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I Bet You Can’t Guess What This Paragraph Is About

May 27, 2010

“Others, mostly in various forums, have demonized people who speculate in mythics, buying a bunch of mythics they believe will go up and stockpiling them for some time until they sell them off at a profit. The argument is that speculators are artificially increasing demand (and thus prices) and are doing so for selfish reasons. This argument is flawed. First, shortages occur because prices are too low. Speculators move prices to equilibrium more quickly. Second, speculators actually provide liquidity, because they are willing to sell their mythics when many players would prefer to keep them in their decks. Speculators actually help to obviate shortages.”

Hardly at All Developed, and Just Written this A.M., But Here’s Something Regardless

April 15, 2010

Springtime — and due to moving
everything you own has been reduced to:
one fork, one knife, one plate, one cup.

When in the kitchen, at the cucina,
squeezing honey onto cornbread,
you — I — realize this, what it once was like
comes back in a rush: waking up un-hungover
(though you should be) in an empty dorm room
in fragrant early May;
Feeling very light and terribly free.

But the boxes stacked
in another room reproach you.

Three Takes on an Evening

April 11, 2010

It was an evening of prominent lights
or lights noticed in a variety of places:
the ghostly footlights of the garden
the delicate tea lights of the bridge
and the dropped cigarette, burning
orange at the end and rolling down
toward the curb of Roebling Street.

On an early warmish April evening
it felt as if the temperature of the air
matched precisely the temperature
of my skin; I walked with my arms
hung at my sides, swaying in rhythm
to my sure footsteps while I noticed.

I was walking home on Bedford Avenue from dinner with Brendan and Tsam, and I was walking up Bedford Avenue, and I passed a little community garden that had these footlights along a path — and they were a very ghostly blue-white, with almost kind of a mist around them.  I stopped, or slowed, for a moment to look at them, but I quickly sped on homeward.

One Little Piece of Holy Ground

April 9, 2010

This past Thursday night I met up with an old co-worker who, after being laid off from our company about this time last year, ended up being unable to find another job in New York and eventually was compelled to move back down to Florida, where she’s from, and in with her parents. I was in Orlando on business, and so I gave her a call and let her know I was in town. We decided to have dinner, at Epcot.

We took the monorail to the park and chose to eat Mexican, at the San Angel Inn. After some wandering in the wrong direction—and with much sneezing and sniffling on my part, my allergies in full bloom, and with a 14-minute, “circle-vision” film about Canada intervening—we got directions and went south of the border.

The replica Aztec pyramid, within which the San Angel Inn is housed, contains a replica Mexican market peddling sombreros, tequila, and blankets, and the like. At the back is the San Angel Inn, whose tables seem to be set underneath a vast night sky, with (another) Aztec pyramid and a smoking, red-rimmed volcano off in the “distance.” It was somewhat hokey, the set-up, but was not without its charms.

We were seated and caught up. I drank a virgin lime margarita. My friend drank a passion-fruit margarita. We ordered tacos for dinner from the appetizer menu and talked. At first, when my co-worker came on staff at our mutual company, about a week after me, I thought I wouldn’t like or get along with her. I learned a lesson with regard to that judgment, one usually doled out in terms of books and covers.

At some point during the meal, a mother and her son, who was probably about 10 years old, were seated next to us. At first I didn’t really notice them. Then I noticed that the boy, who was generously freckled, fairly overweight, and wearing a black AC/DC T-shirt, had a deep Southern twang. For some reason his accent caught my ear; or maybe it was the way the boy seemed to say things, with a self-assuredness that was beyond his years. He talked to his mom (who, as a result of being quieter, I can’t really comment on) in the way that you might talk to an old friend with whom you are very comfortable, and both of you know exactly how much you mean to the other.

Perhaps I am ascribing overmuch agency or self-awareness to the kid. But it tickled me, his animated way of talking and exclaiming about things. I didn’t even really hear much of what he was saying—rather just the way in which he was saying it.

But one thing he said I did hear, and it just killed me; made me mist up, in fact.

At one point the mom and son’s waiter was at their table, talking with them, and evidently telling them about how the Aztecs used to make human sacrifices of beautiful young women to the volcano—which, as I said, was in the background.

