Wednesday, October 10, 2001

It's interesting: With a baby and a new house on the way, with fantastic, rich opportunities developing at work, and with the world going mad around me, I have surprisingly little to say. Does that mean I'm not a writer? Do I have to be a writer? Can't I just be? Let me try just being for a while. Let's see how that feels.

Thursday, September 13, 2001

August, 1980, with my grandfather.
Thanks for my best-ever week in New York City, Papa. I miss you, too.

mailtojds@yahoo.com

mailtojds@yahoo.com

mailtojds@yahoo.com

mailtojds@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

If I were Captain Kirk:

Kirk: Kirk to Enterprise...
Scott: Enterprise, Scott here.
Kirk: Scotty, if you don't hear from me in one hour, break orbit.
I'll try to find that shield generator...
Scott: Captain! I willna leave ya!
Kirk: Scotty! Your first duty is to that ship. There are 430 people
up there depending on you to get them to safety if... I don't make it.
Scott: Aye, sir. One hour. Scott out.
Kirk: [Clips communicator to belt. Turns to face gray, rocky expanse.
Pauses. Flips communicator open again] Kirk to Enterprise.
Scott: Scott here.
Kirk: Scotty. About your offer. I appreciate it. It's just the whole
safety-of-the-ship thing.
Scott: Aye sir.
Kirk: [Rubs chin thoughtfully, squints into sun. Shrugs.] I tell ya,
Scotty, I'm just thinking about what you said. You made a
good point about not leaving me behind. I'm just trying to
find, you know, a balance.
Scott: Sir?
Kirk: They were throwing spears at me before. I just... I don't know.
Has Spock checked in yet?
Scott: No sir. He's still missing. D'ya think he might be closer to that
shield generator?
Kirk: Possibly. Maybe Spock has the whole shield thing worked out.
Maybe we should just sit and wait.
Scott: Sir, we're under attack. It's the Klingons!
Kirk: Whoa, whoa!
Scott: Your orders sir? I canna beam ya aboard. [Panic, explosions]
Kirk: Hang on. [Crouches down, bangs fist on knee]
Scott: Sir!
Kirk: Still no Spock?
Scott: [Angrily] No sair!
Kirk: And the beaming option? Because of the shields, right?
Scott: [Red alert klaxon, explosions]
Kirk: So I'll just sit tight, then. I'll be right here under the
big outcropping.
Scott: [Screams]
Kirk: [Across the rocky expanse, whispers urgently] Is someone there?
[A spear clatters to Kirk's feet; he jumps]
Son of a -- !
COMMERCIAL

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Paul Simon.
And I believe in the future
We shall suffer no more
Maybe not in my lifetime
But in yours I feel sure
Song dogs barking at the break of dawn
Lightning pushes the edges of a thunderstorm
And these streets
Quiet as a sleeping army
Send their battered dreams to heaven, to heaven
For the mother's restless son
Who is a witness to, who is a warrior
Who denies his urge to break and run
Who says: Hard times?
I'm used to them
The speeding planet burns
I'm used to that
My life's so common it disappears
And sometimes even music
Cannot substitute for tears

Thursday, August 09, 2001

Rummaging around in the attic of my mind, I am driven to my knees by trapped heat, the taste and clingy itch of Fiberglas insulation, and tottering pyramids of cardboard boxes, each box faded, oily and Magic Markered "Papers." In the middle of the attic of my mind, I crouch on knees and elbows in dust and dried spiders, pressing my face to my chest, thirsty for a lick of cool, filtered air. It's all too much.

Thursday, July 19, 2001

I have a cell phone, but I'm discreet about it. I can just see this happening (via The Berkeley Voice police blotter, the editors of which seem to think we know who "Lopes" is):
Celebrant Attacked, Relieved of Cell Phone

A man was attacked on the 1700 block of Sixth Street after leaving the Fourth of July fireworks celebration last Wednesday.

The victim, 25, was talking on his cell phone and walking to his car with two friends in their early 20s when they were approached by a large group of men in their late teens or early 20s, according to Lopes.

One attacker stopped and demanded the phone.

When the man refused to hand over the phone, two of the thieves reportedly struck and knocked him down, grabbed the phone and ran off.

The victim reportedly did not require medical attention, and his attackers have not been found.
Bootlegging 101
From: mailtojds@yahoo.com
To: mjcampagna@hotmail.com
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2001 9:25 PM
Subject: Aimee Mann

Hey, cool site. (Crashing the Same Car).

I'm looking for whatever I can get on Aimee Mann. I have nothing to trade 'cause I'm just starting out. I take it from your site you don't do monetary trades. All that said, do you have any advice on how I can get good reliable copies of what I'm looking for?

Thanks,
John

----- Original Message -----
From: mjcampagna@hotmail.com
To: mailtojds@yahoo.com
Subject: Re: Aimee Mann
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2001 09:35:13 -0400

Hi John,

The best way to start trading is to have something to trade. There are various ways of acquiring such things. When I first began, I had three bootleg CDs that I'd bought in record stores, and built that into what you see now. Best ways to start are:
  1. Buy a few bootlegs in stores if you can find them. They're pricey, but consider it an investment in your trading empire. For the relatively low cost of trading, it won't be long before you have your money's worth.

  2. Find kind traders on the internet who've got time on their hands; many will do what is called a 2:1 trade, where they will copy material for you in exchange for blanks. In this case, you would, for instance, send a person 10 blank CDs; they would return 5 of those CDs to you with concerts on them. Unfortunately, I must inform you that I really don't have time for this type of trading. I work three jobs and am too busy for it.

  3. Engage in strange trades with strange people. Sometimes, for people who have nothing I want, or who just have nothing to trade at all, I will trade items from my list for official, store-bought CDs. I've got a list of things I mean to buy, but haven't yet, and if you want to pick up a few items for me, I'll be happy to send you some things. I've conducted such a trade twice before, and have offered the following rates of exchange:

    2 cdrs / 1 new (sealed) cd
    1 cdr / 1 used (unsealed) cd

    Used cds should, of course, play perfectly, come with all inserts in good condition, have undamaged cases, and all of that. Anyway, if you are interested in such an arrangement, let me know and I'll forward you my wantlist. I've seen people set up some other arrangements as well.

    Basically, do what you can to get started and go from there.
I hope that, if nothing else, this has been informative for you. You might want to visit my "Other Traders" section as well. People in there will have some items from my list and might be willing to set up 2:1 trades to get you started.

Best of luck,
Matt

"It's not going to stop, so just give up."
- Aimee Mann, "Wise Up"

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

What he said:
Man is condemned to be free. Condemned because he did not create himself, yet is nevertheless at liberty, and from the moment he is thrown into this world he is responsible for everything he does. Jean-Paul Sartre.

Monday, July 09, 2001

You know, I must check my e-mail once every 10 minutes...
mailtojds@yahoo.com

I'm reading The Bush Dyslexicon by Mark Crispin Miller. It's funny, but it also makes me angry. I remember these words, painted in a mural on a building near People's Park:
There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!
-- Mario Savio, conclusion of an address to student protestors, the vanguard of the Free Speech Movement, Berkeley, 1964.

