Monday, June 16, 2014


As of today, I have been doing this blog for 10 years. I don't know if there is much to say about it. I set up a blog (not this one) in the first place to see if I could write for a blog, see if posting stuff online a couple times a week made sense. I'd been interacting with people online for years by then - started at work back around 1990-91, tried out Prodigy, Compuserve, AOL about the same time (early 91), settled into AOL by 93-94, and stayed there. Message boards - I found a couple groups I really liked - a writers group first, some movie groups later, and found that very satisfying. But by 2004 or so, AOL was starting to lose its appeal. The folders my buddies hung out in were shut down; we started up somewhere else, but were invaded by trolls, racists and fools, and the decent people slowly drained away. Meanwhile, I had been reading the internet since the WWW began - Mosaic opened up the world. I read whatever I could find through the years - personal web pages; online magazines; sites like Slate and Suck and Salon and Word; and finally, in the early 00s, blogs. I don't remember exactly where I started - maybe links out from Slate or Salon, maybe somewhere else - but I started finding blogs...and as AOL got boring, I decided to try blogging. That was in 2003, actually - it already seemed a bit passé, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it or not - so I set about trying it, but almost in private. Opting out of search engines, things like that. And - decided the process worked - but wasn't really all that enthused about unleashing my experiments on the world... So The Listening Ear was born, to start clean, a little more publicly.

Even so, I didn't really chase readers - it was still more an exercise in writing and posting for itself, than for an audience. At the beginning, it looked more like a normal blog, I think. All politics, all the time for a while - with the odd bit of culture blogging, occasional geek posts, and eventually - in the same post! - getting to what would be the staples of the blog (and were the staples of what I argued about on AOL for many years) - films and music. Still - it was mostly politics at first, until 2005, when I started working in a few more film posts - the kinds of things I would have posted on AOL in the past... But AOL was dead - and so I started putting that stuff here. And started seeing the advantages of doing things like that on a blog. Starting with a series of posts on Busby Berkeley, in May and June - a combination of notes from a film festival, and a long essay on Berkeley's style, much of it (to be honest) derived from an essay I'd written for a class a couple years before that... After that, this became a film blog - which it has remained, more or less - though this year, you'd never know it. I've given myself over completely to history - anniversaries and such - and music.

But mainly, this has been a film blog. Film blogging started to get me something like an audience - and I started making connections to other bloggers. Those were the days of the blogathons - there were so many, I put up a page to keep track of them - I participated in a few. I made connections, there, and managed, in my modest and somewhat uncommitted way, to interact with the film blogosphere. It was a very satisfying time - which is reflected in the content at this blog. I posted a lot, from 05-08, most of it film related (though music got in there too, in a more ritualized way, maybe), a good deal of it related to film-writing on other blogs. Blogathons - Harry Tuttle's Contemplative Cinema blogathons and site; the Film of the Month Club , and so on. I made connections - from old AOL cronies, like Joseph B. and Evan Waters; academic oriented film bloggers, like Girish; and other film bloggers, like Edward Copeland, Ed Howard and Joel Bocko. People have come and gone since then - though I am happy to still have a few connections in the world. These days mainly, Wonders in the Dark - which remains a great site, varied and enthusiastic.

So - the next 10 years? Good lord. Who knows. This year - expect more Civil War and WWI, bands of the month - and hopefully some films. (Definitely in relation to Wonders in the Dark's Romance Countdown, going on all summer.) The next month or so - mostly soccer... I've always intended this to be a place I can write about whatever popped into my head - an assortment of observations - the soup of culture, I called it back when I started. Hardy Boys, Captain Beefheart and Imamura my guiding lights, so to speak... probably ought to have Bruce Catton, Carl Yastrzemski and Charles Schulz up there somewhere too. Anyway - on we go.

UPDATE: One thing I hope to manage in the next 10 years is to learn to read a calendar. The anniversary of the birth of this humble blog is June 17, not June 16 - unfortunately, I suppose, as I could then celebrate its anniversaries with Joyce quotes. Hoopsa, boyaboy, hoops! But alas - the date is tomorrow.

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