Archive | January, 2013

I Want to be a Paperback Typewriter (continued)

30 Jan

Paris is lovely mid-spring (I hear it’s kind of dumpy in autumn). The place was just oozing with inspiration. The narrow roads and lumpy cobblestones made my thighs ripple through my skinny jeans. The general populace glistened perpetually in a resin of lard and butter. Aside from the prostitutes and their syphilis, I could see why Benjamin Franklin came so often.

I had my caffeine passport stamped in all of the city’s most renowned cafes. Though the basic function of the establishments was the same, the difference between a coffee shop in New York and these was remarkable. Here, the coffee was Parisian. The attitude was Parisian. The people spoke Parisian. To the casual observer, it might have appeared as a similar situation as when a Midwestern tourist eats at an Applebee’s in Times Square because it’s much different from theirs back home. But to a connoisseur of places in which you sit around all day and think about writing like me, the difference was palpable.

Amidst the oohing and aahing and gawking, I finally remembered the purpose of my journey and spent some time with my typewriter. As I noisily churned through paper, I noticed that I was not the only writer in my coffee establishment du jour. But, instead of a typewriter, these people used a different device. The keys were recessed into an aluminum body, and the typebars were nowhere to be found. And there was no paper. The letters were struck into a dynamic electronic screen, which could then be adjusted as the user saw fit.

This thing was a miracle! One could write a piece, and make as many hard copies as he wished! He could backspace and move text around and look at funny cats while he worked. A dream come true!

I knew in that instant this newfangled machine would be the inspiration for my next work. So, wrested from the tedium of typewriter-dom and ushered into the space age, I packed up my computer and headed back home.

I Want to be a Paperback Typewriter

24 Jan

We cleaned out the basement on a Saturday. Amidst platform shoes, an aquamarine Parisian leisure suit, and other relics from days of yore, I found my dad’s old typewriter. I dusted it off and started to write. I found the typewriter to be a very sensuous machine. The pages began to flow, forming a mountain of bleached white as magnificent as the Amazonian tree from whence it came. With each metallic click of the typebars, I was cheered on by the Howler monkeys that were displaced by the slash-and-burn logging that made my paper. I began to feel like a real writer. I saw myself as a knight of the Algonquin Round Table, spending my days hashing out pieces for literary magazines amidst a cloud of cigarette fumes and witty banter. That was the life for me.

With the typewriter came changes. I gave up the typical luxuries of a home  and instead headed for an artist’s house in the city. All great writers must live in an artist’s house to start. Instead of patronizing my usual haunts, such as school or work, I’d go away a while and while away the hours in a coffee house, explaining my latest project to all those with a willing ear, and many without.

“Would you like to order something, sir?” the waiter would say.
“No, thank you. I wouldn’t want to get food or drink on my typewriter, you see,” I’d reply.
“Well, you’ll have to leave, then. You can’t just sit here all day and write without ordering anything,” he’d press on.
“Some tap water then, please,” I’d give in. Baristas do not take kindly to disobedience, I’ve found.

In time, I grew a scraggly salt ‘n’ pepper beard for authenticity’s sake, with some cumin for spice and turmeric for color. The contents of my existing wardrobe were replaced with an unending supply of smoking jackets. I wore tortoise shell horn-rimmed glasses, as all great writers must do. I took my coffee black, and had a pipe with breakfast and scotch with lunch. I spent so much time thinking about what I was eventually going to write, that I became quite a couch potato (like a Yukon Gold but better for boiling). This was the life of a real writer.

However, with all my preparations, I’d forgotten to actually write anything. So, anxious to see if my changes made a difference, I took my typewriter to the park to begin (People are more likely to ask you about your work if you use a typewriter in public).  But when I began, something was weird. Despite my typewriter, smoking jacket, glasses, black coffee, smoke, and scotch, I couldn’t write a single good sentence. And in that instance, I learned the great lesson of the story: there is no item you can buy to make yourself a great writer. It was not the clothing or habits of literary masters that gave them their talent. What I truly lacked was inspiration. And seeing as you can’t buy yourself inspiration, I only had one option.

