30   2 comments

What is 30?  It is the number of tracks on the White Album, to be sure.  Thirty pieces of silver?  The final episode of The Wire was also called “-30-” but that refers to telegraphy signoffs (which, in turn, was adapted from journalism).

Coincidentally, I studied Journalism at Auburn University from 1979-1982 with breaks working construction (Summers in Atlanta trying in vain to pay for the education) and for a graphic arts apprenticeship at the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs, California the winter of 1981-82; following an incident in the Autumn of 1982 I did a stint in the Army eventually working out my court-coerced enlistment at the Defense Information School.  Back then, a journalist finished written work with this as the final line:


Thirty-five years (and a few weeks) ago, I was an 18-year-old working the news desk at WEGL (the campus radio station) in Auburn when three bells rang on the teletype (yes, we had one of those weird little strip printers umbilically attached to Associated Press).  Three bells were reserved for items of extremely high urgency and, as I was extremely high at the time, I retrieved the strip to learn that ‘a spokesman said that Lennon died of gunshot wounds to the head, left arm, and chest” with a finality I wasn’t really used to at the time and punctuated a few lines down with ‘– – –‘ (another, more economical, version of ‘-30-‘ ).

Since then, I have never seen anyone but Ort (an Athens, GA phenomenon) use ‘30‘ to finish an article, but he is from a parallel universe, anyway.  The number 30 probably supplanted the original ‘XXX‘ which seems more intuitive and final in a professional sense: a line of X’s to draw a line under the work.  Less professionally, it might look like some kisses and it may well be that which prompted the migration from Roman numerals.

Hand coloured shot of the spouse in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, roughly 30 years ago

Hand coloured shot of the spouse in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, roughly 30 years ago (photo now sits in my office)


Kisses, then, eh?  When we met just before our birthdays I was 22 years old, Jackie was 30, and we were massive consumers of LSD such that we can’t be absolutely sure if the wedding-to-follow was on the 1985 or 1986 side of midnight for the New Year’s celebration (obviously, I eschewed the advice “Don’t trust anyone over 30“).  Now, it is 30 years on and, if nothing strange has happened since I scheduled this to upload, we should be sitting in a pub in Cork, Ireland, right now a short walk from the E30 trans-Europe highway watching another year pass.

When we started this long, strange trip that New Year’s Eve long ago, most of the scientists I work with, now, were not yet born (neither were Jessica Ennis-Hill, Charlotte Church, Lady Gaga, Megan Fox, the Olsen twins, Lindsay Lohan, Usain Bolt, Florence Welch, nor Oscar Pistorius); MLK day had never been celebrated; the Space Shuttle Challenger was ready for what would be its final fueling at Cape Kennedy; Wiki tells me that ‘the Voyager 2 space probe makes its first encounter with Uranus’ later that year; and, Chernobyl was unknown outside the Soviet Union (which, itself, was still viable).  Also still alive were L. Ron Hubbard, Georgia O’Keeffe, James Cagney, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Genet, The Duchess of Windsor (the former Wallis Simpson), Tenzing Norgay, Benny Goodman, Rudy Vallée, Vincente Minnelli, Scatman Crothers, Cary Grant, and Desi Arnaz (none of whom would be available to attend our 1st anniversary, RIP).  30 years…yikes.

We’ve done the anniversaries in Penzance (#25), Paris (#18), the Hague (#17), and all over Atlanta & a variety of locales near Athens, GA; Bermuda (#14, hoping the Y2K bug would strand us there), Savannah (#15), Chicago (#20), Bisbee, Tucson, Bicester, Ely, Oxford, Swindon, moving house (#10, leaving Atlanta to return to Athens to start my Chemistry PhD), Tybee Island (#5, in a winter storm with the island largely abandoned), and London…with no sign of stopping anytime soon.

So, this 30 is not an end, nor even the beginning of an end; at worst, it might be an end of the beginning.  Or, like that last line, merely a cliché copied from so many earlier hacks.  But, as clichés go, it ain’t bad.




Posted December 31, 2015 by Drunken Bunny in 1PumpLane, Booze, Drugs, Drunken Bunny

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