Nelson’s trashbox.

I should probably know who Ted Nelson was, and I can only apologize to both Mr. Nelson and my mythical readership for not having any idea what he did when he grew up.

Instead, I only know of him as a guy who, from the 1960s through the 1980s, tore out and sent in every single “send for more information” card he could get his hands on, and then took all the resulting material and saved it in boxes.

Today, the contents of Ted Nelson’s junk mail boxes are lovingly reproduced on the Internet Archive — more than 6,800 individual catalogs and inducements, for everything from minicomputers to Columbia House-type record clubs to sex manuals.

I couldn’t even get to the bottom of the box, so to speak: I got through 25 screens of material and had to give up. Here are some of the highlights:

Not one but two 1970 issues of Americana, the promotional magazine of American Motors.

-An undated holiday gift catalog (almost certainly Sixties) from a New Jersey music store. Highlights include a golden bust of Beethoven … the “whimsical” musical figurines, one or two of which my folks used to have … the Fuzz Face distortion pedal … and a selection of Harmony electric guitars, which are cheesy except for the one or two that are really kinda sweet.

-A two-pager from 1980 for Alpha Syntauri, a device that allowed the user to play live music through their Apple computer. Record over 7000 notes in a single session, too!

(The freaking link embed feature isn’t working; here’s where you can go to learn more:

-A 1980 catalog for Bell & Howell’s Mailmobile office mail delivery robot. The office where I work had mailbots until the pandemic; I dunno why the pandemic killed them off but they weren’t there when we got back. Perhaps they are still in a storage room somewhere.

-A 1981 pamphlet for Whizzard computer graphics. I don’t know the brand, but the design aesthetic on this one takes me right back to the early 1980s:

-Another brand that brings me back: Scott audio components. My parents had a set of Scott speakers, which later got handed down to me when they upgraded. The old Scott speakers also came in a pair of big rectangular cardboard boxes with a picture of a young woman on the side; the boxes were filled with out-of-season clothing. They’re not shown in this brief catalog, alas.

-A 1971 mailing from Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York, with marketing materials for microfilming machines.

-An undated catalog for the Wisconsin Cheese Guild.

-I’m developing a weird romantic fondness for the Bell System that rivals the one I have for East Germany and the Montreal Expos. (The Expos, at least, were likeable.)

Here’s a catalog about data communications that’s awash in Bell atmosphere, as well as hints of the future (business machines talking to each other from miles apart!):

-A 1984 catalog for Sharp portable computers. The up-and-coming young businessmen on this spread are only just starting to understand how much their personal lives will be subsumed to their jobs now that they can carry a computer with them:

-Childcraft 1969: Toys that teach! The smoked plastic squares on the front cover sure look familiar, as do a few of the other educational amusements scattered through this catalog.

-An undated catalog from Keystone Plastics of Media, Pennsylvania, advertising small plastic mouse cages for laboratory animals. Twenty-five pages’ worth, somehow.

-There’s an awful lot of computer-related stuff in Ted Nelson’s junk mail box, including this undated pamphlet for Weismantel Associates minicomputers, from St. Paul, Minnesota. In an alternate universe, Cupertino is an undeveloped wasteland and we are all listening to music on our Weismantel WPods right now.

-Similarly, I enjoy this 1966 product pitch from Vermont Research just b/c I miss the days when a person or business with a technological itch might look to a place like North Springfield, Vermont, to scratch it.

-Also a sucker for anything Digital Equipment Corp., such as this fall 1980 catalog for one of their computer lines. I wonder how much computing power was actually in one of those systems, and what hardware it would take to reproduce it now.

-Church announcement boards, guaranteed to stay lustrous, by A.C. Davenport & Son Co. of Palatine, Illinois. Today’s special: Fried lake smelts!

-RCA Corporation’s 1965 annual report, from the old days when it was a sign of weakness to include women, people of color, or people under 50 in your annual report. None of these men had ever heard of Jefferson Airplane; their sheltered bliss would last one more year.

-An undated marketing piece for a De Havilland military airplane. Who was this made for? Like, was somebody in the market to buy one of these for themselves?

-Finally, the Digital Equipment Corp. Users Symposium (I think) program for fall 1975. Computer privacy legislation is a hot topic. Whaddya know.

The start of a new year.

A new year of racing, that is.

The first 5K of the year went off in sunny, windy chill this morning, and I neither amazed myself nor let myself down.

This was my first race since recovering (apparently, knock wood, etc.) from last year’s post-half-marathon muscle complaints, and it was my goal to once again run a 5K in a time less than half my age.

I accomplished that handily, and also felt that I ran a good steady pace. I didn’t go out too hard in the first half and eat flaming death in the second half, as I have occasionally been known to do (*cough* Seacoast Half Marathon *cough*).

My time was 23:31, which is pretty much what I expect to run at my current weight. (Which should really be a few pounds lower, but I don’t seem to have the willpower to get it where I really want it … which means I must not really want it.)

A few moments of levity:

-My time was good for 19th place out of, I think, 174 finishers. This sort of thing is always less impressive than it sounds, since most 5Ks include a sizable contingent of participants who walk part or all of the race and are not really there to compete. I may, someday, throw in my lot with them.

