Bodie is a gold rush era ghost town east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Mono Lake California. In its heyday it was a wild west era boomtown with shoot outs, bar-room brawls, stage-coach robberies, and murders. Dust and mayhem in the old wild west!
It had a jail, saloons, a red light district, and a morgue, everything you needed in the lawless frontier, just like all those western movies we’ve all watched.
Bodie also had a Chinatown with an opium den and Taoist temple. I don’t remember Taoist temples in the old western movies, do you? I guess this doesn’t quite fit with the six-guns and society ethos of those movies.
There was a Catholic and Methodist church, to counteract the lawless ways of the frontier, no doubt.
Bodie was founded in 1859 and at its peak it had a population of almost 10,000 people and around 2000 buildings.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is I love about this city so much.
Perhaps the physicality of the city itself; the colours, the striking victorian architecture, the walkable streets.
Perhaps it is the people; the welcoming nature of the city allows for all walks of life to feel like they belong and to be as odd or as normal as they wish to be. Both and all those in between are welcome.
Perhaps it is because before I arrived in San Francisco the only culture/design/style that I had been exposed to beforehand came in the form of a coffee shop in Mammoth Lakes named ‘Black Velvet Coffee’ whose scandinavian coffeehouse interior decor made me never want to go outside.
It’s probably a mixture of all these things and a little more.
My expectations were also low for this city as during my travels I’d learned to experience the…
I’m happy to say that my first featured blogger for the month of September 2016 is author, humorist, blogger, and volunteer firefighter, Ned Hickson:
Before we get started, I just want to say how much I appreciate the invitation to be here, and for not having any questions about what kind of salad dressing I’d be. Although, if I’m being honest, it would be bacon-flavored Ranch because I love bacon. Plus, you wouldn’t have to shake me every time you put me on your salad. I get dizzy easily.
A little about my personal history: I need to preface this by saying my beginnings don’t appear to lend themselves to life as a humorist. At least, not on the surface. I spent my early childhood in one of the many small communities that skirt Los Angeles. Most of my friends were Hispanic, several of who got into gangs — and a few who never made it out. My father’s alcoholism and mental abuse eventually lead to my parents divorcing when I was 11. I lived with my father for two more years until, one night, the abuse turned physical. I fought back. And even though I “won” the fight, I knew I needed to leave before I lost myself and became something I didn’t want to be. I eventually moved in with my mom and her new husband, a man whose love for us continues to be my example as a husband and father. A year later, we moved to a 44-acre plot of land on the Oregon coast. I immediately went from an inner city youth spending the day at the beach or movie theater, to becoming a mud boot-wearing farm boy chopping firewood and swinging a hammer as we built our own home. Though I wondered at first if I’d made a mistake, I began realize the important lessons I was learning through my stepfather’s example. Each day was a new challenge, from building a pole barn to herding cows away from flooding pastures by canoe. He taught me that there are no true obstacles in life, only reasons to explore new routes. His lesson is what I credit for having been able to make my dream of becoming a full-time writer come true despite the lack a of college education. Plus, if you ever have cows stuck in a flood, I’m your man.
My blog’s purpose: I’m a firm believer in the value and importance of humor, especially now. So, deciding on the focus of my blog was pretty easy. I just want it to be a place where people know they can always get a laugh. That was my initial goal and it remains the most important to me.
What other blogs I write for: I’ve had the good fortune of being a guest at several different blog’s over the last few years, including Hasty Dawn’s amazing #BeReal, The kick-ass Sisterwives, Gliterary Girl media, and Marcia Meara’sblog Write On for writers. Recently, I became a weekly featured columnist at The Good Men Project, which focuses on issues and insights into being the best man (husband, father) you can be in today’s society.
And yeah, I was surprised, too.
Thankfully, each of these blogs and publications came to me because, to be honest, I’m really bad at getting out there and promoting myself. In fact, I’m really lucky I’m actually married, which was probably my biggest self-promotion effort ever.
How long have I been blogging: I’ve been blogging since counts on fingers four years. I started it because I wanted it to be an extension of my column, but with a chance to explore some topics I know my editor would never go for — such as writing about my vasectomy. Or my “review” of a Twilight book that doesn’t actually exist. Over time it has evolved to include a few regular features each week, along with spontaneous posts as things happen. There’s a real sense of immediacy in blogging that you can’t get with newspaper writing. I love getting an idea, writing it up, posting it and seeing the “comment” icon light up. I have some hilarious followers on my blog who make me laugh every day.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
How often do I post: I rarely post more than three times a week. I don’t want to become that guy has everyone say to themselves, “Oh jeez, not HIM again…”
Unless I’ve already become “that” guy.
Great. Now I’m worried…
About my books: I had my first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, published in 2013 by Port Hole Publishing. It is essentially a collection of my most popular humor columns over the last 16 years — as opposed to most of my other columns. It’s divided into chapters — Marriage, Fatherhood, Journalism, Parenting, etc. — so that you can immediately turn to a chapter that applies to your current situation and immediately feel better about yourself. It was a lot fun to put together and, perhaps more importantly, serves as an embarrassment to my teenagers at this point. My second book is coming out Sept. 24, and was written as a writer’s survival guide of sorts. My objective with “Pearls of Writing Wisdom: From 16 shucking years as a columnist” (Port Hole Publishing) is to offer insights, tips and encouragement shucked from my 16 years as a newspaper columnist and writer. Many are things I wish someone had told me sooner; some are the result of trial and error; and a few are simple truths that helped me keep perspective through all these shucking years as a writer.
As I mention in the book’s introduction, I think of it as the conversation we’d have about writing if we were sharing a cold beer. We’d talk about technique, style, personal experience and hopes. We’d encourage each other and share a few laughs. We might even get a little rowdy and start using air quotation marks. In the end, we’d feel inspired about our love of writing.
Except at the end of this conversation, neither of us needs to call a cab.
Top 3 Blogging tips:
Write with regularity. Whether its once a week or once a day, be consistent. Not just for the sake of your readers, but to establish a writing routine physically as well as mentally. To me, writing is like a form of meditationnnnnnzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Oops, sorry! My point is, the more you practice it the more focused and instinctive it becomes. Eventually, your creativity will begin to anticipate that routine and be waiting for you when you sit down at the keyboard.
Respond to as many comments on your blog as possible. People are inundated with social network posts. If someone has chosen to read what you have to say and take the time to comment — thank them.
Live outside your blog or social media pages. It’s important to remember that your blog revolves around your world and not the other way around. If something happens tomorrow and the Internet disappears, possibly because Kim Kardashian and Ellen DeGeneres Tweet something simultaneously, you will continue to write in some form or another. Your blog is just another venue, not the only one.
Thanks so much for having me, Robert, and thanks to everyone for reading.
And thank you Ned!
More Ned is now available at the following locations: