Stacy Morrison on How You Can Have It All

IMAG0228-1On Monday, in the newly remodeled ASME headquarters in NYC, my class heard from Stacy Morrison—writer, editor, author, and editor-in-chief of BlogHer.com.  Coming from an alumna of Washington and Lee, her advice struck a chord for me. The passion, energy, and creative energy she radiated allowed for the feeling of possibility to seep in. In Stacy, I saw a person that was unafraid to act on and pursue her ideas; someone who was confident enough to allow her interests to craft an enriching career.

In her conversation with us, Stacy was open to discussing every aspect of her life—a candidness that was refreshing and relatable. She was at once disarmingly humble and utterly sure of her talents and abilities. This engaging combination brought to mind a gap-toothed, scabby-kneed kindergartener endearingly (and honestly) declaring her talents as a speedy runner. Why waste your time demurring when you could have the freedom to let yourself be known?

Yes, freedom. That is what Stacy principally evoked. A freedom to be creative in your approach to life. From her talk, I felt that I could shake off the trappings of tradition in motherhood, love, and career paths. In everything, no matter how seemingly ingrained or out of reach, there was a solution. There was a way to juggle having children and having a fulfilling job. There was a way to write and be creative, to find your voice no matter how damaged or battered you feel from hardships faced. And, finally, there was a way to create a social platform that was as candid as Stacy. A platform that would speak to the modern woman—where real women could connect with each other, and where their voices could be heard. A place like BlogHer.com, which receives tens of millions of hits per month.

Stacy’s strength and energy, even in the face of soul-shrinking hardship, are an inspiration. I feel that I spoke to the guru of the working woman; someone who has found a way to flourish creatively, raise a child, and deal with loss. I can say with absolute conviction that Stacy is my new role model.

— Andrea Siso

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Small Town Girl Experiences The Big Apple

I’ve been told New York City is the place to go if you want to make it big.  In the concrete jungle it’s a cat fight to the top. It’s the place where dreams become reality – but only if you can keep up with its cut-throat and fast-paced nature. I’ve been told if you can make it in New York City, then you can make it anywhere.

A busy New York street.

A busy New York street.

 

Elle magazine.

Elle magazine.

I went into our trip with all these pre-concieved notions about New York. That it was going to be an overwhelming and scary place for those who were not from a big city. But to my surprise I fell in love with it despite how different it was from the small towns and suburbs I was used to.

Tulips at the John Lennon memorial in Strawberry Fields.

 

 

The John Lennon memorial.

The John Lennon memorial.

I attribute my easy transition to my extensive travels around the world in the past 18 years. I have been thrown into new situations and different environments countless times – making it easier to feel at home in the big city. New and different are what I am familiar with.

A look down a typical New York street.

A look down a typical New York street.

 

Subway stop at 28th street.

Subway stop at 28th street.

Having a plethora of opportunities to travel throughout my life has prompted me to take pictures of every place I go. So when we arrived I began snapping pictures, trying to capture the beauty of New York City in a series of photos. The pictures you see in this post show how I viewed New York through my own eyes for the first time.

An exhibition of grafitti on the walls of a building in NYC.

An exhibition of grafitti on the walls of a building in NYC.

 

Another ants eye view of a single building in New York.

Another ants eye view of a single building in New York.

Granted I was only able to familiarize myself with New York for three days, I could definitely see myself living there in a few years once I graduate. I have heard it is a competitive and stressful work environment, but isn’t competition and stress what causes us to maximize our potential?

An ants eye view of a single building in New York.

 

A street filled with luxurious apartments.

A street filled with luxurious apartments.

After visiting, I am less scared and more intrigued by the city that never sleeps. It seems as if New York is a place of bottomless potential and unending opportunities for the people who live there. Every day appears to be an unknown and exciting adventure in which anything and everything can happen. That is the kind of place I want to live.

A delicious cake from the Mongolian Bakery.

A delicious cake from the Mongolian Bakery.

 

Some of you may recognize this hotel from the show Gossip Girl.

Some of you may recognize this as Chuck Bass’ hotel from the show Gossip Girl.

