the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Blogging the Big Event

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

A few years back, I was visiting New York when there was a big earthquake in Los Angeles.  Everyone in New York was saying how lucky I was to not be in LA, but I actually felt depressed.  There was finally a big Los Angeles communal event that everyone was invited too — and I missed out.  This feeling of missing out on a big event is not unusual.  I know someone who was out of New York during 9/11 — and has been pissed about this for years.  While most New Yorkers can tell you exactly what they were doing that day, my friend has the embarrassing distinction of being in a hotel room in Denver.  Does it really matter that he was watching the event on a TV in a Denver hotel rather than his Brooklyn apartment?  Apparently, it does.  He can’t tell others the story about "being there."

Things have only intensified with the growth of blogging.  As I was making my rounds of blog-reading today, I noticed that every New York blogger was weighing in with his opinion or experience with the big NYC transit strike.  As is usual now, traditional media has turned to bloggers for "eyewitness accounts" of events such as the transit strike, and have used blog posts in their newspapers.  In fact, I  recently reviewed a book for Blogebrity titled, 2005: Blogged (edited by Tim Worstall), which is a collection of blog posts commenting on the big news events of the year.

I’m jealous of all you New York bloggers who got mentioned in today’s news media because of your blogging about your experience walking from West 76th Street to West 67th Street.   A blogger knows that he only has one chance to strike gold.  Newspapers and TV shows have a deadline to make, and they can’t wait for procrastinating bloggers to perfect their "I was there" post on some news event.  No, it is the blogger that gets there first that gets the media mention.  An ambitious blogger needs to wake up 5AM every morning, and be ready and willing to write a post on any big event that occurs in their city.  You also need to write it fast, especially if you want to be the first one on Technorati with the story. 

My big problem is that I’m lazy.  I don’t like to wake up early.  I procrastinate.  I want the fame and media attention, but I don’t want to work for it.  So, I’ve taken a page from the traditional media in order to ensure that I will always be the first at bat with a hot story.  I will use a technique perfected for decades by obituary writers.  I will pre-write my important posts.  Do you really think that that the NY Times didn’t have their Ronald Reagan obituary ready for publication years before the president actually passed away?  

Despite my flu, today has been a very productive blogging day.  I’ve written about the next big earthquake in Los Angeles and how it brought me closer to my wacky neighbors.  I wrote a very amusing post about my 2006 New Year’s night out.  And 2007.  And 2008.  You are going to be amazed at what I saw at the amazing Opening Ceremonies at the Torino Olympics, and how proud I was to see that one free Iraqi bobsledder enter the stadium.  I especially enjoyed my post about waiting in line all night to be the first to see Daniel Craig as the new James Bond.  All of them are now ready in my draft mode.

Clever, huh?  Can you guess who is going to be first one listed in Technorati when the next LA earthquake hits?  Luckily, my mother is here, so I’ve been preparing her to be my plan B in case of any emergency during an earthquake, such as the power going out or my apartment building collapsing around me.  I will quickly call my mother in New York via cellphone and get her to publish the post for me.

"Mom, it’s easy.  Log in.  Yes, now go into WordPress, just like I showed you.  W-O-R-D-P-R-E-S-S.  Under Manage.  Under Drafts.  Blog… Mom… Blog, not Blodge.  Do you see where there is a post titled "The Big One."  No, not in the comments.  No, I’m not yelling. That’s just a loud aftershock.  Yes, in Posts.  Under Manage.  Mom, are you listening?  Mom, my apartment building is on fire and my upstairs neighbor just fell through the ceiling.  Please pay attention as I try to walk you through this.  I want to be first on Technorati with my personal account of the earthquake!" 

Maybe I should ask my Uncle Milton to be Plan B instead of my mother.


  1. HighMaintenanceHussy

    Sorry to hear you’re feeling icky, but glad you felt you could blog through it.

    I relate to your wanting to feel a part of things, too. I moved to Europe two weeks before 9/11. That afternoon, my sister-in-law called and said, “two planes have just crashed into some buildings in New York.” So we turned on CNN, and saw the whole thing hellishly unfold. I remember trying to call friends and family well into the late evening, but there were no available lines to the states, because everybody else had the same idea.

    I guess it’s only natural for a country to bond during that kind of tragedy. I feel I did miss something; that maybe it hadn’t hit me as hard because I was an ocean away. Until now, I was kind of ashamed to admit that.

  2. JJ

    There is something to be said for not giving a crap about being first. Or last for that matter. Or whether people read my blog. Or, really, even if the sun comes up tomorrow. I’m going back to bed.

  3. Nance

    Let’s face it, Neil. EVERYONE who lives in NYC is destined to feel a little less “a part of things”, thanks to our media. At least you live in LA. I live in NE Ohio. When’s the last time America looked to OHIO for its pulse?