Today’s race raised money for organ donation, not to mention the evanescent but eternally pursued quality of “awareness.” So a fair number of people came out to support the cause, not to chase a personal record.

By rights, I should have finished 20th. But, about 2 1/2 miles in, a fit young woman who had comfortably passed me while pushing a stroller had to suddenly pull to the side, for the purposes of making clear to babby that Mama was still very much there. After her pit stop, the woman didn’t finish too far behind me, but she didn’t pass me again.

I guess I owe the pequeno a favor; I’m in 20th place if he/she/they hadn’t done me a solid. Thanks, kid.

-A cluster of fit-looking teenage girls took part in the race. I got there early enough before the start to notice that their T-shirts and sweatshirts bore the imprimatur of the Medfield High School girls’ lacrosse team. Some of them removed their lacrosse T-shirts and sweatshirts before reporting to the starting line, making their identity less immediately apparent.

(Medfield was the small town in which the race took place. It might be best known as the home of Peter McNeeley, one of the many fistic hopefuls to get curb-stomped by Mike Tyson during Tyson’s invincible period. A healthy number of New England Patriots- and Boston Red Sox-affiliated notables have also lived in Medfield. Oh, heck, there’s a list here.)

Anyway: When you gather at the starting line, you’re supposed to do so with an honest estimation of your place in the pack. Slow runners should start at the back, real speedsters at the front, etc.

The lacrosse girls gathered in a pack at the starting line, and everyone else gathered behind them, thinking they must be the track team and thus super-fast.

The lacrosse girls then retreated behind everyone else, insisting that everyone else go in front of them.

Whereupon everyone else moved back behind the lacrosse girls again, still convinced that they must be the track team … the result of which was that the entire pack of runners shambled farther and farther away from the starting line. First one group moved back, then the other.

(Eventually the Alphonse-and-Gaston act subsided and the race managed to get under way. Does anybody remember Alphonse and Gaston? They seem in memory like a one-joke phenomenon — sort of the Raymond J. Johnson Jr. of my grandfathers’ youth.)

# # # # #

As I mentioned a little while ago, I’ve signed up for the James Joyce Ramble 10K on April 29, so unless I blow out a knee I’ll be refocusing on longer training for the next couple of weeks.

I also bought a ticket this weekend to attend a celebration in June of my high-school cross-country and track coach. He was rudely given the elbow by my old school district late last year, despite being the all-time national leader in most dual-meet wins by a cross-country coach.

The event includes a 5K on what used to be my home cross-country course, which oughta be at least a mild gas.

There are a couple of good hills there. Now that I don’t have the competitive pressure of high-school sports on my back, I plan to attack them with the joy of a cat burglar swinging between the alarm beams in an art museum. It’s about fun now, and the rush of the blood in the veins, not whether I’m beating Churchville-Chili’s fifth man.

(Or so I say now.)

We’ll see if this event inspires me to lose that weight. Since I don’t do high school reunions, this is the nearest thing to the sort of social event that would inspire one to clean up one’s presentation.

I’m curious as to how many people my age turn up — I wonder if I’ll be one of the senior citizens in a gathering of 20-year-olds. Given my coach’s great popularity and influence, though, I think I will recognize at least a few compatriots.

(Which makes me cringe a little bit … with each passing year, I quiver more and more at the thought of meeting people who knew me when I was a young jackass. I tend to avoid them as much as possible, in fact. I should look at the bright side: Maybe those who encounter me will walk away from the event thinking, “Well, Kurt Blumenau didn’t grow up to be quite as much hot garbage as I thought he would when he was 17.”)

# # # # #

Older son’s last Concert Band concert on Saturday went great. They sounded really good, better and tighter than I remembered them.

Hopefully they keep it up now that he’s no longer playing and I’m no longer listening.


A funeral plus fifty.

In the past few days I’ve been seeing a bunch of bluebirds in my neighborhood. I never remember seeing them at all when I lived in Pennsylvania. The bluebird is among the coolest and most visually striking of the regular cast of birds in my area; the color is just wonderful.

It is a highlight of spring, this seeing of bluebirds.

My occasional 50-years-ago-today sojourns through the Boston Globe continue.

In my most recent drag, rather than the usual cutesy ephemera, I pulled up a story so soaked in tragedy that it called out to be … retold? Revisited? Remembered?

(It feels like no one should endure the quantity of pain that most everyone in this story dealt with, only to have it be forgotten with the turn of the news cycle.)

There’s still time to ditch this and go watch old Soul Train clips on YouTube …

… OK, here goes:

On March 30, 1973, funeral services were held at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in Beverly, Mass., (that’s roughly a 20-mile drive north of Boston) for an emotionally disturbed 13-year-old boy.

His biological parents weren’t there, as he had been legally separated from them 10 years before. State social workers didn’t know where they lived and hadn’t been able to reach them. One of the social workers raised the possibility that the parents might never find out what had happened to their son.

(It doesn’t get brighter from here.)