Saturday, July 07, 2001

In which my grandfather is published posthumously.
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2000 22:07:02 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Snyder
Subject: I'm home
To: Amy

Hiya! I was away for several days in Brooklyn -- my grandmother passed away last week and there was a lot to take care of. *sigh*

In going through my grandparents' things, I found lots of nifty prizes -- including a notebook from 1922-1928 containing poetry my grandfather wrote when he was 18-24, and a short story he wrote called "The Ungrateful Rose." I'm thrilled to have found these. He was always a mystery to me. Now I know he anguished over love as a teenager, found solace in nature, had a plucky attitude for coping with melancholy and loved his mother's lullaby, as in:

My Mother's Lullaby
By Benjamin Lubelsky
July, 1922

I

The world may think that Melba's great,
That's bosh! I'll tell you why --
They never heard my mother sing
A soothing lullaby.

II

"Grand Opera is wonderful!"
Yes, that's what millions cry;
They'd change their minds if they could hear
My mother's lullaby.

III

I like the music of Gounad,
I rank it very high;
But best of all is, I believe,
My mother's lullaby.


Ain't that sweet? This is all I have of his mother: that she sang such to him. (I wish he had changed "minds" to "tune", however.)

He also wrote something that resonates deeply in me:

My Delight
By Benjamin Lubelsky
July 1922

I

A gloomy night, no stars in sight,
A dark and threat'ning sky;
The winds blow fierce, the bones they pierce
The trees do creak and sigh.

II

On such a night is my delight
To wander all alone;
To roam o'er hills, o'er rocks and rills,
Far, far away from home.

III

From night to dawn, 'till break of morn,
To venture far and wide;
To wander free, 'till I can see
The sunbeams heaven ride.


He always loved to take long walks. I accompanied him on several as a child. I wish I'd taken more. That poem was pretty much him: He'd go out, he'd range and roam, and he'd come home. He had a whole world to go out into and come home from. He was never bored, although to me, from my cartoon- and Frosted Flakes-fed mind, he sure seemed boring. Had I but known.

I also have all of their mahogany furniture; boxes of photos; his diplomas; his binoculars; his 1938-issued passport (This passport is not valid for travel in SPAIN) [Wife: XXXX Minor Children: XXXX]; his Kodak Brownie Bullet camera; three bottles of scotch mellowing from 1959; a report he wrote in 1960 on the efficacy of a merit promotion system adopted by the Customs Service (and a commendation he received from the government for his insightful recommendations for that program); two lamby and expert porcelain
figurines; several LPs (though not, of course, their Johnny Cash record); and a couple of my great grandfather Moishe's business cards:



BOwling Green 9-2938

M. LUBELL
mfr of
FINE HAVANA CIGARS
we print your name on cellophane
for parties and weddings

138 Maiden Lane New York


There was a lot in that apartment that interested me. If I had the time, I would have camped out there and taken copious notes, excavated the site properly, maybe worked on a book about Ben. I still might try to develop my findings into some sort of piece, but the work will be hampered by:

My parents. Who. Have been shoveling. Almost everything not related to pending finances. Into. Garbage bags. And the old financial papers into shredders.

My grandparents saved every cancelled check from at least 1953 onward. I would have read them. What checks did they write the month I was born, for example? What were their charitable interests? Did they make any big loans to a friend? When did they travel, and where? How did they regulate their household? What campaigns and causes did they support? A library in shoeboxes, lost forever.

Moreover, my parents have no regard for vintage clothing; recyclable material; genealogical/historical interest; the preservation of books; the donation value of ordinary clothes, household goods and Judaica; or the market value of hardwood furniture and shiny objects.

So I rescued what I could. The poetry alone is worth the loss of everything else.

Now I'm home, and I find there's a chill in the air and fireworks in the treetops, dimmed only by galactic splendor wheeling even higher overhead. Orion may yet be revealing new planets. Good time to head out for a walk, so's not to miss anything.

-- John

Wednesday, July 04, 2001

Plucky kid with a bright future, or just a spoiled brat? An e-card from Peru. Thanks Meri!

I think he pooped his diaper.

Tuesday, June 26, 2001

John Snyder, patron of the arts:
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001 15:31:04 -0700
To: mailtojds@yahoo.com
From: Scott McCloud
Subject: Re: Notification for Payment Received

Yikes!!

Are you sure about this, John?

It's extremely kind of you, and I appreciate it deeply, but this is certainly far more than I expected from any single donor!

Gratefully Yours,

--Scott

>This email confirms that you have received a Payment for $100.00 from John Snyder (mailtojds@yahoo.com)
>
>TRANSACTION INFORMATION:
>
>Amount: $100.00
>Item/Product Name: Support scottmccloud.com
>Buyer: John Snyder
>
>Thank you for using PayPal,
>The PayPal Team

-----------------

Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 18:54:57 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Snyder
Subject: Re: Notification for Payment Received
To: Scott McCloud

Scott --

Happy to do it. Thank you for Zot, Jenny, Woody and Butch; thank you for being such an engaging and creative presence in my life -- and in the lives of thousands of others.

I love the site redesign! Keep up the good work.

John Snyder
Northampton, Mass.

-----------------

Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 19:07:47 -0700
To: John Snyder
From: Scott McCloud
Subject: Re: Notification for Payment Received

You're very kind, John. Thank you!

Sincerely,

--Scott

Sunday, June 17, 2001

Going through some old floppies, I found a cache of personal notes:
We are cut off from the universe under a blanket of light and dust ...

I became reacquainted with the stars on my camping trip a couple of weeks ago. It was about 11 p.m. and we were all gathered around the fire. I got up and wandered off into the black with a flashlight. The drama of our little human circle of fire and music dimmed to silence behind me after a few dozen steps, leaving me wrapped in towering wooden darkness and a living planetarium. I listened to my heart beat and smelled the trees grow. I peed deeply. I walked further into the woods, soft, clawless and small, connected to an animal history. There was no moon.

When I reached a gully, I turned the flashlight off and stood alone for the first time in months. Truly alone under the stars. I waited for my pupils to dilate, then I looked up and twirled around. The sky lived again, in silver, rust and copper! I didn't realize how much I'd missed it. The loss is insidious. I think most people don't even realize it's happening.

Then I shined my flashlight up, as I did when I was a kid. Waved it around, watched the strong beam quickly dissolve out into nothing, unable to make a dent in all that jeweled deep space. I turned my flashlight on the trees, throwing a circus at them. With the flick of my thumb, the night rushed back in at the speed of light. I turned the beam back on, and there was a silent _whomp_ as the forest surrendered to light. A kid with a flashlight, I longed to fill the universe with myself. To fill the limitless void with something, no
matter how delicate and temporal, just to make a mark on the infinite.

After that, the camp was like a crowded plastic city. It was a while before I joined in the songs again, and even then my voice was smaller than I remembered. [June 16, 1999]

----------------

My grandfather died in February, 1997. He was 93. It was a slow, brutal affair orchestrated by my grandmother, who just wouldn't let him go. At the end, this gentle man lay in restraints, hooked up to a respirator. "Take me up to the roof," he begged.

Of course we couldn't. I couldn't.

"Why?"

"I'm afraid, Papa. I'm afraid I'll get in trouble."

I met his blue eyes, and I remembered how when I was five he taught me how to color within the lines in my coloring book.

