Wednesday, April 28, 2010



A bit like my birth, in that certain details were lost in the confusion and excitement of the moment, a lot of the narrative of my apparent resurrection two years ago, some 62 years later, has escaped the grasp of my memory.

In my defense, I thought details I would have bothered to commit to memory would be important to only me, but, I am a storyteller. I should have been much more attentive in noticing, and careful about memorizing, what was happening.

I apologize for that. After all, it’s my story, and I had every intention and therefore obligation of sharing details of both the birth and the resurrection—especially the latter, because I had encountered so many new friends after the first 62 years, and the details were clearer—and I blew it.

But, I was lax (Yeah, I know: No! You! Ed Lowe! Really, come on, lax? You jest.).

I cannot even remember the color of the paint on the walls at either hospital, Boulevard Hospital in Queens (long gone) and Fletcher-Allen Medical Center in Burlington, Vt., two years ago.

However, in straining to remember, I rediscovered an inside-baseball characteristic (I don’t think I want to know how many people don’t know what, “inside baseball,” is) of my current work (And I agree that this, “work,” is not exactly what some people would call, “work”) that had me puzzled to stoned befuddlement.

Last September, when I wondered whether I would or could do this, “work,” again, I chose to create a, “blog,” where I could study it and determine whether to give column writing up, or, to boldly sally forth, and probably confuse things more.

The blog required a name, and, I fiddled around until I landed on, “edlowehimself,” which I liked, but did not know why.

Well, now I know.

I was syndicated around 1980-or-’81. The syndicate editor, David Hendin, of United Features Syndicate, called me to tell me, but, instead, said excitedly, “Where did you get this idea?”

Of course, I should have said, “Oh, just a creative imagination,” but I didn’t know what he was talking about and so said, “What idea?”

He said, ‘“Ed Lowe, Himself.’ I love it…”

My notepad! I’d sent him a note on my notepad!

He continued: “That’s what we are going to call the column. ‘Ed Lowe, Himself.’”

He was so proud.

I would have been mortified, had I taken any of this seriously.

When you got, “entitled,” at the Newsday paragraph factory, you were entitled to stationery—envelopes, stationery-stationery and little notepads, all with your, “title,” on it. That was it.

I had been entitled, “Columnist,” for several years, but hadn’t taken the ego-bath of, “entitlement percs,” until recently, when I ordered the little notepads. I must have got them just as I was sending some sample columns to Hendin.

I was entitled, “Himself,” on the notepads because of a smartass, end-of-argument crack I had made to the late Paul Back, the Design Director of the then-much-acclaimed Newsday, who flew around the country designing other big-deal newspapers in his spare time, and otherwise went to a (long gone) house-turned-into-a-lunch-bar name Garrity’s, with New York Herald Tribune veteran, Warren Berry, and good, younger friend, me.

Back had to explain to me that the accepted style for the notepads called for the name of the entitled to be printed at the top left corner of the page, followed first by a comma, and then by whatever title entitled him to personalized notepads.

So, if I were the Long Island editor, or the assistant managing editor, my notepads would reflect the fact after my name: Ed Lowe, BlahBlahBlah.

I had submitted a request for notepads saying that I wanted to be identified as Ed Lowe, unencumbered by any titular information.

That was not our style, Back said. I had to select a title for myself. He assumed I wanted to be identified as, "Ed Lowe, Columnist," but his natural graciousness drew him out into the newsroom to check with me, first.

Unwise, and probably unkind, too, I did not know then that, "style," and design consistency could mean as much to a design director as rhythm and syntax might meant to me. I shrugged flippantly and said that I had ordered the pads to identify me as Ed Lowe because I was Ed Lowe and wanted to be so identified.

He laughed slightly, shook his head and repeated that identifying me merely as, “Ed Lowe,” was not, "our style."

If I had known better or had grown a little older first, I might have seen from that very point the direction into which I had launched our conversation and simply retreated from it.

Instead, I said that identifying me as, “Ed Lowe,” was my style; that the notepads were to be my pads for the answering of my mail, not our mail, and that frankly I didn't care what, "our," style was.

He laughed and shook his head, again—although I noticed his teeth were becoming clenched—and said that our style was our style, and that was that.

Well, I had scraped away all of Paul Back the Design Director's patience, and he erupted. He said rather emphatically that he didn't care how I answered my mail; he didn't care what title I held; he didn't care if I lived. He cared about our style, and my notepads would reflect our style, or I would not have them. "For all I care," he thundered, "the pads could say, ‘Ed Lowe, Himself!’”

"Oh, yeah? " I shouted. "Do that. I'll take it!"

“Ed Lowe, Himself,” got printed on my notepads; Paul and I stayed away from each other for a day or two; Hendin called the syndicated column, “Ed Lowe, Himself;” and Lou Schwartz, the Newsday editor just appointed to take over The Newsday Magazine, changed the layout of the magazine so it would say, “Ed Lowe, Himself.”

Thirty years later, I got the idea to call my blog, “,” and wondered, until now, where I got the name.

What? You thought it was easy being, Himself?

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  1. My "Most Excellent (now EX) Brother In Law" (my MEBIL)tolerated my very difficult, overpowering sister, his wife, with a sigh and a smile, and was always referring to her as.. "Herself".. in the old Irish tradition..
    Seeing your words reminds me of this.. :)
    As for it being easy being Himself.. No... Im betting it isnt always easy.. (although I DO think you enjoy the heck out of it :)
    But like God says.. "It won't always be easy.. but it will ALWAYS be.. GOOD.."
    He isnt kidding :) you make REALLY good choices :)
    with deep, as usual,
    Finn :)

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  3. He who is you, I'm glad it's Himself.
    Now, I know.

  4. Ed, you have still got the story teller insight in your writing. I missed the stories down at the pub with Charlie Blaze! I am glad you've created this blog. I am forwarding to many of my friends. This is definately you! Hope to see you there.
    Your friend