Time Changes Things

The old Kleb’s building is on Broadway along the route I usually walk. It’s closed now, but 30 years ago it was the best source for all things Levi and Carhart and Redwing. There was never a bustle to the store, nobody went there to shop. You went in there for jeans and jean jackets and work clothing. Kleb sat toward the back and was a good enough guy to chat with. He knew everything about work clothes. If he did not have it in his store he knew how to get it.

This was all pre-internet. You couldn’t just type something into Google or Amazon and order and wait for it to show up. There were any number of specialty store stuck here and there, Clock stores, Vacuum Stores, TV repair shops and guys like Kleb who knew everything about a specific subject. Getting certain things was not a couple of clicks but an adventure, a quest, and you used to go look at stuff before you bought it and did not depend on other people’s ratings. You needed a Kleb to get certain stuff, it was the only way.

Time changes things. Charles Frazier wrote about that in one his other books besides Cold Mountain, the idea that until the last couple of centuries in human history, that you were born and lived and died and things were pretty much technologically the same your whole life long. Now the passage of time means change. I used to quote Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun” and then, sage-like as I could deliver say, “and that was written 3000 years ago.”

I still think that is true, sort of. Now I think it means there is nothing new about the human animal. Genetically we are the same as any other human that has ever used writing. In fact, the last genetic shift in the human animal was when farming added a huge amount of grains to our diet beginning about 8500 years ago and had to do with digesting those grains. Any way you tally it, humans like us have been doing the same stuff for a very long time. Technology though, and understanding about ourselves, well that has changed, and mostly in the last couple of centuries.

The internet is not a specific change but rather a part of the change to the pace of the human life. Everything is immediate, humans no longer follow the rhythms of the earth or a natural clock, but one of their own unconscious design. No one set out to doom a small specialty store like Kleb by increasing our use of online shopping. It happened though. I could not say if that was a good or bad thing.

I am not sure what things like this mean anymore. Time was I had answers. Now as I think on things I only seem to be muddying the water, adding questions and not answers. My dogs don’t think on these things and every morning they want a walk. So we go, and we pass by Kleb Clothing and Shoe Company. It is closed now, Kleb retired. You can get work clothes online though.

Hostile Natives.

The Patch Neighborhood in south St Louis is one of the oldest in the city. It is a somewhat marginalized area. My wife and I paid cash for a small house there after we retired, thinking we would spend the bulk of our time at the country house and stay in the Patch house to visit family. The first grandchild changed all that and showed how little we anticipated how a grandchild would change things. For now we are spending more time in the city than we thought we would, but we have the opportunity to spend time with our first granddaughter, which is joy incomparable. The dogs chafe at the small yard after several years living mostly in the country. Thus the daily walks when we stay in the city.

Before I discovered the River des Peres Greenway I would just walk this way and that through the generally run down neighborhood. The Patch has a long history and some very old and varied architecture. Stein street has some stone houses almost as old as the old courthouse downtown. Some of the frame houses have a french look that stands out against the brick found through out St Louis.

It is an interesting area. Humans built an thriving mound culture here and across the river a millennia before Europeans showed up. It irks me that Europeans labelled the people they were supplanting “hostile” but history is written by the victors. Thing is though, human culture is dynamic, things are always in flux. Of course the native peoples are not going to readily accept outsiders.

Achilles was right.

This one professor at UMSL, Matt Kimbrell, is a bad ass. I have him for World Lit and he is teaching The Odyssey right now, jumping and screaming at the story like Homer wrote it yesterday and not thousands of years ago. It is a terrific class and the bit about “the young Dawn showed again with her rosy fingers” from The Odyssey came to me as I looked at the morning sky during my walk.

I got to thinking about The Odyssey and Achilles talking to Odysseus in the underworld and telling him he would rather be alive with nothing than dead as he was then. That was the choice he made though, Achilles traded a long boring life for glory in battle. Kimbrell used the Neil Young’s “Hey hey, My My” when he was lecturing, about how “once you are gone you can never come back.” It occurred to me the analogy fails if you look too hard, later in the song Neil talks about “burn out” and “rust.” Both are the interaction of a material with oxygen. Chemically they are the same. Time is the variable.

Kimbrell also had us read the famous commencement speech by David Foster Wallace, “This is Water.” I was very moved by the transcript, I had never read it. Wallace talked about “the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities.” That is a big idea to wrap your head around. It is important to understand how that idea colors your thinking and to be able to set yourself apart from that way of thinking now and again. At least I think so, but I need read more of what Wallace had written.

Oddly enough, I should already be acquainted with David Foster Wallace. He is my age and grew up in my hometown. He went to a different High School, but I may have met him in my youth. He was a regionally ranked tennis player the same time my sister was playing, I used to go to her matches all the time. I took a class with his mother, Sally Wallace, at the local community college. She was challenging but not intimidating, I got an “A.” I did a little research about Wallace, I will get around to reading him on summer break most likely, I don’t have time right now. He is an Achilles-like figure. His flame burnt brightly but just for a short while. I wonder if you could talk with him now if he would say the same things as Achilles.

I should have asked more questions.

Ok, I think I understand this to be how I make a post. Time was, when I did this in the past, you had to find the spot in the HTML code that you wanted to insert an entry and write the code that dropped it into your page. Then you had to insert your post in the code you placed to give the post a home. Then you had to go back and make the link to that post. I stopped doing HTML just before cascading style sheets. It seems as if wordpress should be easier.

It’s gloomy. Even if it were clear the sunrises this time of year are not that great. It goes from dark and gloomy to brighter and gloomy. Spring is coming though, soon enough. It won’t be too long that the heat will limit the distance the heavy dog and the Yorkie can go. Neither can stand the heat. Nothing really bothers the simple brown dog though.

This learning curve with the technical aspects of the blog is not my kind of fun. I wanted to write an entry and use the age and personalities of the different dogs and relate them to aspects of my life, young dumb athlete, older heavier tempered thoughtful guy, small shrill inconsequential bundle of emotion barking at the world. It sounded good in my head until wordpress started fucking with me. I will get to it as I get better with the medium.

What?

I had the leashes for the two big dogs hooked in my belt so I could swing my arms as I walked

and the Yorkie on the long skinny one looped behind my left glove.

I paid attention to my footing as it had started spitting December rain and the sidewalk was slick.

Up a slow rise a block away I could see a female form clad all in stretchy black headed quickly my way, not jogging but maybe a power walker.

As she neared I saw she was shoeless in the rain, without a jacket, with a huge mane of unkept hair tossed back over her shoulders and a face full of conflict.

“You know they are all dead, right?” she said as she walked past.

“Right,” I answered.