Things to kiss goodbye

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

–Chuck D.

Partly as a response to last Monday’s post, Marni forwarded me a list of things that are disappearing today, along with a description for each telling why it is listed. Some of them I’m not too concerned about, while the presence of others on this list alarmed me. Not that I hadn’t realized these things were going away, it’s just frightening to see them on a list (except, obviously, Mumps & Measles). A list seems so irreversible. 

Here is the list she sent minus the descriptions (because it was kind of a lot of text to repeat). Thanks for the buzzkill, old chum!

25.  U.S. Post Office
24. Yellow Pages
23. Classified Ads
22. Movie Rental Stores
21. Dial-up Internet Access
20.  Phone  Land Lines
19.  Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs
18. VCRs
17. Ash Trees
16. Ham Radio
15. The Swimming Hole
14. Answering Machines
13. Cameras That Use Film
12. Incandescent Bulbs
11. Stand-Alone Bowling Alleys
10. The Milkman
9. Hand-Written Letters
8. Wild Horses
7. Personal Checks
6. Drive-in Theaters
5. Mumps & Measles
4. Honey Bees
3. News Magazines and TV News
2. Analog TV
1. The Family Farm

I don’t know why it’s in countdown form nor what the order really implies. The accompanying explanations made it pretty clear that Cameras That Use Film and Ash Trees are in more danger than The Family Farm, and if it’s a matter of actual gone-ness, Analog TV should now be number 1.

Nevertheless, this list gives me paws to think with. For one thiing, I was happily surprised to learn that the milkman hadn’t already been placed in the museum next to the mastadon and cars you could fix in your driveway. For another, I find some satisfaction in the fact that for several of these items whose passing is lamentable, I’m already in the vanguard of tide-stemming action, or at least of neo-Luddite resistance. Or if not action or resistance, then at least contemplation (c.f. Monty Python’s Life of Brian: “This calls for immediate discussion!”). Following their original order, here are my thoughts on some of them, whether I’m involved in their solution or just watching their slow and inevitable extinction. If you have comments on some of these or some of the ones I have omitted, let’s hear them.

* * *

19. The disappearance of the blue crabs from Chesapeake Bay due to overharvesting and pollution and warming is just a very sorry thing. We can put a man on the moon (for crying out loud, etc.)  but we can’t figure out how to manage a natural resource whose rhythms and needs are known and understood? My folks are both from Baltimore, and I’m not even going to tell them about this. It would make them cry.

18. The only reason we got a DVD player before the video rental store squeezed out the last of the VHS boxes from its shelves a few years ago is because our VCR tried to ingest (more fully than usual, I mean) our rented copy of Galaxy Quest. I had to destroy the VCR to get the video out. This is how I like to be propelled into next-gen technologies. 

16. Ham Radio. If someone wants to teach me Ham, I’ll give it a go. But I”m not getting on there if no one’s going to show up (see #9 below).

13. I bought a vintage 4×5 press camera and I shoot black and white film on it. It’s getting difficult to even find film for sale, let alone large format film. And fewer places will develop it after you shoot it, too (see last Monday’s post). This breaks my artistic heart, because the digital medium that is replacing film is not the same as film.

9. I have been known to wail loudly, like a wookie, about the complete disappearance of letters in my mailbox that have my name on them in cursive, or even print. Or that have a postage stamp, for that matter. A few years ago one of Angela’s old friends visited from St. Louis and brought her new boyfriend, Howard. Howard and I had a very engaging conversation about coffee and sustainability, and about the ugly monster no one selling anything wants to talk much about — to wit, shipping, or what he called the “seedy underbelly of commerce”. I wrote him a long and probably too intimate letter by hand after they went home, basically inviting him to be my pen pal and write me letters. In ink. On paper. And put colorful stamps on them. He was a busy man. He relayed a message that he thought it was a great idea and meant to get around to it, but never did. I put my lower lip out about this one day, and Angela laughed and said, “Oh, sweetie, are you in love with Howard?” I had to admit there was some kinda “bromance” or “man-crush” thing going on there, on my end. The search for a Jefferson to my Adams goes on.

 4. I created a nest for orchard bees in my garden once (as easy as a tin can and some straws), but they didn’t come that year. And I agree with Marni, who told me that the disappearance of honey bees is a terrifying thought to her. No bees, no food. On the other hand, Monsanto has probably got copyrighted and patented seeds standing by for plants that don’t require pollenation to bear fruit. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if somewhere on Monsanto’s huge spread, if you could penetrate it, you’d reach some back lot with a barn on it, and if you broke the lock and went inside, you’d find all the world’s bees bound and gagged, blinking helplessly, each of them with three little pairs of handcuffs on.

