BEN CHERINGTON: Hey Jed?
JED HOYER: What’s up, Ben?
BEN CHERINGTON: Would you be interested in a pitcher who gives up 380-foot bombs on the regular? He’d be great for your park. We’ll pay for it.
JED HOYER: Dice?
BEN CHERINGTON: No.
JED HOYER: Wake?
BEN CHERINGTON: No.
JED HOYER: Lackey?
BEN CHERINGTON: Yes.
JED HOYER: Let me crunch some numbers. [Punches furiously at keyboard.] Yeah, I think we could do that.
BEN CHERINGTON: Sweet. God bless NESN. Talk to you later.
JED HOYER: Later. [Hangs up, dials new number.]
ALBERTO: Alberto’s Charter Fishing.
JED HOYER: Hey, I know you said you need 24-hour notice, but can I charter a boat today? My work’s done.
ALBERTO: I’m sorry, we can’t—
JED HOYER: It’s Jed.
ALBERTO: Come on down, my man! Who’d we get?
JED HOYER: Lackey. They’re paying for everything.
ALBERTO: Hurry up. They’re really biting.
Not pictured: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Motherless Brooklyn
Those of you who have followed the WordPress site, and the fewer of you who have followed the Tumblr site, know that I’ve written many, many things over the past few years. The one thing I’ve been bad at is bringing them together in any sort of cohesive way, and I’m going to change that. This is a list of everything I’ve read and written this summer as defined by Memorial Day through Labor Day, because that’s how I’m defining it. I’ll start with the books I’ve read, in the order in which I finished them:
As you can see, I spent a lot of time in the classics, new and old. I picked up Kavalier & Clay because it was one of those books I hadn’t read but every friend of mine had read and liked. Oscar Wao was the same deal, and I actually put a copy of it down at the bookstore to pick up K & C, only to have a friend lend me a copy later in the summer. I had never read Moby-Dick, despite growing up on Martha’s Vineyard: mistake. Somehow I hadn’t read Of Mice and Men, either. Ben got me hooked on David Mitchell, first on his new one—the first half of which probably changed my writing style forever—and later, Cloud Atlas, which I finished yesterday to meet the unofficial deadline for writing this post.
You can probably see the progression from Moby-Dick to Heart of Darkness to Things Fall Apart, or at least the second part of it. Hitchens I picked up because I’ve seen several interviews with him since he fell ill, and realized that I’ve been delinquent. I wasn’t disappointed. Are We Winning? was a review copy based on the interview I did for Leitch’s last book, though I have yet to write any sort of review. I tore through Motherless Brooklyn in less than 24 hours on M.V., during which time I also managed to sleep for eight hours and paint two ceilings. It helps that it mostly takes place within three blocks of my Brooklyn home. Finally, I was iffy on A Visit from the Good Squad until a single paragraph mid-book ratcheted the awesome up to 11 and it didn’t stop until it was over. Highly recommended, especially if you like music.
What I’ve written
I spent the majority of the summer writing imaginary conversations, which I enjoyed immensely. I really liked fitting all the dialogue together, which I had never tried before. It was a little exhausting, though, which is why my production plummeted in August.
ME: What the fuck is up with your mosque statements?
BO: I firmly believe in the right of all citizens to practice religion, but I worry about the wisdom of this project.
ME: Are you fucking kidding me?
BO: Are you swearing at the President of the United States?
ME: Are you pandering to a nebulous group of people who aren’t going to vote for you anyway? Are you shying away from a “teachable moment?” Are you blowing this non-issue spectacularly?
BO: Well, Bryan, you said it. It’s a non-issue. I have bigger things to worry about.
ME: So you can afford to punt on this one?
BO: I’m not punting. I said what I believed.
ME: If you said what you believed, I’m the starting quarterback for the Patriots.
BO: Something happened to Tom Brady? (he’s angry and calm in that way of his)
ME: You do realize the mosque isn’t a mosque, isn’t at Ground Zero, and that there’s another mosque already in existence down the block?
BO: I’m aware.
ME: So why is this community center unwise?
BO: I didn’t say it was unwise. I say I questioned the wisdom of the decision.
ME: You realize people can’t stand that, right? I mean, it was fine right after Bush—it was like having C-Span after you’d been watching TV fuzz for eight years. The worst part is that everyone knows you don’t believe what you’re saying, and you’re botching even how you say it.
BO: I have a difficult job.
ME: I’ll say. And you went through hell to get it. But you knew exactly what you were getting into. All those comparisons to Herbert Hoover people leveled at you starting, oh, on January 21st, 2009? You are making those people look like Nastradamus.
BO: You mean Nostradamus.
ME: I most certainly do not.
