Thought for the day

Something odd just occurred to me: Sunday is generally referred to as the first day of the week, especially by those of the Christian persuasion. It’s also referred to as the Lord’s Day, i.e. the day on which we are supposed to rest because He rested. If you follow the logic, that means that God actually rested on the first day and spent the rest of the week playing catchup—which explains a lot.

Good night, Amy

Today I find myself comparing and contrasting the death of Amy Winehouse with that of Kurt Cobain 17 years ago. The similarities are obvious enough: They were both musicians, both drug addicts, and both 27. Kurt’s death was clearly suicide (conspiracy theories notwithstanding), while Amy’s is a little murky; as of this writing the cause of death is still TBD, though in any case she was clearly on a death trip. The way she lived was tantamount to suicide, whether or not she picked this particular day to check out.

As for the differences, Kurt’s demise was somehow more surprising than Amy’s, even though he had tried at least once before and even written a song called “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.” I remember being deeply chilled by the sheer nihilism of it; here was a guy who had everything people want — fame, talent, fortune, a hot crazy wife and a baby daughter — and yet he chose to pull his own plug. In thinking about it, I’ve decided that one big reason his death was shocking was that he had been musically active nearly till the end; the famous MTV Unplugged session was only six months before his death in April of 94, and Nirvana had been on tour earlier that year. You tend to think that as long as a musician has music, he has a reason to live.

In contrast, Any Winehouse had been largely silent music-wise for the last several years of her life, though apparently some recordings were made during this period (which will no doubt be rushed to market ASAP). She made some live appearances but was invariably too wasted to perform a complete set and/or remember the words to her songs. In this context it was easy to believe she wouldn’t be around for long.

Her death was not surprising, then, but still sad. Maybe not as sad, from a certain point of view, as the many upright citizens who will get hit by a bus today, or struck down by some vulgar little tumor. Still, you wonder about the inner pain that drives a person to self-destruction. In the end what can you say, really, more than: rest in peace.

Land o’Lakes & Cheese

The Old Man and the Lake That Looks Very Much Like the Sea

They call Minnesota the “land of 10,000 lakes,” though I have it from a semi-reliable source that there are actually more like 15,000. I only personally saw about a dozen of them, but I am willing to cede that there are certainly a lot of lakes there — especially when you consider that one of them, Mille Lacs, is roughly the size of Rhode Island. (Note: That last bit was not intended to be a factual statement.)

The fire-thought of ice

It took Werner Herzog about a month to walk from Munich to Paris back in 1971, but it’s taking me much longer than that to read his book about it, Of Walking in Ice. That’s partly because I keep getting sidetracked by other things and partly because it’s hard to absorb much of Werner’s prose in one sitting — it is oddly concentrated, sort of like uncut Bavarian marching powder.

For example:

In a village before Stotzheim I sat on the steps of a church, my feet were so tired and a sorrow was gnawing at my chest; then a window opened in the schoolhouse next door, a child was opening it following orders from inside, and then I overheard a young teacher scream so harshly at the children that I hoped no one would notice that a witness to these terrifying screams was sitting below the window. I went away, although I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. I headed towards a fire, a fire that kept burning in front of me like a glimmering wall. It was a fire of frost, one that brings on Coldness, not Heat, one that makes water turn immediately into ice. The fire-thought of ice creates the ice as swiftly as thought. Siberia was created in precisely this manner, and the Northern Lights represent its final flickering. That is the Explanation. Certain radio signals seem to confirm this, especially the intermission signals. Likewise at the end of the daily television programming, when the set buzzes and the screen is filled with snowy dots, implying the same thing. Now the order of the day is: all ashtrays must be put in place and self-control maintained! Men discuss the Hunt. The waitress dries the silverware. A church is painted on the plate, from the left a path is leading up, very sedately a costumed woman is moving there and next to her, with her back to me, a girl. I disappear with the two of them into the church. At a corner table a child is doing his homework, and often the beer is called Mutzig. The innkeeper cut his thumb days ago.

You see what I’m dealing with?

Going no further

Sunset over Walmart

We happened to be in Minneapolis on the day Minnesota’s government (which is centered, technically, in St. Paul) shut down, apparently for good. Just two days before we had camped in one of Minnesota’s state parks, which have now been closed for 16 days and counting.