I'm going to take tomorrow off … this will be my first real day off in about six months. We got through this week, and I know that I personally have put on much worse radio than anything I've heard on Day to Day in the last five days.
The gay cultural zeitgeist piece that we promised a couple of days ago is done and happens to converge with yesterday's news lead—the Vatican calling for Catholics around the world to actively oppose same sex unions. That last sentence reminds me again why so many people dislike the media: matters transpire that are of huge consequence in many lives, but at least part of what journalists like me feel for them is a little programming thrill because the event happens to fit well in a package of ideas we're assembling. Or maybe it's just been a long week. For sure it's been a long week.
All the moving-associated things that were such hassles yesterday continue: The cable box that was going to get fixed didn't; we still can't find the phone base; there are more boxes to unpack. And my daughter, Kathleen, is coming this weekend, and Carolyn's daughter, Hadley, will be here next week. We've got a few things to do to get ready for them … build an addition maybe?
I mention the daughters partly because I've run into an unexpected phenomenon associated with the Slate"Diary": People are asking to be in it. My old boss at Morning Edition, the wise and beneficent Ellen McDonnell, called to ask for a mention—she's been snarling at me for weeks because I raided her staff on my way out here and snagged Producer Chip Grabow and young production whiz Christopher Johnson. And Shereen Meraji, another production assistant working on a Guatemala interview for Monday: "Would you put in there that the room lights up every time I walk in?" she asked. (I'm so groggy at this point, I'd need a road flare for a reading light.)
Things will ease up soon. We're done for the week … a huge relief for all of us who had to prove to ourselves that we could do it. The show will keep evolving, and people's taste for it will evolve, too. Maybe we're not letting things run long enough. Maybe we shouldn't play music. This is a big internal argument; many at NPR believe our listeners don't actually want to hear music—or not whole songs anyway. That's why so many music pieces you hear on our air are really talk pieces with a musical artist discussing his or her art, but not actually performing it—or not for more than 20 seconds or so at a time. The people on the correct side of this debate, however, recognize that a little pacing break in the middle of talk, talk, talk may be a good thing. And also that there's a pretty long history of music on the radio, and it hasn't turned out badly for either the music or the radio. We had two songs on this week. I thought we'd have one every day … but it's not really my show, it's our show, and it's going to swing back and forth—more newsy/less newsy—and probably never settle in one place for very long.
The heck with it. Tonight we're having a party. We'll play music there as long and loud as we like. Tomorrow, I'm going to walk about 10 minutes from my house to see the Nike semipro basketball games at Muscle Beach in Venice … amazing games with former NBA guys playing in an equally amazing setting (where they shot the movie White Men Can't Jump), music DJs, people—all free. Then Carolyn and I are going to pick up our dog, get in the car, and head north. The beach near our house is beautiful, the water perfect, but they don't allow dogs; the cops patrol all the time, and they hand out tickets. We're going to drive up the coast till we come to a place by the ocean that's pet-legal. And then I'm going to go relax, lie on the sand for awhile, and finally take a walk on the beach with a beautiful blond … and here he is.