Somewhere embedded on the candlestick chart of historic tragedies, between, say, the Armenian Genocide and the Andrea Doria, is this: receiving an email from the responder



Waking up to this missive brought me back to the day when I had a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship for coverage of animal and environmental issues…now I realize that this is not the same occupational caliber of the Fourth Estate, as, for example, writing about visiting the homes of the wealthy and repeatedly giving shouts-out to one’s friends in the pages of a free weekly shopper magazine, but, still.

In any case one of the stories I wrote back in the day was about the infestation by roaches of some of Atlanta’s downtown landmarks. One of the things I learned was about roach housing, or harborage, in (for another example) restaurants housed in older structures amid a fairly high building density adjacent to bodies of water and a connected estuarial sewer system (this probably does not resonate at all!) was that, because the static population of roaches is always relatively high and self-managing through nice roach habits like juvenile cannibalism, and is also largely nocturnal, something really extraordinary has to happen in order for roaches to come out and be seen during the day (like, say, in a bustling bright loud kitchen during a health inspection?), there have to be so many roaches, such an explosion of the roach population, that, basically, they have to come out and forage to prevent from starving (and as you probably also know roaches can go a good while without eating).

So in such a situation, in addition to the stray visible roaches, we are talking about an infestation of, like, millions of roaches. If you took the lid off the nearest manhole cover and shot a leaf blower into it, the sky would turn black with flying roaches… So, that. PR might be able to spin the Benghazi situation, but all the consulting in the world can’t make millions of roaches go away. Except for the gullible in-crowd wannabes, who, in an obverse of the Emperor’s New Clothes, will simply will themselves into not seeing or thinking about them. The roaches, I mean… For a breakdown of roach-related health issues, please see this totally legit publication from the World Health Organization.

Anyway, etymology is really just a distraction from the main issue at hand. I was looking out the window of the library today at people coming and going from the Bavarian State Library – that’s right, Germany is so urban-planningly backwards that some city blocks contain more than one library – thinking about how these patrons of all ages and ilks are, like, just quaintly reading and stuff – at home, on the train, and even actually at the library – entirely missing out on the opportunity to be taken for hipsters by ostentatiously carrying the books around in symbolic Ben Hur-inspired chariots, making Cinegrams of using Remembrance of Things Past as ballast whilst skydiving in Fleur de Lis formation, or whatever. To be so not-with-it must mean the Bavarian people are disconnected from some sort of mass cultural directive…maybe they do not use email?

Preoccupied with the electronic communiction (for that is the E in email, is it not) this brought nostalgically to mind some of the staff at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, who also do not use email…I mean, like, to actually communicate? Like if you sent someone there an email or several it would not be answered (democratically though irrespective to your real or perceived station in life)? Because apparently the MFA’s email contact list, while it is not useful for, you know, contacting the people on it directly, has some sort of BitCoin like value (in the sense that the empty Coke Zero bottle I have been carrying around for the past month looking for the appropriate .15 Pfand receptacle has value).

How else then to explain the recent spate of vaguely museum-related emails from entities and people I have never given my email address to? Like the one I was earlier referring to, pictured above.

Keep St. Petersburg local…LÖL. I am amused because of my misunderstanding of this Facebook initiative and its millions (numbering in the roaches) of followers. For some reason, local eateries in downtown St. Petersburg remind me of, oh….Apropos? such great pecan waffles, really strong coffee and sometimes a seat by the window/water. Mangroves? The enormous $4.50 grilled cheese sandwich with fresh rosemary. The Globe? A haven for artists and musicians (not the TedX kind, lifers). Independently owned and operated by St. Petersburg residents (in some case natives). Wait you have never heard of those places you say? Oh, long closed and demised. “Keep St. Petersburg Local” actually means kicking (or in this kicking back, as in the $10,000 PR move donation) important contracts – the kind that would have kept a truly small local afloat for months – to chain restaurants who require a league of consultants to tell them that being infested with roaches is not good public relations.

It’s like an O. Henry/F.W. Murnau mashup of body horror and torturously obvious conclusions that selling out of an email list by people who do not use email would have a sort of Haunting of Hill House (or maybe I mean Silent Hill) flavor so to speak…

Realizing that precious little in life concentrates the aroma of desperate confidence into a single distillation like a Pace (Mild!) -salsa caked Jackson, the MFA, like the people of the Free State and their librarying ways, renounces the modern, embracing the base aesthetic of Mimic. Lo, the thing that has been invented called “email” and its ARPA ancestor, “the Internet,” brings the opportunity for incomprehensibly (think swarm) amounts of funding in the personages of the NEH et. al. Some non-profit grantors even give museums, like, hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time, plus free attendant goodwill and publicity! Cray!  Sadly the visual is less riveting than wheelbarrows full of salt-free Santitas, and the means to acquisition electronic, even involving the dreaded email…but…I don’t know.

In any case, unlike my city-mates and the staff of the MFA, I do use email and I already get quite a lot of it. It would be an embarrassment of riches and an affront to my semi-Marxist, semi-Marcist ethic to collect communication generated by the sharing of my contact information that I have not actually earned the distinction of soliciting myself. Beyond that, as I have pointed out earlier, I do not require David Foster Wallace: The Decorative in  1990s Bandannas to be distributed to me via rickshaw, to imbibe anything other than the local Dunkel, or to ingest anything that is crunchy and brown that is not a pretzel.  Therefore I would take it as an act of charity if you, MFA,  would kindly cease sharing my email address … with anyone. I realize electing not to be exposed to opportunities to fraternize with the exoskeletal majority and/or to inflict the withering coolness of my Animal Collective lunchbox on the bewilderedly displaced users of a shuffleboard court may consign me to a hermetic existence where I might never again engage in a discussion about Greta Gerwig, but, I’m willing to do without the complimentary bacon-wheatgrass smoothies.