Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Committing Blogamy

I've the nasty habit of writing notes - like prompts, really - to myself that make little or no sense.  I do it on my cell phone, these are the worst as evidenced in the post Post-It Notes, and, I do it on small note pages which I crowd with messy words and messier thoughts and stuff into my pocket, unceremoniously crumpling the brilliant idea I'd just labored to put onto paper moments before.

I've featured a couple of  these before around here.  In the post. ... in medius rex ... I used a couple I found hidden under the pile of tottering papers I call my desk, and in the post Last Night's Note Post, I used a note to format the entire piece and, well ...

...uh... yeah, that's what I'm going to do again.  Maybe, don't, well, you know, go look at that other one yet.  Imagine this is a new device you've not seen yet.

So, that intro went well dontcha think?

I decided to use this one today - mostly because I think I know what all of these mean, if that's even possible - I think these are from maybe three weeks ago.  (Listen, I gotta tell you the truth, sometimes I scribble stuff down, well, uh... late in the evening, perhaps, but not always, when I have had, maybe, a drink or two... or more.  There is a "Truth in Blogging" clause in my contract that compels me to tell you that.)  Here's the note:


Right at the top there it says "more inside outside" and I am pretty sure it was simply a reminder to myself that I really enjoyed writing a sort of quasi-review of James Taylor's new album here.  It weaved current events, stories about the boys and notions from my wispy memory just as I have been trying to do here, but, even more, it is a perfect example of how writing can teach the writer so much about themselves.  This has happened over and over here and I am very glad for it.  It is one of the reasons I soldier on here in relative obscurity - I'm learnin' a lot about my self.


Let's see "That's far enough..."

The boys and I went camping a while back.  It is interesting how much more they are able to help around the camp and such as they get older.  We were getting ready to go.  My coffee machine crapped out in the pop-up so I hadn't had any coffee and I was trying to hook the hitch onto the camper which usually means I get out, look, pull back, get out, look... you get it.  Nick and Zack were standing watching this so, in the interest of expiation, I asked them to tell me when I got close.

Yes.  Wham!

"That's far enough!"

"That'll do it!"

Thanks, Nick.  Great job, Zack.

I think it is funny when sitcom sort of moments like this happen in real life.  I shoulda known it was going to happen, anyone watching would have.  But, nope, I thought they'd nail it first try.  I was wrong.  We all found it sort of funny and it only really dents the license plate on the truck, mostly...


"I am sorry I was so unwise."

I still am, really.

I tell people I have no regrets in my life, they are illogical and hindsight makes regret so damn easy.  I understand implicitly that situations and circumstances I could easily 'regret' are the very antecedents of whom I was to become, am now.  It is ridiculous to wish and hope for other than exactly what happened in your life.  You could argue against that, I wouldn't mind.  I known it rings of predestination and determinism, I understand that, but...

It's like smoking.  I could easily regret the first cigarette I had, that'd be easy, but, truth is, I don't.  Smoking helped me socially, that cannot be denied.  I met people because of it - friends, girls, Jimmy Buffet, a rabbi - who'd I'd have never met.  Smoking changed my life, made it better.  I can't regret that.

And yet, I can be sorry for it, sorry my wife had to suffer it, sorry I spent so much money on it, sorry I damaged my lungs and I burnt down that shed... nevermind.

You might remember from my last post, I went to a college reunion.  I was sitting late one night and trying to imagine what it would be like to see so many folks I hadn't seen in so long and this is what I decided I needed to tell them all.  I am not sorry I stayed and partied until four in the morning or missed that rehearsal because I was drinking in the middle of the afternoon; I am not sorry I forgot my dining card so many times you, Kirby (the names are changes to protect the innocent, or are they?), decided you would carry it, and you did, for two years; I am not sorry I drove us all, like ten of us packed into the cab and bed of a old Ford F100 pickup to Stouds run, with a keg, at one in the morning.  No, I'm just sorry I was so unwise.  And by that I mean, simply, I didn't get stuff.  I didn't see the implications.  I didn't have the depth of thinking and understanding I needed to know what I was doing.

But regret, no, sorry.  The night I stayed so late at the party, I learned "Paradise" by John Prine on guitar in the kitchen, thanks, Mark V.  The rehearsal I missed, yeah, I don't regret the afternoon I spent in dorm room with a beautiful girl - nope, I sure don't.  Kirby didn't mind carrying my card, did you old buddy?  And I think it helped frame the friendship that is still strong some thirty plus years later.  The keg at Stroud's, yeah, that was stupid, but, I reckon a bunch of people still tell that story.  I guess that's the point here, regrets are memories turning bad, going sour.  I've no time for that.


I am on my second lawn tractor here.  The first was a relatively inexpensive Yardman or Lawn Machine - they are all made by the same company.  When I got it it was fine but the damn thing wouldn't mow in reverse, some safety thing I didn't understand.  I tore off that sensor and mowed backwards for years.  And then I had kids, toddlers and wished I hadn't.  So I started turning off the blades when in reverse.

Two summers ago I got a new Cub Cadet.  It still has the safety feature, but, with a turn of the ignition key and the push of a button you can override it and mow in reverse.  I want to, it's a pain in the ass to turn off the blades every time I need to turn around or realign my position and, I'd guess, it's pretty hard on the belts to keep engaging and disengaging the power train.  But, I do.

"Integrity is turning off the mower blades."  Sometimes, way in the back of the yard when I know the boys are inside watching TV, I consider just overriding the damn safety and mowing backwards.

I don't.

Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.  Time teaches you that.  Kids teach you that.  Love teaches you that.


