Don't Get Too Comfortable
1 journaler for this copy...
Whether he's writing about a how-to-forage field trip through Prospect Park with Steve "Wildman" Brill (including the drawbacks of wandering the wilds of a New York park: "O, how the heart leaps when the condom wrappers are in bloom once more!") or reviewing a production of "Puppetry of the Penis" (he didn't care for it, starting with the venue: "Even though the temple onstage has a Latin designation, it feels quite Greek in here. I mean Greek in that binge-drinky, Daliesque-arcs-of-airborne-vomit, ripe-with-the-incipient-danger-of-date-rape, college-fraternity sense of the word, as opposed to the Aegean birthplace of democracy." I admit to having had some curiosity about the show myself, but Rakoff's review has pretty much satisfied that - I think I'll go with his conclusion: "...this might sound like a strange thing to say about a spectacle wherein two men spend more than an hour onstage stark naked but for shoes pulling the old dog-and-dice every which way for our delectation, but it lacked good old-fashioned showmanship. I've seen children's magic shows with more engaging narrative flow, let alone more convincing balloon animals."
Lots of other topics addressed here - one essay features Rakoff working as a towel boy at a Miami hotel just to see what it's like, in another he attends fashion week in Paris, and in another he (born Canadian) becomes a US citizen (amid comments about the disgruntled Yanks who are threatening to go to Canada). I enjoyed them all, but perhaps my favorite was the one in which Rakoff participates in "Midnight Madness", a sort of late-night scavenger-hunt/riddle-solving game that's offered commercially. After discovering that he's hopelessly bad at figuring out the clues, but that as the groups tend to catch up with each other at each leg anyway, he winds up at Battery Park at 3 am along with the rest of the party, and notices that one of the other contestants has run into a friend:
"This friend was not part of our game. He was there for other reasons. Gentle reader, I will let you in on something: if you are a gay man strolling of a summer's night through a dark New York City park sometime after 3:30 am, there is a reason for it, and the reason is not so you will run into someone you know. In fact, the last person you want to run into is someone you know. Let me amend that: the second-to-last person you want to run into is someone you know. The truly very last person you want to run into is someone you know accompanied by dozens of jolly amateur sleuths. With flashlights."
OK, just one more: from "Off We're Gonna Shuffle" (about cryogenics, of all things), Rakoff attends a conference at which one of the pro-cryogenics folks compares each human being's knowledge and experience to the contents of a book, meaning that the annual death toll world-wide is a "destruction equivalent to three Libraries of Congress per year". Rakoff adds:
"If you agree that some people are more than one book, then it's even more devastating. If, however, you feel that some folks' book is The Prince of Tides, or that others of us add up to all the complexity of a document, frequently pink, entitled 'While You Were Out,' then it's a tragedy of lesser magnitude."
(In the end, he comes down firmly against freezing, and on the side of "we Dustafarians". I'm with him.)
I also enjoyed Rakoff's first book, Fraud. And if you like audiobooks, I recommend the audio version of "Comfortable," in which Rakoff reads a selection of the essays from the book. [He's not as delightfully weird as David Sedaris but is often just as funny, and has a slow, mellow-depressive tone that contrasts well with Sedaris' high-pitched, straight-faced bizarreness.]
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
[See other recent releases in NH here.]
*** Released for the 2018 Canada Days release challenge. ***