letter from Lodi
Thursday, December 4 2003
Remember the other day how I wrote about some weird guy calling me and telling me about how he'd liked the picture he'd seen published in a California newspaper? Remember how he asked for my mailing address (purportedly to mail me the picture) and I gave him a bogus one? Well, Hurley is a small town with a tiny post office, and today the letter was delivered to me even though it had been addressed as follows:
217 Hurley Mountain Road
Kingston, NY 12443
(It's great to know that I can give suspect correspondents the address "Gus Mueller, Hurley NY 12443" and actually receive their mail.)
Inside was a huge article published recently in the Record, a newspaper based in Stockton, California. It was the same story that Gretchen's friend Dina had written (and sent out on the AP wire) back in April, though the picture Dina had taken had been so severely cropped that I was the only person left in it. Its caption reads "SWELTERING: Gus Mueller, from Hurley, N.Y., cools down in a stream in Kruger National Park. Seeing the park on foot is the best way to discover its treasures."
With it was a hand-written letter, a weird throwback to a time when people actually wrote things with a pen on paper, folded the paper, put it in an envelope, and sent it off by mail.
The picture I'm sending you appeared in today's Stockton, California "Record." Until now I had never heard of Kruger National Park in Africa. Except for the photo of you, I probably wouldn't have paid any attention to the article itself.
I read "Men's Exercise" magazine which sometimes presents articles that are technical, esoteric and boring. With such articles oftentimes appear a 3" by 5" photo of a nice looking lad wearing simply a bikini swim suit. The strategy of using such a photo apparently works toward getting reader-viewers to notice. In my case, I've trudged through numerous articles that I would have ignored, except for the accompanying photo.
I'm surprised at the size of the park, the equivalent of the entire county of Wales. The older I become the more I realize how much I don't know.
LODI, CA 95240.
I suppose this would qualify as, well, fan mail, and for the most superficial of reasons! I've become so unaccustomed to personal "fame" (even of such a fleeting variety) outside of the context of the internet that this leaves me feeling vaguely nostalgic. You see, I've actually experienced newspaper-based fame in the past, back when I used to send crazy faux right wing letters to the editor of the Staunton Daily News Leader. (There was a time when they'd actually publish my crazy rants. It was a golden age of free expression, back when their publication's blandness was purely unintentional.)
As some my remember, this past summer I'd done a big cowboy electrician job up in Saugerties. I'd wired a whole basement that Katie's boyfriend Louis was in the process of remodeling. I'd reached the point where I'd had to stop because I was waiting for the drywall to go up. But months passed and nobody called me and I never got paid. So I finally called the guy who owns the house and learned that he'd run out of money. He was apologetic and said he'd mail me a check, which he did. But he made it out to my "business" ("Wild West Electrical Services" - a name I made up on the spot when creating the invoice) instead of my name, so I couldn't actually cash it. Today I drove up to Saugerties to pick up a box of tools that have been there since August. I talked to the guy and told him what still needed to be done. He told me the latest version of the check was in the mail.
On the way home, I picked up a bunch more copper fittings for my latest copper pipe project. This would be an elaborate lamp with a hinge that could swing out to various places in the teevee room and serve as a flexible source of illumination. In the course of cutting the pieces and fitting them together, the design became increasingly elaborate so as to deal with real-world issues of strength and flexibility. The design ended up having two hinges instead of one and a radius of about seven feet. But it was still just a bunch of loose pieces.
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