I started reading Ennyman’s Territory shortly after creating this blog around July 2008. I was randomly clicking on “Next Blog>>” at the top of my blogspot.com page when the colorful green banner and subheading caught my eye. At first I thought it was a farmer’s blog because there were plants and the word “seeds” in the subtitle, but I read more closely and saw that was not so. Ennyman, or Ed Newman, seemed to have so many varied interests including writing, painting, and music that I knew I wanted to read further and bookmarked his site and have been regularly reading his observations. Ed also has a home page/labyrinth that you can explore by clicking HERE.
MDC: What books are most important to you? In other words, which books do you want to re-read in the future?
EN: Apart from the Bible (as an important book) there are a number of books I’ve read three times or more including A River Runs Through It (MacLean), Death In Venice (Mann), In Our Time (Hemingway), The Great Gatsby (Fitz). I’m sure some of Elmore Leonard’s books will get future readings because they are so much fun. There are many short stories I revisit from time to time, especially Borges or Chekov.
I guess I’m less driven into specific books and more attracted to authors. “If a man is worth knowing, he is worth knowing well,” someone once said. So when I find an author I like, I keep mining from the same vein. I own a fair number of books by André Gide and Graham Greene. Everything by Borges, many Hemingway volumes. When young I read nearly everything Hesse wrote and was a Vonnegut guy at the time as well. (Sidenote: Shortly before he passed away I had an opportunity to interview Mr. Vonnegut for an article I was writing and when I said I’d been a Hesse fan, he said, “You must have been lonely.” It really sent me sideways for a couple minutes during the interview.)
I’m so busy I do a lot of my reading via audio books now, though many books in my library get partially feasted on as reference nutrition, such as David Ogilvy’s books on advertising, Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive, Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. It’s hard to say what I will be re-reading this year, since there are so many as yet to devour. Currently I have The Abolition of Man (C.S. Lewis) on my car seat ready for a third reading, and I’m sure I will read The Great Divorce again sometime.
MDC: What instruments do you play? Are you in a band? Do you write and compose your own music and lyrics?
EN: I took piano lessons from when I was 8 to 11. I also enjoy singing, and began playing harmonica my freshman year in college. As for writing songs, I’ve always liked poetry and have written a few songs. When karaoke came along in the 90s I got into it, and enjoyed “performing.” I believe it helped my poise in public speaking. In late 2008 I performed six or eight times with de Elliot Bros. jug band, playing percussions, washboard and harmonicas. If I had a clone of myself I’d probably do more with that. There’s a part of me that really enjoys making music and performing. But, right now my career (in advertising), and my art, take precedence.
MDC: You paint a variety of Dylan portraits. Have you ever met Bob Dylan personally? How many Dylan concerts have you attended? Do you have every album of Dylan’s?
EN: I have seen Dylan twice here in Duluth. In the early 70’s there were a few Greenwich Village clubs where he purportedly showed up unannounced and I hung out a couple times waiting in vain for that to happen. As for Dylan albums, in one form or another I own about 38 of the 54 shown on BobDylan.com, which is, incidentally, a very fine site for Dylan fans.
MDC: I have had the pleasure of visiting your hometown of Cleveland, OH a couple of times. What is your favorite place to visit in Cleveland? What is your favorite U.S. destination?
EN: My memories of Cleveland are things that are all changed. Think of The Pretenders’ “I went back to Ohio, but my city was gone.”
I remember many trips to the ballpark. We went to see the Cleveland Indians in the 50’s and 60’s in old Cleveland Stadium, now gone. We used to go to an amusement park called Geauga Lake… I remember a class trip to the Cuyahoga River Fire Department in 1963. Due to industrial pollution the river had caught fire four times, so they actually had a fire department. You might say that a class trip like that makes an impression. “Sir, how does water catch on fire?” The lake was near dead from toxic waste, so we never went there that I can recall. Fortunately, people wised up and both the lake and river are living again.
The one thing I’d like to see there now is the Rock ‘N Roll Museum, which was not there when I was growing up. I remember a girl I met my first week in college telling me they were going to build a Rock ‘N Roll museum in Cleveland and I laughed, saying, “Why Cleveland?” I guess she knew more about what was going on than I did at the time.
As for destinations, I guess it’s wherever my family is… Unfortunately my kids are on the West coast, and my original family is out East. I grew up in New Jersey after leaving Ohio at age 12.
MDC: I notice from the blog you have made some good friends in Italy. Do you have any international travel plans in the near future? Where would you like to someday visit that you have not yet been?
EN: I have Scots blood in me and would love to go back to the Highlands. (I’m fond of saying, “I’m a McGregor on me mother’s side.”) And yes, Italy is on my “bucket list” of places I’d like to visit before the end of my days.
MDC: Are there other creative people in your family? What do they do?
EN: My wife is very creative, does pottery and crafts. My son is a cook and exceedingly creative. He did claymation while in high school, including a couple television commercials. My daughter plays piano, is an excellent writer, and has abilities in whatever she applies herself to. My youngest brother was into film and the next has a creative bent as well. The second brother (I am oldest of four) did photography. My grandmother wrote poetry and painted (art) and was a strong influence on me while growing up. [You can read more about Ed’s grandmother HERE.]
MDC: How and when did you first think of the moniker “Ennyman”?EN: When I first signed up for AOL in 1992 or ‘93 I had to come up with a username. I made a list of five names that sounded cool to me. The first was Sea Lion, which turned out to have been taken. The next four were taken also. After five, AOL gives a prompt (or did at that time) with suggestions that might work like your first initial, last name and the numerals on your address. I typed the “en” and thought enewman4042 seemed just a tad boring, so I paused and the first thing that came into my head was ennyman, a play on Anyman, which I took at the time to be a variation of the 15th century English morality play called Everyman. Ennyman is intended then to convey the meaning “an ordinary individual”… which I guess you might say is a weak attempt at humor. Every now and then I think of discarding it, but being (to my knowledge) the only Ennyman on the internet it makes me easy to find when you Google it.
MDC: Thanks, Ed, for answering these questions and sharing your interesting and creative life. I am grateful to have met you in the blogosphere.