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Hold the Tofurkey, I'm running late [24 Nov 2005|11:55am]

Happy Thanksgiving to all the USians, in the remade let's-not-celebrate-the-genocide sense.

En route from Boston to Newark. Later on today, I hope they will also take me from Newark to Detroit. Here I am, enjoying the most expensive plane ticket I have ever purchased in the US. Connecting in Newark? Gah. But, it was all I could do to avoid being routed through Montreal. Anyway, the coffee is good. And, it's a very literary crowd. A lot of writing in notebooks and Sudoku (or is it Soduku, I can never remember --- it has numbers and I don't do it) going on. All the laptops around me are white Macs. They need to learn the power of the dark side.

Speaking of white, there was snow on the ground when my (yellow) cab pulled up this morning. I wasn't expecting to take a cab. I bought a plane ticket for a reasonable hour thinking that I would be able to take the (purple) commuter train and the Silver Line to the airport. But, the MBTA runs on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving, so no trains by me until after 10am. I could have still managed by mass transit, but I would have had to walk a half mile, and leave an hour earlier. 57 to the green line to the blue line to the shuttle just sounded too complicated, even though it's not.

The cab driver had been working for 18 hours straight. At least, that's what he said. Isn't that illegal? He told me about his ex-wife. He pays her $1000 a month. He has given her over $120,000. He advised me never to get married. He also ran down all of his fares from the last 18 hours for me, and let me know how much each had tipped him, the approximate blood alcohol level of each, and the conversational highlight summary of each. No cabbie has ever done that for me before. I guess it worked. I tipped outrageously well. I'm always confused by the airport cab rides, because there is like $6.50 in tolls involved. How does that work with the whole tipping as a percentage of the bill thing? It makes sense that you don't really tip on the tolls, but it's hard to stomach only tipping a couple dollars more than the total, tolls included.

I could fill out a pretty good Friendster profile for this guy. I clearly should have recorded him for a voice post. Next time I will. He's a Mountain Dew guy, not coffee, but he's drinking coffee this morning because he's got to drive his Uncle over to his some-other-relative's place later on. Is that what it's like as a cabbie? Do you end up driving your friends and relatives everywhere too? Usually the smell of coffee makes him have to use the bathroom. I'd probably leave that out of the profile. He's 45, and knows who Kid Rock is. Looking for someone who is not looking for someone to pay the bills. He doesn't need that. I should have gotten his card.

Ah, lovely Newark. Flight delayed by 10 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 1 hour 20 minutes. And counting.

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Why people say poetry is dead, maybe [24 Nov 2005|01:44pm]

Catching up on old issues of The Nation (2005 June 13, don't laugh), I came across this interesting take on the "good poetry is dead" book industry. It's from Lee Siegel's review of Break, Blow, Burn by Camille Paglia.

It's for educated people who want to feel better about not being as interested in poetry as they've been told educated people should be. Paglia belongs to that group of critics who learned long ago how to satisfy the vanity of smart, culturally credentialed people who either no longer have the time to read or who, for one reason or another, are not drawn to high culture---in this case, poetry. You tell such people in wry, ironic, cultured tones that there's no longer anything worth reading. In this way, you reassure them that the classics they read in college, and perhaps graduate school, are all they need to know. You inform them of all this under the aspect of a "crisis". That way, you give them an occasion to substitute moral indignation for intellectual absorption; you enable them to indulge the illusion of experiencing an "issue" of high culture as though they were experiencing the real thing. America must be the only country in the world where moral indignation has become an established intellectual style.

I was struck mainly by the insight into how we can feel like we are experiencing some aspect of culture when we involve ourselves is some related "issue". I also think that part of this book industry is reaffirming the idea that poetry is "high culture" at all.

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