Italy, Blackcurrants, and a Strategic Bit of Casual Name-Dropping…

I was recently advised by a friend that to increase the exposure of my website, I should devote some blog entries to writing about famous people who frequently appear in web searches. Elvis Presley, for example, and Paris Hilton. Also, folks like Justin Bieber, Barack Obama, Julia Roberts, Hilary Clinton, Brad Pitt, Sarah Palin. Throw in a couple of well known writers, say Stephen King and John Grisham. Plus some historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Davy Crockett. Maybe even Moses and Jesus. Then add a couple of popular places, such as Las Vegas and Branson, Missouri, maybe Cancun…

And voila! Suddenly my website will be as popular as Dancing With the Stars, and garner as many viewers as American Idol.

This is hard to believe. But I know someone who wrote a blog entry on the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud in Kentucky and he said his website was suddenly flooded with unexpected traffic. Well, the World Wide Web is a very strange place, as we know. Especially given it’s not even a real place. Maybe that’s why weird things happen so often in it, like getting visitors from strangers when you just mention something by accident.

This name-dropping strategy for website promotion apparently has to do with search engine algorithms and other such things I care to know little about. It also seems like a bad idea. I hardly ever think about those people or places, and I don’t watch TV. What could I say about them that would interest anyone?

In fact, this morning my thoughts have mostly been devoted to the abundance of tasty fresh fruits that have been on sale at our neighborhood produce stand here in Prague. It’s mid-summer and the pickings are great: raspberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, apples. And juicy grapes and nectarines trucked up from Spain. And choice bananas from… wherever bananas come from.

So for breakfast I had a big bowl of fruit—whole berries and the other things sliced—covered with plain white yogurt. It was delicious. And healthy. And while eating this manna from heaven I never once thought about Elvis or Moses or TV or even Cancun.

I did think about Italy. I recently returned from Piacenza, a friendly little city on the Po River near Milan, where I participated in the annual literary/music festival called Dal Mississippi al Po. The music part of the festival is mainly blues and R&B, and the festival’s name connects the Po River with the Mississippi River delta, home of the blues. My duties there at the festival were pretty low key. I did a public question and answer session on stage (“How does your writing connect with music?”) and I introduced a musician, Alain Apaloo, from Togo in Africa, when he appeared on stage for his concert. For this labor I got five days of great Italian food, wine and hospitality. The pay was lucrative, I’d say. Surely more than I deserved.

In any case, I was thinking about all that this morning while eating my fresh fruit and yoghurt and this phrase suddenly leaped to mind: “I wonder what the Po folks are doing right now?”

I thought the line was funny and smiled and chuckled out loud. The only downer was there wasn’t anyone else to tell it to at that moment. So now I’m telling it to you. I hope you don’t mind.

Anyway, that’s my report for now. In a few minutes, I’m walking down to the produce stand to see if they have any new kinds of fruit. The local strawberry season is done but I’m thinking about blackcurrants. Have you ever eaten fresh blackcurrants? Last year at the cottage I had two bushes full of blackcurrants and red currants (why “blackcurrants” is one word and “red currants” is usually two words, I don’t know; but that’s correct because I checked). Blackcurrants have an unusual taste that I had to get used to, but I learned to enjoy them and would like some now. So that’s my next immediate goal in life. Blackcurrants.

The casual celebrity name-dropping, however advisable, will just have to wait for another time.