calvin trillin on alice

One of the very first posts here on was about the untimely death of Alice Trillin, wife and muse to “New Yorker” writer Calvin Trillin. Alice died of heart failure on September 11, 2001. (Rough day all around.)
Calvin Trillin is my hero. He was the first adult writer I ever connected with: at age nine, when for some reason, I had a subscription to The Nation — I was dorky far beyond my years — and I got to catch the last few of his “Uncivil Liberties” columns. I remember requesting With All Disrespect via interlibrary loan in the late 1980s and loving his kind, bemused voice. Later, I got to know his harder-edged journalism for “The New Yorker” — collected, for instance, in American Stories. When I was a freshman at Yale, I read Remembering Denny like it held the secrets of the universe. Just the other day, I was telling an editor about my idea for a series of international stories modeled on Calvin’s “U.S. Journal” series in the 1970s. In my opinion, there isn’t a finer writer in America, in genres as diverse as humor, new journalism, memoir, food writing, and fiction. I wanted to have his career.
I’m surprised I’ve never posted here about my dinner with Calvin, back in 1994. I guess it’s good not all of my stories have been shared with the Internet yet.
When I was in college, I honestly fantasized about marrying one of daughters, Sarah or Abigail, just because I wanted to sneak into his wonderful Trillin family tableaus.
In other words, I have a serious case of hero worship.
I mention all this to point you toward the March 27 “New Yorker,” where Calvin writes a beautiful piece about Alice. It’s just gorgeous — three different people have pointed me to it, and they’ve all said something along the lines of: “That’s the kind of marriage I want to have.” It’s not online, but the web is busy talking about it. Go hunt it down; it’s worth it.

heyyyyy, you guuyyyyys!

I completely agree with this guy. I was a Mets for no particular reason in the early-to-mid-1980s too, and I absolutely think the Spider-Man shorts on The Electric Company were the reason. I remember that “Let’s Go Mets!” thought bubble precisely.
And is there anyone my age who doesn’t remember the soft-shoe silhouettes? “Tr, ip — trip!” (Parody here.)
Electric Company DVDs and other stuff here, although the blog is disappointing.
Fun Facts: Steve Gustafson, bassist and cofounder of 10,000 Maniacs, was a member of the Short Circus band on the show. Tom Whedon, the show’s chief writer, is the father of Buffy czar Joss Whedon. (I know several readers of this site will be happy to learn that.)

blackalicious y’all

Public service announcement: Blackalicious’ “The Craft” kicks ass. So bouncy! Perfect workout music.
Powers” and “My Pen & Pad” are available as MP3s from their site, and you can stream “Your Move” and “Rhythm Sticks” from their Myspace page. And as for my favorite tracks, here are samples of “World of Vibrations” and the awe-inspiring “Side to Side.”
(I was on a train not too long ago when “Side to Side” came on my iPod. I literally could not stop dancing in my seat.)
The backing tracks are all quite simple, actually — they’re just wound up so tight you worry a stray bass thump might bust loose from your headphones and coil around you boa-constrictor style. And Gift of Gab, that man can rap something fierce.
Here’s a video of some Japanese kids dancing to an earlier Blackalicious track, the uniquely geeky “Chemical Calisthenics.”
Note: This video is not, in fact, a Blackalicious video despite being labeled as such. But it is awesome nonetheless.
This has been a public service announcement.

fake rayne freeway

A strange man who believes that Interstates 10 and 12 in south Louisiana should be rerouted to make my hometown of Rayne I-12’s terminus. It’s part of his grand “Louisiana Shuffle” plan. Dude has planned out all the exits on his fantasy freeway, down to which ones are cloverleafs and which are “folded diamonds.”
Well, if he wants the endorsement of his plans, he now officially has it. More jobs for Rayne!

duke lacrosse

I’m certainly not going to cry for the Duke lacrosse team, which is facing some very nasty accusations (seemingly backed by plenty of evidence and multiple witnesses) of gang rape. I’ve had a core loathing for Duke for decades now, based initially on my basketball fandom for their main rival and later for the sort of class/privilege/entitlement ickiness that Duke represents. (For more details, see the collective works of Thad Williamson and Will Blythe.)
But I hope that Dick Brodhead doesn’t get too caught up in the criticism. He was my college dean before leaving for The Dark Side, and he’s the very definition of a good guy.

mi chorizo

It’s always so enjoyable when D Magazine — the official mag of Dallas’ rich white folk — tries to talk to people outside its socioeconomic bubble.
Here in Dallas we’ve had a couple of days of protests by Hispanic students who oppose various proposed immigration policies. (And who want to get a day off from school, one imagines.) So D sends someone named Rod Davis to cover the protests.
Anyway, he files this report. Including this paragraph:

Enrique Esquivel, an 18-year-old senior at Skyline, said he’d come about 12:45 on early release schedule, so wasn’t playing hooky. “Half the school left,” he said. “Some of them walked. All that way. But it was too far for me. We came in a car.” Ditto his friends, Adrian Escobar, 19, and Mi Chorizo, 17, both also seniors. “We came to show support,” said Enrique.

Needless to say, there are no Mi Chorizos enrolled at Skyline. “Mi chorizo” is Spanish for “my sausage.” Rod got smoked by the Latino version of Heywood Jablome.

random links

Cleaning out the “to blog” emails in my inbox:
The next explanation for American superiority is a healthy indifference to first sons. Bloom and Van Reenen report that the practice of handing a family firm down from father to oldest son is five times more common in France and Britain than in the United States. Not surprisingly, this anti-meritocratic practice does not always produce good managers. So even though the best European companies are managed roughly as well as the best American ones, there’s a fat tail of second-rate firms in Europe that’s absent in the United States.”
The various versions of the gay-pride rainbow flag. Kinda sad the “hot pink” stripe went away because of fabric-shortage issues.
Poor, stupid Ron Wayne.
Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury: An Examination of Masculinity and Stardom in Contemporary Society.
Video of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. I’d always known Django was the first great guitarist of the 20th century; I had no idea that he had basically two fingers to work with. (He doesn’t really get going until the second half of the video.)
Also, remember that King Chango is not the same as King Django.