APPLE REVEALS

It’s here! The full-color iPad tablet and, apparently, it’s a beauty. Hopefully, some of the killer apps will resuscitate the media. Thanks, Steve.

See The New York Times: All The News That’s Fit to Tab

The iPad is “a device that sits between the laptop and the smart phone – and which does certain things better than both of them, like browsing the Web, reading e-books and playing video. There was enormous anticipation leading up to its release on Jan. 27, 2010. Media companies hoped that the device would finally lead to a viable way for them to charge for news, books and other material.

The iPad’s features and specifications, once the stuff of Internet myth, are now sharply in focus: The half-inch thick, 1.5-pound device will feature a 9.7-inch multi-touch screen and is powered by a customized Apple microchip, which it has dubbed A4. The iPad will have the same operating system as the iPhone and access to its 140,000 applications.”

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/i/ipad/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=iPad&st=cse

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HOWL

For Mothers Everywhere, with apologies to beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who foretold the parallel insanity so well.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by

madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the dish-strewn kitchens at dawn

looking for an angry cup of coffee,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly

connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery

of 3 a.m. feedings,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat

up nursing in the supernatural darkness of

cold-water flats floating across the tops of suburbs

contemplating sleep . . .

who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn-

ing their money in wastebaskets and listening

to the Terror through the wall.

Mistakes

At the ball field near our house, my children run as only kids do—they airplane, zoom, skitter and stalk, pretending to be T Rex or just plain Rex.

To them, it’s simply another place to play.

Then one morning I went for a walk, stepping onto the same diamond—alone. Suddenly, I was seven.

In a quiet moment, touch your toes to the patina dusting home plate. If you played baseball or softball, you will remember:

The sense of wielding a bat too heavy—brushed aluminum muted by rubber.

Squinting at the spinning blur of a ball.

Thump. Crack. Pop or Thud.

I yearned to play shortstop. It seemed romantic, that dancing between bases, never tied to any one spot. I was, instead, out in left field—praying the softballs wouldn’t come my way. Inevitably, the specks would drop from the sky like stitched leather bombs. And I had reason to be afraid. My brother once hurled a baseball that grazed the top of my glove and smashed my lower lip.

Still, in the fourth grade, all my friends were on softball teams. I can picture the photo: Orange jerseys, sunburned faces, me in the first row—peeking from under my cap. My mother stood beside the team, looking so young, brushing back wisps of hair.

I didn’t step onto a field again until I was in my mid-20s—at a company softball game. It was the early days of a doomed relationship. As I stood next to the New Boyfriend—a former ballplayer for the University of Miami Hurricanes—I heard a Thwack. The ball arced over to left field.

Up, Up, Up, and then Down, Down, Down.

I closed my eyes, turned my head, and tried to catch it. With the wrong hand. The bomb landed squarely on top of my naked right thumb. One smashed joint, and, a few days later, a surgical drill and three metal pins. Yet on that Sunday afternoon, on that ballfield in Fort Lauderdale, I didn’t make a sound.

I wasn’t brave. I was embarrassed.

I called my brother. “You never could catch a ball,” he said.

It seems I was less afraid of the ball than I was of making a mistake, any mistake. Today, I look at the three-inch scar on my hand. Will my kids forgive their own imperfections as they grow up? Unlikely.

Because children understand truth in a way only children can: Even though everyone says it’s all just a game—that you’re out there to have fun—everyone really will be disappointed if you mess up.

An Open Letter to Steve Jobs

Dear Steve,

I read a column in The New York Times the other day that implored you to create a tablet that could download magazine and newspaper subscriptions like apps, a sophisticated e-reader of sorts.

“What the world is waiting for,” the Times’ David Carr recently keened to an Apple exec, “is a lightweight device that has a backlit, four-color screen big enough to comfortably read.”

Hear! Hear! I’ve been keening for the same. Millions of us, in fact, would love to read articles and view images on something other than a 2-inch-by-3-inch palm-size screen or an unwieldy laptop. And we’ll pay to do so. You of all people know that cheap apps are all the rage.

Apparently, Steve, you’re making a big product announcement later this month, perhaps along these lines. An iSlate? An iMag? Or an iGutenberg?

Whether this product fills the niche, or evolves, I have a few requests to add to Carr’s plea:

Please make your 21st century slate beautiful—easy to read and lovely to the touch. Let it be as slim as New York Magazine and as colorful as a full-page Vogue advertisement.  We love to look at Vogue advertisements. And please, please make it a pleasure to hold, a superlight Uber magazine that doesn’t make us hunch over like Monkish scribes chained to scrolls.

Readers will hold it, read it, show it off. Advertisers will love it. And journalism might survive into the next century.

Charles Village for Sale

Please enjoy this second Charles Village Observed short essay, written by Johns Hopkins University student Simon Lim, of the Fall ’09 Introduction to Fiction and Nonfiction (IFN) cohort. — JCS

Yard sales. Where old things find new places to collect dust.

Sunlight sieves its way through a cloudy sky one day in Fall. In the wan glow on a street corner in Charles Village, everything seems older.

A ladder next rests to the door, a heap of tarps and paint buckets on the floor reveal the real reason for this yard sale: Renovation. Littered among the typical secondhand yard sale items: used doorbells, rusted switches, and ancient knobs, all which tell of one-too-many renovation projects gone awry. A cocker spaniel peeks out a window and then vanishes. The work inside clearly entertains him more.

This yard sale is small. A few old chairs sit out front, placed awkwardly, half expecting buyers. A shelf of vintage paperbacks, each book neatly occupying its own plastic sleeve sits next to a table. The table’s array seems oblivious to order, boasting towel bars, pens, light bulbs, light shades and old soda bottles as though they were all somehow related. In a corner, there’s a box stacked with neglected 78 rpm records. Had they been more delicately stored, these worn records might have caught the eye of a collector.

A blue minivan pulls around the corner. A blue floral shirt exits the passenger side, its owner looking out of place. “Excuse me, do you know what’s the name of this part of the city?” He says to the closest man. “Charles Village” was all the courtesy given in return. The blue shirt looks around, and, uninterested, gets back into his minivan and drives off. The drive-by.

“I see you’ve got a bargain! This is it! You’re the one that found it!” the seller says to a white-haired man, who holds up a faded silver tray in one hand and cash in the other. The buyers’ ponytail, a mix of white and silver, akin to his newly purchased tray, bounces down the sidewalk. The quick buyer.

An elderly couple browses, the wife pulls ahead, her eyes fixated on the chairs. The husband, having seen this happen too many times before, exclaims “No chairs! No chairs!” Looking at the sellers, he explains, “She could sell you some chairs!” The wife, a sheepish look on her face, tells her story to the female seller, while her husband does the same to the male. A cheerful exchange of experiences brought upon by years and years of yard sales. The veterans.

Two houses away sits a house. On the front lawn a “For Sale!” sign lists a Realtors contact number. Just below it, another sign stuck into the ground reads “For Rent!” in bold yellow letters. Stuck on the bottom of the For Rent sign is a paper torn from a college notebook. “Free!” Below it sits a green mannequin head and Terry Pratchett’s The Light Fantastic, crudely placed.