I have a habit: I always pick up spare change, from sidewalks, parking lots and floors. Even in a recent case, where I encountered a pile of 57 pennies. I write about that in Sunday’s column.
At Fairplex last Thursday for a Cub Scout tour of the RailGiants Train Museum, I tried interviewing Gerhard Kramer’s 7-year-old son, Elijah, with spotty results, even with dad’s help. “I liked it” was Elijah’s most pithy remark, but my attempts to get him to elaborate failed, hilariously.
Trying to keep a child’s attention and elicit a comment is among journalists’ most difficult tasks. Someone captured the moment and Kramer forwarded the photo. He commiserated: “Eventually you’ll get the hang of interviewing!” Yes, eventually.
A column on the exhibit is forthcoming next month.
Our newspaper chain’s “content management system” was offline Thursday, and virtually offline Wednesday, which made producing the last two issues a challenge. It doesn’t seem to be back up today.
I had an items column more than half-written prior to all that, but I couldn’t access it, nor did I think I could recreate it from memory and scattered notes. Thus, no column today. It was all the editors could do to get a newspaper out, so my column’s absence wasn’t an issue. An editor managed to infiltrate the system and retrieve that column yesterday afternoon, after my deadline, as well as my draft of Sunday’s column, and emailed them to me.
It’s enough to make you wonder if we wouldn’t be better off returning to the typewriter era, when all reporters had to worry about was typewriter ribbons and correction fluid. (And their livers and lungs.)
I busied myself Wednesday writing blog posts ahead, and on Thursday by writing items on my desktop and replying to emails. In a way, I’m now a little ahead for a change, even though in another way I feel behind.
So, sorry for missing a day, and cross your fingers for Sunday’s column.
While in St. Louis, I saw Chuck Berry in one of his monthly gigs in the basement club known as the Duck Room. Friday’s column tells all. Above, the statue of Chuck on Delmar Boulevard across from the club.
A call came in to my desk Tuesday afternoon. The caller identified himself and said he’d recently stumbled across an old blog post of mine about “how to know you’ve lived here a long time.” I allowed as how I vaguely remembered it.
“Here is my question: Are you a person who is SERIOUSLY interested in local history?” the man said.
Something about his intensity put me off, I guess. We had a halting back-and-forth about whether he’s ever read my work (he repeated that he had merely stumbled across my blog post and immediately picked up the phone to call), how he had once set linotype for the Progress Bulletin, how he didn’t like to waste his time.
“Are you a person who is SERIOUSLY interested in local history?” he repeated briskly. “It’s a yes or no question.”
Oh brother. He had a self-serious “do I have an age-old conspiracy for you!” air about him, perhaps a complaint worrying him for decades like a pebble in his shoe, and the odds that whatever he was selling I would buy were growing poorer by the second.
I told him I do from time to time write about local history, and to my mind, yes, I’m serious. Evidently this answer wasn’t sufficiently enthusiastic.
“You just missed out on a great story,” the man informed me with a mixture of pity, disappointment and triumph.
I sighed and said, “Whatever, man,” then hung up on him before he could hang up on me.
If it turns out he knew where all the bodies are buried, and it’s not Bellevue Cemetery, I guess I blew it.
In Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which is a journalistic exploration of where our food comes from, he mentions being an accident-prone individual. He says, parenthetically, that “childhood mishaps included getting bitten in the cheek by a seagull and breaking my nose falling out of bed.”
Ha ha! But we can all sympathize, right? I never had either of those things happen, and in fact made it through childhood without breaking any bones, but three accidents quickly came to mind.
I once poked my head between two bars in a wrought iron stair railing and couldn’t dislodge myself for a few scary minutes.
Attempting to carve a soapbox derby car from a block of wood with a pocketknife, I cut my hand because I was carving toward myself, not away. (The project, only a few shavings in, was abandoned.)
And when a moving van was in our driveway, I walked into the edge of the loading platform while bouncing a basketball and cut my face about an inch above my eye. I still have a scar, but it could’ve been a lot worse. Yikes!
Your turn. What physical mishaps, the more absurd the better, occurred to you in childhood?
Had a relaxing week off, a mix of errands, trips to L.A., friends, entertainment and chores. Highlights included a stair walk in Malibu and lunch afterward, dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant Meals by Genet in L.A., lunch at the Nickel Diner in downtown L.A., triumphing at Scrabble against a friend whom I hadn’t played in years, receiving a whopping $270 in trade credit at Amoeba Music (which, if I use it sparingly, may mean I’ll shop free the rest of this year) and reading one super-slim book each day: 10 days, 10 books.
Sunday, by the way, marked my 16th anniversary at the Daily Bulletin. Huzzah!
Now I’m back at work, readying for an Upland council meeting tonight. Although I’d kinda like another week off — especially with the forecast predicting warmer, drier weather this week than last — I’m also glad to be back at it.