Out of touch

Fourteen years!

(A reprint of my annual anniversary item, with small adjustments).

As of last Oct. 16, it's been 14  years since I started this incarnation of P.S. A Column on Things. (I switched to Google Calendar, which ate the annual reminder to me to rerun this item, so I'm a little late this year)

When I started this column, "W" was still the second-rate governor of Texas, Barrack Obama was a state legislator in Illinois, Mitt Romney was rich and white and the president of the United States was white. How far we have come since then. Except Mitt Romney, who is still rich and white.

I was still working for CMP, and had a weekly podcast, back before pods (which definitely cut into our audience). My heart beat by itself and I weighed 270 pounds. In short, things were different. I believe I am one of the longest continuous bloggers on the Internet.

In 1998, during the Clinton impeachment, I either had to start a column or check into a mental institution. PSACOT gave me a forum in which to express, to an audience (no matter how small) my feelings about that political circus. [As a U.S. history teacher, I am forced to note that Andrew Johnson's impeachment was a rabid partisan witch hunt, as was Clinton's. Only Nixon's was bipartisan--and only Nixon resigned.]

The column/blog has since evolved into a combination of diary for my family and me and bulletin board for my clever friends--in short, a personal column. Like, but not as good as, former San Francisco Chronicle columnist Adair Lara or ongoing columnist Jon Carroll. Or, to take a national example, former New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen, considered the mother of the personal column concept (even though Stanton Delaplane and Charles McCabe of the San Francisco Chronicle actually beat her to it--but of course, if it hasn't happened in New York, it hasn't happened).

PSACOT is also a revival of sorts. Among my readers, Daniel Dern and Peter Peckarsky would remember the original P.S. A Column On Things, which ran in ERGO, MIT's objectivist newspaper from September 1970 to March 1971, and The Tech, MIT's semi-official student newspaper, from March 1971 to May 1971. Those were among my happiest days as a journalist. If I had truly understood the fulfillment a personal column gave me, perhaps I would have fought harder to keep it when Bob Fourer killed it (along with my restaurant reviews), or I would have revived it when I became editor-in-chief two years later, or tried to practice the craft as an adult (and become, perhaps, the father of the personal column).

In any case, I expect to still be doing this next October; I'll meet you here.