Contrary to my fears, Patti Smith wasn’t bad at all. A little reading, a little Q&A, two songs, a signing that was probably hours long (we didn’t wait in the line). The ticket price included a book:
She read from a chapter about life in St. Clair Shores, which absolutely nobody spells “Saint Clair Shores,” except for Patti in her new memoir-ish book, “M Train.” There are a couple of chapters about her life there, but the one she read from was about how they lived in a house on a canal and bought an old Chris-Craft Constellation, which they parked in the yard and poked around at restoring. (She doesn’t hyphenate Chris-Craft, either. IT IS HYPHENATED, DAMMIT.) Anyway, it took a while and Fred, her husband, would sit on board on summer nights and listen to the Tigers “on shortwave radio,” another weird touch, as a plain old transistor AM model would do. She read a line that rang a distant bell in my brain, but it took my smart husband, reading it in the book later, to point out:
“It turned out that our wooden boat had a broken axle…”
The boat came to a bad end before they got it fixed up, and that was probably for the best, because I don’t think they would have been safe out there on the water, even if they had fixed that axle.
I was most relieved by the fact she seemed as put off by stupid questions as I have been by their inclusion in every story about her for the past million years. Where should artists go to create? That sort of thing. She had a puppet in her pocket; she explained she’s a grandmother now, and she answered that one in the puppet voice.
So all in all, a successful evening. It was a beautiful night, and that helped:
Now I’m watching the Democratic debate, so to speak, although I have little patience for this bullshit of late. I hate everything about it, so I’m going to turn it off very soon. It’s only a matter of time before these events start to include actual dogs and ponies. Let’s skip to the bloggage:
Would you like to be depressed about mass shootings? Read Malcolm Gladwell on the subject:
In the day of Eric Harris, we could try to console ourselves with the thought that there was nothing we could do, that no law or intervention or restrictions on guns could make a difference in the face of someone so evil. But the riot has now engulfed the boys who were once content to play with chemistry sets in the basement. The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.
That’s the final paragraph. The previous zillion are no more heartening.
And if you grew up reading the funnies, as I imagine a lot of us did, you might enjoy this piece on the evolution of “Peanuts,” which was simply enormous as a pop-cultural force when I was a kid, but slid into irrelevancy and by the end of Charles Schulz’ life, a pastel shadow if its former self. Of course it’s still running in hundreds of papers, as reruns. Ai-yi-yi.