Jackson West’s Obsessive Compulsion

I Surrender

Posted in 1 by Jackson West on August 23, 2009

If there was any question I’m an aging hipster, it should probably be settled now that I have a single-speed cafe bike from Valencia Cyclery, live in a room above the Zeitgeist, spent last night perusing the jukebox at the Phone Booth with someone I met on OkCupid and spent this morning riding around the Mission with stops at La Torta Gorda and an indie rock, crafts and food fair on Treat. I’m living the clichĂ© dream, bitches!

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Shit, I even have the now apparently fashionable paunch, though I was way ahead of the curve on that one. In fact, apparently my transformation may yet be complete as I was told in no uncertain terms by the Fahsionist herself Mai Le at yesterdays “street food” benefit for La Cocina that the fats don’t rate for her streetwear blog (granted, it’s apparently for their own protection from commenters). [Update: Mai sticks up for folks across the BMI spectrum!] Give me another twenty pounds shed while biking around the Mish and eating out of the mini-fridge in my SRO room, plenty of appetite-suppressing Four Barrell coffee and some shopping on my trip to New York next week and I will qualify yet!

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All that said, I’m not really sure I care. In the counterintuitive conformity of “creative individualism,” only the other can be called a hipster. It’s rare the person who simply owns it, and can build any sort of collective identity around the themes and tropes, and through that build not conformity but community. So while I’m not sure I’m willing, or qualified, to say it loud and say it proud, I do seem to be a hipster on balance (read: art school kid yes, skinny jeans, no). Have been for about a decade.

And honestly, there’s not really anything wrong with that. So why fight it?

Summertime, and the Living Is Surprisingly Easy, Considering

Posted in 1 by Jackson West on July 21, 2009

IMG00453-20090702-0900A couple of times in the last week I had to stop myself from posting a message to Twitter about how much fun I’m having, even though I’m only partly employed, have no fixed address and am still broke waiting for some invoices to come through so I can settle some debts and start looking for a new place. I’ve shed a lots of material baggage, lost weight, spent a bunch of quality time with loved ones, and been productive to spite myself.

Had I known being a hobo could be this fun, I would have done it a long time ago! (Mom, dad, I’m kidding, promise.)

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Sweet jebus, Orwell is blogging links

Posted in 1 by Jackson West on July 9, 2009

How Much Would You Pay for a Robust, Reliable Yahoo Pipes?

Posted in 1 by Jackson West on May 14, 2009

yahoo_pipes_screenshotI’ve been a fan of Yahoo Pipes since it was first released to the public. I first used it to combine a number of feeds1 from sites I contributed to so that my home page was constantly updated with recent work and personal updates. It allowed me to include only my just my posts from sites with multiple authors and to strip the boilerplate and ads tacked on to items. I’ve since used it to prune feeds from sites based on certain criteria or key words to reduce the noise in my feed reader and to experiment with ideas for mashing up or repurposing data from other services.

If you’re still reading, then you probably also know that Yahoo, the company, hasn’t exactly been operating smoothly of late. Many of my friends who once worked there have either quit or gotten pink slips, leading me to joke in an aside to an item about rumors of further layoffs that I would have confirmed the news with my contacts at the company, but I don’t have any left. I understand that new CEO Carol Bartz has her work cut out for her, but her stated mandate to slash parts of the business that aren’t turning a profit scares me.

Why? Because Pipes is free, and while I imagine it isn’t terribly expensive to operate, any costs it generates are strictly revenue-negative. Regardless, though I can’t say for certain there have been significant outages, neither would I assure anyone that it’s speedy or reliable2. Nor can I think of any significant new features added, or any further development at all, since it’s been released. So my question is: If you use Pipes, what would you pay to keep it going, assure some degree of dependability, and even fund continued development?

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I’m Back, Just in Time for International Workers Day

Posted in 1 by Jackson West on May 1, 2009

2m8bxufrimynfpe8pufoylvqo1_500Hilarious advertising, via my old comrade Nicholas Carlson. I can’t count how many times the vagaries of Soviet toilet paper (or lack there of) have been cited as an example of why anything besides unfettered free markets are doomed to fail.

