Late lunch: puddles of mall-cured pepperoni flatlined Pepsi smooth. Valiantly, I crack Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World after a lifetime of mental reminders to read the damn thing. Seems important now. I can’t even remember who recommended it to me, but I hope that person’s happy, wherever he or she may be. Holla, won’tcha. I settle into the first paragraph:
A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
Restlessness envelops me — or maybe it’s the grease. In any case, the words resolve to sit all dead right on the page and not engage me whatsoever. “Fuggit,” I yawn, scrawling a new mental note to cast Mr. Huxley into my tome oblivion, where it may enjoy the sparkling company of Thurber and Perelman’s collected correspondence. In fact, it might even be happier among its peers, as I, modern me, remain a lost cause. Huxley’s pages now pressed between their Modern Classic covers, I crack loose my hand-held Interwebs, doot doot doot, and bellow, “Hello, world,” zipping through Facebook with my rapier thumbs, slaying ’puter pals with update zingers. I respond to a couple of e-mails from publicists seeking my physical mailing address (somewhere the postals cheer, daubing their eyes with three-cent stamps). A one-word text hums in my palm. I one-word it right back, on account of the economy. Until verbal prosperity emerges from its frosty lair, curt is the new verbose.
Exhausted from my journey, I return to the main page, where the top news story in all the land is, uck, some pixie-stick folderol on the successful cloning of Trackr, the vowel-deficient German Shepherd who famously sniffed through the 9/11 rubble for victims and survivors. Trackr, by all accounts a good boy, ate the great milkbone back in April, but his genes now yelp and woof in the spirits of five puppies borne of his sterling chromosomes. First, I ask myself why I continue to defend journalism if this is the cyber pull-out after a tumultuous weekend of international unrest. Then I wonder if the scientists ever caught that This American Life episode about the cloned bull who mistook its poor loving owner for a pair of heifer Levis. Then my mind naturally wanders to Pet Sematary, because all thought processes eventually end at Fred Gwynne and Denise Crosby. (Dale Midkiff is an unavoidable after-effect. I purposely went south so I didn’t grow up to look like him.) Haven’t the Micmacs taught modern science anything? Sometimes dead is better.
I’m operating on roughly four hours of sleep, off and on. I drifted off last night around 11 p.m., during a Jackass-themed South Park blitz preparing us lucky Comedy Central fans for the world premiere of Jackass Number Two this weekend. A few hours later I was startled awake by screams from the television. I turned over just in time to watch some heavy projectile swing in for a hearty handshake with Bam Margera’s nards. A Jackass marathon. In my muddled squeezebox I imagined some 20-year-old kid watching this across town and remembering how innocent entertainment used to be. Around 3 a.m., another blast, this one more joyous: that Heineken ad with a pack o’ Millennials sealed inside the party cab of all party cabs, zipping through a colorfully dingy metro. Bobs in the backseat, music throbbing through the shell. Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” At the chorus the sexagenarian pilot titty-twists the volume and curdles along in a soggy voice of drowned cottage cheese: “Oh, baby, YOUUUU/you got what I NEED.” I found it somewhat comforting that two generations could find a common bond in a 20-year-old rap classic. Maybe there’s hope in this brave new world, after all. Community, identity, stability. Biz Markie in 2012.