On a breezy summer August evening In Manhattan, walking around Tudor Park with my Mom, a serious thought suddenly stopped her from walking.
“I’ve never seen a Tweet,” she said.
So I stopped too, and pulled out my phone to show her. “This is what it looks like on this device. It looks different on other devices — your phone, someone else’s phone, and on the web.”
We sat in a small and beautiful public park in an area of the city I’d never seen, and I conveyed, using simple terms, the differences between Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (where she is a user). I made it relatable: “If Gucci has 10 million followers on Instagram, how might they use Instagram to share…”
“The fall looks!” she erupted, catching on. “There goes catalogs.”
The next morning, I received an email entirely written in the subject line:
hi. trip home was uneventful. what a pleasure living here! 2 seconds to the train, taxis are available all nite long. very civilized. tonite was delightful, and i thank you again for a yummy dinner and great conversation. i really do hope you enjoy this coming weekend. please make sure to kiss jordan and the butchkalas for me and tell them how much i love them and miss them. safe drive down and back. looked up gazpacho recipe which i haven’t made in years and forgot how easy and appropriate it is for the summer. thanks for the suggestion. mommy wuvs you. xoxo
Today my Dad and I drove from New York to Washington, DC. About five hours of drive time, on a circuitous route he preferred, avoiding all major highways and cities between the two metropolitan areas. (I met him in Irvington and we took 287 > 78 > lunch at a Jamaican place in Harrisburg > 15 > 270, if you’re curious.)
Along the route, I saw only three signs I should have stopped to photograph.
A few times he pointed, slowly, gesturally, with his right hand, as if controlled like a marionette of childhood desire. Occasionally these gestures were accompanied by exhortation: “Dairy Queen!” — pronounced with just enough time to slow down with accident as the driver of his Subaru. And occasionally these gestures were silent.
We stopped at a farm on route 15 that had great signage — great enough to entice us off the main road. Every few hundred feet there were serial messages attached to rusty bikes, leaning against miles of corn. So we bought corn, a dozen heirloom tomatoes all of the same size (lasagna on the menu tomorrow night), and sadly, too few deliciously drippy peaches.
We talked about hip hop vs rap, and I played him a bit of Groove Theory and then a bit of Tribe. We left this particular inquiry at: “Is there any rap that’s more Barbara Streisandy…?”
We talked about newspapers vs newsfeeds. Where the news gets the news (hint: it’s Twitter). He refers to everything handheld as a “gizmo.” Even: “Is there a gizmo on that... gizmo that can tell me how the market did today?” The retired stockbroker, still checking in. I fetched it from the soon-to-be-deleteable apps I keep in a folder called Crapple.
The most engaging of topics happened after lunch when he asked, during a long stretch of big puffy billowy cumulus clouds, if I thought that all our memories are stored in our brains somewhere.
“Hm,” I said aloud. “Great question… Yes, I do think all experiences are stored.”
“Well, if you think about it, DNA has four times the computing power of the ones and zeroes that power computers.”
“Ya lost me.”
“Think of it this way: if you were cooking with just salt and pepper, you’d have limited range. Although you can do a lot with it, it’s still just two options. But instead if you had access to parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme… you’d have a different order of magnitude.”