Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy

Never has a blog title spoken quicker to the absolute truth than "Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy" ...


New Column: "For the Typewriter"

I believe Man exists to leave his species and the world in a better place for his children than they were left for him. And while I’m not sure whether we’ve succeeded at this with any generational regularity, I stand firm in the knowledge “My Humps” (by the Black Eyed Peas) being beamed directly to cell phones doesn’t make the world a better place. In fact, being that “My Humps” is the worst piece of tripe ever recorded by someone not in charge of a murderous cult, I’m pretty sure it makes the world worse. Noticeably worse. Which is why I rally heartily against pointless technologies like those, and lately find myself longing for the manual typewriter.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal a few weekends ago, it was revealed that Tom Wolfe has just now – in 2006, at age 75 – abandoned his manual typewriter and purchased a computer. Why? Because “keeping a typewriter is pretty hard. It really is like owning a buggy. You have to have all these parts made, or else cannibalized from somewhere, and you have to have your ribbons re-inked. That tells you it’s time to move on.” Wistfully, I opened a closet door and eyed my manual typewriter (a Smith-Corona Galaxie Deluxe) and thought, Well hell, when the Old School loses Tom Wolfe, what’s the use?

Emotionally, I feel compelled to fight for the manual typewriter even though computers and the Internet have always served me well. Most writers over a certain age got their starts on the dusty old manual typewriters their parents abandoned after high school or college (this was cheaper than buying them electric typewriters or word processors, which more likely than not would have been tossed aside once the young author realized good writing requires uncommon effort and skill), and I was no exception, in the beginning sitting behind this hideous light green and tan, sticky-keyed, off-brand disaster that was so old it typed in pencil.

Time, forced room cleanings (as a teenager) and various moves from city to city (as an adult) did away with virtually all these old pages, but I’ve never quite fallen out of love with the process. There is just something romantic about the typewriter – Ronald Lewin, most famously the author of Ultra Goes to War, spent his last, cancer-riddled days sitting at a large table, surrounded by mounds of research and his typewriter, struggling to finish Hitler’s Mistakes. Stephen Ambrose writes in the introduction that Lewin “died almost literally at his typewriter; like the good soldier dying with his boots on, he was facing the front, doing his duty.”

Ronald Lewin died as all writers – and by “writer” I mean someone who was meant to write, who is compelled to manage words by a force he cannot understand – hope to die: At home, hip deep in his work, more than likely hoping against hope he could muster the strength to finish the next sentence, the next paragraph, the next chapter. And God bless him, because how many of us will get to do the thing we love most until the last moment of our lives? Still, Lewin’s dignified death wouldn’t have carried nearly the same resonance if he’d slumped over a Dell PC, inadvertently typing continuous pages made of the letter “e” with his forehead.

See what I mean? Doesn’t the alternative seem somehow fraudulent?

I dusted the Smith-Corona off and propped it up on my desk. Out of practice, I slowly fed in a piece of paper and plunked out my favorite quote of Wolfe’s from the same interview: “Using the Internet is the modern form of knitting. It’s something to do with idle hands. When you knitted, though, you actually had something to show for it at the end. Thomas Jefferson used to answer all his mail from the day before as soon as he got up at dawn. In his position, think of the number of emails he’d have had. He never would have been Thomas Jefferson if he’d been scrupulous about answering all these things. I think email is a wonderful time-waster. It’s peerless.” Sitting back and smiling, I decided to write the first draft of my Lincoln book with the old thing, because it’s the least I could do.
28 March 2006


Neighbor Sex / Updates Everywhere / Old ISP Shut Down by FCC

I write this update to the sound of my downstairs neighbor having sex … and either she’s getting it good or she’s one of the world’s greatest actresses. Though I’m tempted to believe she’s not the faking kind, I’ve seen the guy she gets with, and it’s virtually impossible to believe this human weasel can throw down the way it sounds. And she really seems to appreciate it when he finishes, so I suppose that’s good news for everyone – including me, who would prefer to write in silence. (Sorry, downstairs neighbor. Try fucking in your back bedroom instead of on your couch right under my front room computer desk.) Ah, and there it is: The awkward, post-sex chatter. Excellent. But it’s like The White Yoko used to say: If you can’t make it through “Stairway to Heaven,” something’s wrong with you.

Anyway: Tuesday’s column is almost completed, and updates have been made to the Lincoln blog, though I neglected to mention it after posting them late last week. And BrianWise.com has been updated with a link to a story about how Microsoft stinks.

