Meanwhile, I'm resting up — sipping cappuccino in my favorite Madison café.
It's not as if the trip was grueling, though we did spend an extra half hour on the ground. The air traffic was backed up this morning after President Bush flew in through La Guardia to give this talk at the Economic Club. (He said we're going through a "tough time" but we should "bounce back.") The only reason I knew is that my car service driver pointed out the helicopters flying overhead in formation.
The driver seemed pretty interested in politics. He had the news radio on and when the story on Eliot Spitzer elicited a barely audible scoff from me, he struck up a conversation about it. He assured me that all men, given the chance, would do what Spitzer did, and that Spitzer's enemies went after him and brought him down.
"I'm from Egypt," he said and proceeded to tell me about an Egyptian politician who was destroyed by a trumped up charge of rape against his son which tricked the man into trying to bribe the authorities, and so he was caught and destroyed. That is to say: there is human nature, and that is simply a given; the real problem is those people who set out to destroy a political opponent.
But don't you think that once someone is in power, it is his responsibility to refrain from doing those things that will allow his enemies to take him down?
No, all men will do this. This is the way men are.
Even Barack Obama?
I was going to say even Mitt Romney?, but I thought Barack Obama would make a better question, and in fact, he didn't want to say Barack Obama would do the same thing. He went back to stressing that it is the enemies who seek to destroy a man who deserve our scorn.
The plane was tiny and there was hardly anyone on it, but it was a smooth nonstop flight, and I passed the time this way:
1. I did a packet of Brooklyn-themed crosswords that Eric Berlin sent me after I blogged about the movie "Wordplay." (You can get them here for $1.99.) In the movie, they make a big deal about how the annual tournament must — as a matter of long tradition — take place at the Marriott in Stamford, Connecticut, but in fact, this year's tournament was in the Marriott that's 2 blocks away from where I was at Brooklyn Law School. Too bad I missed it! But it was really nice of Eric to notice and to send me the the Brooklyn-themed puzzles he'd constructed for the event.
2. I watched the new episode of "Survivor," the one where — spoiler alert — Jonathan's leg wound swells up and threatens his life and they need to tear him away from the game and the people he loves, and then Chet whines about a boo-boo on his foot that he thinks is getting infected and he insists that the others vote him out — which they do. The Jonathan-Chet contrast is a brilliant case study in masculinity. There was also some hilarious fake-idol-finding by Jason and impressive pole-carrying by James. And then, in the end, I totally fell for the editing that made me think dear, sweet, flexible, swimmy Ozzy was in danger. Surely, if they were blindsiding him, he'd have felt the vibe and played his real immunity idol, but it was nerve-racking there for a second.
3. I read the Peter Bagge comic in the new issue of Reason magazine — the one where he's traveling around New Hampshire, covering the primaries, almost adulating Ron Paul and then facing up to the reality of that racist newsletter. I don't think the comic is linkable yet on line, so pick up the paper copy of the magazine. I've been getting my courtesy copy in the mail ever since this encounter. If only the blogging life had more things like that in it. Not too many more, but a few.
4. With a little more time, I turned the magazine page and read this article about — guess what? — prostitutes!— completely unrelated to the Eliot Spitzer downfall. It's a review of "Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul," by Karen Abbott. The review begins with a description of a high class whorehouse, circa 1907:
The Everleigh Club was an ornate mansion. Thirty themed boudoirs (“the Japanese Parlor,” “the Moorish Room,” “the Egyptian Room”) included absurd touches of decadence, such as hidden buttons to ring for champagne and a fountain that fired a jet of perfume. The city’s finest chefs prepared the women’s dinners. They read poetry by the fire with guests, who included the writers Theodore Dreiser and Ring Lardner. Sometimes Minna and Ada let swarms of butterflies fly loose throughout the house.Then, I got to thinking about that question I'd just posed on the blog before getting onto the plane. I reconsidered, picturing it with themed boudoirs, champagne buttons, perfume fountains, top chefs, famous writer clients, and butterflies.
5. I gazed out at the clouds and the brown-and-white Wisconsin land below and daydreamed.