BO: Do you know what LBJ said about Herbert Hoover?
ME: Enlighten me.
BO: He said, “I thought Hoover was a victim of sadistic people and economic conditions over which he had no control. He was unusually equipped to be President.” I’ll be Herbert Hoover.
BO: Were you saying that because you were impressed, or because of the pun it made with “Hoover?”
(GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS starts to wobble, does not look at A-Rod as he starts to talk)
GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS: Looks like we… (whoosh, whoosh) … have an excited little boy … (whoosh, whoosh) … in our audience today. Where are you from, little boy?
A-ROD: (completely unaware that he’s being spoken to)
ME: Alex! It’s rude not to answer someone when they’re talking to you. Tell the man where you’re from.
A-ROD: (sheepish) I’m from, uh, New York City, sir.
GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS: (smiles, eyes still concentrating on task) New York City? Do you hear that, ladies and gentleman? From right here! And tell me, little boy, what do you want to be when you grow up?
ME: (in a low, reassuring voice) Go ahead, Alex. Answer the man’s question.
A-ROD: I want to play baseball!
GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS: A baseball player! That’s great! Mets or Yankees?
A-ROD: (gaining confidence) … Yankees, sir.
GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS: The Yankees! Now tell me, who’s your favorite player?
A-ROD: (quietly) Derek Jeter.
GUY ON UNICYCLE JUGGLING FLAMING BOWLING PINS: Derek Jeter! He’s my favorite too! But I also like Jorge Posada. And Mariano Rivera. And Mark Teixeira. And CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. What a team!
A-ROD: (almost a whisper) Yeah they’re good
(There is a commotion as all the pins fall to the ground and there is screaming because they’re still on fire)
GUY ON UNICYCLE NO LONGER JUGGLING PINS: Holy shit, you’re Alex Rodriguez.
GUY ON UNICYCLE NO LONGER JUGGLING PINS: You hit 600 yet?
A-ROD: (beaming) Yes! I did it yesterday. (pause) Can I have your snake?
GUY DESCENDING UNICYCLE: No way, he’s a part of my act. This is how I make my living, bro.
A-ROD: Would you take… (reaches into pocket, counts cash, counts it again) $5,000?
GUY WHO JUST SOLD SNAKE: Yes. Yes I would.
(In a clean motion, swipes cash from A-Rod and drapes snake around his neck)
GUY MOVING AWAY QUICKLY: Feed it hamsters… or chicken… once a week… (he picks up the unicycle and bolts)
A-ROD: Those were counterfeit bills.
ME: You carry fake money around?
A-ROD: Oh sure. Everyone thinks it’s real. How do you think I got this suit?
(it is a nice suit)
ME: Wow. What a dick.
A-ROD: I’m not as dumb as everyone thinks I am.
A-ROD: Let’s go to the M&M’s store.
ME: I don’t think they’ll let you bring that in—
A-ROD: I said (him and the snake look me straight in the eyes) let’s go to the M&M’s store
ME: (terrified) … okay …
(NYPD officer approaches)
COP: Hey you got a permit for that thing?
A-ROD: You bet.
(He reaches into his wallet and winks at me before turning to the cop and “paying him off.” Afterward we go say hi to the Naked Cowboy [they’re apparently friends] and go to the M&M’s store, where A-Rod gets sick of the snake and hands it to me and bolts. I’m the guy who has it when the cops show up and they’re about to arrest me for it when the Naked Cowboy—with whom they’re familiar—backs up my crazy story. He then demands $20, which he double-checks against the light because he “know(s) A-Rod’s game.” He says if I give him $5 more he’ll sing “America.” I decline, and he starts singing it anyway.)
Don’t know how much zip this one has, but I feed my fans. (That’s actually a line from a Kool Keith show I read about once where he threw fried chicken, in baggies, to the audience.)
(We enter mid-argument)
ME: But I already paid you $30. What else do I have to do?
YOGA: You know what you gotta do.
ME: (sigh) Fine. (Begins to beat the crap out of myself, Fight Club-style.)
YOGA: Don’t you miss a spot. (ominously) You know what happens when you miss a spot.
(I redouble my efforts until I am a shell of myself)
YOGA: You look good. That’s enough for today.
ME: (totally battered)
YOGA: You don’t get that shit at the gym.
(THE GYM pulls up in an Escalade, wearing a sleeveless Under Armour shirt and shades. Basically it’s The Situation.)
THE GYM: You called me? (sees me) Hey man, you want a ride?
ME: I’d love one—
YOGA: He most certainly does not.
(THE GYM and YOGA are having a staredown when RUNNING passes right through them.)
RUNNING: Hey guys!
YOGA and THE GYM: (simultaneously) FUCK OFF!