–Maggie Dick

 

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Playbills

WickedPlaybillCover

The playbill cover for Wicked found on playbill.com

The book I held in my hands last Tuesday had big, colorful pictures, glossy pages, advertisements galore, and many feature stories throughout. However, it was not a magazine. I sat high up in the mezzanine of the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway and West 51 Street, holding the playbill for the musical Wicked. After two long days of studying magazines in New York City, it was refreshing to examine a different type of publication. This specific playbill outlined the musical numbers throughout the play, as well as credited the cast, informing the audience which actor or actress played which character. Although these pages were the ones that the audience referred to most throughout the course of the play, the layout of these pages was extremely boring.

The cast

The cast

They were black and white, filled almost completely with text. The more visually appealing pages, were Q and A interviews with actors and feature stories promoting other, new Broadway musicals like Hedwig and the Angry Inch and The Cripple of Inishmaan. These pieces, although not paid for by other plays, resemble advertorials in a way because the content acts as advertisement for the other shows. The articles were extremely interesting; I read interviews with Neil Patrick Harris and Daniel Radcliffe before Wicked started as well as during intermission. Reading the articles made me want to go see the plays while I was in the city.

An interesting question and answer interview with Neil Patrick Harris about his role in Hedwig and hte Angry Inch.

An interesting question and answer interview with Neil Patrick Harris about his role in Hedwig and hte Angry Inch.

I had assumed that seeing Wicked would be a break from our magazine studies, but it only further reinforced the idea that magazines and advertisements are everywhere. The show was incredibly entertaining, and with the help of the playbill, I am now encouraged to see more shows next time I am in New York.

–Caroline Sanders

 

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Opportunities Disguised as Failures

Failure.  It is the only thing in life that allows one to fall, reorient oneself, and restart on a new track of life.  A casual stroll through Central Park was the setting for the astoundingly deep life lesson that the class was given by the New Yorker’s own Alec Wilkinson.  Wilkinson, a former college friend of our own Professor Cumming, felt that rather than giving a superficial how-to guide of how to make it in New York, he would delve deep into the fundamentals of how to survive and thrive, not just in the magazine business, but in life as a whole.  And he accomplished his goal with an ease and fluidity that it was obvious he had lived through every story he told.  Constantly coming back to a motif of failure, Wilkinson explained his life story and how he came to be where he is now (an author of upwards of ten books, a successful New Yorker writer, et cetera).  Living his life by the motto “Life isn’t about success, it is about failing honorably,” Wilkinson was constantly faced with adversity and struggles during his path in the Big Apple.

photo

From growing up as an aspiring musician, to being a police officer, to freelancing for the New Yorker, whenever Wilkinson would take every failure as a chance to open a new door in his life, firmly believing that eventually he would make it where he thought he ought to be.  Aside from the charismatic stories that he told (each with its own deeper meaning), the real lesson was not simply his career path.  It was much more than that.  In a sense, it was a motivational speech disguised as an autobiography, pounding into our heads the simple phrase: “fail, then fail again, then fail harder,” and only then will you be successful.

-Peter Rathmell

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Tiny Treats

“Baked by Melissa” is a rapidly expanding phenomenon that sells a very specific type of food: bite-sized cupcakes. These cupcakes are available in varying flavors such as peanut butter and jelly or chocolate covered graham cracker. These adorable treats have been taking New York City by storm with walk-up locations on nearly every street corner!

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 10.13.06 AM

Picture taken from the “Baked by Melissa” website.

The company started in 2008 when cupcake creator Melissa was released from her job in advertising. Melissa decided to pursue her baking passion when she began creating exotic cupcakes. Melissa wanted her customers to be able to sample all of her flavors, instead of just ordering one or two at a time. To fix this problem, Melissa created the bite-sized cupcake. This allows her customers to purchase and eat six cupcakes at one time without all of the calories.

photo

Six-piece box of “Baked by Melissa” cupcakes.

The girls in Professor Cumming’s spring term class decided to investigate these tiny treats during their first evening in New York City. They sampled a variety of flavors like orchid, cinnamon, and tie-dye. Each girl finished their six-piece box before leaving the store. The girls concluded that Melissa’s delicious invention lived up to all the hype.

