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my old newsroom buddy Daniel Gilbert wins the Pulitzer motherfucking Prize!!!

April 12th, 2010

First, a big congrats to Daniel. This is so unbelievably deserved it’s not even funny. Daniel is a great reporter and a great guy.  If you read no further in this post, just know that sometimes hard work, a good attitude, dedication and love to a craft can really pay off. Daniel is not a big shot reporter at some institution like the New York Times or Washington Post (although he should be). He works at a small paper in the Middle of Nowhere, Va.– probably even smaller than the one we worked at together.

I met Daniel when I started as the features and entertainment writer for the Potomac News in Woodbridge, Va. It was my first job out of grad school (if you don’t count working as an assistant at Hillel International while I looked for j-jobs). Daniel, fluent in Spanish but the second-most Jewy guy at the paper after me, worked the Hispanic beat. He did a bang up job covering immigration, Hispanic issues and put out the paper’s Spanish weekly. He quit about a year and a half later. He felt the big story was immigration along the border and his responsibility– and passion– would be to live out of his car for 6 months and try to freelance from the Mexican border.

He returned to Virginia 6 months later, happy he did it, but unemployed– and our paper, if I remember correctly, had a hiring freeze. Did some freelance work (for us, I think? and some other papers), wound up at another Media General paper in Bristol. We chatted on and off, on facebook, I called him for some advice with a film I co-wrote last fall (“Herbie,” for those playing along at home). Today when I saw the announcement in the Washington Post it didn’t list him by name– but as soon as I saw “Bristol” I was like “I bet Daniel won the Pulitzer.” A quick google later… yep.

The coolest thing about a dude you know winning the Pulitzer, other than that dude winning the Pulitzer, is reconnecting with the other old newsroom and journalism buddies, finding out if they heard, catching up and just gossiping about newspapers in general. Many are no longer in newspapers, some are still at it, others are still thinking about getting out. Some have moved on to bigger papers like The Washington Post, others are happy doing small community journalism.

What was so cool about the way Daniel reported was the way he really dove into stories, no matter how small or what they were. A few months after he left I was assigned to cover a Quincenera (hey, small town paper). It was a fun assignment, I learned a lot and got to ride in a hummer limo with 20 Mexican teenagers. At the party I kept asking people to explain to me what was going on, observing and taking notes from the side of the room. Later, my editor commented that while I had done a good job, if it had been Daniel covering it he’d just spend the whole time in the center of the room dancing, really immersing himself into the whole experience (plus, speaking fluent Spanish helps).  Still, I really loved what I was able to do with that  job, the people I met and it was a really tough decision to leave and move to California.

I’ll close this Daniel-tribute with my previous Daniel-tribute. Whenever someone moves on from a paper the newspaper makes up a fake, joke-y page, roasting that person. It’s a fun tradition. I can’t remember if I even got a page, but I had a good time writing a column for Daniel’s:

Southwest’s Jewish Population to Explode

Gilbert psyched to be “thrown down the well”

By Josh Eiserkike

jeiserkike@potomacnews.com

Although no offer has been made, Daniel Gilbert has a promising career with the circus if journalism doesn’t pan out.

“I’m real excited to see a live Jew,” said Sedona Circus manager Hermann Pilate. “We had a quarter-breed a few years back, but you couldn’t really see her horns.”

When Gilbert, whose full name is Daniel Oded Uri Chaim Hershel Ezra Binyamin Aaron Gilbert, moves to the southwest, the area’s Jewish population will increase by roughly 900 percent, by local math standards.

Southwestern reaction is mixed to the influx of diversity.

“I thought ‘multiculturalism’ was just a code word for ‘Hispanic’,” said Jesus Fernandez. Fernandez is the president of the Tempe, Az. Chapter of El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan.

“It will be weird adjusting period for our community,” said Fernandez. “We watched ‘Blazing Saddles’ last week, so I guess we’re ready.”

Others aren’t so thrilled.

Henry Reltih is a Grand Imperial Dragon Wizard in the Pan-Texan Knighthood of the Brotherhood Fraternal Order of the White Lightning Thunderbolt Ku Klux Klan.

“I hate the Jews cause they stole jazz and hip-hop from the Palestinians and land from the blacks,” said Reltih, who lives in his ma’s trailer. “But I hate the Arabs and I hate the blacks, although I guess they want to be called African-American these days. I’m so confused.”

Gilbert said he has received death-threats and pictures of sweaty, nude Mexican inmates rubbing castor oil on each other.

“I’m not really worried,” said Gilbert. “After I gave the police a 600 peso bribe, they tracked the mail to someone named K. Read. Whoever that is, I guess they don’t want me to leave.”

He added that he’s looking forward to the cross-country trip and taming the frontier.

“I’m a master of ‘Oregon Trail’,” said Gilbert. “I know how to hunt Buffalo and know how move on after Little Billy dies of dysentery.”

Besides, Gilbert said, the people in the southwest are very welcoming to people of different cultures.

“I saw a Borat clip where he plays a song called ‘Throw the Jew Down the Well’ in a Phoenix bar,” said Gilbert. “The people in the bar seemed really open to the song. That’s the kind of environment where I want to be, a really open and accepting place.”

Staff writer Josh Eiserkike killed Jesus. He can be reached at (703) 878-8072.

 

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