Monday, January 19, 2004

Oz Sez, "Whaa?"

Where were you 601 weeks ago? Maybe you were out getting a new pair of glasses. Maybe you were out getting a divorce. Maybe you were sitting with the pubescent members of Jet listening as they plunked a few guitar chords. Well not me. Six hundred and one weeks ago on a late June afternoon I was rolling a blank piece of paper into my electric typewriter and sitting down to produce the very first Cheapo newsletter.

A lot has changed since then. We're at war in Iraq (umm... wait a minute, maybe that isn't a change). We have a Bush as President (umm....). In the corner of the newsletter office a kitty rolls himself into a ball to try and catch some sleep despite the blaring music (umm... again not so much of a change).

Yes to quote the late great Yankee catcher Thurman Munson, the more things change the more they remain the same. Six hundred and one weeks ago I was in love with someone who was no longer around. Now days the same feeling may exist for someone who might as well not be. Six hundred and one weeks ago I was up late at night editing and typing up some stories while watching the CBS late night show, One West Waikiki torn between my goofy yet disturbing attraction to Cheryl Ladd and my critical facilities that could barely stand to continue to watch such dreck. These days I experience the same thing watching The View daily because I happen to like Elisabeth Filarski (Hasselbeck).

So a dozen years later I'm listening to Atmosphere's Lucy Ford ("I hope your new boyfriend gets cancer in his d....") and I'm sure back then what I probably was listening to was Del the Funky Homosapien ("Mr. Dobalina... Mister Bob Dobba lina..."). And you call this progress? At that time I was spending my Saturday morning pricing moldy LPs at Landfill and this Saturday morning I found myself helping my friend make labels for her infectious techno CD mixes. One step forward, one step... So time tells me I've lost one cat, a constant newsletter inspiration and production observer. I've also lost my Mom, a regular proud newsletter reader.

Very few of the readers back when we started are still reading the same thing today. One of the facts of life these daze is that very few of us stay working for the same company more than a few years in a row. Six hundred and one is far too much to long a time to expect one to stay in the same place. In the fall of 1992 I went and saw Bob Dylan perform fifty different songs at five shows within a week of each other at the Orpheum in downtown Minneapolis. I've never been quite the same since and have viewed music and art (and life) in a brand new (inspirational) light since those shows. When my Mom died seven years later my friend (the techno mix maker) advised me that I would have to take baby steps to somehow deal with the loss. So upon further reflection (NFL slowmo style) I think I've done that quite well. Problem is I'm not sure if those steps have been forward or back.

If someone had told me then that 12 years (601 weeks) later we'd still be, on a weekly basis, coming out with an eight page newsletter for the employees of this company to read (and more importantly, to communicate through) and that we hadn't missed a week (issue- weak issue har har har) during that time I think I might have responded by saying that would be something to be proud about because being dependable is nothing to sneeze at. Nope, being there is something to never ever take for granted.

But enough self inflicted back patting. This is all about change while remaining the significantly the same and wondering if that's a strength, a source of pride, or if just doing something over and over really is something that is ultimately a positive. Just because you are always there doesn't mean that that is a good thing. You don't have to make that much of a difference for it to be a moot issue that keeps you up at night. You can pull back and retreat and smart all at once. Or you can plow forward, head down, both out of humility and out of necessity.

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