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2010: Hey, hey, goodbye

By Jesse Kornbluth
Published: Dec 22, 2010
Category: Beyond Classification

With this edition, I kiss 2010 goodbye and, like the butler/chauffeur of “Sabrina,” head off to spend the holidays with my family in our modest but cheerful apartment over the garage. All is well here — I continue to be unable to find a flaw in my wife, and as for the almost-9-year-old princess, she still believes in the magic of Christmas, though she’s replaced the image of the man in the red suit with a committee of his local deputies. 

I would be a fool not to begin by counting my blessings.
My blessings. Our blessings. But somewhere out there, the blessings end. Beyond that? Well, the New Earth seems to be flat. Find yourself poor and/or unemployed, you just …fall off the edge. You’re invisible. And no one still getting by can hear you scream.
What is really happening in our country — the brutal rejection of elementary Judeo-Christian brotherhood — would be news to many of us. Not our fault. The less well-off get almost no media attention. I’ve turned on TV news randomly these last few weeks, and I’ve seen nothing about the holiday season for the poor and homeless and nary a word about a middle-class sinking in economic quicksand.  The only time “they” come up seems to be on the political chat shows, where men with bulging necks insist on a self-reliance so astringent you can’t help but wish they had to live — for even a week! — by their draconian codes of right conduct.
What can you do? Help where you can, in the place where you are. And build your own inner strength, just in case you have the bad luck to be tested. How? Well, my holiday shopping list is — don’t be surprised — filled with books, movies, music and things I really think might be useful, even character-building. 
But there are others I might commend, for those who don’t want to go outside or deal with their families.
Best Moment in a Novel: Truth, by Peter Temple  
     Laurie doesn’t see him, so Steve Villani is able to study his wife as she walks toward him.
     Jeans, black leather jacket, thinner, different haircut, a more confident stride..
     She spots him, comes over.
     He hasn’t planned it, but he can’t help himself. “You’re having an affair.” 
     She says this isn’t the place to talk. He won’t let it go.
     “Fuck meeting with the boyfriend, is that it?" 
     “I’m not having an affair,” she says. “I’m in love with someone, I’ll move out today.”
Sacred Landscapes: photographs and text that take you on a journey — inward.
Peter Wolf: for conceiving of a CD as an old-fashioned “album” — and for delivering the goods
Madame Castaing: the most beautiful and inspirational design book in years.
Savages: for the bad attitude and good humor, until the story inevitably sours
Friendship, Unlimited: James Salter and Robert Phelps in Memorable Days, Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp in Let’s Take the Long Way Home.
Harumi Kurihara: for a cookbook that can help you wean yourself from American cuisine.
Peter Rogers and Susan Leal: for Running Out of Water, which reminds us that 630 gallons of water go into the making of a single 8-ounce steak. (See: Harumi.)
Vivaldi and Handel: for the “Gloria” and “Dixit Dominus” on one CD.
Tradition — to say nothing of decades of praise — requires that I urge you to try the Holiday Ham.

It’s a little long — skip ahead to the 1:30 mark if you’re the restless type — but I do want, as a parting shot, to share this video of a handsome, bearded French man snowboarding from the heights of Montmartre through the streets on Paris. It’s warm and human and fun, and it makes you think: This ”being alive” thing — it doesn’t suck.

Wait! I almost forgot to thank you for dropping in, and writing me, and just generally being my dream readers. When I count my blessings….
See you on January 3rd. Take good care.