3. News in magazines and TV went to the dogs a long time ago. No loss (excepting World Press Review, to which I subscribed until it folded). Just talk to your neighbors and you’ll know if there’s a dangerous flu or a hurricane coming. That’s the main thing.

2. Analog TV. We’re aware already (see “When television turns to snow” and “Nothing on“). We actually sit around and converse now. Like backwoods hillbillies or something.

1. The Family Farm. If you’ve been around me at all, you know that my not-so-secret wish is to be a subsistence farmer, or a truck farmer. Actually, yes, I”d like the truck. I don’t know if I’d be any good at it, but it seems very raw and real, and that connection to the seasons, and to the rhythms of the earth from which my dust sprang, seems to be of greater importance than anyone can afford to acknowledge. The awareness of the imbalance of our modern lives can be a dangerous thing.

The bees knew it, and look what happened to them.

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17 Responses to “Things to kiss goodbye”


  1. 1 Jeni M August 5, 2009 at 15:06

    Add to your list:
    ~quiet
    ~common sense

    • 2 jstwndrng August 5, 2009 at 17:33

      I live by the freeway, gave up on quiet years ago. I hear there’s a patch of quiet off of some trail in the Hoh rainforest, but you know the kind of tall tales hikers come back with. The disappearance of common sense I see happening on a broad scale, so I’m curious where — in particular — you’re feeling the dearth?

  2. 3 Marni August 5, 2009 at 17:28

    When they turned the Bellevue bowling alley into a Barnes & Noble…that hurt, gotta say. And I’m wistful for something I’ve never experienced- the swimming hole. Anyone ever visited one, ’cause I’d like to try one before they die out! I think the list was one of those things that’s been around awhile and lives because it keeps getting passed on- hence the inclusion of analog tv. Your bee imagery- funny and frightening all at the same time, it puts a whole new level to my fear! Thanks for making me a part of one of your blogs M- I feel honored and slightly embarrassed!

    • 4 jstwndrng August 5, 2009 at 17:39

      Sorry, old friend. I didn’t ask permission, did I? You’re gonna get it again, too, because I’m reading that Crawford book that YOU recommended and my mind is fairly popping with potential posts. Be warned, all friends of mine. If you do or say anything remotely interesting, especially if it sort of “pertains” to the larger mission of this blog (which I’ve forgotten at the moment, which is the trouble with larger missions), it might end up twisted and mangled and posted up here. I promise to be kind. And all non-vulgar comments are approved, so you can always set the record straight.

      • 5 Marni August 5, 2009 at 18:16

        It’s all good- permission granted in absentia always! There was a bifold purpose in turning you onto the Shopclass book – overall enjoyment for you and at the same time fodder for your thoughts and words, so I’m pleased anew that it is serving it’s purpose. Glad I was able to get it to you…and enjoy such a large pancake at the same time (with hash browns and link sausage and bacon – yes if you’re reading Kip, I had a piece of bacon for you as requested!) whilst being “entertained” by your family and the Polly’s (that lightbulb image is burned into my brain forever, thank you very much).

  3. 6 Kip August 5, 2009 at 21:04

    Please, use anything I have said, done, will say or do as musings for a post. Or two. I would be more than flattered.

    To respond to this post:

    Our recent vacation took us to the cabin Ami and her brother now own, handed down by family. It is in the mountains outside of Heber City, Utah. Although it is in a developed, gated area, it is also nice an quiet during the week. We had no TV…the switch from analog helped there, no converter box is yet in residence…no cell service, and no internet access. Other than a small, portable dvd player for the kids, we really did enjoy a very quiet time. After we returned to Salt Lake City, we stayed 2 nights at Mother In Law’s, a place where the television is almost always on! I am giving consideration to removing ourselves from the satellite connection, but I will admit it is a difficult decision. I will keep all informed.

    Marni, I am glad you had my bacon!

    • 7 jstwndrng August 7, 2009 at 16:00

      We haven’t really missed the television. Some shows we were diggin’ on PBS are available at the library — Jeeves and Wooster, Doc Martin. Good luck if you unplug. Maybe I could send you my Riverside Shakespeare to read again?

  4. 8 mpg August 6, 2009 at 00:50

    Would this be a good time to sigh deeply again about the loss of the semicolon and the serial comma?

    And what’s up with the ash trees (#17)? Always seemed a particulary noble hardwood; is Monsanto to blame here too?

    • 9 jstwndrng August 7, 2009 at 16:10

      I do mourn the trashing of the semicolon. People don’t have time to really read anymore. I think I may be posting about this in the future, so let’s keep the plight of the semicolon close at hand.

      On the matter of the serial comma: you know my stance, sir, and I foresee that we shall remain at loggerheads thereover.

