Marilyn and Me

By Adam Fagen
photo by Adam Fagen

This blog and this first post were inspired by Marilyn Monroe. Under the influence of nitrous oxide at the dentist’s office the other day, I was sure I saw Marilyn’s image in the ceiling tiles. That hallucination reminded of this mural of Marilyn in Woodley Park in downtown Washington, D.C.

In the mid-1990s, I had a job I loved and a fun part-time gig as a freelance writer for the Washington Post (mostly covering reggae concerts and CDs). I also contributed articles to the Washingtonian and other local and national publications. Around that time, I recall being curious about the origins of the Marilyn Monroe mural, which I had seen so often in my neighborhood but had never read anything about.

Back then, I would come up with a story idea like this and pitch publications to see if they’d be willing to publish it. The way I saw it, if my story wouldn’t be published, there was no reason to research and write it, because I had no audience. That wasn’t all that long ago, but communications has changed so much since then. Now, we can share ideas, news, and opinions to potential audiences much larger — and at the same time more focused — than what I relied on print publications to do.

My perception was that the Post, Washingtonian, City Paper, and other publications were the only real way to reach people. These publications held all the power, and the only connection to a potential reading audience. (I never pitched the story and kicked myself years later when I read the detailed story in some newspaper or magazine. Today, if you Google “mural marilyn monroe dc,” you’ll find about 600,000 results.)

Some would say we have too many ways to communicate now. Who really wants to read and see every detail of our lives on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram (photos and video now), Vine, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs, and more? But it’s up to us how we use these tools. The point is, the power has shifted, and communications is in your hands now. For those of us who remember a time when this wasn’t true, that’s as amazing as a nitrous-induced hallucination.

So this blog is a place for me to share some thoughts and commentary instead of waiting for someone to ask, and in a little more depth than I can on other platforms. Please comment, follow, and let me know what you’d like to read about.

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