“When you watch your kids begin to grow up, you cannot help but feel your impermanence more acutely; you cannot help but see how you are one link in a very long chain of parents and children, and that the best thing you have ever done and ever will do is to extend that chain, to be a part of some- thing greater than yourself. That’s really what it means to be a father—to be continually reminded that you are taking part in something much larger than your own terrifyingly short life.”—
From Anthony Doerr’s essay “Nine Times (Among Countless Others) I’ve Thought About the People Who Came Before Us in My Brief Career as a Father” from our Spring 2009 issue
One week ago, my Pinterest account was sitting at around 150 followers. Not too bad, but as with every social media platform, I have ambition. I knew Pinterest had the potential to make content go crazy viral, and I wanted to find a way into the action.
A Frolicking Manuscript: A Story for #OccupyGaddis
Before we started talking about JR in Rick Moody’s class, he told us a fantastic Gaddis story.
When Rick was working at Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the 90s, Gaddis sent out the manuscript for A Frolic of His Own via FedEx. Well, at least he tried to. Days passed, then weeks, and still the pages hadn’t shown. FedEx lost it. It was the only extant copy.
The President of FSG called the President of FedEx. The Publishing President reminded the Shipping President of the millions of dollars per year they spend on moving paper around the world, and threatened to take their millions elsewhere if they couldn’t find these particular pages. (Probably at least 750 or 800 pages, since the hardcover was something around 600 (Also, I like the fact that the lost manuscript was called A Frolic of His Own because I like the idea that this title had to be repeated from President to Forklift Operator a hundred thousand times. “Have you found this Frolic book?”“Not yet sir, and we’ve scoured the warehouses.”“Damnit, Robinson, find me Frolic!”)).
Frolic was eventually found. It arrived in the FSG offices battered, boot-imprinted, shuffled around, with those X-shaped rubber bands holding it together.
Every page was there. Except for the last one. Gaddis had to rewrite it from memory.
When a car appears at the top of the Rocky Mountains, it means you’re ready to drive home.
When flowers bloom in a small meadow at the base of the mountains, it means you missed your mother’s birthday again. Why can’t you get this one thing right?
When the Rockies erupt it means you have alcohol poisoning.
When columns of light shoot from the mountaintops and illuminate the heavens, your beer has been deemed Kosher.
When snowflakes drift around the can in a balletic display, borne aloft by eddies and currents in the air, it means you have eye floaters.
When a plus sign appears on the label it means you’re pregnant. Congratulations, ladies! Gentlemen, call your doctor immediately.
When glowing runes appear, decode them for a sneak preview of Steven Spielberg’s new show Terra Nova. Or a coupon for Lost on DVD. Though there’s an off chance it could unlock a behind-the-scenes thing for Fringe. Honestly, the CMO we recently fired went a little overboard, and the only way to know which runes correspond to which show is to check the “brewed on” date at the bottom.
When a bonsai tree appears at the base of the Rockies, it means nothing. And within nothing lies crisp, clean, refreshing bliss.
When the Rockies become Mayan Pyramids, it means you’re in the Taco Bell drive through. Wake up and proceed to the second window.
When a small team of Sherpas appears on the can and splits into two parties, one that begins constructing a base camp on the southern face of the Rockies and a second that starts to methodically establish a safe route to the summit, it means that someone probably dropped a mescaline button in your beer. Wrap yourself in a thick wool blanket and call a cab.
When the mountains turn red, wouldn’t it be nice to add some fresh lime, a little Campbell’s® tomato juice and a dash of Tabasco® Sauce?
When the mountains disappear completely HOLY SHIT, WHERE DID THE MOUNTAINS GO??
When a timetable for the Silver Bullet train appears, prepare to get on board for the cold… wait, did an S appear too? That’s the Sunday schedule. And did you match the correct row with your stop and time? The font is pretty tiny. We had to make room for lots of departures and locations. Don’t mix up the AM and PM columns!
When “Coors Light” is re-arranged to spell “Ostrich Log,” show it to the nearest person holding a Corona and ask them if their bottle can do anagrams. Of course it can’t, it’s a Corona.