В Нью-Йорке (и, конечно, во многих других городах США) сейчас происходит то, что всего несколько дней назад невозможно было представить. Мародеры грабят магазины, а полиция практически не контролирует ситуацию.

Власти ввели комендантский час, но и это никого не останавливает. Удивительно, как быстро ситуация из вполне контролируемой может перейти в совершенно неуправляемую, да еще в такой с виду весьма эффективно организованной стране как США.

На смену витринам дорогих магазинов пришли фанерные листы. Эта фотография особенно тронула, потому что именно в этом месте я вышел из автобуса, который привез меня из аэропорта в Мидтаун, и именно таким впервые увидел Нью-Йорк…

Фото: samsebeskazal.com

Необычайно лиричный для Вуди фрагмент о Нью-Йорке)

So now back to Soon-Yi and me hiding reclusively in my penthouse. We stayed in to avoid the paparazzi surrounding the building, we took our nature walls in my large roof garden amidst the abundant, beautiful, overgrown foliage. My penthouse was what I had fantasized as a boy. From my afternoons in the darkened cinemas, where I stared at all those 35-millimeter gods and goddesses drop ice cubes into glasses of scotch and throw open the French doom to the terrace, revealing Manhattan. For years, I had been living in an apartment that could have been a film set high above Fifth Avenue. I put in large, nearly floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and my views of the city were truly stupendous. I saw fabulous sunsets and during electrical storms gigantic bolts of lightning sometimes stretching from the George Washington Bridge to the Battery. The loud thunder clap would be preceded by a majestic flash over Central Park West, over New Jersey, over eternity. Once I saw a bolt of lightning flash in the western sky and make a perfect circle, a huge letter O.

Once my building was hit by lightning, the railing on my terrace, to be exact. The whole building shook as lethal blocks of stone broke off the side and crashed down to Fifth Avenue. Only the intense downpour kept pedestrians from walking on the street and so no one was hit. The block was roped off for months after, while the building was repaired. Though the lightning hit twenty floors up, workers in the basement felt 93o Fifth rock.

Many a time after, as I sat at my all-metal Olympia portable and wrote during electrical storms, I was nervous a bolt would smash through the glass and strike my typewriter barbecuing me as I pounded out a puckish satire of contemporary mores. Snowstorms and blizzards were a different experience but equally awesome. To wake up on a winter morning and see every inch of Central Park blanketed in snow; the city, silent and empty. And maybe a red fire engine would race along against the perfect white. So much depends upon a red fire engine against the snow in Central Park beside the white chickens. Close. The same great buzz occurred when April happened and you could see the trees budding. At first ever so slightly, and the next day a bit more. Then a few more days and boom, green is everywhere and spring has come to Manhattan and in Central Park you see blossoms and petals unfolding and the air smells of nostalgia and you want to kill yourself. Why? Because it’s too beautiful to handle; the pineal gland secretes Unspeakable Melancholy Juice, and you don’t know where to put all those feelings that are stampeding inside and God forbid at that point your love life is not going too well. Get the revolver.

Fall is a different matter entirely but no less emotional. To me, it’s the loveliest time of the year. See, summer in New York is bad news. It’s hot, muggy, everyone’s away, and yes, you can move and with less traffic but it’s dull with all yourrofriends gone and everything kind of sticky and humid. Anyhow, comes fall and the town starts percolating. New Yorkers return from vacation, the weather cools off. When I was a kid in Brooklyn, the summers were a godsend became it meant no school and I could play ball all day and hit the movies. It was fun, but even then, fall meant all the cute girls were back from camp, and although the nightmare of books and classrooms loomed, at least there would be some sigmoid anatomy to hasten the blood. I never ever went to camp, bated the idea, and tried it just once for a day. Touted to be Shangri-La, I signed on as a junior counselor, rode the train upstate, sized up the situation immediately, and called my father to come get me. Always on the lookout for trouble, he got his pal Artie, a burly enforcer with a jake leg, and armed with guns they drove up to spring me from this sweet little Jewish summer camp. Needless to say, there was no shootout. Finally, when you looked out the window of my penthouse and saw those leaves change color it was both stunning and sobering. Stunning because the reds and yellows in nature outdid all the tubes of pigment no matter how inspiringly the painters combined them, and sobering because the leaves soon died and fell in typical Chekhovian fashion and you knew you would one day dry and drop; the same stupid, brute ritual would overtake all your own sweet little neutrinos and what was that about? On the other hand, it’s all perspective. To a human, the fall-colored leaves are gorgeous. To a red or yellow leaf, I can guarantee they find the green ones lovelier.



