I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
November 02, 2012 - 11:11 a.m.
It's 10 AM and I haven't had breakfast but I'm going to write before I eat. I have a good seat by an electrical outlet at the Hotel New Yorker Lobby and I don't want to give it up. I had to once again rush out of the house before breakfast to use a bathroom. If I could flush my toilet I wouldn't mind the blackout that much. I could go out for internet and during the day there isn't that much I need electricity for during the day.
I got fooled yesterday. I had to have a key made for mini-Hagrid and that meant walking up to a hardware store on 38th Street and Broadway. I then walked down Broadway to Herald Square and then down Sixth. I was delighted to find that there was electricity down to 25th street not 31st! I thought progress had been made. I figured I'd get power later in the day. I was wrong. Sixth always had power down to 25th street. The blackout's boundary's differ from avenue to avenue. During the course of the day I discovered we'll have power back on Saturday. That's when the new transformer is going to be installed. I just have to hold out one more night.
Since I thought the blackout was ending yesterday I just stayed at the apartment and read. I wanted to be able to race down to the laundry room as soon as it was over. I'm sure everyone is going to want to do laundry then.
My evening plan was to go to church. Yes you read that right. I'm a Jewish devout atheist and I went to church. No not to pray or take part in any religion. Mark the Pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church aka The home of the The Christopher Street Coffee House aka my church, invited people down to an open micless. I know I'm not an open mic fan but I figured I'd know people there. I also knew that despite the fact that there was no electricity there would be a working toilet. Finally I figured the sanctuary would look gorgeous by candlelight.
I went for dinner first, that meant walking uptown, the church is downtown. So I walked up to Penn Station, around 33rd Street and ate at KFC. Then I walked down Seventh Ave to Christopher Street. They had electricity to 25th street just like Sixth Ave. I tried to take a bus but they kept driving by and not stopping because they were "filled" They weren't filled, the people in them just didn't walk back enough. I didn't mind the walk, it was only a mile and a half but it meant that I got there eight minutes late.
When I arrived the door to the Sanctuary was closed. I was crestfallen. I was going to ring the bell to the office then noticed that the garden gate was open and the garden was lit with candles. I followed the light and ended up where we have the Coffee House board meetings., I didn't realize that was where I was at first. I even asked where the bathroom was. It looked so different by candlelight and I came in a door I never used before.
It ended up not being an open mic or even an open micless. Instead Mark, Charmaine, and a bunch of wonderful Greenwich Village types that I didn't know sat around and talked. The people were so much fun. There were two gentleman that have lived in the Village forever and wrote books together. Two that I remember were one on Mickey Mouse watches and another on the history of the Village. We talked about where we were on 9/11 and the aftermath. Mark told the story of the General Slocam. One gentleman, I forgot his name, read a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald that was very appropriate. I did my thing. I made jokes and comments and historical interjections. I told them what I saw in Penn Station. A woman walked in ahead of me that looked like she was practically naked. she had a sweater draped around her but I couldn't see anything underneath it. She was tall and fit and extremely beautiful. I wondered what it was about till she went over to a cop and told him that all her stuff was stolen. She wasn't naked, she had on a skimpy one piece swimsuit. My guess is that was her Halloween costume. I can't believe nobody could give her something to wear. If I had access to all my clothes I'd have given her my sweatshirt. As that's all I have to keep me warm I couldn't.
It was a wonderful evening by candlelight. I then walked back up to Hotel New Yorker to recharge my phone and read. It's much easier than reading by candlelight at home.
My time at the church and a short call to Alison was my only socializing for the day. Mini-Hagrid is crashing at a friend's house with power. With no one to talk to I fell back on my favorite pastime observing the workings of my own brain. There are two lines of thought that I remember that I want to share.
The first is reason number 235 that I love New York. Like me it's resilient. I remember after 9/11 Neil at the Bottom Line said "They picked on the wrong city." He was right. Like Paul Newman fighting George Kennedy in "Cool Hand Luke" no matter how many times we get knocked down we keep getting up and we keep fighting. Every New Yorker knows that if all of Al Qaeda was on the streets of New York they wouldn't last five minutes.
Between 9/11 and Sandy we've faced hell and high water and life goes on. We don't just survive, we live.
The second thing took days to work through my brain. Mini-Hagrid told me that I make corny dad jokes. I took that as a compliment. The first jokes I heard were corny dad jokes that I heard from my corny dad. "How come you can never starve in the desert? Because of all the sand which is there (sandwiches there)! If I ever used if as an excuse or depended on an "if" he'd say, "If a bullfrog had wings it wouldn't bump its tush on the ground."
I'm not a father but I tell corny dad jokes to kids. When the most important event in human evolution occurred and people gained self-awareness and language the first corny dad jokes were told. The tribe was standing around and some guy made one. Everyone else groaned. They were upset because they thought of it too but didn't have the nerve to say it in front of people. The guy or perhaps woman, maybe the first corny dad was really a corny mom, realized it was safer to tell his son. When the son grew up and became a father he told his son. And so on for 50 thousand years. And the thing is we are still telling the same corny dad jokes. We just update them so the kids understand them. They are built into us. I once told one to a friend and her first reaction was to laugh. Her second was to say, "that wasn't funny." Being embarrassed about liking corny dad jokes is built into us too. Well it's built into most of you. Not me. I think they are wonderful.
It's not the only kind of jokes I make though. Part of what makes corny dad jokes work is that as I said everyone thinks of them but most people don't have the nerve to say them. I also think quickly and make jokes a nanosecond before they come to most people. When they hear it they think, "that's just what I was going to say." It's a form of bonding.
The best is when you can just start a joke and the other person picks it up so fast she can finish it. The first day of the blackout I told mini-Hagrid that I found a deli that was stocked with food but is closed. She said, "So we can break the window and grab the food when we need it!" That was exactly the point I was trying to make.
Everything's charged now. I have to decide if I'm going to go home and make breakfast or go to Dunkin' Donuts. I should use my eggs up. Then I'll call Barbara and see if I can go over there and shower. It's a beautiful day, I should do something outside.
Better Than He Was, Kinder, Wiser - November 01, 2017
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