Off the Top of My Head
August 2. Why these tain't even close to dog days yet! If you want hot, y'all wanted to be here in February of Aught-Seven. It was so hot the jalapeños and habaneros were lookin fer shade. Only thing hotter was the bull ridin' at the Rodeo. This ain't hot. I was jus thinkin about puttin on a flannel shirt. Jeez, you Yankees. Bitchin about hot when you live someplace that could freeze the nose off a polar bear.
Personal Milestone Reached.
I just saw the back of my head for the first time in a long time, and my hair can now officially be described as
I've been waiting a long time to be able to say that. Hooray to me!
I've mentioned before how my sense of time is changing during the current uncertain times (puts dollar in overworked cliche jar). Well, it's not just me. Courtesy of Austin Kleon and his son, we now have a name for the phenomenon. Back here in Chateau Isolation, trash pickup starts our week–it's the only thing that occurs with any regularity in the outside world.
Sunday is almost as remarkable because the mailman (sorry, letter carrier) doesn't come. But it's tough to set your clock or calendar based on something that doesn't happen. So it doesn't really count, at least in a useful way. I mean you don't sit here and say,
What, what didn't just happen?
I've been reading a fair amount of Charles Bukowski's poetry recently (e-book sale). When he's good, he's inspiring and insightful. When he's bad, well, there's a reason the book was on sale. But even then, as an aspiring poetry writer, he's still inspirational.
I can write better than that, I think.
The book demonstrates a problem that lots of writers have, especially prolific writers. They publish what they think is good, and have lots of subpar work (at least for them). Once they die, family and editors come rushing in to monetize whatever remains, things that the author didn't see as worthy of consideration for publication when they were alive because it sucked. The
heirs pull things out of trash cans and rush to the presses. The book I'm reading now was collected and printed long after Bukowski's death. Thus, the uneven quality of the poetry–a few brilliant pieces mired in acres of dreck.
But that's not what I wanted to write about. I was cruising merrily along, when I suddenly ran into–an asterisk. The hair on my neck stood up. I was suddenly thrust back into college, where a line of poetry just wasn't real if it didn't have at least one footneote reference attached.
And I hated it. I wonder if that's one of the reasons I disliked poetry so much. It was disruptive, a distraction. Poetry is supposed to convey an emotional experience or tell a story. It's tough to do that if a reader is balancing a book on his/her fingertips to mark the poem and the footnote explanations. Plus, it was just a lot of work.
I wonder if that extra, unrewarding work is why many people (including me) dislike poetry and shy away from reading it, and why poetry is (comparatively) unappreciated today. top
It's not true that nobody supports the President's proposal to delay the election. Procrastinators Anonymous is totally in favor of it.
So what if 2020 isn't the worst year ever?
I've been seeing a small run of
2020 is the worst and
Can't we just jump ahead to Halloween? complaints on Facebook. They're matched by the same comments on the news, talk shows, etc., etc.
Why? Right now, I'm more affected by the Houston-like heat and humidity than by the COVID-19 shutdowns and lockdowns and the woes of extroverts suffering because their favorite bar or restaurant is closed.
There's a real good chance that 2020 isn't the worst year. Maybe it was 2012. Or 1999. Or 1863. epends on who's doing the measuring, and what the scale is. Or maybe the worst year will be 2023. Or 2035. Our problem is devising a measure that coers everyone and everything.
The Ultimate Pessimist predicts 2020 won't even make it to the top 10 of bad years. top
But it worked, I'll bet.
Headline in Newsweek:
Grocery Store Owner Set His Business On Fire To Kill Coronavirus Germs.
Putting on the Pundit Hat
First, my qualifications to engage in punditry: Absolutely none. Like most pundits, I have no license, no training, or any qualifications beyond being willing to flap my face and create gentle breezes when I talk. I may even be brain dead. But still, I get to punditize because I paid somebody money to have a website. So off we go!
America has a long history of believing in a streak of independence, self-reliance and rugged frontiersman as core quality in the American makeup. We have the image of the frontiersman, the cowboy, intrepid pilgrims crossing stormy seas in tiny boats to be free. The high point of this whole thought process hits its high point in Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self Reliance, followed by Henry David Thoreau's Walden, which describes his 26 months living alone in a small self-constructed dwelling.
Except it's not quite as true as it used to be. You could make the case that Americans haven't had the chance to be rugged, self-sufficient individuals since the closing of the American Frontier, and people were able to provide their own food, build their own homes, and do other things that kept them independent. In most of the country, urbanization and industrialization made total self-reliance a dream. Advancements in science and medicine make our ability to take care of ourselves less and less a reality. Globalization makes self-sufficiency even less likely. We probably don't know where our food and medicine comes from (hint: it's someplace else).
So when people insist on their right to not wear a face mask in a store, or gather in large groups, because freedom, they're not keeping up. They can't function, or even survive, without complicated transportation systems, to say nothing of medical systems, educational systems, mass manufacturing, and all the other systems that make things work.
So that's what the fight is about. Unfortunately, the self reliant lost a hundred years ago. They may push people around for a while, but they will lose.
Random Note about Thoreau and total independence: Thoreau's shack was built on land owned by his parents. One of his major activities wa figuring out how much money he spent, down to how much each nail cost. He spent lots of time carrying on long conversations with what he called
natural philosophers. Plus, I've heard that, once a week, he took his laundry home for his mom to wash. In Thoreau's time, it was called self-reliance. Today, we call it