Casey Neistat's Beme News seems to be going down the tubes

I've been a real Casey Neistat fan for some time.  I have faithfully watched his vlogs almost from his number 1.  He developed a unique approach to telling a story in video.  Through his vlogs, I feel like I know him and his family.  He has lots of imitators.

In the past year, CNN bought an app from him called Beme which was quickly discontinued.  However, he was supposed to start a Beme newscast that would appeal to millennials .  The first five or six while it was under development were interesting.  He had my attention.

Now, it seems like there's more entertainment than news reporting.  The Beme reporting on the hurricanes in Texas and Puerto Rico were immersive and made you feel for what people were experiencing.

Right this minute, one of his "anchors" for the newscast is reading the whole tax bill that was just passed in Congress.  That will take hours.  We get the point about the legislation.

Casey, if you're still doing this, inform your viewers with the truth as you see it.  But be sure that you tell the "who, what, when, where, how, why and so what."  I'm not seeing this.  You're not making the younger generation more informed.  You just supplying video that's somewhat interesting.

You decide: Is Donald J. Trump a "demagogue" as defined by Merriam Webster's dictionary?


Name-calling has become a hallmark of the presidential campaign this year.  For instance, in the New York Times this morning, Meg Whitman a national Republican leader and fundraiser called Donald J. Trump a demagogue.  

It's not a word I use very often and, other than knowing it's not flattering, I wondered what it meant.  Here's how Merriam Webster's online dictionary defines it:

a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power

Does Trump fit that description?  It would be hard to deny that he doesn't.  Trump appears to be a demagogue.

But what about other politicians at all levels who appear to do the same thing?  Are there members of the state legislature, city council, are there mayors who bash an opponent to make points and gain power?  Are they demagogues too?

So, I think Whitman is right about Trump.  He's a demagogue.


I admit that I'm an almost 70-year-old fanboy of filmmaker Casey Neistat

I have my morning routine which usually starts with an eyedrop and then a beeline to the living room where I sit on one end and my wife on the other with our devices in our laps.  My first go-to is the Beyond The Weekend devotion from our church, Ada Bible Church and from there I read a couple of emails and then go to some news.

But sandwiched in there is a visit to Casey Neistat's YouTube channel.  Who is he?  Casey is a 30-something YouTube filmmaker who is reinventing how to tell a story with video.  

He does a daily vlog where he chronicles his everyday life in New York City.  In addition to being a filmmaker, he's has a web app company where he and his cohorts have developed one called Beme.  It's for taking raw unedited video with either an iPhone or Android and then sharing it with the world.

I have faithfully watched his vlog everyday for the past year.  He shoots it himself and includes everybody around him.  He moves through New York City  on a motorized skateboard made by Boosted and he tells the daily story of his wife, his toddler daughter and his son along with his business.  All this is punctuated with lots of travel which he records.

Why am I fascinated?  Just think of the possibilities.  What if politicians and pastors could become more real by using such a technique.  That means they would have to be transparent.  Casey establishes a template for doing it.  Above you will see the vlog episode uploaded today.

How much has the decline of newspapers affected the decline of our culture?


A Chicago Tribune newspaper box.
This is the price of a Chicago Tribune at a newspaper box in the Windy City.



I was rummaging through digital photos from this past summer and found this shot of a newspaper box at the Morton Grove train station just north of the Chicago limits.  Check the price--$1.50 per copy.  I was incredulous.  How many people actually pay that.

You need to know that when I grew up in Bay City drug stores had a small newspaper stand and it usually included the Tribune.  As a kid, I bought it and when I went to Michigan State University, I bought it.  I also bought the local paper along with the Detroit papers.

Why is this a big deal?  Historically, newspapers have played several roles in our culture.  Reporters were the eyes and ears for readers.  They would listen, learn and ask questions and share what they learn.  

Newspapers would also reflect what was happening in the culture.  Many times they would take an issue and give readers a really close look at themselves.  Many times readers would not take it well.  Sometimes they would demand action.

That's changed.  For a buck-fifty, readers in Chicago get a skinned down version of what used to be.  The result:  Readers have lost an impartial source to keep their leaders honest and they have lost a mirror where they can see themselves.

We all lose.

P.S.  I forgot to mention that my first full-time job was a reporter was at the Chicago Tribune.

CASEY NEISTAT: Am I the oldest "Beme" user in the world?


A Beme t-shirt.
Baby-boomers should be Beme users.


How many of you under 30 have heard of an app called Beme?  It's a photo-sharing app developed by the young film-maker Casey Neistat who shows his extensive body of work mainly on YouTube.  As an avid follower of his vlog for the past year, I can see how he has influenced film-making and how he has tapped into the hearts of young visual learners.

Look on YouTube and you see a multiplicity of Neistat copycats and some of them are quite good.  Why is this important?

This new generation of film-makers are opening up a new channel of communication for anybody with something to say or share.  It's something that can be used by everybody from local city council members, to state legislators, churches, students and just about everybody else.  I get it.

That's where Beme comes in.  Install it on your iPhone, open the app, hold the phone to your chest or cover up the top sensor on the screen side and it automatically takes four seconds of video.  You can keep on taking these video chunks which are processed at Beme headquarters.  Your video stays up for a short period of time and then is deleted.

Have I mastered it?  No.  But I'd like to use it more and get better with my camera skills and my ability to narrate what I'm seeing.  

With his YouTube vlogs, Neistat has built a world-wide community, mostly those under 40, I'd guess.  How old am I?

I will be 70 next August.  By the way, my Beme name is west846.

Below is a Beme I took a few days ago when my wife and I did an early morning walk in our neighborhood.  No narration.  I have to practice and become more confident with that.

Young parents: Would you use a smartphone app that would show baby and toddler friendly restaurants?

