Three stories: Pilsen Murals gentrified; “Who needs copy editors?”; “Douchebag” explained

Comments (0) Culture, History, Media

 Casa Aztlan’s murals painted over by developers

“Pilsen Murals,” by El Machete (Eric J. Garcia). Copyright Eric J. Garcia, by permission.

Casa Aztlan in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood should have had landmark status, but instead developers are turning the historic home for Chicano activism into luxury apartments. The building was already lost to the community in 2013, but now the iconic murals gracing its exterior walls have been painted over.

The building was taken over in 1970 by Chicano organizers led by the Brown Berets, who opened a free clinic and opened living space for artists and activists and a meeting place for the community.The murals were painted soon after by Ray Patlan and neighborhood children, and they were maintained over the years by local artists Marcos Raya, Salvador Vega, and Robert Valadez.  For decades, Casa Aztlan was a home for community groups and hosted meetings, classes, help for immigrants and neighbors.

Community members, almost 150 according to the Pilsen Alliance, held a vigil in front of the blank wall. The pressure built up, and developer Andrew Ahitow of City Pads said he is asking Ray Patlan to recreate the mural or paint a new one on the building. Will the new mural, no longer on a community-controlled building, have anything like the revolutionary imagery of the original?

Community residents and the Pilsen Alliance have been meeting, demanding that some of the units be reserved for affordable housing. “The painting over of these murals is not just a metaphor; it is literally what is happening to brown neighborhoods in Chicago,” wrote artist and activist Ricardo Gamboa in a Facebook post. (Take a look at Gamboa’s supernatural thriller, the web series, “Brujos.”)

Photo by Seth Anderson, Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The New York Times says, “We don’t need no soppy oditors!”

Tweet by Jenna Wortham @jennydeluxe, NY Times staff writer, joining copy editors’ protest. She is co-host of podcast Still Processing.

The New York Times will delete its copy desk. That’s 100 copy editors who will have to reapply for new editorial jobs, where one editor has to not only catch the factual, grammatical, spelling and style errors, but, says the Times, “all aspects of an article, including conception, sentence-level editing and fact checking.” This they call the “strong desk model” of editing.They are “streamlining the editing process and making the system more efficient and nimble,” the Times reports.

The copy editors wrote an open letter to executive editor Dean Baquet and managing editor Joe Kahn, and staged a 20-minute walkout,  with hundreds of staff joining the copy editors.

The demonstrators’ signs were ominous: “This sign wsa not edited.” “We kneed are editors! They make us look smart.”  “Without us, it’s the New Yrok Times.” “We all know who built the pyramids, but only editors can rebuild inverted ones.” “Visual journalist without photo editors?” “Copy editors save our buts.”

The Times earlier had “streamlined” its public editor, leaving no one with any authority to represent the interests of readers and field criticism from voices loud enough to be worrisome (such as the pesky Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).  Newspapers have lost over 20,000 jobs in the last 20 years. This has been blamed on loss of advertising to the web, but it is also the result of a wave of media consolidation, with revenues that could go to staff salaries going instead to service the massive debt incurred in leveraged buyouts. (Our home-town example: Real-estate genius Sam Zell’s purchase of the paper “saddled the Tribune with $13 billion  in debt, after the Tribune had already bought the LA Times for $8.3 billion.)

The staff at F Newsmagazine and other college newspapers will be glad to help the Times adjust to streamlining. Most of us don’t have public editors or copy desks (no room in the small newsroom for that extra desk). We have the one editor who does it all, even cleans the coffee pot. (Yeah, right!).

See Sophie Lucido Johnson’s very cool “illustrated time machine” on the extinction of the public editor.

Click here for the rest of “The Public Editor: An Illustrated Timeline” (in F Newsmagazine). Margaret Sullivan saw it and  tweeted, “I’m neither this blonde nor this thin; not complaining.” If only Sophie had a copy editor, she would have gotten the hair color right.

Douchebag: The white racial slur we’ve all been waiting for,” says American Studies Prof.

Berkeley American Studies Professor Michael Mark Cohen gives social and historical context for the epithet “douchebag,” tracing its evolution through medical history, social stereotypes and pop culture, finally revealing the slur as the accurately descriptive epithet for the insufferably entitled white male.

He looks at what happens when you play “douchebag/not a douchebag” with a new definition based on white privilege, naming the names from Mitt Romney to Captain Kirk and Bruce Banner. Oh, and “when he slipped into the slave quarters at night,” Thomas Jefferson became “our nation’s douchebag founding father,” along with the rest of the plantation aristocracy.

Read it for insights into the history of racial slurs, an enlightening description of the way the word is used (what you probably meant by it without thinking about it), a list of the stereotypical males who fit the description, why hipsters are really quite different and even opposite, and what to do if someone you know or care about is a douchebag.

Cohen’s American Studies course is fascinating — I listened to it on iTunes U a few years ago, but Berkeley has taken nearly all its courses off iTunes. Cohen put some of the lectures on YouTube — I hope he puts more of them up. He also has a video talk on “Pynchon’s Paranoid California.” Check out the cartoons on his website for Art Young and the Cartoons of American Radicalism.

A sample from Michael Cohen’s “Cartooning Capitalism.” Art Young, The Masses, December 1912.  


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