The boy had spent some years with foster parents in Burlington, Mass. (also north of Boston)  but had begun to suffer increasing emotional problems. Beginning in January 1973, the state placed him in a variety of residential treatment centers, all of which he ran away from.

Apparently, hospital treatment options were available for young children and adults, but few for teens. So the state placed him with another foster parent in Methuen (that’s on the New Hampshire border, up by Lowell and Lawrence) while they looked for other solutions.

Three days after the boy arrived in Methuen, he took his foster parent’s car for a late-night/early-morning careen through several towns. It ended at a police roadblock in Lexington, where he nearly ran down two officers. They each fired at his tires. One shot hit the boy in the head; he died that night.

(It sometimes strikes me as remarkable how scattershot the aim of trained, authorized gun users can be. On the other hand, I suppose I should let somebody run me down at 3:30 in the morning sometime and see how good my aim is afterward. Some would also argue that a police officer directly threatened by an erratically speeding car might be justified in skipping the niceties of aiming for tires. An investigation cleared both officers, without identifying which of them had fired the fatal shot. I don’t imagine it lightened the burden on them all that much.)

As a side note, the boy had driven through Burlington en route to Lexington, and the Burlington police chief later said his officers recognized the boy as a troubled local resident. But the Burlington and Lexington police departments did not share a direct radio link in 1973, so the information had to be phoned from one department to the other and then radioed out by Lexington. It doesn’t appear that the Lexington officers knew that the driver was an emotionally disturbed 13-year-old — as opposed to, say, a murderer escaped from prison — but the Burlington chief suggested they might have acted differently if they’d known.

(I’m not sure what else they could or would have done … but, maybe the outcome was preventable. I told you there was no sunlight in this story. And we’re only partway through it.)

The half-hour funeral Mass was described as “starkly simple with no eulogy or personal comments,” for the reason that no one there knew the boy or had anything specific to say about him. The Globe implicitly contradicted the funeral director on this, though: The story mentioned that the boy’s Burlington foster parents were present.

(I will assume that they were not expected to attend, or were late arrivals, and that the priest and the funeral director would have reached out for their help in personalizing the service if they had known the foster parents were there. I have seen a priest do this before leading a service for a person they’d never met; it sorta worked, and the effort was appreciated. Anyway, that’s another level of bleak — the idea of these poor people, who put years of sweat and blood into raising someone else’s troubled child, not only bidding him farewell but seeing him get the most generic and impersonal service possible.)

The paper added that “a group of ‘volunteer’ eighth-graders who didn’t even know him” also attended the funeral — and boy, doesn’t that set of quotation marks raise more questions than it answers? They weren’t volunteers; they were “volunteers,” and nothing in the article indicates actual concern on their part. The paper went on to say that, for most of the mourners, “the service was a perfunctory affair, something that had to be done.”

(The group of uninterested kids … well, I would have liked to interpret their presence as a ray of kindness and charity, but the quotation marks around “volunteers” kinda sour that perception. Who were these people, and on whose insistence were they there? Was this an alternative to detention for them? The story mentions that one of them was moved to tears, so I guess calling them all “uninterested” is a broad stroke … but maybe not a gross exaggeration.)

And, that’s about where it ends. The boy’s name popped up in the paper for a few more months, as various investigations took place and various journalists wrote about the overlapping holes in the foster care and mental treatment systems. Then he disappeared into Old News-land.

I’d like to think the mental health and foster care systems in Massachusetts have improved since 1973, and I’m fairly certain the Burlington and Lexington police departments can raise each other on the radio nowadays. Maybe those are positives that can be taken out of this whole story. The tides of life lately do not inspire optimism, and I can’t help imagining that some poor kid is a stolen set of car keys away from history repeating, with minor changes in detail. I hope not.

Anyway, the funeral is 50 years past; the words are spoken and the doors are closed. Fifty years later to the day, the Globe ran stories about Dungeons & Dragons, drag brunches, and Red Sox Opening Day.

The opportunity to mourn and remember the boy behind the wheel is still there, though. Maybe that’s why I’ve taken the time to write all this out.

Or maybe some other reason will occur to me sometime in the next couple of days, as I reflect further on a disturbed child and a cold, utilitarian goodbye.

The thirty-five sweet goodbyes.

After at least 35 (sweet) years of hearing Steely Dan’s “My Old School,” I only just yesterday became aware of the reputed real meaning of that opening phrase.

It is Nabokovian in its cunning, and also pretty skeevy … and serves to reinforce my sense that, while I enjoy Becker and Fagen’s music, I probably would have enjoyed their company rather less.

(This is the point where one or the other of my parents, who might actually be my last remaining readers, write in to ask, “What’s it mean?” It’s dirty, folks; we’ll leave it at that. I didn’t get into the blogging business to entertain my parents, but that seems to be how it’s shaken out. Remember when the Internet had promise?)

Barring catastrophe, I will go into Boston this weekend to see my older son’s last school-sanctioned musical performance. He has been in school concert bands since, I dunno, third grade or so. He’s a senior in college and he’s still in one and his last performance is tomorrow. Can’t miss that.