-Courtney Knight

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People watching at the Met Gala

After dinner on Monday night, Hendley and I decided to walk over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We had heard that the Met Gala was that night, and everyone who is anyone attends this prestigious event. After walking about two miles on aching feet, we finally arrived to see no one there; it was only 9:30. The eager fans in front of us encouraged us to stay, saying they would all be coming out around 10.

Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair

Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair

So, we waited. And we waited. And we waited some more. We were starting to lose hope, until we saw the edge of a beautiful black and white gown graze the red carpeted steps, only to realize it was Charlize Theron. Immediately reinvigorated with our craving to see celebrities, we decided to stick around a little longer.

All of the sudden, every known celebrity in the world started to pour out onto 5th Avenue, causing Hendley and I to erupt in giddy screams. Everyone from Sarah Jessica Parker, to Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, to designers Jason Wu and Zac Posen.

Model Gisele Bündchen and husband and New England Patriots Quarterback, Tom Brady

Model Gisele Bündchen and husband and New England Patriots Quarterback, Tom Brady

 

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Martha Stewart in the building

the class at pier 66

Jour 215 students pose with the frying pan before heading down the road to Martha Stewart Omnimedia.
Photo Credits: Maggie Dick

After refueling at the Pier 66 Maritime Bar & Grill on an old barge afloat the windy Hudson River, Becky Mickel, W&L ’13 alum and Editorial Assistant for Martha Stewart Weddings,  led us on a short walk to her place of work to show us around the office and introduce our class to some of her colleagues.

pier boat

We were so lucky to have such beautiful weather every day of the trip.

Unlike Southern Living, People, Elle, and other popular magazines that fall under the umbrella of media giants like Hearst and Time Inc., Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings only belong to Martha Stewart Omnimedia. It is its own corporation and the two aforementioned magazines are written, laid out, edited, published and produced right there on the ninth floor of the Starrett-Lehigh building in Manhattan.

Becky was the Virgil to our Dante in our journey through Martha Stewart Weddings, and she was fabulous. She set us up to meet with her co-workers, the delightful Julie Vadnal, Elisabeth Engelhart, and Eleni Gage (Senior Editor, Assistant Art Director, and Executive Editor, respectively). This team of Martha Stewart Weddings staffers bestowed upon our eager class their career stories, day-to-day responsibilities, and tidbits of advice for aspiring magazinists.

Some takeaways from the visit:

1.    The magazine industry is small… Don’t burn any bridges

2.   Always be a joy to work with, and work well with others

3.   Turn things in on time

4.   Work for the Esquire sex column

Senior Editor at Martha Stewart Weddings, Julie Vadnal, worked at Esquire in the sex department early in her career. Coincidentally, Executive Editor of The New Republic, Greg Veis, also jumped into the magazine world working for the Esquire sex column. We had the pleasure of hearing from Greg at TNR the day prior to our trip to Martha Stewart Omnimedia. This hearkens back to takeaway number 1 – the magazine industry is indeed small.

Here is another Esquire anecdote. One of the things Julie had to do on the job at Esquire was find out how cops on stakeouts go to the bathroom. “Gatorade bottle” was the only answer she shared with us, and we will leave it at that.

5.   When walking to an interview in the city, be sure to change from walking shoes into high heels around the corner from your destination, not in the lobby of the building you are interviewing in

I am a college aged male, so I will likely never have occasion to capitalize on this fashion wisdom. In any case, thanks, Becky.

martha better

source: matthewrobbinsdesign.com

Apparently Martha Stewart was in the building on the day of our visit, but unfortunately we did not have the chance to meet her. Oh well, a boy can dream. On a more serious note, thanks to Becky and the Martha Stewart Weddings ladies for taking time out of their busy days to educate us on the magazine.

– John Martin

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New York Gallery

 

The magazine girls

The Elle girlsCourtney & Hendley MPAHearst lobby

Jeff HamillIMAG0233Courtney on Central Park West

Maggie & BeckyAlec in the ParkHendley on board

“[Manhattan] can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending a good deal on luck. No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.”

