Monthly Archives: April 2009

Links are on me.

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Theorists theorize that the internet is a link economy, where the value of information rises as more and more people link to it. And while theorists continue to figure out how to turn that value into money, it has led to a lot of linking and name dropping.

Jill Miller Zimon,   Weebalmom, Stu, Yui N,   Lindy DreyerAri Herzog,   Anok,   akbar khanTracey,   Holly, Joe Duck.

I don’t know any of these people, and they don’t know me. But I’ve just raised their value. And that makes me feel good.

A link economy, and an attention economy. If that’s the case, I’d better stop before I lose your attention.

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How I became a Luddenite.

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When I was a kid, I had a friend who lived in the Old House. Inside it were old phones, old radios, old clocks. If my friend’s family had it, it was old.

It’s not that I wasn’t acquainted with old things. My parents had only at rare intervals bought a stereo to replace our one-speaker hi-fi system, covered our bedroom floors with shag carpeting, and and brought in some Danish Modern furniture. Whatever they didn’t replace, I suppose, was old.

The difference was that everything in the Old House seemed of a piece. It wasn’t the 1970s there, but the ‘50s, or even earlier. Time had forgotten everything behind those pulled roller shades. Visiting my friend’s house contributed to my youthful belief that, at a certain point, every grownup stops updating.

The ensuing decades have lent me a more nuanced view, and when I think of the contents of that house I no longer think old. I think swank. Would it be possible now to gather those antiques in one place at any price? And what would possess anyone to unload them? My view now is: whatever it is, hold out a little longer.

So I was surprised that when I recently announced I had just bought my first cell phone, several of my friends called me a Luddite. I suppose that was a put down. The irony is they were telling me this on Facebook.

I have an uneven relationship with technology. I’m unenthusiastic about electronics that are small. Or expensive. But if I’m anything,  I’m a Luddenite. While our old furniture was getting older, I was in front of the TV watching  Password.  That Alan Ludden, he sure could host .

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I didn’t recognize you standing up.

Hank Rosenfeld spent the better part of six years interviewing Irving Brecher, one of the last of the old Hollywood writers.

The result of their escapades is the as-told-to memoir “The Wicked Wit of the West” (a nickname Groucho Marx gave Brecher). Brecher died last November at 94, two months before the book was published.

Rosenfeld is all L.A., but while interviewing him for my article about him and Brecher,  “Boy Wonder,” I learned that not only did he grow up in Detroit like I did, he also lived one street over from me, on Fairway Drive. There was more. In addition to sharing a crazy adulation for Groucho, we both had E. Bryce Alpern as a pediatrician.

Irv had an adulation with Groucho as well as a friendship. He wrote the Marx Brothers movies At the Circus and Go West, where he gave Groucho this line: “Lulubelle, it’s you! I didn’t recognize you standing up,” and as his brothers try to revive him after a fight: “Forget the water. Force brandy down my throat.”

Rosenfeld is touring to back the book, mostly in California, but I’m sure he’d love you to bring him to your favorite book store, watering hole or house of worship. Perhaps all three are the same place.

For more on Rosenfeld and Brecher (or is it Brecher and Rosenfeld?), click here.

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‘It is unfair to bore someone who doesn’t have the opportunity to bore you right back.’

Ever since I read Garrison Keillor’s short story, “The Poetry Judge,” in The Atlantic in 1996, this quotation has become one of my rules of thumb for judging good writing:

“Experience becomes literature when it no longer matters to the reader whether the story is true or not,” the narrator says.

“Self expression is not the point of it,” he continues. “We are not here on paper to retail our injuries. For one thing, it is unfair to bore someone who doesn’t have the opportunity to bore you right back…”

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