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  • Ted Mann 5:40 pm on May 28, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    Long time no see 

    Poor TurkeyMonkey. I’ve been a very bad caretaker of this beloved crossbreed mascot name. But fear not: I’m not about to let the domain registration slip. And I plan to get back to my regularly scheduled blogging any day now.

    Why, you might ask, have I been MIA for so long? Have I gone rogue?

    The short answer is, yes. I have gone rogue. But I’ve also been working diligently on two other websites lately, Suburbarazzi and Fix Hartsdale Parking. And as any blogger or webmaster knows, one only has enough attention span to run two websites at any given time. Alas, TurkeyMonkey and Plugs have suffered. I don’t know if it’s too late to salvage the latter, but I’m not about to leave TM all abandoned. After all, those are my initials and all, so that would be like abandoning myself, or my cyberself, which is an existential crisis I’m not yet prepared for.

    Getting back to what I’ve been doing. … It’s been a busy few months. I’ll do my best to recap the top 10 busy-making things I’ve been up to below:

    img_6815.JPG1. Meeting Bill Murray. Actually, this just happened last night, at the opening of a new Yonkers restaurant called X20. I’m still completely giddy over the whole thing. It all eminated from a story I wrote about how the restaurant’s chef, Peter Kelly, faced off against Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America. Not only did Kelly win, but he beat Flay in a battle of the grill (Flay’s specialty). Anyway, last night was the show’s debut and Murray sat down right next to me and we got to hang for most of the night. I’ll post more details later, with pictures. But I just couldn’t resist sharing that right off the bat.

    suburbarazzi.jpeg2. Suburbarazzi: Speaking of celebrities, last fall I started up a blog devoted to the famous residents of the Lower Hudson Valley with my colleagues at InTown and The Journal News. Since then, Suburbarazzi has snowballed into something bigger than I ever imagined. The blog gets, on average, about 40,000 hits a month, and has been linked to from Gawker, Slate, and dozens of other sites. There’s also a celebrity stalker map on the site (an idea we blatantly ripped off from Gawker), photo galleries of recent celebrity sighting, and even a MySpace page. We’ve broken exclusives about DMX’s multiple arrests, the Rosie O’Donnell feuds, and the “sextortionist” who attempted to extort $125,000 from a Pepsi exec.

    A daily (or weekly) newspaper column may be coming soon. And we also now film a weekly TV segment for a local newscast on RNN based on the blog. Here’s the latest one, from last week:

    RNN clip

    3. St. Maarten: In mid-March, my whole family went down to St. Maarten for a week-long vacation and celebration of my dad’s bday. We spent most of the trip mixing guavaberry daiquiris, visiting a beach on the French side of the island (we stayed on the Dutch side), and chasing after either baby Phillip or baby Austin or Owen or Francesca or Winifred. It was great fun, though. Here are some of my favorite pics:




    4. LoHud Blogs: Besides Suburbarazzi, I’ve also asserted myself as a leader in our company’s effort to build up its blogging presence. At The Journal News, I helped form a group of “Power Users” to (a) make the blogs better and (b) make them profitable. As for (a), we’re still working on it, but he have managed to get video and audio up, improve the look of the blogs, and make them viewable on mobile phones. As for (b), I got us plugged into Google AdSense program, which hasn’t exactly yielded big bucks yet, but it’s more than the zero dollars we were getting before.

    bilde-2.jpg5. Flight School: For the May issue of Rockland Magazine, I went to flight school. It was a bit unnerving since I had no idea that I would actually be manning the yoke during takeoff, but thankfully we all survived. I’d love to enroll in the school for more than just a few classes, maybe even take the time to earn my license, but I’ll need a lot more spare time and money than I’ve got right now. Anyway, here’s the story: “Winging It.”

