Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Fall of Fall TV

Considering how few channels there were when I was a kid, I watched an unhealthy amount of television. When Batman switched from black-and-white to color, the kids in my neighborhood worked out a whole rotation so we could go to houses with color TVs.

And when Fall rolled around, I didn't care about falling leaves or back to school, but the new TV shows. I waited for TV Guide's Fall Preview with the same avidity guys now pine for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. For a few years, I even compiled my own scrapbook of daily ads from the New York Times, organized by network, with a hand-drawn grid of what my favorites were.

I was thinking about that era this fall, because,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Reverse-Commute Jew

"I was inside that place when it was for sale," a woman announced about my parents' former house as we drove past today, not knowing who she was talking to. "Total tear-down."

Uncharacteristically, I decided not to respond. Because it was Yom Kippur -- the Jewish day of atonement, forgiveness and compassion; and because the woman and I were riding on a parking-lot shuttle bus with my girlfriend and daughter to my childhood synagogue, to attend a "family service," despite the fact that our family members who belonged there died 18 and 36 months ago.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Canon Holes

Until I brought my daughter to see the stripped-down, genius production of Our Town that just ended a marathon run at the Barrow Street Theater, I had never read or seen the play. Which is kind of amazing. But all too common.

I went to a good high school and a good college (one that imposed a "core curriculum" in which we were supposedly exposed to the basics) and was even a History and Literature major, yet I missed out

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine-Eleven Skies

One day this spring, the New York sky was so shockingly blue and cloud-free, I commented to some friends, "It's a 9/11 sky." They groaned and told me I had ruined a perfectly nice day. Still "too soon," I guess. But the fact is, that's my strongest memory of the day, how disarmingly perfect it had seemed.

Well, it's another day like that today.
And I find myself thinking again about the Flitcraft Parable,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Swimming Hole Story

Maine, despite recent troubling encroachments by McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts, still looks and feels pretty much the way it did when I first landed there as an 11-year-old sleepaway camper, and its unspoiled waters and cheap lobsters have been drawing me back for more than half the summers of my life.

On the road to the rental cabin, we'd pass foxes, wild turkeys, deer, and a barn selling fresh eggs by the honor system (leave $3.50 in a can); on the lake we saw loons, cormorants, and a bald eagle. The local county fair, despite the increasingly generic greasy food stalls and carny rides, still has 4H quilt and produce displays, smash-up derby, and poultry and livestock barns filled with glorious ribbon-worthy specimens like this ostrichy rooster [right].

But this summer's quintessential Maine experience happened at the local swimming hole,

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