Ничего необычного, просто Муравей Антц в одноименном мультфильме говорит голосом… Вуди Аллена :))

Учитывая контекст, да и без него — это очень забавно 🙂

Antz (1998) — You Are Insignificant Scene (1/10) | Movieclips

Истории, которой так или иначе нашлось бы место в этой книге, Вуди уделяет самое пристальное внимание и описывает ее в мельчайших деталях. И очень часто от этих деталей и от того ракурса, под которым они открывают эти, казалось бы, давно известные события, становится просто не по себе (а в финале происходит совсем уж страшное: оказывается, что некоторые прокуроры и судьи в США не вполне беспристрастны…).

Я не буду цитировать все сто страниц, которые этому посвящены, вместо этого — небольшая и очень яркая история, которой Вуди предваряет свой рассказ о судебном процессе.

Incidentally, I had been the victim of a false accusation once before when I was in my twenties, and if the Mia one was March Hare time—get this: I’m twenty-five. I’m working as a comedian. Suddenly, I get a call from my manager that a woman is suing me. She claims I’m Ferdinand Goglia. Who, you ask? Ferdinand Goglia, her long-lost husband. Suddenly, I’m being served papers by Mrs. Goglia. She saw me on TV, my manager says, and claims I’m her husband who abandoned her. You must be kidding, I reply, while cumulonimbus clouds gather just above my head. No, says my manager, she says Ferdinand, a garage mechanic, always made the same jokes as you did when she saw you on TV and he has ducked out on her and you’re him with the same glasses and you owe her a bundle of back alimony. (I told you this was nuts. I’m Ferdinand Goglia?) Meanwhile, as the screwball suit is for real, the flag over at Becker and London, my attorney’s firm, gets thrown and my salary starts ticking away. I have to go to court to defend myself. Believe it or not, I have to prove I’m not Ferdinand Goglia and that I was never married to Annabel Goglia. It seems outlandish. I can tell my lawyer is wondering if it’s possible the woman is telling the truth. Could I have been married to her under a different name and did I skip out? my lawyer asks Jack Rollins. My manager calms my lawyer down, assuring him I am not the lammister spouse here accused, but even he is operating on faith. For all Jack Rollins really knows of my past life, I could be a deceptive deadbeat. So what saved me after months and much precious specie doled out to my legal beagles? Only that the woman was truly loony tunes, and when I showed up in court (trying not to dress in anything like I imagined Ferdinand Goglia would wear), she failed to show. We came with all the evidence we could muster, and it was finally deemed by the court I was not Annabel’s ex, who was much older than me and who fled her and no wonder. She was batty, and thank God she never resurfaced.

Дэвид Линч завел канал на youtube и выложил туда… прогноз погоды в собственном исполнении 🙂

Weather Report 5/11/20

Самое странное в этом ролике — кнопочный телефон в сейфе 🙂



А Дэвид Духовны снова взялся за перо 🙂 Его новая, уже четвертая по счету книга под названием «Truly Light Lightning» выйдет в феврале следующего года! Вот официальный анонс:

For the past twenty years, Bronson Powers, former Hollywood stuntman and converted Mormon, has been homesteading deep in the uninhabited desert outside Joshua Tree with his three wives and ten children. Bronson and his wives, Yalulah, Mary, and Jackie, have been raising their family away from the corruption and evil of the modern world. Their insular existence―controversial, difficult, but Edenic―is upended when the ambitious young developer Maya Abbadessa stumbles upon their land. Hoping to make a profit, she crafts a wager with the family that sets in motion a deadly chain of events.

