It is upon this hill that he will found
a marble-fronted, mud-backed city-state
whose every hour comes ten minutes late,
whose brackish swampland is the solid ground,
whose gun-shy guard dogs skitter at the sound
of dining chairs scraping on a hardwood floor
or the distant slam of someone’s bedroom door,
a cat’s meow, a watch’s beep; around
the city is a park; within the park a zoo
within which lives one white rhinoceros,
majestic, brooding, grand, ridiculous,
last of his species, nothing much to do
but pace and eat and shit and grumble through
the years until he dies of loneliness.
Friday, September 09, 2011
It is upon this hill that he will found
Thursday, September 08, 2011
The struggle to imbue the tenth anniversary of 9/11 with memorial significance is notable only for its failure. Reading all the paeans and homilies and homages to the date is an experience most akin to attending an odd-year high school reunion; it is neither quite so well-attended nor nearly as nostalgic as you imagined; there's no one at the bar; the cater waiters won't flirt--worse, they're older than you are! In the corner, some former cheerleader cries mawkishly into her Long Island; above the airport hotel ballroom, planes rumble indifferently into the night sky; on the far side of the world, a stock exchange opens; "the dog misses you," says your lover over the phone, "I miss you. How's the reunion?"; "I wish I'd never come"; "I told you so." Before the smoke cleared, our national culture of opportunism sought to ratify 9/11 as world-historical, and in retrospect all our flailing, horrible, violent responses to those briefly spectacular moments of smoke-and-kaboom read as much as anything as dully intentional attempts to render the attacks as epically poetic, the hijackings that launched a thousand sorties, so to speak; but mere spectacle rarely bears much weight of memory: the sense of all these memorial recollections is of rushing into Radio City and declaring the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular the equal of Lear on the strength of its high-kicking--not simply wrong, but preposterous. The reason that so many newspapers and magazines, teevee shows and radio programs, blogs and other bullshit have ginned up so many Special Editions, the reason there is such an unharmonious cacophony of competing kaddishes linked only by their ridiculous, maudlin sentimentality, is that the supposed universal significance of the date barely qualifies as a mirage; the touted unity of the national conscience and consciousness afterward less than a fairy tale; the importance of the day as some inflection point in the history of human civilization so vastly overblown as to have long since popped. Here we are, standing around the limp remnants of a birthday balloon paraphrasing Genesis; rubber to rubber, bust to bust.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
My family--first my grandfather and now one of my uncles--has owned a little bar in Pittsburgh since the 1950s; that was where my dad and all his brothers had their first post-paper-route jobs; at least one of my cousins still works there; my grandmother, at almost 90, still keeps the books! So reading the heartfelt whining of all these little suburban overachievers ("Massive grade inflation means one less standard deviation between myself and those who don't try"--oh, oh, the Hugh Manatee!), I was appalled to read:
Serving people drinks was more rewarding than this full-time job, and it is killing me inside.Hey maybe you ought to quit your bullshit jobs and go back to serving people drinks you dummy! Like, um, oh, is it beneath you because of your high school GPA? Fuck you. Where's muh beer? So you acquired a soul-munching fake-economy white-collar boondoggle of a job and it totally sucks? Hm. Maybe you could take a moment to reexamine the priorities of your life, to reflect upon the nature of honest labor and personal contentment, to consider that happiness and success are opposites.