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Showing posts from November 27, 2005


The guard at Fort Sumter told the story of the construction of the fort, its occupation by the Federals under major Anderson, the siege mounted by the irate Charlestonian secessionists, Anderson's surrender, the Confederate defense of it from Union sortees and ironclads, and the formal ceremony of its re-surrender once more to the Union on the same day that Lincoln was assassinated in a voice exactly like that of the chief character in South Park, pitched to the level of a drill sergeant cussing out recalcitrants on a parade ground. On the boatride back, a man told us that houses with seafront views on Sullivan island were bringing one million five. He said that in Puerto Vallarta, if you stand in the streets for thirty minutes someone will come up to you and try to sell you a time share. He made me feel very up to the moment, and yet I kept thinking of Edmund Wilson's American Jitters, and Dos Passos' U.S.A. Still later, we went to Charleston's postal museum. I would r


So we find out that the groovy place to find girls on the island is the Whale Bar from the man who tells us, in a voice that runs through its syllables at the same rate that a blender on medium shreds a banana, how to get to the public dock to launch our kayaks. This was after we'd followed his advice about going down the river with the low tide and found out that the man was one of those souls who confuses right with left: a critical defect in a man who routinely gives directions. On the other hand, it is a defect I share as well. In any case, after the dolphins and the weird bird and the oar manipulation that is surely going to reverberate tomorrow -- although I need that upper body exercise -- and we are driving away after putting the boat back uptop the car and listening to the radio and we hear what the SOB president has to say about Iraq. This is after I am thinking of who to compare that combination of ignorance and incapacity to -- Admiral Horthy? Claudius? James II? So we

setting sail, or something

LI is leaving for an unnamed South Carolina island tomorrow. Probably we will be without a keyboard to hammer on. Instead, we are going to concentrate on the time honored tradition of manfully downing tequila shots while still managing to stay supine in a hammock – not so easy once you are past the first two, let me assure you. There are more dangerous sports, but surely this is a very televisable one. At least as televisable as poker, I would imagine. Still, the cables still haven’t got back to my agent on this. In the meantime, we recommend highly the story about treasure hunting in last week’s New Yorker. Cynthia Zarin’s story of the emeralds that were dredged from mysterious depths by unknown hands – although covered by a story that specifies both depths and hands – is all about the most romantic of subjects, unearned wealth. To edenically find, rather than to toil and labor outside the garden – even if it is the Octopus’ garden, and the treasure one is digging up was long ago tak

atlanta notes 3

The aquarium proved to contain fish. Many, many fish, in scenic locales, and with background music to make your average ticket holder feel vaguely heroic, as though he was not visiting the Atlanta aquarium but shouldering through Jurassic Park. I am not one to diss fish. I like them, I like them large, I like quantities of them swimming above my head or held in by auditorium wall sized glass. I liked them so much that at the end of my tour, I craved fish and chips. But LI’s major interest was not in the fish, but in the fish and people combo – people looking at fish. The weather when we go to the aquarium was, for this Austinite (where the golfers are used to wearing their checked shorts under December skies, and the ac is always an option) astonishingly cold. But it was probably only in the forties. There was a milling crowd before the giant, well, ark shaped structure – what did you expect? – and we were all eager to see the wonders. Myself, I had not been instructed in the scandalo

Atlanta notes 2

Like certain plants which, removed from their native soil, have a tendency to lose their leaves, LI has an odd tendency to develop sore throats and skin rashes once removed from his apartment. Last spring, while skiing with my brothers, I suffered a faux heart attack that proved to be a pulled muscle in, of all places, my chest, caused by dragging piles of logs around for the cabin fireplace. This trip, I have endured a cold and, after a nice jaunt through a nature preserve in Gainesville, a nasty and inexplicable poison ivy rash. I’d like to think this is all some manifestation of proustian sensitivity, but more likely it is just that I am tempted to overexert myself stupidly around my family. The Atlanta area in November is oddly bleak. November scours off the leaves, and the grass withers on lawn after lawn, and the sky lowers, tingeing the whole area in melancholic sepias. If all American suburban landscapes strive to be that Currier and Ives picture in the bathroom, this is the