FRANKENJAVA, AND GOODBYE MR. GUTENBERG
April 6, 2007
By T.W. Burger
Snicker me no doodles…gimme coffee.
Call me old-fashioned. Even boring. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
I confess that I am a coffee snob, but not one of those who will only order, I dunno, a half-caff, elderberry latte or some other horror.
What the hell happened to coffee? I mean a regular cuppa joe, java, whatever.
I attended a meeting the other night where the participants all received a ‘goody bag.’ I got one, too, which was nice. There were brochures for various businesses, a mug from a local bank, a coffee scoop and a free sample of ground coffee called “Snickerdoodle,” enough for a single pot.
I was immediately suspicious. Coffee is, to me, a very serious drink, sometimes ceremonial, even sacramental, sometimes gustatory, even medicinal, something to keep me from falling over in a dead stupor while writing about, say, some township’s tax ordinances, or sitting through a staff meeting. It pries me loose from the fogs of sleep in the morning, and bolsters my spirits during the day.
Coffee is not something one names “Snickerdoodle.”
Imagine a Catholic calling Pope Benedict XVI “Benny,” or, increasingly, as painful as calling George W. Bush “Mr. President.”
Anyway, I had to try it. Yesterday morning I opened up the little plastic baggie and dumped the little pile of Snickerdoodle into my coffee maker and stumbled off to get dressed while the machine coughed and gurgled.
After awhile, I sat in the living room, laptop at the ready for my morning ritual of email and scanning newspapers online, a steaming cuppa coffee at my side.
Excuse me: Make that a steaming mug of Snickerdoodle.
OK, imagine if somebody had decided to make a new type of Hershey’s Kisses, only instead of chocolate, had substituted roast beef. Nothing wrong with roast beef, you know. Just not in that context.
That’s what Snickerdoodle tasted like. Not like roast beef candy…but like something amiss, out of place. A gilded lily. A mistake. Not icky like, say, eating bugs, just not right.
Thank you, Mr. Gutenberg, but it’s time to say goodbye.
I admit to being a fuddy-duddy in some respects (note words on coffee above,) but yesterday on the long drive to work I had a sort of a mini-revelation. I’ve been writing a column more-or-less regularly for 27 years. Sorry, I’m not tired yet, but I have discovered a sort of stuck-in-a-rut quality to what I do. Mostly, it is due to my longtime partnership with Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg. Johannes, rest his soul, has been a great boon to me.
Somewhere just shy of 600 years ago, Mr. Gutenberg invented the printing press, a device that inarguably changed the world, and more or less made it a better place, with the possible exception of junk mail.
His gizmo, much refined, made newspapers possible, and newspapers have kept me employed for most of the years I have been at this.
But there’s the rub. Writing for newspapers tattoos into one’s DNA certain hard-to-quit habits, like deadlines.
For all those column-writing years, I have had one day or night a week when I wrote a column (well there was a time when it was six days or night a week, but that got old after a couple of years.) If I missed that date, I didn’t have a column that week. If I had an idea for another column and I’d already sent one off, I had to tuck that away for another week. Usually, when the time came, I’d forgotten what the idea was, or, worse, remembered the topic but couldn’t recall what my thinking had been on it.
Late in life, (yesterday morning) it occurred to me that I was behind the times. My newspaper still prints on a daily basis. But we also publish online, and breaking news appears there as we write it. The deadline as we used to know it is gone. News, for good or ill, is there as soon as we know about it, even if we don’t know much.
So, why am I still sitting here working as though I was still buddied up with Mr. Gutenberg? It has been two years since this column regularly appeared on newsprint, yet I have been writing as though there were a crew of ink-stained wretches standing around playing pocket pool while I finished my column.
So, from now on, Burger to Go will be a little bit like breaking news on-line…pretty much written and sent when I think of them. It’s likely to be a little choppy at first…old habits die hard…but I’m trying to keep up with the times.
And now, I’ve got to go break the news to Johannes. Maybe I should ease the news with a cup of coffee. Or maybe he’d prefer Snickerdoodle.
© 2007 Marsh Creek Media,
“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.