  4. Nance

    Posting before morning coffee causes coherence issues. My comment is supposed to read: EVERYONE who lives OUTSIDE of NYC is destined to feel a little less “a part of things”, thanks to our media. At least you live in LA. I live in NE Ohio. When’s the last time America looked to OHIO for its pulse?

  5. M.A.

    Living in the D.C. area really only gives me the ability to write about politics or Angie and Brad if they move to D.C.

  6. amanda

    oh my gosh, so funny. i definitely chuckled, out loud, no less. i think the pedestrians nine floors below might have heard me because there’s no public transportation noise. all’s quiet on the eastern front. i am one new yorker who is hasn’t blogged about the transit strike and hasn’t been affected AT ALL. i walk to work, walk to the gym, walk home, and that’s about it. it didn’t even prevent me from gettin’ some last night…haha…did i just write that?!
    that being said, i totally understand about being part of a communal event. you forgot the blackout, that was a big one, people even got t-shirts made after that.

  7. LisaBinDaCity

    Nice to be prepared for all future crisis situations. What a very good boy scout you are 😉

    Feel better Neil!

  8. Fun Joel

    Good plan, Neil. I know how you feel, btw. I was in LA for the Northridge Quake, Israel as the scuds began to fall during Gulf War I, and NYC on 9/11. Yet I still lament the fact that I was here in LA, scoping out my future new life here, during the big Blackout of Summer ’03. I feel like I really missed out on something cool. And then, when we had that city-wide blackout here a few months back, I was thinking I’d finally be able to make up for it. No such luck! Power came back on in an hour or something. Bummer.

    Let me know how the next Earthquake looks, okay? Do I survive?

  9. Hope

    I have to admit that I feel stupid for having slept through 9/11. I woke up at 11:30 and everyone’s like, “Did you see what happened?!?!” Thanks for calling me, guys!

  10. Tatyana

    Two things, Neilochka.
    – “prewritten kit”: see Ilf and Petrov, The 12 chairs, part about in-staff newspaper poet, verses about Gavrila. (the classics did it better. Don’t feel bad, they’re classics)
    – New Yorkers getting up at 5 am this morning have no time to spare for posting the blog entry. I got up at 5:15, was out the door at 6am, at the water taxi terminal in Brooklyn at 6:32, on Water Street in Manhattan at 7:00, on WTC PATH station at 7:44, at 34th street at 8:11 and at my desk in the office at 8:38.
    To blog, I would had to get up at 3am, and I’m just not that interested in my stats.
    Now excuse me, all the green-colored people, I am going finally go and have my breakfast.

  11. Jill

    Amanda, you got some last night?

  12. Pearl

    That’s a good idea, Neil: Plan ahead.
    Have you yet written about your child #2 barfing up spaghetti on your new buckskin loafers? Or how you finally enjoyed getting to use ALL the facilities in your apartment building…and then got evicted? And then there’s the Blogger of the Year Award that 2006 brought you; that s/b worth a mention in a post!

  13. Neil

    Scratch this post. There’s bigger news. Did Amanda really get some?

  14. anne arkham

    I can’t believe you don’t have a bunch of posts titled ‘The Big One’.

  15. Pauly D

    I often find that making up dramatic LA-centric news events on my blog (i.e. Raindrop Watch 2005) gets places like Dateline NBC contacting me.

    So, you know — make something up.

  16. Neil

    Pauly — How about: Celebrities Love for Suduko Creates LA Craze: Top Celebrities gather at homes and studios for impromptu “suduko challenges.” (contact Neil Kramer for more information)

    Anne — That would just be wrong. My mother taught me to be modest.

  17. Elvira Black

    Being more “elderly” than many bloggers, I prefer the retro approach. If you wait long enough, any news event that comes up can be related to some older “historical”event you actually lived through. For instance, now I can sit on my virtual porch in my virtual rocking chair and reminisce about the Great Transit Strike of ’80. As in 1980. As in last century. Last millenium, even!

    If you live long enough, you can always go back to the future.

  18. Megan

    I’m so gonna beat you to that earthquake post because I’ll be closer to the fault line. You LA peeps already had your turn; it’s time for us in the IE to get some shakin!

    Amanda got some? Damn, am I the last person on earth to still be hard up?

  19. Kestrel

    I have conversations like that with my Mom ALL THE TIME. “Ok Mom, now open your mail program…How should I know where it is on your computer?…Did you find it? Did you find it?… Ok, now click on the inbox… no, not binox, INbox, like I’m not IN town to show you how to do this…”

  20. brando

    i came over as soon as i heard amanda got some! will there be a news conference? podcast? anyone? hello?

  21. Heather B.

    Anything ‘big’ that happens here involves W doing something stupid, which would be like everyday.
    Oh and there was that sniper. Forgot about that one.

  22. Sanora

    I don’t know, Neil, I kind of like the fact that you write about the news that doesn’t make the media…like and I mean, it’s true that an earthquake might inconvenience us for a week or two, but these stories are what shape our lives!

