Walker Percy writes of a directionless man from New Orleans who seems only able to find substance in films.
Nowadays when a person lives somewhere, in a neighborhood, the place is not certified for him. More than likely he will live there sadly and the emptiness which is inside him will expand until it evacuates the entire neighborhood. But if he sees a movie which shows his very neighborhood, it becomes possible for him to live, for a time at least, as a person who is Somewhere but not Anywhere.Percy develops the inner turmoil of Binx, a New Orleans stockbroker who struggles with life, thinks too much for his own good.
Not in a thousand years could I explain it, but it is no small thing for me to make a trip, travel hundreds of miles across the country by night to a strange place and come out where there is a different smell in the air and people have a different way of sticking themselves into the world.Percy’s reflections of human malaise are equal to his descriptions of the New Orleans.
Evening is the best time in Gentilly. There are not so many trees and the buildings are low and the world is all sky. The sky is a deep ocean full of light and life.
And yet for all of his mastery, the story gets lost in a warren of thoughts, none of it making much sense, not the characters, the story and certainly not the end. Everydayness is the enemy. No search is possible. Perhaps there was a time when everydayness was not too strong and one could break its grip by brute strength. Now nothing breaks it – but disaster.
Her forefinger and index entwine up the black strands, climbing toward her head, pulling it sideways and down. The thumb is the anchor, spooling around in loop after loop, but forgetting the ends, letting them go, until her head pulls back and they have to start at the bottom, pulling up again. It is absent-minded, desperate, alternately slow, almost still, then frenetic. It goes on, delicate, mindless, ecstatic and determined, the sunlight warm and orange, a spider spinning a beautiful erotic web.
And then she turns her head, and as attractive as she is, full-lipped and confident, her look subtracts from the motion, for she is calculated in her look, and cannot understand the elegance of her own hand.
“He was small.” D couldn’t remember exactly where she was and had to review the room, her hands, the view from the window to get herself back. “And he talked a lot. Incessant, that’s what my mother called him.”
“This guy just left me seven texts.” E selected ‘all’ and punched delete. “He couldn’t drive, didn’t have his driver’s license. We were driving up to Lake George, and I left him in my car, in front of a liquor store. I was gone for less than two minutes. When I came out, there’s a cop writing a ticket, and this guy is just sitting in the car, pretending he doesn’t see anything.”
“Seven messages. Who does that?”
“He could have said something to the cop. Right?”
“Just leave one message. One.”
The sun was low across the water, making the world look like it had drowned. “I asked him to talk to someone for me, to introduce me to a client. He wouldn’t do it.”
“I am so done with crap like this.”
“And then he got into Jesus.”
“Is that why you dumped him?”
“We never went out.”
“Un-friended him then.”
She wanted to get up but couldn’t work up the desire.
Two cartoons for which I have an odd sentimentality had a similar protagonist and yet were at polar extremes.
The New Shmoo featured a squeaky transforming blob that led a group of teens on mysterious adventures – one of many Scooby Doo derivatives.
The Barbapapas were blobs as well, but pink and but did not follow such inane narratives, instead offering a simpler child-like perspective on solving environmental problems. I was loyal to both, passively thinking they were somehow affiliated.The truth is that The New Shmoo and Barbapapas were just a blip in pop culture, like a girl-cop buddy show.
I recently received spam with the following job opportunities “that may interest me”:
Food-Service, Cashier, Usher Positions, AMC Movie Theaters, Brooklyn: All AMC associates must deliver superior customer service while connecting with our guests.
Valet Parking Attendant, American Valet, Brooklyn: American Valet is looking for attendants to park and retrieve guest vehicles, and assist with customers belongings.Call Center Representative – Sales Associate, Verizon, Brooklyn: Must work in a fast-paced call center environment ensuring customer satisfaction and retention.
Wheelchair Attendant, Airport Staffing Inc, Brooklyn: Positions to support our customer service team in 4 to 8 hour shifts.
Sales Associate, UPS Store, Brooklyn: Responsible for delivering world-class customer service as a cashier, a mail room clerk, and answering the phone.
The only job worse than these is working for a spam company like employmentalert.com.
Raymond Carver’s Writing Rule #1 states that the writer must use non-sequiters to create effective dialogue. In other words, believable dialogue only works if the people involved do not respond to one another. The listener simply waits while the other talks and then jumps in to say something sharper, looking for the laugh, ignoring the fact that the other isn’t listening, only waiting for her turn to jump back in.
We had the dream when we were young. We believed that there might be something in our future. There really would be. It wasn’t just this lonely room, this place of now, more than a lifelong drift toward an abyss, the same from which we had emerged. We moved and did, sat and listened, and then hunched, thin, dreams not what they had been, instead looking into a screen, our hope now in that, the expectation, then knowing how we made our-self something we had dreaded, a dream made memory. But there is no such thing as regret. Or just a bit.
“And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation,” President Obama said. “Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out. ‘We need more guns,’ they’ll argue. ‘Fewer gun-safety laws.’ Does anybody really believe that?”
I thought that, after what happened in Sandy Hill Elementary School, Connecticut on December 21, 2012, some kind of gun control might actually be enacted. I was wrong.
There is no debate on guns. There is only fear and hate.
There have been over 85,000 gun deaths since the Sandy Hill shooting in Newtown. 85,000 people. Dead.
How many more hundreds of thousands to come? Lobbyists and legislators have to realize that for a society to survive, the violence must be taken out of the argument. Don’t they?