Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Charles Fort

Do y'all know who Charles Fort was? Short version, he was a guy who clipped interesting stuff out of the newspaper. That's deceptively plain! Look him up and be amazed! Charles Fort was one of the many interesting characters to whose work I was introduced by my wonderful ex-boss Lisa. Through some Fortean publication or another, she found and shared the strange, hilarious, and somehow creepy "true" story of the talking mongoose on the Isle of Man. Mr. Fort's 1931 book LO! provides the epigraph for my forthcoming story collection. I bring him up for this reason: I don't usually "do" topical stuff, but I have to comment on the weird smell in New York, particularly on the way it was reported in the New York Times today, because it is just the kind of article that would have attracted the attention of Charles Fort (Jeff McNeil noticed the affinity as well). First, in the front page article, the reporter oddly and arbitrarily associates the New York gas-leak odor with yesterday's mysterious bird deaths in downtown Austin, Texas. Next, he casually mentions the "separate days in late 2005" when Manhattan was filled with a powerful smell of maple syrup, the source of which (again according to the Times) "has never been established." Am I the only one who missed the maple syrup story? Charles Fort lives! This has been a brief venture into topicality.