"I'm surprised at you," he said, and he turned away.

I waited with him in the hospital and read him World Series reports from the Daily News. In 1996 the Yankees tackled Atlanta from behind to take the series, 4-2. (Papa was a Mets fan to the last.) I asked him whether he thought I should look for my brother -- he said no, the last thing he would ever say to me.

He closed his eyes. I held his hand and listened to him breathe, wondering where he went inside, and if he was young there.

When he died we buried him near his parents in a plain pine box under a Star of David. I read a brief eulogy before 25 relatives and got a big laugh with the closing line, "If I have learned anything from my grandfather, it is this: "Come on already, don't make a big production." It felt good to speak in his voice, to speak it outside, under elms and high cirrus clouds. We all recognized it as my grandfather, and I was happy to give him the last word.

My grandmother still lives in their apartment, where only one person can be counted on to visit: Mrs. Backman, the wife of a neighborhood rabbi.

I think about Benjamin Lubell a lot, and I miss him. But I'm glad he's gone. He was ready. [May 24, 1999]

----------------

I've been making a study out of this growing collective of bees who've set up shop in the wall bounding the east side of our barbecue deck. Every time I grill, I step into a thriving yet civil insect world. They shoot like furry yellow bullets into and out of a small hole in the brick mortar, gaining numbers with each summer meal I cook.

They pay me very little mind, except when I get too near. Then one of them (and only one) is dispatched to rough me up and bounce my ass away from the action.

"Stick to your kettle, maybe you don't get hurt" the bee suggests.

At first the action was a few bees, see. Entrepreneurs. I noticed them while turning my farmer's market-fresh corn in the coals, enjoying the sunset. One loped over my head and alighted on the east wall and ducked into a hole I'd never noticed. Moments later another one crawled out, perched on the lip of the hole, and shot off south. Then the first bee (I imagine) came out, felt for
the sun, and winged away north-northwest.

A week or so later, we were in the mood for shish-kabobs. There were about 15 bees out. I marveled at how they could find the hole every time. Swoop, bob, in. Swoop, bob, in. Thoop, thoop, out. Bees waited patiently at the lip for a clear shot in or out. I wondered what it must be like inside.

Steaks. Now there's a flight corridor right through the barbecue smoke. A bee highway. I begin to sense that they're up to something.

Mahi mahi. I feel distinctly outnumbered. Every bee in the neighborhood must be here, stretched out in mile-long spokes radiating from my barbecue grill deck. It can only be a matter of time before they take up the John issue.

Curious, I wonder how they can all fit into the brickwork. What are they doing in there? I look behind the wall, which also supports the roof of my car port. And there I am astounded.

A small team of bees is working on -- what, heat regulation? Pressure regulation? Emergency exits? -- I don't know. They've pulled the mortar apart grain by grain to form bee-sized tunnels into the hive from the other side of the wall. Silicates are piled at my shoes like the bottom of an hourglass. Better still, the bees are lining the tunnels with wax, gradually closing the portals behind them. Escaped convicts in reverse. There's a thrumming inside, and I'll bet it's warm in there.

"Nice work, boys," I say. I'm not even surprised when the bees send a man out to give me the bum's rush: This looks important.

A few days later I check out the back tunnels. They've pasted them shut, and it's hard to see where the cement ends and the wax begins. It's a nice patch. The wall is cool to my touch, and feels... busy.

I don't park in the car port these days. And we eat out a lot more. [September 2, 1999]

---------------

An errant distributor module in my Honda's engine took out the central computer, which squealed its last in a flash and fried a big chunk of my checking account. As a result, a pious farmer with a secret fell through spring ice and drowned 750 years ago in rural China. Had he survived, no one would have thought to invent fake butter topping until March 11, 2122.

We're thinking of moving to western Massachusetts before long. Much depends on school interests.

I've been playing Aimee Mann's "I'm With Stupid" pretty much non-stop tonight. Hell, for years. She jams.

My association with the bees grows more tenuous as the skies chill. The bees still come around, but they are few and joyless. The barbecue crowd is long gone.

JFK knew about the Chinese farmer, suspected his secret held national security import, and was about to authorize a covert rescue mission. The figure on the grassy knoll worked for a United Artists/Paramount/MGM consortium. Certain things are inevitable. [December 14, 1999]

Monday, June 11, 2001

Thoughts on the execution as conveyed in an instant message chat:

mailtojds:
  • Tim: 33
  • Me: 33
  • Tim: From NY
  • Me: From NY
  • Tim: Gulf War vet
  • Me: Gulf War vet
  • Tim: Disaffected w/federal government
  • Me: Disaffected w/federal government
  • Tim: Blew up Murrah bldg.
  • Me: Lived in Okla. City, once peed in Murrah bldg.
  • Tim: Mint Choc. Chip
  • Me: Mint Choc. Chip
  • Tim: Dead
  • Me: Mopey
allaboutgeorge: Shocking.

Thursday, June 07, 2001

Recent acquisitions:

Saturday, June 02, 2001

First my Web job, then this cheery blog, now Epistolarium.com. I'm cyber, baby!

Saturday, May 26, 2001

I love Dynamite magazine. Always have, always will.

Friday, May 11, 2001

On Classmates.com, I just learned that the first girl I ever kissed -- a dynamite blonde who french kissed me in a student play that only called for a peck on the lips -- joined the Marines after graduation, and stayed there for seven years.
allaboutgeorge: And then what happened?
mailtojds: You'd think there'd be more to the story.
mailtojds: Shows what I was like in high school.
allaboutgeorge: Does it? Got to be more to it than that.
mailtojds: [Makes "Whoosh, right-over-my-head" motion]
I have every confidence in this kid Nick.
From: mailtojds@yahoo.com
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2001 2:15 PM
To: nicholas.hutchinson@cufund.colorado.edu
Subject: Not really

Hi Nick,

I was happy to see my class update in the new issue of Coloradan. But I see you have me as John Snyder (ChemEngr '97) when in reality I am John Snyder (Comm, Jour '97). It's not a big deal, but if that's how you have me in the foundation's database, you should correct your records.

Actually, I'm getting a kick out of seeing the mistaken major. It's interesting to think how my life might have gone differently if I had any aptitude for math.

Best to Pam. My compliments on a fine May issue.

John Snyder

-----Original Message-----
From: Hutchinson, Nicholas
To: mailtojds@yahoo.com
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2001 4:36 PM
Subject: RE: Not really

thanks for letting us know. We'll got on that.

Monday, May 07, 2001

Panic attack here. I settled down and decided not to buy that house after all. We'll keep looking.
Here today... By the time I figured out I could prevent Usenet from archiving my posts back in the day, I'd written about some pretty dopey things. Now I wish I could see more.
>And while I'm in this frame of mind, what's all the fuss about Data as
>an android? We've seen better-made androids in Kirk's heyday. Take
>the ones in... um... you know the episode... With Chapel's old
>boyfriend and... um... Ruk. And hey! Even Ruk was a better android
>than Data! "The Old Ones" had this kind of ability ages before
>Dr. Sung came along...

>Data as Pinocchio, indeed! [7/9/95]

Thursday, May 03, 2001

Is Yoda typecast? Why not tough Chicago cop?

