Ahem. I’m not saying it’s a brilliant line that could only fall out my capacious head, and no disrespect intended towards Jeff, but I did coin it first. Over ten years ago, in fact. After Noriega and Saddam had been floated as Hitler wannabees (yes, Noriega. Those were the days) I paraphrased the Warhol line. The original is probably buried somewhere in Lexus / Nexus. That is all. Thank you, he said, in a tone both peevish and defensive.

I also hereby claim a description of the Democrats’ fear of Bush judicial nominees as “mad, bad, and dangerous to Roe.” Wrote that in last week’s column. Thank you. That is all.

(Afternoon, cafeteria)

Last day of Gnat’s school. They had a picnic outside with a band: a guy with a guitar and a guy with a bass. Nice patter and good musicianship, but they should tour high school and teach the kids a very important lesson. Look at us! We’re in our late forties, excellent musicians, skilled in the Path of Rock, and in the end it’s parties for four year olds. No doubt they enjoy their work; that's irrelevant. Point to young rockers: they are not living in a mansion with a limo in the bedroom with gold-plated champagne spigots in the backseat Jacuzzi; nor do they have a stable of foxy groupies waiting in the van. Maybe it’s enough to keep playing and enjoy what you’re doing – in fact, given that most who take up the Path of Rock fall by the wayside and foreswear the Axe, they’re ahead of the game. A gig is a gig. And the audience not only loved them, but was entirely sober, for a nice change. Still: if you young rockers out there think that the Path will lead to awesome debauchery for, like, forever: heed the Bear. It’s not all TV sets tossed off motel balconies. Sometimes it’s leading kids around a meadow making choo-choo sounds on your wirelessly miked bass.

The guitar player had a black Strat with chrome trim and nine yards of licks. Cool as country water.

She gave her cards to her teachers and ran off to start the day. The last one. I can now mention where she attended school: the University of Minnesota. (I kept this detail obscure because of the whole Lindberg-baby thing; when you get mail hoping that we die in a nuclear attack so your kid doesn’t have to grow up knowing what a chickenhawk daddy was, you tend to err on the side of paranoia.) They have something called the Lab School, where teachers learn to be teachers and scientists conduct experrrrrriments on the innocent little charges. Nothing bad; no vivisection. Mostly perceptual tests, behavioral studies, that sort of thing. There’s a special hidden room from which they observe the kids as they play. She’s had a fine time, and I’ve enjoyed going back to the U on a regular basis. All the old moods and emotions came back – the sense of sober gravity that settles over a University in the fall, the miserable slog of the winter, when there seems no surcease from duty, when every morning is spent in stuffy rooms thick with the smell of wet coats and inadequately washed pants; the glorious gift of spring, when you can throw up in alleys instead of inside.

I never had a class in her building, or spent much time on that area of campus. It was the center of the U before the gigantic Mall moved the center of gravity away. The buildings are around a century old, more or less, and unless you’re in education or psych you simply regarded them as a picturesque backdrop for your Andy Hardy Goes To College life. (Providing Andy smoked a lot of cigarettes.) No need to wander over to that odd white temple and study the friezes; no need to look at that statue and try to make out the name in the weathered stone. But if you did, you saw the carvings; you learned that the man was Pillsbury himself, milling baron and philanthropist whose empire would some day result in a Doughboy-shaped soap dispenser in Gnat’s bathroom.

The white temple was the U’s original library; the frieze depicts the various ancient arts revealed within. Have to give the architects credit for chutzpah; here’s what they put RIGHT OVER THE MAIN DOOR.

Piano recital tonight. How the recital will go I’m not sure, since we pretty much reinvented the notion of “practice” the last few months. If she was training to get into Julliard I’d worry, but this is just to acquaint her with the pleasures of music. If she blows it tonight it will mean nothing. If she succeeds, of course, it will be a direct reflection of my influence and work.

As for what prize she gets afterwards, I know exactly what she wants: to sit upside down on the sofa in her underwear and watch Spongebob.

More later.

Later. She’s on the sofa in her underwear watching Spongebob.

After I got home and made dinner I got a call from the Hewitt show to debate the merits of the Minnesota State Quarter. Such is my life. It was fun; I shaved through part of the conversation, which I don’t think was apparent on the air. It meant a lot of shaving cream on the phone, but it comes off with a wet towel. I think most people do phoners sitting down. I don't think I've sat down for one in my life, except the one I did at 4 AM with WGN. I was too tired to stand. Three AM you stay up for; four AM you wake up for. No small difference.

The recital went well. I had my doubts. She had announced an hour before that she was changing her piece, and I had a vision of her banging out her curious pentatonic version of Jingle Bells she’s been working on. But no. She took the bench and played “Follow the Rainbow” with complete confidence, but unlike the other kids she played it an octave lower. Sounded much more impressive that way. More like “Follow the Squid.” She’s very excited about tomorrow, because with school’s end comes Summer. And she’s right. And now to the column; I’m writing about the decision not to have a Minnesota Poet Laureate. My main opposition comes from the inevitable tiresome politicization of state poetry; only a matter of time before someone writes “I think that I shall never see / a tax not called a user fee.”

AND I SAID IT FIRST! He said, with peevish defensiveness.
Have a fine weekend; see you Sunday in the paper, and Monday right back here. He said, with faux folksy geniality. But in a sincere sort of way!

Perm link: here.

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