, Salem, MA


November 19, 2012

Column: No escaping this downtime

If it’s possible to be famous for not being famous, that’s me. That’s how I like it, too. My closest brush with fame — no biggie — was the I LOVERMONT idea I sold the Vermont Chamber of Commerce in ’81. They used it on shirts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs — even sugar packets. I still see it around. A guy on “Chronicle” was wearing an I LOVERMONT shirt the other night. My original design, too. Not one of the gazillion pharmaceutically inspired rip-offs throughout the years.

The idea was big in Vermont at the time, and burlaps elsewhere bought into it, too. But no air-quotes “Fame,” y’know. No paparazzi, hot-babe groupies, X-rated rumors about me in supermarket tabs, etc. The closest I got was a request for an interview from Modern Udder, or whatever the Vermont Dairy Association trade paper was called. I declined the offer.

My one shot at sorta-fame does cause pain. In the wallet — whenever I hear mention of audiobooks. (The almost-yawning letter dismissing my “books on tape” proposal to Time Inc. is dated June 26 — catch this — 1969. But in 1975, an un-yawning, “visionary” guy named Duvall Hecht founded Books on Tape Inc. in Costa Mesa, Calif. Subsequently rebranded as “audiobooks” (ouch), the industry today generates tens of (ouch) billions in annual sales worldwide.)

But, hey, no sense crying over a spilt billion or ten. Best to move on; contribute to the betterment of you deserving, enlightened few who understand that life is a game to be played, not a job to be worked. Share some ideas unrelated to fame or fortune — just livin’ easier.

The Escape Clause idea, for instance. As with many usable ideas, the Escape Clause is dirt-simple: It’s an everyday expression repurposed in the cause of freedom ... freedom from downtime. Downtime is the suggestion, no matter how well-intended, that you expend valuable time in boring, inane, irritating or otherwise counterproductive fashion.

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