Maya, threatening to report the family to social services, convinces them to enter three of their children into a nearby public school. Bronson and his wives agree that if Maya can prove that the kids do better in town than in their desert oasis, they will sell her a chunk of their priceless plot of land. Suddenly confronted with all the complications of the twenty-first century that they tried to keep out of their lives, the Powerses must reckon with their lifestyle as they try to save it.

Truly Like Lightning, David Duchovny’s fourth novel, is a heartbreaking meditation on family.

Что ж, очень радует, что Дэвид в каком-то смысле нашел свое очередное призвание 🙂



Ровно год назад где-то среди многочисленных съемочных павильонов фабрики грез… )

Невероятно, но факт: все рассказы, пьесы и сценарии Вуди Аллена, написанные за последние семьдесят лет, были напечатаны на одной и той же машинке, которую Вуди приобрел в самом начале пятидесятых! 🙂

Машинка до сих пор в прекрасном состоянии (недаром когда Вуди покупал ее, продавец заметил: «Да она еще Вас переживет»), и посмотреть на нее можно вот в этом коротком ролике.

Милейшая деталь: когда собеседник Вуди спрашивает: «Вот вы не пользуетесь текстовыми процессорами. А что делать, если нужно вырезать и вставить текст?». И Вуди не моргнув глазом достает… ножницы и несколько степлеров 🙂

Woody Allen & his Typewriter

Ну, и невероятно экспрессивный фрагмент, который вдохновил меня на это небольшое исследование:

At sixteen I treated myself to a new typewriter, an Olympia portable. I’ve typed everything I’ve ever written on it, my scripts, plays, stories, casuals (that’s what those funny pieces in the «New Yorker» are called.) To this day I can’t change the ribbon. My wife does it for me, but for years when I was single I had an acquaintance whom I invited over for dinner anytime my ribbon needed changing. After dinner I’d casually bring up the subject of typewriters and how exciting they are and suggest how much fun it might be to change the ribbon on mine. We’d retire to the study and I’d put on some music. I remember his favorite for changing was the Khachatiurian Sabre Dance. The intensity of the piece excited him as I’d slip him a fresh ribbon and say, Let’s see if you still have your old touch. Taking the challenge, he’d change my ribbon in a mad fury, finishing with a flourish and a grand bow while I feigned amazement at his manual dexterity. After that, he was all perspiration and heavy breathing, but at least I could go on pounding out my sublime monkeyshines till the letters on the page would once again grow faint and I’d have to have him back for meatloaf.



Заглянув в вездесущие новости, зачем-то узнал, что с эфира сняли очередной выпуск программы «Бесогон ТВ». Решил (в первый раз в жизни) посмотреть, что это такое.

Снятый с эфира выпуск БесогонTV «У кого в кармане государство?»

И хватило буквально первых семи секунд, чтобы понять все! Просто волосы стынут в жилах)



Ну как же это ПРЕКРАСНО!!!


И еще один невероятно трогательный, хотя и мрачный фрагмент — о пользе мнолетнего психоанализа (и ее отсутствии):

I was still knocking out one-liners with David O. Alber to furnish gags for the tabloids. If I could be a writer for Bob Hope, that would do it. But living in the future I would be a playwright and oddly not like George S. Kaufman, my idol from days past, but like Eugene O’Neill or Tennessee Williams. Of course right now I was failing out of summer school and I was called before a panel of deans. A panel of deans is not like an exaltation of larks. It’s more like a bevy of ghouls. It’s a humorless quartet who are there to tell you you’re out. I listened politely as they indicted me on several counts from being a no-show to failing everything. They asked me my goal in life. I said, to forge in the smithy of my soul the unmated conscience of my race and see if it could be mass-produced in plastic. They looked at one another and suggested I see a psychiatrist. I said I worked professionally and got along well with everyone and why would I need a psychiatrist? They explained that I was in the world of show business where everybody’s crazy. I didn’t think a shrink was the worst idea, since despite all my creative interests and promising start as a comedy writer along with all of the love I was shown growing up, I still experienced some moderate feelings of anxiety—like when you’re buried alive. I was not happy; I was gloomy, fearful, angry, and don’t ask me why. Maybe it was in my bloodstream or maybe it was a mental state that set in where I realized the Fred Astaire movies were not documentaries.

