NABJ 2012: Networking, Skill-building and Sexy Lady Repellent
Just a quick note to let my little community of friends and fans know I haven’t forgotten about you all. I was more active on the blog in early June and that was by design. I’ve been making a conscious effort to update this site more often and had no plans for even a short hiatus, but duty intervened.
In this case “duty” means a trip to New Orleans to attend the National Association of Black Journalists’ annual convention and career fair.
A rough life, I know.
Before we continue, let’s not get hung up the phrase “Career Fair.” I’m not job hunting. I have some opportunities in the next few months to do really good work at the Toronto Star and I plan to capitalize.
I’ll leave the all-out job searches for college kids and interns with expiring contracts. Eleven years ago, I was that guy.
Now I’m the guy who’s here to build my skill set and my network of like-minded professionals, while also enjoying some of the conferences fringe benefits.
Like catching up with friends and professors from the world’s greatest J-School, and putting faces to some of the biggest names on Twitter. Once I have grandkids I’ll be able to tell them I watched a Euro Cup game with Ed “The Sports Fan” Maisonet.
And in an age where it’s common to say you “know” people with whom you’ve only ever interacted digitally, a face-to-face meeting actually constitutes a huge thrill. So when you meet the reporter who explained to you via Facebook how to trap an opossum (long and random story prompted by this article), and how best to get it to your dinner table (even longer story that involves growing up in a small town), you have no choice but to pause and pose for a photo.
Simple pleasures of NABJ.
But because I’m in New Orleans I know folks are wondering about the nightlife, and I in turn am wondering how much I can share with you here. And no, I’m not talking about anything I did. The love scenes on Saved By the Bell are racier than anything I do when I’m traveling without my girlfriend, so don’t go thinking thoughts.
But the stuff I witnessed?
I’ll share three points that stood out about “Latin Dance Party” I attended at La Maison de la Musique in the French Quarter.
1. Anybody drawn in by the words “Latin Dance” risked bitter disappointment
There were a few of us, including a trio of caribeños who stood near a pillar scowling, waiting for the DJ to play some bachata. Which he did. Sporadically. The focus here was definitely “Party,” and most of the folks we saw came to do just that. Lots of spilled beer and club bangers and “Murder She Wrote,” because that song moves any crowd… especially a crowd shot through with what our man Chaka Demus calls bahd kyah-RAHK-tah (that’s “bad character” in English).
2. The second-most egregrious outfit I spotted last night
Entered the room during a bachata set to see a young lady dressed in the following:
* A light blue, button-down shirt.
* Moon boots covered in silver duct tape.
* If you noticed I said nothing about her pants, it’s because she wasn’t wearing any. She had some shiny red panties on though, and when I spotted her she was dancing with the one of the salty Caribeños — the last one in the pecking order, I’m guessing.
At some point she tried to tie the shirt into a knot to create a midriff, because apparently she left the house with no pants and still felt warm. But she quickly abandoned that idea and settled for copping a quick feel on a drunk chick and disappearing down the stairs.
3. Yes, there was a more egregious crime against fashion in the building that night
When you’re at a party where people feel comfortable dancing in panties and groping strangers’ breasts, you’re also in a place where alcohol and hormones, added to the reality that most people present are a long way from home, mean few partygoers feel accountable for anything that happens in New Orleans.
In that environment, guess you know who thinks he’s getting laid…
Chaka Demus will tell you: Tom, Dick, and also Harry.
In other words, anybody who wants to.
But do you know who knew he wasn’t getting any action?
I don’t mean to disparage the minimalist movement that has been building momentum on the running scene for at least the last two years. If a 5K trail run had broken out in the middle of the party, everybody except this guy would have been woefully underprepared to cover the distance, and most of us locked into unnatural stride patterns our overprotective running shoes have forced on us.
But even healthy trends have limits, and you know you’ve crossed one when you’re colour coordinating your brown suede Vibrams to complement your khaki shorts for a night of clubbing in the French Quarter.
In fairness, maybe the guy was taken and looking to stay faithful on an evening fraught with temptation. If so, mission accomplished. Those shoes are an unambiguous sign that when drawing up a list of priorities, attention from the opposite sex doesn’t make the cut.
But if you’re not looking to take her back to the hotel, you don’t have to. You don’t have to approach her, and you can always shut her down if she tries to latch on to you. But at least let her look at you and fantasize about giving you something besides a makeover…
…A collection of disjointed thoughts, I know. But I said all that to say this:
I’m having a blast, and I never fail to at NABJ.
And if I didn’t see you this year let’s connect in 2013.
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