Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Have a Poetry Degree and a Fridge Full of Old Hot and Sour Soup

I am so sick of
pomegranates, honey,

blackberries, tea, bread
other than wonder,
plums and other lyrical groceries
that are the staples
of the poetically inclined.

Today, I ate a slice of your pizza
so cold, from the fridge,
and leftover;
I picked nothing
except the least
dusty jar of Hellman's
reduced fat mayonnaise
off the shelf of the shitty deli
where I also got:

Twizzlers and razors,
and nail polish,
separated, old
and undelicious.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Adieu, Adieu, To You and You and You

One of the things that makes me the saddest (and thinky newspapers have a way of publishing a story on the subject at least once year during a news drought) is the idea of a language dying. The Guardian just today listed ten languages on the verge of extinction, each spoken by a handful of old people in some far flung place or other. I know I’m not ever going to speak anything with a click in it. Moreover, I know that even if I miraculously learned, everyone else who could speak it would be dead by the time I learned. But seriously, when I was in fourth grade and I heard that Navajo was a dying language and I was a WWII enthusiast (thanks, Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself) and had just learned about code talkers, I was sufficiently upset to check out a Navajo dictionary published in, like, 1955 from my library and convince myself I could learn to speak it fluently. I never got past the words for vegetables.

This article goes on to say that half of the world’s 6,900 languages will be dead by 2050, which makes me so sad I could pukw. Mostly because when they say something like, “N|u is a Khoisan language spoken by fewer than 10 elderly people whose traditional lands are located in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa,” I picture three fucking old as dirt people sitting around a campfire, talking, and no one can understand them, and they’re saying some really great shit. I know that their cultural stories have probably been passed down in other languages, but come on. Hearing someone tell my Uncle Arcangelo’s story about going deaf in one ear in anything other than his Yonkers patois would miss the whole point.

I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this, other than that I feel like I’m culturally a part of several monsters. English is like the number muncher of world languages, and I was born into an immediate family of Yankees fans, which is about as fun as rooting for Walmart, and I had to stop myself from autopiloting into a Starbucks in the middle of the old cobblestone-y section of Heidelberg, Germany.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Airbrush with Death

I will probably be a bad parent. I realized this seated at a plastic picnic table in a cloud of barbecue smoke next to the revival tent at the Duchess County Fair this weekend. My dad was eating something called ribbon fries, which were a fascinating potato chip/french fry hybrid, arranged into a nest and deep fried, then, in the parlance of Denny's, covered and smothered. Things have advanced by leaps and bounds in carnival gastronomy since the last time I attended the fair. Blooming onions, a veggie tempura tent, thirty flavors of italian ice, a gourmet coffee cart, a middle eastern tent, and a panini hut stood all Queer Eyed among the hot dog, hamburger, frozen banana spots I remembered.

But anyway, my point here is that I will be a bad parent. We used to come to the Duchess County Fair every single year, in addition to the Orange County Fair, and the Westchester County Fair, and other, smaller fairs my mother remembers only by the smell. We didn't have a whole ton of money growing up, and my mother was telling me yesterday that, since we didn't go to camp or anything like that, going to the county fairs was a cheap-ish way to fool us into thinking our summers rocked.

But, god, did I buy it hook, line and sinker. I waited all summer for the fairs. I wanted to pet cows and then eat burgers. I loved crane machines with an almost romantic intensity. I wanted to investigate the wares of every single virtually indistinguishable jewelry/leather goods purveyor in search of the perfect accessory (under $5) that would be lost under the back seat of the van on the way home, if not before, near the skee-ball games, or possibly in a porta-potty. I was resolved to figure out how that one plumbing company with a booth in the 4-H hall got their magical free-standing faucet illusion thing to work. If only I could've airbrushed my entire wardrobe with my name, I would've been in heaven.

Because I am classy, I still love the county fair despite the realization that it is probably the world's most expensive way to be trashy. It's four bucks to huck a dart at a balloon and win a Chinese finger trap. It's fifteen dollars to get your name airbrushed on a trucker hat. It's $2.75 for a very large pickle, sold by a dour-looking girl from a stand shaped like a giant barrel. It's free, though, to watch an ambling crowd of sweaty people doing ugly things in front of each other, like eating corn on the cob or applying sunblock to their aging cleavage. I love it.

But here is why I am going to be a bad parent. Pretend I am my mother, the valedictorian of her high school class, a world traveler, a musical theater enthusiast, a crossword completer, a Masterpiece Theater watcher (seriously, the show is apparently still on the air and has an audience) , and I have three children and few liquid assets, and they want to go to the Marlboro-clouded, mullety, sausage-scented, packed to the gills county fair, and they will cry when they don't win at least four stuffed animals that will be thrown out in two years when you force them to clean out their closet, and they will demand cotton candy and then try to hold your hand while they are all sticky, and one of them will be having a bad time for no discernable reason, and you will run out of quarters to give them for that game where the quarter runs down the little ramp and you try to get the thing to push more quarters over the edge no matter how many rolls of quarters you brought, and you don't relish the car smelling like cow ass for the entire ninety minute drive home.

If I were my mother, I would go upstairs and watch TV and finish a bottle of whiskey. This, obviously, is an indicator of poor parenting skills, although it is also an indicator that if my theoretical future children want to go to the county fair, I will be inclined to do so.

But so help me god, if they start begging to see a community theater production of "The Pajama Game," I will turn that car right around. Do not make me come back there.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

My New Favorite Website

Go have a look at this. It'll make you lose your faith in humanity and dessert simultaneously, but also make you laugh hard enough to cry at your desk.
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