In Depth of Field Yoda only has 24 hours to find his partner's killer before the Colombians (TV's Webster) take out the president (Alan Alda). Will Yoda's estranged wife (Julia Roberts), a take-no-prisoners TV reporter, break the case? Or will she be the terrorists' next target? Mark Hamill cameos.

Monday, April 23, 2001

Mother, Part III. After Jung, Empathy: An introjection of the object, based on the unconscious projection of subjective contents. (Compare identification.)

Empathy presupposes a subjective attitude of confidence, or trustfulness towards the object. It is a readiness to meet the object halfway, a subjective assimilation that brings about a good understanding between subject and object, or at least simulates it. ["The Type Problem in Aesthetics," CW 6, par. 489.]

In contrast to abstraction, associated with introversion, empathy corresponds to the attitude of extraversion.

The man with the empathetic attitude finds himself . . . in a world that needs his subjective feeling to give it life and soul. He animates it with himself. [ Ibid., par. 492.]


Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 14:12:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: mailtojds@yahoo.com
Subject: Re: Conversation
To: Sue xxxxxxx @aol.com

I don’t want to spend too much more of this beautiful day cooped up inside, so I’ll address the points in your letter you’ve asked me to address, and then I’ll move on. You may be tempted to fire back another letter challenging everything I say on the basis that I’m wrong, but I urge you to restrain yourself. At some point I’m going to be perfectly happy to let you have the last word.

> "Chill out, and cut me some slack on my style of writing."

I’m not sure where this request is coming from, as you said you weren’t offended by my single offer to edit your letters to Allan. I’m an editor; my job is to help writers get their points across clearly and persuasively. I imagine Allan, as someone who has to read a lot in the course of his duties, would appreciate receiving shorter, better-organized notes from you. This has nothing to do with what you’re saying, but the way you’re saying it. Despite your impression, informative writing should be different from casual speech; it is in the estate’s best interest to have Allan understand you in print.

> “Next year at this time you will look back on all of this and you can be happy again. You will have money and you won’t have to put up with people you don’t like anymore.”

I’m plenty happy now. And it isn’t necessarily that I don’t “like” you; it’s that given the choice between contributing to a dysfunctional relationship and not contributing to a dysfunctional relationship, I choose not to. I don’t know how to deal with you and Bill in a way that isn’t painful to me, and I won’t put up with that anymore. This is what I mean by incompatibility. It’s not just you; it’s me too. I have the right to say, “No more.”

> “I went to the bank and I have some papers for you to sign. They have to be stampted at a bank. You know signed infront of them. I can’t spell the correct word.”

Fine. I’ll let you know when this is done.

> “How may people on this earth would have been willing to put with everything youv’e done to us for these many years and can say they still love you? To be honest we don’t like you but we love you. It is easy to be nice to someone who is nice and respectful as I’m sure you are with everyone, but why don’t you test them and treat them as you have treated us. See how long those nice people stick around.”

Right back atcha. You put out a lot of negativity, and so you get back a lot of negativity. Bill puts out a lot of silence, and so he gets back a lot of silence. Other people in my life put out a lot of joy, and so they get back a lot of joy. I don’t have it in for you; you’re just part of a natural system.

> “Dad and I know in our hearts and down to our souls we too are nice people who have done nothing wrong. Yes we have made mistakes, as well as you and everyone else has.”

OK.

> “No one is perfect but at least we can say we are sorry. We have never heard those words from your lips and since you don’t lie we can only assume your not sorry for anything. How sad!”

No, I’m not sorry for any particular thing. If you want to talk about the past, that’s fine: You guys were the adults, and it was your responsibility to have your act together, not mine. I most sincerely thank you for many of the things you did along the way while I was under your roof. The food, braces, clothes, etc. Then you threw me out, and your roof ceased to be a factor. When was that, in ’86? ’87? I’ve been on my own ever since, and I’m not sorry for what I’ve built. I have no regrets. And you don’t get to vote on it.

Your free advice: > “Show people that you can forgive because I’m sure people have had to forgive you. Hope this doesn’t upset you. I just needed to say that.”

OK. I hereby forgive you for everything except those times you called me a moron and Bill called me a fuckup when I was growing up. It still doesn’t mean we’re compatible.

> “We just don’t understand why you weren’t honest with us years ago. You would have been happier that much sooner, and we could have saved a lot of tears, sleepless nights and everything else that goes into being a good parent. It would have been better all around. This is another truth. It has been you who has disowned us not the other way around.”

Well, I tried “being honest with you” years ago. We had a big summit in 1995 in Boulder, which settled absolutely nothing. You and I (though not Bill, who has yet to chime in on anything) have had talk after talk, exchanged letter after letter, and nothing has come of it except resignation and what feels like bitterness. This has been going on for years, and I’m fed up with the whole thing. I just want to move on with my life. I have no agenda against you.

> “However if you feel better thinking a fairy tale by all means continue. We really do not want to burst your bubble and you might see how wrong you are.”

I don’t know what fairy tale you’re referring to. Although I should say that this comment of yours is precisely the sort of bullshit dismissive non-argument I’m talking about, the kind of cruel, sniffy marginalization I grew up being subjected to and stunted by, and it counts against you.

> “Oh by the way, parents and children do not have to be compatable. That is for spouses and friends. Think about a time when you have children and they have different personalities from yours, are you going to disown them also? You are so wrong in your thinking…”

See, here’s where we actually have a fundamental disagreement. You thrive in dysfunction, and I don’t. Once I realized I didn’t have to put up with a lot of crap, I stopped accepting it. From you, from other people, and especially from myself. And I’m much, much happier and more productive for having done so. You’ve really got to care about yourself first. Even flight attendants on airplanes tell you, “In an emergency, put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping others.” The logic is simple: If you can’t breathe, you aren’t of any use to the people around you.

Please don’t fret about my unborn children. Your whole argument here lacks credibility. You gave one son away and repeatedly threw the other out of the house backed with threats of police involvement. Two stepchildren briefly in your care chose to move out of the house. Now you’re suggesting I may have a problem with my unborn children because their personalities may differ from mine? I think the first thing I’ll do is respect their feelings and learn from them, not dismiss them as “fairy tales,” “false facts,” or “wrong thinking,” as you do. Tell you what; let’s leave my children out of this.

More advice from you: > “As I said for years get to the bottom of your problem and try to deal with it. Believe it or now we aren’t you problem.”

I’m smiling now, because I agree with you completely. It’s easier for me to see this as an adult rather than a child, but you never were my problem. You simply are a set of circumstances, and I have a choice about what to do about my circumstances. I’m entirely free, as are you. My life is whole: I own it and I am responsible for it.

> “As bad as my mother was to me in childhood or when I became an adult I still knew she was my mother and I still wanted to take care of her and to help. Oh well, life goes on.”

Until you see how dysfunctional this is, you’re going to stay neurotic.

> “This is an important question. Why did you want us at your wedding? Was it just for the money? Children who are really disowned by their parent giving them away at birth by adoption always try to seek their parents out because something is missing from their lives. I can go on giving you examples, but I’m sure you know what they are.”

