Monday, December 17, 2007

Clean Up the Kitchen

#334 Clean Up the Kitchen

Guy walks into a diner, tells the counterman he wants a cheeseburger with pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, mushrooms, avocados, and bacon. The counterman turns around and shouts the order out to the cook: "Clean up the kitchen."

It's a bad old joke. But today's post is made up of the stuff that sat around all year without growing long enough to warrant the usual 500 words or so. Hence, Cleaning up the kitchen.

A. I'll keep My I out for you:
Until very recently, none of this was in the first person singular. I kept my "I" out for you. This is fairly unusual in any prose these days and the principle behind it hearkens back to the days when reporters were brutally instructed to keep themselves out of the story. They invented an editorial "we" and a "told this reporter..." or "told NBC News..." and similar phrases to get around the restriction when it was absolutely necessary or when the editor was finishing his bottle of Seagram's or the producer was on the phone with a field crew trying to figure out why the picture wasn't getting through.

But times have changed, and in order to be modern, I figured, why not. I'm an old guy. I'm not edited a lot. And if Jimmy Breslin and Robert B. Parker and Nancy Reagan can "I" you to death, why not me, too. It still doesn't sit well. A character flaw, perhaps. But I'm working on it.

B. I verses you.
We capitalize "I" but not "you." Does that mean the writer is more important than the reader? I want You to tell me.


C. Analog Vs. Digital or Grandma's 78 RPM records were as bad as you remember them, and so are CDs and MP3s, but for different reasons:
The scratchy old 78s are almost impossible to hear when played on the machines they were made for, which are 1920s era wind up gramophones and Victrolas. The CDs and MP3s all glare at you. They're so in your face (or at your ears) and seem to have no ambient room noise it's the listening equivalent of staring into the sun. Early classical musicians believed that the room helped form the sound of the music. But, of course, most of them recorded on scratchy old 78s, so what did THEY know?

D. Chicken Wings:
They're big around here. Question, what do those places that sell only the wings do with the rest of the chicken?

E. They're running out of street names:
Must be. Else, why this?
There was a street around here called Lowe's Boulevard because there was a Lowe's at one end of it. Lowe's moved, and they changed the name to Colonnade Boulevard. So far, so good. Except that it intersects with Colonnade Way. That's confusing. My home street intersects with itself. So did my home street in Moote Pointe, New York. And Borden's hasn't been in Queens for decades, but they still call the street where it was "Borden Avenue." Maybe the City of New York doesn't move as fast as the folks around here. Or maybe they just don't know the factory's closed.

F. George W. Bush:
God save us from a drunk who finds Jesus.

G. A New Kind of Strike:
A few years ago, the guys who drive the snow plows for the Town of Hempstead, NY went on strike. But no one knew about it except the people who live there. The drivers didn't walk off the job, they didn't picket, they didn't throw bricks the the window of the Third Assistant Deputy Undercommissioner in charge. They got into their trucks when and as they were supposed to. They went out on their routes when and as they were supposed to. The drove all the routes and returned to the plow garage. No plow ever touched the ground. But the routes were covered. This could catch on.

Are you listening, UAW, WGA, DGA, UFT?

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.
©2007 WJR

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