    bilde.jpg6. Iron Chef America: As I mentioned before, I wrote an article about Peter Kelly taking down Bobby Flay on Iron Chef. What I really liked about this story, “Diary of an Iron Chef,” was that it was completely written from the POV of the profile subject. I wanted the byline to say, “By Peter Kelly, as told to Ted Mann” to reinforce the idea that it was an actual memoirish retelling of Kelly’s preparations for the battle. In reality, the story came about through a series of lengthy interviews I did with Kelly, but I really hope and think it comes across as his voice.

    img_5786.JPG7. Vegas Baby: For Mike Garrett’s bachelor party, I headed to Vegas with Craig, Gabe, and Mike’s best man, Jeff. We stayed at the Luxor, made a killing at the craps table, lost a killing at the craps table, and learned the do’s and don’ts of night-club line-hopping. Above all, I learned that Gabe (or perhaps an actor named Ryan that looks an awful lot like Gabe — Ryan Phillipe? Ryan Gossling? Ryan O’Neil?) is a babe magnet in the great state of Nevada. Outstanding.

    8. Neha got married … and I may or may not have lost a certain bet: We ventured down to NJ for Neha and Justin’s Indian wedding ceremony, which was a blast. The sight of Justin riding in on a drugged, pimped out mule through a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot instantly became one of my top 5 favorite wedding moments. As for the question of whether or not Neha actually got formally married before her 30th birthday — let’s just say, I’m not pressing for any sort of confirmation one way or the other.

    9. Newpaper nonsense: In addition to blogging and TV, my job also took me into another (almost) entirely new medium: newpaper writing. I wasn’t exactly handling a beat or anything, but I did begin writing some stories for the paper this year, including one about FBI mole Robert Hanssen (timed to come out with the movie “Breach”) and another about Rosie O’Donnell leaving “The View.”

    10. Fix Hartsdale Parking: Last but not least: my crusade to reform Hartsdale’s antiquated parking system. It all started last December, when the hamlet’s ban on overnight winter parking kicked in. During the period from Dec. 1 to Mar. 15, we have absolutely nowhere to park our cars. The Hobson’s choice we’re forced to make is parking in the municipal lot behind an IHOP, where we have to feed meters 24 hours a day. It’s insane. This is the friggin suburbs!

    Apologies to anyone who has already heard this rant from me before, but I just couldn’t understand why a town as densly populated as this one wouldn’t have adequate parking for its residents. A simple solution, I figured, would be to simply abolish the ban on overnight parking (which is supposed to allow for plowing, even though the plows never operate during the midnight-6am ban), and instead institute some sort of snow emergency evacuation policy (like most cities have).


    To help advance this agenda, I created a website — initially called Fix East Hartsdale Avenue Parking, and later shortened to just Fix Hartsdale Parking — using an open-source publishing software called Joomla. It was really easy to set up, yet nowhere near as easy as WordPress to customize. The good news is that hundreds of local residents found their way to the site and signed my petition. We even got articles in the local paper, editorials endorsing the plan, and we formed a committee to help lobby for parking reform in the town. The bad news is that this committe has thus far accomplished jack squat.

    The police chief came out against me, even going so far as to attack me at town hall meetings. Even though we had legislation written and backed by hundreds of people, I learned a sad fact of suburban life: The police chiefs control the local government here, not the elected officials. Not one of the town council people have yet challenged the police chief to date. I’ve still got my fingers crossed that we’ll accomplish something, but

    I’m not holding my breath anymore. The real solution, it seems, is to simply move out of Hartsdale. A lack of parking may seem like a trivial thing if you’ve never experienced it firsthand, but trust me, I’d take the crime in Philadelphia or the high rents in New York any day over the God awful parking situation here. Anyway, I’m cutting back on the parking crusade and getting back to important things: like blogging here.

    The parking reform movement’s loss is TurkeyMonkey’s gain.