Actually, I wrote you a letter several weeks before the wedding to suggest you not come if we were just going to regret it later, and that I could reimburse you for your expenses. You and I had been having a particularly rough time with each other then, and I didn’t want it to spoil the party. But then your mother took seriously ill, and I decided our rough time might have something to do with your stress over travel and her declining health. Then she passed away. In that light, I decided not to send the letter, to cut you some slack, and give us both the benefit of the doubt. I gambled wrong and you made a scene at the rehearsal dinner, but I don’t regret the compassion that went into my decision to invite you. Do you want the money back?

I don’t know what you’re trying to say by, “Children who are really disowned by their parents giving them away at birth by adoption always try to seek their parents out because something is missing from their lives.” In the first place, it’s a logical fallacy. In the second place, you seem to think I should draw some conclusion from this that applies to me. A little help?

> “I would however like it if you answered my questions. I promise I will try not to ask you any more questions regarding out past relationship again. You do owe us that much.”

I have answered every question or speculation you raised. And if I thought there was a chance we’d use this exchange as good cathartic ugliness that we might one day get beyond, I would say great, let’s keep it up, let’s see what we can work out: we’ll come out stronger on the other end. But we’ve been doing this to each other for years, and ugliness is the defining characteristic of our relationship. Now I’m saying enough is enough. With all due respect and compassion, let’s just move on.

Friday, April 13, 2001


And now for something completely different. My wife, her brother and I chipped in to get my father-in-law a guitar for his 60th. This is what it's all about, people:
April 9, 2001
Dear Kate and John,

First of all, I can't tell you how much your gift and seeing you meant to me. Just having dinner with you was gift enough (that doesn't mean you can have the money back, John). Seriously, it was such a treat to spend the evening with you and to see how happy you are. As you know, I am an avid believer in the family unit; we gain our values and strength from the family. Kate, your mom and I tried to raise you with that belief. Although there were times I had my doubts that you felt the same way, I see now there was no reason for doubt. It is comforting to know that you share our belief and that you chose someone ( I'm talking about you, John) that feels the same.

If that isn't enough to make this aging heart burst with pride, you presented me with a gift certificate for a new guitar. Your gift went far beyond my expectations. How do I thank you for a gift that I have been dreaming about for years, wondering if I could ever afford to buy it. I can't think of a more precious gift than receiving affirmation from my children (the most important people in my life), that I am appreciated and loved by you. I always said, I am the luckiest guy in the world. This proves it!

Kate, does this mean we're finally even? That you don't owe me anymore? hmmm......

Oh yes, back to my news. I went to the music store on Saturday, and picked out the guitar of my dreams. I bought a Guild, a company with a great reputation. The guitar is solid wood (this means a beautiful tone, and sounds better as it ages) for a very reasonable price. It generally sells for about $400 more than I paid for it. I planned to buy a Martin, but this is a better made guitar in that price range. I'll be picking it up in a week. I am so happy!!!!!! The store owners were great, they spent a lot of time with me and answered all my questions. And they will fix my old guitar for about $100.

Well, that's my news, and it was made possible by your thoughtfulness and selflessness. I am very proud of you. This is one birthday I will never forget.

Love,
Jim

Thursday, April 12, 2001

Oy. This can't be good.
New York Times to Cut Staff
April 12, 2001 | NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Times Co., blaming a slowdown in advertising and an uncertain economic outlook, announced Thursday that it would make an unspecified number of staff cuts with buyouts and layoffs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Mother, Part II. In which the child eventually will earn degrees in communication and journalism.
From: Sue xxxxxxx @aol.com
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 15:06:33 EDT
Subject: my reply
To: mailtojds@yahoo.com

Dear John,

First let me begin by saying this is LETTER WITH NO BAD FEELINGS and I’m not blaming you. I just want to say what I’ve said before, that I’m sorry for anything I said or done to you in the past. Nothing was done just to be cruel or mean. Sure I made mistakes as a parent or as a human being, but I hope I have learned from them as I hope you or anyone else learns. You were my first child and first time parents make more mistakes with their first child than with their 2nd or more children.

[Note: My parents put my younger brother Jamie up for adoption when I was 4, failing to explain to me where he'd gone until I was 10 -- mailtodjs]

With any luck when you and Kate have children you will know what I am talking about. Hopefully you will be there to help raise them so she won’t be on her own. Hopefully her mom won’t be trying to drive a wedge between Kate and the children as I had done to me. Hopefully there will be enough money coming in so Kate will be able to buy food for them and hopefully she wouldn’t have to put up with a child molester. I don’t mean you for one second so please don’t misunderstand.These are not excuses just to help you to know who I am just a little.

I do however think I have improved from that person to someone as you put it isn’t as needy. Everyone needs someone to share everything with. I never found that and can’t look any more. I’m sure you and Kate lean & need each other.

A big difference between you and I is the fact you were raised with the idea that you can do anything you want to do. I was raised with the idea that what ever I do, I can’t do it right. Only your graandmother did things correctly and of course in her later years she chose Mark, who by the way did almost nothing. I kept offering to do things for her and kept getting rejected. Not a good feeling to be rejected by your mother, a by the way you never were. More on that later When I needed an out let for my feelings I let them all out to you during our phone conversation only because you were my son. and there is no stronger relationship one can have than the who brought you into the world, not even with a father, any kind of a father. A child grows inside the mother and it’s the mother who gives that child life. To be honest a father can do his job in 30 seconds.

You kept telling me that if your grandmother keeps upsetting me I should end it. Remember? I said to you that I couldn’t, she was my mother and no matter how badly she treated me as a child or even as an adult I just couldn’t I really don’t think this letter will change your mind, but I just had to write it as a mother to her child. I understand that I might not be a mother too much longer and I accept that but please humor me and continue reading this What happened to us didn’t have to happen if there was communacation which I tried to get.

[Note: My mother fails to appreciate the law of diminishing returns. -- mailtojds]

Maybe I didn’t do it well enough., but I know I tried, and tried. This is a lesson I hope you remember so it doesn’t happen to you again. Don’t keep anything in. Talk things out with her, also if you have children try and have them open up to you because you can’t be a mind reader. I tried that and it doesn’t work. Find a way some how. Being a parent isn’t easy but I’m sure you can do it. Well there I go again being supportive.

That reminds me to what your grandmother said to me when I told her I was expecting you. It wasn’t very nice and when I told her I was havinmg another child she told me to have an abortion because we couldn’t afford another child. That hurts to hear that. I swear what I am saying is the truth. It was like when you told her you were going to marry Kate. You told me she said all her prayers were for nothing. Very supportive, right? This is not a letter to bad mouth the dead, just to hepl you see where I came from and how far I’ve come.

[Note: I grant that my mother had little support from her mother, Rose "Momma" Lubell. However, this does not explain why my mother made sure to have a lit cigarette in her hand in her hospital room when I was presented to her as a newborn. Mother wanted to make sure I'd "get used to the smell" and not complain as her cousins did when their parents smoked. -- mailtojds]

Do you remember when Dad, who by the way is your legal father, maybe not the best father in the world, but he does try in his own way, and I got married, your grandparents wanted to disown me. Well Dad and I had a meeting with a Rabbi. I can’t remember who arranged it but the 4 of us talked and they changed there minds. They wanted to put up a stone in honor of my death. At the meeting I remeber saying that what ever they do I would still be their child. Dad promised them that you would have a Bar Mitzah and that he wouldn’t change your religion to his. Talk about disowning someone.... I don’t think you knew about that. Did you?