The kid kind of boggled over this, and then he responded, happily, “Well, it’s a good thing I’m ugly, then!” And chuckled and smiled at his own joke.

That damn near did me in. Later their food came and the kid tore into his with gusto, like no one had ever made fun of him or had made him feel bad about himself. During this, I intermittently tried to alert my friend—Jen—to the truly dazzling display of human fireworks going on the table adjacent to us; and I think she picked up on it, though perhaps not to the degree that I did.

Thinking about this, since then, I’ve thought about Annie Dillard’s blue crab, in the Jordan desert; the scores of birds just going nuts in that one tree at twilight on Bedford, outside of the cheese shop; and the terribly silent, white view from atop Antarctica’s Observation Hill. And then, having just finished reading J.D. Salinger’s “Seymour: An Introduction,” on the plane back up to Brooklyn, there is this:

“Seymour once said that all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next.”

Some (Very Minor) Thoughts on the Occasion of Both Easter and of Reading Salinger

April 4, 2010

The question of whether or not god exists is far too weighty for anyone to think they have figured out any sooner than five minutes before their death.

One thing that heartens me is the fact that I will never run out of books to read at lunch, by myself.

The true mark of a god-seeker is whether or not he or she is able to discern holy bells in the sound of house keys tied to a jogger’s shoelaces.

There is not any haunt of prophecy,
Nor any old chimera of the grave,
Neither the golden underground, nor isle
Melodious, where spirits gat them home,
Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm
Remote on heaven’s hill, that has endured
As April’s green endures; or will endure
Like her remembrance of awakened birds,
Or her desire for June and evening, tipped
By the consummation of the swallow’s wings.

What Health Care Reform Really Means

March 23, 2010

I received the following message via Facebook from a friend of one of my brothers last night.  Not only did it make me feel good, like I’ve been doing my part, but it’s also a perfect illustration of what health care reform really means.  Health care reform is not about a “socialist government takeover” or about taxes for taxes’ sake; rather, it’s about making sure that individuals like this young man aren’t run over by a capitalist system that pretty much only takes profit into account.

I agree with capitalism; I, like the GOP, believe that it is the best economic engine out there.  But left unchecked, it can be a vicious, inhumane thing.  That’s one of the reasons why a relatively activist government is necessary: in order to protect more vulnerable individuals from being exploited and harmed by the more powerful, whether in the form of a human (say, an armed robber) or a corporation (say, a health insurance company).

Here is the text of this courageous young man’s email (his name has been redacted in order to protect his privacy):

Hey, I’m a friend of your brother’s. I think we’ve met once before. Anyway, this might be weird to say but thanks for being really passionate about health care reform here on Facebook. I have a pre-existing condition and I have to rely on Medicaid for my coverage. Things are looking up now though and a part of my life is actually about to change for the much better. Just wanted to say that your updates, blog entries, and such have been a relief amid the usual bickering I read on here everyday. Thanks.

Best,
[Redacted]

Now tell me who can possibly be against that?

Unlike President Clinton, I Know that President Obama Truly Feels My Pain

March 1, 2010

From today’s Times, about the president’s recent physical (especially see the bolded bit below):

As for Mr. Obama’s smoking, Mr. Gibbs said the president had tried to quit, but had “admitted lapses.” It is not known how frequently Mr. Obama smokes, or what the figure is for his total “pack years,” a standard measure of a smoker’s risk for diseases like lung cancer.

Mr. Gibbs referred reporters to the president’s own words from last June, when he was asked about his smoking addiction while signing a law aimed at keeping children from starting to smoke. The president noted that 90 percent of smokers began on or before their 18th birthday.

“I know — I was one of those teenagers,” Mr. Obama said. “I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it’s been with you for a long time.”

He added: “I would say that I am 95 percent cured, but there are times where I mess up.”

Mrs. Obama admonished him to quit smoking when he started his campaign in 2007, saying, “He couldn’t be a smoking president.”

Mr. Obama chews nicotine gum to cut down on his smoking.

“Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes,” Mr. Obama said last June at a White House news conference. “Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No.”

True that, Prez.  As Mark Twain once said, “Quitting smoking is easy—I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

For me, it’s Day 23.