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Laid Off Quarterly - Unofficial Voice of a Nation Laidoff

April 18, 2009

LaidOff Quarterly - The unofficial voice of a nation laidoff
By Matt Vecere

In a Recession, a Leg's Not Enough: You Might Need to Break a Back

tractorNine years ago to the day this is being written, April 13, my dad passed. At the funeral, I overheard an old friend of his, Woody, telling someone that "If it weren't for Tom starting that ranch and giving me work, I wouldn't have been able to feed my family."
I was around 5 years old when my dad convinced Mom to buy a bunch of acres of cedar swamp, turning it into what became Red Cedar Ranch, a horse ranch complete with an indoor arena, boarding stables, pastures and other amenities. When the economy turned around, there was a thriving business ready to be sold to the highest bidder. Of course, it wasn't nearly as easy as it sounds: there were years of backbreaking labor in between.
The pieces I'm putting together are these: Woody talking about the ranch; I was about 5 during that ranch, hence the year 1981; the last recession being in '81/82. Those pieces make the point that, during a recession, we need to get creative, be willing to take risks and be ready to do break a (hopefully proverbial) back to make it happen.
LaidOff Quarterly in the News





Thank you to the San Clemente Times for this recent plug (although I haven't moved back to the East Coast as stated below):
Eye on SC

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P r o p s , R e c o g n i t i o n s a n d M o r s e l s o f I n f o
-Compiled by Lacey Nadeau
Former San Clemente resident Matt Vecere has joined the ranks of the economy's casualties: those who have been laid off from their jobs. But Vecere is using the opportunity to start a new e-zine, "Laid-Off Quarterly." The newsletter, despite the "quarterly" in its name, is e-mailed weekly to subscribers and tags itself as "the unofficial voice of a nation laid off (or about to be)."

Vecere had been living on the East Coast, working as a communications specialist for the nonprofit Alzheimer's FamilyServicesCenter. "I like working with the elderly, and I like to write," he writes in issue two of the e-zine. "But funds dried up, we were way below our fiscal funding goals, and cuts had to be made. Sigh."

Now back in Orange County, Vecere is looking for a new job, but also looking to give voice, through his newsletter, to what he calls "the real economy: those in the trenches-you, me, and every other working Joe and Jane who lost a job or goes to work daily fearing that the news is about to be dropped, just like them." To subscribe to the e-zine, go to
Click here to see the issue
and go to page 11.

 Tent City is the New Shanty Town
What's the difference between the Great Depression and today's recession?

Many things are different, of course.

But, for the purpose of being dramatic, just go with me on this one. Let's try that again:

What's the difference between the Great Depression and today's recession?

Today's tent city is the Depression's shanty town.

Foreclosures, evictions, lay-offs, blah blah blah... We've been hearing these words daily for months now. But life seems to go on; it's business as usual (is it time to change the cliche to "no business as usual?"). Business as usual until one of us is faced with this very real possibility:

Great Depression Shanty Town:
shanty town

Today's Tent City:
tent city

tent city, usa

tentcity couple

food distribution

The issue is nationwide:

According to MSNBC:

The city of Fresno, Calif., is trying to manage several proliferating tent cities, including an encampment where people have made shelters out of scrap wood.

In Portland, Ore., and Seattle, homeless advocacy groups have paired with nonprofits or faith-based groups to manage tent cities as outdoor shelters.

Other cities where tent cities have either appeared or expanded include include Chattanooga, Tenn., San Diego, and Columbus, Ohio.

MSNBC goes on to state that "Homeless people and their advocates have organized three tent cities at City Hall in recent months to call attention to the homeless and protest the sweeps - acts of militancy, said Harris, executive director of Real Change, an advocacy organization that publishes a weekly newspaper sold by homeless people, "that we really haven't seen around homeless activism since the early '90s."

Acts of militancy? This Harris guy must be some overly dramatic liberal, right?


Misadventures of a Diet Coke Head

In case you're wondering what the anti-MTV logo is about, it has to do with my initials being the same three letters

As far as the Diet Coke Head thing, I unfortunately consume enough Diet Coke to put down a small farm animal. It's something I'm working on. Okay okay, so I'm not working on it--I've been putting down as much poison as ever. But tomorrow, definitely tomorrow, I'm going cold turkey (or maybe warm chicken. Wait, I'm vegetarian, so let's say I'll go warm tofu).
On to the misadventures: I've been driving a chronically over-heating, twenty year old BMW with 240,000 miles on it for the past year or so. With a trunk full of water jugs, I've been making it from point A to D, with stops at B and C for radiator refills, throughout this time period. As with most chronic ailments, it has continued to worsen.

Last week, I was excited to get a call from the Community Coalition of South LA for an interview. Prepared to get lost at least six times, I left Huntington Beach three hours early. With a freshly ironed suit and directions in hand (and a trunk full of water), I was full of confidence and on my Long Beach. As expected, the ol' lady was overheating, and the steam coming from under the hood (which often looks like smoke, much to the alarm of passersby), was billowing more like the way real smoke does than usual.. You can probably see where I'm going with this: it was real smoke this time. The engine was fried like a Canadian in the tropics.

No amount of water in the trunk was going to band-aid this. I was going to need to call and reschedule. Pulling my directions to my interview out of my pocket, it was immediately apparent that I failed to jot down an important detail: the phone number. But I did have my laptop and, with any luck, I'd be able to pirate an Internet connection and get the number from their site.

Would you believe it actually worked? With the number on my laptop screen, I was ready to relay my sob story and reschedule my precious opportunity. I just needed to find my cell. Where the heck is that darn phone?

Oh for the love of God, it fell into a cup full of--you guessed it--Diet Coke. I fished it out of the ice-cold goodness, but it was too late, it was as dead as the rotten seal carcass I stepped over by the HB pier the other day. No problem, I'll just find a pay phone. Have you noticed pay phones are nearly extinct? In the age of cell phones, pay phones have been rendered pretty much obsolete. In my aimless wandering, I came across a Starbucks with an employee kind enough to let me use their phone to call both AAA and my interviewee not-to-be.

I did get the interview rescheduled. I hired a friend with a reliable car to get me there. A reliable car is only as reliable as the driver, and said friend thought the interview was at 2 when it was actually at noon. A hundred and twenty bucks got me a cab there with two minutes to spare.

I continue to stare at my phone while it fails to ring...
Next time:

Lupus Update
More Fun in LaidOff Times
Other Positive Stuff

Until then,

Keep it positive,

Matt Vecere