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Thirty-Five Years Ago
Whenever there’s a lull at a party I lean forward and say, “You know I don’t drive.”

Of course, if I announced that I had given up sex, not a head would turn, not a voice would be raised. Everyone knows that the instinct for sex fluctuates, that it creates sadness as well as joy, that it can prove disruptive as well as productive in our lives. But not driving in Southern California! That’s the very stuff of improbable madness!
“A WALKER IN OUR TOWN,” E.J. Rackow, November 20, 1975

Thirty Years Ago
Lawrence Welk has just built a theater-museum honoring himself. A gala benefit will mark its opening tonight. First, the invited guests will gather in the central plaza.... Then a helicopter will fly overhead to sprinkle the crowd with the petals of 4000 orchids and 4000 plumerias specially flown in from Hawaii. Someone will unveil a brass statue of Lawrence Welk waving his baton and both the live Mr. Welk and the statue will beam as 350 balloons rise heavenward (like champagne bubbles,” Mr. Welk’s publicist explains).
CITY LIGHTS: “A MAN AND HIS MUSIC,” Jeannette De Wyze, November 20, 1980

Twenty-Five Years Ago
“I bought a foot massager — stupid! Who has time to sit down and put their feet in it? I bought an olive pitter. The pit goes flying one way, and the olive gets mangled. I have a bean stringer that’s supposed to French-cut and take the strings out at the same time. I’ve mashed every bean I’ve ever tried. Rubber gloves. I enjoy tinkering with things, and it always seems a good idea to protect my hands. I buy gloves, put them on four times, and take them off eight. I just can’t work in them. I keep buying them though.”
OFF THE CUFF: “WHAT WAS THE LAST USELESS THING YOU PURCHASED?” November 21, 1985

Twenty Years Ago
I am writing in response to the article “The Marines Are Sitting on a Few Good Acres.” The term BAM does not mean “bitch-ass Marine.” It has always meant “broad-assed Marine.”

During boot camp at Parris Island, a WM Master Gunnery Sergeant told my platoon that we might hear that expression when we arrived at our new duty stations. She told us what it meant and then said, “If anyone calls you a BAM, call him a HAM. The H stands for half.”
LETTERS: “BAMS SLAM HAMS,” Gwen Nolte, Oceanside, November 21, 1990

Fifteen Years Ago
A San Diego man is suing America Online, alleging the popular computer service — and Internet onramp — overcharges its customers. Richard Webb claims AOL rounds billing time to the next minute if the user was on for 1 to 45 seconds and adds a full minute if the user was on for 46 to 60 seconds. The suit further alleges that AOL “intentionally causes users to incur additional, undisclosed charges” through mandatory downloading of image files, billing members for time spent accessing “free areas” and disconnecting, letting the clock run during access delays caused by AOL software.
CITY LIGHTS: “CYBER LAW,” Thomas K. Arnold, November 16, 1995

Ten Years Ago
Rockwell wasn’t a very good painter. The paintings are inert not because they’re realistic and anecdotal but because their dynamics are lifeless and mechanical. When he devises complicated spatial relationships and cropping, as in Saying Grace, where restaurant diners pause to stare at a grandmother and child praying before they eat, the construction is modeled on Old Master precedents that Rockwell didn’t have the pictorial inventiveness to reimagine.
ART REVIEW: “MIDDLEBROW MASTER,” W.S. Di Piero, November 16, 2000

Five Years Ago
I’m among the drummers who frequented the Friars overpass within the last few years. Not only are the acoustics not bad, they’re INCREDIBLE!! It makes my kit, which doesn’t really sound that impressive (it’s a junker) come to life, turning a modest kick-drum into the explosive sound of a cannon from a navy battleship.... It feels and sounds like John Bonham is in the house...er...I mean under the bridge.
STRAIGHT FROM THE HIP, Matthew Alice, November 17, 2005

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