Sunday, October 4, 2020

Timely blades and second chances

No one, of course, has any appetite for
seeing a certain name again, except as
a line to avoid selecting, at the top of 
his ballot, At last the gathering of a di-
verse and remarkably distributed storm
of revulsion is poised to restore self-
determination to the United States. The
The New York Times portrays a rescue op-
eration deeply reminiscent of med-evac
Hueys lifting from the battlefields of
Southeast Asia, saving the passengers if
possible, but more certainly ceding na-
tive ground from which they are removed.

Nor was this an expulsion by cruel chance,
but by the incapacity and illegitimacy of
the occupation, revealed in its helpless
incompetence and reliance on its own lies.

This chance is one not to blow, but also
not to crow. It's generous, even to desig-
nate this deliverance as a restoration, 
given how few have ever influenced their
own governance in this country. But every
such valuation is relative, and is being
re-examined under pressures both urgent -
pandemic, racial discord, economic dis-
location - and implacable - climatic
crises, other environmental despoiling,
and international security hazards both
recklessly propagated or negligently
denied by the government soon to depart.

The circumstances are auspicious for a
popular insistence on self-determination.
They are equally vulnerable to repressive
pre-emption, which is the unfailing custom
of our history. But now at least we know
why: racism has been the contortionist
corrupter of every populist opportunity in
this nation's experience. This contortion-
ist is avid to overwhelm the pending elec-
tion by intimidation, deception, malicious
prosecution, and every rejection available.

At last, the great anti-progressive energy
of the American experience has fallen into
the hands of a spent force. We now behold
the readying of an electoral swift sword -
a climax of nothing, a beginning to be de- 
termined by the People. We have our vote. 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Word from the land of always something


Word came to Americans some time in
the evening of the 18th that a hold-
out against replacement on the high
court had passed from the scene, al-
lowing speculation of whether, how,
when, by whom something definitive
would be done about this. This was
not the first intrusion on a wedding
anniversary of mine, when a highly
presentable plate of rognons de veau
was first served to me on the night
of my farewell to the East Coast. I
found myself back here eventually,
unmarried, and although cured of com-
memorating occasions with food, still
easily consoled by a determined defer-
ence to offal.

This latest bulletin in the struggle
for power in the United States found
me just as glad to be able to rely on
my friends already to be in earnest,
plotting various interventions. No 
one had telephoned me, anguished to
be reminded, how to breathe, and I
found myself managing equally well,
once I'd recalled the virtues of 
fresh coffee. Not for this house-
hold, then, will hands be wrung in
wonder of what will become of life
for another 40 terms of this court;
no swooning on the indignity of the
present power structure's swan song
of bottomless villainy. Possibly,
some frantic defections from that
cabal can be negotiated; possibly
a bolt of gastronomic clarity will
descend upon the illumination of
well-grazed kidneys, but in any
case, calving season will return, 
in all its telling raucousness.

For more than 50 years, a tenuous
claim to a position in the general
population and an ill-bred fixation
on the mythology of judicial review
have left me with the conviction 
set out above, that one's time can
much more securely be invested in
a study of the classics in cuisine
than in the tergiversations of a
casuist tradition under demagog-
ic appointment. Enough, please, 
of heroes of magical powers. Win
games, breed good beasts, honor

Now. That's revenge.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Of frogs we should have expected

’Twas a warm Summer night, just the 
weather for merchants of sentiment 
to stuff our throat with frogs. Not 
merely to agitate the lachrymose, but 
equally the otiose, our hapless Clas-
of Aristophanes to which the amphibi-
ans lent their name, a battle of tra-

Already in everyone’s mind had been 
shades of Franklin Roosevelt and his
leadership of national recovery, re-
form, and resistance to fascism. Who
would muck with this? 

Enter boldly the nominee, citing FDR’s 
crippling by polio - a virus, he alert-
ly recalled - and then, not referencing 
to others at Warm Springs, segued into 
presenting himself as mentor to a school-
boy who stutters. None dare call it pla-
giarism, but his opponents are what they 
are, and I hold four hopes in escalating 
order of intensity - 

That the campaign is ready for the fire-
storm of exploitation of his fuel; that 
the soul of FDR is slapping his knee with 
glee at this overreach for his image; 
that nobody faults Aristophanes for our
witless memory; and that the boy in ques-
tion will be held as blameless as he is.

This leaves the nominee. I respect the
necessity to project an unanswerable im-
pediment to Trump and Trumpism's penchant
for mocking his speech as a symptom of 
frailty. At the same time one would like
to be able to expect the candidate to ex-
ercise his own strength, without sending
for a child in his place. One would like
him to stop striving for poignancy and be-
gin to enact raw, exposed superiority:

Listen, swine. I have a neurological prob-
lem with my speech. I'll stutter all day,
before I'll emulate your lies.