When I was a kid there were only a few stations on the television.  5, 9 and 12 were the local national affiliates and 13 was our PBS station.  Somewhere around 1970 or so, another station got added, 19, WXIX, an independent station that showed endless reruns and questionable children's programming and some late movies.  Not long after that, channel 64 came into being here in the Ohio Valley.  It was a horrible station with really bad children's programming, impossibly old reruns in syndication and movies butchered in editing and interrupted by endless ads for strange and useless products and cereal, lots and lots of cereal.

However, I was welcomed into Mayberry on channel 64 and goggled some girls at The Junction - Petticoat Junction.  I watched scores of definitive war movies and old goofy romances and film noir classics, yes, cut poorly with bad sound, but, I am still astonished to this day how many important movies I watched late-night in our basement den with the sound down low.

Granted, the ads were infuriating.  I've watched many of the movies I watched way back when since, on TCM and the like, and have come to realize how much they were cut and spliced so they would run shorter.  Overall, though, I think I learned and experienced some important shit way on up there on the UHF dial, through that funny circular antennae, from a low budget, weakly powered station that went on to call itself STAR64 and still broadcasts today as a CW affiliate I think.

The note says "Blogamy is STAR64 - VHF 70s." 

You may wonder what I mean by that.  I'd like to say I'm not sure, and leave it there.  I won't though, integrity is also doing the right thing when others are watching.  I've mentioned before that I am a reluctant blogger, a folk blogger, and I've repeatedly positioned myself as a non-commercial blogger.  I think blogging, still in its early years in my opinion, is at a crossroads.  I see it now as a UHF arena, lots of ads and popups and sensationalist content.  There are over a thousand Dad Bloggers in the community I find myself in on FB - or was in before I wrote this - and many more beyond that.

Under the ads and sponsored posts and links to e-books and incessant "join me" banners, I find very good content.  I find stories worth considering, hearts worth listening to, men (and women) coming to understand themselves.  I shed tears and belly laugh, I am led to a deeper understanding of myself through the tender words of so many others, I am shown a better world full of decent people.

But, and here's my point, I think many sully their poignancy in their urgency to make a couple bucks.  I think in fifty or sixty years or more, when anthropologists and historians look back at this eve of the twenty-first century, they will not look for blogs that tried to garner views with SEO and fabricated likes.  I know they won't look to FaceBook, hell it'll no longer exist.  I think they will look for simple, quiet blogs that posted heartfelt and real content about the difficulties and joys of everyday life.  I think they will savor stories that show the universality of life, the stories that cry and laugh and remain forever in our hearts.

I think we owe it to ourselves as bloggers to keep in mind the integrity and responsibility we have to stay real and focused on writing and narrative and positive imagery and hope.  I think we commit "blogamy" when we hide behind ads and sponsorship and "click-bait."  I think we twist what can be very good intent with a desire to succeed and influence and, frankly, make a buck.  I think we need to come down that UHF dial and end up in the lower numbers of the VHF.  We need to see ourselves as archivists and memoirists and diarists worthy of Ken Burns.  If Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God, then blogamy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of respect for blogging.

If blogging continues to keep the course it is on, and this is just my opinion, fewer and fewer people are going to be willing to sit through the bad commercials and popups and trickery that is coming to define the medium.  You can discount me all you want, I don't really care anymore.  I get that many bloggers are indeed treating this like a business and expect much in return.  They will continue to milk and manipulate the innerwebs to eek out a living, perhaps a good one.  However, I do not think that is what people want from us.  It may be what the websites like Huffington Post and Good Men Project want, but, I'd like to think my audience is smarter and cleverer than that.

I've mentioned before that I get a lot of eye-rolling and patronizing smiles when I tell people I blog.  I try to explain that I am just a storyteller.  I tell them I have no ads or sponsored posts, but, at the mention of the word "blog" I lose them because the medium is becoming a late night talk show joke.

Alan Lomax, the great ethnomusicologist and folklorist, collected the songs and stories of plain folks in their homes and barns and honky-tonks in the 1940s, 50s and early 60s.  He carried primitive recording equipment all over this great country and captured the soon to be lost and forgotten voices of that era.  He recorded ordinary folks, rising and falling stars, famous bluesmen and folkies and high mountain crooners for The Library of Congress.  Much of what he produced is still in circulation today.  He felt strongly that the folk and traditional music springing up organically and honestly from the hearts of so many everywhere he went was of vitally important significance.

I think, as bloggers, we can be of as great a significance.  And we are, I can think of thirty or more bloggers who write from their heart, about their souls and do it without any recompense.  These are the voices that should be recorded for history in high Lomaxian style and shown to future generations as the best we had.


Hold on a sec, this is a pretty high horse I'm on, it's sorta hard to get off...

Listen, I am going to remain this voice in the wilderness.  It is where I've placed myself.  I know I am not all right, but, I am not all wrong either.

So, I've abused this device enough for today, and I've taken up way too much of your time.  If you are a blogger, take a minute to think about where the medium is going and whether you like that or not, whether this is where you expected to find yourself.  If you are a reader of blogs - thank you - realize that we are all new here, we are still figuring it all out.  Bear with us, there is important and worthy stuff going on in these pages, it's just getting a little lost.  Peace to you all and thanks for sitting a spell with me.

From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."
Dad: "Why are you two pinching each other?"
Boyz: "Because it's a commercial."

Well, there ya go...

1 comment:

  1. Most blogs fail and quite a bit of that failure is due to their not having fun. Part of the reason they aren't having fun is they are chasing dollars instead of stories.

    Stories are the fire and fuel for bloggers. Ignore them at your peril.