Category Archives: public typewriting
Here’s an interesting episode on Kids Devour Technology — where a group of open minded kids get some time with some “ancient typing machines.” Halfway through, ha— “I love this and I want to keep it, actually…” says one. The unseen narrator tries to paint typewriter use as a primitive privation, though… of course, it’s a TV kids’ “educational show,” so let’s no be too hard on them. Any typewriter exposure is generally a Good Thing.
This great magazine’s publisher, John R. MacArthur, says Paper is Still Relevant–and he keeps a loaded typewriter on his desk! He also believes writers should be properly paid for their work and points out this doesn’t happen when everything is free. Obvious, but rarely said so well. If you’re not a Harper’s subscriber–now’s the time. (of course JRM’s no fool–you can subscribe online Subscribe to Harpers )
Well, for WTD, decided to make use of a lovely electrical outlet right along the bike path near my house–loaded up a bike trailer hitched to the trusty Brompton folder bike with an IBM Selectric II, a long cord and a little school desk. Stuck an Olivetti Lettera 32 in the Brompton front bag and rode 7/10 of a mile to the spot, right next to the Schuylkill.
Felt a bit like a snafu at first as runners and cyclists zipped past, not even bothering to look at the printout of the original Sholes, Glidden and Soule patent from June 23, 1868–much less the sheet proclaiming it World Typewriter Day. But soon enough some more curious types gave the Selectric a try.
Sadly, I was unable to follow through on R. Polt’s “alternative materials” suggestion. I had brought along a couple Chemex coffee filters to type on, but never got them out. Also a bit miffed that no one took me up on some suggested letter targets: had brought a sheet with the mailing addresses for President Obama, the Pope and Benedict Cumberbatch, among others. Maybe at the next Type-IN?
But this young man, a recent Upenn grad, did take the time to write a quick letter to a family member–I lent him a fountain pen to sign it with. Both action were firsts for him, I believe, and I suspect, for the letter’s recipient. As the sun dipped low, loaded everything back onto the trailer and was home in time for a little dinner. Bless you, U.S. Patent Office, for making this World Typewriter Day possible.
PS -An hour later, the mailbox had a snack, clunking its satisfaction at the evening treat from our Penn grad, now a consultant for Accenture.
Like typewriters, bicycles need a human operator to complete the circuit… here’s a short essay from a fellow traveler — in an excellent newish publication called Bicycle Times.
Today’s NYT has a slideshow on the magical realist writer, including a nice desk shot where he is using an unknown (to me, that is) typewriter.
Here’s the “sig” cartoon of Joe McGinniss, at his start, banging out a Metro Column
on an unidentified typewriter for the Philadelphia INQUIRER. For a story about the days when a
Metro columnist could say, “I’d rather cover the Viet Nam war than City Council…” and
wind up on a plane for Saigon in short order, click here.
Matriculated! Or curated, at any rate…. The Institute of Contemporary Art ( icaphila.org )at the University of Pennsylvania wanted visitors to their 50th Anniversary Exhibition (now through Aug. 17.) to be able to type their thoughts. Left an Olympia SM-9, a massive Olympia SG-1, and an IBM Selectric II to choose from… They went with the Selectric–still period correct, certainly a design classic worthy of the ICA and impossible to jam. Will monitor the scene and see what gets typed….
Here’s a double row of newspaper pros clacking their stories backstage at the 1962 Academy Awards. Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images–as seen in AdWeek’s 3/24 issue, which noted that West Side Story won Best Picture back then. There must be two dozen machines; bet that made an awesome sound.