I still don’t know precisely how I feel right now, having begun to pull away from (mostly-)daily posting on this global communications colossus. A brief glance at my menu of past posts shows I only chimed in four times in August. It’s not exactly a divorce, so let’s call it a trial separation.
I’m not looking for any long-term relationships with other websites right now. In fact, I’m not even considering casual encounters with other blogs at the moment.
So, whither The Pencil? Search me. I just know I was getting burned out on the political civil war of words that public discourse has become in this second decade of the 21st Cent. And how many ways can I express my sheer bafflement over the election of a crass, disturbed, unlikeable, nativist, supremacist, greed monkey, reality game show host-emeritus as our Dear Leader?
I do find I have tons o’time to do other penning these days and that’s good. And Charlotte Zietlow and I are making bang-up progress on the book of her life we’ve been slaving over for four years now. We may actually publish an honest-to-gosh hard copy sometime before the the USA goes the way of the old USSR, which eventuality may or may not be right around the corner, historically speaking.
Big Talk is still happening, of course. Matter of fact, a fellow of impeccable rep. around these parts — a litterateur and man-who-knows-others — yesterday AM compared me as an interviewer to Charlie Rose (to my great advantage, I’ll have you know). Make sure to tune in to WFHB, 91.3 FM, every Thursday at 5:30pm or come here every Friday for the link to the previous day’s podcast.
The Loved One and I are soldiering our individual ways through a series of annoying and almost-debilitating aches and pains these days, proving once again that as we Homo Sapiens age we may become more comfortable with our hearts and minds but our bodies sure go all to hell.
Times change. F’rinstance, one of the eternal standbys of my youth, a cultural and economic touchstone of this great nation, Sears, is for all intents and purposes lying on its death bed, what with last month’s announced closing of the co.’s last store in Chicagoland. Sears, when I was about 11 or so, was essentially the center of the universe. Except for gasoline, prescription drugs, and one or two other things, every single solitary thing an American citizen (or even a temporary visitor from the likes of Uganda) could need could be gotten at Sears. Mine was located at North and Harlem, at the extreme western edge of Chi. The old Mercury Theater was just half a block to the west, the place where I saw my first film breast — that of actress Carrie Snodgrass (whose then-promising career, apparently, was cut short by the birth of a son who had cerebral palsy; the kid’s father was Neil Young) in the otherwise forgettable Diary of a Mad Housewife. At the time the external gland in question made its appearance, I fretted mightily that the rest of the audience (ten, maybe 11 people at most) could hear my heavy breathing so I stifled my respirations to the point, I then worried, I might pass out.
But, yeah, Sears. Everybody and her/his sib. bought jeans there, and dress pants, shoes, socks, slips, wigs, cosmetics, tools, washing machines, furs, vacuum cleaners, Cub Power bumper stickers (I copped a good half dozen of them with my saved allowance in the summer of 1969) and even records. I bought, IIRC, my first album there, the “Hair” original Broadway cast soundtrack. My mother went to work at that Sears in about 1967. She sold wigs and then furs — or was is vice versa? In any case, for the next decade and a half, pretty much every Xmas and b-day gift given by her to my daddy-o, me and my bro. & sis.’s, and one of her many grandkids came in a Sears box. She got a 25 percent discount, so natch.
Now, Sears stores are mostly gone.
Not that The Pencil, like Sears, is going under. Let’s look at the unfolding events herein as an evolution. Who knows what this rant machine can become? Time, as Jeeves so often counseled Bertie, will tell.
Books I’m reading right now, have just finished, or are on the nightstand waiting for me to finish reading something else:
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil de Grasse Tyson
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari
Our Kind of Traitor, by John le Carré
Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus, by Bill Wasik & Monica Murphy
It occurs to me: I used to read a heck of a lot more when I was riding the el or bus downtown a few days a week. Public transportation just might have been one of the publishing industry’s greatest boons beginning in the late 19th Century and extending well into the last one.