Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Tidings by Genius Wicke

This chilly New Year’s Eve, we gathered into our warm apartment, and by playing the game of Proust Questionnaire over champagne, we discovered that some of us are clueless as to our favorite flower, favorite color, etc. But some favorite authors were proffered (e.g., Wallace Stevens, James Joyce, Toni Morrison, Anton Chekhov, W. Somerset Maughm) and other names and places were dropped (e.g., J. Robert Oppenheimer, Frederick Delius, Hermosa Beach, upstate New York). The classicist Leon had relayed the endtime Norse story of the evil Jotuns who will conquer the world from a ship constructed of toenail clippings. So – if that be the case - a prudent arms-race response might be to save one’s own clippings in preparative defense. But, as a brewer, Leon had then sweetened the air by promising a batch of honeysuckle wine this year (hopefully minus any manicuria ingredients).

Sartorial highlights:

Panda’s trapper hat
[Panda is a Barnard coed,
and not a toy bear]:

Leon’s charcoal bow tie:

My smart straw boater:

We then marched to our bookstore in town to watch the fireworks. There were general suggestions for marching songs, and they were variously tested (e.g., “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”, “On the Banks of the Raritan”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, “He Shall Feed his Flock”) – The Winkie March from the Wizard of Oz (that reliable chestnut) seemed to pace us nicely. [You know how it goes: “oEEo..etc”]. Hundreds of the local townfolk similarly marched toward the midnight launchsite in profile against the town’s neon. Because they all intended to be at the same place at exactly the same midnight – tided by their expectation of the rising lights - their singular purpose would have been foreboding in a 1950s sci-fi sense, had it been any time other than 11:50PM New Years Eve.

At the bookstore’s terrace, a New Year’s anthem was composed
(in a style of the imaginary poet Rudyard Burns, so both stirring and sentimental):

“Launch the burst of fire -
Sound the raspy horn -
From this drink we’ll ne’er retire
From this night - till morn.”

On cue, the bursts of fire were indeed launched, and the corks popped, and thus the calendar lurched forward onto a new year. And, after the last showings of the “boastful daisy”, the “confused sperms”, and the “weeping octopus” had bloomed and wilted [those are pyrotechnic nomenclatures], the afterglow of a residual blanket of smoke had tucked the lumbering crowd back to resume their winter slumber.

The “confused sperms”:

So, we too of the crowd, then conjoined Eva and Panda to each other inside a cozy blanket, and securely tied it with a windsor bow to further seal their friendship. Thus, cuddled snug in a bundle against the chilly night, we all sauntered back to where we began – That is, while the good folk slept in this barely-suckling time of new beginnings, in this soft kiss time before winter clenches its bite, we again resumed the continual deliberation on how to best serve them, and you the reader.

Warm tidings from your Raconteur.

1 comment:

Alex said...


Kristy and I live in a Victorian two blocks from the shop. It was actually built as an apartment building at the turn of the century and the six apartments are connected by a curling oak-railed staircase (complete with coffin turners -- little nooks where people often stick vases or lamps, but which were traditionally scooped out of spiral stairwells to allow for coffin bearers to negotiate the twisting trip down). Apparently, our ground floor apartment was intended to accommodate the building's super and is the biggest of the six. Our ceilings are thirteen feet high and the floors are hard wood. There are arches, period light fixtures, and a big bay window where our seven foot Christmas tree, wound in tiny white lights and cranberry garlands and decorated with little wooden nutcrackers and those kitchy tin ornaments from the fifties, loomed. We sat around our long dining table: Larry sipping a Coppola cabernet, John upending a bottle of Young's Winter Warmer, and me drinking a Sam Adams holiday beer called Old Fezziweg Ale. The others had left around 1 AM -- Eva, Panda, and Leon (reluctantly). Kristy had gone to bed. Vic Damone crooned on Pandora, a recently discovered web site that plays an endless selection of songs/artists similar to the one you initially type in (I had put in Bing). And as we sat there talking about this and that (Graham Greene was brought up, as was Lucian Freud, and Larry posed the question: "How old were you when you realized Zsa Zsa Gabor wasn't important?"), I had a boozy moment of sentimentality. I've always wanted friends like Larry and John, smart, artistic, more than a little eccentric. Larry recently hosted a Sir Carol Reed film festival at the shop ("REED UP @ THE RAC"), and as we sat there in my apartment's colossal center room, our great room, we three alone, getting unavoidably squiffy, mired in ideological discussions that bordered on bickering, I was reminded of a scene midway through Odd Man Out, the stunning first installment in Reed's informal trilogy. It depicted what the three of us agreed would be our ideal living situation. In the film's third act, Shell, an opportunistic but likeable rag-picker, decides to hide Johnny McQueen, a wounded IRA captain played by James Mason, in the cavernous squat he shares with Lukey, a mad artist, and Tober, a failed surgeon. As Shell gallops up the grand staircase to discuss this idea of stowing Johnny with his housemates, snow flits through yawning holes in the roof onto the floor two stories below. I can't imagine this scene, played out as it is by three caviling characters, drunk, mad, hungry, in a behomithic wreck of a Belfast mansion without heat, would be appealing to many, any case, we three stayed up past three, talking about things that, for the most part, though I managed to participate, were way over my head (the Gabor sisters not withstanding).