  23. Sanora

    damn, why do my href’s never f’ing work!

  24. amanda

    gosh people, is this really such big news? i mean have you seen me? is it really such a surprise. haha…i am totally just kidding. i crack myself up. sheesh, my modesty really shows through in this comment, doesn’t it.

  25. Neil

    So, it was a false alarm. Amanda didn’t do anything really interesting. Talk about a slow news day.

  26. Dan

    Way to mock our pain, Neil. I had to go to the Starbucks across the street from me instead of the one across the street from my office. And you know what? Not as good. Same price, not as good. It’s the little tragedies that hurt the most.

  27. ashbloem

    Neil, this is a brilliant idea. I’m going to write all my posts about big events ahead of time now. Actually, I’ll write them all this week. After all, I’m out of work. I need something to do.

  28. pia

    I couldn’t work in my Starbucks today, too many people working there already

    Neil you’re so right about West 76th Street to 67th Street; it’s just so difficult–not even half mile.

    The only positive on my list to stay in NY besides my friends is “what if a terrorist attack occurs and I’m not there,” or “another transit strike,” or god forbid, I should miss a blackout–last one I was in Brighton Beach Brooklyn, of all places, 9 and half hours to the Upper West Side

    Really though I hate this strike; businesses downtown are going to close for good, the economy’s going to be horrible again. We just really begun to recover from 9/11.

    I the grandaughter of a Socialist union organizer am saying that a union is holding a city hostage

    gawd, next I’ll say I’m grateful to George Bush for something–never

  29. claire

    I would have the same issues if my mom was plan B. Still, way to keep on top, Neil! ;]

  30. ngregory00

    I’m jealous of New Yorkers for still being NEW YORKERS. I left three years ago and now I’m fiending to return, even with the transit strike in effect.

    And I agree on the “wish I were there” sentiment. There is something significant to having been there during 9/11. Unforgettable day. 🙁

  31. mcaryeh

    I did not blog about the transit strike, but then I also have the flu and avoided the city altogether. Uncle Milton sounds like a safe bet…

  32. Leesa

    Very funny, Neil. I loved the discussion with your Mom. I would have that same discussion with my husband. Love it 🙂

  33. el Jacek

    Ok, so I’m here for the transit strike (godda love the pink bunny on the bridge, the mayor of bklyn saying at the bklyn bridge “everything is ok, you’re back in Brooklyn now” or how at the end of the Williamsburg bridge they were giving out free coffee and hot coca), I was here for the blackout (that was kinda fun) thought trooping it to theh north Bronx kinda sucked, but one thing that I am glad I was not here for was 9/11. I would have helped, but dammit, if I was to have been here, I would have been on the 86th fl. of the WTC, and that could have very likely ended my life. Good thing I was lazy after college and wanted to bum around Europe instead of going into ibanking.

    Cheers, and oh… like the blog.

    – el Jacek

  34. Sandra

    I feel rather negligent for living in San Francisco without having written a pre-packaged earthquake post…

  35. Uncle Miltie

    Neil, Sophia and Elaine
    Have a Happy Chanukah. I hope I won’t be Plan B too soon. I can’t type, but I’ll start learning as soon as I get the cast off my wrist. I haven’t been able to get my voice recognition program to understand what has been called my strong NY accent. (I don’t think I have an accent.) We spent Christmas Eve as usual at our “Church of the Chinese restaurant” and everyone around us was Jewish. “Oh, are you Jewish, we’re Jewish, too!” Next table: “Hey we’re Jewish too.” Everyone was so happy. We had been trying to see who was going to take the last shrimp, couldn’t see very well and ended up talking to the people who wondered why we were watching them eat. I gave Carolyn the last shrimp. She didn’t want it, but I made her eat it because I didn’t want it either. Get better soon so you can send Elaine up to San Fran to take care of us and our cats. We took an informal survey in our neighborhood after reading your blog and noticing that the three Arab delis in the next block had Xmas lights up. They hold Moslem services there daily, so we asked why the lights. “It’s Christmas.” “But you’re not Christian….” “It’s ok, it’s Christmas.” Ok. The Indian 7-11 was also wishing people Merry Christmas. “You’re not Christian…” “It’s ok, it’s America, and it’s Christmas.” I wanted to tell Artie about it. I miss him.

  36. Uncle Miltie

    I had been in San Fran about a year in 1989 when the earthquake hit. I was sitting in my office an old building that survived the ’06 quake when the phone rang. It was an Israeli client who owed me $100.00 for around two years. He called out of the blue from Milan to say he was actually sending the check. We hung up and the building started shaking. I’m from NY, so I thought it was God letting me know he was as amazed as I was. Carolyn came in and dragged me to the doorway. “Earthquake!” Then we had to walk up ten floors to our apartment for the next week. W 67th to W 76th is at least flat, but NY without public transit…not where I’d want to be.

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