Friday, February 15, 2008

Retro-Journal: Wacky Anecdotes of Early 1996

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For me, today is February 15, 2008, and the precise midpoint of my “Month Without God” is marked by hearing a lunchtime speech by Father Richard Neuhaus — no coincidence, some of you are probably smugly thinking — but for you, gentle reader, it’s early 1996, and the Retro-Journal offers you a series of largely unconnected anecdotes — unless, as with the Neuhaus speech, you wish to read some cosmic pattern into them:

•I learned that a paleocon member of Jim Kalb’s Tuesday Night Traditionalists discussion group had twice — twice! — been duped by pranksters while at Harvard into bringing containers of his urine to public buildings, thinking they were needed for a psych experiment.

•Though I tried not to eavesdrop, I was reminded that my ABC News officemate Debbie Colloton’s life was in some ways stranger than my own when I overheard her saying that someone she’d hoped to visit would instead be out “boar-hunting with Charro’s best friend.”

•Another Stossel Unit member, Maryanne Connolly, mentioned that she’d once interviewed for the position of David Byrne’s personal assistant but got the impression it’d be a tough job, and I wondered whether it’d entail having to pick up his giant suits at the cleaners.

•Debbie found one of her professors from college in a drunken heap in Central Park and helped get him sobered up.

•The woman I’d been romantically involved with a year earlier, who’d written me in response to my article about Woodstock ’94 in National Review, very nearly joined a Russian Orthodox convent in Jordanville, NY, though she also briefly toyed with the idea of becoming a prostitute. Some of my favorite people don’t like moderation as much as I do.

•I asked out a woman who was not merely black but indeed politely rebuffed me by explaining she’d be away the next week partying with the staff of Soul Train to celebrate the completion of a 7-Up ad in which she played the round-card girl in a boxing match between dueling rappers, which is sufficiently African-American to make this Retro-Journal entry the Official Blog Entry of Black History Month.

•I also went on a few dates with one Indrani Nicodemus, though we didn’t quite click romantically — yet — so more on her when 1999 arrives (yay!).

•I saw the band Echobelly perform in 1996, its lead singer an old friend of my London/Delhi-dwelling “quantum healer” friend, Sangeeta Sahi — who lamented that she’d always thought of the singer, Sonya Aurora Madan, as the one who only thought about boys, makeup, and music when they were kids, while Sonya’s sister Renu and Sangeeta thought about important things like planning to study medicine. We now all judge Echobelly to be important. Note the Smiths influence, by the way (Sonya even had a cat named Morrissey but was too embarrassed to reveal the cat’s name to the real Morrissey one day when he unexpectedly paid a visit).

•In what sounds to me like a good plot for a Lifetime TV-movie, a lesbian DC Comics staffer, I learned, had the odd experience of breaking up with a long-time girlfriend only to have said girlfriend call her from a payphone near a ski slope, having injured her head snowboarding such that she required being nursed back to health by the DC staffer and suffered amnesia about the breakup, causing them (at least for a while) to get back together. (I wonder if any of my exes would fall for it if I showed up on their doorsteps feigning memory loss, not that I would ever do such a thing — I don’t even think “white lies” are acceptable, but that’s an essay for another day. They would probably find it hard to believe I’d been snowboarding, though.)

•I had a dream in which Space: 1999’s Commander Koenig (played by Martin Landau), gripped by abnormally intense aggression, denounced the unwillingness of the Canadian residents of Moonbase Alpha to eat bacon: “They’re Canadians — normally they live for bacon!” he raged.

•A friend of mine, a libertarian but a bit less respectful of property rights when drunk, got hammered during a visit to New York City and in the course of the night stole a glass from one bar, a bathroom plunger from another (???), and finally an orange traffic cone from the roadside, discarding a copy of New York Press (with one of my articles in it) to make room in his coat pockets for the stolen objects. He awoke in his hotel room the next morning to discover that he’d carefully folded the traffic cone in half and put it in his suitcase before passing out. I’m not saying I approve of this, mind you, and he has mellowed considerably in the twelve years since then.

•Daniel Radosh and I were dispatched as dueling left-vs.-right New York Press columnists to write about a Christopher Hitchens vs. Dinesh D’Souza debate on affirmative action (a pair we’d next see debate about religion, as mentioned on this blog just a few months ago), with the two most surprising moments probably being (a) the doubletake that moderator Ed Koch did when Hitchens suggested that “unintended consequences” of regulation could be good, as for instance if gays benefited from the mandating of larger men’s room stalls, and (b) the moment when Daniel and I, ostensible foes, confessed we’d both rather be home watching the Doctor Who TV-movie airing that night — the eighth Doctor’s only televised appearance (each of us taped it, and I haven’t thought of him as part of an enemy camp since).

•I attended my five-year college reunion — and because learning lasts a lifetime, culture I absorbed that half-year included a Kirkpatrick Sale lecture promoting Luddism, an amazing exhibit of Vermeer paintings, and Muppet Treasure Island.

•My friend Dan Greenberg suddenly found himself offered the position of chief policy advisor to the new governor of Arkansas when the Whitewater investigation (which led to numerous arrests, though never quite to those of the thoroughly corrupt Clintons themselves) caused Gov. Jim Guy Tucker to resign and elevated an obscure lieutenant governor named Mike Huckabee to the vacated position.

•Displaying one of my own small efforts to have a political impact, I played my parents a tape of one of the radio monologues I’d done for WFUV radio (about the Bosnian conflict, as I recall), but they were distracted during most of my brief patter by Uber, the family dog, farting, a reminder that there is always competition for the attention of one’s audience.

1 comment:

jenny said...

dog farts have the amazing ability to upstage quite possibly everything in the known universe.