I cannot allow June 2011 to fade into history without noting a personal anniversary.
Twenty five years ago this month, yr. humble scribe sat in a brick walled room at the old 66 Bell art studios. I typed up a roundup of little notes and comments on an NEC electronic typewriter for publication in a tiny monthly tabloid called ArtsFocus.
With that, the MISCadventure of my life had begun.
There was no World Wide Web at the time. There were dial-up, text-only bulletin board systems, a few of which I was on. All the sociopathic behaviors you see online today, I saw then.
Seattle then was not, as some now claim, a backwards fishing village out in the wilderness. There was a lot of business going about, a lot of culture, and a lot of livin’. The nouveau riche takeover was just getting underway, so there were still a lot of affordable housing situations and cheap DIY spaces like 66 Bell.
Sub Pop, and the acts it championed, were just barely underway.
I was then, as now, struggling to fit into a world I’d never made. Struggling to find renumerative work. Struggling to make sense of things.
I’d already developed a taste for mass media history. One of my favorite aspects of my UW communications major had been poring through the old newspapers, magazines, mass market books, catalogs, and other ephemera. Later, I’d found a store on 13th Ave. on Capitol Hill that specialized in old magazines, paperbacks, and posters. Its signage included one window placcard announcing “MISC. ITEMS.”
One of my favorite newspaper tropes was the “three dot” column. One person, multiple topics, with any one item ranging from a sentence fragment to the full 750-word space. Emmett Watson and future city councilmember Jean Godden had been doing that here, but it was a dying art form.
Everybody else in the media at the time seemed to be advocating “depth.” I was fascinated by breadth, by the interplay and hidden connections among all sorts of different things.
Thus, MISC, the column. Then the one-sheet newsletter, the Stranger feature, the spots in Tablet and the Belltown Messenger, and, since 1995, this very web presence.
Some people claim MISCmedia was “the first blog.” I certainly wasn’t that term, or anything like it, at the time. I just called it an “online column.”
Now, the blog format, in all its ever-evolving permutations and mutations, has become one of the world’s primary methods of communicating. Its offspring, the “tweet,” is reteaching the value of brevity.
And I’m again in search of a steady income.