Good news: My former ISP, so prominently mentioned in the last update, was shut down by the FCC not long after that posting. Though I wish I could say it was because of something I did, it wasn’t – turns out the company and its incompetence were standing in the way of a local hospital’s expansion plans, and the hospital dropped the hammer. And what a hammer! When the FCC shuts you down, you know you’ve crossed that thin line between simple incompetence and flat out fucking with the mafia. My thirst for revenge has been quenched.

See you Tuesday.


Quick Hit Updates

Just a couple quick notes for you die hards before I scuttle off to write an update for the Lincoln blog .... BrianWise.com has undergone a slight redesign. Though I've kept the Google ripoff logo, I've added a continuing series of topics on the front page. Look for all kinds of chocolaty goodness there in the weeks and months to come. Also, after taking a few weeks off to establish a research pattern for Lincoln's Tomb, the "In Dissent" opinion column will return this next Tuesday, 28 March.


Internet @ Camp TGO / "Lincoln's Tomb" / TGO Radio

You’ll notice that before today, this blog hasn’t been updated for quite some time … Internet service was disrupted at Camp TGO some weeks ago, and due entirely to the fact I couldn’t get the ISP (a local company) to address the problem despite emails, phone calls and a two page letter hand delivered to their offices, I cancelled the service, even though doing so greatly hurt my research and column writing efforts.

Had an interesting conversation Monday afternoon with a local librarian, whose library had been using the same ISP I was using. Apparently there had been some internal dissention and the man mainly responsible for the company’s day-to-day health left, or was forced out, leaving some third-rate, hack fuckwipe to run things. Badly. Apparently the reason no one has come to remove their equipment is because no one is being paid to do so; in other words, the company isn’t making payroll and is in very serious trouble. (Meanwhile, the guy who left – henceforth known as the Good Guy – is starting a new company, which I’m attempting to contact now.)

Regarding the old service, I’m not entirely sure where to go from here, though I acknowledge that any further movements from this point would be done entirely out of spite. So, yes, I am thinking of organizing some sort of large, expensive class action lawsuit against them, the eventual aim being to drive the hapless fuckwipe and his fat wife (the same cholesterol-laden trollop who’d been answering the phones there, come to find out) into some sort of ritualistic mass suicide, sparing no one that shares even a hint of their senseless DNA, from kids to great-grandparents on both sides. And if not that, the least I can hope for is they each contract and suffer greatly from the deepest, most painful disease a human being can possibly contract; preferably something of an African strain.

Research on the Lincoln book continues, though I am finally coming to grips with the fact this project will never be finished, and am wondering how to proceed with this knowledge.

Here’s an update re: TGO Radio. Originally, Jeff and I had agreed to record the show on Sundays and did indeed record one test show (which I’ve yet to edit down) on a Friday evening several weeks ago.

When I decided a second test show would be necessary, because we were rustier than I’d anticipated, our old dance from season one began anew. One day was suggested and scrapped, then another, whereupon I was informed Sundays might not be the best idea because weekends should be set aside for family. (No problems there.) Any set weekday also couldn’t be established due to liquidity in various schedules (i.e., his wife’s schedule). In other words, no set day could be set for recording, period.

So I thought about it: How badly did I want this show? As a creative outlet and stress reliever, quite badly, so I left Jeff a voice mail a couple of weeks ago, essentially saying that irregular days would be fine, so long as we could manage it once a week. In a conversation a few days later, about unrelated things, I asked at the conclusion for him to please call me back at some point and let me know about the radio show.

I haven’t heard from him since.

This was the same old problem despite new assurances it wouldn’t ever come up again: A base disrespect that reasonable people (let alone yours truly) just cannot sit still for and tolerate. And it came despite my saying things I thought were important to the process: Don’t say you’ll do TGO Radio because you don’t want to say no. If you cannot, will not, do the show despite your agreeing to do it, tell me. I may call you a few nasty names, but in the end I’ll appreciate your honesty and not put a pox on your house.

Apparently this was too much to ask. I understand why this happens, because having to tell people “No” makes Jeff uncomfortable, but his ignoring the question and the conversation is a self-defense mechanism, and frankly it’s too cowardly to tolerate.

And so, TGO Radio – at least as far as Jeff’s involvement is concerned – is off the books; deader than Jack Kennedy. Whatever recording equipment Jeff had here will be put on my front porch Tuesday morning for him to gather at his leisure, but recreationally speaking I want nothing further to do with him until I get a concrete, reasonable explanation. Which is too bad, because I care for Jeff and enjoy his company, but when this sort of thing spans years and different sets of commitments, I’m being given a message I’d be a fool to keep ignoring.

Still, I wonder whether I possess the ability to do a solo show, and will kick format ideas around for the next few months before deciding whether to continue on my own.