There is a charming piece of music by Leroy Anderson called “The Typewriter” that requires a manual typewriter to be played onstage as part of the orchestra. When it was composed in 1950 this was no problem – typewriters were everywhere. When it was scheduled to be performed at the Staller Center at Stony Brook this month there was a problem. Where do you find a functioning typewriter these days?
One answer would be: in my basement, where I have at least five fully-functioning manual typewriters, that provide a reassuring link with the past.
Other people’s memories can be annoying. Like me you are probably surrounded by relatives and friends who remember everything that you yourself have forgotten or repressed, especially the most embarrassing moments, and share them in public at every opportunity. I would prefer not to be reminded of the stupid things I did when I was six, or even sixty. If you are related to someone who has total recall of the past it’s like living inside the National Security Agency – no scrap of data is left unrecorded.
This is not a big election year for us, apart from the New York Mayoral race, and I have nothing to say about that except that we could use someone more entertaining, like Boris Johnson the Mayor of London. If politicians can’t be effective at least they should be fun. Right now politics is all tricks and no treats.
Whichever way you look at it Halloween is a very strange event. The encyclopedia says that it is an old Druidic ritual, but I don’t know any Druids in our area. They must be hiding behind those masks. Two thousand years ago, back in the old country, before they all migrated to Long Island, the Druids used to celebrate Halloween as the day of Samhain, Lord of Death.