Blogging has ruined public social events. Now you have to begin by asking anyone blogging this? which is like lining up the wait staff at the Stork Club and asking which one is going to phone Winchell tonight. Then you have to request that certain lines of conversation are off the record in a bar! A bar, with Prince music playing at levels that would liquefy gorilla prostates at fifty paces. No one can hear anything. Finally, you have to leave the party early to write the blog entry, which consists of coy remarks about all the wonderful things you cant reveal. So people just post pictures with people standing around grinning in the harsh wash of a flash, the inky black of the bar behind them.
I dont even have that. Sorry. Went to hear Jonah Goldberg give a talk on ANWAR and the environment - got a heads-up from Powerline, decided it would be good to get out of the house for a while, and perhaps meet Jonah, whos one of my favorite writers. Hes smart, reasonable, persistent, cheerfully irascible, and one of the few who can be effortlessly funny without making the argument a slave to the joke, as with MoDo. He speaks like he writes, which isnt that surprising; you probably guessed as much if you read the work. The speech concerned the religious character of environmentalism as it manifests itself in the debate about Anwar; his comments on that slice of frigid paradise were bolstered by the fact that hed actually been there, and left some of his blood in the proboscises of its pterodactyl-sized mosquitoes. His remarks on the light impact of modern-day drilling rigs made me think of a perfect solution: hire Christo to wrap them. By the time everyone worked through the conflicting issues, the field would be bone dry.
Afterwards his hosts were kind enough to let me accompany them to the Big Ten for liquor and meats; it was amusing to watch one handler fumble with the tape deck and find the right song, but once Jonah started strutting down Washington Avenue to the sound of You Should Be Dancing it was clear why this particular detail was in his rider. You couldnt help but fall behind and strut. The bar was cleaner than I recall. In the old days sorry, back in the day when we put the literary section to bed on Sunday nights, we ate at the Big Ten before heading up to Daily production down the street, where we edited galleys with X-acto knives and rubber cement, squinting as the ambergris lamps guttered and spat. Now the Big Ten has a full liquor license, a boon confined to Stub & Herbs in the early 80s. Apparently the opportunities for mid-week vomiting are vastly improved over my time. Sorry, my old-school time. The only decline was in the comeliness of the wait staff; the old Big Ten always had sturdy corn-fed dense-bodied young ladies to haul the subs to your table, and tonight we had a guy who looked like a 15-year old Mick Fleetwood who refused to bring me popcorn. Uh, you can go and help yourself to as much as you like, he said.
Survey SAYS: a reduced gratuity! Jeebus: I slung more popcorn in my seven years waiting at the Valli than this guy will eat in a dozen lifetimes; if Orville Redenbacher is in hell, he will gargle old maids for a century while a demon tamps kernels down his gullet before he sees more corn than I did. The customer asks for popcorn, the customer gets it.
Kids today. Anyway, I had a great time. Everyone lobbed big meaty questions at Jonah as he grappled with his sub the Big Ten still makes them the size of something you can imagine docking at the Empire State Buildings mast and he handled it all with good will and humor. There are two kinds of speakers, I think: those who retire to their room afterwards to have a sherry and read the works of Lippmann, occasionally putting the book down to think and what will American think about the Law of the Sea treaty? Why, what I tell them to think, of course. And then there are those guys who want to go out for a drink with the guys who showed up for the speech. Theyre always more interesting than the former on the page and in person.
So thats where I was tonight. And thats all I have for today. Now to bed.
Oh: not one Star Trek reference was made. Not one. But I left early.