July 2, 2006

Sunday, summer, Madison.

I park the car downtown and walk to a café.


I've saved my favorite part of the Sunday Times:

Café, crossword

The puzzle is too easy. With a predictable holiday theme, the trick glyph is detected right away, and the long down entry in the center is guessed without a glance at the clue. I scribble away. The puzzle's done and the cappuccino's not. I flip through the rest of the magazine and become mesmerized by Deborah Solomon's interview with Peter Handke.

What are we to think of this man -- this brilliant writer -- who spoke at the funeral for Slobodan Milosevic? Handke was loved, and now must he be shunned? What does he have to say?
I think [Milosevic] was a rather tragic man. Not a hero, but a tragic human being. But I am a writer and not a judge. I'm a lover of Yugoslavia — not so much Serbia, but Yugoslavia — and I wanted to accompany the fall of my favorite country in Europe, and this is one of the reasons to be at the funeral.
Handke too seems tragic. Look at that picture of him. And read on. Handke takes Solomon's interview format -- always short and trenchant -- and makes it sublime.
[Handke, noting his objection to novels as social criticism] Language is language, and language is not for opinions.

[Solomon] What is language for?

This is the question! This is a big question, and there is no answer. Language exists to become language in the great books.

Aren't we using language now in this conversation?

The most real dialogue for me is when I am alone, writing.
I fall into a reverie. Partly, I'm thinking is the most real dialogue for me when I am alone, blogging? Partly, I'm wondering if Handke's enigmatic sayings show he's a true artist or if this is exactly the way evil men speak. ["What is truth?"] That sets me thinking about the documentary series "The Staircase," which I've been watching over the past week. There, we see what a man chooses to reveal and accidentally reveals about himself: can we tell if he is a murderer?

I pack up and walk back to my car. I'm thinking of driving over to Borders and reading some Peter Handke. I've got the windows rolled down and the radio set to the 70s decade. At the light, some guys are trying to get my attention. They're smiling. Is it me or is it the quite strange song on the radio, "The Americans"?
I can name you five thousand times
When the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble.
Can you name me even one time
When some one else raced to the Americans in trouble?
I don't think there was outside help
Even during the San Francisco earthquake.
Our neighbors have faced it alone.
And I'm one Canadian who's damned tired
Of hearing them kicked around.
They will come out of this thing with their flag high,
And when they do they are entitled to thumb their nose
At the lands that are gloating over their present troubles.
I hope Canada is not one of these,
But there are many smug self-righteous Canadians.
The song's a guy -- Byron MacGregor -- talking, with "America the Beautiful" playing in the background. The next song is disco, so I pop back to the 60s channel. It's the Monkees. Davy's singing "I Wanna Be Free." The gas tank icon buzzes on, and I change goals from Borders to the BP station. Filling the tank, I remember how thrilled I felt the first time I gassed up the car. I find I'm humming "I Wanna Be Free" to myself.
I wanna be free,
Don't say you love me, say you like me
But when I need you beside me,
Stay close enough to guide me,
Confide in me, whoa-oh-oh
Somehow the road out of the gas station leads me not to the bookstore, but over to the lake, and I park the car and walk all the way to the end of Picnic Point. Why has it been so long since I've done that?

Looking east, toward downtown. (See the Capitol?)

Picnic Point

Looking west:

Picnic Point

Looking down, contemplating the Althousian hiking shoe:



HaloJonesFan said...

That's a nice vista over the lake. Was there a prepared spot there, or did you just happen to stop the car at that spot?

Dave said...

That's a cool looking coffee shop.

Jennifer said...

Those are pretty toenails.

Dave said...

OK, where's j'accuse to ruin all the positivity?

It can't be a blog post without some interloper ruining the party.

Maxine Weiss said...

Hosiery. The nylon industry is going bankrupt....and just why do you think that is?

Peace, Maxine

SteveWe said...

I can almost smell the lake water under that tree.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Do your boys have a second toe that's longer than the big toe, too?

Buddy Larsen said...

Interesting post--goofin' around such a nice-looking area--the cityscape across the water, trees in foreground, quiet cafe--crossword puzzle, nice. I love this country. Sister university town Austin, 40 miles from where I sit, is quiet like that in the summer, and also has a lake (actually the dammed Colorado River, called "Town Lake"). Summer is the best time, the huge university makes it hectic the rest of the year.

PatCA said...

Hmm, my NYT puzzle was about companies.

It's so hot I could dive into your beautiful lake right now...

Buddy Larsen said...

ruth anne, they tell me it's called "Morgan's Toe". I've got it, all 4 of the kids, too, tho no one else in the immediate clan. It is said to help make one fleet of foot, and we all are/were sprinters. Also said to make one prone to knee injury, and we've had beaucoup of that, too.

Mark the Pundit said...

Your cappuccino looked more like a beer when I first saw the picture...

