Monday, September 27, 2004

He's the Very Model of a Blue State Personality

Craig Newmark spots life:

Why do the delegates to the Republican convention have neater haircuts and less interesting clothes?

I ponder these questions when I drive past the home of one of my neighbors, a man with very strong opinions. I don't know the man, but I know about his opinions because he paints them on slabs of wood and nails the slabs up on tree trunks in his front yard. He is in favor of Supporting Our Troops. And vehemently opposed to a new addition that was built onto the 100-year-old public library, at least judging by one of his more interesting signs: "LIBRARY OFFICIALS EATING STEAK WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS."

Coming from a certain direction I drive by this man's yard, and a few times I've seen him sitting out there in a lawn chair, glaring at passersby as if to say: "What are you looking at? You want to start something?" He doesn't have a rifle across his knees, but I almost remember him that way. Perhaps I'm being unfair, but then again, a sign tacked onto one tree reads: "KILL THY ENEMY."

And then, sometimes on the same drive, I'll pull up at a traffic light beside a smiling, shaggy-headed soul at the wheel of a foreign-made car festooned with bumper stickers like: "Magic Happens." "Free Leonard Peltier." "I Brake for Animals." "War is Not the Answer."

At their essence, conservatives are on guard, bristling, armed with a righteous anger, prone to mockery of their enemies, sure of themselves, unwilling to criticize America, especially by comparing it to anyplace else. The attacks of Sept. 11 only confirmed their world view: We are constantly at risk.

Liberals are mannered, sensitive, armed with intellectual cynicism, self-critical, eager to learn from other cultures, wanting there to be no pain in the world. The attacks made them sad and angry, too, but their reflex was more pensive than vengeful.

imitating James Lileks' art:

The [NY Times] Magazine.

Let’s begin! A little humorous piece – not funny haha funny, but, you know, arch, which is very urbane.

Then there’s an essay on words, which is wonderful because you love words, and then a big serious piece about that horrible situation the administration isn’t doing anything about. You’ll read it later – skim the pull quotes for now.

Best of all are the ads, because you really wouldn’t want to wear any of that stuff but it’s fun to look at.

Remember back home in Iowa? Nothing like this on Sunday. The paper was thicker than usual, but that was mostly ads for toilet paper and underwear and lawn tractors, and there was that awful Parade magazine. Walter Scott’s Personality Parade. You remember that why, exactly? Because you read it every week, and you wondered who Walter Scott was. Something like Ed Sullivan or Walter Winchell. Fedora, heavy black phone, manual typewriter, friend to the stars but not above flicking a speck of dirt towards someone who’d truly earned it. Then there was a cartoon about a big dog – Howard Huge. Do they still print Parade? Probably. Probably find ten copies on the counter at Perkins after the Sunday lunch shift ends.

Dad used to let you order anything on Sunday morning at Perkins.

Perkins always dusted the French Toast with powdered sugar. Remember?

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