Who’s interested in seeing the childhood home of NN.C? Sure you are:
I know: the picture sucks. My parents were talking about taking out those ugly spruce trees when they lived there, and they moved out 13 years ago. But that’s unmistakably the House of my Yout’, and praise be to Google for letting me visit it again.
That’s 1832 Barrington Rd., Columbus, Ohio. At the first meeting of our college newspaper staff, we passed around a sign-up sheet to write down our summer addresses. It came to me, and as I started to write, I saw, a couple lines above mine, “1860 Barrington Rd., Cols.,” which you can see here:
This is an apartment building on the corner of my street, which at the time was rather run-down, but that was before people realized you were supposed to highly prize places with built-in bookcases, wide baseboards and Tudor detailing, and it got fixed up. The unit was rented by a Mrs. Jeanne Burns, a divorcee with three children, the eldest of whom was our own J.C. Funny, huh?
After I graduated from college I lived at home for about a year, until I felt ready to launch from the parental nest. I couldn’t afford German Village, the trendy singles neighborhood for people like me, but I found a very nice apartment about a mile away, a four-flat in a strip of Columbus that ran between Grandview and Upper Arlington. We called it Almost Arlington:
That’s it on the right. Grr. More spruce trees. If you lived on the bottom floor, you got a bay window. Upstairs, you got a high, curved ceiling. I lived up, which was good, because there was a serial rapist who stalked this neighborhood, and he loved first-floor apartments with unlocked windows on hot summer nights. He never hit our little house of fun, however; I say “our” because across the hall lived none other than Jeff Borden. We called our place the Westwood Country Club, had a lot of parties, seen here:
Then I moved to a little duplex where I lived not even a year, and then came the big move, to Indiana. I rented a house:
It’s the beige one. This was the first time I lived by myself in a house, not an apartment, and it felt like pure luxury (although I missed Borden). I bet that place was maybe 1,300 square feet, and had a bathroom where the toilet was mounted at an angle, so you could sit on it without shattering your kneecaps on the sink. If that doesn’t look like the home of a newspaper columnist, well, you don’t know much about newspaper wages. (And I was among the better-paid people on the staff.) But Jeffersonian movin’-on-up was yet to come, seven years later, when Alan and I bought our castle:
Ours was the one on the right. The stone place on the left was more typical of the neighborhood, which was full of arts-and-crafts wonders like this that you could pick up for pocket change. You still can; I bet the better places on this block still don’t go for much more than $100K. If you turned west and clicked two more blocks’ worth, you’d find Foster Park, my old bike-riding haunt:
This picture doesn’t do it justice. And then fast-forward a few years, and another move, but alas, my current neighborhood isn’t Google Street View’d yet, and please put that in the directory of “sentences that wouldn’t have made a bit of sense to me 10 years ago.” (I used another one the other day: “So I was at Trader Joe’s, and I heard this Linda Ronstadt song on the speakers, but I couldn’t remember what it was. So I got out my iPhone and Shazam’d it.”)
I’m not leading you on this tour to bore you to death with pictures of midwestern real estate under gray skies, but to speculate on what form our memories will take in the future. That Linda Ronstadt song, and the method by which I retrieved it from the ether — Shazam, an iPhone app, sampled 10 seconds of it when I held the phone under a speaker, then went out on the internet and compared its digital fingerprint to all the others in its database, and came back with the answer — strikes me as nothing short of miraculous. (It was “I Can’t Let Go” from her “Mad Love” album, a very Trader Joe’s selection.) As does the idea of punching 1832 Barrington Road into Google and seeing a fairly recent photo of the place.
I remember my Fort Wayne rental house as a cool little gathering place for my friends. Now I see it’s really a crack house waiting to happen.
Our own perspective has a way of editing itself. Google is crueler.
Some bloggage today? A bit:
For your next man-who-has-everything gift conundrum, how about this two-DVD set from the British Film Institute? “The Joy of Sex Education” spans quite a range:
Filmed during the First World War, the silent footage features a young Canadian soldier called Dick – a name that seemingly had no unfortunate connotations back then – who is on leave in London where nicely dressed young women approach him, one after another. Dick, the caption says, is “tempted”, but luckily, as he is about to meet his doom, a Canadian officer taps him on the arm. “Do you realise, young man, the risks you run in association with that woman?” he asks, silently. Cut away to a seedy hotel room where another Canadian soldier has not been so well advised. Though he and the fallen woman he has met are fully dressed, a ruffled bed is evidence of the risk to which he has exposed himself. While his back is turned, the shameless woman goes through his wallet and stuffs a wedge of notes into her bra.
Back to Dick, now on a guided tour of a hospital ward where men are being treated for venereal disease, where he is shown horribly swollen legs and claw-like hands. “Rotted legs and hands”, the caption reads. The message is very clear: there is no such thing as safe sex for a soldier overseas so, laddie, keep your mind on your pure young girlfriend at home and say no.
I haven’t had a chance to read Roger Ebert’s reflection on his long relationship with Gene Siskel, but I’m betting it’s worth my time.
Dear Time magazine, Why send a reporter to Detroit for a few hours when you could hire his guide and get a much better story? Just wondering.
Off to work.
UPDATE: Ooh, almost missed this. Read, then watch.