My back pages.

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.

Posted at 10:09 am in Same ol' same ol' |

29 responses to “My back pages.”

  1. Kirk said on February 19, 2009 at 10:41 am

    I still have my Westwood Country Club T-shirt, I believe for a July 4 party sometime in the ’80s, featuring that famous image created by our Nazi, sexist political cartoonist: a ghostly, skeletal woman cleverly labeled (as all his cartoons were) with her name: Mari-Juana. The caption: “NOT A NICE GIRL.”

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  2. Jolene said on February 19, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Nancy, the Sweet Juniper piece is lovely. Thanks for pointing us to it.

    Fun, too, to learn that you’ve known Jeff and J.C. since way back when.

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  3. jeff borden said on February 19, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Oh, yes, the Westwood Country Club, where so many of my young, innocent brain cells met their demise. Some of the best years of my life were spent in the shelter of the building.

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  4. coozledad said on February 19, 2009 at 11:03 am

    For some reason, the sex-Ed film reminds me of Kingsley Amis’ story about his communications squad being shelled in WWII. Afterward the men were discussing how they’d all been shifting their helmets to cover their skulls, then genitals, skulls, genitals, skulls….
    It became a matter of pride that all of them eventually opted to preserve their skulls.

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  5. jeff borden said on February 19, 2009 at 11:57 am

    The photo of Nancy and me so stylishly attired and in sunglasses was taken before one of our best soirees, the Politics of Dancing party, in 1984. I recognize the flyer on the wall behind us, which pictures flopparino presidential candidate Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio and Stratosphere). Our flyer mocked him for being a stiff and suggested his campaign might’ve soared if only he had embraced. . .The Politics of Dancing, one of our musical anthems by Re-Flex.

    This may (or may not) be the event in which everyone was pogoing in my living room to heinously loud music, which cracked the ceiling plaster of the nice librarian living beneath.

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  6. jeff borden said on February 19, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Omigod. I just released that pink and black button on my lapel reads, “Eat The Rich.” I still have it somewhere. Might be time to wear it again, eh?

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  7. brian stouder said on February 19, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I found this sentence the most striking

    Our own perspective has a way of editing itself. Google is crueler

    Laura Lippman’s pleasant blog (linked on nn.c’s side rail) focuses on memory; she expresses the belief that memory begets memory; that remembered tangible specifics convey emotion.

    Google’s literal (and rather stark) visit down memory lane strikes me as only one random instant, and offers something less than concrete truth….something more like a strident, unforgiving viewpoint

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 19, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Let’s dance . . . put on your red shoes, and dance the blues (cue brass).

    Under the moonlight, the serious moonlight.

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  9. paddyo' said on February 19, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Forgive the golly-gee-whiz tone here from where the Rox meet the Plains, but that photo of the Jane Cooper School “neighborhood” from Sweet Juniper’s fine tale of squiring the TimeMag guy around was simply stunning. Jaw-dropping for a non-IndianaMichigander …

    I was once sort of in the TimeMag guy’s shoes, parachuting in from D.C. to Detroit for a coupla days in the mid-1980s to do a piece for The Nation’s Nicepaper about Catholic churches closing all over Motown. Only, I didn’t have such a great guide. Still, it was sobering to drive through missing-teeth block after block of bombed-out neighborhoods, some streets with one or two or three houses … but never whole, entirely emptied grids like in the photo and, in the related link, that stunning satellite view. I wonder if the pace of disappearing houses quickened after my visit, or if I just hadn’t seen the worst of it at that time …

    I can’t think of another place (except, maybe, a small quarter here or there in post-Katrina New Orleans) where the decay has begun turning into the sort of green landscape our sci-fi writers imagine after the human race is pretty much gone (or that we imagined, anyway, until “The Road”).

