Thursday, January 16, 2014


One of the most difficult things for me to acknowledge is that I am truly old fashioned. I mean I am connected, on-line, Twitterized, FaceBooked and podcasted, but deep down I am living in the late thirties and forties. The radio days. At least, in part, what I am saying is that my values lie there while all the glitter, pizzazz and speed of present day technology simply give me the chance to run out my outdated values on the unsuspecting friend, family member and the occasional "everyone" who stumbles across my electrified  threshold. Caveat Emptor. Translation: Watch your step!

Some years ago while living in Southeast Texas, and while I still had an active interest in flying small airplanes, I used to read Flying Magazine and a columnist in that magazine named Gordon Baxter. His column was called THE BAX SEAT. He described himself as a "pasture pilot" and had a homey way of expressing himself, even about the technicalities of flying small airplanes. He had a radio program which he produced from his back porch at his home on Village Creek, a sometimes robust little stream that I paddled and camped upon many times.

On his show, he talked about whatever seemed to catch his attention. It presaged Jerry Seinfeld's show about nothing by about 30 years. It really was about nothing in particular. He rambled in a most interesting way. You could hear birdsong and a creaking screen door occasionally. His voice was well modulated and I could understand every word. It was quite popular. I'd get to the office and someone was likely to ask if I had heard Baxter that morning, and we'd talk about that. I don't think today's fast talking, hurry up media would give him the time of day.

A friend of mine once told me after listening to one of my podcasts, that I talked too slow and had too many long pauses. Well, I said, that's how I talk. We laughed and he still listens. I think. And I still talk slowly.

I have listened to many programs where someone is supposed to be telling a story or interviewing someone and all the while there is music, or other "environmental" noise (on purpose - by design because we live in an age where noise seems to be the only thing that keeps us from going conscious of our reality) and I am unable to hear the actual content of what the person is saying.

I should pause here and say something like, that's my opinion. And that's the opinion of a person wearing hearing aids which makes it difficult to make sense of noisy environments. And if the truth be known, if you want to communicate real information, every effort should be made to make that easy to do. Right? Well, you'd think so. Hearing aids or not.

So it's my problem. I'm OK with that - I have to be. But I resent being cut out of the process by the process itself. You can observe this going on in just about all media today. So-called realism in broadcasting seems to mean that environmental noise is as important as content. I can just see this sound engineer pushing the slider up on his sound board to increase the noise of the big diesel passing by so it's impossible to understand what is being said. Exciting huh? After all - it's the truth. It's what's happening.

A few years ago there was this guy on NPR's morning classical show who also talked slowly and it became a kind of joke. I could understand his every word however, even if it kind of infuriated me at times. I sometimes wondered whether the guy was somnambulant. Now, I really miss his kind of "delivery". If you have something to say, say it so others can be assured of understanding it. It's communication - get it?

Walter Cronkite, Ed Morrow, Erving R. Levine, Martin Agronsky, where are you guys when I need you masters of every syllable?   God, how I love every syllable.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


There comes a time - at least, I assume it does - in most of our lives, when the specter of moving into a new and completely different phase of life confronts us. It comes up to consider the possibility of leaving the cherished home site or situation and moving into something more manageable, for instance.

There will come a time when we must move on and leave this treasured spot on the edge of the woods. In gentle preparation for that moment, we have begun culling out those obvious items that are purely meaningless and hauling it off to the dump. It's actually a so-called "transfer station", but nobody is keeping score. But the heavy lifting is yet to come and it could take longer than we imagine. It's the kind of activity that we both dread to do and are anxious to do. I suppose that is the nature of transitions.

The thought of moving on curdles my blood and also heightens my sense of adventure and being alive. The reality is that there will come a time when we will not be able to take care of this place. It's part of the natural rhythm of life. Oh, if one of us wins the big one, we will be able to just hire the work done and be as mobil as we want to be. I read those headlines about someone winning mega millions and think - it's just a matter of time until my number comes up. Yes, I know. There are balms available that can calm such specious thinking.

There are hundreds of books, CDs and cassette tapes. Give them away, I hear you say. Take them to one of those places where they accept boxes of such stuff without a word. Don't do a close inspection of every single book. Actually, I will hold onto Baugh's Literary History of England. About two and three quarter inches on thin paper - it does not miss a point. I'll keep the poetry - a few other volumes that remind me of the loftier aspects of the human experience. OK, I'll probably hold onto some pulp as well, just to keep me honest. God, how I love a mystery.

Around this rambling house are nooks and crannies into which is stuffed every imaginable piece of useful, useless and unused "stuff". There are kayaks, bicycles, snowshoes, badminton sets, bows and arrows, a chainsaw, a wood chipper, a table saw, all kinds of battery powered tools and there is a photographic darkroom - just to give you an idea. Actually, the darkroom equipment is not useful anymore except to a scant few holdouts. If you want it you can have it. This list is only a "symbol" of what is actually stored around this place.

So the task is laid out before us and, as I have said, we are beginning to hack away at it. It's the mechanics of transition. It's not easy work, but it should reveal something important about us. Something I am actually anxious to discover. I really think I already know what it is, and it is this: You can go farther with a lighter load.

There was a time, back in the searching 70s when meaning was attached to everything, that in the middle of a warm night I hauled the contents of a large storage space in my building to a huge dumpster. I needed to make a break and rid myself of stuff, the possession of which, I could no longer justify, and which simply did not hold meaning for my life anymore and needed to be jettisoned into the night sky. It was transition time. I needed to lighten my load.

There was as many as a dozen suits, kitchen ware that drug my memories back decades, dozens of sundry items that filled boxes upon boxes - like rocks and mementos collected from places once visited and which had no function except to remind me of things I did not want to be reminded of and so should be let go. It was one of my finest "grownup" moments.

This cleansing took most of the night. It occurred to me then as it does now that this kind of purging is best done beneath the covering of darkness. It is best not to have too bright a light shine upon every once prized artifact of a past life as it tumbles into the rubbish bin. I think that's the key: begin at midnight and work until dawn.

When my storage room was finally emptied, I felt light of heart, energized and quite hungry. It was time for an early breakfast at the Pig Stand on I-10 where I celebrated with three of my most faithful friends: grits, sausage and egg.

I'm Jerry Henderson Be well and stay tuned.