Thursday, March 31, 2011

5 Thoughts on a Thursday

1) My phone is dead. For some reason I can never remember to plug in my computer and my phone at night. It's always just one or the other.

2) Hurray! Baseball season is here again. Really, that's another reason I stopped blogging; between the Ducks losing the BCS game, and the endless, meaningless events that are NBA games in February, I had nothing sports related to buoy my spirits. (I care so little about professional football that Robyn and I watched "Twin Peaks" during the Superbowl.) But now baseball is here again, along with promises of summer and barbecues and puppies and everything that is right with America and the world. And steroid scandals.

Speaking of which...

3) Joel's totally boring baseball picks for 2011:

AL: Red Sox, White Sox, A's, Yankees
NL: Giants, Cards, Phillies, Reds
ALCS: A's over Red Sox
NLCS: Phillies over Reds
World Series: Phillies over A's

4) I may never be a college professor, but today I was thinking, while eating some noodles at the Noodles & Company on Green Street here in the heart of Campustown, that if I am ever a professor - or even a TA - I am going to make my students wear pants. That means no sweat pants, no pajama pants, (especially not those X-Box-themed pajama pants I saw today!) no gym shorts, no hot pants with the word "PINK" on the ass, no leggings trying to pass as pants! Dammit, if you have enough time to get out of bed, then you have enough time to put on pants. If anyone came to any of my classes pantsless, I would yell obscenities at them until they left to go put some on. Then I would return to my Irish coffee and rambling incoherently about Nietzsche.

5) Of course in that case, I would have to come down equally hard on the annoying idiosyncrasies of philosophy students, i.e., only fully-grown and well-trimmed and clean beards, sweaters and pony-tails must be washed at least every other day, matching socks only, no coffee stains on your Oxford shirts, ironic t-shirts allowed only on Tuesdays, etc.

Seriously, we'd be like the New York Yankees of the philosophy department.

Monday, March 28, 2011


So, yes, the reason why I haven't been writing for the past three months or so is because The World has been dark and cold and stupid. (And icy!) But now it is Daylight Savings Time, and suddenly my outlook is much sunnier. (Although it is still really quite cold here in Illinois.)

The one item that I bought while in New York City that was neither edible nor drinkable was a collection of essays by Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I bought it at The Strand. I really love Didion, and am actually quite embarrassed that I'd never heard of her before last year. Anyways, she got me really thinking about The End of Days - the eponymous essay in her book is about the sense of the Apocalypse in San Francisco in 1968, and takes its title in turn from the W.B. Yeats poem, "The Second Coming," - and it seems to me that The World is always and forever ending.

I mean, take 1968 as an example. Boy, the World was really ending them. Riots, rock and roll, LSD, Russian tanks invading Prague. Only an idiot would ignore those signs. Yeats wrote his poem in 1919; that, I believe was right after the World had just finished ending. In 1941, the World was ending for everybody except the Nazis. After the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, eleven men decided that the World was close enough to ending for them, so they killed themselves. And that's just in the 20th Century! What about the Civil War, the French Revolution, the Black freakin' Death?!?! Those all seem like reasonable, rational times to believe that The End Is Nigh.

Robyn said something very wise to me the other day, something that I wish I could remember the exact wording to, but cannot. She said that the World is always ending, and new Worlds are always being made. And I don't want to trivialize the matter by saying something like, "We always say the World is going to end, but it never does..." No, the World is ending, is constantly ending, has always and forever been ending...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

More Signs of the Apocalypse

I was sitting in my friends’ living room this week in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, smoking cigarettes and drinking Budweiser out of tall-boy cans. It was late in the afternoon, and every one except me and S- was out, either still asleep or in the bathroom or at work. The news was on - NBC, six o’clock nightly news - and the anchorman was just wrapping up a story about the threat of nuclear disaster in Japan.

“This is it, this is what I was talking about.” said S-, “They keep having these stories on the news about how this is not the Apocalypse.”

There was going to be a full moon that night, and, because of the unique position of the Earth and the moon in their orbits, it would be the largest that the moon would appear in the night sky for 18 years. The news had segued into a story about the Indian Point nuclear power plant, up the Hudson River from New York, and how, if the East Coast were to suffer a comparable natural disaster to the earthquake and tsunami that has devastated Japan, then the entire city of New York would have to be evacuated.

“We have no way of knowing what the future will hold,” said the news caster, “and the events of the last several months, from the uprisings and subsequent violence in North Africa and the Middle East...” a shot of many angry Arab men chanting, followed by an explosion in the desert, “... to the tragedy in Japan...” cue crying families amid devastation, over the bodies of their families, “...have caused many to ponder whether or not this is truly the end of days.” And then a shot of a massive, blood-red moon rising over the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

I leaned forward in my chair. “But...” I prompted the man on the television. S- suddenly had his curiosity piqued also, as the silence left by the unspoken clause grew longer and longer, the unsaid reassurance from The Most Trusted Men in America that this, indeed, was not the end of the world, that there is no reason to panic, that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. “But... but...”

But nothing.

He signed off, leaving an eerie image of that bloody moon over the nation’s capitol and a provocative closing statement. Later that night, S- and my sister and I tried to go look at the bad moon rising from the roof of his apartment, but apparently S-’s landlord had an alarm installed, after having found the roof littered with cigarette butts and tall-boy cans, so that when we reached the top landing, we were assaulted by a loud and repetitive noise that caused us to run back down the stairs and out the front door, where we could see the moon just fine.

And so there we were, standing outside S-’s apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, smoking cigarettes, looking up at the moon, which was big but, y’know, had already risen, and so was not all that impressive. And we were laughing about how ridiculous the news anchor had been, and S- said something like, “Well, maybe this is the beginning of the end.” And I put out my cigarette and said, “Yeah, well... I think it’s more like the middle of the end.”

I tell you these things because I have been asked several times - mostly by my mom and by Jesse K. - why I have not been writing here since last December. And I guess that it’s mostly because things like this happen; that we can have months of cold and darkness, and that tsunamis can hit Japan and revolutions Libya, and that nobody - not even the anchorman on television, who is paid to do so, is willing to tell us that “Everything is going to be OK.” No, instead we have doom and soothsayers, folks who feed the panic, and layer after layer of insidious fear. There never seemed to be to me at least any one who would say something like, “DON’T PANIC” or “Everything is going to be OK.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

"Two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity." - Nietzsche

Fuck. Forgot to wear green today.