A Paul Simon snippet to kick me off tonight. Because on the radio, on the news, there is zydeco, there are feathered costumes colored magenta and lime. It’s been good to see the revelry in New Orleans today on this Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. The Times had a great shot—and I’m sure there will be no shortage of eloquent photography coming out of today’s parades—which put a parade in the background and in the foreground a broken architectural frame that had once been a house or a building’s front façade. In a city so devastated, it’s been good to see that the celebrations for which it’s known and which go so far in determining its character persist, and even thrive. This is a sentiment that’s been written and written about w/r/t post-Katrina efforts and I feel silly reiterating them, but there we go all the same.On a related note, did you know that as a derivation of Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras, today is also known as National Pancake Day? This has its history in the fact that it’s been customary to use up excess flour and random food before Lent begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. Farewell to the flesh and all that. In sober observance of National Pancake Day, no less illustrious a standard-bearer than IHOP gave away free short stacks of pancakes between 7 AM and 2 PM. Alas there was no IHOP close enough to home to make the trip worthwhile. Plus, ahem, girlish figure and all that.I also heard, in some of the Mardi Gras post-Katrina coverage that I watched this noontime, that many of the New Orleans arts establishments have had their holdings and collections injured if not destroyed by the Hurricane. (Like the Event, it’s only right to capitalize.) Seeing some of the sculpture gardens, those sculptures with their great flat brown skirts of floodwater at their feet, made me think about the potential we have when some calamity visits and afflicts us. It is our opportunity to either Option A) labor to return the damaged artwork as nearly as we can to the way it was before, or Option B) preserve some vestige of the damage in the art as it is repaired, so as to remind ourselves of the damage done and the worthwhile efforts expended in preserving it. Here’s your generic statue. It’s all marred along the legs due to the flooding. Do I paint over the watermarks and make it look as it had before? Or do I incorporate the watermarks into the new life of the statue, and update my museum’s informational placards accordingly? This thought immediately aligned itself with our own struggles to comprehend and abide with the new fact of having one less member in our family. In a large sense, it’s moot to make the comparison between the restore-vs.-commemorate issue I thought of when I saw the water-damaged sculptures, because who can argue with the fact that we as a family and as a set of friends and as individuals have been profoundly scarred by what Jon did. It is not our luxury to conjecture and what-if our way back to a pre-Dec.-17th state or mind or being; we have been inarguably and irrevocably affected. Still, there’s worth in the comparison, for me at least, in that the impossibility of Option A might force me into an Option B-type of daily operation, for which an example might be, oh, looking at Jon’s photograph for more than the duration of the average glance, or writing a poem that traffics in less abstract concepts and more in direct specifics. Because restoration is not an option in this case.*Sending out an application to the University of Pennsylvania at Bradford in the morning. They need a creative writing instructor. For all of you readers who work at the University of Pennsylvania at Bradford: here I am. Let’s talk why not?Also in the Outbox: dozens of CDs of Jon’s mix. Any readers who haven’t communicated their interest yet in having a copy, know that it is never too late to say “Yes, I too would like one.”*Also seen today on the TV: a snippet of Roseanne Barr’s (upcoming?) appearance on Larry King Live. And I’m sorry – maybe I’ll never live this down. But Roseanne Barr looked good. Anyone know Rachael Harris, the blonde commentator with tortoiseshell glasses from various VH1 pop-comment shows like I Love the 90s and Best Week Ever? Roseanne Barr had that whole look going, and it worked. May posterity proclaim that you heard it here first. And while I'm making potentially-damning confessions, let me share the guilty pleasure that is The Superficial
with you. It lets you keep up with celebrity goings-on, but it's okay, because it mocks them. I know it goes against my whole let's-be-earnest-and-kind-all-the-time initiatives, but that's why it's a guilty pleasure.