Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Corona Jottings: Intermittent Speculations (#5)

#5 I once had dinner with Kamala’s (Senator Harris, sorry) father – by the way, my spelling autocorrect wants to change her name to “Kabala” – at a pleasant restaurant called The Carriage House on the outskirts of South Bend, IN, about three decades ago. Donald Harris, Don. He was up for a Chair, as I recall, in the Economics department. He had been at Stanford since the early ‘70s. Why I was there is a long story. Nonetheless, he seemed charming enough, and I don’t recollect him mentioning either of his daughters, or wife. None of that is supposed to matter, in any case, in a hiring situation, though, of course, it always does. There were around ten professors feasting on the restaurant’s rarefied fare. Harris was, more or less, what was then short-handed as a “Marxist” economist (or, less prejudicially, Post-Keynesian),though he was in South Bend because ND had very few professors “of color,” as it is now called, though not back then, a quarter of a century or more ago. He had gotten his PhD at UC Berkeley, a school I was familiar with. A good time was had by all. Harris was trim, conversational, and, as Candidate Biden would have said, “clean”. Harris was also familiar with the Midwest, having had positions at three universities in shouting distance of South Bend. He didn’t join the faculty. The Dome balked at the Marxist part, however misguided. And his divorce, though not recent, wasn’t a plus. But professors well situated often use these hiring forays as leverage at their home schools. The English Department, though, if not the Economics Dept., was able to steal a professor from California (UC Berkeley). One reason our candidate came was to avoid all the service work he had been hijacked to do, Berkeley at the time not overrun with professors of color. Though, over time, ND saddled him with such work, but it wasn’t quite the same. He died here. But, I’m not intending to speak of Black professors’ careers at largely white universities. Harris’s daughter, though, will be speaking, not so much about her father, I suspect, who is still alive, but of people of color in America. Even the media is currently attempting to right wrongs. The New York Times has spent more than a month featuring black artists in its Arts section. In the Times’ case, it seems to be an act of reparations. President Dumbo (I guess I’m slandering the actual Disney Dumbo) continues his yammering harangues. The corona year has pushed our president over the edge, given that he had been skirting it for the first three years, to a new level of incoherence, and, though hard to believe, his vocabulary has even decreased. Don Harris has a much larger vocabulary, but anyone, especially any public figure, has a larger vocabulary, even television’s talking horse of yore. But I’m not likely to be asked to share a meal with Donald Trump. The presidency is said to age most, if not all, those men who have ascended to it. Especially eight years. Gray hair, etc., at the very least. Though it would be Dorian Gray if the Donald got eight years. His hair, obviously, is impervious to change, as most of his aspect, but he does seem to be losing his mind, his gait, his physical prowess. Mostly micro at this point, but the unfriendly press makes a big deal of it. One wonders if Indiana’s former governor is sleeping soundly these days, fearing he might be snatched from his bed during the night and replaced by another, the looming Nikki Haley, former UN maven, former governor, former former. Pence, though, I think only has to worry about some sort of unforeseen “accident”, one that would render him replaceable sometime before Nov. 3. No one ever claimed politics was risk free. Joe and Kamala appeared on stage together this Wednesday. Kamala has always been comfortable with older men and it showed. Since the venue, some highschool that wouldn’t have allowed Kamala to be a student up until the ‘70s (so a commentator claimed). Shocking, but to me just an unsettling reminder that 1970 was fifty years ago, the year I finished graduate school. I kept waiting for Biden to lose his way during the unveiling, but he didn’t. It was still fairly early in the day, before the sun sets. He’s becoming an afternoon sort of guy. So, as they say, it went well. Spouses appeared at the end. I would say a strange sight, those, but these days nothing is a strange sight. Trump, most everyone is saying, is floundering. I think of fish flopping, but he’s lashing out, blurting out – the post office is against me, but I fixed them! – behaving badly, one enduring trait. But I was happy to see all the white guys behind him when he announced the UAE would be sending tourists to Jerusalem. Tourists, just what the Wailing Wall needs. The last time I was there it was hard to get close to the massive stones, but one can persist, and eventually smell the dust. I was in Israel right before the start of the second Intifada. And a lot has happened in twenty plus years. Netanyahu was out of power, in something like disgrace back then; Sharon, though, had been causing mischief. He would purchase homes of Old City Palestinians sotto voce, and constantly championed settlements everywhere. The Arabs weren’t happy at all and though I had wanted to I never got to the Temple Mount. Crowds kept nonreligious visitors out. Corona still rules the day in the lower 48. Schools have attempted to open, with limited success. Other organized events have pushed forward, coping, some becoming electronic only, such as the Democratic convention, which started last night. My favorites were the Republicans, especially the former governor of Ohio, John Kasich. He was standing at the fork of a road not taken. One way to look at it, a single still photo from it (NYTimes web version)makes it seem that the sight (site) was some sort of modern scenic art, out in the wild, a green woman with white gravel legs. One sees what one wants to see. He and the preceding three Republican women did create a frisson of excitement of some sort, and an explosion of memory of what Democrats criticized way back when. Susan Molinari, of all people! The three women GOP stalwarts are doubtless what led me to see the grass and gravel female art work Kasich was standing on. The whole show was curious, but successful. Can’t wait for the Republicans’ updated American Carnage revue. Bernie and Michelle were swell Monday night. Sports lumber on, without “live” audiences, except for workers and owners, and those few looker-ons well connected. The Indy 500! The Post Office (USPS) brouhaha seems to be the only thing penetrating the public non-politically. It’s a service, Stupid, as James Carville could have said. The Donald couldn’t have found a better villain to head the PO. It takes real talent to have all the anti-PO credentials the new head – since June! – has amassed. Louis DeJoy – another nomen est omen; he’s certainly taking the joy out of a lot of people’s lives. He de-joys everything. Another example of The Donald’s negative genius, if you want to call it that. Today, the Washington Post announced the USPS “will halt its controversial cost-cutting initiatives...” until after the election. Hooray! All those stolen dark blue mailboxes in trucks. He and Trump must have forgotten that Republicans occasionally mail things, too. [To be continued.] I am not bothering with links. I might supply them eventually.


  1. I do love these time chronicles of yours. Thanks.

  2. the reason the post office is up shit's creek is right in the way I am replying to you and how you sent out your thoughts... try mentioning to a kid: I wrote a letter and mailed it from the post office...SNAIL MAIL will be thought by the kid...