That day, I packed my bags and flew to Paris, following in the footsteps of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. You can’t gain writing material from possessions; it can only come from expensive trips to foreign locales.

to be continued…

Gertie Tillmann, 89, had many cats

17 Jan

Gertrude Ethyl Tillmann of Boynton Beach, Fa. died on Wednesday, Jan. 16. She was 89. She was the seventh of eleven daughters to the late Edna Plotz and Enrique Tillmann. Ms. Tillmann’s husband, Bert Tillmann, died 14 years ago in a bizarre typewriter accident.

A 1943 graduate of Cornell University, Ms. Tillmann was a stay-at-home mother of three boys. In 1974, Ms. Tillmann forced Bert to move to Boynton Beach because of her debilitating fear of snow.

In her later years, Ms. Tillmann began raising cats in her home to fill her time. “They give me love and affection,” she told Cat Fancy in 2002. “My sons never call, so I talk to the cats.”

Animal Control specialist Tom Peters visited her many times at her home. “She always offered us cake,” he recalled. “Her house smelled like a giant cat.”

Ms. Tillmann was also a frequent patron of the Boynton Beach public library and was very involved in library affairs. She served for 5 years as the president of the “Don’t Get Rid of the Typewriters” club and served for 4 years as president of the “We Refuse to Learn How to Use the Computers” club.

Nancy Rhudy, head librarian since 1986 remembers Gertie’s  consistent presence. “She really was against changing anything about the library,” she said. “When we replaced the card catalog with the digital system, we found her three days later clinging to one in a dumpster for dear life.”

A private service was held today near her eldest son’s home in California.

Puppy Love

6 Jan

(A first-time pet owner walks into the vet with a puppy to get its shots. She goes up to the counter to check in.)

CLIENT: Hello, I’m here for the two o’clock appointment

RECEPTIONIST: Hi, your name?

CLIENT: Hopkins. Laura Hopk-

RECEPTIONIST: No, ma’am. Your dog’s name, please. The puppies come first in this office, Laura.

LAURA: Um, ok. This is Sugarplum.

RECEPTIONIST: What a cute name. And how old is Sugarplum?

LAURA: I think around, like, two months. My friend’s dog had puppies and she gave me one.

RECEPTIONIST: So is that like two months? Or two months exactly?

LAURA: Around two months, I don’t know.

RECEPTIONIST (condescending): Ok. Can you tell us anything more about Sugarplum? Any prior medications or treatments? Temperament? Allergies? Fecal texture? Sexual orientation? Anything else we should know?

LAURA: Nope. Just a normal dog.

RECEPTIONIST: Great. The vet will see you in just a minute if you’d like to wait over there. Would you like anything to drink while you wait?

LAURA: No, I’m fine, tha-

RECEPTIONIST (matter-of-factly): I was asking the dog!

Underground Music Review

1 Jan

A-Train Tropik Beatz – 1/1/13 

As ordinary folks dragged their feet to work through a holiday hangover, their New Year’s Day commute was ignited by a musical ambush, courtesy of A-Train Tropik Beatz. Riders of the A train subway have experienced the presence of this all-male percussion trio on-and-off for the last two decades, yet each concert has its own feel and flair. This performance was highly unusual in that it lacked the presence of the band’s groupies, who cruise the subway seeking the roaming band’s good vibes. For this reviewer, there’s nothing quite like the look on the face of a subway bongo virgin being aurally enlightened for the first time.

The band kicked off the show with the feel-good original, “Kingston of Queens”. The easy tempo and off-beat rhythms piqued ears across the car and foreshadowed the mood of the performance. The boys continued with the romantic fan-favorite, “Dreadlock and Key”. The energy and aura surrounding frontman and bongoist Tommy Bahama were downright groovy, and it seemed to everyone on the train as if he were crooning to them directly. Next, the tempo quickened for the Christmas classic, “Coal Runnings”. There was so much spirit, soloist Wiggles St. Nick looked as jolly as his bearded namesake. The mood stayed festive with a fast rendition of “Where the Ganja Grows Like Sugarcane”, a cheerful tune that carried with it the collective hope of a New Year. Unfortunately, the performance was somewhat soured by a disinterested solo by congaist Ricky “The Pipe” Pipers. He stepped out towards the end of the song, but it just seemed like his head wasn’t in the game; perhaps he left it at a New Year’s Eve party the night before. The band lived up to their sterling reputation yesterday with a positively electric holiday show. The group was on the A train, but The Pipe gets at most a C+.

%d bloggers like this: