One crow on the fence.

Two crows.

Then a murder’s worth. I respect crows; they remember. When you approach them and they fly away you get the feeling they’re doing it because pecking our eyes out really isn’t worth the effort. Later, man.

My wife said: have you checked the bunnies? There was a little bunny hutch under the swingset, something that fascinated the dog last week, and we’ve seen mama bunny running around, usually demonstrating that great maternal instinct: a threat! I must run so I can reproduce elsewhere. Sorry, kids.

No, I haven’t checked the bunnies; not on the list. She went over: no bunnies.

The crows sat on the fence and watched. I had my laptop and was tempted to google DO CROWS EAT BUNNIES but I’m pretty sure they do. Probably a bon-bon.

The crows left, one by one, flapping hard, heavy with sin. Or so it seems. Nature has no sin, no good, no evil. It just is.

Later, while putting together a post at the kitchen table: DING DONG

Two earnest cause-mongers campaigning on behalf of the earth. I wanted to say “nature ripped out the bunnies from their soft home and drank their blood, and you want me to help it? With money?” but I just said “sorry, I work at home, and I’m working now” before they even got the chance to start the spiel. Their faces fell from friendly to sullen in a second like souffles collapsing from the sound of gunshot, and they seemed perturbed. I hadn’t been unfriendly; I’d smiled. Just stated the facts. I’m under no obligation to stand here and listen to what you care about. Sometimes I’m tempted to cut out an editorial and tape it to the door, and when I see someone coming around with a Cause, open the door and start reading out the particulars of my cause, and ask them what would like to do. I’d have a petition and everything. And if they signed, I’d say thanks, and close the door.


Notes from an alternate universe:


I don’t think most women dressed up like this to go to the grocery store. It’s an ad for Dan River, which sold clothes, but all the other pictures in the sequence are completely believable - men at the bowling alley, families lounging around the rambler in crisp new outfits, kids in the kitchen. This one, however, seems unreal, as if the Countess has deigned to go shopping to see what the commoners do. Look at the arch behind her - the great arc of a Safeway? Look at the windows more closely; could be a Piggly Wiggly. Or perhaps any forward-looking 1958 stores. There are three items for sale in that side of the aisle, and if you believe the sign, 1/3rd of the display space is reserved for “Fancy pies.”


Watching the hollowing out of the Times-Picayune from a distance with sadness. From a daily paper to three days a week is like going from talking to your spouse over breakfast daily to phone chats on the weekend. It’s the dailyness that matters; it’s the circadian presence that builds the relationship. I’m sad because I know people who worked there - used to work for Advance, after all. The last time I met one of the T-P reporters was at the 2008 convention, and he was working for someone else because they’d closed the national bureau.

Everyone I worked with back then is working for someone else. And the boss is dead.

I think a lot about newspapers every day, partly because I work for one, partly because I’m revising a novel set in the glory days of a medium-sized newspaper in a medium-sized metropolitan era that has four. Four papers. I invented one for the books, the Citizen-Herald; it’s obviously not the Star-Tribune, since that exists in the books as well. When I think what the pages of the Citizen-Herald might have looked like, I realize one of the things that did papers in:

Good design.

Or rather, design, period. Big headlines, explanatory decks, good pictures, careful layout, splashy graphics - everything that presents the content takes away from the content. If you have a thick news hole and you’re putting out a tab with 60 pages, chock full of ads, you have the luxury to play, to stretch, to impress. But the model for the Citizen-Herald is the old Star newspaper in the 30s and 40s, a wide-swinging scrappy trolley-reader broadsheet that captured the jostle and bustle of the town in almost molecular detail. Eight to ten stories on the front page, at least. Twice as much on the inside. Sure, half of it was inconsequential - chatter and trivia, minor mayhem on the road next to a squib about an election in Malay, but it presented the impression of a world so vibrant it could barely be contained in the thin columns of newsprint. A good newspaper isn’t one you read front to back; a good newspaper is one you regret you didn’t read front to back, because it’s simply impossible to read it all.

The Star was like that - the big stories at the top of the page, pictures of giveaway kittens or a kid in a cast because he fell off a roof, Loop shootings, auto wrecks on the parkway, holdup in a cafe, each story getting smaller as you went down the page, until the bottom items were a two-line piece on Siamese imports, and an ad for Sanitary Bread.

The web can’t do that. The web can give you more of what you want, but not a big sheet you can hold in your hand and behold the messy glory of the world in one chaotic installation.

Here’s the thing I get from the old Stars and papers of the era: no filters. Of course there were filters; rapes were “outrages,” serial rapists were “fiends,” the news was selected and boiled down, the tone set to conform to the attitudes and beliefs of the audience. It’s always filtered. But “Filtering” in this case was like putting a screen window in front of a firehose. Lots got through.


Good day. Daughter has nothing to do and all day to do it. Draws a lot; writes a lot; chats with her friends online. At one point I decided she needed a break, and got out the mainstay of our long lazy days at home: the deck of UNO cards. Then I commanded her to get dressed - it’s after 5 PM, after all - and we went to the grocery store. The Herr company has even more of its unwanted potato chips; they can’t stop. They just can’t stop.

My daughter had some observations. “I’ll bet you can really taste that it’s deep dish.”


And: “Potato flavored potato chips. Okay then.”


I had to explain what LOADED BAKED meant - chives, sour cream, bacon, cheddar, and so on. It does seem redundant, but what else can they say?

(Note: how I got these pictures into this post is remarkable, when you think about it. Click with the camera. Open up my laptop at home; there they are. It’s one thing to get used to digital photography, remember the old days of waiting for your shots to show up at the drugstore, finding out half were spoiled by overexposure or lousy framing or because you just took a picture of the lake and it turned out to look like, well, a picture of a lake; now the pictures appear. I cropped them on the laptop, dragged them onto an icon that connects directly to the website, and there they are. I love the 21st century.)

Lint is going again. Bookmark! Pin it! Oh, 15 or so Dinsey titles: it's 1951 today. See you around!







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