Anyway, have been quiet of late thanks to the collapse of said unfettered free markets indirectly leaving me hustling for work. Speaking of which, I’ve updated my home page and my about page to reflect some new publications and sites I can be found at.

And I promise even more soon, even though blogging is apparently killing the very business of writing I try to make a living in. Good times all around.

Long time coming, yes, but still a long way to go

Posted in 1 by Jackson West on November 6, 2008

If Barack Obama is really a progressive candidate and not just the new face of the business interests that truly rule Washington, then together with the Democrats that now reign as a party there are some clear goals I’d like to see worked toward:

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You’d better have 300,000 absentees up your sleeve, Los Angeles

Posted in 1 by Jackson West on November 5, 2008

California Proposition 8 Results by County 2008 via LA Times

California Proposition 8 Results by County 2008 via LA Times

The numbers have certainly improved over the course of the night, but I have to say, I’m more than a little disappointed in the results for Proposition 8 in Los Angeles County. I mean, I’m really disappointed in Tulare county, yet that was to be expected — the Angelino vote was the heartbreaker. May your beaches be fouled by runoff until you amend your ways. (Map from the LA Times)

The City is Poorer Without PJ Corkery

Posted in 1 by Jackson West on October 24, 2008

It’s been a month since journalist and author PJ Corkery died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, but somehow I just found out today. He was incredibly kind and generous to me when I was an upstart punk of a blogger trying to make a name for SFist — responding to my emails, mentioning our work in his San Francisco Examiner column, inviting me to a dine and dish at the legendary Washington Square Bar & Grill, showing up to the site’s anniversary party (where I was a little too star-struck to interrupt a conversation between him and Matt Gonzalez to say hello). Even after I left SFist and he left the Examiner, we stayed in touch, though most of it was me begging for a look at Basic Brown. My naive persistence paid off when he gifted me a graciously inscribed copy which I shall cherish. His erudite, precise and witty words of wisdom inspired me to press on as a writer, for which I thank him publicly and profusely. We are all the richer for his meritorious literary contributions.

I’ll miss you, Peej. Deeply.

Assorted reviews from the North Cascades

Posted in 1 by Jackson West on October 20, 2008

Yes, all I did in the mountains was a minimal share of chores and maximized my time reading trash, cooking heavily and sleeping lightly. To all whom I made an oath of work ethic, I apologize. Meanwhile, I’ll try to share what I learned in terms of wonderfully lazy reading and deliciously cheap crime novels.

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Orwell in Marrakech

Posted in 1 by Jackson West on September 29, 2008

George Orwell’s “blog,” the Orwell Diaries, is absolutely fascinating, even 70 years after the fact. I assume it’s because while it was written as a private diary, it was always presumed that it would eventually become public in one way or another. Either as anecdotes in an article, impressions and scenes for a novel or eventually post-humously. For all I know, he probably shared it with close associates or offered it to whomever asked to read it.

Unlike our own very public writing online, Orwell doesn’t indulge in privacy in his notes. There are no “overheards,” or gossip, or events and places aren’t treated as profound simply because they are personal. Today, I would treat a diary as somewhere to put what I couldn’t otherwise publish. This reads more like a reporter’s notebook — if that reporter was an amateur botanist, birder and socialist.

Point is, you’ll get days like this, when he offers fine details about the press, economics and living conditions while touring the streets of Marrakech in 1938. Ripe with detail and a certain self-awareness of being from the privileged class but unwilling to be of it. And then you’ll get an entry like this:

Distinctly cooler at night. Last night used blanket all night. Red hibiscus in flower.

Kind of sublime, really, especially as you realize just how long it will actually take for three years of such daily notes to unfurl, encompassing the early history of World War II. Makes for wonderful, and surprising, reading amidst much echo and blather in my RSS feeds.

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