Thursday, December 20, 2007

My mother's nose

 At a party I went to last night, I noticed that out of some 40 people, I don't think there wasn't a single woman there who hadn't had some kind of cosmetic surgical "work" done:  nose, eyes, lips,  skin, "womanly" areas ... nothing seems sacred.

It seems like EVERYTHING is ground for improvement -whether it actually needs fixing or not.  Until you resemble some fresh out of the plastic surgeon's box idea of what a woman should be,  you don't stop handing him the cash and having more "work" done.   

Seeing these women, and thinking about their "work" - well, it got me to thinking about my mother and her nose.

My mom, God bless her soul, died when I was ten (at which case I had to go live with my Dad, should you ask).  Now my mom came from Oklahoma originally, a family of show people who used to travel round the dust bowl putting on entertainments.  And you know, she was quite a looker.

But, for sure:  she had a nose.  She was Italian by descent, and she had a delightful, beautiful, uncompromising nose.  Roman, they call it politely.

When she first came to L.A., back in the 1950's, her agent told her to "get it fixed".  She told him to go fix himself.  She never became a movie star.  He became one of the most successful talent agents in Hollywood ever.  Fixers like him have grown in strength ever since.  Women like her continue to disappear.  I ask you now: which would you prefer to have in the world? Just a thought, just a wonder...

Are roman noses obsolete?

I never see them now.  Jeez, don't think I'm a sicko, fixed on my mom, but you know: she was a fine strong looking woman.  And now all I see are women with little button noses, ski jumps so narrow, you'd need to be a flea snowboarder to leap off them...

I hope I'm wrong about this.  That LA is just an extreme that doesn't represent the general reality, and if so let's me know.

But here, at the edge of the Pacific, it seems the genetic strain that typified women who cared more about their integrity than their perceived success, women who knew how they lived was more important than how they looked, women who would have the courage to hang out with a geek like me...

I hate to say it, but....
Those women are ob-suh-leet

Monday, December 17, 2007

Walkman This Way...

Ah, the Sony Walkman.

The height of modernity in 1980.  Positively futuristic!

Right there in your pocket, a portable stereo.  Wow.  

Do you remember choosing tapes to take with you on vacation?  You could fit ten in your carry case and you would oscillate wildly - shall I take Beethoven's fifth or a Flock of Seagulls?  Well, if a girl should look inside, I don't want to appear too uncool...

And I don't know about you, but I used to spend hours making MIX TAPES, the great precursors to playlists.  But I guess that's a whole other entry.

Walkman discman ipod - what next??

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Way of the Dodo

The dodo bird is the icon of extinction, the holy mother of obsolete species.

The dodo: three feet tall, unable to fly.  Man finds it on the island of Mauritius.  This fool bird that has no fear of humans.  Easier prey cannot be imagined.

Apparently the meat didn't even taste that good.   But who cares?  It was easy to catch, and if humans weren't chasing it down, it was the dogs and the pigs and the cats and the rats that the humans brought with them.

It's extinction through mindlessness.

The last confirmed sighting was in 1662.  Less than a century later, the dodo had gained a mythical status, people uncertain whether it had ever truly existed, or was just a hoax like the jackalope or the Scottish haggis.

Imagine: less than a century for something that was real to be commonly viewed as folklore.

Will that be the fate of things dying out now?  One hundred years hence will people sit around and talk of typewriters and telegrams as though they were a fictional invention, a whimsy of some new wave (circa 2107) author?  I wonder.

But perhaps, that is the function of The Obselidia. 

To say a holy yes to all that used to be.  To say to all: this did exist, this was real.  And this is how it was... 

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Buster's Shoe Repair Store

My neighbor Mitch came knocking on my door today, a little upset.

He'd just been to Buster's Shoe Repair Store on Wilshire and found out they were closing down.

Buster's has been open for over 70 years in that location, with John, the present tenant there for twenty years.  Recently the landlord decided he wanted to develop the property (another shopping complex coming our way), so gave John the heave-ho.  

Twenty years paying the rent, and the guy gets two months notice.  Thanks and goodnight.

Now obviously, shoe repair stores are not about to become obsolete.   People will probably always need a new sole (boy was I tempted to write soul...).  But you know, I think small, mom-and-pop stores are on their way out.

Who needs them when you can go to Wal-Mart or Costco or whatever and get it all under one roof ?

But is that the world we want to live in?   Mitch goes into Buster's for a chat more than anything else.  He's confined to a wheelchair (and his shoes never touch the ground - so it's not like he needs the service they offer).  But he was heartbroken.  It's another step in that relentless march towards an homogenized world.

I suspect kids in the future (who am I kidding?  I bet it's true of kids right now...) will read the Obselidia and marvel at these little stores.  "What?  All they did was repair shoes and leather and focus on the thing they were experts at?!  No way!"

