April 16, 2021

Weekend Reads: Purple, the Dust Bowl, and Typewriters

A weekly roundup of the web's most fascinating reads.

Weekend Reads: Purple, the Dust Bowl, and Typewriters

Love this essay in Gulf Coast by my friend, Robert James Russell, about his relationship to the color purple (the actual color, not the book or movie):

I don’t know why I had put so much stock in this shirt, in the purple of it. It was just a color. And it shouldn’t have mattered so much, those boys and their taunts, but middle school is a jungle and their cackles were machete strokes hacking away at me. I smiled. I held back tears. Everyone pointed and laughed. Later, at home, I buried the shirt in the bottom drawer of my dresser. My mother said I was making too big a deal out of it, that kids had short memories. I said she didn’t remember that far back, she’d forgotten how untrue that was. I never wore the shirt again.

Author Eric Shonkwiler writes about Ruination Day (April 14th), the climate crisis of the Dust Bowl, and the climate crisis the world is facing in the next several years:

There’s actually precedent for the entrepreneurial spirit tackling climate change. During the Dust Bowl, a pavement magnate in the East swore up and down that if he were given the resources, he could make the Midwest a parking lot, and we wouldn’t have to worry about all that dust anymore. The oil industry is, right now, essentially engaging in this discourse with us. We’ve moved on from climate denialism, and graduated to greenwashing and obfuscation. Exxon will swear up and down that they’re working on bio-fuels, that they’re committed to net-zero goals, that we can count on them to solve this issue so long as we keep giving them money for fossil fuels. This is not an adequate solution, even if they intend to make good on their net-zero promises. Net-zero is paving over the Midwest to stop dust storms. It’s a lie, and we can’t fall for it.

Robert Messenger at ozTypewriter has the last 1100 words of Ann Patchett's story in the March 8th issue of The New Yorker dealing with the typewriters in her family:

There were two manual typewriters in the closet right behind us. One was my grandmother’s little Adler, a Tippa 7 that typed in cursive. She’d used it for everything, so much so that if I were to type a note on it now I’d feel as if I were reading her handwriting. I wasn’t giving the Adler away. I also owned a Hermes 3000 that my mother and my stepfather had bought for me when I was in college, the most gorgeous typewriter I could have imagined. I wrote every college paper on it, every story. In graduate school, I typed at my kitchen table in a straight-backed chair that my friend Lucy had bought at the Tuesday-night auction in Iowa City. Draft after draft, I banged away until my back seized, then I would lie flat on the living-room rug for days. A luggage tag was still attached to the Hermes’s handle—Piedmont Airlines. I’d brought the typewriter home with me every Christmas, even though it weighed seventeen pounds. Such was my love for that machine that I hadn’t been able to imagine being separated from it for an entire holiday vacation. The stories my mother and my sister had returned to me: they were all typed on the Hermes.

If you want to hear the whole essay, you can listen to it over on The New Yorker's website.