“Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what’s on the other side?”
“I see a red door and I want it painted black.”
“In this world of ours, the sparrow must live like a hawk if he is to fly at all.”
“I have the not altogether unsatisfying impression that civilization is collapsing around me.
Is it my age, I wonder, or the age we live in? I am not sure. Civilizations do collapse, after all, but on the other hand people grow old with rather greater frequency.”
― Theodore Dalrymple
Over the weekend we drove out to some garage sales centered around the tiny towns of Ladonia and Pecan Gap, Texas. We didn’t buy anything other than some State-Fair-Ribbon-Winning jam. It was interesting to be out in the country for a while – you don’t have to drive too many miles out of the big evil megalopolis of Dallas until you are in another world – one not altogether unfamiliar to me. Old building crumbling to brick, an old cast-iron bath tub rusting in a vacant lot, the cotton harvest. Time moves differently, like cold molasses.
“Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Cat’s Cradle
“Then there was a fine noise of rushing water from the crown of an oak at his back, as if a spigot there had been turned. Then the noise of fountains came from the crowns of all the tall trees. Why did he love storms, what was the meaning of his excitement when the door sprang open and the rain wind fled rudely up the stair, why had the simple task of shutting the windows of an old house seem fitting and urgent, why did the first watery notes of a storm wind have for him the unmistakable sound of good news, cheer, glad tidings?”
― John Cheever,
“In my father’s last letter he said that the world is run by those willing to take the responsibility for the running of it. If it is life that you feel you are missing I can tell you where to find it. In the law courts, in business, in government. There is nothing occurring in the streets. Nothing but a dumbshow composed of the helpless and the impotent.”
― Cormac McCarthy, Suttree
“Squint your eyes and look closer
I’m not between you and your ambition
I am a poster girl with no poster
I am thirty-two flavors and then some
And I’m beyond your peripheral vision
So you might want to turn your head
Cause someday you might find you’re starving
and eating all of the words you said.”
“They had laughed. They had leaned on each other and laughed until the tears had come, while everything else–the cold, and where he’d go in it–was outside, for a while anyway.”
― Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
One of my favorite new places in Dallas is the Cold Beer Company. It’s on the far east side of Deep Ellum, and has been built as the rebirth of an interesting old building. It’s in a good location, has nice outdoor seating, and, of course, a good selection of cold beer.
I rode my bike there and noticed the brick patio entrance. Right in the middle of the paving was a single brick marked “Lawrence, Kansas.” I asked the waitress about that and she said one of the owners went to Kansas University, my alma mater.
“And he likes to talk about it,” she said.
So when he came out of the back I asked him about KU and the waitress was right – he liked to talk about it. He seemed a little sheepish about the brick. “They weren’t supposed to put it right there in the middle.” I’m not sure I believed him.
We talked about Lawrence and the Kansas winters. When I would look around, the waitress and bartender would roll their eyes.
I think they had heard it all before – many times before.