Monday, June 1, 2009

The Coffee Klatsch

Way back in, oh, 1993 or so, my company, a San Francisco based magazine publisher, installed an email system. This brought a wonderful improvement to workplace communication – and a new way to gossip and b.s. with co-workers. It was the first truly valuable cyberslacking tool.

Soon, I and three other guys – Cormie, JShin & Stod - began an email conversation, one that that has continued to this day. Early on, we gave ourselves the not-particularly original name of The Coffee Klatsch, and it stuck. By the end of our collective time at this company, we were geographically scattered – to New York, Western Massachussets, San Francisco, and San Mateo, CA. Today, none of us work there. But the email conversation goes on.

(Like the Beatles, we had a fifth member in the early days – two of them, in fact. Snowman was the first, JPoth the second. A few guest players – Billy Prestons, if you will – joined in the occasional thread, but it was mostly the four of us.)

What did we talk about? Well, let’s see…

Baseball – Mets, Giants, and Red Sox; the usage and value of statistics; pre-season predictions; the morality of some kinds of cheating (steroids) vs. others (spitballs); and more

Football – Giants and 49ers mostly, with a bit of Raider love

Women – our co-workers, and in one memorable moment, Jennifer Aniston

Music – all over the board, from Townes Van Zandt to Steely Dan to Billy Joel to the San Jose Symphony

Fiction – a heavy emphasis on Cormac McCarthy, but with many many other authors from Thomas Pynchon to JK Rowling

History – a lot of Lincoln, a strong dose of John Adams, a dash of the Federal Road, and much more

Kids – we have 9 between us

Politics -

Ah, politics. The damn thing nearly cracked up over politics. Politics was always a core issue in the conversation, with our worldviews ranging from Far Left to Center Right. In the 90's, when the country's primary political argument was about the biological nature of that damned stain, we had a lot of fun with political conversation. But the Bush years brought a level of passion and acrimony to politics that hadn’t been seen in this country since the Vietnam War. And as our disagreements heightened over the overall Bush response to terrorism, well, things got tense, and we retreated to the sanctuary of sports and music.

But now it is the dawning of the Age of Obama, the man who promised us a post-partisan world. And I wondered if, perhaps, we could start talking politics again. So we started an email conversation that I thought I’d share with you.

But first, here are the four contributors (I wrote Stod's and my bio; JShin and Cormie wrote their own):

Keatang : Well, this is my blog, so maybe you know me already. Click here for a link to a post that I wrote on the anniversary of FreeTime which gives you an idea of who I am and what I write.

JShin: Cathy to Cormie's Patty, if you go back far enough to remember the Patty Duke Show, i.e., "one pair of matching bookends, different as night and day," ideologically fairly closely planted on the spectrum, but stylistically large lakes -- if not oceans -- apart. Good cop to Stod's crazy cop. I love these guys, but I also love to hate 'em, which I guess makes us good blog fodder.

Cormie: Born comfortable on the left coast, Cormie got angry in the mid 80s and never quite recovered. He left a middle middle finger dangling from a tree on the bank of the Yaquina river in the hopes that George W. Bush would someday take up rafting

Stod: Stod is a writer/editor with one foot firmly planted in the future (he writes about advanced technology from Silicon Valley) and one in the past (he does so in an office piled high with old newspapers). He believes Glenallen Hill is the most underrated outfielder of the 1990’s, and still blames Robbie Robertson for the breakup of The Band.

So anyway, in the next couple of day or so I’ll post the first Klatsch Convo on the exciting topic of: The Federal Deficit! Betcha can’t wait…

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