I started seeing a highly recommended psychiatrist named Peter Blos once a week shortly after my expulsion, and although he was a terrific guy, it didn’t do me much good. He eventually suggested I see a psychoanalyst four times a week, where I lay on a couch and was encouraged to say everything that came to mind, including describing my dreams. I did that for eight years and cleverly managed to avoid any progress. I finally outlasted him and he came in one day waving a white flag. I saw three more shrinks in my life. First was a very fine man named Lou Linn, whom I saw twice a week in a face-to-face situation. He was quite brilliant, but I easily outfoxed him and remained safely uncured. Then I saw a very bright lady for maybe fifteen years. That was more therapeutic and helped me over some of life’s tribulations, but no real changes for the better in my personality occurred. Finally a highly recommended doctor who has tried face-to-face therapy with me, couch psychoanalysis for a period, and back to face-to-face therapy, and I’m still able to fend off any meaningful progress.

So I’ve had many years of treatment and my conclusion is, yes, it has helped me, but not as much as I’d hoped and not in the way I’d imagined. I made zero progress on the deep issues; fears and conflicts and weaknesses I had at seventeen and twenty, I still have. The few areas where the problems are not so embedded, where one needs a little help, a push, maybe I got some relief. (I can go to a Turkish bath without having to buy out the room.) For me the value was having a person to be around to share my suffering with; hitting with the pro in tennis. Also for me a big plus was the delusion I was helping myself. In the blackest times it’s nice to feel you’re not just lying dormant, a passive slug being pelted by the irrational lunacy of the universe, or even by tsuris of your own making. It’s important to believe you’re doing something about it. The world and the people in it may have their boots on your throat, stomping the very life out of you, but you’re going to change all of that, you’re taking heroic action. You’re free-associating. You’re remembering those dreams. Maybe writing them down. At least once a week you’re going to discuss this with a trained expert, and together you will understand the awful emotions causing you to be sad, frightened, raging, despairing, and suicidal. The fact that solving these problems is illusory and you will always remain the same tormented wretch, unable to ask the baker for sehnecken because the word embarrasses you, doesn’t matter. The illusion you’re doing something to help yourself helps you. You somehow feel a little better, a little less despondent. You pin your hopes on a Godot who never comes, but the thought he might show up with answers helps you get through the enveloping nightmare. Like religion, where the illusion gets one through. And being in the arts, I envy those people who derive solace from the belief that the work they created will live on and be much discussed and somehow, like the Catholic with his afterlife, so the artist’s «legacy» will make him immortal. The catch here is that all the people discussing the legacy and how great the artist’s work is are alive and are ordering pastrami, and the artist is somewhere in an urn or underground in Queens. All the people standing over Shakespeare’s grave and singing his praises means a big goose egg to the Bard, and a day will come—a far-off day, but be sure it definitely is coming—when all Shakespeare’s plays, for all their brilliant plots and hoity-toity iambic pentameter, and every dot of Seurat’s will be gone along with each atom in the universe. In fact, the universe will be gone and there will be no place to have your hat blocked. After all, we are an accident of physics. And an awkward accident at that. Not the product of intelligent design but, if anything, the work of a crass bungler.



Чудесный образец )


И еще один потрясающе интересный фрагмент!