Posing at McDonalds in East Lansing.
It was a drizzly day and a perfect time to take our young grandson to McDonalds for a hot chocolate.

How do you find restaurants who understand and cater to the needs of young families, especially those with babies and toddlers?

I was reminded of the need for these when my son Justin, his wife Lauren and my grandson Miles visited for Thanksgiving last week.  After taking their son to the Michigan State University cow and sheep barns, we stopped at an East Lansing McDonalds for a hot chocolate.

We sat in a booth with a long table.  Our youngest grandson has graduated from sitting on your lap to moving, screeching and exploring.  It's just normal toddler stuff.  No problem at McDonalds, but what about other places.

Justin, in his Oatmeal Stout blog wrote about a restaurant near his home in St. Louis which was very aware of the importance of early weekend brunch time hours for toddlers with early awake times.  My son also casually mentioned the desirability of having an app that would be focused on finding restaurants and other businesses with the same kind of sensitivity to this special need.

Are there any apps like that out there in app-dom?  If not are there any developers who would be attracted to such a project?

#4--69 Things I've learned in almost 69 years; learn to talk deeply with and listen your spouse

Our new walking shoes.
This is the third pair of walking shoes that we've gotten from Playmakers, East Lansing, in the last few years.

I remember being on a panel at a conference where they asked me one thing I liked about my wife.  What stood out in  in my mind about my wife, I said, is that she likes to listen to me talk.  But when we were walking this morning is really occurred to me that I really like listening to her talk and we do that a lot.

One of the 69 Things I've Learned as I approach being 69 years old is the importance of having somebody who you can talk deeply too, somebody who will listen to what's on your heart, somebody who will help you sort things out.

We do that most commonly on walks in the neighborhood, in nearby parks and wherever else we might be.  I thrive on these conversations.  And I'm a better person because of them.  

This is something I was to pass on to my grandkids.  Find somebody who you can really talk to and who will listen.

Getting a fire under my ass to write a blog post everyday

Me and my "24" t-shirt.
How many of you have a "24" t-shirt? I do and I wear it quite often.

 I can really find a whole lot of excuses to not blog.  I can tell myself that nothing is happening in my life that's blog worthy.  I can use the excuse of my eyes and not being able to see the way I'd like to.  The list could go on and on.

The kicker is that I like to write, but when I think about it my neurons go every which way about doing it later.  

Then I watched this video by Casey Neistat, a youngish New York City filmmaker, who shoots video mainly for YouTube.  His worldwide following is immense.  He has a daily vlog, a blog done with video that depicts his life with a great deal of transparency and artistry.  He's a real content creator who tugs at the interest of those who watch him.

In the vlog below, he talks about how he almost skipped that day's offering.  He had all kinds of excuses.  His life was pretty boring that day and he thought he might skip it.  

Then he changed his mind.  He needed to create video to keep his juices fresh.  So, he motored on with this offering.  He said, he needed to fire-up and create.  Go to the two-minute point in this vlog.  That's what I must do too.  So, here goes.


THROWBACK THURSDAY: Was former Gov. John Engler getting the politician's syndrome back in 1975


Click on the above picture to read the column

The above clipping was one of several hundred that I found in a box of newspaper columns I wrote in the 70s and 80s while working for a now defunct company called Panax.  I worked in their State Capitol Bureau in Lansing.  The company had a long string of weeklies around the state that published our columns.

Most of our reporting was done as columns because in 1975 when this column was published the only way to distribute our reporting was through the mail.  So each piece had to have a longer shelf life.  

I wrote the above column about then State Rep. John Engler who was a 27-year-old political hard-charger.  He went on to serve two terms as governor where he became somewhat of a legend in the way he dealt with political opponents.  

I've thrown away several hundred columns I wrote and saved about 50.  I would love to have my grandkids see them.  They may never see real newspapers, except in a museum.

How far can I move the needle in my relationship with Jesus during Lent this year?

 I invite you to watch the sermon which is about 15 minutes into this video.


For much of my life, I went to Lenten services on Wednesday nights which were usually preceded by a church supper.  Then we'd go to the service which was very liturgical and which centered on some aspect of Jesus' final week before the crucifixion and resurrection.

Most sermons I heard about this important time in history and in everybody's spiritual life were delivered in a seminary style using big theological word.  For me, they didn't seem to dig deep into my heart that was formed in a place called Banks in Bay City, Michigan.  

Right now, we are attending Ada (Michigan) Bible Church where Pastor Jeff Manion has a strong Gospel orientation, but has the teaching ability to make the Bible more understandable and relevant.

Yesterday, he started a sermon series on the Five Days of Jesus as he approaches Jerusalem, gets there and then deals with the brutality of his crucifixion.

My prayer is to make space for the Holy Spirit to pound this deep in my heart and to encourage others to take the same journey with me.

Casey Neistat has opened my eyes to the possibilities of one person film-making where one point is made

I love watching YouTube videos and video clips, especially those which tell a story.  I've played with two different Flip video cameras, the video camera on my iPhone and the video on my point and shoot camera.

I've amassed hundreds of video clips, everything from my youngest grandson's first cry as I listened through the door of the delivery room and my oldest grandson when I held him for the first time within an hour of when he was born and he wailed.

But, I've never used the video to tell a story.  Then I ran across Casey Neistat on YouTube where I watched at least a hundred of his online videos where he uses the medium to tell stories about his everyday life experiences.

Watching his video is like eating potato chips.  It's hard to stop watching.  He appears to have hundreds online.  When I finish one, I'm anxious to see one more and learn about him and what he does and how he does it.

I never realized what Snapchat was until I watched about 50 of his Snaps.  What a great way for people to communicate.

Am I willing to do the work to learn more and up my video game to tell a story?  Yeah, I want to try.

Check Casey out on You Tube.