Friday, May 10, 2013

ten years of gold

This is the first and last reference to Kenny Rogers in this post. Apologies to  fans of "The Gambler" hoping for more.

Tomorrow marks a decade since I jotted my first random thought online. The site has waxed and waned, from periods of prolific posting to a depository of reprints from defunct outlets. What started as an attempt to resurrect my university journal writing habit became the launch pad for my current writing career, even if many early entries were little more than text messages which I later wiped out.

The earliest screen capture I could find of the site, snapped June 2, 2004.
The ongoing process of reformatting and cleaning up old entries has revealed plenty of changes over the past decade. In May 2003, I had long dropped the notion of working at Canadian Tire’s head office for two years before moving on to something else. By year four, a comfort zone had set in. Yet old creative impulses reassert themselves. Writing had been a painful process since the black comedy of The Ontarion, an experience whose legacy would probably be diagnosed as a mild case of post-traumatic stress disorder. It didn’t help that an attempt to restart a written journal/scrapbook died when that notebook vanished along with the backpack it was resting in. Observing the world of blogs which emerged at that time, I thought it might be fun to see where writing one might lead to. One without flashing letters and bad MIDI files.
One of the advantages of working at Canadian Tire was seeing bizarre products merchandisers hoped the public would buy, like celebrity-endorsed fragrance discs. The full post, sadly without long-gone images.
While early posts centered on outings with friends, few recent posts touch on those activities. Maybe it was a realization I didn’t have to chronicle everything to the world. Maybe it was disagreements with others when I posted material I had no inkling they didn’t want published. Maybe it was the experience of seeing the shifts in friends over the years, those who moved or faded away. Maybe it was the rise of social media, which allowed shorter, snappier acknowledgement of these adventures. I’m not going to sugar-coat it—I have deleted a lot of early posts lest they cause anyone embarrassment in the future, though there’s always the Wayback Machine to uncover those pieces (I've also deleted a lot of link-centric posts - many were dead, and Facebook/Twitter took over that function).

Going back also shows the genesis of material I wrote for fun then and for (minimal) profit now. Posts of cheesy advertisements hacked out of my father’s boxes of Sports Illustrated and scanned from magazines found at the curbside gave birth to the “Vintage Toronto Ads” column on Torontoist. Short pieces on local history evolved into my literary specialty.


Walking and advertising: the two great themes of the site's middle years.
Connections were also made through this site. The combination of reaction to a series exploring the backstreets of Toronto and a Globe and Mail article on a walking group with the funny-sounding name “Toronto Psychogeography Society” introduced me to a world I comfortably fit into, where I discovered others who shared (and broadened) my interests.

What does the future hold for the ol’ Warehouse? Hard to say. This site has been on life support for awhile, lending credence to arguments that the blog is dead. Yet lately new material is stealthily creeping its way back onto the site. I would like to do more “DVD bonus features” pieces for my work elsewhere, or take time to work on material that doesn’t fit anywhere else in my writing universe. Ideally this site should become a writing test kitchen, where articles are thrown against the wall to see if they stick.

Just like a good non-dead blog should.

Thanks for being loyal Warehouse customers for the past 10 years.

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