YOGA: (in consensus) Terrible for your back.
THE GYM: (same, but hurt) Why doesn’t he just use the machines?
(As this is happening, FLAG FOOTBALL, SOFTBALL, and ULTIMATE FRISBEE show up. They are all in their uniforms, and they’re wasted.
FLAG FOOTBALL has terrible posture, SOFTBALL’s a little tubby, and ULTIMATE FRISBEE is lithe and pretty. SOFTBALL and ULTIMATE FRISBEE are both women.)
THE GYM: What’s up guys?
SOFTBALL: We won!
FLAG FOOTBALL: We lost!
ULTIMATE FRISBEE: WE’RE WASTED!
FLAG FOOTBALL: Check this out! (takes out a flask and puts it to his lips, but RUNNING comes by again and drinks it like a sippy cup)
RUNNING: …thanks guys what was that vod…
FLAG FOOTBALL: Play a real sport!
ULTIMATE FRISBEE: I dunno, I think he’s kind of hot. I like the skinny-guy type
FLAG FOOTBALL: (boiling rage)
ULTIMATE FRISBEE: Not as hot as you, babe. (she is obviously lying)
(everyone has apparently failed to notice that YOGA has been doing a headstand for some time now)
ULTIMATE FRISBEE: (quiet enough that no one notices) Or that.
ME: Hey guys.
FLAG FOOTBALL: What the fuck happened to you?
(I nod toward YOGA)
ULTIMATE FRISBEE: (coos) Oh my.
FLAG FOOTBALL: (angrily) He can’t hear you.
YOGA: I hear everything you’re saying.
THE GYM: I can do that too! (springs out of car, attempts to to headstand, does a pratfall)
SOFTBALL: That’s so funny!
THE GYM: Do you want to get a drink! And then maybe… (as cheesily as possible) a workout?
SOFTBALL: Hell yeah!
(the drive away just as RUNNING is passing back through)
RUNNING: …hey guys that wasn’t water…
FLAG FOOTBALL: FUCKER! (runs after him around a corner)
YOGA: He’s pretty hot at that guy, huh.
ULTIMATE FRISBEE (to YOGA): No, that is hot.
YOGA: (stands up in some unbelievably smooth transition) You wanna go back to my place and fuck?
ULTIMATE FRISBEE: Oh yeah.
ME: (shocked, trying to say something while they make sex eyes at each other) More like… ohm yeah. (shakes head at self)
(they look at me like I’m stupid)
YOGA: (to me, menacing again) I’m not done with you.
(I hail a cab and we pass RUNNING increasing his distance on FLAG FOOTBALL until FLAG FOOTBALL stops to talk to some sorority girls. I open the window to yell something at RUNNING but the cabbie tells me to close it because the air conditioner’s on.)
(I’m walking down Broadway and it’s so hot I can barely think so I drop under an awning and realize that I’m standing next to Steve Nash)
STEVE NASH: Brutal today, huh?
ME: Yeah. […] HolyshityoureSteveNash
STEVE NASH: (chuckles) Ha ha. Yeah.
ME: Are you aware that you are very possibly the coolest person in the world?
STEVE NASH: (chuckles politely but, you can tell, slightly warily) I don’t know, there are a lot of people in the world.
ME: Okay. But top… 10. 12.
STEVE NASH: (rolls eyes up, like he’s counting people in 20th story windows, then continues as if by instruction) Higher.
ME: 48. 50.
STEVE NASH: (bulges eyes at me)
STEVE NASH: I can live with top 30.
(We high five)
ME: Hey remember when you Tweeted that picture of your breakfast?
STEVE NASH: From China?
ME: Yeah. That was awesome.
ME: I could go for some food. Hey, let me ask you a question. That was all eggs and sausage and shit. I remember when I read that you don’t eat sugar. That’s true, right?
STEVE NASH: (nodding)
ME: Okay, so. How the fuck do you do that?
STEVE NASH: (laughs)
ME: It’s SUGAR! YOU CANNOT AVOID IT.
STEVE NASH: I do.
ME: I call bullshit on this entire enterprise. You’re misleading the public.
STEVE NASH: (suddenly trying to grasp if I’m serious)
ME: This… this is an outrage.
STEVE NASH: Now you wait just here…
ME: (whips out Pixie Stix)
STEVE NASH: Whoa. Careful with that.
ME: (tears top of one off) I’ll do it.
STEVE NASH: You just carry Pixie Stix around?
ME: (grabs him by the face, jumps, pours it in his mouth, he grimaces and spits it out like it’s salt.)
(I start running.)
STEVE NASH: Get that guy!
