Friday, February 27, 2009

Dismay and Barthelme at Redwood City Honda

I took the car in this morning for an oil change. Still recovering from a cold, I decided I would tough out an hour in the customer waiting room, rather than walking several blocks down to Whole Foods and lumbering back with bags I can barely carry that far in the best of health.

Ah, but I had forgotten. The law dictates that any enclosed space shared by more than one member of the public must include a large, blaring, impossible-to-turn-off television. When I got there, President Obama was speaking about getting out of Iraq. So I at least had that moment of reassurance that, no, I didn't dream it; he is the President, and we maybe won't be in Iraq for thirty years after all. Then Charlie Gibson jumped in and cut off the rest of the speech (which was taped), summarizing briefly before turning it over to some blond woman who proclaimed the very idea of ever leaving Iraq total bullshit (She knew! She had talked to the troops!).

Then we were bounced back to Regularly Scheduled Programming, which was Regis and Kelly, only Regis was elsewhere so we had Anderson Cooper and Kelly. I had never seen this Kelly before; she is obviously insane. And wasn't Anderson Cooper supposed to be dignified or something? Well, forget about that! Anyway, first up was...

[Let me just point out here that I came prepared for the waiting room, or so I thought. I had brought Barthelme's Sixty Stories and was attempting to read "Paraguay," which is utterly brilliant; every story I read in this book--most of which I'm rereading--seems more brilliant than the last. Anyway, I did kind of read it, but this thing, this deranged televised festival of ding-dongery, kept intruding. BTW this is not going to be the post about Barthelme that I'm still planning. My point here is, once I realized my situation with the TV, I tried to put myself on the low-energy, just-get-through-it setting I use for plane rides and MRI machines. But I was overmatched. Of course, Barthelme's work is about various debased forms of language, like bad TV and instruction manuals and sanctimonious travel narratives, all slugging it out, so it was all kind of appropriate.]

...Tom Selleck! I kid you not. The man is alive, and doing some sort of "project" which is being filmed, and which he is getting paid to promote on Regis (Anderson) and Kelly. Kelly slobbered all over him about Magnum PI, and please, please, weren't they going to do a movie version of Magnum all these years after anyone has ceased to care, and Selleck said--well, I don't quite remember what he said, only that they might hire someone else to be Magnum because Selleck is now 100 years old. Kelly thought that was terrible, the possible hiring of someone else I mean. Then a chef came on and started frying bacon and dumping cream all over it. Then a guy in the waiting room got a call on his cell phone and stepped aside so as not to bother the rest of us--a full two steps away from the seating area--and hollered so loudly into his Bluetooth that he briefly drowned out the TV.

I tried listening to Beethoven on my MP3. Beethoven, Barthelme--I almost never pile the highbrow stuff quite so high, but this was my protest, except no one noticed or cared...

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