    I’m reminded of “Earth Abides,” the forgotten classic of post-apocalyptica by George R. Stewart (better known for his Donner Party tale, “Ordeal by Hunger,” another classic) that cast the city of my birth, Berkeley, and the Bay Area in that return-of-nature light. If only …

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  10. Dexter said on February 19, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I linked to the Salon site for the Fox clip with the mayor…that was the first bit of Fox crap I’ve allowed myself to be tortured by for a long time. Good for the mayor for getting his piece out there. Of course he was made to be a lunatic for the watchership of Fox, which I understand.
    Ron Gettlefinger , UAW Int’l President ,has been debunking the ridiculous claim that UAW members figure to get $70 + per hour…when to arrive at that figure one has to figure in all the money negotiated for CURRENT pensioners, which benefit NO current employees.
    The mayor of Lansing is a bright chap.
    My first Fort Wayne apartment, after my army stint was over—see how close I was to downtown?

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  11. Dexter said on February 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Fort Wayne, Foster Park, random photo from Google Images…could this be an old photo of our host?

    I used to hang around there, too, I remember a lot of frisbeeing and softball later on, and one year the Three Rivers Festival Marathon ran through Foster Park, and I escorted one of the runners , riding a bicycle, when that kind of thing was allowed. That was fun, as the good residents of FW were out with hoses cooling off the runners and spared a little water for the bicycle escorts, too.

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  12. Jason T. said on February 19, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    > I can’t think of another place (except, maybe, a small quarter here or
    > there in post-Katrina New Orleans) where the decay has begun turning
    > into the sort of green landscape our sci-fi writers imagine after the
    > human race is pretty much gone

    Paddy, allow me to introduce you to my home, America’s Steel Valley:

    When whitetail deer and wild turkeys started showing up, we knew it had been a long time since the mills closed.

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  13. Jason T. said on February 19, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    P.S.: Last year the producers of the upcoming film adaptation of “The Road” — looking for scenes of post-apocalyptic devastation — filmed some of the scenes in Braddock and McKeesport.

    God, were we proud!

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  14. beb said on February 19, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Sweet Juniper’s essay about driving the Time’s reporter around definately is better than any essay he could write. Then again after a tour like that he’d probably write a better article than if some mayor’s aide had driven him around.

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  15. paddyo' said on February 19, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    JT — scenes for “The Road”! We have a winner (or, sadly, a loser …)
    And I agree, Beb — post SJ’s essay in lieu of the Time parachutist’s 1,000 words (or probably less).
    So, for us outlanders, what might the mayor’s aide have shown TimeBoy if he hadn’t stiffed him? The RenCen? Is it even still called that? Last time I was in Detroit was, I think, on another reporting trip: The final day/night of the J2P2 papal Tour-de-America back in ’87, the 13-day hop-hop-hop trip from Florida to SC to Nawlins, San Antonio, Phoenix, LA (including Hollywood), SF and probably other stops I’ve forgotten en route, finally, to the Polish remnant in Hamtramck …

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  16. caliban said on February 19, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Spruce trees are part of the ch(sm)arm of the Grat Midwest. Mow Yews, thats a blight that needs to be attacked with vigour and a chainsaw. I believe they grow all over the Grosses and shade faux-tudor minii-mansions. At least they used to.

    Meanwhile, journalism in general and newspapers specifically have been befouled by a patently racist political cartoon that espouses assassination as the ultimate resort for the bubbling grease atop the Republican stew that has reduced to the point of sticking to the stockpot and stinking like burnt flesh.

    I don’t believe the ludicrous pirate robber Baron means to have the President taken out to advance his delusional goal of ruling the world. But the NYPost is his veritable flagship, the preternaturally abusive, offensive and inflammatory cartoon appeared in pages he owns, editors he owns and has failed to disown chose to print this filth, and there really must be a way to deport the slimy piece of shit.

    The defense from Murdoch editors is that the cartoon makes a connection between to stories in the news. Chimp shot dead, stimulus. What non-comma connection. What cultural disconnect removes these assholes from a blatant appeal to skinheads to rid Conservatives of this troublesome priest.

