There is something about human beings compacted in a cylindrical tube, hurtling between cities at a high speed, unable to maneuver in any other manner than to, say, grab a beer from the cafe car or visit the rest room. It is lost time. And when you’ve made all your cell calls, and answered the last of your email, and you are still only in Wilmington and another forty minutes from home, the last distractions are the people sitting around you.
UPDATE: 12 p.m., July 4
I am informed that the Huff Post piece has now removed the reference to my having been fired. Instead, apparently, my revenge was had upon editors who spiked one of my articles because my writing wasn’t “Dickensian” enough. They never said anything of the sort to me or anyone else, and that is not actually the reason that particular article was spiked. I carefully related the actual sequence of events to Dr. Williams in my April memo as a discussion of that particular article and its fate features throughout her manuscript, but no matter. With regard to the Huff Post essay at least, I am libeled no more and I thank the author for her apology at the bottom of the essay.
A carnival season memory from the other night:
I am walking with my daughter, just shy of four years, from what we know as the Sugar Store toward the Krewe D’Etat parade. She has mango sorbet on the tip of her nose as she negotiates a fat cone of the stuff. Three blocks away, the drum tattoo of a high school band gives way to a passing float and the throw-me-something cheers of a crowd.
She squints down the block, sees the lighted float cruise through.
“We missed that one.”
“There’ll be another. It’s a long parade.”
“Can everything stay just like it is now?”
“What do you mean?”
She examines her sorbet cone, then looks directly at me.
“Everybody dies. You’re going to die. One day I’m going to die.”
My breath leaves me. Try explaining the ultimate tragedy of life to a four year old. Try doing it without falling back on the tropes and cliches of theology. Try telling the truth at this moment. I don’t even know how to begin.
Instead, a calico bounds off the porch of a shotgun double.
“Oh look,” she says. “A kitty cat.”
And she rushes toward it, laughing.
* * *
Happy Mardi Gras, everyone.
The only plausible means by which a mook with a C+ grade-point average from a state university and fifteen years covering a second-tier rust belt city can be shaved and shaped into a crude approximation of a public intellectual is to be interviewed by Bill Moyers. I was interviewed by that gentleman today, for a second time, about a good many things. And I know, from my first experience with Mr. Moyers and his team, that I will somehow emerge sounding almost coherent.