Without thinking it through too deeply, I think this will be my last “school-related event” short of graduations. The only other upcoming school event I can think of is Parents’ Weekend at the younger kid’s college, and the shared wisdom on the school Facebook group says to skip Parents’ Weekend and go visit some other time. (“The weekend at the college didn’t turn out like you planned…” — see, there’s those mooks again.)

I don’t know as I’ll miss the school concerts. Probably not. If I miss any school-related activity I attended as an parent, it would be either the elementary school open houses or the high school cross-country meets. The cross-country meets I could still go see if I wanted to; the elementary school open houses, not so much.

At my older son’s first open house — guessing 2006? — his elementary school still had a couple of Apple II+ computers in harness, the same kind my family and my elementary school had circa 1982-1983. The Pennsylvania Dutchies were going to wring every cent out of those beige boxes, I guess. I never found out what they used them for — educational games, presumably. (I hope my son wasn’t learning to program in BASIC.)

The first 5K of the year is scheduled for Sunday morning. It’s a small local jawn for a good cause. I feel recovered (knock wood) from my woes of late last year, and am hoping to re-establish my ability to finish a 5K in a time that is less than half my age. If I don’t hurt myself I’m cautiously optimistic.

I was reading a New York Times story about fiascos surrounding the next Winter Olympic Games — a concept whose time has passed — and was pleasantly surprised to see a quote from “Olympic historian David Wallechinsky.”

Wallechinsky and his relatives Irving and Amy Wallace co-authored The People’s Almanac and The Book of Lists series, both of which I read and re-read numerous times as a kid. Just seeing the covers on Wiki brings me back. (I also owned a copy of Wallechinsky’s book on Olympic history, which apparently has come to define him in the 21st century, at least to the New York Times.)

Somebody suggested that Wallechinsky and the Wallaces “invented the Internet.” And the approach of those books — irreverent, list-oriented, jammed with colorful and periodically salacious trivia — did anticipate the qualities that fire so much Internet content generation and consumption a generation later.

(The Wiki page on The People’s Almanac notes that “authoritative references are generally not given,” another predictor of life on the Internet.)

I went to another ballgame last Sunday, this time two college teams playing on a high school field. Borrowing not only my wife’s old digital SLR but her zoom lens as well, I finally got the sort of close-up pictures I’ve dreamed about getting for the better part of 15 years or so.

Also came home with a baseball, which you’re not supposed to do at college baseball games.

This one was fouled into a wooded area, and was given only a perfunctory pursuit by the benchwarmer who was assigned to go fetch it. After the game I located it. I could have been a mensch and given it back, but instead opted for the joys of possessing a baseball with the logo of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference stamped on it.

Now it sits on a shelf near my work area, next to the game-used ball I bought for cheap from the Connecticut Tigers of the New York-Penn League when the Connecticut Tigers (and the New York-Penn League) still existed.

Things that happened a long time ago.

(Or only just 10 to 15 years ago. That’s enough to seem like 30 or 40.)

I still maintain two Yahoo! email accounts, each of which took a turn as my primary email address before I switched to Gmail.

I don’t use the Yahoo! addresses any more; I pretty much keep them because they each have items of correspondence I’d like to save if I can, and I haven’t figured out any quick way to save the contents of the account and then ditch the account.

I should really look into that someday – lighten my load and all.

Anyhow, I have been reading and sometimes deleting messages from the older of the two Yahoo! accounts, and it’s brought back memories. Among my findings:

-A notification that my older brother had sent me a Picassohead. I forget who put up that site — there was some sort of commercial tie-in, I think — but Picassohead was a website with drawing tools you could use to make vaguely European-looking mini-designs. It was fun for two weeks.

I clicked the link, just for fun, but deleted the email after it became evident that Picassohead was as long-gone as … well, Picasso. Drink to it, drink to its health, you know it can’t drink any more.

-A notification that my older brother had sent me a song from Let Them Sing It For You. This was a website built by some guy in Sweden who had chopped individual words out of lots of pop songs. You could then write messages and email them to people, and if the machine knew the words, it would “sing’ the message for you by triggering the appropriate word. (If it didn’t recognize the word, it would either pick the closest word it could find or just make a buzzing noise.)

This was a favorite of my older son and I back around 2004-2005. I already knew this one was gone, alas.

-A note in which I encouraged my older brother to go visit a site, hosted somewhere at Harvard University, that allowed you to make a trio of sheep musicians (piano, upright bass, and drums) play together by programming in notes and rhythmic patterns.

The more complex you got, the more the central processing unit slowed down to process it in unpredictable ways. So the sheep would speed up and slow down at odd intervals, sometimes note to note. It lent the whole affair a charming floppiness.

My older son and I greatly enjoyed this one for a while too, to the extent that I saved our favorite 15 or so sheep grooves and I burned them to CD. I’ve just taken that out and am enjoying it again.


The site? Yeah, long gone.

(Wow. Also on this CD are several experiments in which I started “Funky Gibbon” in two, three, or more windows at the same time and recorded the results. Didn’t remember that either. I’m sure the kids enjoyed it.)

(Um, there certainly are a lot of gibbon variations on this CD.)


Also in the dusty recesses of the old inbox:

-A LinkedIn notification involving a contact who, in the 15 ensuing years, has changed gender.

