Today I passed a man on the Venice Boardwalk wearing a large sign that read “Jesus Help Me Meet Jodie Foster.” Naturally I was curious about what he hoped would come from such a meeting. If he’s a devoted enough fan to parade around in public wearing such a sign, he surely knows that Jodie Foster is gay, so he can’t have his eye on her as a romantic possibility. He could be a desperate wannabe writer/actor/producer, yet despite how crazy those people can appear, this man seemed far out of their league.

If I’d had my friend Maggie with me, she might have gone up to him and asked. She has that ability to talk to everybody about everything, regardless of how insane they might appear. I don’t possess that trait, so I kept moving forward, determined not to catch the sign-wearer’s eye, focused instead on my little Chihuahua’s stride.

I was also curious as to why this man reached out to Jesus via a sign on the Venice Boardwalk. Does he imagine that Jesus hangs out there, waltzing around in disguise? Or being that in L.A. so many are repped by agents and managers, did he think he might find a link through a third party? On the other hand, if Jesus plays a potent role in this man’s life, hasn’t he found other ways to speak to him by now?

Perhaps like so many who pass time on the Boardwalk, this man is simply crazy. So, what is it about Jodie Foster that she attracts such wackos? Does she spend time in therapy asking her shrink the same question? Look what this man has started. Now he has me thinking about Jodie Foster.

An email that cyclically makes its way around the Internet recently returned to my inbox. It strives to point out that we don’t remember Nobel Prize and Academy Award Winners and any number of other celebrities who pass through the spotlight. The email claims that we have much greater success remembering our favorite teachers, childhood friends, etc. Maybe, but I’ve been thinking about celebrities a lot lately, names of note that extend beyond Hollywood idols. Political names, writer names, names that grace the bottom of op-ed articles.

The grim reality is that if you want to have global impact you have a far greater chance with a healthy dose of celebrity in your pocket. Did anyone take note that I protested against invading Iraq? Hardly, aside from maybe my son, and a few others who labeled me as naïve at the time. (I’m happy to have the last snarl on that one.)

As I navigate the Internet reading op-eds in assorted newspapers, I notice that impressive credentials seem to guarantee publication more than a potent article. Yes, there are some great op-eds out there, but I wonder how many insightful contributors have been turned away simply because they didn’t submit with an easily summarized string of accomplishments or a convenient title to place after their names. I can forgive readers of People their celebrity addiction, for that is the stated objective of the magazine, but what about the editors of The New York Times? Or The Huffington Post? Do we really want someone’s title to be the most significant criteria for publication?

When I first received an email announcing the launching of Arianna Huffington’s website, I was enthused. I felt her shift from conservative to progressive gave her voice a unique credibility. After hearing her in person and on radio, I imagined her site as an outlet for the people, something that went beyond politics as usual. That’s when it would have been appropriate to label me ‘naïve’.

Yes, I’m nursing a chip on my shoulder. Recently I wrote an op-ed piece, and those who read it encouraged me to submit it to assorted publications including The Huffington Post, so I navigated to the site to learn about its submission policy. I searched and searched, but found no explanation of the site’s structure. I wrote a friendly email to info@huffingtonpost.com inquiring as to whether they accept submissions, hit send, and waited. And waited. And waited. I wrote again. And waited.

It’s possible that The Huffington Post receives thousands of emails, but if a site invites your questions, it implies you will get a response. Every news-type site I visited aside from The Huffington Post provided its policy on submissions or letters to the editor. I later learned via a friend who attended a digital conference where a representative from The Huffington Post spoke that the site, very unapologetically, doesn’t accept submissions. They choose their bloggers, pure and simple. Granted, they’ve assembled an impressive array of contributors, but it still troubles me that they don’t accept submissions. Is Arianna not interested in an unsolicited voice?

While anyone can post a remark on a specific article, there is no place to comment on the site in general. I tried writing one more time asking about this policy. After all, Arianna and her editors have complete control over whether or not they print a letter. Aren’t they at least open to hearing from their readers in such a forum? Again, no response. How can common citizens even dream of being heard when one of the champions of democracy ignores us?

Am I unfairly going after Arianna? I don’t think so. I think she’s doing some great work and I’ve been a supporter, but I feel duped, and no one can disappoint you like someone you admire. Somehow I get the feeling that if I’d signed the letter ‘George Clooney’ or maybe ‘Jodie Foster,’ my inbox would have been graced with a reply quite quickly.


Christopher E. said...

Heh, thanks for your posting. I was just starting a search to learn how to submit an article. I'll spend another five minutes and then look for other sources. I I *do* find more info, I'll be back to pass on the information.

Eric Indiana said...

I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your writing style. I stumbled in looking for information on submitting an article to the elusive Huffington Post, but I've been looking through your pieces, and I enjoy the way you simultaneously seem to be in your head but observing yourself from outside.

Are you still blogging? I don't see anything after June, 2009. If not, can I read more recent essays of yours elsewhere?


deezee said...

Thanks for the nice comment. I haven't been blogging, concentrating on some off-line fiction writing instead, but I may be back.