Friday, October 28, 2005

A Visit from Mrs. Butterworth

I don't know if this story's getting any national coverage based on the oddity of it alone but in case you hadn't heard, last night west Manhattan and parts of Jersey were blanketed in what the New York Times--in a charmingly awkward way--calls, "an unseen, sweet-smelling cloud" for hours, leaving everyone to wonder if they'd perhaps sat in a puddle of syrup on the subway, and to dream of IHOP and autumnal New England.

Your typical walk down a New York City street is an assault on all the senses, but especially the olefactory. Piss and shit are de rigeur. Once in awhile you hit a pocket describing a special sort of gangrenous decay that can only mean you've stumbled, eyes watering, past a sleeping spot of the homeless, a space demarcated in the daytime by the spice of its stink alone. So you can, perhaps, understand what an unexpected and pleasant experience it was to walk home last night enveloped in a constant and steady (but not overpowering) breeze of maple. Therefore it was kind of
surprising this morning to read that so many sharp, cynical New Yorkers had called in to report the smell, fearing it was an indication of toxins being released into the air (read: a terrorist attack). But air toxicity was and remains normal. Or anyway, normal for a stinking hellhole where 8 million people literally live on top of each other.

And while I feel confident that it wasn't Osama making me wanna leggo my eggo last night, the conspiracy theorist in me wonders at the possibilities behind this strange occurrence. Maple syrup is such an American product, after all, invoking log cabins, and hard-working ingenuity (tapping trees for goddsake?). Mrs. Butterworth is one of the most recognizable commercial characters in a typical American child's life. There's an almost religious sense of wounded individuality in the farming of maple syrup--all those trees, standing along in the cold, snowy winter, bleeding stoically into cups at their sides. And where does it come from? This golden brown succor of our proud nation? Why from Vermont and New Hampshire--New England, birthplace of the Union itself; places where men still live off the
land, where politicking is still an integral part of life. A part of the nation that is iconic to our nation's idea of itself--free-thinking without being shrill and traditional without being fundamentalist. Walking down the street last night, sniffing the sugary air, I felt the bittersweet minnows of patriotism stir in my shuttered heart. I thought of Rosa Parks, and Sinclair Lewis and that time in college my friends got a cabin at Attatash and played truth or dare for 10 hours one night until we were all naked and drunk. The smell invoked in me some sort of America's Greatest Hits playlist of some of the things that have made this country, and my life in it, great.

Or maybe it just made me want to sit my fat American ass down at some chain diner and shove scrapple down my throat until my veins hardened and propelled my still-beating heart out of my chest cavity and onto the travel bible of the morbidly obese five-year-old southerner praying over his Meat'normous omlette at the table next to me.

No, this wasn't al-Qaeda. I'd believe Howard Dean, or perhaps some sort of last minute confusion campaign by Scooter Libby. Did someone throw a bucket of water on Harriet Miers last night while she was secretly gaying it up in the West Village, and was the steam from the resulting meltdown the source of the aroma?

Alls I know is I got a hot date with a short stack for dinner. And afterwards I'm going to write to my Congressman and watch 4 hours of syndicated Friends episodes, then make shameful and awkward love to my overweight spouse, like the good American I am.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pick Your Friend's Brain

I've decided to post more often on Dear Screwsan from here on out, even if I have nothing interesting to say. Perhaps especially if I have nothing to say.

I like to read blogs of my friends who live far away. Like Tim and Hansel and Gabe . And the blogs of my friends nearby--K-Tizzo. And maybe my friends and family would like to read blog entries of what happens in my life. Granted, it won't all be sex-talking Samantha Bee. I don't get cursed out by Robert Smigel on a regular basis. Not every day can be a Republican National Convention day (can it? It can't right? RIGHT!?) especially if they all end up in jail (please god). But in case you live in, say, London, or Seattle, or Iowa, or California, or Brooklyn (farther than you think), and we don't see each other so very often, I'm going to try to keep this up, so check in like you vote: early and often.

Today happens to be one of those days I have nothing to say. I'm cleaning out my desk, shipping to friends and family all the free books I've collected working at Penguin for the past three and a half years. From The Wings of the Dove, to An Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, to The Mormon Book of Soup, rarely have I felt so schizophrenic.

The new job starts on Monday, and I am nervous, but looking forward to working in a smaller, independent publishing house, with my own office; assistant to no one. Really, working for a corporation was beginning to wear on me. I didn't think I'd care, or that it was a liberal collegiate cliché to care, that I couldn't afford the luxury of not working for a corporation if I wanted to make it as an editor, but I was wrong wrong wrong. Also, I've been taking in a lot of media about fascism lately (see the film "The Conformist," read the book IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE by Sinclair Lewis) and that wasn't helping things.

In other news: my friends are geniuses. Janaka Stucky, a
poet-undertaker-burlesque-dancing-hot-girlfriend-having-ex-hindu--who once single-handedly fought off a pack of baboons in the wilds of India with a hand-made machete--is featured in this week's Boston Phoenix. He's pretty sexy and can drink whiskey, too.

Then there's Nate, who published his first book, a collection of short stories, last spring. Since then he's written another short story collection, a book of poetry and the memoirs of his weird, Evangelical upbringing in Kansas and Colorado. Also sexy. Read about his attitude towards writing and life and how he fucked up his marriage, here.

Okay and Joe (who was also in the undertaking business, but has wisely left it to be a newspaperman) is going to publish an article in the NYTimes Book Review, but I can't tell you when or what or it would spoil the surprise. Plus he's got his own entry in the Wikipedia. AND he's recently announced his engagement to Jean. Congratulations, you judas goat.

Thank god for my friends on blank-brained, desk-cleaning, dreary days like these.