-An email from Amazon notifying me that my Kodak point-and-shoot digital camera had shipped.

-A fairly detailed recollection of a very weird, violent and foreboding dream I had in January 2010. Apparently it affected me to the extent that I got up the next day and typed it out. I have no memory of it now.

-Notes from 2010 about dipping my toe in the water for a move back to eastern Massachusetts. Only took me eight years to chip through the wall and escape out the sewer pipe, but I did it.

-A series of emails sent by my wife, one slow evening on the Morning Call copy desk, when they started running song lyrics through multiple layers of translation to see what came out the other side. You’ll have no trouble identifyng this one:

> The fire of baby of fire! The fire of baby of fire!
> The fire of baby of fire! The fire of baby of fire!
> Burnin ‘! In more of my surprise, stories hundred
> cried high people gettin ‘ coward y’ all gettin ‘
> over the roof with people – of the orientation which
> it maintained thus – as the boogy started towards
> bottom to explode me intended some one to say to the
> fire of baby of fire! Hell of discotheque! The fire
> of baby of fire! burn how the mother fire baby to
> burn downwards! Hell of discotheque! The fire of
> baby of fire! burn to the bottom this Burnin mother
> ‘! Satisfaction came in a chain reaction (burnin ‘)
> which I could not receive enough, therefore I
> self-destruction heat had lit increased and will be
> on the upper surface, huh! Each one how to strongly
> go and it is, my spark me intended to say somebody
> warmly received the fire of baby of fire! – Hell of
> discotheque! The fire of baby of fire! you burn –
> how the mother fire baby to burn downwards! – Hell
> of discotheque! The
>  fire of baby of fire! you burn – this mother
> mentioned above my head hear to the bottom me the
> music in the air – what hear the music! That types
> that there I know, a party is some share

-A whole slewload of emails to myself, containing only links and an order in the subject line: “check out.” I’m deleting them; if the checking-out ain’t happened by now, it ain’t gonna.

-Some very nice emails I sent to friends, and some emails I sent to friends that make me want to scald myself, for reasons I won’t get into.

(The CD still plays. Wow, another gibbon variation! Multiple layers backwards, this one.)

-A list, from July 2009, of the best electric guitars under $300. Hey, I bet they’ll be even cheaper now, when I find them used!

-An email from myself on November 19, 2010, that consists entirely of the following two sentences, apparently cut and pasted from somewhere (it’s not my own work):

But the real classic is the album Gil made in 1975 with Jorge Ben (as he was billed then). Gil E Jorge, apparently made while both men were (audibly) blind drunk, is the sound of two men in deep sync with each other’s work.

-An email to myself from April 2011 with cut-and-pasted content from Twitter. A bunch of my Lehigh Valley friends and I went on a jag writing Lehigh Valley haiku for a day or two, and I saved a bunch, with asterisks on the ones I wrote. (I sent it to my wife, who wasn’t on Twitter at the time but who I thought would find them funny.)

Damn, I miss the Good Days of Twitter sometimes.

And, oh, you wanna read a haiku? There are more where this came from:

Has there ever been
A haiku about Schnecksville?
Still isn’t, really.

There’s more crap on the back shelves, but that seems like a good place to stop.

Radios in motion.

I was out for my after-dinner walk tonight and a big black SUV pulled into a driveway not too far from where I was walking.

It had its windows open and the driver was treating the neighborhood to his/her evening jam of choice. I would have expected crappy modern country from a vehicle like that …

… but no, the evening broadcast was Al Green’s “Belle.”

Hadn’t heard that in years and it was a wonderful unexpected change of pace. (That whole album is a gentle pleasure, as I recall it, and now I’m gonna have to take it out again. Feels like summer!)

There might, in fact, be hope for the world.

# # # # #

In other news, I have achieved a milestone and now I’m laying down my burden.

At 11:47 p.m. this past Monday, low-powered, municipally owned radio station WBCA in Boston played “Salty Dame” from Watts, the Bandcamp album I did a few years ago with my drummer friend Mark.

This marked the 100th time since October 8, 2020, that WBCA’s automated music programming computer has played a song from Watts.

Now, there is no automated way that I know of to check for radio play. The only method I know is to go to a website called Spinitron, which collects radio stations’ playlists, and do a daily search. I have to do this daily because the search is only free for the preceding 24 hours. If I skip a day, I’ll miss a day’s worth of airplay results. (Or I’d have to buy a subscription, which I don’t want to do.)

So every day for the past 896 days I have gone to Spinitron and fed my name into the search box, to see whether any of the three songs I submitted from Watts got played in the previous 24 hours. And when one of them has, I’ve tracked it on a spreadsheet, recording the date, time, song title, and title of the programming block in which it appeared.

(Have I missed a day here or there? Maybe, here or there. But very, very few.)


I don’t know what’s kept me on this track for so long, but this feels like a good place to step off of it.

I am curious, having come this far, as to whether WBCA ever weeds out its music library. Will the songs from Watts disappear entirely at some future point? Or will they simply turn up in the automated playlists less and less frequently as other people submit their music and the library gets bigger and bigger?

