Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Coffee And Shaw

Our little group, it's always been, and always will until the end...

I had coffee with my old college buddy Shaw last night; he was in town for a job interview (selling newspaper advertising... it should tell us something about the state of our economy and society that a former editor-in-chief has been reduced to pushing ad space), and we managed to meet up to hash over the old days and our current lives and everything that's gone on inbetween.

Shaw was better at keeping up with people than me... he hasn't maintained ties with everyone, but I didn't maintain ties with anyone so he's still a relative motherlode of information. He told me of the fates of most of our little circle of friends -- the marriages, the divorces, the troubled lives, the booze and drugs, the sicknesses and losses, the estrangements and reconciliations and all the other messiness. We discussed the seeming decimation of our generation ("I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness... or at least grinding hopelessness..."), the bizarre-ness of my return to the scene of our shared idealistic youth, our despair at the state of our world and our hopes for some improvement soon, or for at least an exhilerating collapse. We covered a lot of ground in a few hours.

In some way, I think seeing Shaw was exactly what I needed at this point... a friend from back in the day, a means of looking my implicitly-hovering past square in the face, but also a way to put that past into disillusioned, 30-ish perspective. It was like a really great two-person ten-year reunion. And it was comforting -- for all my little disappointments and failures, I haven't done so badly; I haven't made any of the really huge mistakes, I've made it this far without any serious regrets. And I've done some things that were entirely positive, I've managed to become more-or-less the person I wanted to become when I left here (admittedly that person hasn't gotten everything she hoped to have by now, but I consider that the less important issue.) As Shaw said last night, we've all made it to 30 (give or take, I've still got just under a year to go), and we'll all probably make it to 40. But even thinking in those terms probably says a lot about how far we've come since 20.

It underlined again for me the differences between me and my current "peers"... it's not as if I could go back to my dorm and share the evening's experience with the kids I live amongst; they can't even conceive of it. But then, I couldn't either when I was their age. They'll have to find out for themselves... and they will.

I'm sure Shaw will have something to say as well when he posts again... I'll update this with a link if/when he mentions it.

In other news, anybody who has breathed the same air as me at any point during the last few years will be relieved to learn that I do not -- repeat, DO NOT -- have tuberculosis. Yay! Yay on me!

I have my first screenwriting class today, and my academic work has officially commenced: I spent yesterday evening making notes on the first hundred or so pages of some book or other. I feel secure is saying that my passion for my subject is at an appropriately high level... I spent much of the night contemplating the end of the film idustry as we know it, and pondering the idea that Peter Jackson's current project -- a remake of King Kong -- is perhaps both tragically backwards and very appropriate. (Is it possible the man doesn't actually have any original ideas? Every time people discuss him -- particularly among NZers this statement comes up repeatedly -- they mention his talent for the witty use of convention, but is that really all he's got? I think a good case can be made. I could rant on the subject for rather a long time, but I'm saving it up for the papers.) Also, I was chagrined to find that the filmmakers I most immediately identify as insufferable wankers -- von Trier, Godard, Wim Wenders -- appear to be the most attuned to the impending changes in filmmaking. I don't want them to be right, but they are... Wenders particularly "got it." That useless drunken kraut.

I'll leave you today with a couple of images from the post-snowstorm campus. Props to whomever took the images; I can't find any credits for 'em. Click the image for a larger version.

administration building

dining hall

PS: I know I don't have to tell you what the opening quote is from.

PPS: Off-topic, but there's an interesting article on liberal secession (with an emphasis on Vermont) in today's Salon. It'll never work, and it's not a great idea, but it's a pleasing fantasy in today's political climate.

Naylor is undeterred. He offers that no state is more historically prepared for going it alone than Vermont, which he calls "the most radical state in the Union" in terms of town meetings and direct democracy. Vermont, Naylor says, was the first state to outlaw slavery in its constitution of 1777, the first to mandate "universal manhood suffrage," and is currently one of only two states that allows incarcerated felons to vote. It has no death penalty and virtually no gun-control laws, yet remains one of the least violent jurisdictions in America. It has no military bases, no strategic resources, few military contractors. All three members of its congressional delegation voted against the Iraq war resolution.

Vermont is rural and wild, with the highest percentage of unpaved roads in the nation, the highest percentage of residents living in the countryside; it was the first state to ban billboards alongside highways. It is rebellious: It fathered Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys and 200 years later elected Howard Dean. With its vigorous environmental-impact laws, Vermont fended off the depredations of Wal-Mart superstores longer than any other state; Montpelier is the only state capital in America without a McDonald's restaurant. Following mock secession debates in seven Vermont towns in 1990, all seven voted for secession.

You'll have to watch an ad first, but it's relatively painless.
9:16 AM ::
Amy :: permalink