Sunday, July 6, 2008

Random Randomness

Odds and ends:

  • I'm sad to learn the father of Hugh McCallum, my old high school buddy, has died. "Mr. Mac" was a teacher and a very positive influence on any and all young people who knew him, and I know that because I was one of them. His was a good life lived well and fully, and the world could use more people like him.
  • I was busy the last few days of June wrapping up my latest book, and at last the damn thing is finished. The title is 40 Lingering Questions About The 9/11 Attacks, and if my last two books haven't gotten me on some FBI watch list, this one certainly will! This is not some nutty "9/11 Truther" book-----no, I don't think the attacks were the result of a plot involving George W. Bush, the Israelis, and the Church of Scientology. Instead, I examine the incredible number of loose ends in the the final 9/11 Commission Report. Here's a sample "loose end," found on page 229 of the report: "By February 19, Atta and Shehhi were in Virginia. They rented a mailbox in Virginia Beach, cashed a check, and then promptly returned to Georgia, staying in Stone Mountain. We have found no explanation for these travels.” The report is full of such nous ne savons merde passages, they really grabbed my attention when I first read the report, and my book is the result. I'm going to be trying some different and non-traditional marketing efforts with this one, and I'll have more details here when the book is in print.
  • Clay Felker, the legendary editor of New York magazine, died last week. I was a huge fan of New York during Felker's editorship, both for the writing-----articles like Tom Wolfe's "Radical Chic" are just as much fun to read now as they were when first published-----and also for the tone and attitude Felker created as editor. Felker understood you must give creative people enough rope to hang themselves if you want to take full advantage of their talents; he gave it to them, and sometimes they did. But he also had an old-fashioned insistence on meticulous observation, fact-checking, and vigorous use of every tool in the English language. Through his work at New York, Felker taught me the most important job of an editor is not to tell writers how to write but instead to give them an environment in which they feel both challenged to do their best and free to take bold approaches to a subject. Clay was definitely one of my "career heroes."
  • I've done Google and Yahoo searches of people from my past that I've lost contact with, and I'm shocked at how few of my contemporaries in the writing and publishing business have an "internet trail" of any sort. Maybe they're on MySpace or Facebook-----I'm not active on those two------but they don't seem to be active on LinkedIn (even though I am now retired, I joined LinkedIn because you must be a member to recommend others). Why is this? Is it a generational thing, or are all of my erstwhile comrades-in-arms hiding out from something?? At any rate, I'd certainly like to locate and re-establish contact with David S. Gunzel, my boss at Radio Shack's technical publications group when I worked there in the late 1970s. Dave, if you're reading this, my e-mail address can be found on my profile at this blog, so please shoot me an e-mail and let me explain why I'm living in Texas again after all my complaining about the Dallas/Fort Worth area!