    It’s actually clear as a bell. I saw a Chicago Trib online poll that said that only 40% of respondents thought that the intent of this cartoon was racial. What else do they think was going on. Most of the people that voted probably thought the chimp should have had a plunger up his ass a few times before the coup de’ grace.

    Kit Bond goes a world tour of Missourri to announce the benefits to the state of his participation in the stimulus bill. Asshole voted against it When I was a kid, I read Screwtape.

    I think, I wonder about, the efficacy in the name of Democracy or something resembling it, Matt Fucking Drudge? Are people hynotixed with bogus information? Bogus information in the internet is like gogus information in real newspapers. The first is valued at 400 yo 40, the people that do work are peons.

    Fact is, Obama’sedging forward. But he’s doing it witout KBR leaning on him. And oil field services companies that dabble in security would rather he was just mon-ecistemy.

    Anyway, neither freedom of expression nor freedom of the press lets you incite wackoss Ibtention was clear, and homeland should shut their ass down Guantanamo should be kept open long enough to send the cartoonist for rendition to some Medievalstan. If they don’nt make him feel like his organs are failing or he’s dying, turn it up. John Yoo, and Bybee,said that was OK. If these assholes ever practice law again, justice might be done.

    I’ve got five brothers and a dad. What was my mom to make of this She knew she wanted a daughter to civilixr us. That would never have happened.

    But holy shit, It’s alright to suggest murdering the President to get the Stim more like Boehner?

    Trying to claim the cartoon wadn’t totesquely rasict is so asinine it just beggars belief. It deliberately pointed a bullseye.

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  17. Deborah said on February 19, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    “Eat the rich”! I want one of those buttons.
    Am noticing a different font as I’m typing this, a courier look alike? I don’t know if it’s because I’m still at work and using Firefox, I have Safari at home? Loved the Sweet Juniper piece. I’ll keep an eye out for that Time report while I’m waiting in my doctor’s office, I’ll be damned if I’ll buy one of those magazines.
    The fact that Google photos exist like that is both fascinating and creepy. People are taking pictures of your homes and putting them on the internet. What’s wrong with this picture?

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  18. caliban said on February 19, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    No American with a modicum of decency can let these assholes get away with this what’s gone one with the last seberal years and some Reagan dickhead that thought sloauthj=hering MatyKnoll nuns and raping them was funny. This has been a netioun of war criminals for several years.

    If you don’t think so, let’s here some king of evidencee the invasion and occupation didn’t enrich Cheney.

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  19. whitebeard said on February 19, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Deborah, re the photos of our homes. Our privacy has been invaded, photographed and filed away in the great blogging universe

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  20. joodyb said on February 19, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Dexter, i’m in your camp re Faux News. i nearly choked watching that clip. i have another theory re the anchor/actor: someone is talking in his ear, you know. the Mayor WAS answering his questions. it was like something out of the Wizard of Oz. i’m still glad i saw it. VIRG IN ’16!

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  21. brian stouder said on February 19, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    OK, this google thing is an odd amalgam of intriguing/creepy. I went looking for our house, and came up with this, which is funny for a couple of reasons:

    First – at least they caught us on a sunny evening, instead of a dank gray day, as so many of Nance’s Fort Wayne googles are. The front of our house faces west, so they snapped this at – what? – 6 pm? or so…

    and do you see the funny blur on the left half of the front yard? There’s actually a tree there, but it seems to be blotted out; also, there should be a flag pole over to the left, but it seems to have been obliterated along with our phantom tree; in fact, usually we have a yard swing out in the front yard…I suppose our kids and/or Pam and I were in the front yard when their camera car passed by. You can see a nice/creepy silhouette of the google-mobile in the foreground of their picture.

    And note that our neighbor’s empty garbage can is by the street (a pet peeve!). Fort Wayne only went to those cans in the last 2 years, so the picture was probably this last summer.

    edit – damned if I can put a link that goes right to their image, but the address is 2118 lindenwood

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  22. Jolene said on February 19, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Hi Brian:

    Are you sure the link is correct? I don’t seem to be seeing what you are describing. Perhaps I’m manipulating the controls incorrectly?

