Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Wherever You Go, There You Are"

An inescapable truism. 

You can never leave yourself  (Read: your temperamental proclivities) behind.  Hence, the above title, which, if you have to explain it, is probably not that spectacular.

You go to a place to slow down.  And what happens?  Instead of slowing down you, almost perversely, speed up.

We went out eight nights in nine days.  It would have been nine, but we had a conflict with a lecture delivered by a woman who had escaped the clutches the practice of Scientology and felt safe enough to spill the beans from the stage of the (recently lamentably defunct) Dunes Summer Theater, a quarter of a mile from our cabin and two thousand miles from Tom Cruise.  We came “this close” to attending that lecture.  But we visited a local “Harvest Festival” instead, traveling thirty miles to say, “So that’s what rutabagas look like!” 

We must be natural rebels.

“Don’t tell us to relax!  We’re doin’ more than usual!

We must have experienced some “down time” because I also finished three books.  (Reading, not writing.)  My favorite of these was Clea’s Moon, a nifty crime novel (with a “B” western protagonist) written by the late former L.A. Times reporter Ed Wright, whom I once met at a friend’s party and had enjoyed personally as much as I enjoyed reading Clea’s Moon.

My least favorite was a dismissible gallstone I picked up at the discount book emporium in the Michigan City Outlet Mall.  I would never have bought it, but it was marked down to “70% of the Publisher’s Price.”  The “Publisher’s Price” was thirty bucks, so the book cost me nine.  It’s name?

“American Titan – Searching For John Wayne.”

Don’t buy it. 

Not even for nine dollars.  (Eleven-fifty, Canadian.)

Here’s the thing.  I was reading a history of the War of 1812 because I was curious about the War of 1812.  Slogging through the tome’s voluminous ponderousness, however, I realized I was not that curious about the War of 1812.  (I’d have been fully satisfied with an authoritative War of 1812 comic book.)  Abandoning the endless Congressional debate about “specie”, however, left a sudden opening in my reading itinerary.

Hence, the nine-dollar John Wayne mistake.

Here’s the thing.  (Wait, didn’t I say that already?  Well, here’s another thing.)

There is nobody in show business – or any other endeavor for that matter – whose private life I am remotely interested in.  Why should I be?  Would any of them read a biography about me?

I have zero curiosity about “The Duke’s” troubled marriages.  What’s that got to do with She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and Red River (my favorite western of all time)?  Add to that the biographer’s frequently pretentious writing style

“(Howard) Hawks’ films are energized by the physical movement of its characters through space.  While (John) Ford’s are enriched by their emotional passage through time.”

blended with a “Look at me!” cleverosity

“The Outlaw – a quirky retelling of Billy The Kid seen through the point of view of Jane Russell’s chest.”

and I could hear my agonizingly impressed (as in, unwillingly pressed into service) eyes screaming,

“Throw this book in the garbage!

But I couldn’t.  Otherwise, it was back to the War of 1812.  (Which, in fact, is where I originally learned about “impressment”, one of the primary reasons America declared war against England.  Not that the British forced American sailors to read books they would never voluntarily pick up.  They “impressed” U.S. citizens into the British Navy, and America went to war, to a substantial degree, to require them to cease and desist.  Which they did not agree to in the ultimate peace treaty, making the war – and the book concerning – a conspicuous waste of time.

Look at that.  After mentioning we went out seven of the nine nights we were away, I write some seven-hundred-and-fifty words about the times when we didn’t. 

I have this idea concerning writerly economy.  I call it “Slicing the baloney (sic) thin” (leaving ample content for subsequent sandwiches.)  The preceding was a miscarriage of that writing principle.  This was slicing the air beside the baloney. 

Was the foregoing then entirely useless?

Not hardly.  (As one of my favorite cowboys used to say.)

You’ve learned that the War of 1812 was a tedious engagement (both historically and literarily.)  And you’ve learned to steer clear of “American Titan.”  At any price.
If they tell you, “Just take it” – don’t!

Unless, of course, you savor the seamier stories of cultural icons who brought delight to our lives but who you can now never look at the same way again. 

I know nobody’s perfect.  But do I really need to know the specifics?

1 comment:

Carnegie said...

Since you seemed to be limited to 2 books, I have to ask, didn't you take your Kindle with you? Orrrr, you have only 2 unread books on it? Just forgot to pack it!

I have other questions, but the answers are really none of my business.