Adventures In Two Rooms

Having grown up in the 1950s and ’60s I often am amazed at all the parts of everyday life that we didn’t even imagine when I was a wee bairn.

First, we didn’t say “Under God” when we pledged allegiance to the flag (it took me most of the year to remember where that phrase was supposed to be inserted into the pledge) and there were no West Coast baseball teams. Speaking of baseball, we listened to the games on the radio (there was no television in our house) and since the World Series was restricted to day games more than a few guys had small crystal radios with an earplug to keep up with the score during penmanship exercises. No batteries required!

Still, despite the many many nostalgic memories, the real changes are not really lost in the mists of time.

Imagine if this pandemic and resultant lock-down had occurred in 1980. We wouldn’t have been able to maintain social relationships: there was no Zoom or FaceTime or home computers, for that matter. The Picture Phone was a crude promise, not a reality. These days I read a lot of books but I don’t need to travel to bookstores or libraries, they’re all on my digital devices and if I want more or something in particular, I can usually get it in a matter of seconds.

The same immediacy applies to movies: I no longer have to visit my local cinema to enjoy a film, or to wait until it opens in my hometown, or kick myself for missing its first run, hoping for a second chance at the $1 theater in the strip-mall.

Shoot, I don’t even have to go to the Mall or the grocery store or a popular restaurant anymore. Not only is virtually anything deliverable nowadays but there’s an easy-to-use app that makes it convenient. And I no longer need to keep money on hand since I can just swipe my smartphone or tell an online service to make the payment for me.

I guess the one thing I can point to that really differentiates 2020 from 1980 is my iPhone. It communicates, entertains, educates, aggravates, and even times my afternoon tea as it steeps. In 1980 I carried around a large, heavy bag filled with notebooks, sketchbooks, reading books, pencils, pens, rulers, hot sauce, and chopsticks; now I carry my iPhone (and chopsticks).

Who would have thought in 1980 I would be carrying around several hundred reading books in my pocket … then again, who would have thought I would be disallowed to go anywhere, books or no books.

Anyway, this last month I have read a lot of books but also, each day I have suggested a new title to consider. I have even read a few of them … you?

09-01-20 – The House of Impossible Beauties — Joseph Cassara
09-02-20 – Tender Is the Flesh — Agustina Bazterrica
09-03-20 – Deacon King Kong — James McBride
09-04-20 – The Last Taxi Driver — Lee Durkee
09-05-20 – Dead Men’s Trousers — Irvine Welsh
09-06-20 – The Baudelaire Fractal — Lisa Robertson
09-07-20 – Girls Like Us — Elizabeth Hazen
09-08-20 – Ghachar Ghochar — Vivek Shanbhag
09-10-20 – Light — Henri Barbusse
09-11-20 – Storm In a Tea Cup: The Physics of Everyday Life — Helen Czerski
09-12-20 – Lost English: Words and Phrases That Have Vanished From Our Language — Chris Roberts
09-13-20 – The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American — Andrew L. Seidel
09-14-20 – You Will Not Be Forgotten — Mary South
09-15-20 – The Red Right Hand — Joel Townskey Rogers
09-15-20 – Everywhere You Don’t Belong — Gabriel Bump
09-16-20 – The Grave On the Wall — Brabdon Shimmed
09-17-20 – The Grifter’s Club — Miami Herald
09-18-20 – The Unbearable: Toward an Antifascist Aesthetic — Jon Baskin
09-19-20 – Amnesty — Aravind Adiga
09-20-20 – Apartment — Teddy Wayne
09-21-20 – Middle Earth: Poems — Henri Cole
09-22-20 – Piercing — Ryu Murakami
09-23-20 – Psychedelic Apes — Alex Boese
09-24-20 – What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us — Laura van den Berg
09-25-20 – The Missionary Position — Christopher Hitchens
09-26-20 – City — Alessandro Baricco
09-27-20 – Something That May Shock and Discredit You — Daniel Mallory Ortberg
09-28-20 – Our Marvelous Native Tongue- The Life and Times of the English Language Robert Claiborne
09-29-20 – Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest For the Ultimate Nature of Reality — Max Tegmark
09-30-20 – Lovecraft Country — Matt Ruff

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