As for taking me at my word. Fiest let me say that I hope you feel better that you got things off of your chect. I still think where there is life there is hope and if two people or two countries want peace badly enough it can be done. But only if all parties want the same things. This letter is not intended to blame you, just explain things. abd after reading this if you still don’t want to try to work things out I’ll understand and hold no gbad thoughts regarding you and we do with you and Kate a long a happy life.

I hope you do the same for us. Pardon my bad typing but I’m upset and I’m just typing what is in my mind as my thoughts come to the surface. Maybe I missed the point of you letter but to set the record straight. You were never disowned, Never, ever. That 1st example you gave about what had happened in Staten Island is the day or I should say days of you crying wanted to go to brooklyn, not that we had any plans on going, but you just wanted to go. I tried everything but nothing worked, so at the last resort I put you outside with the screen door and told you that you could come back in only if you wanted to be home and if that wasn’t good enough you could walk to Brooklyn. I really don’t see how that disowned you.

[Note: She really doesn't see. One doesn't lock a kid out of the house when he's young enough to have a 7:30 p.m. bedtime, tell him he doesn't live there and isn't known at the address, and threaten to call the police because the kid is "trespassing." -- mailtojds]

Children are like that sometimes. you know I want I want I want. Be prepared for that to happen to you many times after you have kids. I remember and you can check this out with Ruth but driving home from my grandmother’s house up in Monsey to Brooklyn where they lived at the time, Irene wanted clams. She cried for clams. Mind you the trip home in thoses days took about 4 hours. My uncle turned around and gave her clams. He smaked her in the face. In those days hitting a child wasn’t against the law. Children are like that again I say. You were not disowned that day in Staten Island or any other time.

[Note: "I want, I want, I want" not to hear about cousin Irene being smacked over clams, but to be heard. Mother, do you hear me? -- mailtojds]

The more important day was that dreadful day in Jackson. Please just keep in mind how things were for the 5 past years there. I’m not blaming you but we had alot of tension and I couldn’t see anything else that night. I couldn’t stand what was going on and still don’t even understand that time period. If you remember I even wanted to kill myself because I couldn’t go on that way. You found my notes and spoke to me. What you said made sense so I didn’t do it. Remember that.

[Note: I wonder what "Remember that" means. Remember how I have always been the safe place? How I have always been the counselor? How I grew to learn to subsume my own developing emotional needs in deference to her crushing emotional needs? She should have gone to therapy and let me have a childhood. -- mailtojds]

Anyway when Dad and I came home from somewhere I can’t remember, I asked you if we had gotten any phone messages. You gave me a lousey answer and my mind just cracked. I just expailing my myself. It wasn’t that every thing was going great and you got rude, it was everything componding for 5 years every day and I just cracked. For this I say I am very very sorry. I can’t do anything more than that. I was just in a pressure cooker for 5 years and exploded, In those days you weren’t as angry at me, but you were angry at Dad and you weren’t very nice to him. I told you that while you were living in his house and he was putting food on the table I expected you to treat him with respect. With that said you just stopped eating. I made all of you favorites and you came over to the kitchen table, picked up your plate and then threw it out. Oh after that you put the dirty plate back on the table walked up to your room where you were on the computewr and we couldn’t even make a phone call. We still don’t know the reason but I guess it doesn’t matter.

[Note: I don't remember this food/plate business, but it sounds like me. -- mailtojds]

Again I just cracked. Yes I was grinning. I wanted some piece in my life and couldn’t go on like it was going on. When I threw you out which was a mistake I knew you would be going to Matt’s house. We were moving shortly and you had said you didn’t want to come to Tn. We paid Matt’s mom and dad to keep you. That is not getting disowned. If we could have jusat talked about the problems or knew how to fix them we would have. We had no clue and even going to that theripest didn’t help. Maybe we should have had family theripy. Again all I can say is that I’m sorry and regreat that night always. This is just an explaination of my actions. I asked Dad to beat you up because I had so much fustration and anger in me that I wanted to beat the living tar out of you. I couldn’t take it anymore, I cracked, I’m human with feelings also. Remember try to talk to your kids and just pray they open up to you or Kate.

[Note: I feel uneasy with the solution to every instance of my mother's frustration being that she lashes out at me in really unpredictable, disproportionate, absolutist ways. -- mailtojds]

After when things cooled off I was hoping we could have talked things out, but was afraid to bring it up again. That was probably stupid on my part. You didn’t even act angry which is strange, but I know you keep everthing in. This is a bad thing to do. Try not to. As i have said in the past, burying things deep down never helps. Feel anger and express it and then get rid of it. Don’t carry it around forever.

That is what ruined things for us. I’m not blaming you just trying to give you some advise. We have loads of hurts but we weigh the hurts against the love we have for you and guess what wins out. Hope you are still reading.... I don’t think you can come up with anything we or I have done since that awful night in Jackson that hurt you. We have been so careful not to offend you in any way. Infact I don’t think we even disagreed with you and that John was not normal on our side. People can agree to disagree. We were afraid to. We just didn’t want to loose you. That didn’t stop the hurting that was being done to us. We are human with normal human feeling and after your wedding and knowing how you really felt about us and knowing you know had another family our responsiblitiy was over and wanted some answers we think you owe us.

I just wish you would have told us how you felt about us years ago. We couldn’t save saved a great deal of energy and pain We really feel as we were used. I could be wrong but I don’t think you wanted to take me out for my birthday. You don’t like me or Dad. We didn’t have to go to your wedding. Not being invited wouldn’t have hurt us more that the way we were treated. So it wasn’t that you were disowned it is that you have been trying to do that to us for years and we have been hanging on by our thumbs.

[Note: I took her out for her birthday along with my then-fiancee Kate's mother, who has the same birthday. It was the first time our parents had met. I had hoped the dinner would be a new beginning for us all, but my mother left abruptly with no explanation. Later I learned from her that she felt badly about comparing herself to Kate's mom, a nurse. My mother had always vaguely aspired to be a nurse. My mother also admitted she felt awkward about how well I had bonded with Kate's family. -- mailtojds]

Again when we wrote that letter it was to say we can’t go on like this any longer. We have tried everything and are just tired of being hurt. So you see we never disowned you, you were disowning us, which is very sad and I don’t think it has to be like that. But we are very tired and bruised. We did our best and I guess things in life don’t always work out as we hope they would.

[Note: Mother is saying they are victims, that they have "tried everything," and I that I have relentlessly battered and bruised them. Mother never sees a middle ground. -- mailtojds]

I would like to ask you to thing about this letter after reading it and then if you still want us out of your life we will accept it. Please let us know in a couple of days. Email will do. sometimes it’s easier to chatter while typing instead of talking. I hope I didn’t make this a big deal as you put it. It was something as I said before I had to do as a Mom.
Business in Washington, D.C. I love cherry blossoms.