I probably won’t hang around and find out.


(It would be stylish to somehow convert all this data into some kind of auto-generated noise/music and make that my next Bandcamp release. Maybe that should be a project. Use the materials available to you…)

# # # # #

Real soon now, we’ll see the start of what will likely be Joe Castiglione’s last season in the Red Sox broadcast booth. I haven’t been paying attention to preseason ball — haven’t in years — but I’ll have to lock that into my daily routine once the regular season starts.

Life has been in kind of a nice quiet lull lately, outside of storms, but that will change soon enough.

Baseball fever: Caught once again.


That thing I do got did; that itch I have got scratched … at least for the time being.

Eastern Massachusetts survived last week’s nor’easter with considerably less damage than expected. I celebrated that outcome this afternoon by driving to the nearest college baseball facility — just 15 minutes from my house! — for 2023’s first dose of the beautiful game.

The Dean College Bulldogs did battle with the Fitchburg State University Falcons and the game was as it has always been. The sun came out, and the temperature rose all the way to 50, and the kids chirped each other, and I wouldn’t have traded it all for a mansion on the French Riviera.

Fitchburg State is the alma mater of Robert Cormier, of The Cheese Stands Alone and The Chocolate War fame, and for a while it looked like the Falcons might have their spirits broken in the same way as one of Cormier’s main characters. They jumped out to a lead … and then, by nibbles and bloops, they gave it back.

But they scored a couple more in the top of the ninth, held Dean to one run in the bottom half despite the plate umpire not wanting to give their pitcher any strikes, and held on by their fingertips to win. The score might have been 6-5, or maybe 7-6. The scoreboard wasn’t turned on. It didn’t really matter to me.

In green caps, yellow jerseys and white pants, Fitchburg State exuded a little of the color of the ’70s Oakland A’s, and I found myself mildly rooting for them. That might be the best way to watch sports: Decide your rooting interest as you go, and let the thrill of defeat or the mild sting of losing gradually lift away from you on the drive home.

The temperature will dip below 40 again tomorrow so I’m glad I went today. Now that I’ve gotten the all-important first game in, I can afford to be choosy, anyway. The light is lengthening and the days are warming, and maybe by the time I see my last college game of the spring, I’ll be wearing shirtsleeves.


I brought a nicer camera than usual, but my photos are not tremendously better. Here, have a few anyway.











Didn’t he ramble.

Starting less than forty-eight hours from now a slow-moving, long-lasting storm — at least, a nor’easter; at worst, a winter hurricane – will reduce Massachusetts (pretty much the entire state) to a waist-deep paste of wet snow riddled with broken trees and downed power lines. I’m coming to terms with it.

Speed-read Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano today. It was nice of some previous holder of the library’s copy to mark out key phrases in green highlighter. Also explored the poetry of Frank Bidart for the first time. Not a fan. That’s half the latest batch of library books down. I’ll try to be a little more thoughtful about the other two.

I have fulfilled a long-ago dream by signing up for this year’s James Joyce Ramble, to be held April 30. Basically, you run 6.2 miles while costumed actors read and/or act out scenes from the works of James Joyce. It’s been covered in Sports Illustrated, the New York Times and other noteworthy outlets.

I had heard of the race when I first lived in Massachusetts and it sounded like just my cup of tea — waggish and eggheaded. But I was in one of the periods of life when I was not running, not because of injury but simply because of slack, and a 6.2-mile race was beyond my ambition.

Since I’d moved back, I hadn’t heard anything about the race and thought it had died the death. Turns out it’s still around … and now, I am able to do 6.2 miles. So, off we go. Better late than never. Yes she said YES YES and all that.

I have also signed up for a small local 5K on April 2, just to have something to do and something to train for. Right now I don’t care too deeply about it, but maybe as I’m plodding up some hill over the next few weeks it will seize my imagination and compel me to move my feet.

In anticipation of my older son’s return from college for spring break I made raspberry Kit Kat ice cream. He didn’t have as much of it as I thought. So now I am trying to manage my own intake. It was still good to see him, and to mumble “Safe travels” irrationally while waving through the windshield at his fast-departing train back to Boston.

SABR has a journal called, I think, Turnstyle that publishes baseball-themed fiction, poetry, and similar creative submissions, and I am mulling over one or two ideas for potential submission to that. We’ll see what I come up with. I’m not going to submit shyte for shyte’s sake but I’d like to think I can come up with something suitable for this setting. Takes my mind off the falling trees, anyway.

I went to Newspapers dot com and read an issue of my old hometown paper, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, from 40 years ago, thinking it might provide blog-fodder and/or trigger long-forgotten memories. Didn’t really do either. I guess I was just putting in time with my head down in March 1983. (I don’t really have evidence to the contrary.)

If this is gonna become a series, I should really come up with a name for it.

Another installment of me revisiting the Boston Globe from 50 years ago today and seeing what’s in it. If you have a Newspapers dot com subscription you can follow along.


Page 1: The Globe sends a reporter to Rome to watch (and write) as Pope Paul VI makes Archbishop Humberto Medeiros a cardinal.

