Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Burial

The effort of will involved in not reading New York magazine on-line: is it beyond me? In the continuing heat am I being sapped of strengths essential to discrimination? What I've mistaken for instinct, in fact requires practice. Like writing. I feel so unappreciated. From Zane Grey, wisdom: Don't--look--back.

Have to prepare something for Bastille Day. Reading at work of the insurrection of June 1832--the barricades, the skirmishes, the character of fighting in medieval streets with antique weapons, handmade cartridges--the character of Paris, where while fighting rages in other quarters the theaters are open, restaurants serving. The people face the soldiers: the difference here, in New York, would be that the soldiers would be aliens, not from here, half-hillbilly with blank faces; we would not feel "our" army confronting us, or even "theirs" of The Authorities. Here it would feel like the rest of America's army had come to do battle against us. Best tactic: throw a whole lot of prostitutes and 20-somethings at the problem, then pick them off singly, in alleys, as they stagger away. Perhaps this is already happening. Although if it is, the pace of our victories must have slackened in the last ten years with the city grown so much more wholesome. All the babies, the brand names and big boxes, the bike lanes, the hidden cameras, the secret contingency plans and mysterious drills: chill calm on the rails during train delays when one by one the passengers diagnose, "An exercise. Making us safer."

Three hundred thousand in the streets follow the hearse that bears George Steinbrenner's coffin. Up ahead, a line of shields, boots, helmets, black visors bristles. Someone in the front ranks hurls a new model iPhone which shatters on the pavement; a shard of screen glass spins and catches sunlight, looks too much like something sparking. Incomprehensible barking blasts from an electric megaphone; TV news helicopters drop clatter into counterpoint with one last giant tandem lock and load. Short pause; then, quickly, conflagration. Or rather: one side, made up of strangers from Arkansas, pours out conflagration on the other side whose ranks are grossly swelled by people more intent upon recording it than taking up the confrontation proper. At least one hand of each busied with camerawork or typing--the loss of arms, cumulatively, fatal--the rain of responsive projectiles, more like a drizzle. General retreat impeded by ambitious bloggers who linger at the mouths of side streets to "document" the carnage. Bud Selig last seen ducked behind a double-wide McLaren stroller toppled on its side.

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