Yes, way.
Thanks John.  Thanks Buster's.
Good luck finding a new place where you can afford the rent and the landlord doesn't kick you out on a greedy whim.
And if you want to sign the petition, and help save Buster's,  swing by his store on Wilshire while it's still there.  You won't find a friendlier place.  And you'll be looking at a little piece of history - before it disappears... 

Friday, December 14, 2007

Are libraries obsolete?

So today, as promised, I went to the library.  This is not an uncommon event.  I probably average three visits per week to a library, gravitate to them like dust to tchotchkes.  

As you may know, the library is a place that some people consider to be obsolete.  In fact whole papers have been written on this topic, mostly to stop some city from spending millions of dollars building a new one.  Check out if you don't believe me.  

Today I went to the library on 7th St in Santa Monica, which cost approximately $73 million to build and let me tell you, I think it was worth every penny: that place is busy.  It always is. Obsolete?  I don't think so. I admit sometimes it's like a day center for the homeless, but maybe they're the only ones who actually have the time to read these days.   Which is perhaps why rich people try to convince us they're obsolete, and close the libraries down  - my, those poor people with all that time on their hands might read some Marx or Debord and get really pissed off and start demanding some justice.  One can only dream...  

You know, I think the library was always obsolete for the wealthy, as they've always had their own private libraries where they didn't have to rub shoulders or share worn pages with riff-raff like me.  And now, it's becoming obsolete for more people, for all those who can afford to have internet at home and buy piles of books from Amazon, and prefer never to leave the comfortable confine of their own home.

For everyone else it is still a kind of haven (or a heaven if you are very fond of books).

The only place I know of where I can browse the complete set of Oxford English Dictionaries without anyone bothering me.  

So today I checked out their definition of 'obsolete' and you know, it wasn't too different from what we got online.  Though they did have this line: " effaced through atrophy " which I found pretty irresistible (the word atrophy has always had a certain appeal, triumphant wasting, degeneration as a trophy of idleness - trust the OED).

Perhaps libraries will one day be obsolete.  The powerful few who want to control knowledge and who has access to it will win.

But in the meantime, I think the pubic library can escape a listing in the Obselidia.  

Don't you?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Amiga Mind Walker

Amiga was my first computer.   Friend (curiously feminine).

And Mind Walker was my first game.  It came free with the computer.  And boy, did it blow my mind!!

Does anyone else remember it?    

What is Obsolete?

Ob*so*lete  [ob-suh-leet]  adjective

1. no longer in general use, or fallen into disuse;

2. of a discarded or outmoded type; out of date;

3. (of a linguistic form) no longer in use, esp., out of use for at least the past century.

4. effaced by wearing down or away

5.  Biology.  imperfectly developed or rudimentary in comparison with the corresponding character in other individuals, as of the opposite sex or of a related species.

[Origin: 1570-80 obsoletus, ptp. of obsolescere to fall into disuse]

Okay, so that's what the dictionary says (, since you are asking - I'll check the Oxford when I go to the library tomorrow).

For our purposes, the word OBSOLETE is going to cast a wide net, and I will welcome all submissions and suggestions.

I don't want to get bogged down in a semantic discussion of whether an extinct animal is technically obsolete.  If it no longer exists on this fair planet, I think it could be seen as being "of a discarded or outmoded type", or indeed as"imperfectly developed".  

The aim here, and the aim of Obselidia, is to pay homage to anything that once was, and is no longer.

Over the coming weeks (who am I kidding?  this is going to go on for years...), I'll be uploading examples of things of obsolete things.  My hope is that if anyone out there is actually reading this, they may feel compelled to share with me anything they have noticed slipping into Obsolescence, be it a penguin, a running shoe, a travel agent, or a typewriter.

Is democracy obsolete?  I hope not.  And for that reason, I invite you, one and all to participate....

Blessings to all,

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Birth of Obselidia

I was born on the last day of the last year before the decade they called the 70's.   Back then, writing a diary that the whole world could read and participate in was unthinkable.  Science fiction.

But now, I am living in the future, a world I could not have imagined when I was growing up.   There's a lot of great new things: cell phones, internet, xbox, you know...

But at the same time:

So much that I love and have loved has disappeared.  

This is my attempt to preserve it.

I used to go door-to-door selling encyclopedias; that occupation is a footnote in history now, shorthand for being a dinosaur.  But you know, I still love those damn books.  Flicking through the pages wondering about the world.

So I decided:  I'm going to make my own Encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia of Obsolete Things - The Obselidia. 

Occupations, animals, technologies, words...anything that is obsolete will be included.  Might even list some endangered species.

Like Lonesome George, the last known giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands.

If you have anything you'd like to see in this Encyclopedia, please send me the details.  I want to be as thorough as I can.  

Not to list everything that is, but everything that used to be...

And perhaps by observing what we are losing and what we have lost...well, perhaps we'll start to save the things that really matter.

Blessings to all,