Thursday, April 05, 2001

Mother, do you think they'll try to break my balls? I've hopped off the Carousel o' Dysfunction. And I feel fine.
Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2001 15:23:16
From: Sue xxxxxxx @aol.com
Subject: The big question
To: mailtojds@yahoo.com

Maybe you overlooked this or just didn`t have time, but you never said a word about the weekend you had in NY. How was it? Since you got back the only emails I received from you was about my job concerning the lawyer and the will etc. I do appreciate the hep you have been giving me about computers and all. If you don`t want me to ask you about your life, please tell me. My fingers won`t mind. I promise to still keep you in the loop.

Please put an x in either 1 or 2. you don`t even have to explain.

1. in your life -----------
2. out of your life -----

as the saying goes, "to be or not to be"

Thanks
Mom

----- Original Message -----

Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2001 19:00:49
From: mailtojds@yahoo.com
Subject: Re: The big question
To: Sue xxxxxxx @aol.com

You want to know why I didn't chit-chat with you about New York, and you want me to check off a box indicating if you're "in" or "out" of my life.

I don't want to get into a big production with you about this, but the last official thing I heard from you on the subject of my life was, "Have a nice life!" in a handwritten letter last year. I took that at face value, and came to accept it.

Actually, I welcomed it. It was the third time you had rejected me entirely, and I decided to hold you to your word.

The first time you disowned me I was little more than a baby in Staten Island, and you locked me out of the house and said I didn't live there anymore -- I should "walk to Brooklyn" -- and threatened to call the police if I continued to "trespass."

The second time you disowned me was that awful night in Jackson, when I came home from a friend's house, and you followed me from the living room up the stairs, shrieking that I didn't live there anymore and that if I didn't get out you'd call the police -- you treated me like an animal, and in my fear and anger while grabbing clothes to pack I kicked a hole in the closet wall, and then you ordered [husband] Bill to "beat (me) up."

The poor man had no idea what he was stumbling into and wouldn't have stood a chance had I fought back. He really wouldn't have. Afraid of what I might do to him, horrified at what we'd all become, I left. I'll never forget the look on your face as I passed you in the hall. You were grinning.

So years later, you sent me strike three, a letter saying, "Have a nice life!" Well, OK. I accept. It is a very nice life. It's a life that I share with happy, creative, empathetic, generous people. It is a life I hope you somehow achieve.

These are not what I think are "the reasons" we came to this breakdown. I know you want reasons. Unfortunately our differences are not based in reason; they're based on emotion. I think we simply are incompatible. While you have always been emotionally needy, I don't think you've ever known who I am emotionally, or cared. That's just not what you're all about.

And I've made my peace with that.

As for your check-box questionnaire: with all due respect for the incredible demands of parenthood and all the personal sacrifices you made along the way, and believing you did your best given your own limitations, and mine, and knowing how you don't respect phonies, I check No. 2.

Hoping this helps you get on with your life,
John David

----- Original Message -----

From: Sue xxxxxxx @aol.com
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2001 20:47:29
Subject: Re: Check out Portfolio
To: mailtojds@yahoo.com

{snip miscellaneous legal matters related to my grandparents' estate}

Will you still help me out with the computer if I need help? My fingers hate typing and they don`t want to waste time.

Just a joke.

Mom

Sunday, April 01, 2001

I can publish. I can publish whatever I want. I can research, interview, assess, synthesize, write and publish whatever I want. I can alert, alarm, entertain, persuade, inspire, attract and retain whomever is interested. I can go a new way. I can give a voice to. I can extend myself through time and space, and make a difference.

That just occurred to me.

Friday, March 23, 2001

Idea for a new appetizer: "Moisters."
OK, waitaminute, hold the phone. How come nobody ever told me about this? I mean, that's the blog of my dreams!
allaboutgeorge: You've heard of Kottke, right?
mailtojds: no, no.
allaboutgeorge: Kottke's pretty much The Man.
mailtojds: I don't get out much.
Maybe they just needed to venti. As Starbucks executives joyously announced a stock split to shareholders during the company's annual meeting in Seattle on Tuesday, demonstrators gathered outside the meeting and stores in 100 other U.S. cities to denounce the company's use of genetically engineered ingredients in some products.

Thursday, March 22, 2001

Wait! I need closure on that anecdote! So I totally missed the boat on this Eggers thing, the Salon thing and the San Jose Mercury News thing. Others didn't. Now I really don't feel well.
I don't feel well today. I read a nightmare last night. It starts out innocently enough...
allaboutgeorge: Saw Romenesko?
mailtojds: n
allaboutgeorge: Our editor in chief and CEO had to do damage control, shore up folks' feelings.
allaboutgeorge: TheDeal.com did a story about Salon seeking a buyer
allaboutgeorge: and not finding anyone interested
mailtojds: ouch
allaboutgeorge: it's a lie, so the higher ups say
mailtojds: published knowingly, and with malice?
allaboutgeorge: that's not for me to figure out
allaboutgeorge: that's why the higher ups get paid the money they earn
mailtojds: I'll check it out. Along the same lines (maybe?) I read this in one sitting last night just before bed, and woke up with a crick in my neck and a headache. http://www.mcsweeneys.net/news/clar_nytimes.html
allaboutgeorge: whoo.
allaboutgeorge: this has been on and poppin' for a bit
allaboutgeorge: but i'd never seen the actual exchange.
allaboutgeorge: just heard people talking about it.
mailtojds: Eggers is cruel.
mailtojds: I hadn't heard anything about this; I was just making my rounds of McSwys. and fell into it.
allaboutgeorge: Romenesko had it going for a bit.
mailtojds: Shows what I know.
allaboutgeorge: Metafilter will have discussion threads devoted to it, if you enter "eggers" into its search field.
mailtojds: I tend to let the universe find me when it's good and ready. I sit waiting, secure in the knowledge that I'm where I'm supposed to be. Apparently I'm ready for this.
allaboutgeorge: Upsetting stuff.
allaboutgeorge: 'Specially 'fore bed.
mailtojds: yeah.
mailtojds: 'specially way at the end, when kirkpatrick is eviscerated, and eggers is all reachin' in and tugging on stuff.
mailtojds: ...and on that note, I'm signing off.
allaboutgeorge: Be well
mailtojds: 2

Tuesday, March 20, 2001

Profits and angels, 5th Ld-Writethru. Glad it didn't come to that, but stay tuned.

Layoffs Avoided in San Jose
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News lifted the threat of newsroom layoffs Tuesday, the day after the paper's chairman and publisher resigned over planned job cuts.

Standing on a chair, David Yarnold held up a sheaf of papers and told a newsroom full of employees, “this is the layoff list.” He then ripped up the papers to heavy applause, reporters at the afternoon meeting said.

The news was not, however, all rosy. Yarnold told staff the paper would trim the equivalent of 20 full-time employees through attrition, reductions in overtime and free-lance budgets, and other cost-cutting moves.

He also said the paper will fold its new San Francisco edition into another suburban edition. The Mercury News launched the edition – complete with a San Francisco masthead – last summer with great fanfare as a competitor to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We worked with Knight Ridder to bring our profit target to a reasonable level in a bad economy,'' Yarnold told The Associated Press in an interview later Tuesday. “It's a budget that will allow us to continue to do excellent journalism.”

The demand by Knight Ridder to continue increasing the Mercury News' profit margins despite the shocking downturn in the technology economy – and the impact this would have on the paper's reporting – prompted Jay T. Harris to resign Monday after seven years as publisher.

