Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Greeting

I suppose that it's a bit odd that I'm deriving inspiration for a blog from a newspaper column, so much so that I chose to adopt the name. Blogs are purportedly one of the Four Horsemen of the newspaper's apocalypse, and to use one as the inspiration for the other seems traitorous. This sensation is only heightened by the fact that I come form a newspaper family and for the first 17 years of my life I was sustained by income derived from my father's work at the Denver Post. But that's the nature of the time we're living in, and like the scribes they drove out with Gutenberg's, the printers are succumbing to a technology of unfathomable promise that the world is still in the throes of adjusting to. Coming of age in such an environment leaves no choice but to embark on the journey as well.

In 1908, a young man named Ring Lardner got his first job in journalism. An editor from South Bend wandered into Niles, Michigan looking for his reporter brother, who was out of town. Ring, out of school and at a lost for prospects and money, told the man that he had been a big help to his brother's career and the editor offered the job to him. Despite his neophyte status, Ring was natural and, within a few years, became a well-enough regarded writer to begin writing a nationally syndicated daily column called In the Wake of the News. The title was inherited from a previous author, but in time the column was transformed into something exceptional and completely Ring's. It boosted Ring's reputation to the point where he was being included in the same sentence as Mark Twain when talking about great American humorists. Eventually he would be equally celebrated for his short fiction. Today, though he languishes in obscurity, Ring still rates with experts has an esteemed American writer. All of his success and renown can be traced back to In the Wake of the News.

The column included many things: poetry, stories about Ring's children, stories about baseball--the subject that Ring started his career with-, serials and, towards the end of its run, broadcast reviews. Indeed, the only thing that really united the articles as part of a larger boy was the voice of its creator, which was brimming with dry wit and graceful rhythm, and that the majority of the episodes recorded in the column were autobiographical. In a word, it was the ancestor of the contemporary blog.

Innumerable blogs exist today that address a plethora of issues. There are literature blogs, sports blogs, cooking blogs, gardening blogs, parenting blogs, finance blogs, movie blogs, music blogs, sex blogs, car blogs, motorcycle blogs, art blogs, dog blogs, cat blogs, parrot blogs, home improvement blogs--there is scarcely an issue left unaddressed by some expert who labors without pay to let a small bubble of people know what is puzzling or delighting them about their specific issue. But it is such specialization that tends to render blogs uninteresting and redundant. The joy of variety that existed in The Wake is lost.

So it is with modesty that I resurrect Lardner's creation, adapted to the new medium that it seemed to anticipate in its format. Poetry might be included less frequently but all the things that populated Ring's column and made in enjoyable will appear here: snatches of fiction, thoughts about sports, the arts, the theater and just amusing observations that seem to escape the majority of the population in their cruises through life.

I sincerely hope you like it, and no matter how many of you there are, some of you come to cherish it. 

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