When you have a new car, you park far away from other vehicles, lest your door be dinged. Ding not my door, you implore, but it happens. So when I go to the grocery store I park on the street, where no one can slam their door into mine. Sunday I returned to the Element to find a note on the back windshield wiper, and I thought: hmm, a ticket? A flier? Grope mail from some grouper?

I hit your car pulling out, it said. The note was a check deposit slip.

I looked: yes, she had indeed hit my car. Took out a taillight, scraped the quarter panel and scratched the splash guard.

Grand. Just . . . grand.

I called the number when I got home. The woman was very apologetic. I spoke with the husband, who took charge of Making Things Right. I was not exactly happy in my tone, but resisted the temptation to show how truly unhappy I was about all this; there’s really no point. To make matters worse, he referred me to another Star-Tribune employee who’d vouch for their upstandingness, and now that I was outed I really couldn’t complain. So. I have to take the car in tomorrow and get a rental, and that chews up the time I’d use to write a column. So I have to write it tonight, in addition to the Newhouse. Hence the shortness of what follows.

On the way to soccer practice tonight – in the RUINED CAR – the garage door stuck; I pushed the button, and it went down. Pushed the button again, and it went up. Whatever. Backed out. Pushed the button again: the door stuck halfway down, a wire snapped and snaked hither and yon, and a large metal wheel fell on the floor.

Grand. Just . . . grand. I examined the wheel: it had been sheared off by the daily effort of hauling up the heavy door. Either the motor or the parts had been insufficient to the task, and the result will be one of those gruesome bills from the guys who come to repair your garage door. This will make three visits in five years.

Granted, two visits were due to the fact that I ran my car through the door, but still.

Pardon my language, but Monday sucked. It was damp and dreary outside and the same within, and in an odd way it felt like the worst anniversary of them all – partly because the weather was just like this five years ago tomorrow, but not entirely.  The second, third and fourth anniversaries passed solemn and restrained, but the fifth made it feel like it happened yesterday. It also made it seem like it’s been going on forever. I had to write a column this afternoon, and I felt about as Merry and Bright as coal in a bog. So I busied myself with columns and editing, did a little housework, and dealt with an email tsunami resulting from yesterday’s video. (No longer available, alas; blew out that bandwidth by the afternoon.)  Thanks to everyone who sent a kind word; I’ll try to respond as much as I can. I promise to read every letter.

I got a few broadsides from some Truthers, as can be expected. Also got some sad mail from people who for some reason took the occasion to tell me they used to read me but didn’t anymore, since I was daft. Fine. One was alarmed because I wasn’t going to watch “The Path to 9/11” for the wrong reasons. I was right not to watch it, but my justification was not acceptable. As he put it, “You've stopped writing about things that aren't political.”  Uh huh. That’s the Bleat: politics, day in, day out.

Today at one of the sites I visit I read something so surpassingly inane I had to rub my eyes and try again; surely the author did not believe that we lived in a totalitarian state. But no; the message was clear. It can hardly get worse.

Well, you know, it can.

And I’ll still go back to that site every day, because while I think the author is dead wrong on one particular issue – an issue that’s important to me – I like a great deal of what he has to say about interests we share. And if ever we met at a bar, the Big Thing would be set aside with no problem – partly because there’s another time and place for arguing the Big Thing (it’s called the Internet! You may have heard about it) but mostly because the commonalities would be much more rewarding and germaine to the moment. In a way the signs of division are heartening; we can afford them, for the moment, and as long as we admit that the other side wants a strong secure free America too, well, kumbaya. But some people seem to infer that a statement that shades on the right side of center – made sarcastically, or perhaps with a tongue-in-cheek tone that didn’t work as well as I intended – means I think all the LOONY LEFT MOONBATS WANT AL QAEDA TO WIN BECAUSE THEY HATE AMERICA.

Sigh. Too many extrapolator filters set on “Hair Trigger.” Look: I think my left-of-center readers ignore what I write about Greater Matters, or read it with eye-rolling amusement, and stick around for other attributes of the site. The center-center people take it as it comes, and complain or issue kudos appropriately. The right-of-center readers have heard it before elsewhere, but may appreciate the reinforcement. (If I have a skill, it ain’t originality, it’s rephrasing.)

If I really ran a political site I would end up disappointing everyone, since I am a mess of superficially contradictory opinions (hands off regulating cable because of adult content; stop marking slut dolls to my little girl) and old-style liberal notions, like the primacy of individuality over race.  I have zero objections to homosexuality but balk at redefining marriage. I recycle and abjure waste and live light as possible and dislike Hummers but I’m unimpressed by environmental scaremongering. I believe women are the intellectual equal of men but emotionally and psychologically different.  (I don’t want to outweigh the firefighter who attempts to carry me down the steps, and I don’t want a 37-year old man leading my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. No Harvard jobs for me!) I would rather hang out with Iggy Pop than Frank Sinatra. I love the 50s but, if I lived there as a 20-something I'd be the sort of person who annoys me now, railing against the very symbols of artifice I prize today. I hate the 60s, but know full well I would have been a pretentious stoner antiestablishment wannabee until the pose cost me money. I think light rail is a money pit sinkhole beloved by New Urbanists, but support public subsidies of large-scale bus systems to move inner-city people to wherever the jobs may be. I dearly love the inner city but don’t care if people move to the burbs for nice houses and good schools. (I support the public schools. I support school choice.) For that matter I support the New Urbanists, except when they get high-mindedly pissy about people’s free choices. I believe in God, but I’m not throwing away my Coop books because he had a hot time at a Black Mass.  I can’t stand everything Islamicists stand for, despair of the tide that seems to swamp a religion for which I have, despite my efforts, no empathetic connection whatsoever, but I celebrate the first Muslim in space.  I dislike most TV, most modern music, and most movies, but love the big messy hot throbbing blob of Western pop culture, partly because I connect with part of it like a dog biting on a live wire, and partly because the loud rude crass mess spells freedom, and that is the root word at the heart of the American experiment. We can always learn ! from others, but they’ve much to learn from us. Unless they have a 200+ year track record of expanding rights and unimaginable prosperity as well.  Did I forget to mention, forget to mention Memphis? Home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks? Look over there! A dry-ice factory! Good - place - to - get some thinking done.

Anyway. Are we clear? No? Good. See you tomorrow.






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c. j lileks. email may be sent to first name at last name dot com.