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  23. brian stouder said on February 19, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Jolene, you’re doin’ it right; it’s the nut behind the wheel that’s crossing you up!

    But if you click that link, and then type:

    2118 lindenwood fort wayne

    in the “search maps” box, you’ll see our lovely home…and if you look a little to the right (beyond our house) you can see “our” tv tower – which soars 450′ (or some such) into the sky, and sheds ice chunks after sleet storms…and which is the one thing keeping God Almighty from striking me dead with a bolt of lightening…although he could always brain me with one of those ice chunks, I suppose

    edit – the tv tower is actually 839 feet (agl) – which I was somewhat surprised to learn!

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  24. Jolene said on February 20, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Got it. Missed that last line of your instructions.

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  25. Gasman said on February 20, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Whilst we were both embroiled in a protracted lawsuit with our former employer, a colleague of mine used to remind me that, “shit floats.” It apparently does if it is Republican. Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt, R announced that he would be running for the Senate in 2010. His reasons?

    Making the official announcement in St. Louis, Missouri, the former House Republican whip indicated he would run on a platform of keeping Democratic control of both Congress and the White House in check.

    “My sense is Missourians and Americans are not well served by one-party rule.”

    Funny, if my memory serves me correctly, there was nary a word of concern from Rep. Blunt about one party rule when Tom Delay, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove were trying to engineer a permanent 1000 year Republican Reich. No complaints whatsoever. Now, when the party in question is not Republican, this is a bad thing.

    Is there not one Republican in Washington that isn’t a mendacious little odious turd? It is absolutely dizzying to see the Rs contesting for the title of “Most Ineffectual Shithead” so fiercely. While Blunt makes a strong bid, he has many determined opponents who are also bobbing to the surface in the giant toilet that is the Republican Party.

    Is there anyone in the entire country with at least vestigial brainstem activity that is impressed by this infantile posturing? This is how they rebuild their party?

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  26. Mike said on February 20, 2009 at 5:16 am

    The ‘googling’ of our past haunts can certainly be interesting, as yours were. I tried this sometime ago. All those places from my past were either bullnosed into farm land or parking lots, burned down and out, or fallen into disrepair beyond redemption, (wouldn’t even make a good crack house). Talk about cruel to the memories.

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  27. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 20, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Make sure to scroll down in the comments of the Ebert essay about Gene Siskel to a lengthy one that Roger has “bolded” for attention as he does his own ongoing interjections — a story from a guy who was in a diner as a teenager and turned out he had Gene sitting nearby, and . . . just go read it.

    Gasman, i believe Conan the Republican has the money quote on our party rebuilding efforts [cue Ahnold voice] “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women” [/Ahnold voice]

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 20, 2009 at 8:04 am,0,539494.photogallery

    Here’s a dilemma for the modern US newspaper – there’s a market for teaching folks stuff like how to dress in layers, shop for bargains, and making a grilled cheese sandwich (seriously: “America’s Greatest Newspaper” has frontpaged instructions for making a grilled cheese sandwich), because they didn’t learn it at home growing up from parents, and they may not be able to call them to ask “what was that pie crust recipe, anyhow, Mom?”

    There’s demand for such a product, apparently, but the source of the demand (not getting these basics at home, from family) is the source of their problem – no one thinks they should have to pay for this kind of content, anymore than they should pay Aunt Martha for instructions on darning a sock. You just love her, and send a card at Christmas. Newspapers can’t live on that, but by looking at their front pages of “news you can use,” i think that’s what they’re hoping to turn into a business model.

    Not making sense to me.

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  29. Dorothy said on February 20, 2009 at 10:22 am

    My father would be appalled and I’m sure he’s turning over in his grave if he could see what’s happened to our lovely home at 910 Franklin Avenue, 15221. If you care to Google Map it.

    Here’s the view of my new home, which we’ve enjoyed for four whole weeks now:

    It’s not Google-able since it’s so new. Wonder if it ever will be?

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