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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Populaire: a Reflection

This weekend was awash in movies for Melissa and I. Thanks to a quiet Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon, we were able to watch Populaire and half of Wolf of Wallstreet. The following podcast in about Populaire, because--well--I am me, and I love movies with typewriters in them, am I right? Also, a great many thanks to the Antique Typewriter Collectors club on facebook, whose power over the miasma that is the internet was able to point out that Netflix was finally streaming Populaire.

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table, licking my speed-typing wounds this week.

Friday, 20 June 2014

The Sound of Silence

I drove a man home the other day. He lives on the outskirts of Ypsilanti Township. It's pretty much Milan. The edge of the world.

He's a nice man--friendly, though very quiet, which is unusual for most of the men that I move around. Once we reached his home, and I helped him out of the van (he's in a wheelchair and needs a great deal of help getting around) I became anxious.

I had no idea why. There was nothing around us. Nothing was stirring in the nearby woods, and the neighbors were out for the day. But the anxiety grew in spite of me telling it that there is nothing to worry about.
That's when it hit me: my day is a crowded room of somethings. My body is constantly moving. Even when sitting, I am shaken by the vibration of the van's engine. My ears are busy with the voices of others, the radio, the road noise, noise, noise.

This man lives in the woods. Neighbors are scattered far, and there isn't a freeway for five to ten miles depending on which direction you take. In that silence and stillness, my ears were straining for something. The idleness of gently blowing leaves, and the whistle of wind through the trees were too subtle for ears accustom the metallic cacophony of the city proper. I needed to make a concerted effort to appreciate this moment of solitude. 

But he went into the house, and it was time for me to go. The moment was left behind; my day felt worse off for it. Back in the car and the chaos, my mind searched for that moment again, screaming to know the sound of silence.

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table with a little help from Simon and Garfunkel.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Universal Church of Twitter and a Linkedin Myspace

When choosing a deity to worship, one might as well choose the church of Social Media. Like a religion, it has the potential to be anything you wish it to be, so long as you have a voice to overpower the rest; like religious institutions, social media can ruin lives, setup impromptu charities, destroy careers, raise troglodyte racists to celebrity status, and make a pantheon of gods out of dust. And like gods, when you shout your pleas and prayers and thank you's into the ether, feeling that (if only for a brief moment) you are the center of the universe, the chances are good that no one cares.

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table, just learning how to sharpen a pencil with nothing but my wits and knife and the idea that I can do anything!

Monday, 16 June 2014

When Freeways Go Still...Michigan Life

When in the car, I listen to NPR or PRI--whatever public radio entity happens to be running on my Detroit radio. There was an essay about turning off the TV. This writer, Andrei Codrescudecided to give it up cold-turkey. What he found was just how hard it was to lead a life in America without TV or phone or internet. He posited the question: "Can I handle my life without something to distract me from my life?"

At the same time I was caught in traffic. The freeway that connects Detroit and Chicago, I-94, was shut down. Thousands of drivers were forced to take a single, tiny exit on the well named and often forgot Wayne Road. While waiting, I looked around, trying to find another soul, another contact. But we were so busy.

A girl to my right, driving a minivan, was busying texting while her van idled. The Cadillac with tinted windows, and the Chrysler 200 behind it, were talking on the phone.

"This is why there will never be revolution in America," the writer concluded.

As I fought for my turn to escape the madness of a four lane amalgam into one, I agreed; we are a sea of individuals, the stars of our personal drama, and we never think to look left or right, and find the truth of ourselves in the eyes of another.

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table, safely home.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Class Water-War

In Michigan there is a clear, geographic divide between the classes. It isn't like Manhattan or Chicago, where you need to wait for a street sign to tell you that this is the point of no return. 

In the low lying lands of Southeastern Michigan, you have the blue-collar communities. The once marshy land has been developed into a dry, concrete jungle. Here people live mostly hand to mouth; the few that grasp at the cusp of white-collar are usually pretenders. They got their mansions during the building of the housing bubble and scam, and owe twice the amount they paid for it, or their jobs pay nearly enough for two who do not have kids. That frees up an easy thousand dollars a year that would have been burned on school jerseys and ballet lessons.

In this world, water is a rare thing, contained in a clear pool or else on the tap. The only life inside it is viral--something the chlorine cannot kill. Any water outside of that--your Detroit river and Lake Erie--are dangerous places. People die in them. Pollution is rampant. Both have caught fire in the past.

Up North--or just Northish by Michigan standards--you have the richer, wetter lands of the wealthy. Out there the inland lakes are numerous. The houses built up around them are newer, better. The schools are bigger; the programs funded to excess. Out there, the trickle down politics of Rick Snyder are gospel. A world balanced and paid for by the sacrifice of the working poor is a perfect world.

Going out there is the only time where I feel that there is real tangible evidence of the Aquatic Ape Theory. At my Uncle's home, which is on a lake, I watch as the neighborhood kids hop casually into the boats, and set off into the depths. A lake where, not sixteen months ago, a man died, and it took a full day to recover his body. Yet these kids jumped into paddle boats and kayaks and canoes and take to the water like experts, unaware or simply unafraid of the dangers of open water.

I stood on the dock, my son dangling his feet over the edge and playing with my fiance, and I felt terror. Any moment could mean doom. The water has that power. It is death if it wants to be.

As that wretched emotion begins to take its hold, constricting my lungs and pumping adrenaline into my blood, I do the only sensible thing: I turn away. I walk off the dock and back to the hard, dry land--my natural state.

The state of my social class.

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Movies with Typewriters in Them. Everything with Typewriters in Them.

You know when you have reached an unhealthy infatuation when, while at a funeral, you notice a door cracked at the funeral home, and decide to stop the conversation to say, "Look! That's a Wheelwriter!"

The room looks at you like you're mad.  Thankfully, my fiance finds my child like obsessions endearing.  As I wrote in a previous essay, she was the one that bought my first Olivetti.
My First Olivetti

She also doesn't mind when I point out a typewriter at a funeral.  Or--more common's the case--during a movie or TV show.  Yes, I call out the difference between the Selectric I and II in the Mad Men shows, and how Don Draper uses a Woody Allen style SM-3 at his home with Betty.  He later takes it to his apartment when he and Betty separate.  And Peggy has a Royal Safari.  Look it up.

Also on Selectrics--Seth Rogan uses one in The Forty Year Old Virgin.
It's therefore a thorn in my side when I cannot watch a movie that is specifically about typewriters:  Populaire.

It has been all over the typosphere, yet when I attempt to find it, whether to stream or buy, I find that the world is still starkly divided.  By DVD players.  Their disks won't work on my player, and so I must live without and trust when everyone on the web says that it is a really good film.

I guess that is a first world problem too.  But it's mostly a typospherian problem.