    • James 11:14 pm on January 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Man. I just came upon your blog searching “Parking Hartsdale, NY”. Parking is crazy there. I’m seeing a woman there, or I should say, I’m not seeing a woman there because of their overnight parking ban. Greenburgh is off-the-chain crazy! I REFUSE to pay for those 24 hour meters behind IHOP out of principle.
      a frustrated Yonkers man

    • Ted 1:08 am on January 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Couldn’t agree more, James. Parking ultimately was the reason we moved out of Hartsdale. It was infuriating. I feel your pain.

  • Ted Mann 11:16 pm on December 11, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    The Origins of “Surrender Monkeys” 

    After I posted that New York Post cover, featuring Jim Baker and Lee Baker of the Iraq Study Group as “Surrender Monkeys,” I couldn’t get the catchy phrase out of my head. I could have sworn I’d heard it before.

    Turns out, according to NPR’s On The Media, via FishbowlNY, that the term comes from The Simpsons. It first appeared in a 1995 episode where Groundskeeper Willie calls the French “cheese-eatin’ surrender monkeys.” Then, a few years later, it was “reinjected … into the mainstream media” by National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg and “gleefully repeated on Fox News and other apparently Francophobic news outlets” heading into the Iraq War.

    So there you have it. From Groundskeeper Willie’s lips to the Post’s printers. Out-stand-ing.

  • Ted Mann 1:25 am on December 8, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    The greatest newspaper cover ever? I think so! 

    Surrender Monkeys

  • Ted Mann 9:32 am on November 15, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    7 New Wonders go from stupendous to stupid 

    This whole “7 New Wonders of the World” project, a joint venture between Good Morning America and USA Today, seemed extremely promising at first. They had cutie Kate Snow moderating a panel of experts (Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Pico Iyer, Bruce Feiler), a ridonculous amount of pre-project hype (billboards, promos, and a sad, sad attempt at viral YouTube video), and most important, a genuinely good idea (I’m thinking of copying the whole 7 Wonders package for one of the magazines I edit). Then they actually started revealing the wonders last week, one day at a time.

    1. Potala Palace (Lhasa, Tibet): OK, haven’t ever heard of this place and it’s not terribly pretty, but a giant architectural marvel at the top of the world — I’m feeling you.

    2. Old City of Jerusalem (Jerusalem, Israel): Uh, isn’t it kind of cheating to pick a whole city? Why not Paris or New York? But that aside, yes, Jerusalem still passes the smell test — i.e. it’s a wonderous place I’d like to visit.

    3. Polar Ice Caps (Iceland): Oh, come on! We’re opening this up to natural wonders? I’m starting to imagine the Wonders experts debating: “Why not the Earth’s core? No, what about the moon? We could do those new moon — I love RX230!”

    4. Hawaiian National Marine Monument (Hawaii, USA): Ugh. Clearly the wheels have fallen off this project. This barrier reef is nothing compared to the one that’s actually “Great” in Australia, or the one off Belize. This is yet another natural wonder (which honestly should be a totally different list), and not even a very good one at that.

    5. The Internet (Everywhere!): Retarded. Simply retarded.

    OK, the Internet may have changed all our lives, but it’s not a capitalized Wonder of the World. Nor is the economy or television or Apple computer or the blogosphere or marijuana or monkey torture. Let’s make this clear: Wonder of the World means massive man-made structure that people from all over the world would be interested in seeing! It’s a simple conceit. These guys get it.

    The ancient ones, now called the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World (which are all but gone, except for the Pyramid of Giza), were essentially a list of tourist destinations put together in the 2nd Century BC by a famous writer. Perhaps that’s what GMA and USA Today should have done here: pick one really good writer (that lady who penned “1000 Places to See Before You Die,” maybe) and asked them to come up with one solid list. Not this silly, stupid list that seems like it was put together by a committee of kindergarteners.

  • Ted Mann 11:00 am on November 1, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Great Moments in Monkey History 

    It was only a matter of time before someone stole my idea for the greatest magazine in history: Monkey Magazine. The fact that it’s the Brits only makes it worse. And the only reason that I’m not totally debressed and ready to give up on the whole magazine-publishing racket is this heaven-sent video, promoting the new lad mag.


