Fasten, fit closely, bind together.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I borrow liberally:

I remember an incident from prison. In that other world-within-a-world, back then, I moved into a new prison cell and discovered a tiny mouse there. The creature entered through a cracked air vent, and crept into the cell every night. Patience and obsessional focus are the gems we mine in the tunnels of prison solitude. Using them, and tiny morsels of food, I bribed the little mouse over several weeks and eventually trained it to eat from the edge of my hand. When the prison guards moved me from the cell in a routine rotation, I told the new tenant - a prisoner I thought I knew well - about the trained mouse. On the morning after the move, he invited me to see the mouse. He'd captured the trusting creature, and crucified it, face down, on a cross made from a broken ruler. He laughed as he told me how the mouse had struggled when he'd tied it by its neck to the cross with common thread.. He marveled at how long it had taken to drive the thumbtacks into its wriggling paws.

Are we ever justified in what we do? The question ruined my sleep for a long time after I saw the tortured mouse. When we act, even with the best of intentions, when we interfere with the world, we always risk a new disaster that mightn't be of our making, but that wouldn't occur without our action. Some of the worst wrongs were caused by people who tried to change things.

New Jersey Governor John Corzine has 12 broken ribs a cracked vertebrae and won't walk for 6 months. He was driving to attend a meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball team. Pressure from Al Sharpton applied to CBS and NBC raised the profile of the story to the point where the Governor of NJ felt obligated to attend.

Sharpton tried to change things and things happened.

In the privacy of your home, in the company of friends, in the republic of a public sporting event anything is fair game and nothing is the end of the world. The young girl working events and promotions who doesn't fire a t-shirt out of an air cannon in your general direction is a slut, or if you are in high spirits, a sloot.

Jose Reyes is the best player, your favorite player, on your favorite team, and you still mimic his ESL speech deficiencies during post-game interviews in for your friends.

At the stadium or in your living room, with or without alcohol. You make fun of Asian drivers with your Asian friend in the passenger seat. You tell your Indian co-workers that the street food outside their flat is more likely to kill all of us than the motorcycle we just rode on, weaving through traffic, to the office.

They laugh and love it.

It is personal, in the best of ways.

Time discusses my paragraph of writing in this week's cover story about Imus and race and media. It goes in circles and does not touch on the conversations that take place in the living room.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

'The prayers for the dead, what a ridiculous and redundant phrase! There are no other prayers. Every prayer is for the dead.' 

The danger was extreme.

Those dogs that were so cowed and obsequious in the daylight hours

formed themselves into vicious, feral packs at night. Their agression and ferocity was legendary in all slums throughout the city, and inspired great fear.

The bravest of the hounds inched closer and closer.

They came in groups of two and three.

They attacked from two sides at once.

The dogs were insane with the blood lust.

Abdullah swung it two-handed as if it was a sword. But it wasn't the superior weapon or even his uncanny agility that terrified the dogs and drove them back.

What routed them in panicked flight was that he'd taken the fight to them;

that he'd attacked,

where we'd defended; that he was sure of winning, where we'd merely struggled to survive.

It was over quickly.

There was silence, where so much sound had screamed.


Then they ... they said he took two guns from his jacket and begun to shoot at them.

They returned the fire all at once. He was shot so many times.


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