December 20, 2008
What I'm Doing Here
After 8 or 9 years of writing Ron's Log, is it time for a Mission Statement? No. And nobody's ever asked (at least not that I recall) why I write Ron's Log. But has lack of reader interest ever deterred me?
Before the turn of the century, I would write long letters to friends, but each of those letters would reach only one person, and how interested they might have been in the subjects in my long letters is up to question. With a weblog, though, I could spew to my heart's content and my friends could choose to tune in (or not) as they pleased, to read or skip any subject. And, as I've learned over time, some friends do read Ron's Log and others don't, which is okay. Those who don't read Ron's Log, however, do not get long verbal updates to make up for their finnicky reading habits.
My primary audience, though, is me. If I find a post to be interesting enough and well written enough for me, then it's good. Occasionally I'll find myself looking at an old post of mine that I'd forgotten, and find it still enjoyable to read. And that makes me happy. Not too different from masturbation that way.
I've looked at those sites that advise on how get a big readership on a blog, and they are mostly correct. I could restrict myself to one or two subjects; write shorter posts; make it all G-Rated (or go for all nudity all the time), and get more readership. But big readership has never been my goal. OTOH, it is nice to know that people do read Ron's Log, thereby confirming that my tenuous grip on reality hasn't broken yet, and that most of my sentences remain readable.
My summaries of DHS city council meetings started last year. I think this report represents the first time I actually attended a city council meeting. That was the special meeting immediately after the termination of Ann Marie Gallant. Prior to that I tried to follow along by watching the city council meetings on TV and reading local sources for news. But the audio from the meetings on TV was poor and unreliable and local news sources weren't much better. The Desert Sun's reports were brief, incomplete and sometimes obviously incorrect. Other local sources tended to be heavily biased, very incomplete, and sometimes just plain unclear.
It probably happens in all small cities, but my experiences are limited so I can only confirm that it goes on in Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs: that is, people tend to deal in first names only, and refer to local places and projects by short nicknames. The result (possibly somewhat intentional) is that newcomers are mystified. Who's "Bill?" "Jim?" Where's "Palmwood?" Rarely was anything spelled out clearly, and Google doesn't help much in a small media market like ours.
When the Ann Marie Gallant debacle happend, it became obvious to me that the only way I could know what was going on was to go to city council meetings myself. I needed to see if, when the TV cameras turned away, did a giant green slime monster come up behind the dais and mindmeld with the members of the city council? What else could explain their behaviors?
I continued to go to the city council meetings and expanded my descriptions of them for a few reasons. One was certainly that I needed to stay informed to help protect my home, but another was that it became a civics lesson for me. Native Californians may see the system of government here as completely natural and logical, but it's about 180° around from what I was used to in Boston. California government is much more complex and contradictory than anything in New England. But after attending more meetings, asking a few questions, and Googling a lot, it all began to make some sense - in a twisted California kind of way.
One thing that keeps my interest high enough to motivate me to keep attending city council meetings is that they have story arcs that are structured just like soap operas. Some things come up and are dealt with in only one meeting. Others have a life of a few months. And yet more items have lifecycles in years. That Jerry Hanson story is still hanging unresolved, you will recall.
At first, attending the city council meetings was like the first time I tried to watch "All My Children." I hardly knew any of the characters or what motivated their strange behaviors. What mysterious, dark relationships of the past were coloring their decisions today? And without cheezy background music to clue me in to the plot twisting moments, I was sometimes lost.
But with no more than my eyes and ears, and Google, and a few questions to resolve confusion, I've figured out how to follow along. And that's all I do. The role I want in city council meetings is to be the citizen who comes in and listens and pays attention. I don't try to go digging before or after meetings to find out dirt or ulterior motives. I'm never going to be a candidate for any position. But I don't pretend to be neutral. No thinking person should be completely neutral. But I think my bias is in favor of clarity and common sense (plus I have a hardon for the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment). I come home from the meetings jazzed up enough that I want to write about them, so write about them I do - while the thoughts are still fresh.
I try to give full names and descriptions in my city write-ups to (A) make it easier for other newcomers, (B) satisfy the great Google gods, and (C) make it easier for me to recall and relocate what I've written.
I especially appreciate any of the posts pertaining to DHS and DHS city government. The local paper does not cover us well enough! Thanks Ron!
Posted by: Raymond at Dec 20, 2008 10:34:16 PM
I can honestly say that we, the citizens of DHS, are the more informed because of your writing. So thanks for being YOU in our "funky li'l desert town." (and I think I got the apostrophe correct)
Posted by: Jeff at Dec 20, 2008 9:56:30 PM
Yes, I enjoy your blog. I always get my Burning Man news here not to mention bits of 1950's Palm Springs architecture which appears from time to time, and the desert hiking sequences.
Posted by: interglossa at Dec 20, 2008 2:55:28 PM
Although I find your city council write-ups the least interesting of your topics, I keep coming back almost daily for most of your other log subjects such as Kansas City, gay and naturist news, photography, computers, etc. I hope that you will continue your log. My best to you.
Posted by: vidman at Dec 20, 2008 2:29:54 PM
zackly! fuckin' gummint!
Posted by: Ron's Log at Dec 20, 2008 1:33:18 PM
or, to put it another way-
You've done what my grandfather said was his destiny: to retire, get a big wide white belt hitched up above his belly button, and complain about the gummint full time.
Posted by: b at Dec 20, 2008 1:21:52 PM