5th C BC
Metropolitan Museum

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Saturday commute clxxxi: This very day, no less

In James Brooks’ hit film comedy, “As 
good as it gets” (1997), Helen Hunt, 
playing a single mother of an asthmat-
ic boy being neglected by the American 
medical establishment, receives an en-
dowment covering all of the medical ex-
penses necessary to transform her son 
into a soccer star within a week. But, 
suspecting that this gift comes with 
carnal expectations attached, she turns 
to Shirley Knight, her mother, to fret 
that maybe she should reject it. “No,” 
she flatly declares. “This isn’t a pair 
of stockings, this isn’t a string of 
pearls. This you do not give back.”

I find myself unable to imagine that 
Joseph Biden could have foreseen that a 
prospective running mate, often seen but 
"somehow" blocked in her quest for the 
Presidential nomination that he won by 
attrition, would be revealed as a soccer 
star within hours of being presented with 
his favor. How oblivious the presumptions 
so often are, at the foundation of our ex-
pertise, we need hardly note in this moment 
of Donald Trump. Yet suddenly the campaign 
that might already be seen as straight, but 
which no one pretended might see very far, 
finds itself carried aloft on a wave of ju-
bilation not seen since the conquest of 

Look here. People are affected. That very 
night one could feel the country, stand up. 
Stephen Colbert found Jon Batiste, composing 
a song, "for Kamala." Those who were able to 
squeeze into the donation sites of the Democ-
ratic National Committee, managed to deposit
$48 million there in those hours. Personal
ties, political commitments, alumni networks, 
lately moribund in the moment of Donald Trump, 
sprang to giddiest life — and all without the 
least forewarning. There was pandemonium at
the corner of Castro and Market, without a
word from Dionysus. This selection is not 
a pair of stockings; it’s not even a pair of 
Bernie’s fishnets. Alas, it isn’t pearls of 
Elizabeth Warren. It's the ore of our ground,
not of our statues. This is our birth.

No tentative “connection with the future,” the 
cliché of the day — or light at the end of a
tunnel, Kamala Harris declares the truth of
this very day, that only an unyielding maze 
of sordid, illegitimate structures could con-
ceal. Nor could it be lost in the confetti,
this revelation was ultimately forced upon
powerfully reluctant beneficiaries. But it's
done, and what one feels is the pace at which
such power can shift.

ii  Joshua Lott
    Getty Images©

Friday, August 14, 2020

Suppose it were Friday clxxvi: So run

             I live with the sound my body is.

             . .

             I can't forget the pure sound I heard once
             when a violin string snapped nearby
             in three o'clock's perfect silence.
             But I tell myself I'm safe. I remind myself
             of the boy who discovered order in the piano
             and ran upstairs to tell his little sister
             that they didn't have to be afraid anymore.

Jack Gilbert
The Dance Most of All
Alfred A. Knopf, 2009©

Conor Fay

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Origins of Wednesday cxi: A country maybe to be living in

  No, I didn't believe it either, when
  I heard that New Yorkers were buying
  cars to get around, much less that a
  chance had been laid upon the table,

  It's enough to promise to stop World
  maybe just refocus it on fascists of
  our own. But I stray, which the Bid-
  en campaign, so far, does not. Nice. 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A feast on hold

In allowing the 29th of July to pass 
without comment, I found myself in a
position of deferring recognition of
the anniversary of rmbl in a context
of widespread suspension in society,
as well as of suspense in individual
life. I don't think I describe an ob-
literation in our communities of in-
terest, so much as an enlargement in
their enrollments in overlapping com-
mon cause. Public health, social jus-
tice, national reclamation from its
direst imaginable imperilments, seem
to depend upon one date's promise of
commitment to their advancement, be-
ginning this November. And yet, even
though the fork for the fish course
of a feast bears suggestive resem-
blance to the fork for a later, the 
salad, they are different enough to
argue for their individual mastery,
lest we falter in their requirements.

Emergency is always at its most per-
ilous when it challenges discernment,
and a combination of emergencies is
especially fraught. The first order
of business in the emergence of the
unimaginable is to recognize, with-
out being comforted, how familiar
it is. Yes, it is now as late as the
salad course, but the mix is still
a salad of discernible ingredients.
We did not imagine this compilation,
but we know its addresses must be
compendious, and it is time to re-
ly on an instrument well designed
for selection as well as embrace. 

We recognize, such is the tick-
et of Joe Biden for President of 
the United States, and Kamala Har-
ris for Vice President. Look at
how congruent are the tines, look
at how excellently they are dis-
tributed, look at how purposefully
they alternate, and how they accom-
modate and balance what they hold,
with our acceptance. Set the table.


Friday, June 19, 2020

Juneteenth now

Who might ever have guessed that the genealogy of America's deliverance from Donald Trump and his Republican Party would be traced directly through the emphatic embrace in Spring, 2020, of racial equality before the law?

And why was this, except that both the necessity and the reward for struggle came to be seen as one. People turned to each other in disbelieving unison to ask, Where the hell have we been, to forget that playing fair is first of all to play? They rid themselves of Trump by reclaiming the sheer pleasure of the soul-sustaining resolve to be fair.