Saturday, January 30, 2016

Happenings in DC and Michigan

Here's a belated report on the type-ins and book signings that I was able to enjoy this month in the Washington, DC area, and in Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, Michigan. I've learned that, for all the publicity my book has gotten, the people who actually buy it are mostly a pretty small core of passionate typewriter lovers, and it's the most passionate among them who attend these events. So I expect no particular number, and am delighted to meet the interesting people who do come. Many thanks to them for giving me the chance to type with them, and also for the nice letters they're sending my way.

I was in Washington to present a paper on Heidegger (my specialty) at the meeting of the American Philosophical Association, but I'm starting to develop teaching and research interests in philosophy of technology, which of course ties in very nicely to my hobby. Typewriters are technology too!


I brought one of my Groma Kolibris along for the trip, and enjoyed a little morning typing and this dramatic view of jet trails over the District.

Fellow typewriter lover Ping A. and his wife invited me to a delicious Thai dinner at their lovely home in the suburbs. I got to see Ping's interesting collection of colorful portables. He enjoys restoring them and sells some through his Etsy shop, which you can find here (it's currently closed while he is in Thailand for a while).

Here are some of Ping's machines:

What is the symbol that combines an S and a T on this Royal sold in Shanghai?

I took public transportation out to the Busboys & Poets bookstore and cultural center in Hyattsville, Maryland, where I met several agents of the insurgency and personalized their copies of The Typewriter Revolution with pen and (in one case) with typewriter (it was a bit tricky to roll the book's page into a machine, but it worked). 

The man with the fine facial hair and an equally fine stentorian voice is Abraham, who sells and repairs typewriters in Maryland (you can reach him at 808-381-3412). Abraham took some Polaroids of the event.

A few days later, several typewriter lovers got together at a restaurant after perusing an antique show near the Dulles airport. I joined them and had a fine time. Mark Petersen was there and showed off this delightful stationery that a friend designed for him, based on a classic Smith Premier letterhead.

A couple of weeks later, I drove up to Ann Arbor, Michigan. With a little extra time, I stopped at some antique shops where I snagged a good Remington portable no. 1 to refurbish for The Urban Legend Institute, and resisted the temptation to buy this somewhat pricey and demonic Remington:

My destination was the beautiful and typewriter-friendly Literati Bookstore.

I hadn't realized how busy downtown Ann Arbor would be; it took me 20 minutes to find a parking place, and I was late. But the audience was patient and welcoming. After a reading from my book, I got to meet some great people, including Hannah McMurray of harlequin creature, a journal that is produced on typewriters, which I feature in The Typewriter Revolution

Hannah brought a wide variety of typewriters that people enjoyed:

Later on, the mailboxes of harlequin creature supporters, including me, received a sampling of writings from the type-in.

The bookstore has some great typewriter-themed merchandise and kindly gave me some souvenirs:

One of the attendees in Ann Arbor was collector Mike Campbell, who showed me a sculpture he bought on eBay for its novelty and shock value. Experts will recognize exactly why this is an appalling use of typewriter parts! Mike and I went on to enjoy a fine, greasy meal at Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger.

The next day I drove on to Kalamazoo, stopping in Portage to check out a little shop that Abraham had recommended to me. Typewriter repair and tobacco may be an odd combination, but it works for repairman Ken Jonatzke, an interesting guy who speaks Korean and worked as a typewriter technician for the NSA. (8318 Portage Rd., Portage, MI 49002, 269-327-5808.)

The day's event was a type-in sponsored by the Kalamazoo Typochondriacs at Kazoo Books II, which from the outside looks like a small storefront but turns out to be a fantastic, extensive warren of used and new books.

The typewriters outnumbered the typists, but we had a great time.

We prepare for the speed-typing competition (the text was Lincoln's Gettysburg Address):

Chief Typochondriac Andy Robins:

Brian Brumfield came up from central Ohio, bearing his new Hermes Regent (the same one that was seen a while ago on my blog).

One Typochondriac particularly loves pink machines, like this R.C. Allen ...

... and this Olympia SM3.

This typist enjoyed my Purple Prose Producer:

Among the books on display was The Lonely Typewriter. 


  1. This is great, Richard. Glad to meet you during your DC visit. All the best on your continued endeavors!

  2. I enjoyed reading your report of the happenings in DC and Michigan. I hope that someday the stars will align and I can meet you at a type-in and get your autograph. PS: I would have been sorely tempted by that satanic Remington.

  3. Sawasdee from Chiangmai, Richard Polt! Aye and I are so glad to have met you in DC. Love the design of the Kalamazoo type-in announcement/poster.

  4. Thanks for letting us share-in your adventures. I threatened to "pick up" Nick T. and drive to Michigan to see you. He's from there, and we were tempted, but alas......just a bit too far!
    Will you be in the Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee/Madison areas at all? That,s where I could see you.
    We can meet at the Oliver Typewriter building, on Dearborn St. Just north of Randolph, in the North "Loop".

    1. I'd love to come up to Chicago for a type-in this spring or summer. Let's think about it!

    2. Would love it! We'll contact by e-mail. Would be fun to go to Woodstock - "typewriter town", too

  5. Busy, busy! I think Magic Margin's blog banner illustrator Sloe Gin Fizz (Nicole Ray) hails from Ann Arbor.