Other than the colossal meltdowns of various members of the family, turning us into one of those families on the ski slopes, Saturday was a brilliant ski day. Got up early, had breakfast in the truck on the way (breakfast is not fast for at least one of us, so that gains us at least half an hour), and were on the slopes of Haystack by 9:30. The conditions were decent, until it started lightly snowing, some of the biggest snowflakes I’ve ever seen, and then conditions became fantastic. Had to sit out for 45 minutes while one of us simmered down over some perceived slight (I really do remember how hard it is to be that age, really I do), but when we got back out it was pure “wheeeee!” skiing. I got to tackle a diamond that last week had been quite challenging called “Upper Oh-No”. (The kids called it “Upper Band-Aid,” but they didn’t do it.) I sailed down it in one smooth line this time. It was dreamy. To cap the day, we had to do a marathon-length child’s birthday party, and by the time we all got home we were ready for Sunday’s promised events, which were: No One Has to Do Anything Day. And we didn’t. As a result, I finally made some progress in Tony Hawk Underground!
In the interest of remaining non-offensive toward my many, many Catholic friends (and if I had a church, it would in fact be the Church of Rome); and because, really, being on one’s deathbed is not funny, no matter how unreal the person may seem; and because I’m still somewhat ashamed of the terrible “Pope JohnPaulGeorgeRingo” jokes I made way back when we were running through popes like mints in a candy dish; and because, in the end, I really don’t want to lose the respect of many of you who would be rightly hurt and offended by such a thing, I have decided not to Photoshop a T-shirt that says, “I trach’ed the Pope and all I get was this lousy T-shirt.” In fact, I think I won’t even mention it.
Well, actually, this one would be more like “bar memories,” but I ran across this old photo and, man, I could really go for a little game of shuffle bowling right now. Finally got hold of the “Pinball Hall of Fame” featuring several Gottlieb pinball tables, very realistic action, for the Playstation 2, and was having quite a bit of fun with it last weekend. Doesn’t include my revered all-time favorite, Team One, which occupied a favored space in our freshman dorm lounge and which I could play for about 3 days on a quarter (or three minutes, depending on how the balls were dropping). But it’s lots of fun. And so was shuffle bowling, which, like pinball, pretty much died at the hands of the electronic games.
I really don’t mind that circumstances at work prevented me from skiing today — since it was bright, sunny, not too cold, and Mount Snow only got about 11″ of new snow since Sunday night. That would have been terrible, so it’s just better that I had to stay here. Right?
I can’t let the passing of Hunter S. Thompson go without comment, but I’ll steer away from the banal jokes about Gidget (Sandra Dee, who died the same day). There was a time in my life — a very weird, uncontrolled time — when the good Doctor’s writings were a signpost, a guide to how journalism should be. There was a time when we referred to “The Great Shark Hunt” as our bible. (As that time coincided with my going to journalism school, you can see that some conflicts may have arisen.) And, of course, like any good twenty-year-old writer trying on every fashion he can find, I tried on gonzo writing and found it fit quite nicely. My most shameless imitation of Thompson, a pseudonym-bylined plotless screed about the opening day of the Carrier Dome, was reprinted last year in The Daily Orange 100th anniversary book. As a rip-off of Hunter S. Thompson, it holds up pretty well; as meaningful writing, not so much.
And as the years slipped away and I became a somewhat responsible adult, the pull and meaning of those early books remained with me, but I felt no compulsion to keep up with his contemporary writing. I just wasn’t in that place anymore. A couple of years ago I saw Johnny Depp’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” something which I would have sworn was unfilmable, and was blown away by its perfection. Every time I watch it, it’s still funny, and it’s as funny as the book, which I was prompted to reread for the first time in years. But his books put me back in touch with who I was then, and don’t have much to do with who I am now. No, I’m not surprised that someone with a very dark worldview and a morbid fascination with firearms took his own life in such a way. The impetus may be a mystery; perhaps the doc gave him some ugly news. I’m bummed that a CBC commentator last night beat me to the Hemingway comparison — not just the suicide, which is obvious enough, but the writing itself, the act of casting himself in a living novel in which he was the protagonist. It ain’t easy being larger than life.
Many more comments, with the usual mix of internet brilliance and idiocy, at Fark.
Well, actually, it’s his sidekick, Wash Tubbs, that I’m thinking of, because every time we’ve had a great day skiing, all I can think of is Tubbs’s signature line, “I ain’t mad at nobody!”
Sunny, clear day yesterday with some fresh snow, and though we were blacked out at Snow, we were welcomed at Haystack, which turned out to be fabulous. Nearly everyone there was there for college ski races, meaning the rest of the slopes were wide open and in great condition. The college kids were, shall we say . . . spirited. It was about 15 degrees. Many of the girls were skiing in extremely short pleated skirts. (The idea of Catholic school girls is much better than the reality of Catholic school girls.) Some skied in their panties. (Blue is not a hot color for legs this year, by the way.) Many of the boys were in dresses. We were on the lift going past the start house when one of the boys, in a lovely lacy green number, decided to doff the dress and ski the way nature intended him to. (This was a giant slalom course, and featured the only ice on the mountain, so if he went down, he’d be leaving skin behind.) And I saw one giant fellow in a custom-made dress whose back was the healthy blue-white color of frostbite. Oh, to be young and dumb again! (I was dumb about frostbite at a much younger age, and it has left me with sensitive tootsies.)
So, having seen her first naked man and not having been much impressed, Bekah worked on what the USCSA on the banners meant — we settled on US Crazy Skiers Association or US Cautious Skiing Association.
President’s week! The week in which we honor our founding fathers with automobile sales and discount mattresses! What a state of affairs. The kids have it off, but have signed up for a technology camp the town is putting on, where they’ll be learning how to make a movie. East Greenbush is the Hollywood of Rensselaer County, you know. Well, actually, Troy is — but I expect after this they’ll start playing with iMovie and making feature films starring American Girl dolls.
How could I not? It’d be like skipping the Armory Show in 1913 (except, they didn’t know it would be the Armory Show). Like I said, it may have to be believed to be seen. But it was there, it was an experience, it drew thousands and thousands of people, it got millions talking about art (and when was the last time that happened without involving a crucifix and urine?). One favorite photo below, more at Flickr — just click on the pic!
Haven’t been able to write because I have just been running ragged. I did get to see The Gates in Central Park — as U2 sang, something that has to be believed to be seen. But interesting. Photos will appear at Flickr over the weekend. I think. There must be skiing. And sleep. I would like to sleep again. Also, have had my fill of all modes of public transit. That’s why I’m renting a limo for my trip up to Washington County today.
Guess who finally figured out how to breathe right while swimming? (Yes, I know, four-year-olds master this. But I wasn’t taught it. Four, forty-four, what’s the difference?) Trick for me turned out to be not expelling at all until my face is nearly out of the water, pushing it out in one quick burst, and then I can take air back in. I was having serious trouble with all other methods. Yay me!