Stephen Baker

The Numerati
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As Franco Died

April 1, 2017General

I continue to write fiction, though I haven't published any of since The Boost, in 2014. One novel manuscript is making the tours of the publishing houses, but it hasn't sold it yet. In mid-March, I was walking through the snow in Montclair and trying to think of new stories to write. And then it occurred to me that I wrote several stories in the '90s. No one bought them. And back then, self-publishing was extravagantly expensive, and known derisively as "vanity press." Unthinkable. So my stories just moved, digitally, from one computer to the next, and hung out by themselves in the cloud.

Since then all of us have been granted free rights to publish anything we want, globally. We may not have readers, but that's not the point. At least it's out there, with a shareable URL, and if it finds a few readers, so much the better. 

When I wrote these stories, in the '90s, I was living in Pittsburgh and working for BusinessWeek. And, no offense to Pittsburgh, but I wanted out of there in my head, mostly to exotic places I'd lived in my 20s. I wrote this one, As Franco Died, to put myself back in my junior year in Madrid. Another one takes place in Quito, Ecuador, where I taught English briefly in the late '70s, and the (unpublished) novel, Donkey Show, plays out on the El Paso/Juarez border, where I met my wife and got married in the mid-80s. 

 I was thinking about Arianna Huffington as I wrote this story. At that point this glamorous Greek immigrant was guiding her rich Republican husband, Michael, toward the Senate in California. She established her stardom there, even though she ended up losing in that race). She was on my mind as I wrote about Paloma.

Later, in 2005, Heather Green and I had written a BusinessWeek cover story on how blogs were going to shake up everything. We used it to launch the blog. And strange as it seems now, Arianna met with me for an hour one afternoon in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel. She wanted me to write in Blogspotting about her new venture, The Huffington Post. Her venture grew quite large. Mine folded when Heather and I left a collapsing Businessweek, four years later. I told Arianna at the time that she'd inspired this short story. I sent it to her, but never heard back, though she gave me a very nice blurb for The Numerati.

Here's the link to As Franco Died, on Medium.


I went through several photos to illustrate the piece on Medium. None was quite right, but I sprinkled them in anyway. 

I saw that woman in a plaza in Aranda del Duero (I think). We were riding our bikes through there a few years ago. It was just about to start pouring. 

This is a wall in Caceres, Spain. It's an homage to Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, a charismatic Fascist in Spain before the Civil War ('36-'39). The Republicans executed him in the early months of the war, and he became a martyr to Franco's cause. You used to see his name on churches, streets and plazas all over Spain.

This is a wall near Merida, which was a large Roman city. We biked through there a couple of years ago, en route to Seville. 


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