Monday, March 9, 2009

They call it Stormy Monday.

It is 5:30 Monday afternoon. The second day of daylight savings time. Everything is gray. The sky, the lake, the lawn, the surface of the street, my hair, my eyes. All of it gray, close, damp. It's too early, too muddy, too unnatural to be this light this late. Somebody has screwed up again. Human beings always tinkerin with nature, gonna make it better. Heh-heh.

Now that all the snow is melted, you can see the trash piled up everywhere, plastic bags, bottles, cans, paper rolls, toys, empty detergent cartons, the junked remains of these hard-scrabble lives up here. Their cracked and peeling houses huddle in the middle of their yards like shy, belligerent adolescents. The roofs are mossy, or missing shingles, the gutters -- when they have gutters -- are bent or missing leaders, or half hangin off the eaves into the splatter and debris on the pebble walkways below. You walk through these yards and the mud sucks at your Merrells like an eel.

The wet crows've been complainin all day as the horny squirrels fight and prance all over the lawn. You pick up the newspaper and there's nothin in it except ads for mobile phones. You turn on the radio and somebody starts talkin about the banking crisis again, with the same old observations and arguments. I wanna pull my hair out, it's like I'm livin in an amateur version of
Groundhog Day.

Last night I watched a Spanish movie on my laptop, a beautifully shot black & white thing called
Death of a Cyclist. Betrayal, extortion, class warfare, infidelity. Made in 1955 by Juan Antonio Bardem. I guess he was a communist, which is probably why it never played here. Christ, black & white is so sexy, the way the lovers cast their shadows onto each other.

Nowadays we get overstuffed and hyperviolent tripe like
Watchmen or sophomoric doo-doo comedies. You gotta go into the vault if you wanna see something worthwhile. And if you criticize the junk that opens every Friday, or you call the TV an idiot box, folks're liable to call you a snob.

But that's what I am. After all, I came out of the book business believing it was a noble profession. Quist used to ast me, "What do you get out of those books of yours, poot? Something you can't find nowhere else?" I thought long and hard. I figgered I'd give it to him straight. "Reading at its best is a kind of ecstasy, a communion with another mind leading to unfettered imaginative flight."

Quist roared. "You're so full of shite. Now let's go down to Alvin's and get a fresh bottle of Jameson's. You start talkin purple like that, I need a drink."

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