Some of the teachers would keep kids after school as punishment but it always the Jewith kids. Why? Because we’re shifty little usurers and in keeping us after school, we’d be late or couldn’t attend Hebrew school. Now unbeknownst to them, this punishment to me, if I may use a Yiddish word, was a mitzvah. I hated Hebrew school as much as public school and now I’m going to tell you why. First of all, I never bought into the whole religious thing. I thought it was all a big hustle. Didn’t ever think there was a God; didn’t think he’d conveniently favor the Jews if there was one. Loved pork. Hated beards. The Hebrew language was too guttural for my taste. Plus it was written backwards. Who needed that? I had enough trouble in school where things were written left to right. And why should I fast for my sins? What were my sins? Kissing Barbara Westlake when I should’ve been hanging up my coat? Fobbing a plug nickel off on my grandpa? I say live with it, God, there’s much worse. The Nazis are putting us in ovens. First attend to that. But as I said, I didn’t believe in God. And why did the women have to sit upstairs m the synagogue? They were prettier and smarter than the men. Those hirsute zealots who wrapped themselves in prayer shawls on the premier level, nodding up and down like bobbleheads and kissing a string up to some imaginary power who, if he did exist, despite all their begging and flattery, rewarded them with diabetes and acid reflux.

Not worth my time, and my time was the great rub here. I couldn’t wait till the three o’clock bell rang and I was freed from public school so I could hit the streets and the schoolyard and play ball but oh no, to have to pack that in and go sit in a Hebrew class reading words, the meaning of which were never taught to us, and learning how the Jews had made a special covenant with God, but unfortunately failed to get anything in writing. But I went. Parental pressure, my allowance, the threat of no radio, not to mention I’d get hit. My mother hit me every day at least once. Hitting was very de rigueur in those days, though my father only did once, when I told him to tuck off and he made his displeasure known with a genfle tap across my face that gave me an unimpeded view of the Aurora Borealis. But mom whacked me every day and it was the old Sam Levenson joke—»Maybe I don’t know what you did to deserve it, but you do.» And so it came to pass that I was eventually bar mitzvahed and so had to take special bar mitzvah lessons and sing in Hebrew—and let me tell you, as they say in the Old Testament, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

My mother was the observant one. Because of her, we kept a kosher home. She was pretty strict about dietary laws that forbid pork, bacon, ham, lobster, and many delectable treats available to lucky infidels. To keep my mother placated, Dad faked being observant, but he couldn’t hide his addiction to tasty contraband and gobbled pig meat and shellfish like the Assyrians fell upon the fold. Hence, once in a while at a restaurant, I got to knock off a meal Yahweh, as his friends call him, hadn’t signed off on. I remember what a treat it was when at eight, my father first took me to Lundy’s, the legendary seafood restaurant in Brooklyn where I could pig out on clams, oysters, and shellfish, confident God was nowhere near Sheepshead Bay that day. Lundy’s was the first time I was ever given a finger bowl. I’d never heard of anything so astonishing as finger bowls, and it was a thoroughly exhilarating experience using one. Like having your own swimming pool. So impressed was I that two years later, when my aunt took me there for a shore dinner, all I could think of was, this joint has finger bowls. Consequently, when we ordered steamers and the clam broth was served with them, I was convinced this most be the finger bowl. Intensely excited, my certainty overrode Aunt Ann’s muddled skepticism, and the two of us sat there washing our hands in the clam broth. It was not until the actual finger bowls arrived at the end of the meal did my aunt realize she’d been right and struck me affectionately a number of times, perhaps twelve or fourteen, on the head with her purse.

Еще один очень образный и дающий четкое представление о мироощущении Вуди фрагмент:

Just imagine a scorching summer day in Flatbush. The mercury hits ninety-five and the humidity is suffocating. There was no air-conditioning, that is, unless you went inside a movie house. You eat your morning soft-boiled eggs in a coffee cup in a tiny kitchen on a linoleum-covered floor and a table draped with oilcloth. The radio is playing “Milkman Keep Those Bottles Quiet” or “Tess’s Torch Song.” Your parents are in yet another stupid “discussion,” as my mother called them, which stopped just short of exchanging gunfire. Either she spilled sour cream on his new shirt or he embarrassed her by parking his taxicab in front of the house. God forbid the neighbors should discover she married a cabdriver instead of a Supreme Court justice. My father never tired of telling me that he once picked up Babe Ruth. “Gave me a lousy tip,” was all he could remember about the Sultan of Swat. I thought of it years later when I was a comic working at the Blue Angel and Sonny, the doorman, gave me his character rundown of Billy Rose, the wealthy Broadway sport who loved playing big shot. “A quarter man,” Sonny sneered, having learned to categorize all humans by the square footage of their gratuities. I tease my parents in this account of my life, but each imparted knowledge to me that has served me wrell over the decades. From my father: When buying a newspaper from a newsstand, never take the top one. From Mom: The label always goes in the back.

