Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Remember When?

You’ve seen these e-mails so many times, you probably throw them out without even looking at them. They are what I like to call “nostalgia e-mails.”

Remember when moms always stayed at home?

Remember when “crack” meant you had to pull up your pants?

Remember when a “race issue” meant you could outrun your friends?

Remember when men were men and sheep were nervous?

And on and on they go, reminding millions of readers of a blissful, innocent American past that never really existed.

For the most part, these e-mails are harmless. They are volleyed back and forth to make people feel young again, if only for the amount of time it takes to delete them.

There is a more malevolent subtext to them, though. The implication is that the “good old days” really were better, and that there is something horribly wrong with the way all these young whipper-snappers are living nowadays.

Paris Hilton and MTV notwithstanding, that idea is unfair and inaccurate.

I submit that, for all the problems there are in today’s world, progress has been made in many areas.

I propose an antidote to the nostalgia e-mail—my own “Remember When.”

Remember when TV consisted of three channels which were loaded with crap most of the time? Public TV might as well not have existed, because that stupid loop on the back of your TV couldn’t pick up UHF worth a damn.

Remember vinyl records and how easily they broke or scratched? Remember when those records were available only in mono?

Remember when there was no word processing? If you made a mistake on a paper or wanted to update your resume, you had to type the whole thing over.

Remember when there was no polio vaccine, and you lost sleep worrying that you might wake up one morning to find one of your children crippled for life?

Remember when TB and the flu were among the leading causes of death in the U.S.?

Remember when brilliant young women couldn’t steal a college scholarship, because it was assumed they would just get married and have kids anyway?

Remember when tradition kept many of those women in loveless, abusive marriages for their entire adult lives?

Remember when a boy became a man by being issued a draft card?

Remember when there was no such thing a race issue? If blacks got uppity, they swung from a tree and nobody had an issue with it. Besides, they got public bathrooms and drinking fountains of their very own!

Remember when a 14-year-old boy died in the electric chair?

Remember back-alley abortions, with coat hangers, infection, and death?

Remember when Americans built bomb shelters and cowered in terror of the “Red Menace”?

Remember breadlines, runs on banks, and Hoovervilles?

Remember the millions killed in two world wars, Korea, and Vietnam?

And, finally…
Remember back before there was an Internet, when you had to walk all the way down to the corner bar to hear rants like this?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Statement of Purpose

"People should be beat up for stating their beliefs" -- They Might Be Giants, "Shoehorn With Teeth"

In this vast expanse that we call the blogosphere, there are thousands of statements of purpose designed to tell the reader why the blogger has chosen to eat up bandwidth and use up time that could be devoted to paying the bills or mowing the lawn. These statements are often lofty declarations about helping mankind or leaving something for posterity, when the blogger is usually just bored.

Well, I actually did come here to have some sort of impact. What that impact will be is hard to tell. I'm here to talk about what's on my mind about a variety of topics. Sometimes it will have to do with politics. Sometimes it will have to do with culture. Sometimes it will have to do with the godawful traffic in Pittsburgh.

Why am I here? It started millions of years ago, when a meteorite killed the dinosaurs and--oh, you mean why have I started this blog? I suppose I should start by introducing you to a character from my past. Those who are familiar with the
Bud Light "Real Men of Genius" ads may recognize her:

Reeeal people of geniuuhs....

Today we salute you, Miss Young, Idealistic High School English Teacher!

Miss Young, Idealistic High School English Teacherrrrr....

You're searching for Stephen King in an 11th grade classroom, even if you're hundreds of miles from Maine!

It's a long way to Bangor....

If a kid can put a sentence together without a double negative, well, you've found your Shakespeare! Just remember to tip him the next time you go to Starbucks!

Now for the bad news....

So that's why we salute you, Miss Young, Idealistic High School English Teacher!

Miss Young, Idealistic High School English Teacher....

Since high school, my dream has been to become a writer, and it has persisted in the face of adversity and common sense. I have completed a novel that I have submitted to publishers and agents across America. The result? Well, I'm sitting here writing this blog, right?

I have had a brainstorm lately about how I can gain exposure for my writing and have an impact in a hurry--start a blog! OK, so it's not a very original idea, but look around you. Blogs are changing the world. Blogs such as Daily Kos are changing the face of politics. Gossip bloggers such as
Perez Hilton can affect a celebrity's status overnight. An opinion, a rumor, or a forgotten fact can reach the world with the click of a mouse. Why sit around waiting for rejection slips when you can reach millions faster than you can say "URL"? And besides, I'm bored.

So, here I am, and here I hope to be for quite some time.