Impromptus today is a mixed bag, as the column is born to be, and it leads with Shaquille O’Neal. Asked for a prediction in the NBA playoffs, he said, “I don’t know.” Are you allowed to say that on television? Why not? I also discuss foreign policy, the New York mayoral race, the GOP, masks (and masklessness), and more.
I have a little update to something I wrote. First, here is the relevant “impromptu”:
Every night, where I live, there is an onslaught of unmuffled motorcycles — motorcycles and other vehicles, I believe. Roaring through, waking the dead, being a public nuisance, flexing their muscles, waving their . . . hands around. From what I hear on social media, this is a phenomenon throughout the country.
There oughtta be a law, say I (dammit) (plus a harrumph).
After writing that column, I read this tweet, from Erin Durkin of The New Yorker:
“I’m gonna ban that sh** when I’m mayor,” @AndrewYang says as a guy revs engine loudly as he kicks off campaign event.
Care for some reader mail? In an Impromptus last Monday, I wrote about marijuana, the smell of which pervades, and chokes, New York City. A longtime and much-appreciated correspondent from Seattle writes,
. . . I wrote you some time ago about the Washington state law legalizing pot (which I voted for and now regret). You are, of course, familiar with the “broken-window theory.” I think that the effect extends to previously illegal activity that is legalized. Legalize pot and you are sending a message about the acceptability of other drugs and are likely to get more use (and more public use, alas) of things that are still illegal. And then more petty crimes of other types as well.
Denis Donoghue was one of my favorite professors, and I think I learned more about writing from being in his presence than from anyone else. To this day I remember sentences he used to toss off in class, e.g., “The problem is not that [T. S.] Eliot is obscure; it’s simply that the nature of his lucidity has not yet been made clear.” Or: “Clichés are the common currency of the realm. After all, we can’t all go about all the time sounding like Eliot on his very highest occasions.” Donoghue was an inspiration for those of us who wanted to resist the siren temptations of Derrida, de Man, et al., back in the ’80s.
One more thing: Donoghue “considered Eliot the most musical poet since Tennyson.”
One more one more thing: “I remember one time when Donoghue talked to me about appearing on Firing Line. . . . I asked what he thought of Buckley [William F. Buckley Jr.], and he replied, ‘He was very well prepared.’”
A reader writes, “Hi, Jay: I have been reading you since I was a young man starting off in college (~20 years) . . .” You know, I had to look up the use of that tilde. (I’m probably the last to know.) It’s not just for “mañana.”
Finally, a note from a dear lady in North Carolina, about a family — a family of musicians — in South Carolina. I wrote about them here. She says,
Thank you for this delightful story. I have sent it to my son, noting the similarity to his family. He, his wife, and their three children are all good multi-instrument people. The house is filled with music, solo and in different combinations. A joy to us grandparents!
I bet. Again, for today’s Impromptus, go here — and thanks to one and all.