  • Ted Mann 1:16 pm on October 8, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Damn You, Dar! 

    It’s here. “Secrets of the Alchemist Dar,” the sequel to “A Treasure’s Trove,” came out late last month, and it took only a few days for my brother and I to get our hands on shiny, new first editions. And then it took even less time for us to realize that, hey, this is fucking impossible!

    Whereas the first treasure hunt book, leading readers to $1 mil in bejeweled broaches, was accessible and seemed at least vaguely solve-able, this one is just baffling. The last third of the book is an upside down spell book written in ambigrams (word spelled the same upside and down), creepy symbols, and rorschach inkblots. Although I’m not giving up just yet (we’re still talking about $2 mil in rings this time, after all), the book will almost certainly not take over my free time the way the last one did. No obsessive 2am decoding sessions, no late-night phone calls to friends in Iowa and Andy’s relatives to go searching for tokens in state parks, and no frenzied high-speed races down the Taconic.

    At least, not until someone manages to crack the first clue and posts their solve to the message boards (either Tweleve or the official Dar board). Then all bets are off.

  • Ted Mann 4:38 pm on September 30, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    How Lo(Hud) Can You Go? 

    My employer, the powerhouse that is The Journal News, is currently in rebranding mode. Starting last October, the newpaper started calling its web portal LoHud.com, an abbreviation of Lower Hudson Online.

    It’s taken me a little while to get hip to their new web strategy, but as you all know, I pride myself on falling in line with the man sooner or later, so I’ve spent the last month bringing all of the magazines I work on under the LoHud umbrella (with the help of LoHud guru Nicole Jones). A few of you have pointed out (rightly so) that our previous site was awful looking. Even though there were PDFs that you could see, we managed to make even those look awful, filtering them through some wacked service called Print2Web. Worst of all — they weren’t indexed by search engines, which essentially meant they were invisible. What’s the point of having a website if you can’t find it on Google?

    Well, no more. Now you can see, search, and print most of our articles in a clean format. I especially like how we’re also able to post photo galleries, which make use of a fantastic slideshow viewer, which you can check out here. (Thanks to superstar LoHud programmer Chris Vannoy for writing that baby from scratch!) Soon we’ll also have a podcast of the magazines, plus blogs and other good stuff. But best of all, the magazines will finally be visible to those benevolent Google-bots.

    InTown Westchester: http://www.intownconnect.com
    Rockland Magazine: http://www.rocklandmag.com
    Putnam Magazine: http://www.putnammag.com
    Scarsdale Magazine: http://www.scarsdalemag.com

    Update: I keep noticing little glitches and mistakes on the sites. If you happen to see any of them, too, please email me. We’re still sort of in beta mode here, so I can use all the extra sets of eyes I can get. Thanks!

    • Chris Vannoy 5:37 pm on September 30, 2006 Permalink | Reply

      For the record, the pretty front end of that slideshow is a fairly stock version of SlideShow Pro. The from scratch part is the backend of it.

      But thanks for noticing.

    • Ted 11:07 pm on September 30, 2006 Permalink | Reply

      Aw, quit being modest, Chris! Throw in the image gallery viewer that you created, the U.S. Open site, and the LoHud blogs, and it’s no wonder they’re calling you the Sergey Brin of White Plains.

      I’m amazed you saw my post. I should be the one to thank you for noticing!

  • Ted Mann 9:29 am on August 31, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Masthead Mojo 

    As a staffer at an obscure community lifestyle magazine, it’s impossible for me not to look lustfully at the mastheads of national mags like Esquire and Vanity Fair. And yes, I confess to subscribing to the creepy career-voyeur newsletter that is mediabistro’s “Revolving Door.” But what about the magazine that I obsess over most — i.e. The New Yorker — which don’t publish its editorial staff?