— E.B. White

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A literary journalist’s sketch of New York

Marshall Frady (1940-2004) was a Merlin of magazine writers in the 1960s and 70s, the son of a Southern Baptist preacher who combined his daddy’s gift for metaphysical oration with an uncanny absorption of Faulkner, Agee and other high Southern literary voices.

Marshall Frady, magazine writer extraordinaire.

Marshall Frady, magazine writer extraordinaire.

You might say he was the Southern branch of New Journalism, writing luminous, hilarious articles for Life, Harper’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Playboy, The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic and the now-defunct New Times. He also wrote novelistic biographies of George Wallace, Billy Graham, Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King Jr., the latter two after he came back to magazine writing with the New Yorker in the 1990s, before he fell to cancer at age 64.

When he was only 24, Frady was hired by my father for Newsweek. When I became a features editor at a doomed magazine out of Atlanta in 1989, I assigned him an essay on what it was like to move from magazine writing into TV journalism in New York for seven years, when he was chief correspondent for ABC News’ Closeup.

Assign Frady 1,000 words, and you’d get 6,000, which was about what I got. I tried to cut it back, but Southpoint editor John Huey rejected the piece even after my scrunchings.

Now, for the first time ever, I’m publishing here a small sliver of that gossamer piece, to give you Frady’s take on New York – where we’re headed on the old Southern Crescent tomorrow. [Note to journalism students: Don’t try to write like this. Rare is the writer who can manage a comprehensible 330-word sentence like this first one.]

“If the great metropolises of the American culture form something like our psychic capitols, then Manhattan – that millingly infested, ferociously impacted slip of an island steeped high with mammoth human filing cabinets – is surely America’s great Rome of Ego, capitol to the glandularly ambitious from all over the country, careers in a welter of terrific Darwinian struggle everywhere: indeed, exhaust fumes of its innumerable fierce fevers of ego, in finance, fashion, society, opinion, publishing, hanging in that dusky booming air between its crowded office-cliffs like a constant whiff of scorched electric wiring.

“But not for nothing, I soon realized, that so little real writing seems to take place there – that, in contrast to painters and actors, so few novelists actually do their work in The City: even Mailer writes from the remove of Brooklyn, which might as well be Cincinnati, of course. I’d also resolved once that it was likely baleful for any writer – this one measure of my defection now from that labor – to spend a great amount of time in New York’s pervasive community of commentators, critics, assessors, traffickers in secondary vibrations rather than the primary pulses, an estate occupied on the whole more in reacting than in making. But so bedazing is the sheer imperial power and pride of the place, before long there I was taken by the sensation that I had arrived at the very epicenter of life on the planet, the live converging of all the nerve-energies endlessly re-creating the times around it. Large events and commotions out in the land beyond Manhattan began to seem no more than a distant stirring of indistinct echoes and shadows which, filtering to The City, only there, in the charged thrumming vivid sensibilities of its editorial hives and six-p.m. bars and East Side brownstone dinner parties, found in a kind of delayed take their actual realization, their full reality. It hadn’t really happened until it reached and registered in New York.”

— Prof. Cumming

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And so it begins…

Although there is a long road ahead of us, the Layout and Design team is excited to announce that we are making progress: Town & Gown has a cover! Featuring an aerial view of Lexington shot by local photographer Bruce Young, we thought this image perfectly encompasses the charming delight of a small college town like Lexington.

Prototype of Town & Gown magazine cover

Prototype of Town & Gown magazine cover

After working on the cover, we began working on layout using Mary Elizabeth Koepele’s story about local woman Pat Mountain, and her love affair with a local museum, the Museum of Military Memorabilia on South Main Street. Describing her and her husband’s relationship since its conception, and how she continues to run the museum to honor her husband, the feature is an endearing story that also highlights the history of Historic Lexington. Below is a rough draft of a possible layout for the feature “Leavings of War” in Town & Gown. 

Possible layout for "Leavings of War' feature story

Possible layout for “Leavings of War’ feature story

Once we receive more of our classmates’ content, as in the feature stories, blurbs, and photos, we will have ourselves a magazine! Stay tuned!

–Maggie Glaze

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