“I say, ‘Look, don’t sweat it, Dan. You’re writing for Newsweek, the premier magazine Americans turn to for week-old news when they’re sold out of Time. That’s what counts.’”—Gruber, who’s gentleman enough to send Dan a little traffic. As he hands him his ass.
As I said in my onsite debrief and again in my testimony under oath, my memories of the accident are intense, fragmented, and still very difficult to understand. Incongruous and nightmarish.
I am, by trade, a sailor, and the captain of a small yellow steamboat I have owned for five years. And on the morning in question, my life was turned literally upside down because of the defendant and his inexplicable desire to make someone eat breakfast. It still makes no sense to me.
It was mid-morning on a Tuesday, and I was returning from performing routine monthly maintenance on some buoys I tend near the south inlet. I remember cruising past the cliff and approaching what remains of the old Geisel rail line — winds prevailing, this landmark means one is no more than 5 minutes from harbor. And I remember looking port and starboard then port again, and thinking everything looked clear and smooth for the short ride in.
And, God help me, I remember hearing that sickening howl.
What sounded like a steel cyclone hurtling from the sky toward my bow. It was a hideous, ungodly, and inevitable caterwaul. Like all hell falling at once and nowhere to turn. Nowhere to go. Except the one heading every captain prays his boat never takes: down. I looked up, saw the blur of the cow catcher, then everything changed.
After the impact, I was thrown clear of the deck, and even spent a perilous moment in mid-air. Once underwater, I recall trying to right myself, stay calm, and allow my natural buoyancy to bear me to the surface.
When I emerged, my hands still gripping the wheel, I was perplexed but thrilled — happy to be alive, but also to be surrounded by the parties of this case, as well as the train’s lucky passengers. We were all in miraculously hale condition, considering the ordeal we’d just endured. We laughed openly.
But, even in the channel’s cool waters — and newly stricken with the permanent nerve damage that has frozen my face in a ghastly and stupefied stare — I could feel my blood begin to boil. My boat. My beautiful yellow boat. What had he done to her?
Yes, I clearly saw what was left of my little boat. And, yes, I saw the nauseating confirmation of every captain’s worst nightmare. And, yes there was a train. The remains of an entire two-car train that had driven straight into in my boat’s steam pipe. A train that had been driven, full-speed, off of a disused line that everyone knows leads straight into the shipping channel. For no good reason at all. It literally makes no sense, and as I sit here I notice I’m shaking with rage.
All because of this…thing. This “Sam-I-Am.” And his goddamned plate of green eggs and ham.
I can still smell it. After the crash, it smelled of coral and sand dollars. Cloves. Tarragon. Maybe a hint of honied maple. I still can’t even think of eating ham, and every time I see an egg, I have to sit down, drop my throbbing head between my knees, and breathe deeply.
Today, I can’t handle currency, eat fresh peas, or walk on grass. Green is the color of my twisted terror, and it paints my dreams in endless verdant coats. Night after night after night.
Your honor, I am not a bitter man. I mind my business and wish no one ill. I just pilot my small yellow boat and try to do Christian work at land and sea.
But, God help me, I hope this “Sam”…thing…pays dearly for his carelessness.
The pyrrhic victory of cajoling one heavily closeted, Clifton-Webb-like cryptozoological beast into sampling his discolored breakfast came at a dear cost to me and to all those whose lives were ruined that morning.
I, of course, lost my little boat. The train’s engineer is now an opium addict and compulsive onanist. The female train passenger known as “Jane Flowerhat #1” has lost her child to the authorities and is, I am told, incarcerated indefinitely for nymphomania and suspected petit mermism. Your honor, the fox took his own life. With a box cutter. Right in his own box.
And the goat? That poor, simple goat was so unhinged by the crash that he still can’t ride in a car. Not here or there. Not anywhere. Not in a house and not with a mouse. I’ve seen him, your honor. He’s not the same happy, carefree, transportation-loving goat. He just sits in a corner, rocking, pulling single hairs from his beard and eating them. It’s revolting.
I’ll find other yellow boats and other channels in which to ply my trade, but I will never be the same man.
Your honor, at the risk of repeating myself in slightly different words, I do not like that Sam-I-Am. And, no, your honor, I most assuredly do not like his godforsaken green eggs and ham. No, sir. I do not like them at all. And, I do not like that Sam-I-Am.
“[Craig Newmark] already has a parking space, a hummingbird feeder, a small home with a view, and a shower with strong water pressure. What else is he supposed to want?”—WIRED article on Craigslist that I haven’t finished reading, but which is already awesome for this wonderful quote.
“I don’t believe in total freedom for the artist. Left on his own, free to do anything he likes, the artist ends up doing nothing at all. If there’s one thing that’s dangerous for an artist, it’s precisely this question of total freedom, waiting for inspiration and all the rest of it.”—Fellini (via smut-to-go) (via systems)
“When the lion is dead, the jackals become brave enough to howl.”—happyroach, in Goodbye, Teddy. Never heard that phrase before, but wow. It’ll be jackals I’m thinking of every time some famous stranger dies and Twitter instantly devolves into open mic night for D-minus corpse-fucking gags. Because that, my friends, is some sad, sorry shit.
I went to this modest wedding once where after the bride and groom kissed (well, made out for about three minutes), the leather-vested groomsmen threw open a garage door (where the catering was), cranked up the stereo (no DJ or band), and the first song of the wedding was Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.”
On the other hand — and although I have nothing but his writing and my own half-assed hunches to prove it — Stephen Thomas Erlewine strikes me as the kind of boss who tinkles on the seat, never makes new coffee, and passive-aggressively monopolizes the Zune at every Christmas party.
Like I say, I have no real evidence for that. Apart from how, over a decade of reading his (deliberately hatefully unusable) web site, it sometimes feels like The Steve-Dawg steps in to cherry pick the albums where he’s personally decided to get all Christgau — regardless of whether a less Erlewine-like review is already attached to the property. Sometimes to gush, sometimes to smirk, and often enough, it feels, just because J. Random Artist’s back catalog has recently become popular enough to earn itself a hasty coat of STE’s streaky ecru prose.
I’ll bet Bill Janovitz would make new coffee and wipe off the seat. Totally. Janovitz seems cool. Yeah. Buffalo Tom. Loved those guys.
When I was a percussionist in high school, we were responsible for keeping the jazz band, full orchestra, concert band, and marching band in time, and we did so through a haze of marijuana and hormones and passed-down stories of some guy’s uncle who saw Gene Krupa perform a 12-minute solo using every part of a high hat while eschewing the rest of the kit. And to this day, when I see videos like this, I get an urge to skip class and go make out with a bassoonist in a sound-proof practice room. After all, life is short, and lunch period is even shorter.
Did you read that? That was swell. One hundred five words. Less than half a page.
That’s all it took for this person (whom I’m pretty sure I’ve never met) to make my day. Now I want to follow this person or star this person or favr this person or whatever the fuck au courant verb box I need to mash on in order to see more things like that.
Yes, I realize I am — already, again, seemingly forever — carrying on like that weird relative who always smells of gin and Starlight mints as he threatens to “set you up with a sweet Doobie Brothers mix.” I love Starlight mints, but please don’t misunderstand me.
I genuinely enjoy looking at oversaturated pictures of coltish women I’ll never meet. I’m always game to make fun of “improperly” punctuated “signs.” And God knows I love reading (and posting) elliptical quotes from famous books I never finished reading. Stipulated.
But, brother. Do I ever wish more people would write little stories like Buffering’s. It’s just so wonderful. You know?
I mean, Jesus Christ, people, LOOK. We have keyboards! Literally right in front of us. Right this second.