So it’s a hot summer day and you kill the morning returning deposit bottles to the market to earn two cents per bottle so you can ante up at the Midwood or the Vogue or the Elm, our nearest local three movie houses. Three thousand miles away in Europe, Jews are being shot and gassed for no good reason by ordinary Germans who do it with great relish and have no trouble finding coat holders all over the continent. You sweat your way down Coney Island Avenue, an ugly avenue replete with used car lots, funeral homes, hardware stores, till the exciting marquee comes into view. The sun is now high and brutal. The trolley makes noise, cars are honking, two men are locked in the moronic choreography of road rage and are screaming and starting to swing at each other. The shorter, weaker one is running to secure his tire iron. You buy your ticket, walk in, and suddenly the harsh heat and sunlight vanished and you are in a cool, dark, alternate reality. OK, so they’re only images—but what images! The matron, an elderly lady in white, guides you to your seat with her flashlight. You’ve spent your last nickel on some blissful confection fancifully christened Jujubes or Chuckles. And now you look up at the screen and to the music of Cole Porter or Irving Berlin’s unspeakably beautiful melodies, there appears the Manhattan skyline. I’m in good hands. I’m not going to see a story about guys in overalls on a farm who rise early to milk cows and whose goal in life is to win a ribbon at the state fair or train their horse to transcend a series of equine tribulations and place first in the local harness race. And mercifully, no dog will save anyone and no character with a twang will hook his finger into a jug’s ear to suck out the contents, and no string will be attached to any boy’s toe as he dozes at the old fishing hole.

To this day, if the opening shot of a movie is a close-up of a flag being thrown and the flag is on the meter of a yellow cab, I stay. If it’s on a mailbox, I’m out of there. No, my characters will awaken and the curtains to their bedroom will part, revealing New York City with its tall buildings and every bit of its thrilling possibilities out there, and my cast will either dine in bed with a bed tray complete with a holder for the morning paper—or at a table with linen and silver and this guy’s egg will come to the table in an egg cup so he just has to tap the shell to get to the yolk and there will be no news of extermination camps, only maybe a front page showing some beautiful babe with another guy that sets Fred Astaire off since he loves her. Or, if it’s breakfast for a married couple, they actually care about each other after years of being together and she doesn’t dwell on his failures, and he doesn’t call her a douchebag. And when the movie ends, the second feature is a detective thriller where some hard-boiled private eye solves all life’s problems with a sock in the jaw and goes off with a stacked tomato the likes of which did not exist in any of my classes or any of the weddings, funerals, or bar mitzvahs I attended. And by the way, I never attended a funeral: I was ahvays spared reality. The first and only dead body I ever saw was that of Thelonious Monk, when I stopped off en route for dinner at Elaine’s to view him out of respect as he lay in state in a funeral home on Third Avenue. I took Mia Farrow with me; it was very early in our dating, and she was polite but dismayed and should have known then she was beginning a relationship with the wrong dreamer, but that whole mishigas comes later.

So now the double feature is over and I leave the comfortable, dark magic of the movie house and reenter Coney Island Avenue, the sun, the traffic, back to the wretched apartment on Avenue K. Back into the clutches of my archenemy, reality. In my movie «Sleeper», as part of one comic sequence, by some kind of mind- bending process I imagine I’m Blanche Du Bois from Streetcar Named Desire. I speak in a feminine, southern accent trying to make the sequence funny while Diane Keaton does a perfect Brando. Keaton’s the type who complains, “Oh I can’t do this, I can’t imitate Marlon Brando.” Like the girls in class who tell you how lousy they did on the test and the results come back and they’re straight A’s. Naturally, her Brando is better than my Blanche, but my point is, in real life I am Blanche. Blanche says, “I don’t want reality, I want magic.” And I have always despised reality and lusted after magic. I tried to be a magician, but found I could only manipulate cards and coins and not the universe.

