Monday, December 17, 2007

Slow Learner

Images from the past few days of my life. Note that the Obama train chugs along. I know that once an endorsement is made, I'm meant to be 100%, rah-rah, true believer, etc. And I basically am. I meant it: Obama can (and will) win. I just want to say that I don't think Edwards would be a terrible candidate either, although he does seem like a bit of a lightweight opportunist. To be clear, Hillary would be a disaster in the general election.


On Friday, we dropped everything and took a flight to Florida for a funeral on Saturday.


This year, I've read Richard Ford's The Sportswriter and Independence Day. I'm in the middle of The Lay of the Land. I like Ford -- he appeals to my sweet spot of hyper-realist fiction by middle-aged white men about middle-aged white men dealing with dysfunctional marriages (or divorce, and sometimes cancer or heart disease) in Northeastern suburbs in the late twentieth century -- but one particular tic of his that I noticed early on is driving me crazy. Ford has apparently never gotten over where he went to college. He went to Michigan, so did the main character of The Sportswriter trilogy. Almost all the characters that appear in the books are defined by where they went to college. Some typical examples from The Lay of the Land: About a potential real-estate deal partner: "My guess is Montclair State, marketing B.A., a tour with Uncle Sam, then home to work for the old man in the wholesale nursery bidnus in West Amwell." About an annoying acquaintance: "Haddam used to be full of schmoes like Bud Sloat, yipping little Princetonians who never missed New Year's Eve at the Princeton Club, showed up for every P-rade, smoker, ball game and fund raiser, and wore their orange-and-black porkpie hats and tiger pajamas to bed." About the town undertaker: "Lloyd's as big, tall, sweet and bulky as Bud is fat, weasly and lewd -- a great, potato-schnozzed, coat hanger-shouldered galoot who years ago played defensive end for the Scarlet Knights . . . ." About the undertaker's assistant: "Lawrence, I happen to know, went to Bucknell on a track scholarship but didn't last . . . ." About his doctor: "His Michigan and Kenyon diplomas hung above his Navy discharge . . . ." His ex's second husband is a "Yale guy". And on and on.

This tic is disappointing in such a gifted writer. It's a crutch he goes to again and again. No adult character is introduced without some comment about where he or she went to school. It gets tiresome very quickly. Especially because it's continually thrust out there in this self-satisfied, superior, knowing manner: I've got you all figured out, and I can sum you all up by reciting your CVs. Perhaps it seems so annoying because it seems so juvenile -- more appropriate in a sophomore-year creative writing seminar at Swarthmore [ha!] -- and Ford seems to be ramping up his endless reliance on colleges as defining traits as he moves into late middle age.

That, and his weird use of terms like "boink" when he's referring to sex. Otherwise, I do like Ford quite a bit.


That weird Jetsons-looking restaurant at LAX is under construction.




I wanted to have a picture of phone taken from a phone. Plus, pictures of payphones at night always produce a feeling of vague melancholy and worry -- especially with miserable parking lots in the background. The feeling produced is something along the lines of that section in the early story by Pynchon about how hard it would actually be to find a person out there, if you had to or needed to, to locate the one number in the huge, sprawling grid of the nation, in the darkness of the American night.


A wonderland of decorative lettuce in a corporate plaza downtown. It's actually sort of trippy. It looks like something from the set of a 60's movie starring Gene Wilder, designed by someone who went to Reed -- no, Middlebury [ha again].


A rainbow on the stairs of the Citibank building downtown at about 1:17 p.m. on the afternoon of Thursday, December 13, 2007. Goodbye, year. Goodbye, this time in my life. Goodbye.

4 comments:

Johann Eisenreich said...

NICE Blog :)

Toddy said...

I have almost come to my endorsement. I am leaning towards Edwards. I have been for a while. His anti-corporate, populist message has made me happy. He sounded downright intelligent and thoughtful in his News hour interview weeks ago.
And then yesterday's Krugman's op-ed piece in the Times.

Obama doesn't strike me as having enough personal inertia to see through real change.

I don't like Clinton from a personal standpoint, but she has a certain something more than Obama.

Anyhow, I am leaning Edwards.
Thoughts?

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