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September 18th, 2018

The rest of the weekend, though, was fab.

On Saturday, I went over to Lois Lane and Billy’s new place, which is a gated apartment complex right on the edge of the War Zone. We sat on their balcony smoking cigarettes and babbling a mile a minute. Lois Lane and Billy are great babblers, on a par with moi!

“I used to live three blocks over,” I told them. “On North Clinton. When I was doing my AmeriCorps Vista stint. I didn’t have a car. I walked to and from my posting. It was a rare day when I didn’t stumble across half a dozen syringes and crack pipes. The syringes I understood. But the crack pipes! Who does crack anymore? Crack is so retro!”

“That’s Poughkeepsie for you,” Lois Lane said. “Mired in the past. Though the big thing these days is synthetic marijuana—“

Why?” I said. “The real stuff is so easy to get!”

“I don’t know why it’s called synthetic marijuana,” Billy said. “The effect is more like PCP. Coupla days ago, we saw this guy take off all his clothes and play toreador with the cars. Right from our balcony. I assume he was bath-salting. Who needs television? Life is good.”

Lois Lane has a new ESL student for me—the Head Lama at the Buddhist monastery in Wappingers. Who knew that Wappingers even had a Buddhist monastery?

“Perfect!” I said. “You know, I specialized in Tibetans when I lived in Ithaca. They loved me, for some reason. I became the English Instructor of Choice for all the Tibetans who lived in Tompkins County. They even brought me their taxes to do. They were wacky! Really materialistic! You couldn’t find bigger fans of Black Friday in all of Tompkins County. They loved spending money on electronics! And it was so crazy talking to them. You’d be talking about the weather, and they’d say, ‘Yes, but this rainstorm is nothing like the rainstorm I went through two reincarnations ago! You should have seen that one!’ It was wild.”

From there, it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to talking about our own experiences with reincarnation. Like me, Billy was born with a complete set of memories from a previous life. Unlike me who’s forgotten all those experiences—what I remember now is remembering remembering—Billy still has the ghost outlines: He died in a fire. He used to dream about it as a kid and wake up screaming.

“Night terrors,” he said, shaking his head. “They used to call them night terrors.”


Next day, I trained back to NYC. Finished Harry Crews’ A Childhood: The Biography of a Place on the ride down.

A very interesting book.

Two things really stood out:

#1: Crews briefly mentions what happened to Georgia subsistence farmers when they switched from growing the things they needed to growing a single cash crop (either tobacco or cotton), which they would then sell. Plugging into the cash economy made the farmers and their families dependent. They began buying the things they once made themselves.

But, of course, cultures change far more slowly than economic realities. In their hearts, the farmers remained independent. Hated and resented the system that had robbed them of their independence even as they participated in it.

Fast forward a hundred years: I suspect this has something to do with Trump’s election.

#2: This passage: I first became fascinated with the Sears catalogue because all the people in the pages were perfect. Nearly everybody I knew had something missing, a finger cut off, a toe split, an ear half-chewed away, an eye clouded with blindness from a glancing fence staple. And if they didn’t have something missing, they were carrying scars from barbed wire, or knives, or fishhooks. But the people in the catalogue had no such hurts. They were not only whole, had all their arms and legs and toes and eyes on their unscarred bodies, but they were also beautiful. Their legs were straight and their heads were never bald and on their faces were looks of happiness, even joy, looks that I never saw much of in the faces of the people around me.

He's describing the onset of celebrity culture.


Met up with—ahem—Camille at the Brooklyn Book Festival. It was very hot. Hundreds of white tents lining Borough Hall Plaza. Who knew there were so many small presses and MFA programs in NYC?

We met up at the statue of Henry Ward Beecher:

While they’re taking out Confederate statues, they might seriously consider taking this one out as well. I find that Whatever-you-say-White-Bwana! expression on the face of the bronze figure to the left of bronze Beecher’s feet extremely offensive.

Ahem Camille and I wandered a bit, but mostly we sat in an air-conditioned café drinking ice tea and chatting.

We ducked into an interview with Jennifer Egan, the Festival headliner.

I liked A Visit With the Goon Squad a lot when I first read it, though I have been unable to make any headway into Manhattan Beach, and that’s twice now that I’ve tried since Ed came running across the road just a couple of days ago with the novel in hand and shoved it at me, intoning, “This is your kind of book!”

I suspect I’m unable to read it because I’m much too superficial and lightweight to give a shit about plucky female workers at the Brooklyn Naval Yard during WWII. Bor-r-r-r-r-r-ing! sez the Little Voice in my head.

And listening to Egan talk about Manhattan Beach further solidified my determination not to read it. She is not a very inspiring interview subject.

Afterwards Ahem Camille and I ducked into the Worst Diner in Brooklyn for dinner, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Gordon Ramsay who would roar, "Shite! This is shite!" as he watched us try to find the edible bits in what the menu had told us were "hamburgers."

Then we went for a walk on the Brooklyn Heights promenade, which was splendid, splendid, splendid in the long rays of the setting sun and thence, repaired to Ahem Camille’s exquisite apartment where we watched Baaad Television, a wonderful ending to a wonderful day.

In the morning as we trotted toward the subway, I saw this to add to my photographic collection of Sunset Park kitsch:


Max and I are gonna collaborate on a blog about policy issues and the American criminal justice system.

Tentative title: “With Justice for Some.”

I’m gonna do the WordPress programming, the sysop stuff, the editing, some writing.

Probably wisest for him not to let me do too much of the writing, though, since the whole point of the blog is to position Max as a Social Justice Warrior to Be Reckoned With, and an increasing number of my own thoughts on just about everything these days are Politically Incorrect and getting Politically Incorrecter all the time.

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