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Alice cafe in Oakland

September 19th, 2002

Right Behind, Coming
Wednesday. I called the cardiologist's office and asked for an appointment to discuss this upcoming prostate operation. Well, they had an opening in late October and they had a cancellation for noon tomorrow. So, I talk with him at noon tomorrow. What does he think about this operation and, by the way, who might he recommend to do it? Stanford has a really good reputation with prostates. I read that somewhere, so it must be true, doodle-dee-doo. Shit. Another step. The pace will pick up now, faster and faster, and it will happen sooner than I care to contemplate.

Thursday. So, a drive to Palo Alto. What does he think? For me, he likes the operation option. The radiation often causes bleeding four or five years later and for someone who takes a blood thinner, bleeding isn't something you want. Already I have too much information. I think I'll go to bed early tonight, pull up the covers, have a drink. I did get the name of a surgeon. He said he has mixed opinions on the Stanford hospital, but their urology people are absolutely first class. That's good. I had the jaw operation at Stanford, a big production line operation, take a cab in the early morning and check into the hospital, take a cab back four days later looking and feeling like a freak.

Now go back to my doctor in Oakland, repeat the same routine. Always get a second opinion. And maybe a third. My cousin said before they cut they look for signs of the cancer having spread - no reason to lose the prostate if the bugs have left the motel: "Good news, no need for the operation! Bad news, you're dead!" - and I guess I'm going to learn how that's done. Go to bed early, my son, pull up the covers.

I did go by the brewery pub for the local blogger "MEETUP". No sign of the folks I met last week on Alice street, so I sat down and had a Guinness at a window table until starmama came rolling in, pointing out three bloggers (Destiny-land, Dijest and Public Nuisance) holding forth at a table to the back. It took about three minutes listening to their conversation to realize they were seriously blog infected, confirming this later, when I had a chance to check out their sites. They talked about blogging as a new and revolutionary medium, a new buzz word reality taking journalism from the journalists and putting it into the hands of anyone with a brain, a few dollars and an urge to go online.

There was a similar buzz about "journals" for a while, an article or two in the New York Times, radio interviews, lots of TV news spots with one or another photogenic journaler before they moved on, as they always move on, to the next hot e-mystique. Most of the "journal" hype was over and gone by the time I arrived in 1998. The people last night thought of an online "journal" more in terms of a personal newspaper column and a blog more a form of personal journalism, a mini-news site with links to other blogs, news stories and items of interest.

The personal journal, as such, has a history as old as the written word and many would argue the newspaper column comparison is inaccurate, although from my personal standpoint the comparison doesn't disturb me much. I think of what I do as a "journal" with some newspaper column aspects. I wrote a newspaper column once, albeit a weekly column in a college newspaper, so I feel comfortable with the analogy, although I understand this is not a widely held opinion among journalers themselves.

I remember a radio conversation between Bill Graham and a young man who was part of the then new seventies San Francisco punk movement, the young man decrying the fact they'd lost the feeling of aliveness and danger inherent in the early dances and concerts, the police and the lack of insurance shutting them down and what he loved as a punk essentially lost in what? A year? It goes like a flash, like beer through the whistle, just as the Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore arrived one day in the late sixties and were gone after a period of maybe a year.

Yes, there's still a Bill Graham organization, but it's many generations removed from what it was. Chet Helms and the Family Dog went under for a second and last time with a fatal decision to give a really incredible concert in the middle of the seventies gasoline crisis. No one was willing to take a chance driving to a concert and then running out of gas half swacked in the boondocks. Something comes, and by the time you notice its made out of magic, it's gone. So be it. Journals, come and gone? Could be. Blogs? We'll see, and if so, so what? Something's right behind, coming.

The banner photograph was taken at the Oakland Alice Arts Center last Tuesday.