In 1993, a move from my lifelong home in the Boston area to Hilton Head Island (SC), spawned the foolish stream of inscrutable writings that has come to be nicknamed The Blings.
Wanting to keep in touch with many people after I moved away, finding postcards woefully inadequate to say all that I wanted to say about my new island home and all that was weird or wild or wonderful about it, and not having near enough time to pen individual letters to all 26 of them, I hit upon the idea of doing a newsletter sort of thing. You know, type one long letter on my old Commodore 64 "computer," include little quips and heys and such to each of them as it rambled on, then photocopy the whole thing and send the same damn letter to each and every one of 'em. Saved me time, and everybody got mail. Real mail. Not a bill, not an email, not a flyer, not an ad -- a real goddamn sit-down-and-read-it letter.
Well, it went over pretty well, I guess, so I kept doing it. The original one was about 5 pages or so, and they kinda grew gradually after that.
In November of '93, I up and moved as far south as the road would take me, and settled into Key West (FL) for the winter. Eschewing apartments and their exorbitant rent, I lived in Max, my faithful 1987 Dodge Van, and worked for $5/hour at Wings, a now-defunct T-shirt shop on Duval Street, diagonally across from Sloppy Joe's. I did my writing on a now-obsolete device called a PWP -- a Personal Word Processing typewriter.
Of course, having no electricity in the van, I had to forage for it elsewhere whenever I wanted to put my Notbook entries into type. Sometimes that would be upstairs at work, but I never liked to do that because whenever you were at work, Danny, the manager, tried to put you to work. Other times, I would plug in at the laundromat while my laundry was cookin', or find a vacant outlet in the corner of some bar, and quietly plip away while I sloshed down some Key West suds.
The Duval Street Walking Tour Blings of March 1994 were the longest to that point, being 13 pages of absolutely crammed and jammed type, single-spaced and max-margined for ultimate page capacity. The mailing list was up over 40 by then, and the cost of photocopying and mailing was getting kinda high -- I think that batch cost about $60 in all. That was almost half a week's pay! And equal to about 15 beers!!! Such sacrifice in the name of literature!
Winter ended, and I returned to the north. But a few people lamented that there would be no more newsletters, so I kept doing them, roughly every three months, trying to put one out every solstice and equinox.
So, why "Blings?" Well, I'll tell ya.
By 1996 or so, the mailing list was pushing 60, I had discovered laptop computers and the Internet and digital photography, and the letters were swelling to greater proportions than ever. Since they were just kinda rambling prose -- much like this explanation is -- and my initials are RAM, I had dubbed them the RAMblings. My astute coaching friend Scott Simmons sent me back an email asking "A bling? What is that??" and the name stuck.
Yeah, that's all. You were expecting something more salacious and provocative? Bite me.
Anyway, the letters continue to this day, and the last couple have been so long that I just send them in segments. the Roadrage2000 letter was supposed to document my entire 31-day summer roadtrip around the USA, but I had only gotten as far as Utah and I had reached 48 pages, so I just sent it out with a "To Be Continued..." tag on it. The 2003 "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" tome reached 140 pages, and was sent as two bound volumes.
Mind you, as you sit at your computer, probably leaning forward in your chair, with your retinas slowly being scorched by the monitor's glow, and your wrist carpally poised over your mouse or touchpad, these Blings were not intended to be read electronically. This is not the relaxed, kick back, casual, time-to-unwind, frame of mind that the Blings have always been intended to foster. They were all originally penned or plipped as letters, and hence should be read with your feet up and fat-assin' in the Barca-Lounger, or sprawled on the Sealy Posture-pedic, with the Sandman poised, bucket-ready, over your head. They also work quite well in the bathroom, for some reason, especially if you print them out on really soft paper. ;)
But, since you're here, sit back in your chair, chill a bit, and do a little readin'. I've tried to keep the backgrounds easy on the eyes. I've given you many pretty pictures to look at too. Some of the Blings are cup-a-coffee short, others are lunch-time long. Click a couple at random and see what you get.
"At random" -- I always heard that phrase as a little kid, connected with all those Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes cereal box sweepstakes: "Winners will be selected at Random." I envisioned this fabulous auditorium, with a golden spinning drum, from which the winning box top would be pulled, while thousands of eager children watched breathlessly. Random surely must have been a town near Battle Creek, Michigan, even though I could never find it on a map. I always wanted to go there. Then, one day, big brother Bob laughingly told me that Random was not a place, but that it was just a word. And that gleaming auditorium blurred and fizzled. Sigh.
Huh? Oh yeah, I digress. So, I have hit upon an idea that might work as a book. I have hundreds of pages of letters and old Notbook entries (yes, the spelling of "Notbook" is deliberate), and they have just needed some kind of thread to connect them all and make them bookable. I'm gonna give it a go.
Phase 1 is to flush the whole damn Roadrage 2000 roadtrip and its attendant mental meanderings out of the crooks and nannies of my brain and onto paper/screen. That's what's posted on the main page here. Phase 2 will be to edit the holy crap out of it once the full flush is flushed. So if you read some passages that you think really suck, well fear not because they'll probably gate axed into oblivion soon.
So, as Wynnie would say, "anywaaaayyy", now go have yourself a relaxing read. :-]
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