By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Proprietor: Emily Gordon
Many New York blogs are about New Yorkers; Emdashes is about The New Yorker (mostly). Although it's an online magazine about a magazine, it has a full life of its own. Along with analyses of each week's New Yorker contents, it runs its own cartoons, columns, interviews, spot coverage, contests, and so on. Emdashes counts among its many devoted fans The New Yorker itself; the magazine's head librarians, Jon Michaud and Erin Overbey, started answering reader questions in 2006 in a column on the Emdashes site. (Last year, The New Yorker took over "Ask the Librarians" at its own site.)
Emdashes is the love-labor of Emily Gordon—at 38, a longtime editorial pro and most recently editor-in-chief of Print magazine. (She was let go in January, but "it's a good thing," says Gordon. "I think it was probably time that we parted.") She's been mad to make publications since her teenage years, when she edited her high school newspaper (Tower Times, Madison East High School, Wisconsin) and "my friends and I laid it out on my living room floor, fueled by Rocky Rococo pizza." She also worked on the zine Campain during a semester spent at Oxford.
From the moment online bulletin boards emerged, Gordon was writing on the Internet, and she says Emdashes "wasn't even born explicitly out of love of The New Yorker, but of early adopting of blogging."
Love at first site: "I just loved the combination of community and publishing," she says. "I wanted to use this software, get intimate with it, get into the guts of it."
In 2005, Gordon debuted Emdashes, picking her subject because "there was a need," she says. "There wasn't really a place on the Web to discuss The New Yorker. And in my life, it's such a commonplace unifying force. Why couldn't the Internet be a place where people who love words and writing and politics come together to discuss them?"
Although she says, "I love print and want it to live forever," Gordon knows the Internet is coming after print hard and fast, and thinks that's OK. The Internet "is like a magical figure in an old fairy tale," she says. "It arrived and immediately changed the direction of the wind. It reversed the tides and turned everything upside-down. I love my own destructor, in a way!"
We doubt she'll be destroyed; while the ex-editor-in-chief is working on a book proposal and scouting offers, she's also looking at ways to monetize the currently ad-free Emdashes. —EDROSO
Daniel Cavanagh is Gerritsen Beach–born-and-bred, and he knows his deep-Brooklyn neighborhood is a mystery to most of us. Before he started blogging about it at GerritsenBeach.net in 2006, he says, "You'd only know it from its hate crimes, like maybe someone got killed somewhere else, and they'd say they're from Gerritsen Beach." He wanted to put out a more well-rounded picture, and show that Gerritsen Beach—and the surrounding south Brooklyn area, in general—is "a nice place with stupid problems, like any other part of the city."
This he does: If there's a Lundy's being refurbished in Sheepshead Bay, or a big tree falls on Noel Avenue, he's on it. Cavanagh also goes to precinct and community board meetings, and reports on and sometimes posts videos of them, which is a big deal around his way. "Community board meetings suck," he says. "They're three or four hours long. People come up to me and say, 'I can't go to these meetings—viewing your website and getting the breakdown is easier for me.' "
Cavanagh breaks stories: His 2008 coverage of black kids getting hassled on Manhattan Beach during a senior "cut day" at local high schools was followed days later by a story in the Post. He got no credit, though. "It's their policy," he shrugs. "I don't complain a lot. I'm more interested in getting stories that the other papers don't get." And sometimes, Cavanagh is the story, as when Nobody Beats the Wiz founder Stephen Jemal came after him for publicizing problems with Jemal's land development business—and an associate of Jemal's hacked Cavanagh's site. The Daily News picked that one up and interviewed Cavanagh.
Cavanagh says he's "more a photo guy" and is thinking of taking writing courses to hone his journalism skills. We think he's pretty well honed already. —EDROSO
We have all suffered the injustices of a bad bartender—the dude who's more interested in bumming smokes outside than filling your mug, the incompetent asshole who's too stoned to remember who showed up first, last, or at all. These days, disgruntled customers tend to air their grievances on citizen-review site Yelp. But as one with a score to settle, whining there feels like screaming into a void—as a reader, the Yelp comments sections just seem like a peanut gallery of unreliable narrators. Enter the species of the anthropologically aware community blog, a special place where calling out "The Bartender Who Must Be Destroyed," as BushwickBK columnist Barrett Brown recently did, is like commiserating with neighbors. You are sharing with people who care.