June 8th, 2012
There is a doctor on my board named Nancy Boutin. She’s glorious, smart and witty and has a chic way of dressing that she downplays because she’s pretending or because she genuinely doesn’t know. Her daughter Mallory is a righteous babe with all the right clothes, so maybe that’s why Nancy doesn’t realize how cool she is. At any rate, Nancy tells me bits and pieces about her job and here’s what I notice about medicine. People work. They don’t swank around all day avoiding their desks. I can’t even tell from her conversation how much time they spend in meetings or long lunches, but I get the feeling very little. They are actually seeing patients all the time. Which brings me to the subject of writers. Writers spend a lot of time avoiding working. Avoiding their job which is to write and during that time, they like to talk.
I did a reading with Steve Almond the first night I got here. He’s the kind of person you hear all about in the publishing world long before you meet him mostly because publishing and writing is the kind of business/life that people spend of their time avoiding work. So I’d hear a lot about Almond and how crazy he was and how he quit his job at Boston College because the commencement speaker was Condeleeza Rice as if that would change anything. The powers that be don’t care, people would say. What difference does it make except that the guy’s out of a job and it’s a job I would kill for by the way, so if there’s someone I need to kill to get that job, just point them out to me in a dark alley. And I’d think why wait for a dark alley since you’ve already told a roomful of people at a party?
In person Almond has that thin serious boyish handsomeness that make women weak, but he does not seem like someone to engender the kind of rage, he’s managed to achieve.
What they say about Steve Almond is that although me may be a good writer, they pause, he really does not support American values.
In case you do not know if you like Steve Almond are not a good American and do not believe in “good American values,” let me explain.
American Values 101
1. Property –Americans like to control their space. To quote Eddie Murphy, “It’s my house and if you don’t like it, you can get the fuck out.” And John Wayne, “I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.
2. If you don’t like where you’re at, walk away or change it. Change jobs, spouses, locations. This may be the product of the frontier mentality.
3. Time should be spent wisely. That’s Ben Franklin talking to us. And he got a lot of women pregnant and slept late.
4. We’re all equal. You’re not better than me.
5. Work is valued because it helps you get ahead. Being born into a rich family is nothing to brag about. Hard work is.
6. We need privacy. We need to be left alone. Don’t talk to me when I’m thinking. I don’t need in-laws staying at my house ruining my privacy.
7. We deserve stuff. We worked for it.
8. We believe in efficiency.
9. We believe in telling it all, in honesty, in openness.
10. We believe that being casual shows that you are a nice person. Too much formality shows you think you’re better than others.
How these values play out in regular life.
To show you believe in American values, which people say that Almond does not, you need to be more like the average American which means that:
1. You need to go to church.
2. You need to believe that marriage has to be between a man and woman.
3. You need to believe we Americans have the right of empire, the right to blow up the rest of the planet, but they don’t.
4. You need to believe that it’s okay for the police to suspect people of color of potential wrongdoing. “They” might be up to no good.
5. Women need to be kept in line or they will go whoring around sleeping with whoever unzips their pants.
Steve Almond is actually very funny, in a quirky smart way. You keep expecting him to say something off color and then he does.
Almond says, ““The consensus was that I was an elitist, which is a right-wing term for someone smarter than you.”
This is from his book which you can only buy from him, Letters from People Who Hate me. Which I urged him to set up a Paypal acct and sell online, but he looked at me, like, what? But you should go hear him read and buy his books. He’s smart. Crazy smart. And I feel so lucky to have read with him. Another level for me. Up there with the archangels.
You are a fucking idiot!! And your daughter in the picture on your website looks like a maggot!You are a disgraceful american and it would have been so nice if you had been a passenger on one of the planes that crashed into one of the wtc towers on 9/11/01.
Okay, you got me. My daughter does have kind of a maggoty look to her. For a while there, my wife and I were able to delude ourselves. I guess all parents do. We’d tell people her skin was alabaster, or sometimes pearlescent. We thought it might be the kind of soap we were using. But I think in our heart of hearts we knew something was wrong with her.
Then came her first interaction with carrion. There was some kind of dead animal in our backyard. My wife says it was a rabbit, but I’m almost certain it was an opossum. Anyway, Josephine somehow got wind of it and we found her out there, burrowing into the thing’s eye socket. The neighbors came out to watch. It was kind of awkward.
I guess it would be sort of like if you, Joseph Kelly, found yourself talking to some buddies at a party and you said, “You know that guy Steve Almond. I totally wish he’d been killed in the 9/11 attacks.”
And this voice behind you says, “Yeah, totally. We should have killed that filthy infidel Almond!” And you turn around, hoping to maybe give the guy a high-five, only to discover that it’s Osama bin Laden.