Friday, October 14, 2011

Punch Line

  My mother once told me: "Don't trust anyone -- not even me."

  Whenever I mention this, people seem utterly shocked.  I myself was shocked when she said it, but I'm far less so now.  Frankly, empirically, it was sage advice.  I mean:  Read the news; Listen to telephone solicitations; Check the mail for what arrives (bills) and what doesn't (payments).

  As it turned out, my mother was extremely trustworthy.  

  Wonders and surprises truly never ever cease.


  1. Curtis,

    Your mother was a wise woman indeed.

    One cannot even trust the beach under one's feet, in all its wild pristine beauty, not to suddenly tilt off into a wild diagonal.

    (Small wonder you were distracted into misplacing your camera!)

  2. My mother learned some hard lessons along the way and passed them on in ways I sometimes found difficult to endure, let alone absorb. As mostly seems to be the case, I have a better appreciation of the value of some of things she said now than I did then and an understanding of why she said them. And, as I said, she proved to be an exceptionally trustworthy person. Last Saturday evening was exceptionally beautiful on Cape Cod. Totally summer then, totally autumn now. After the camera episode, which was unbelievable, my iPod inexplicably rematerialized in the way that cats sometimes seem to. I'm lucky that Caroline experiences some of these ectoplasmic occurrences around us. At this point I wouldn't think I was going crazy or anything, but still it's nice to have a witness. Fascinating to me that we haven't yet, as far as I know, experienced Occupy Philadelphia. This is really a city with a weakened pulse. (Witness the Phillies and Eagles.) Curtis

  3. Well, Curtis, I can report that I've experienced (in passing) Occupy Berkeley. It's very difficult to notice, because it looks like an only slightly more concentrated version of Normal Everyday/Everynight Homeless Drifter Berkeley. It is situated in a downtown park approximately the size of a life-raft. No self respecting member of the 1% would ever go there in any case, so just who is supposed to be watching I don't know. To paraphrase the dead rock star, it smells just like Spiritless Desperation. Of that we have had and do have more than enough to go around, already. Very bleak times, down at the short end of the stick.

  4. Interesting that Berkeley would be so ragged in that respect. I've never been there, but its reputation would suggest otherwise. So much for reputations, I guess. Around here, we've been focused on a vet/pet crisis, which I'm hoping is turning out ok, so that's put some of the other total confusion off to the side for a bit. I find almost every aspect of the “Occupy _____” phenomenon peculiar, but perhaps I’m just showing my age and my predilection for consistency and coherence, which may have me missing the point. Usually I expect journalists to be able to explain the news to me and I fully accept that there will be a left, middle and right that, with a little extra research, I can probably reconcile. That isn’t happening here and, using the NY Times as a contemporary salient example (the Times having turned into an untrustworthy partisan rag), I don’t think that kind of helpful, independent third-party analysis is likely ever to return. Journalism has found its level in the anonymous “comment sewers” that have replaced (mostly) genteel Letters To The Editor columns. Although I think the 1% vs. 99% image is powerful, I don’t think (for the US at least) it accurately describes the shades of the true bleakness you mention. It’s overly stark, overly emphatic and the inaccuracy of the figures puts the terrible conclusion, which is indisputable, in doubt. For my part, and I am very fortunate in most respects, the feeling that I will never again find a semblance of the sort of job I used to have or ever again be truly treated with respect in a professional context, is daily very painful. It inculcates and makes distrust almost a permanent, incurable condition. It makes you feel that you’re traveling on a different tangential track, straight to hell. Today, after we visit (thank heaven for that) our dog Andy at the U. of Penn hospital, I’ll be driving (at the request of a friend and sometime business partner) to Brooklyn to witness/visit a corporate (as in sponsored by Microsoft and Intel) “art” event called the Creators Project. I’m sure there will be some interesting work on display (including the film and performance project I'm going there to view), but I must say that there is something that feels so “off” about this. I expect one would be able to physically exchange those attending this event with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and not notice a difference in clothes, affect, mood or jargon. It will be nice to be in the car for a couple of hours I think, even if I'm just watching the New Jersey Turnpike go by on Sunday. Curtis