This is about all the good news there is on Page One. Other items include the midair collision of two jetliners during an air traffic controllers’ strike in France … a 120-mph chase through several Boston suburbs that ended with the teenage driver being struck and killed by one of the police cruisers following him … and some actions taken by the new interim superintendent of the state prison at Walpole, whose predecessor quit over the phone the preceding Friday after fewer than four months on the job.

The view from 2023: I wonder if the Globe would send a reporter to Rome now? It might, just as a kind of protest against its gradual diminution. The state prison at Walpole is still there; like many other institutions, it seems to have been more chaotic in the Seventies than it is now, though that might be a well-tended illusion.

Page 2: The return of prisoners of war from Vietnam remains a major news topic. An unbylined story — is it Associated Press? UPI? Another paper? — reports on the first words of four returned POWs’ first telephone conversations with their families.

TVF23: It was exceedingly generous of those men — more so than I would have been — to allow a reporter anywhere near their personal conversations. (This assumes they were asked for permission; I can’t imagine they weren’t.)

Page 5: Department store Filene’s takes an ad, spanning at least three-quarters of a page, paying tribute to the newly named Cardinal Medeiros.

TVF23: Remember department stores?

Page 9: Filene’s, which apparently has lots of money to throw around, takes up much of this page with a series of ads for pocket calculators, adding machines, and a phone answering machine. The latter of these devices is $140.

TVF23: that’s $967.29 today. Imagine going out tomorrow and paying $967.29 for a stand-alone answering machine that doesn’t fit in your pocket. 2023 totally rules, man.

Page 10: A summary of Supreme Court decisions. One resolves a boundary dispute between Ohio and Kentucky, noting that Ohio cannot claim that the dividing line is in the middle of the Ohio River after acquiescing since 1792 to the idea that the boundary is on the river’s northern shore.

TVF23: I got nothin’, except to note that William Douglass dissented, and now I wonder why.

Page 12: Headline of the day: “All of a sudden, ‘half the wing was missing.'” It turns out that one of the two planes involved in the mid-air collision in France actually managed to land.

TVF23: That must have been a legit feat of flying on the part of the pilot and co-pilot.

Page 13, 16, 17 and 18: Annual town elections were held the previous day in a bunch of Massachusetts towns, and the Globe obediently reports on them all. The results from my current little town are included, as are those from a few towns I used to cover as a cub reporter 25 years ago.

TVF23: I actually recognize a couple of the names, all belonging to people who were still knocking around local politics when I arrived.

Page 19: A full page of additional analysis of the Medeiros installation (is that what it’s called?), including a column by a columnist who might have been shipped to Rome as well, and a brief item noting that Medeiros was scheduled to appear on The Dick Cavett Show.

TVF23: Not sure I see today’s Globe shipping two people to Rome. I note that the photos were AP, anyway.

Page 28: Sports! Bobby Orr is having knee problems but insists he doesn’t need to see a doctor. Underdog Medfield High loses in the state high school basketball finals, with most of the town in attendance at Boston Garden. And, in the day’s best-remembered sports news, Yankees pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich announce plans to swap their wives, children, and homes.

TVF23: He probably needed to see a doctor.

Page 29: The American League’s new designated hitter rule is still a matter of chatter, and Red Sox manager Eddie Kasko doesn’t like it.

TVF23: I don’t think I’ve ever seen an interview with a baseball-lifer type who actually liked the DH in 1973. (I wonder what Earl Weaver thought? He liked power hitting.) I like the DH just fine, myself … and I need just 345 more major-league wins to catch Eddie Kasko.

Page 31: The Globe runs the standings for not one, not two, but three professional hockey leagues, and that’s just awesome. Boston has teams in all three, which is even more awesome. I don’t know how anybody in March 1973 got any work done for all the hockey going on. For that matter, the Globe also runs the scholastic hockey standings for the private and prep-school conference. Nineteen seventy-three was a good year for Browne & Nichols (10-0-1) but a poor one for Governor Dummer (0-11-0; 10 goals scored; 81 goals surrendered.)

The paper also prints the standings of 18 different college basketball conferences; I’ve never cared deeply about hoop, but I do miss the experience of opening a newspaper to a sports agate page and having it be a wonderland of games and information.

TVF23: Which hockey leagues and teams? The NHL (Bruins), the World Hockey Association (the New England Whalers, not yet resettled in Hartford) and the American Hockey League (the Boston Braves).

Page 33: I can’t remember noticing this in the small print before, but nestled near the bottom of the page beneath the weather report is a list of incoming and outbound international flights that day at Logan Airport. I wonder who the hell used this, and for what.

TVF23: Who was on the Swissair 9 p.m. to Zurich?

Page 34: Arts section. An ad for the movie Fear is the Key features a woman’s alarmed eyes, with raised eyebrows; something undiscernable and dark is covering the bottom of her face.

TVF23: At first glance she looks like she’s wearing a COVID facemask — like, one of the homemade ones from early in the pandemic — and she’s trying not to sneeze into it. Not until I Google an image of the ad can I tell that the bottom half of her face is covered by a hand in a dark glove. Freaking COVID.

