when there was no crawdad we ate sand


That’s it. I’m declaring this to be Analog Summer. I won’t have a functioning computer for another two weeks, it’s the middle of August when nothing works anyway, and besides, what are we doing in front of a computer monitor ANYWAY?

I’m not trying to be a Luddite, I’m just mindful that we – yes, WE – are going to be the last generation that remembers a time when we weren’t so goddamned tethered to a working internet, and wireless shit, and constantly being updated by what both Libya and our 5th-grade lab partner were doing today.

We are going to be the last cohort of people with a fairly broad range of non-digital skill sets at our disposal… you want calligraphy? I can do that, just give me the right pen. You want sleight-of-hand tricks? Give Salem an afternoon, he’ll make your motherfucking dime disappear. You want potato enchiladas from memory? My brother Kent will make ’em all special like.

On Tuesday, I’m going to Napa Valley to help my dad recuperate from Lyme Disease, which means assembling their new barbecue, setting up his office, and hooking up his turntable (ANALOG!). At the same time, Tessa will be outlining a new script idea while taking breaks to work on a new jump in ice skating, and Lucy will be attending a week of local theater camp, all of which I consider fine analog activities.

I will be dispatching this blog from a balustrade of semaphores lining the roof, then sent through a vacuum-tubed oscilloscope and flung out on a forty-meter radio wave to reach you. How you then translate this information is your digital secret, but as long as it’s Analog Summer, can you list some skills you’re able to pull out if there’s a full electricity blackout and internet shutdown?

I’ll start:

• the aforementioned calligraphy (including Gothic and Celtic, fuckers!)

• gardening, with emphasis on tomatoes, peaches and strawberries

• crown moulding and chair rails

• Morse Code, violin and quiz questions (the Please Beat Me Up Triumvirate of childhood)

• fireplace technology

• proletariat astronomy

• 3-point shot

• when that isn’t sinking, then callous scorched-earth profanity

• animal husbandry

• actually, I don’t have that skill, but it always sounded so awesome

• Boggle, Connect Four, Stratego, Othello, Spades, and Rook

and you?


a partially-damaged B&W Polaroid of my dad on an old B&W television show, next to wired phone circa ’66 = awesome

15 thoughts on “when there was no crawdad we ate sand

  1. Julie

    Give me a deck or two of cards. I know at least 15 or so games that can entertain for hours. Also adding to the board game list would be Life, Battleship, Monopoly, Clue. Finally, a hammock and lots of clouds – I can still make up stories with the fictional “characters” I see in the clouds.

  2. Scott

    Basic construction – electrical, plumbing, framing, drywall. It won’t be 100%, top-of-the-line, but it will be servicable and better than the fly-by-night contractor.
    Whistling. Mostly while I work. Yes, really.
    Gardening, tending closer to wholesale farming.
    I can also lay a mean brick patio.

  3. Scott

    I just got the joke. The best way to show that we are implementing an Analog Summer is to not respond! I just wish I had noticed that earlier.

  4. carolyn

    Ooooh! I have had calligraphy on my list of skills to acquire for quite awhile. Did you teach yourself?
    My analog skillz:
    *all manner of embroidery – crewel, silk ribbon, crazy quilting, stumpwork, freestyle.
    *knitting – i’m intermediate. i’ve been making woodland creatures lately. this year i entered a squirrel and a viking battle helmet into the state fair. i’m having thoughts of going through the steps to become a recognized master knitter.
    *tatting lace
    *doll and toy making
    *basic vet tech
    * clarinet, piano, fiddle (but i’m way rusty)
    * tarot card reader
    * baking. ALL BAKING. just give me an excuse to bake. i will bake anything you want. better then anything you can buy.
    *business management

  5. craighill

    cooking on the big green egg as much as possible. now that it’s getting cooler the egg usage curve will steepen tremendously. some recent BGE summer hits:
    – quail (one spicy carolina treet bbq/scotts marinade, one szechuan/soy, and one simple olive oil/garlic/s/p. the spicy bbq won hands down) slow grill at 275.
    – grouper rubbed in szeged fish rub on a bed of sliced lemons laid out on a pizza stone. cook at 300.
    -tri-tip steak – local ny butcher shoppe rubbed one of these underrated steaks with big billy’s spicy rub. sear at 800, remove then finish at 250 to temp. slice and serve. a big one can feed 6 at about half the price of a strip and maybe a quarter the price of a tenderloin.
    warning – BGE usage has been linked to higher alcohol and tobacco intake.

  6. Joanna

    My contributions to the Analog Summer commune will be:
    – the best gazpacho and chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever had
    – faucet installation and leak repair
    – wet nurse services
    – dream interpretation

  7. erica

    Ooooohh – some of these contributions make me want the commune for real!
    In no particular order:
    -cake decorating with fondant (a perfect counterpoint to Carolyn)
    -painting – watercolor or acrylic only – no patience for oils
    -home improvement – basic electrical, plumbing, painting, wallpapering – again a nice compliment to Scott – I can tape and mud your drywall
    -basic gymnastics – I still walk better on my hands than my feet
    -instructional design – build your own training experience
    Southwestern Michigan seems to experience power outages more than anywhere else I have lived. Sadly I implement none of these, chosing instead to be annoyed with my very bored kids.

  8. Bozoette Mary

    Lying on the beach
    Swimming in the ocean
    Walking on the boardwalk
    Riding the ferris wheel
    Sitting on the porch
    Making and consuming adult beverages
    Staring at the cat

  9. Mom

    I own and can play an actual hand-built 1930s Steinway piano. Always thought the electricity would go at some point, and I could still have Bach and Ravel and Mozart and… well, music. Without plugging anything in.
    And i can write out a whole orchestral score, by hand, on paper.
    Those will have to do.
    Of course, though, there ARE the orange rolls.

  10. ally

    I can play the piano nicely, but unfortunately don’t access to one. In the meantime, I will write a mean letter by hand (I’ve got great handwriting. And write good letters.) I’ll doodle. Perhaps it will even evolve into drawing. I will read long articles in magazines and newspapers. There will be some singing. And then I will imagine stuff.

  11. Bud

    I’ve got more analog skills than digital ones.
    – Ultralight backpacking, wilderness survival, map & compass navigation (etc)
    – Mountaineering, rock climbing, glacier travel, (these are a bit rusty!)
    – Basic electrical, basic plumbing, basic auto/motorcycle repair & maintenance
    – I make a mean pasta putanesca and can make pizza from scratch
    – I’m learning bicycle repair and bread baking
    But I can’t dance – so don’t ask me!

  12. Bob

    – also good on the Morse code/violin front, plus clarinet and drums. Musical instruments were played long ago; still OK with Morse code.
    – simple bicycle repairs on the road.
    – decent home handyman skills, particularly if they involve wiring or simple woodworking.
    – computer assembly and repair, learned mostly at the School of I’ll Never Do That Again.
    – survivalist cooking.
    – putting blank lines between items to make lists look longer.

  13. wottop

    Playing ‘The Tag’ on the Trumpet and Piano [not at the same time]
    Making a mean NY Cheesecake.
    Gross manipulation of household items. I can move the contents of one room to another, just don’t ask me to arrange any of it.


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