And so, because of cousin Rita, I was introduced to movies, movie stars, Hollywood with its patriotic morality and miraculous endings; and while I brushed off everything everyone tried to teach me, from my parents to my Spanish teachers when I’d already had the two years of Spanish, Hollywood took. Modern Screen. Photoplay. Bogart, Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Rita Hayworth—their celluloid world was what I learned. The larger-than-life, the superficial, the falsely glamorous, but I do not regret a frame of it. When asked which character in my films is most like me on the screen, you only have to look at Cecilia in «Purple Rose of Cairo».

И еще один потрясающий и очень важный для понимания характера Вуди фрагмент:

I was the cynosure of my mother’s five sisters, the only male child, the darling of these sweet yentas who fussed over me. I never missed a meal, nor wanted for clothing or shelter, never fell prey to any serious illness like polio, which was rampant. I didn’t have Down syndrome like one kid in my class, nor was I hunchback like little Jenny or afflicted with alopecia like the Schwartz kid. I was healthy, popular, very athletic, always chosen first for teams, a ball player, a runner, and yet somehow I managed to turn out nervous, fearful, an emotional wreck, hanging on by a thread to my composure, misanthropic, claustrophobic, isolated, embittered, impeccably pessimistic. Some people see the glass half empty, some see it half full. I always saw the coffin half full. Of the thousand natural shocks the flesh was heir to, I managed to avoid most except number six eighty-two—no denial mechanism. My mother said she couldn’t figure it out. She always claimed I was a nice, sweet, cheerful boy till around five, and then I changed into a sour, nasty, disgruntled, rotten kid.

And yet there was no trauma in my life, no awful thing that occurred and turned me from a smiling, freckle-faced lad with a fishing pole and pantaloons into a chronically dissatisfied lout. My own speculation centers around the fact that at five or so, I became aware of mortality and figured, uh-oh, this is not what I signed on for. I had never agreed to be finite. If you don’t mind, I’d like my money back. As I got older, not just extinction but the meaninglessness of existence became clearer to me. I ran into the same question that bugged the former prince of Denmark: Why suffer the slings and arrows when I can just wet my nose, insert it into the light socket, and never have to deal with anxiety, heartache, or my mother’s boiled chicken ever again? Hamlet chose not to because he feared what might happen in an afterlife, but I didn’t believe in an afterlife, so given my utterly dismal appraisal of the human condition and its painful absurdity, why go on with it? In the end, I couldn’t come up with a logical reason why and finally came to the conclusion that as humans, we are simply hardwired to resist death. The blood trumps the brain. No logical reason to cling to life, but who cares what the head says— the heart says: Have you seen Lola in a miniskirt? As much as we whine and moan and insist, often quite persuasively, that life is a pointless nightmare of suffering and tears, if a man suddenly entered the room with a knife to kill us, we instantly react. We grab him and fight with every ounce of our energy to disarm him and survive. (Personally, I run.) This, I submit, is a property strictly of our molecules. By now you’ve probably figured out not only I’m no intellectual but also no fun at parties.

Incidentally, it is amazing how often I am described as “an intellectual.” This is a notion as phony as the Loch Ness Monster as I don’t have an intellectual neuron in my head. Illiterate and uninterested in things scholarly, I grew up the prototype of the slug who sits in front of the TV, beer in hand, football game going full blast, Playboy centerfold Scotch-taped to the wall, a barbarian sporting the tweeds and elbow patches of the Oxford don. I have no insights, no lofty thoughts, no understanding of most poems that do not begin, “Roses are red, violets are blue.” What I do have, however, is a pair of black-rimmed glasses, and I propose that it is these specs, combined with a flair for appropriating snippets from erudite sources too deep for me to grasp but which can be utilized in my work to give the deceptive impression of knowing more than I do that keeps this fairy tale afloat.