Ann Althouse said...

I thought it was called "Morton's Foot." I'd always heard it's a weak foot. My kids don't have it. They don't have my blue eyes either. I'm full of recessive genes. Don't worry. I'm dying out fast. Just shoring myself up with cappuccino -- not beer! -- to the end babe, again, babe, I've got to say, I wanna be free.

I bought "I Wanna Be Free" from iTunes, and I've got it on infinite repeat, as the sun sets here in Madison, Wisconsin.

Dave said...

OK...the toe on my left foot is longer than my big toe but not on my right foot.

I sprinted a bit in school but was never especially fast.

And I've never had kneww problems--even though I wrestled and ran cross coutrny all four years of high school and ski regularly now.

What does all that prove?

WV: CMEBTH--come, macbeth

Buddy Larsen said...

Morgan, Morton, hell it's just a foot.

Dave, reminds me of Uncle Herb, who had lost an arm--I asked him if he could swim and he said yes but he went in circles.

Danny said...

ERC upper over Michaelangelo's?!?! I have to disagree with that choice of venue.

Ann Althouse said...

Danny: The choice was made based on lighting. I wanted to read and thought it would be harder to see at Michaelangelo's

Ruth Anne Adams said...

In my family, one parent has the toe thingy, the other doesn't. Two of the four children had it. Those two both went to state in track. I tend to think it's a good thing for runners.

Maybe we could rename it "blogger's toe" and see where that takes us.

Jeffrey said...

I would suggest taking a look at Peter Handke's diary, Das Gewicht der Welt, "Weight of the World," which will show you how entries of a line or two can be employed to knife through the surface of reality. His technique is unique and borders on madness, to my mind.


Eli Blake said...

I guess that's OK if your 'hiking' is to the latte bar.

Probably a poor choice on a nine mile uphill climb in rugged terrain.

XWL said...

Speaking of shoes/feet, did you notice Manolo mentioned those funky shoes with the toes.

And where's the follow up post?

Where's the snapshot of your feet in those shoes?

Still waiting for delivery?

And I dare you to wear those to class next semester.

(maybe I should skip straight to the double dog dare, and forego the usual formalities, just to express the strength of my desire for you to do so)

Also, I agree with Jennifer, pretty toenails.

And if we are doing a survey of 'blogger's toe', I too have a second toe longer than my big toe (barely).

37383938393839383938383 said...

Obligatory Pervert: I guess Ann is trying to corner the foot fetish demographic.

Truly said...

Nice pedi! You clearly take better care of your feet than I do mine. What color is that?

So have you made the big move yet? I can't wait for you to show us the view from your new place!

Ann Althouse said...

Truly: The color is "All That Razzberry" by OPI. As for where I live now, let's just say it's an undisclosed location. I have to fend off the foot fetishists.

David & Jocelyn said...

The second sunday puzz was excellent!

Noumenon said...

Why is no one complaining about your showing off on the NYT crossword? I have a 1480 SAT and I read a lot of nonfiction and I can never fill in as much as one small square. I can sometimes solve Wheel of Fortune puzzles with no letters the way you solved the center row, but I don't think I could solve the NYT crossword with Google.

Elizabeth said...

As for where I live now, let's just say it's an undisclosed location.

For now, or until you piss off a couple of umscrupulous bloggers.

amba said...

Yes, that Peter Handke interview was arresting. It jumped right out of the cute-annoying Deborah Solomon oeuvre, a different kind of fish altogether. It also made me want to read Handke, and I can struggle along in German so thanks, Jeffrey.

vw sound as german as a vw: hilpweim

Anthony said...

I've been waiting for a good Picnic Point montage. I used to go out there alone quite often. Even x-country skied out to it a couple of times.

BTW Ann, at some point along the way you'll see a small mound to the right of the trail (heading out to the Point), probably about halfway out. It's an Indian burial mound. There are several scattered throughout the point (which, incidentally, is a moraine).

Also neat, if you're into biking, is that you can continue out that road and not too far past the Point turnoff and be out into farmland. Very nice if you've been living in the city surrounded by cars, people and exams and such. 'Course, it might be all developed by now. . . .

dmc_in_washington said...

It's a wives tale that people with a longer second toe (like yours, Ann) like to be the boss in relationships. Take it for what it's worth!

Ann Althouse said...

I went to my local Borders and Barnes & Noble. Neither store had a single book by Peter Handke!

chuck b. said...

You'll never make it up the Peruvian Andes in those shoes.

confirmation word: bulbm--a prison torment for Pakistani alcohol makers.

Ann Althouse said...

chuck: That story was unbloggable.

Buddy Larsen said...

He needed Johnny Carson's old doctor, Dr. Bendova.

wv: gesbrzy "Alright, who did that?"

chuck b. said...

Hey, it was good enough for The Corner. Link. (That you have higher standards comes as no surprise.)