On the occasion of Inkstain’s 20th birthday, defenestrating the old Town Lodge

What used to be the Town Lodge, one of Albuquerque’s old Route 66 motels

.”Defenestration” is the word that stumped me, a linguistic failure that hung over my entire journalistic career.

It was a challenge from the late Jim Timmermann, an offhand game in which we’d pick an odd word or phrase and be challenged to get it into the newspaper. A fenestration is, per the Oxford English Dictionary, “the arrangement of windows in a building.” To “defenestrate” is to perhaps remove windows, but more commonly (?):

Usually humorous. To throw (a person or thing) out of a window.

Fenestration and its variants are glorious words that have little place in a daily newspaper. I came close once at a meeting of the Pasadena City Planning Commission, when in the discussion of a building in the city’s historic district the commissioners called for the removal of a number of windows from a design plan. But it was too much of a stretch, because for the game to work it had to not seem forced.

But the proprieties of a newspaper never applied here.

I’ve been thinking about Inkstain’s role in my work as we approach, on Sunday Nov. 18, its 20th birthday. At its founding, Rob Browman and I had a sort of mission statement for the project – where by “project” I guess I mean that we had no real mission and were really just goofing:

Inkstain is dedicated to the proposition that information wants to be free. Roughly translated, that means we put the stuff on here we can’t figure out a way to get paid for.

Plus, there are some things you just don’t want to try on your employer’s production server.

Both Rob and I, I think it is fair to say, built careers out of the pranking that began here. Rob went on to MSNBC in Seattle, won an Emmy for multimedia work, before we lured him back to Albuquerque to manage digital efforts for the Albuquerque Journal.

It was here, after decades of effort, that I finally found voice, learned to write.

On a morning bike ride yesterday, passing the Town Lodge on Central, I saw remodeling underway, that they had removed all the windows and doors. The old motel’s defenestration delighted me, so I circled back to take a picture.

There’s no way anyone’s gonna pay me for that, but the delight’s the thing.


  1. “Defenestration” as a journalistic word likely has its roots in citizen of Prague defenestrating Hapsburg councilors from, I believe, the third story of a building in 1618, the event that launched the Thirty Years War.

    You can thank me later.

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