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12:34:56 7/8 ’09

July 7, 2009

Somewhere in my memory banks is an image of Gabe Kaplan, Mr. Kotter from my favorite ’70’s tv show, in an interview, mentioning that it was 12:34 on 5/6 of 1978.  I’ve scoured the internet but am not able to find a reference to this.  I was 11 at the time, and pretty devoted to the ABC comedies on Tuesday and Thursday nights – even looking at that prime time grid just floods me with images of posters, lunchboxes, lp covers, and Dynamite magazine.  dynamiteAs I write that list I can pretty much picture boxes containing each of those items still lovingly preserved in my parent’s basement.  I’m not sure what it is about seeing the string of numbers all together in the title of this post, but there is something about the uniqueness of it that makes me want to blog about it, not to express anything in particular about it, but to discover what I am thinking about it (paraphrasing Patricia Hampl).   Sure it makes me think about Farrah and MJ passing on the same day, and how those were two icons of popular culture in my youth.  The Jackson 5 were my first favorite band, but I was much more of a Kate Jackson fan.  (Is that at all similar to the Jo vs. Blair conversations about “The Facts of Life”?  No contest there…)   So in the spirit of this unique numerological chronological date and time, here are random thoughts 1-9 about things I hope to cover in future blog entires, things occupying more than a passing thought in my mind these days:

1. Why Write?

2. What do I love about music?  First of all, everything.

3. What makes kids love all things ridiculous and gross?  (Or the adults in their lives, for that matter?)

4. I’m looking forward to reading Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft and Alain De Botton’s The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.  I can still hear the voice of the volunteer coordinator on Kibbutz Gezer talking to me at the end of a strenuous work day, asking me rheotically if it felt great to have worked with my hands.  The answer was and always will be yes for me.

5. How can the story of the Holocaust be told?  Howard Zinn asked how the story of slavery can be told or understood and I’m re-appropriating that question into my experience at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center – a museum not of artifacts but of story and symbol.

6. What is the meaning of the Fourth of July to the father / the child / the community?  I’m copying the idea from Frederick Douglass’s brilliant speech challenging the meaning of this day to African-Americans, but I think it’s one we need to ask ourselves individually, as communities, and as a country each year.

7. Why is there such a difference between great and mediocre coffee?  It makes me think of the bumper sticker, “Life is too short to drink bad wine,” but it also makes me think of the Professor in The Sure Thing who told her students “Eat foods that are bad for you. Talk to people whose clothes aren’t color coordinated.”  I’m all about that, and love that movie, but still can’t stand bad coffee.

8. The All-Star Break for baseball is nearly here.  The day after the game is the one day of the year where none of the four major professional sports are in action.  I hope the Twins have a great second half.

9. Everyone should spend two weeks with a 4 and a 6 year-old, especially when the usual pressures of work are absent.  I’ve loved every minute of it.

Now, to go rearrange my sock drawer.  Consider outer space…

*Gabe Kaplan just confirmed this in an e-mail response (!): “You know a little more then you imagine, and are a little curious about anything you may not know. You are one of only three people (that I’m aware of) who this has stayed with.  It was when I was a guest host on the Tonight Show.”  Wow.  Gabe Kaplan e-mailed me.

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