The Hurt Locker

July 3rd, 2009

A few months after September 11th, the Department of Homeland Security launched a website called

The site's initial incarnation was ostensibly a series of updated '50s brochures: what to do in the event of nuclear blast (duck and run), what to do in the event of building collapse (duck), etc. (It's since been significantly neutered.)

I found the site (and the entire Department of Homeland Security, for that matter) comical, but also frightening close to home; just two days after watching the towers fall with my own eyes, I ...

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Inaugural Snapshot, Part II

January 22nd, 2009

Union Station, Washington, DC. Amtrak Gate K.

Passengers on Northeast Regional 178 are packed together struggling to board. Everyone is exhausted, weary of long lines, hung over, and eager to get home from the Inauguration.

A quiet voice squeaks above the fray.

"Ellen McQuarry? Ellen McQuarry?"

Seconds later, further down the queue, another rings out, "Ellen McQuarry? Ellen McQuarry? This man is looking for his wife."

Finally a third chimes in further back still.

"Is there an Ellen McQuarry in line?"

Then finally, ...

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Inaugural Snapshot, Part I

January 22nd, 2009

I am wedged between a mass of angry, frustrated and anxious Presidential Youth Ball attendees and a phalanx of Police and Secret Service in the Washington, DC, Hilton.

With the ballroom at capacity, and POTUS on his way, the men in black are immovable. I reluctantly pull out every item I possess in my defense, but neither my name, title, business card nor MTV ID have a bearing.

I text a colleague, Ryan, who's producing MTV's Youth Ball inside. "Dude, you gotta pull me in."

"I'll grab you when we move Rosario from the Lounge to ...

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Our Better History

January 22nd, 2009

Let other people write about yesterday's other big first; without diminishing the historical significance of Barack Obama's inauguration as the first-ever African-American president, race wasn't what reduced me to a sobbing mess.

President Barack Obama's inaugural address was the first time in my life I felt like a politician was speaking to me. It was the first time in my life I heard a politician talk about real values. It was the first time I felt like I really wanted to be part of this grand experiment we call The United States of ...

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Obey Shepard Fairey

January 20th, 2009

I violated the cardinal rule of journalism on Sunday. I began an interview by squealing like a schoolgirl, "I'm a huge fan!"

Oh well; I am.

I've been huge fan of Shepard Fairey for years. I noticed his Obey Giant stencils and posters almost immediately upon moving to New York City in 1995. And I dug 'em. Clean lines. Bold contrast. Bright colors. Like Russian propaganda but with a punk-rock, counter-consumer attitude.

Cooler still, his art was the original viral mash-up. He encouraged participation. I ran my first batch of ...

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Yes We Can (But Do We Have To?)

January 17th, 2009

The clock reads 5:56. The sky is purplish-black behind the blinds. I blink the sleep out of my eyes, climb out of bed, stumble into the living room, and turn on the television. NY1 reads eight degrees.

I shave my head, shower, jam five days worth of dress shirts, underwear and aspirin into my bag. I pull on my pea coat, hat and gloves, kiss Abbi goodbye three times, and walk out the door.

My face is straight. My body is tired. And my stomach is unsettled.

I am on my way to Washington, DC, for the inauguration of Barack Obama, ...

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November 5th, 2008

At 10:59 tonight, the crowd 29-stories below my office window began counting down as if it was New Years Eve.

At 11:00, Charlie Gibson called California for Barack Obama, then projected his victory. Which is when the cheering began.

Over two hours later, they're still cheering.

My mother still talks about shaking President John F. Kennedy's hand when she was a teenager.

In February, I traveled with my colleagues to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to meet Barack Obama. He was articulate, compassionate, and poised. He was congenial, ...

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Ain’t That America

November 4th, 2008

It hasn't been until pretty recently that I even began to consider "The American Dream." I dunno', maybe I was too young, too single, had nothing invested or at stake.

The older I get, though, and the more historical storms I weather (September 11, The Invasion Of Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, etc), the more I've come to consider who we are as Americans. Oddly enough, at the end of the day, the prime value we seem to hold for ourselves (mythically, anyway), is a sense of home -- something I've wrestled with for years (and only begun to feel a ...

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Debate Night In Hell’s Kitchen

October 3rd, 2008

Once again, it was debate night in Hell’s Kitchen.

And once again, Chris and Meg Abad hosted a viewing party of epic proportions.

We drank beers, ate nachos, and yelled at the TV screen. We gaffawed at CNN's silly graphics, played Palin Bingo, and chugged on a number of key phrases ("maverick," "reform," "change," etc.).

And we worried about the future of the country. (I said to Chris at one point, "Yunno, I didn't think anyone could top Bush's folksy, down-home, faux-authenticity schtick. Tonight, I stand ...

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The Electric City

March 16th, 2008

Greetings from The Electric City.

I'm writing you tonight from Room 202 of the Lackawanna Station Hotel where, through the thin walls of my room, piped in Muzak like drones away like The Lawrence Welk Show.

The entire town has that feel, really: as if time forgot it sometime around 1957.

Truth is, it was more like 1946.

Scranton -- nestled in the Lackawanna River Valley just 120 north of Philadelphia and west of New York -- was born of the steel age. It's prosperity was kept aloft -- like the nearby cities of Wilkes-Barre, ...

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