Shortly before the blue moon, I shared a pitcher of Blue Moon with a new acquaintance, who keeps a foot in public policy. We discussed the coming shitstorm, which in politer company is known as “the financial bind local governments find themselves in as sharply falling property-tax revenues mean curtailed services, increased taxes/fees and pain all around, or all of the above.”
On the way home, I reflected once again that if Barack Obama’s first official act after changing out of his inauguration-day tuxedo was to erect pikes up and down Wall Street and start decorating each with a severed head of a former master of the universe, we’d be talking about repealing the 22nd amendment today. (I’d travel to New York just to take a picture of Angelo Mozilo’s.)
One of these days when the temperature rises above freezing, I’m going to do a short picture-taking tour of my surroundings. Every so often it strikes me how watershed moments very rarely happen the way they do in the movies, with fancy camera movements and a pulsating score underneath to cue you to the drama. You still get up every day, brush your teeth, make coffee. People rarely riot in the streets. It’s bleak out there, but it ain’t “The Road,” not yet. It’s in how one day you’re in the passenger seat instead of the driver’s, so you can watch the storefronts as they flash by, and notice how many are empty, how the For Sale or Lease signs have been there so long they’re now sun-bleached. It’s in how you notice the house down the street, bearing the unmistakable look of abandonment, suddenly sprouts the realty sign of a firm that handles only foreclosures, and that’s no good, but! There are painters woking in there! And the dead tree in the front yard is gone! And wow, maybe it did actually sell, but the next sign is, For Rent. And that’s hopeful, right, because no one has scrapped it yet.
Everybody is seeing coyotes, not just the guy who jogs at 2 a.m., and I find myself getting all Eugenides, wondering if they’re a metaphor, like the dying elms in “The Virgin Suicides,” only no, the dying ash trees are the metaphor, right? They’re the auto-industry metaphor; the coyotes are the subprime-meltdown metaphor.
Forgive me. I think I shouldn’t have had that glass of wine on an empty stomach. But something is happening here, the bedrock is shifting, has shifted, and no one really knows what comes next. All anyone knows is, we were the first state to enter the recession, and will likely be the last to climb out. We’re the new Mississippi. May you live in interesting times, as the Chinese say.
Actually, I’m optimistic. Who isn’t, in January? There’s something tied to throwing out the tree, I think, that feeling of light and space again. As Bossy once said, it’s like getting another room in your house. One-word resolution: Finish. Several things, actually, but that’s what ties them all together. Happy new year to all.
So let’s kick off the bloggage with some supplemental reading, the WashPost ins-and-outs list, done this year by not-Hank, but still funny: Ripped abs/Ripped jeans. I’m there.
Everything you ever wanted to know — and a lot you didn’t — about Warren Beatty’s love life. More than 12,000 women, by his biographer’s estimation, and “that does not include daytime quickies, drive-bys, casual gropings, stolen kisses and so on.” Noted.
Finally, the ground beef story that will push you to vegetarianism, or else toward my KitchenAid meat grinder. Pity it ran during the slowest news day of the year.
THe first manic Monday of the new year. Off and running!