So many things going on around me…and yet FAR around me. Vinny’s starting with Pull Ups this week, Kairi’s asking about the differences between alligators & crocodiles, friends & family all over the states are in personal & financial woe, and I want nothing more than to be there for them…and yet I’m here in a winter wonderland able to only offer my moral support and a kind ear to cry on. I want to do so much more…and be there for them in person on every whim…but I don’t have an airlines hookup (yet). Sigh… I just hope you all know how much I care about all of you. Before it gets too sappy up in here, here’s some more news bits…
Salinger’s Lost Novels? – As many of you have I’m sure heard, J.D. Salinger, the author of perhaps the latest great American novel “Catcher in the Rye” passed away last week at the age of 91. He supposedly spent the latter half of his life writing for his own pleasure, composing each day in a pine house in the hills that overlooked towering maple trees, plowed hay fields and the neighboring mountains of Vermont. Apparently we’re both mountain men. He lived here for more than 50 years and continued to publish throughout his first decade in Cornish, releasing such fiction as "Franny and Zooey" and "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction." But while he surely appreciated a setting that was "nice and peaceful," a wish Holden Caulfield expressed in "Catcher," Salinger was essentially a cosmopolitan author who set much of his fiction on campuses and in his native New York City and the surrounding area.
The book world knows no greater mystery than what Salinger might have written since he stopped sharing his work with the public in the 1960s. Former neighbor Jerry Burt has said, and continues to say, that Salinger told him he was keeping a stack of manuscripts in a safe. Salinger's daughter, Margaret, and a former Salinger lover, Joyce Maynard, have also claimed he had a secret stash at home. With his longtime literary agency, Harold Ober Associates, Inc., declining comment on any possible unreleased work, rumors of what Salinger wrote in his later New Hampshire life range from meditations on nutrition to continued adventures of the Glass family featured in much of his published work. But had he chosen to take on his immediate world, in Cornish, there would have been much — in the present and in the past — to inspire him. He might have responded to the books about him, to the memoirs by his daughter and by Maynard that cast him as a crank and recluse in his Cornish years, an image foreign to the amiable and unassuming townsman fellow residents had encountered. He might have chronicled his public life: the roast beef dinners at a church in nearby Windsor, Vermont; the Sunday trips (a little past 9 a.m., like clockwork, recalled neighbor Elizabeth Church) into town to buy The New York Times; visits to the auto shop and general store; the restoration overseen by Salinger's wife, Colleen, of an old barn down the road. "We kept hearing all the garbage about how weird he was," says Salinger neighbor and former state senator Peter Burling. "But he was a good neighbor completely integrated into the town, with a real appreciation for young people. When we were kids, we used to have picnics out on his fields and he never seemed to mind." Salinger might have looked to the past. Cornish once was an artist colony that included founder Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the Beaux-Arts sculptor known for his Civil War generals and a bronze statue of Diana in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a novelist-painter named Winston Churchill who was later confused with the statesman of the same name, a standoff settled when the British Churchill agreed to use his middle initial "S." Salinger might have tried to capture in words Cornish painter Maxfield Parrish's winterish-blue landscapes, or been intrigued by painter George de Forest Brush's decision to live in a teepee on the grounds of Saint-Gaudens' home. Or he might have embellished on recent headlines. In the Cornish hills was a true-to-life "phony" worthy of Caulfield's scorn, a German immigrant born Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter who called himself Clark Rockefeller and pretended to be part of the billionaire clan. In neighboring Plainfield lived Ed and Elaine Brown, who saw no good reason to pay federal taxes, a belief they acted upon by secluding themselves and building a defense of booby traps and .50-caliber sniper rifles. "It's funny that so many people were focused on Salinger when you had these other incredible events going on," says Elizabeth Church, Salinger's neighbor.
Here’s the thing: Why are we speculating? The way I see it, if he wanted us to know what he was writing about (if anything) then we would’ve let us know long ago. He may have believed like some other writers out there that the written word can move nations and inspire others for generations and live on long after our mortal bodies have failed us…but then again, maybe he just wanted to keep to himself. He may have written incredible novels that transcend time and the human condition…or he might’ve kept a journal that sounded more like bullet points and gibberish that only makes sense to him (see my blog and/or journal). Look, he wrote one of the great literary works of all time…and then decided that he didn’t want to join the literary machine or something…so he went off to his dream home in the woods to do as he pleased. He could’ve written erotica about his neighbor Elizabeth or a children’s book about a retarded raccoon or a cookbook where the secret ingredient is soylent green or the tales of a man who’s sent back through time to defend the mother of the future leader of the human resistance from a half-man half-robot named Weapon Kickass. You never know…and perhaps we never will. What right do we have to know what his hopes & dreams were unless he allowed us access to them? Get a search warrant for that if you can, officer. I don’t know. Yeah, it would be cool to know what a great mind like that was thinking as he progressed through age & experience. I mean…Catcher in the Rye is the quintessential coming-of-age novel (from what I’m told cuz I’m illiterate) so what if he’s written similar theses about adulthood, parenthood, the golden years, the platinum years, seeing the written word go from something of great respect & integrity like it was in the 50’s to the explosion of irresponsible social media that it is today. Oh yeah, I’m talking about me too. I can put whatever I want on this blog…and the entire world has the ability to read it (well, not those billions without internet access…but you get the point). Then again, maybe in the last few years he wrote down what seems like gibberish to us or how the damn neighbor kids keep trying to steal his pine cones. The point is (and yes I have a point) is it’s fun to speculate…but honestly, can it really be better than what we imagine for ourselves? Go forth and write your own “Catcher in the Rye” or whatever. That’s the way to keep his words alive forever. Just please don’t expect me to read it. I have a short attention span and probably not your demographic anyway.
