What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

27 June 2011

It's All A Stunt!

I don't know when I first heard of "Stunt Journalism", but the phrase finally registered with me a few months ago when I read Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. At one point, Gretchen was feeling melancholy about the whole deal, especially when she found out her presumably-original idea actually had a whole genre already, and that maybe she wasn't as original as she thought. (Other recently mentioned examples of stunt journalism are Eric Brende's Better Off and Vanessa Farquharson's Green as a Thistle. Then there's The Today's Show's Where in the World is Matt Lauer?.)

It probably helps that unlike Gretchen, I'm not already a published writer with an editor waiting for the results of my experiment. I be but a simple narcissistic blogger, as it were. But when I read the phrase "stunt journalism" and realised that it's exactly the sort of thing I like to read, my reaction was not "Meh. Everybody's doing it," but "Oooh! Great idea! I want one! What kind of stunt can I do?" Yes, while there are many bandwagons that I avoid, there are others that I not only leap onto, but relentlessly chase down first.

The only problem left for me, then, was to decide what my stunt would be. While an all-out green living onslaught, à la Colin or Vanessa, sounded appealing, I think I have about all the green living one marriage can take at the moment. I flirted with the idea of doing a from-scratch cooking series, kind of a Julie & Julia thing, minus the expensive ingredients and the masses of butter and the lobster-killing. But the internet is crawling with foodie blogs, by actual foodies (like my classmate Natalie over at The First Kitchen), not people like me who will eat anything if it's covered in enough salsa or chocolate, and don't really care about the taste of anything else. I had pretty much decided on doing a tour of Austin's locally owned cafés and trailers, seeing what kind of greasy food could be gotten on a low budget, but that plan was contingent upon me getting a summer job. Six weeks and as many "thank-you-for-applying-but" emails later, the café plan has been abandoned.

Finally, it came to me. I'm already a fairly tremendous fan of our local bus service, which gets me around and has allowed me to meet all sorts of people. I'm already documenting my car-free life a bit. So, for my first foray into stunt journalism, I shall use and abuse Capital Metro. I'll ride all the routes. I'll see all the sights that are in reach of public transportation. I might just make their PR person tear out her hair when I start tweeting about the good and the bad of my journeys with them. And you can read all about it here, starting this Wednesday and continuing until I run out of places to go (but definitely before the end of the year-- I don't want this challenge to go on forever). When I told Chad about this plan, he immediately said, "I was thinking of doing that, too!" So, he's in, with a brand-new CapMetro Regional Pass that allows him onto the trains and express buses (instead of his normal, boring pass).

Do you like stunt journalism? Do you think this is another sign I've lost my mind? Is there somewhere in Austin that you'd like me to go to and write about?


mybabyjohn said...

Can't wait to read about your travels and see some photos of the more "exciting" places on the routes.

erica and christy said...

I live in an itsy-bitsy town with no public transportation and only one cafe (open 6:00am to 2:00 pm 6 days a week), so anything you write about is bound to seem exciting to me!

Jenny said...

I have Gretchen's book checked out from the library! Haven't gotten to it yet, though. I love your idea, and I can't wait to see your project unfold! I personally have never used public transportation. We live way out in the sticks. :P Have fun and keep us updated!! :)

Kerri said...

I haven't thought much about stunt journalism, but I love your idea! I'd just love to hear the stories of the people you meet and the places you go. Is taking the bus viewed in Austin as it is in a number of other places, that it's only for the marginalized members of society? I'd love to hear your take on that, too. Have fun!

Su said...

@mybabyjohn: Will do. I'm equipped with camera & notebook for this afternoon's journey. Still waiting for my travel companion to get ready, though. ;)

@erica: Hey, I grew up in one of those towns! That's probably why I find Austin so exciting, too.

@Jenny: Thanks! I really liked that book-- it's on my to-buy list, actually, for when I finally get a job. I never used public transportation until I moved into a city, either.

@Kerri: Thanks! And that's a great question... the answer is, unfortunately, yes. I'll definitely address that in an upcoming post. Thanks for the suggestion!

Jenny said...

PS- This is not about Metro Transit, but about running: I just finished the first of what I hope to be many runs, from my house to the end of the road; about 1.5 miles (ish), according to Google Maps. I know that's probably easy peasy for you, but I thought about how encouraging your posts are, and I knew you'd be interested in how they have served to help me get up and off my backside and out running! I know it's prob from the humidity, but I can't remember sweating this much in Jazzercise! LOL I feel so good! I remember what you wrote about squishing your demons, or running being like your "working out the problems" segue thing that they do in the movies. I had an awesome soundtrack going on my iPod. You are such a blessing to me, lady! I'm going to run it again tomorrow! Only with better socks and shoes. I got a little blister on the inside of my second toe. >_<
Do you have any recommendations for things like the best way to keep a log or should I journal or what? I'm on a roll! :)

Donna said...

I didn't know it had a name. Your transit bus adventure sounds like it would be fun. Unfortunately for me, we don't have any of those. Have fun!!

Su said...

@Jenny: Wow, thanks! Will drop by your blog with recommendations forthwith.

@Donna: Me neither, hence the daft excitement. ;) We just finished Day 1, so the first post is coming soon!

Jenny said...

I wrote you a reply, and Blogger ate it! I hit "publish comment" and it took me to the log in page!!! :( :( !!!
Basically, it said Thank you for all of your support and encouragement, and I can't wait to go running tomorrow.

And something about the shaved ice machine my mom got that was making it easier to stay hydrated. I don't know- because Blogger was being stupid! lol

It was awesome. There was a lot about getting excited about running for therapy.

JEFritz said...

Sounds like an interesting idea. What you're doing makes sense because you're a fan and proponent of public transportation. It's a lot different than someone who goes "I'm going to eat one hundred hamburgers! Um...it's for the children!" (I hope this is a figment of my imagination but you never know).

In answer to your questions: 1) It has its place. 2) Oh, Su. It would hardly be the first sign (plus you're more fun this way). 3) I don't know Austin well so it will all be interesting to me :)

a runners' life said...

I've never heard of the term stunt journalism until today. What you're going to do sounds like fun though, I look forward to reading about your experiences.

Su said...

@Jenny: That happens to me with alarming regularity. I like the sound of this shaved ice machine, though.

@JE: Hey, I know full well that it's not the first sign. And unfortunately, you may be thinking of the guy who wants to eat like 10K Big Macs before he dies (probably from eating so much crap, but I digress), or the guy who only ate McD's while training for a marathon. Or there may actually be someone who is eating 100 hamburgers for the children, which makes me say: Would that I were his (or her) cardiologist.

@Runner: I'm actually getting happier as I go along that I'm not the last person on earth to hear of this. ;) Thanks-- I'll try to make the posts interesting!

Jenny said...

It was a long comment, but it was fabulous! Sigh. Maybe next time. LOL

I did mention that I hope we get to meet in person one day. I'll come to Austin and we can go for a run. I'll borrow the snow cone machine from mom. :)

Su said...

Sounds like a plan!! In the meantime, I'm suddenly craving some shaved ice... must find...