Being a blogger is sort of like being a columnist.
You get to write short essays about subjects that interest you. Those essays, a.k.a. blog posts, are published and made available to readers.
But I've always looked upon blogging as being to genuine column-writing as masturbation is to sex with another person: it's easier to do it all by yourself, yet less satisfying. It does indeed take two to tango.
So I'm thrilled to be able to say, "I am a columnist." In a real publication, made of paper (as well as pixels).
Today my first Strange Up Salem column appeared in Salem Weekly.
Which is published every two weeks. And is given away free. And is Salem's alternative print publication, albeit with a decent readership.
Still, hey, I'm a columnist!
Along with Paul Krugman and Thomas Friedman. I'm just one (freaking gigantic) step from being read regularly by readers of this country's most respected newspaper.
Plus, Krugman and Friedman don't have a column logo as cool as what some talented person at Salem Weekly came up with. Here it is, as featured on the cover.
Have a read. I've embarked on a journey into strangeness. Which, of course, I've been on since birth. Along with every other person on Earth.
If our marvelously unique President were to offer his advice, I imagine him saying, “You are the strange that you’ve been waiting for.” We are the people who are going to Strange Up Salem.
Not outside businesses, developers, politicians, artists, or creative class immigrants. Us. Adapting a well-known self-improvement phrase, we need a city-wide mantra: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting stranger and stranger.”
At one point in my life I worried about being considered strange. Now, I consider it a compliment. The most interesting people I’ve known, the most fascinating places I’ve been to, the most unforgettable experiences I’ve had — they’ve all been compellingly strange.
So I’ve got a single qualification for writing this column: I’m strange, and I adore strange. I’ll feel at home in these pages because Salem Weekly also is strange. I’m looking forward to exploring the twists and turns, boundaries, and qualities of strangeness.
Along with you.
Strange Up Salem has to be a communal happening, a venture into uncharted territory where we all stand on the border between who each of us is now and what our city is now, and boldly keep stepping forward.
Onward, into strangeness.
At the age of 64, it's all becoming very clear to me now. Very clear indeed. I'm homing in on the Secret of the Cosmos, the Theory of Everything, the Key that Unlocks Every Mystery.
It's been right in front of me this whole time: strangeness. I just made the mistake of thinking, "That's so strange; I've got to look somewhere else."
No, it's Strange that we want, need, and long for.
It's Strange that makes everyday life into something mind-blowing. It's Strange that converts ordinary into unique, mundane into special, ignorable into can't-take-my-eyes-off-of-you. I'm going to enjoy explaining to others, and to myself, why I'm not crazy to think this way.
Or, if I am crazy, why this is a fine madness.