Just Make It Illegal Already – I’m not a smoker. Never have been, probably never will be. Not that I judge people who do at all…but it’s just not my thing. Like reading or playing the lotto, hey, whatever works for you. However, sometimes I think that restrictions on cigarette smoking is just ridiculous. I’m not talking about things like banning in bars…or any building…or within 50 yards of any building…or within the peripheral vision of a minor anywhere…or whatever it is now. I’m talking about stuff they do in the UK like make the entire box something that says in giant font “CIGARETTES GIVE YOU CANCER” or whatever. No surgeon general’s warning or whatever the British equivalent is…just straight “this will kill you” on the package. Not only that…but it’s like ten bucks a pack (or 4 bits a fag or whatever the jargon is) to buy them. I don’t even think crack is that expensive…er ugh, so I’ve been told. Anyway, this next step is just too much. The UK government launched plans on Monday to halve the number of smokers by the end of the decade and said it would consider removing branding from cigarette packets and banning cigarette vending machines. At the moment, 21% of the population smoke and ministers want to reduce that figure to 10% by 2020 (so the end of NEXT decade then), with a particular focus on young people. "We've come so far and now we'll go even further -- to push forward and save even more lives," said Health Secretary Andy Burnham (who I’m picturing as 20 kilos overweight). "One day, in the not too distant future, we'll look back and find it hard to remember why anyone ever smoked in the first place." (To keep the snakes away?) The number of people lighting up in Britain has fallen by a quarter (25%, not American currency) in the past decade as a result of various policies including a ban on advertising, putting grisly pictures on packets and raising the age of sale for tobacco to 18 (from what? 12?). In 2007, the government joined several others throughout the world in introducing a ban on smoking in virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces. But despite falling smoking rates, the number of deaths attributed to smoking is still 80,000 a year. (Hmm, maybe it's something else in the air...like gas emissions...or your mom's cooking) Now restrictions will be reviewed to see if they should be extended to include entrances to buildings so non-smokers do not have to run a gauntlet of smokers. The government is looking at protecting children from second-hand smoke by promoting smoke-free homes and cars. Ministers are also to consider the case for plain packaging, and banning the sale of tobacco from vending machines as part of the moves to deter young people (and use that money on books? Didn’t think so). "Now that we've banned advertising and will soon see an end to attractive displays in shops, the only remaining method of advertising tobacco is the packaging. So we will carefully consider whether there is evidence for making tobacco companies use plain packets."
I want to punch this guy. I’m not even a smoker…but he’s f**king up my mood. I know what he’s trying to do really…and it’s quite brilliant and douchey at the same time. He wants there to be no packaging…so that people purchase their cigarettes (wherever the hell that may be in the near future) based solely on price. About that time, a particular brand comes along for only 3 Euros a pack where everything else is 6-7 Euros. Of course those are going to be bought by people who want a relaxing smoke, especially after an hour drive out of town to the nearest authorized tobacco dealer in their shire. Little do they know, that this particular brand is merely a mix of some horrible English tobacco and goat fodder wrapped in a Kleenex or something…and the smoker is quickly disgusted at the horrible experience. They become violently ill…and have that stigma every time they light up from then on. Or maybe I’m completely wrong, they say f**k it…and go straight to marijuana, cocaine, crack, meth, oxycotin, loritabs, or whatever else they can get their hands on that are much cheaper and much more dangerous. People who smoke are just going to want to smoke. Why? Maybe it relaxes them, maybe they want to be a rebel, maybe they like the idea of a slow agonizing death, maybe they savor the flavor, maybe the cartoon camel told them to do it, maybe they want to look cool like James Bond (oh yeah, I said it). What I seriously doubt is that is was because somebody smoked a cigarette in the same building as them, or twenty meters away out on a street corner, or even because their parents did. Hell, one of the main reasons that I don’t smoke is because I’ve seen what it does to family & friends, just with shortness of breath. Now, I’m not Nick Naylor (though I hope to one day be as cool as him) but basically my opinion is this. If you’re wanting to regulate every single thing about something perfectly legal that could potentially kill someone (whether it’s cigarettes, alcohol, guns, knives, pornography…though I’m not sure how it could kill you, cheddar cheese, cellular phones, professional wrestling, standing on your head, hugs, kisses, dreams, unicorn horns or whatever else) then just make it illegal…and expect people to find other ways to relax or get the fix that they need. Here’s an idea for everybody with authority. Focus on education and raising your own f**king kids than pushing your values on me. AND THAT GOES FOR YOU TOO, UTAH!!!
Wow, sorry. I ugh…just got back from the DMV for (God willing) the fourth time...and I'm due at least once more. Yeah, the BS cycle continued…and my loan was in jeopardy because of it…so yeah, f**k regulation. Do the paperwork right the first time so I don’t have to spend the next two months making up for your mistakes…and work different hours than I do…and be open on Fridays. See, if I were a smoker, and I had to go to the DMV between 9 AM & 4 PM Monday through Thursday to get a cigarette, I probably would’ve quit by now instead of just let out a tremendously rank flatulence that I’ve been holding inside all day at the desk when they said I had to come back earlier next time. “No, thank you. Enjoy the country air, b**ch.” Okay, I’m off my soap box for today. This is why I don't bother a lot of you with my troubles...but I like to help with yours. It distracts me. Have a great day everybody!!!