(By this time there are a few people watching, and a couple guys stand in front of me, blocking my way. One of them, like several others around us have taken out cell-phone cameras and are taking video.)
(STEVE NASH approaches me and is kind of menacing.)
STEVE NASH: What’s your problem, bro?
ME: I just…
STEVE NASH: You just WHAT? (He’s standing right over me now)
(In one quick, effortless motion, he pantses me, revealing boxer shorts with vegetable prints on them.)
STEVE NASH: Nice squash. (Everyone laughs.)
ME: (tries to run, falls over shorts)
STEVE NASH: Have a nice trip. See you next fall. (everyone is dying now.)
ME: Yeah well… you’ll never win a championship.
STEVE NASH: (suddenly downtrodden) Stop it.
ME: Oh, no snappy comeback? You never could play defense.
STEVE NASH: (angry again, pulls a handful of things from pocket, starts throwing them at me) Yeah… but I can play offense.
ME: Ow! Ow! Wait a second.
(STEVE NASH smiles)
ME: Those are MENTOS!
(he guzzles a handful of them, sprints away)
ME: (yelling) Top 20!
(he gives a thumbs up; 20 minutes later, a stray Mentos thwacks me in the head, but he is nowhere to be seen)
I went downstairs this weekend and as soon as I was out the front door, my phone rang. It was Summer, the season, who is a dude:
SUMMER: Hey, man! What’s up?!
ME: (immediate wince from heat) Oh Jesus, man. This is a bit much.
SUMMER: What do you mean, MUCH? EVERYBODY LOVES ME!
ME: (Sigh) This again.
SUMMER: SUMMER BREAK!
SUMMER: SUMMER CAMP!
SUMMER: SUMMER FLINGS!
ME: I got news for you, budy.
SUMMER: What’s that, homeboy?
ME: You ain’t all that. Nor are you a bag of chips. And you are especially not Cape Cod Russet Potato Chips. [Ed. note: best chips ever.]
SUMMER: What the—?
ME: I mean sure, I love going to the beach and yeah, there’s nothing quite like a nice, full day in the sun to really set your mind at ease, really point it back in the right direction after you’ve been writing about dolls and shit for six months.
ME: But man that feeling passes quicklyyyyy… and then you’re just annoying as hell.
SUMMER: You’re being mean, dude! Go jump in a pool!
ME: See that’s just the thing. It’s not like I can just go jump in a pool. I live in the city.
SUMMER: So crank up the AC! Hang out in the house nekkid!
ME: Hmm. That’s not really my thing.
SUMMER: You’re a bummer, man. Why don’t you go to the Hamptons or something? Everyone loves the Hamptons!
SUMMER: All of New York City’s richest and best people, all hanging out in one place and having fun! What could be better?
ME: Exactly. What could be better? Pretty much anything.
ME: We get the point. Now you need to get the point. The Hamptons is hell on earth. Literally—if Satan himself was to appear on this planet, I think it would be at some outdoor bar in Southampton, dressed in pink chinos with a polo shirt and a sweater around his neck, complaining about the slipping fee for his yacht.
SUMMER: Whoawhoawhoa. Aren’t you from freaking Martha’s Vineyard?
ME: Yes. But even for tourists, there’s a world of difference between them. And I grew up there. I, like, hate conspicuous displays of wealth or class privilege.
SUMMER: Says the guy who lives in Boerum Hill.
ME: Guilty as charged. But I didn’t take the easy way here, did I? I’m no lawyer or banker or something like that.
SUMMER: You want a medal or something?
ME: Shit no. It’d burn my skin today.
SUMMER: Man, you’re a dick.
ME: I get that all the time.
SUMMER: You wouldn’t be so pissed if you were in the Hamptons. Or Nantucket.
ME: That’s just low. Even for you.
SUMMER: You’re right, man. I’ll make it up to you. Go to the deli. I’ll call the guy and have him put a sixer of Pacifico on my tab. Bring it over to Bedouin Tent, have a falafel sandwich outside and read or write or something.
ME: Seriously? That sounds awesome. I can dig this.
SUMMER: No problem man! Hold on a second. (I hear him make call on another phone, explain situation.) It’s all set up! Sixer of your choice! Rock on dude.
ME: You know what? I think I do love summer. Rock on!
ME: (enters deli) Hey, I think Summer just called? The season? I can get a six pack?
COUNTER DUDE: What in the FUCK are you talking about? I think the heat’s getting to you.
(I just buy a six pack and head over to Bedouin Tent and start reading when I get a text message from Summer that says “ahahahaaha,” but it was only like 80 degrees that night, which was really nice of him, and truth be told I do kinda love summer, which I drunk-texted later. He didn’t respond.)
Remember to check out my Tumblr for this and more stuff.