A lovely Friday in Ann Arbor, it was. Who said liberals don’t know how to run anything? The tax rate there is approximately the same as it is in this Republican stronghold, and every time I go over there the place is running like a Swiss watch. I rolled in off the freeway, parked in a high school field, climbed aboard a city bus (which, its signage helpfully informs, runs on combination biodiesel/hybrid technology), and was carried to the downtown art fairs in minutes. I’d like to tell you I spent the day absorbing the hundreds and hundreds of booths in the fine, sunny weather, featuring artists in every imaginable medium, but the truth is, I pretty much went straight to a bar and spent a couple hours there, drinking Bell’s Oberon.
I didn’t drive an hour just to drink alone. My buddy Rob Daumeyer, drove all the way from Cincinnati. Rob is one of those people who’s always telling you how stupid he is, how slow-witted, how thick and dull and sludgy between the ears. I guess that way, when he says something really funny, which he does about once every 80 seconds or so, you think, “He’s pretty funny for a moron,” and then he can steal your wallet. Or something. Needless to say, he is no dummy. Rob was my companion during our wonderful year in Ann Arbor, ’03-’04. He summed up the post-Fellowship experience thusly: “Everyone is so smart here. They’re always talking about literature and art and world affairs. Where I live, people say, ‘You ought to buy a boat,’ and that counts as sparkling conversation.” Maybe it was the Bell’s Oberon, or maybe the delivery, but that cracked me up. And so true — whenever I go to Ann Arbor by myself, I eavesdrop. One day in an Indian restaurant, I tuned my ears to three different tables, where the lunch conversations were: Hugo Chavez, monetary policy at the Fed, and the plight of Iraqi Kurds. No wonder no one there worries about their crabgrass.
Walking back to the bus stop, waiting for the third Bell’s to burn off, I bought a pair of earrings for Kate. I’m wearing them now. What the hell, she already has three times as many as I do.
Note that I have changed the book on the nightstand. Besides Hank’s “Tinsel,” I’ve added T.C. Boyle’s “The Women.” You’d think one of the country’s most respected novelists, writing for a respected publisher, could afford a decent copy editor, and yet, there it is, page 32:
And then someone said, “Here, here,” and they were all lifting glasses…
Groan. I see this mistake so often it makes my head hurt. And no, Danny, we haven’t had a DNA ruling yet — it’s “hear, hear,” not “here, here,” and if anyone wants to mix it up over this one, well bring it on. I’m right.
I bet they don’t make this mistake in Ann Arbor. Where everyone is so smart.
(Elsewhere in the same chapter, Boyle has a female character’s hair sweating under her “caftan.” I guess that’s possible — lots of caftans have hoods — but given that the same character appears later with her head wrapped in a towel, is it possible he meant “turban?” That mistake is almost beyond belief, but you never know.)
Well, just look where all our prowess with the language has gotten us: Every so often, when we’re watching HBO, a promo for “Hung” will come on. The announcer says, “Critics agree: ‘”Hung” is big, wicked fun…'” and Alan yells, THAT’S MY HEADLINE. It is. This is what we cling to, we language wizards.
Meanwhile not all is perfect over there in A2. Street fashion:
She wore a 36C. I could read the size. My mother used to call visible bra straps “slovenly.” I think she got it right.
Maybe she was thinking of Huge Chavez.
Meanwhile, some tastycake bloggage today:
You know those makeshift memorials* left for Michael Jackson. A sizable one grew outside the Motown Museum after M.J. croaked, because if there’s one thing this city embraces like a squishy teddy bear left out in the rain, it’s craziness. You rarely know what becomes of them, but not in this case, because the whole shootin’ match was scooped up, loaded into two open-back limos, taken to the cemetery with a police escort, and buried under a headstone with a nice, tasteful, understated inscription that I think Joe Jackson would be proud of. In the only evidence I’ve seen that maybe someone in Detroit has two brain cells to rub together, the police now call the four-car escort “a mistake.” I’m speechless. Read all about it.
* “Makeshift Memorial” — still a great name for a band. Happy Monday, all.