Saturday, July 21, 2018

No Pasaran!

"It certainly looked worse all the time. It was just something that you could not bring off in the morning. In an impossible situation you hang on until night to get away. You try to last out until night to get back in. You are all right, maybe, if you can stick it out until dark and then get in."

"There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you will never get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span."

hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Thursday, July 5, 2018

liquid alchemy

image: "The Absinthe Devil" by John Coulter

"there was very little left and one cup of it took the place of the evening papers, of all the old evenings in cafes, of all the chestnut trees that would be in bloom now in this month, of the great slow horses of the outer boulevards, of book shops, and kiosks, and of galleries, of the Parc Montsouris, of the Stade Buffalo, and of. . .Foyet's old hotel, and of being able to relax and read in the evening; of all the things he had enjoyed and forgotten and that came back to him when he tasted that opaque, bitter, tongue-numbing, brain-warming, stomach-warming, idea-changing liquid alchemy."

E. Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Spring 2008


Spring bloomed pink, lilac, and cottony out of the doldrums of winter semester final examinations and April’s muddy showers. Dogwood’s planted in deliberate rows outside of Schembechler Hall and the law quadrangle blossomed watermelon petals and reeked of pollination. Dandelions clustered on the State Street lawns, mingled with crushed red solo cups; weeds sprouted from cracked earth, grew in thistled green stalks between wood planks in the porch steps. The harlequin and shamrock green of freshly bloomed trees engulfed the campus in a leafy canopy, forming a horizon reminiscent of distant clover fields behind the stone spires and towers of academia. Above them blue skies rolled over campus in a procession of milky-white cirrocumulus clouds, the Bell Tower gonging omnisciently on the hour, echoing to all corners of Ann Arbor. Brown-skinned gardeners with black mustaches tilled the flower beds along the campus walkways meticulously, maintained the diag lawns like golf course fairways; pale yellow and cobalt blue tulips were planted throughout the campus in esprit de corps. 

Spring semester underway, the weather seemed to have a purifying effect on Ann Arbor’s remaining student body and faculty. The novelty of color on campus, in addition to the intoxicant of freshly-scented spring air, produced an easygoing atmosphere throughout campus that suggested Ann Arbor had unanimously adopted a southern pace of life for its summer terms. Wayfarer sunglasses appeared en masse. Undergraduates walked buoyantly on the campus sidewalks and across the diag in flip flops, basking in the relative emptiness of Ann Arbor and the resulting solitude. Long-haired hippies flung frisbees and strummed guitars amidst the tree trunk columns in the diag. Nerdier types ran across the diag lawns with broomsticks between their legs, chasing bludgers, beaters, and the golden snitch in mock Quidditch club matches, while more athletically-inclined students played traditional sports like tennis, volleyball, and basketball at the Palmer Commons courts. Girls emerged on campus and at afternoon day-drinking events in pastel sundresses, denim shorts, tank tops, and boat shoes, baring tan lines, perky cleavage, fleshy thighs and long, nubile legs. They clustered in packs at Dominick’s outdoor bar and patio, recently opened for the season, where they drank big bowls of sangria, pulpy and magenta, or on the outdoor patio at Good Time Charlie’s; the most attractive of these took up running outdoors in nothing but sports bras and Nike shorts, sweat beads dripping beckoningly from head bands.

Across State Street -- kiddycorner from BOX house -- we noted increasing amounts of foot traffic to Raymond Fisher Stadium, the Michigan baseball stadium. There, the Michigan baseball team broke countless school records that spring. Led by Big Ten player of the year Nate Recknagel and Big Ten pitcher of the year Zack Putnam, the Wolverines raced to a school record 46 wins, that season, winning the Big Ten regular season title and the Big Ten tournament championship, subsequently, earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament for a fourth consecutive year before losing to Arizona in the Ann Arbor super regional, hosted on campus. Groups of us ventured over for games that spring. One such occasion, Al and I were selected for and participated in a hot dog eating contest, held on top of the dugout during an afternoon game – ostensibly we were selected for our outlandish attire, Al in “Miracle”-reminiscent youth USA hockey jersey, me in road red youth Brendan Shanahan jersey; we both barely remembered guzzling the hot dogs next day. Another, B-Russ led a party of several others in rolling a keg down the street to the stadium, where we set it up alongside folding chairs in the outfield grass, prompting implicit approval from alums and older spectators who witnessed it before we were booted, sympathetically.

Otherwise, Ross and I mostly watched spring unfold from the comfort of beach chairs that we set up around a kiddie pool in our front lawn, languidly idling, sipping bourbon, maintaining a steady buzz through the afternoons in the heat. For the incoming freshman, their parents, and tour groups of prospective students, we modeled with our bottles of Old Crow in Hawaiian shirts and Raybans, self-aggrandizing in our decadence, as if we had achieved something in our indolence. If we got really bored, or really drunk, we might set up the “you honk, we drink” sign Ross had spray painted during football season. On weekends, when Al was home from work, we day-drank on the roof and porch, staging several impromptu keg parties. We invited over the neighbors from fraternity senior houses, and vice versa, for barbecues and beer pong; the front doors of State Street were unanimously open to neighbors all summer long, as in a dormitory hall, kegs and beers free of charge.

Visions of Yzerman