One Last Drink of Ink
My memories of the print era of journalism are vague and fleeting. I remember the hieroglyphics we used to edit stories: the exotic “begin a new paragraph” mark, the mighty “stet.” (Even now, years after the fact, I can’t look at the number 30 without wanting to frame it in dashes.) I remember pica rulers, cuts from X-Acto blades and the sound of photographers shaking cans of film. That was journalism, savage reader—well, that and the feeling that you belonged to an exclusive and noble profession. That latter conceit is lost forever (cheerio, Piers Morgan), but it’s never too late to return to pica rulers and darkrooms, as old-school journalist Michael Koretzky recently proved. Koretzky favors the “learn by doing” approach, and his All On Paper class is exactly that. In his JournoTerrorism blog, he reveals how he corralled together a crew of young journalists and separated them from everything they might use to assemble a 21st-century newspaper. In place of laptops, they used typewriters; in place of digital cameras, they shot 35mm film; in place of Adobe InDesign, terrifyingly, they used math. Even Koretzky felt a bit stymied at times, summing up the class as “a lesson in humility—for both the student journalists struggling with the old tech for the first time, and for the veteran journalists trying to recall how it all worked a few decades ago.” For the record I haven’t touched my manual typewriter in a good long while … and no, I don’t miss it much.
Whole Weird World
When we dream of the future, we dream of Arcosanti. The urban laboratory, created by architect Paulo Soleri in 1971, is everything we imagine a future city to be—it is strikingly large, it is geometrically beautiful and it is unfinished. I haven’t yet made it down to Phoenix to see Arcosanti, but then again, I haven’t yet been to Paris to see the Arenes de Lutèce, the remains of a Roman amphitheater. Nor have I been to the Tokyo Wax Museum, perhaps the only wax museum with a wing devoted to notable figures of the progressive rock subgenre, and I’ve yet to put on my warm ’n’ toasties for a trip to Finnish Lapland and the enormous ice castle built there every January (it begins melting almost immediately). I don’t have the financial means to visit all these places, but I do have Atlas Obscura, which boasts photos and descriptive text for each of these offbeat landmarks, plus many others. That, and the big jar I’m slowly filling with loose change, will get me to the city of the future someday.
Dear Sir: Drop Dead
You can say what you will about the late Hunter S. Thompson, but never say he didn’t know how to fuck off with style. “Don’t ever send this kind of brain-damaged swill in here again,” he wrote to a would-be Rolling Stone contributor in 1971. “I’d like to kill those bastards for sending me your piece … and I’d just as soon kill you, too. Jam this morbid drivel up your ass where your readership will better appreciate it.” The unearthing of this sweet little mash note, and other letters that are only slightly less florid, is the specialty of Letters of Note, a blog devoted to reprinting “correspondence deserving of a larger audience.” That includes Ingmar Bergman’s letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, refusing an Oscar nomination on moral grounds; a tone-deaf love letter Michael Jordan wrote to his high school girlfriend; and a telegram sent by author Dorothy Parker to an editor, apologizing for a blown deadline (“This is instead of telephoning because I can’t look you in the voice”). Wonderful reading, every bit of it.