cease print-publishing Doublethink, effective immediately. Anyway, I worry that it seems a little outdated—did you know McCain staffers are out of jobs?!—but hopefully I’ve updated enough (and the wonderful Cheryl Miller has edited enough) that it doesn’t read that way. It’s not all about outgoing politicos. See?

At the American Enterprise Institute, cost-cutting measures are already underway, according to a source there. The organization is converting its magazine, The American, from a bi-monthly print publication to an online-only rag. At least one full-time editorial staff member will be cut, along with the out-of-house designers and marketing people who worked on the publication. Other full-time staff cuts remain uncertain.

Because the magazine is sponsored by AEI and doesn’t rely on ad sales and subscriptions, the decision had less to do with the general print media malaise than with an overall organizational “pressure to cut back,” the source, who asked to remain unnamed, says. “My sense is that AEI is making pretty dramatic budget cuts all over.”


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February 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm

An Inaugural Weekend for the rest of us …

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Written by ENB

January 20, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Capitol Hill in Ten Words or Less:

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Too many dry cleaners, not enough liquor stores.

[I just moved to Cap Hill this weekend. Expect many, many more of these]

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August 4, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Posted in My Life, Story-Telling

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