Recently I was doing a loooong overdo update of my rolodex (actually a filemaker pro database these days). The file began, as I recall, as an Alpha4 database back in the day, and I’ve been porting it over into new programs as I’ve upgraded over the years. (I needed it as a database because I used to do a lot of mail merges.)
I never really thinned the list out the way I should, and as I worked on it I discovered that it still contains the directions of a lot of people who have passed on. There’s something poignant about deleting these names, such people as Marlon Brando, William Burroughs, John Cage, Guy Davenport, Allen Ginsberg, Thom Gunn, Joseph Heller, Pauline Kael, Hugh Kenner, Ken Kesey, Arthur Miller, Frank Zappa, and many more â€“ not necessarily people I knew well, or even at all: often they got into my rolodex when I was requesting blurbs for a book or some similar reason.
Another disturbing feature of the rolodex pruning was encountering names for which I drew a blank. Who, for example, are Jacklyn Green, Stephen Bankier, Anne Dorsey, Janet Fries, Ken Frith, Cecile Kaufman, Jack McClosky, Ben Ragner, Julian Monsarrat, Tony Reveaux, and Anne Roipe? In some cases the names sound familiar, and I feel I should be able to remember these people, but in others itâ€™s as if I had never heard the name
before. In either case I tried to be ruthless and take them out.
How do you keep your rolodex lean and up to date?