“We all know we must make significant adjustments in the face of the currently severe economic downturn,” Harris wrote in his farewell e-mail to employees. “But so far, we have been unable to find a way to meet the new targets without risking significant and lasting harm to the Mercury News – as a journalistic enterprise and as the special place to work that it is.''

Earlier this month, Harris announced plans to lay off an unspecified number of employees, blaming lower revenues from help-wanted ads and other signs of Silicon Valley's slowdown. Managers at the paper had been asked to rank employees in preparation for cuts, which Yarnold said “would have been soon.”
Profits and angels. I may work in pixels, but my heart belongs to newsprint. And I used to work for Contra Costa Newspapers, where the bubble is poised to burst.
----- Original Message -----
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 4:13 PM
Subject: Merky Merc
From: [not shown]
To: [not shown]

Jay Harris just stepped down as editor in chief (sic) of the SJ Mercury News. He cited differences with Knight Ridder corporate in that he can't attain their 21 percent profit expectations and still put out a high quality paper during these tough times. The Merc's already started laying off a slew of folks.

[Contra Costa Times] has been affected, too. All those dot-com ads that are gone, rising PG&E and newsprint costs have left us about $13 million in the hole.

"Only" one reporter has been laid off and three folks in the press room, but there are a lot of scared folks around here. Our pub says we're safe, that layoffs are a last resort, but still, tough times all around...

Thoughts, guys?

----- Original Message -----
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2001 12:21:12 -0800
Subject: Re: Merky Merc
From: [not shown]
To: [not shown]

I've been following the story (Poynter, Washington Post) and there seems to be an emerging consensus that [Knight Ridder CEO Anthony Ridder] is declaring an emergency because his profits might dip to 18%. (Or maybe he just has gas. How many of the companies mentioned on your business pages would give their owner's first-born for an 18% profit? The second-born for 10%?

What I would ask is, does that "$13 million in the hole" mean that CCN has sustained a loss -- and if so, is that a 1% loss? 5%? -- or that you're $13 million short of the demanded 22.7% profit -- leaving what, a 10% profit? 20%? -- or, considering the long-standing theory that CCN is a cash cow to fund journalism at the star papers, that you're only going to make a 30% profit?

Tough times, yes, but I think Harris has a point that it would be a lot less tough if the peasants weren't supporting Marie Antoinette.

Monday, March 19, 2001

George, ya always on my mind. Thanks for the literary inspiration.

mailtojds: ahoy hoy
allaboutgeorge: hey now!
mailtojds: Hey nonny nonny
allaboutgeorge: Gorgeous George and Bonnie Johnny
mailtojds: One takes boats, the other trolleys
allaboutgeorge: And each one rejoinders to the other's volleys
mailtojds: If they had dogs, would they be collies?
allaboutgeorge: Most likely a Keeshond for my hardcore jollies
mailtojds: Burma Shave
allaboutgeorge: But seriously...
allaboutgeorge: 10 megs is what your provider gives you?

Sunday, March 18, 2001

Toward a Planetary Ethic. (Brad Allenby sees the bigger picture. I still don't have a rejoinder for him, though I very much want to come up with one.)
-----Original Message-----
From: John Snyder
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2001 12:38 PM
To: Allenby, Braden R (Brad), NPONS
Subject: Planetary ethics

Brad --

I don't know how you're going to achieve a just and benevolent planetary ethic in the face of transnational industrial hegemony. (Chomsky's "industrial fascism.") That is, how do you establish a practical "fundamental ethical base that does not discriminate against groups or individuals based on their stage of development, discourse, religion, or culture" when profitability calls for the imposition of corporate will upon local systems? On whom is it incumbent to establish such an ethic: the haves or the have-nots? I see problems with both.

I'll be interested to follow the rest of your argument.

Cheers,
John

----- Original Message -----
From: Allenby, Braden R (Brad), NPONS
To: John Snyder
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2001 3:51 PM
Subject: RE: Planetary ethics

John,

Obviously, to begin with, one can't get very sophisticated in a 750 word column. So there's a lot that gets left out. Generally, I am skeptical at this point of most claims of hegemony; they are oversimplistic for the most part, and one can find contradictory signals as well. So, for example, if transnationals were really all powerful, I doubt that Greenpeace could go up against Shell (Brent Spar) and Monsanto (GMOs in Europe) and win both times. Greenpeace in some ways is more hegemonic than individual transnationals. And neither is more powerful than international market structures and associated trends such as commoditization. Power structures are becoming more, not less, complex in many ways.

I don't know that ethics "get established;" in fact, the process by which real world ethics actually do evolve and are enforced is not one that I think is well understood -- in part because it has a lot to do with culture, and that's such a sensitive area that most people either pretend it doesn't matter (post-modernism, for example), or just ignore it completely.

The other reason a planetary ethic is difficult to even think about is that the vast majority of people are unable to rise above either their private or (culturally constrained) public moralities . . . . But if there can at least begin to be a discourse about ethics which are suitable for a truly multicultural, anthropogenic world . . . well, its a step in the right direction. So I try not to let the best be the enemy of perhaps a little good.

Best, Brad

Brad Allenby
AT&T Environment, Health & Safety - VP
...look for the fuzzy dice.

Public Asked To Help Locate Hazwaste Truck
JACKSONVILLE, Florida, March 16, 2001 (ENS) – Special agents from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Law Enforcement are seeking public assistance in locating a missing container carrying hazardous waste that poses a risk of explosion if released into the air.

Saturday, March 17, 2001

Thanks, Environmental 'Protection' Agency! (With the money I'll save, I can buy a respirator!)
EPA Cuts Cost of Gas By Allowing Higher Emissions
WASHINGTON, DC, March 16, 2001 (ENS) – Gas prices for Chicago and Milwaukee drivers will be less likely to skyrocket this summer because of a rule change by the Environmental Protection Agency that will allow a greater amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to be emitted from exhaust pipes.

Friday, March 16, 2001

In which John scratches the surface
In the beginning, there was the great outdoors, and all the creatures of the yard, and a great assortment of clouds and vapors overhead, and loamy soil underfoot, and undersnow. And into this fertile expanse came John, and saw that it was good, and rich, and bountiful, and he went inside to type, and the typing took him all day and all night, for many days and many nights, and the outdoors went on without him.

When the typing was done, John stood up on shaky legs, staggered back, and surveyed his work. And he saw that it was unfinished, that his employer's Web site needed him, and that there were mp3s he forgot to download, and that there were friends' sites he hadn't seen lately. So he called to his wife who was waiting, and said unto her, "You'd better go on without me; I have to edit another story," and she left to see their friends alone.

In the fullness of time, when the winter turned to spring, and spring to summer, and the summer gave way to fall, and the leaves fell, and then more snow fell in a new winter, John thought he might really be done. He had posted more stories, formed more news affiliations, posted new calendar events, and chatted with several people on instant messenger.

"Be right there, just gotta answer some e-mails," he called downstairs. And he answered a great many e-mails. And the snow melted. "On my way!" he said months later, as an afterthought.

Now, dehydrated and with a crick in his neck, John knew what had to be done. He needed a personal Web presence. It would provide an inside to his outside, and he knew that it would be good. And so it was.

Next time: Exodus.