Thursday, October 31, 2013

Best Of 2013: How Much I Miss Wordbones

What would Wordbones say?
The photo above is a Tesla outside a vegan restaurant.  Mrs. HowChow and I walked out of Roots a few weeks ago, and we actually saw two of the electric-powered sports cars outside Great Sage.

The sight should have sparked some witty observation about Teslas and vegan restaurants, but it just made me miss Wordbones again.

Dennis Lane died five months ago, and I still find myself wanted to email him or read the Tales of Two Cities blog that he wrote under the nickname "Wordbones."  Dennis used to post about cars that he had spotted.  Quick photographs and stories about convertibles or historic rides that he had happened across.

Dennis joked once about a BMV delivering pizza, and I know that he would have enjoyed two luxury cars driven to Clarksville so their owners could enjoy upscale food without burning gasoline or eating meat

I don't care about cars.  I drive a plastic box on wheels.  But I really did care about Dennis, even though I met him fewer than 10 times.  In a year when lots of wonderful things have happened, I wanted to note that we all lost Dennis last May.  Newspapers are dying, and we're losing the professionals who used to tell stories and keep watch on the powerful.  If we're lucky, people like Dennis will fill their place.

Dennis knew Howard County.  He cared about Howard County.  His blog ranged from personal observations to news about local real estate to substantive reporting about politics.  That's more than I'll do here at HowChow.  I don't report.  I don't want the nasty comments that come on political blogs.

So I was always impressed at how Dennis handled himself.  He was smart.  He knew what he was talking about.  He didn't shy away from pointed comments, but he had the context and the perspective that comes from acting adult.  He was extremely nice to other bloggers, including me.  The best part was that Dennis wasn't writing from any "official" perspective.  He wrote what he had learned in his life.  He was responsible, but he didn't need to wait for two sources to talk on the record or some PR person to make an announcement.  He wrote what he knew.

To date, no one has filled the gap.  People are trying, and that's wonderful.  But writing a blog is way more work that you'd imagine.  More than I can do some weeks and more than any rational person would invest in a hobby.  Dennis wrote more than once a day.  He wanted you to know about development and politics and beer growlers and the cheese shop that used to operate in Wilde Lake.  He wanted you to know what was happening in the place where you live.

My final contact with Dennis was in April.  I'd heard that Cindy Wolf was opening a place in Columbia.  I emailed Dennis, then realized that he had already posted that he knew what would replace Red Pearl on the lake but was sworn to secrecy (with one of his trademark links to a joke -- this time a video of Sargent Schultz).  He was discrete.  He didn't confirm what I'd heard.  But he was enthusiastic Wordbones who encouraged me to keep talking to people and calmed my fears that Sushi Sono might lose its spot.

That Foreman-Wolf restaurant is coming to Columbia's lakefront.  I wish that I could ask Dennis when it will open.  I wish that I could see him there or read his posts about the massive renovations at the Whole Foods down the street.  One of Wordbones' repeated themes was that the old Columbia of cheese shops and James Rouse had been wonderful, but it was gone.  He was excited by the new Howard County unfolding around us.  I'm sorry that he won't see it arrive.

If you want to know more about Dennis, start with the Baltimore Sun's article about his memorial service.  The Pixel Workshop posted video of the entire celebration of Dennis' life.  Tom Coale has written about Dennis.  Julia McCready remembered him when she saw Twinkies back for sale.  Luke Lavoie covered an event where bloggers gathered in August.


Julia A. McCready said...

Thank you so much for writing this. It is just amazing how much he continues to be a part of my thoughts, our thoughts as time goes on and seasons change.

Marcia said...

I have noticed that both you and Tom Coale seem to have lost your passion, fire, interest - something is missing in both of your blogs since Dennis Lane's murder. I, too, was thinking about Dennis the other day. Amazing how he touched so many of us.

sobohon said...

Lovely, heartfelt musings… spot on! Dennis loved telling stories & his knack for noting what was going on around him made those stories interesting. He always had 2 things with him - his camera and a pocket notepad (I’m talking old school style, like you use with pen or pencil) to record things he’d later incorporate in his blogs. It often happened when we were out & about - “Wait a sec.” he’d say. Stop, click, jot. I wish I had one of his notebooks. Must be a million of them somewhere. So, bloggers, if you find yourself in a dry spell, try it. It worked for him.

Jessie Newburn said...

I was just on Dennis's blog last night, reading/re-reading a handful of posts and feeling how much I missed him, his blog, his presence and his friendship. Thank you for this post, How Chow, and for all you do with your blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank you HowChow. I love him too. MaMa Wordbones.

Anonymous said...

I moved out of state a year ago but still come back to your blog every now and then just to see if there is another mention of Wordbones, so thank you for writing this. I only knew of him through your many mentions and links. I learned of his passing from your blog. I was shocked that Columbia had lost this man.

Vicky said...

Thank you for this - I'm a fan of Howchow, and I was of Wordbones. He'll be missed.