Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Who, at this moment, is not very confused? Perhaps because it was billed as having an audience score as high as the Super Bowl or perhaps because it nearly universally feels as though there is consequence to this year's election, I watched the Clinton/Trunp debate.

I watched from the safety of Canada, just across the stuffy border, overlooking once-dead Lake Erie. The signal came in fine to the retro-tube TV with attached digital converter. I'd set that up for my parents who were already at their limits with technology. Dad is gone now, and Mom is short on memory.

Of course my heart sank when the intro also resembled the super-bowl. Things seemed overproduced, and the old steady voice of Tom Brokaw was hauled in to add gravitas to Lester Holt. I watch NBC news sometimes randomly while I'm eating dinner. The ads reveal a demographic probably my age, but with which I don't yet identify. TV ads for medicine tune me out and turn me off. I just don't understand anymore the cheery confidence one is meant to have in the way that things just are.

The level of discourse fell far short of what one might hear in a routine barroom argument. Palpably, the broadcast medium had made it impossible for either of the debaters, and probably for any human being, to craft a response on the fly to be judged, as it were, for eternity. One wondered why any human being, certainly one so practiced and experienced as Hillary Clinton, would allow herself be be enchained like that. And already it was too late to walk away. Outrage would end it.

The Donald had long since, of course, mastered the mode of reality TV. Over-talking, grunts and grimaces, which as Jane Goodall reminds us, are basic genetic and biological heritage, no humanity required.

The Internet is overrun by apparently literate and nuanced and quite subtle writing, almost all of which is accessible for free. Facebook floods with angry partisanship, amazing each of us now with the hidden idiocy of someone we once did think we could love, or did kiss, or argued with in barrooms. If it were a football game it would feel so much less consquential. Name-calling would feel in jest.

My daughter was married this weekend in what was by all appearances a very traditional ceremony. The celebrant, their Law Professor and mentor, knew both bride and groom intimately, had purchased his license to officiate on the Internet, and raised the tone of the event to a height few among the guests had felt before. I contained myself for brief moments only, while I learned things about my daughter's recent argumentation before the State Supreme Court which she had been too modest to describe for me herself.

Near the entire wedding party had continued to work for social justice, not only in the US, but around the world. Humble and proud at the same time, which is what I felt as well, in the same venue from which my own marriage ended in divorce, also beautiful, also moving. As we led the party onto the dance-floor, my ex and I marveled at how much older our daughter is than we had been at the same age. I believed again in love.

I do.

Next day, Sunday, my younger daughter and her boyfriend found a place staying open between shifts where we could enjoy hamburgers in the baking sun. That was the only strategy on offer, to stay away from the blaring Bills game indoors and achieve some semblance of relaxation and repose post-event. That night I enjoyed a Cuban cigar and a half-bottle of Rioja, both imported for me by wedding partiers, while the sun set on a perfect weekend, across nearly two hours of post-connubial bliss.

Dusk's shifting colors - the colors of the still tainted lake - might have been the throes of end-times when everything moves to extremes. I drove the bride and groom to Toronto for their honeymoon flight to Italy through monsoon-style rain, which prevented me reading any road signs.

The Bills won, uncharacteristically, which gave everyone in the city a nice boost. I thought I'd left for the border crossing follies early enough to beat the crowd, since one doesn't expect Bills fans to depart the stadium early during a winning game. But I was wrong. No excitement on offer, so home they scurry as the better option against an after-party, when the tailgating is all ahead of the game.

No excitement on offer this election season, really. Anticipation of yet another disappointment feeling the powerlessness of fandom against a fix which is in from aggregated enthusiasms against all smaller places, all smaller personalities, all more modest ambitions.

There was no news worth reading post-debate, and so I read how Chinese "researchers" had hacked Tesla's cars, and watched their video triumph, just to practice my Chinese. I read a young scientist's parsing of the Brangelena calculus for breast-cancer's heritability, weighing the life of fear against a life of joy in the now.

I find no improvement to my life with artificial anything. Leather helmets, cranky shifters, leaking oil, the car has jumped the shark a long long time ago and there is no more fun in driving. There is nothing for me to do except to cower against the other guy. I will not raise my sails by pushbutton, as winning is not that important. Age requires retreat is all.

Ex-father-in-law ran some newspapers for Roy Park, friend of Buffet who still owns the Buffalo News. His papers, my ex's, pioneered computer typesetting, color printing, and were profitable beyond almost any other industry. Dead and gone and R.I.P., though they were thought essential at our nation's founding. We had a nice talk.

Let's hope and pray that all the boundaries dissolve, that terror is removed to screens and fiction, and that the fiction of scarcity is hacked to death the way that Tesla has been, and that breasts will remain unhacked and unaugmentted and full of mothers' milk.

I could pray for worse things, but I won't. There is life to be lived and now. On gilded pond.

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