    Enter Mastheads.org, a site devoted entirely to cataloging the current staffs at magazines. The New Yorker is there, as is just about every other national pub. My only big question: Where’s InTown?

  • Ted Mann 10:42 pm on August 11, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Somebody Please Give Claire Hoffman a Pulitzer 

    Or an Ellie or Golden Pen or CRMA plaque or whatever it is you award to groundbreaking regional magazines published by newspapers. “Baby, Give Me a Kiss” is what we in the editing business affectionately call “Writing Gone Wild.”

    Hoffman’s story in the LA Times West magazine, published on August 6, was simply one of the most brilliant pieces of narrative journalism I’ve read in — well, ever. The story is about Joe Francis, the founder of the “Girls Gone Wild” series of softcore porn videos, but it’s much more than just a story about a sleazy businessman. I laughed out loud at a few places–especially when Francis starts chastising women for not knowing what a qwerty keyboard is, and then ragging on the reporter for what he assumes will be a merciless article about him:

    “She’s going to slaughter me now,” he shouts to the group as I keep smiling, writing in my notebook, tape recorder running. Apparently, he wants more of a reaction. He’s pantomiming me typing furiously, writing an article.

    “She’s going to be looking at her keyboard going, ‘Ah, you think you’re so smart now.’ Qwerty keyboard. Who’s smart now?” He sounds happy. “She’s going to be playing that tape back. It’s going to be echoing in her head. Qwerty, qwerty, qwerty. She’s going to go all psycho.”

    He’s right, of course. Hoffman slaughters Francis in her story. But not for the reasons he anticipates — that she thinks he’s condescending to her or that she’s got the hots for him. No, in fact, she tells the story of an underage girl who was raped by Francis on one of the days that Hoffman was, with his permission, shadowing him. At which point the story transitions expertly from a humorous profile of an eccentric, sleazy, wacky entrepreneur into a riveting expose of our exhibitionist culture, the objectification of women, and the abuses and crimes that this mindset can perpetrate. At 6,000 words, the story ain’t short, but it’s every bit as brilliant as anything I’ve read in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, or any other publication (excluding InTown, of course) in the past year.

    Many thanks to my colleague Robert Zeliger for pointing me to this story. And one last time, just ’cause it bears repeating: Somebody please give Hoffman a Pulitzer!

  • Ted Mann 10:01 pm on August 3, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    More Shameless Self-Aggrandizement 

    I keep meaning to carve some time out to blog in earnest, but work has been wearing me down lately. If I have the energy for an episode of “America’s Got Talent,” I consider myself lucky. So, forgive me, I’m going to just post some more links to some of my recent, favorite magazine features (all of which I’ve added, along with plenty of others, on my MediaBistro portfolio).

    1. “Extreme Makeover: Purdys Edition,” from InTown Northern Westchester’s August issue – A story in which I went undercover when Extreme Makeover arrived in Westchester to do a home in Purdys. I tried to uncover what really goes on in those 30-second time lapse shots, when the homes appear to spring up suddenly. Hint: It ain’t Ty Pennington doing the work.

    2. “Where Have All the Caddies Gone,” from InTown Sound Shore’s June issue – An exploration of caddie culture in Westchester, and whether they’ll one day lose the battle to golf carts. (Best part of this story: getting to interview and write about the original, quintessential caddie, Michael O’Keefe — aka Noonan from Caddyshack).

    3. “The 7 Most Interesting People in Scarsdale: Carl and Clarence Aguirre,” from Scarsdale Magazine’s May issue – This one was short, but one of my favorite stories to write. It’s about the formerly conjoined Aguirre twins, who turned four on my birthday. It was a nightmare to get that photo of the kids, as they were attacking each other like rabid dogs the entire time, but it was utterly fascinating to meet them and talk with there mom, Arlene, a single mom from Manila raising the kids in a donated Scarsdale home all on her own.

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