Page 35: A reviewer chronicles a truly bizarre multi-performer concert held at the Orpheum Theater last weekend to benefit alternative/free-form radio station WBCN. The bill included Eric Weissberg, of “Dueling Banjos” fame; Texas troubadour and ostensible headliner Doug Sahm; folkie David Bromberg; and hometown purveyors of “loud, raucous punk rock” Aerosmith, who apparently wiped the floor with everybody else.

TVF23: A search of Newspapers dot com suggests that this was the Globe’s first review of an Aerosmith show. I don’t know if this particular gig circulates on bootlegs, but the band was kind enough to release a few live recordings from April 1973 on its Live! Bootleg album, which give a sense of what they sounded like.

Page 36: Arts ads are always rich mines of joy, and this page has more. The Astor Theater, wherever that is, is showing a movie two-fer of Reefer Madness and Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels. The Cannonball Adderley Quintet is at Paul’s Mall on Boylston Street; the Tony Williams Lifetime is next door at the Jazz Workshop; once Williams moves on, Herbie Hancock and then Horace Silver will stop by. Meanwhile, the entire right-hand column of the page advertises Stouffer’s Top of the Hub, an extremely long-gone restaurant at the top of the Prudential Building. Just $3.95 for Sunday brunch, “52 Stories Above the Hubbub.”

TVF23: How did anyone in Boston in 1973 get any work done, in between all the hockey and all the primo jazz? Even though rooftop restaurants are never about the food, I would have been tempted to try the Top of the Hub, just once, if I’d been there. But when I got to the Pru, not only was the restaurant gone, but the skywalk kiosk was closed.

Page 38: The paper reviews a pair of poetry collections, including one by Leonard Cohen, lamenting the fact that “The persona in his work, however, is always himself.”

TVF23: never been a big fan. But you probably knew that already.

Page 41: Obits. The departed include a former operations director at two H.P. Hood milk plants in Vermont; a former “buyer of fabrics and notions” for a department store in suburban Waltham; and an internationally known authority on allergies. There’s also a former Globe circulation employee of 40 years’ standing, described as “a familiar figure at downtown news stands.”

TVF23: There’s always stuff in these papers that I never expect to grab me until I read it … and today’s entry is “a familiar figure at downtown news stands.” That sounds simultaneously awesome (what could be a more interesting setting than a downtown news stand, watching and mingling as all humanity passes by?) and sad (news stands are pretty low-money operations, and open to the cold to boot; I bet the late gentleman more than once knew the feeling of slush oozing through a hole in the sole of his shoe.)

Page 42: An auctioneer is selling off a “modern school or office building” in the northern suburb of Chelmsford and now I want to see what such a building would look like. What kind of building could satisfy both needs? Did it have a goofy Seventies open-plan thing going on?

TVF23: I go to Google Maps to look the place up and, sure enough, it’s a one-story brick building. Could be an office building, could be my old elementary school. It’s a children’s center now, with a fenced playground out front.

Page 47: The First National Bank of Boston seeks keypunch operators to work a four-day week. Another company is advertising for a cost accounting clerk and a secretary. I zoom in and immediately recognize their dancing-devil logo — it’s W.M. Underwood, the canned meat people.

TVF23: My ability to recognize the Underwood logo and mentally picture Underwood’s packaging is astonishing, given that I have — as far as I can remember — never actually eaten their products (I know I’ve never bought any.)

Page 48: Southern New England Telephone seeks OS systems programmers. Requirements include 2-3 years experience with BAL, OS, JCL, disk files, system libraries; understanding of OS; appetite for systems programming work.

TVF23: I wonder what the heck any of those skills are, and how long it’s been since possessing them could get you hired someplace.

Page 50: I’m ready to stop now but the paper keeps coming — and anyway I can’t pass up the TV and radio listings. Tonight’s “First Tuesday” (not a program I’m familiar with) explores “the problem of monotony in certain job areas.” Bored on the job! Why, where have I heard that before?

Something called “The Vin Scully Show” is on at 4 pm; whatever it is, sign me up. At 8 pm,. Julia Child explores ‘To Press a Duck” (you do and you’ll clean it up.) At 11 pm, William Holden and Susan Hayward star in “Young and Willing.”

TVF23: If the title of that movie doesn’t put “Hey Nineteen” in your head, you’re made of sterner stuff than I.

Page 53: Ask The Globe fields an inquiry from somebody wanting to know if Burt Reynolds has done any more nude photo shoots, or whether he has gone back to acting. (The latter. Sorry.) Someone else from the tony town of Wayland wants to know which states are friendliest to hitchhikers. Jaysus, son: Just buy a secondhand Volkswagen and be done with it.

TVF23: Oh, you want the answer? Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, the Dakotas, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming are listed as states that substantially do not comply with federal warnings on hitchhiking. Good luck riding your thumb, son.

Page 54: There is a reward for making it to the end of this paper, and it’s an ad for something called Miller Ale, a new beer described as “a lusty ale brewed from a special traditional recipe.” Never heard of the stuff, so it must not have captured America’s imagination.

TVF23: Would it be fun to try that stuff now and compare it to even the most routine mid-market ale currently available? Mais oui.