      Hmmm, Monsanto taking out ash trees? Hadn’t thought of it, but now you mention it, let’s look at “who benefits” from the necessity of the replacement of trees all across the country. There are corporations in the nursery biz, Monrovia and Briggs to name just two, who regularly patent a variety of plant — often with a difference from the species so slight that you’d have to be a nurseryman to see it — then market the heck out of it so that everyone wants THAT variety (gardeners are notoriously keep-up-with-the-jonesesish) and thus the small grower who is often producing superior and even more interesting “open source” varieties is shut out of the game. As the Bard said in one of those instances when a word means the opposite of what it should, “I doubt foul play!”

  5. 10 Ami August 6, 2009 at 01:06

    Matt-
    You may be interested in the book ” A Spring Without Bees” By Michael Schacker. It would seems some of the bees are coming back! Honestly, the bee crises scares be more then you can imagine, but if I were to elaborate, we get into the food supply vs. population and then…do you hear that spark sound? That’s my synapses frying from the chaos of it all.

    I also think it’s interesting to note that some things are making a comeback. Some families are turning back to natural hand made wooden toys. Some communities like ours are doing movie nights on sheets at the local parks and churches. The libraries (once an endangered species) are packed to the hilts! I could go on, but am afraid of frying my synapses even further!

    • 11 jstwndrng August 7, 2009 at 16:17

      I hadn’t heard that the bees are coming back, but I greet these news with gladness. Not sure what thought about population you refrained from expressing, but I read many years ago already that if the current trends continue viz. development of Third World areas, the world’s population will actually start to decrease by the middle of this century to levels unprecedented in the last two. That’s because 1.5 kids (or whatever the First and Second worlds’ average is) is not enough to replenish. Thanks for the comments and please feel free to respond to the limits of your synapses. Crazy ranters allowed here.

  6. 12 Louis August 6, 2009 at 10:56

    #4) I would give anything to be able to shoo a bee again.

    #16) I never used Ham radio, but I loved shortwave radio. I spent many enjoyable late nights tuning in stations like Radio France International, Radio New Zealand or Radio Havana. Now with the internet, one just visits the website and clicks on the live streaming player. I guess it’s both good and bad. Good because I can listen to these stations static-free. Bad because the challenge of tuning in and the conquest of pulling in a signal and hanging onto it are gone.

    #2) Wait a second, Matt, you sit around and “con-verse”?

    I would like to add to the list golden sunsets.

    I have to agree with Marnie. Bring back Belle Lanes and, while we’re at it, the John Danz!

    Kip, I feel your pain. My mother always has the television on…on FOX..

  7. 13 jstwndrng August 7, 2009 at 16:22

    Louis,
    Don’t shoo the bee! I think your bees down there are killer bees. Not the same thing. Just… back…away… quietly…

    You bring to mind the days when I would fiddle with one of my dad’s many tube radios. One of them was made for listening to those foreign stations — is foreign a bad word now? — “international” stations that you mentioned. I loved how the whistle would get lower until you were right on the best reception, then if you went too far it would rise again. Like on Gilligan’s Island.

  8. 14 Louis August 10, 2009 at 12:10

    YES! Except on Gilligan’s Island, they would always tune into the same station with the same announcer always in the middle of speaking about “the 7 missing castaways…” And to keep that transistor radio running long after the batteries had died was a work of genius by the professor!

    I think I’ve seen just one bee since I moved here. It wasn’t a killer bee, though. It was a heckler bee. He heckled me as he buzzed by, but I didn’t understand because it was in portuguese…

  9. 15 Ben August 15, 2009 at 04:37

    Once again I happen upon conversation several days late. Having been ensconsed in the firehouse for two days running, I have not had the time or the endrance to keep up with the current flury of conversation.

    Speaking of which, there is a phenominal amount bees “bizzing” about our Northern clime. It would seem the bee population has exploded up here as the Winter wasn’t as much of a bruiser so they have flourished. Each member of the family has been stung at least once.
    Some things go away but resurface in strange places. For instance, we have no t.v. reception in our house, haven’t ever in this place. But today my daughter and I had emense fun watching “The Lone Ranger” 1st Season on YouTube. I was amazed at how politically correct the show was, since everything made back then is supposedly tainted.
    This presents me with another problem though, as Emily has been quite smitten with the “masked man” and she doesn’t seem bothered a bit by his tight high-waisted pants. Should I be concerned?

    • 16 jstwndrng August 15, 2009 at 07:16

      I wouldn’t worry about Emily’s taste in heroes. Remember, your sister was pretty big on David Cassidy and Bobby Sherman at one time.

  10. 17 Ben August 18, 2009 at 02:46

    She was? Good thing I was too young to understand swooning at the time.


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