My Salon-tro

So a group of us who cut our blogging teeth in the early ‘aughts on a platform sponsored by Salon Magazine has decided to try to break the FB/Twitter microblogging straitjacket and reincarnate our former blogging selves, at least for the month of February.  Kind of like a rookie contract on the taxi squad.  We’ll be cross-posting by linking in a Facebook group.  Sticking it to the Man!

I like the idea, as I think my writing chops, such as they were, have withered since blogging gave way to the largely empty calories of FB and Twitter.  I’ve maintained my Salon blog name as a dedicated domain, and post something every couple of months when something jumps into my head, probably aliens hacking my brain through my remaining silver amalgam fillings.  (I’m actually not sure if I have any of those left, as I had a dentist in the 70s and 80s who was hellbent on replacing them with gold onlays.  I think he may have had a William Jennings Bryant dartboard in his office.  Guys from my crematory are going to have a pretty grand weekend, but I hope they have to wait a while).

I happened onto the Salon platform sometime in 2003, when I subscribed to the online magazine.  I hadn’t heard of “blogging” before, and it sounded like a mechanism to keep a promise to write that I’d made to myself in high school.  I was editor of our school newspaper my senior year, and gave myself permission to write a “humor” column called Philbo’s Phollies, after a regrettably enduring nickname that an asshole math teacher hung on me in 7th grade.  I wanted to style it after a syndicated feature in the Toledo Blade at the time called The Squirrel Cage, written by a Seattle Post-Intelligencer guy named Douglass Welch.  The Squirrel Cage was a series of vignettes populated by characters in a nondescript suburban neighborhood, which pretty much characterized my home town, but was adept at exposing human foibles humorously and with self-deprecation.

I kind of thrilled at the way stuff found its way from fugitive pockets of my subconscious onto the page through my prosaic ink pen, but once I graduated it fell fallow.   As time went by, technological advances such as the IBM PC, word processing programs, Usenet and maillists seemed to make the task of writing less onerous and more likely to be appreciated, but I never engaged until I followed that link to Salon blogging.

The platform had a satisfying array of folks, some who went on to be A-listers, and many of us have kept in touch through social media.  I never got into politics or confessional drama (and still won’t), preferring to try to entertain a bit and make the occasional effort to post a more polished piece.  I kept hoping that more people would read and comment, but I ended up with about 10.  The few, the proud.  When Facebook came along, there was so much more contact, and I like it for the relaxed connectivity it affords.  When I can post a photo and get 70 “likes” by midnight, it seems more gratifying than working on a blog piece for 90 minutes and get a comment or 2.  Seems, but it’s ephemeral, and in a half hour it’s submerged in a gaggle of cats.

I’ll keep my presence on Facebook because it’s kind of a free-for-all home room, but I’m hoping to rekindle that rewarding feeling of making more considered prose.


  1. You just laid out the last 15 years nicely there, and also reminded me about why social media (blogging is social media, but you know) ultimately became so unsatisfying. It’s so passive, for one thing. By God, in the old days, you had to have INTENT and DESIRE to read a blog post. And more than 5 seconds.

    I’ll be interested to see where this takes you. Sometimes writing just to write something will surprise us.

  2. Phil:

    Well, I have 50 years of promise-breaking to contravene, so…

  3. Summed it all up perfectly, especially the 90 minutes of sweat and tears to write a blog post that only got a few comments! That instant gratification that FB provides is hard to resist.

  4. Yep. I had a similar experience. I found Salon blogs in the Summer of 2002. I think Hugh Elliott started that July. I didn’t realize they weren’t paid writers for Salon. I remember when I figured it out and said, “Wait. You mean ANYONE can launch one of these blog things and have your writing be online here?

    I was in.

    I left Salon at some point, probably 2006 or so, in part because the blog software was so horrible. Remember Radio? Kept my blog going until 2010. Started another one called Tertium Squid which I kept until last year when I decided to consolidate my writing at

    Honestly, I’m doubtful that this has much of a chance, just because it’s so hard for anything to become “a thing.” But I do miss those days, so I’m going to throw some energy into this, hoping we catch a little lightening in Chuck’s bottle.

  5. Phil:

    I just welcome any ruse that kicks my ass to write something.

  6. i don’t even “contribute” to facebook, tho i do comment and like. i did write a fair amount on new dharma bums for some years.i sometimes look back and don’t always recognize what i wrote. i did like to go on back then. some of it even impressed me. i think a lot. just don’t write much.

  7. I am not a big fan of Facebook. It seems to be mostly links to other sites and hardly a personal perspective about anything. I still prefer blogging and would like to do more of it. We started blogging in late 2004/early 2005 when a former student of mine (one I never met because he worked on a campus newspaper late in the evening and I did my advising during the sunlit hours) named Ezra Klein told me about his blog called Pandagon. Roger and I had just retired and moved to the Olympic Peninsula. We had a lot of time on our hands and saw eagles, herons, egrets, bobcats, and coyotes out our back door. It was a perfect way to channel our new life into shared moments of beauty (or outright fury and anger when we were compelled to blog about Bush, Iraq, Cheney, and that insanity). We’ve kept at it trying to do two posts a week. I find that the more I comment on other blogs, the more people come to comment on ours. It’s a mutual admiration society out there. I love when you blog. Keep at it, Phil.

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