Yesterday, Martha Mills asked a question about using a manual typewriter on Facebook. It prompted the following.
Oh, the stories those key-bangers told! One of my favorites involved research for a report to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee about dramatic changes in international communications. I was in Belgrade. It was the late 1970s.
At that time, except for its news about Yugoslavia, Tanjug, the government news agency, was considered by Americans to be producing a pretty solid fact-based product, particularly its reporting on what was happening in China.
The head of the news agency wanted to have his two-cents in the report. He invited me to what I thought would be his office. It turned out to be a dreary, dark, brick walled room that felt like it’s original purpose was a holding pen for anti-government protestors.
We were alone with one table, two chairs, our notepads, pens, pencils, and portable typewriters. In the middle of the table were two glasses and two full bottles of slivovitz, a wicked high-octane regional drink that dissolves the enamel of human teeth and sterilizes a drinker’s plumbing system.
The journalist was a very big man. After a few drinks he seemed to be six-foot-36. Within a half hour we were best-buddies, laughing at who-knows-what because his English was raw and my knowledge of Slavic languages hadn’t surfaced. Still hasn’t.
My new friend’s volume (vocal and physical) grew exponentially over the next hour-and-a-half. My mind was sliding into a slippery sea of slush. My questions were getting longer, dimmer and slurrier, matching his English.
But his hands, especially his fingers, had grown up to the “gigantic” mark on a digital size-o-mometer. At that point, all I could concentrate on was one question, “How could this guy report using his standard gauge portable typewriter?” Each of his fingers would hit at least two keys.
Can’t remember if I asked it.
I probably heard a lot that was relevant to The New World Information Order. At the time the elites in First, Second, Third, and Fourth Worlds (Rich countries, Commies, Poor countries and the Dirt Poor) were hot-and-bothered about the issue. Inasmuch as my notes were indecipherable and my hangover was indescribable, that meeting never made it to the report, which became as controversial worldwide as I had hoped. Although I didn’t like the zingers from Africa, a couple of them really hurt.
This story may be relevant today when we are beset with dire reports about the information missing from the summary of Mr. Trump’s infamous call with his fellow TV comic, the current president of Ukraine.
If my experience is relevant (and it is not) the code word for the White House back story could be SLIVOVITZ!
My blog and Facebook posts include many items like this. Most are much shorter. Some include names I can remember. Among them are Phyllis Diller, Judy Garland, and John W. Bubbles in Chicago, John Wayne in Panama, and FDR aboard ship with the Saudi King. The title is “poor georgie’s almanack.” Just Google it.
Silk screen of Underwood by Anne Duncan
poor georgie’s almanack