An Email

by practicalspactical

From April 19, to a friend

Hey —

Felt like writing you an email. Like the old days.


I’m really loving this Jamie Oliver show , btw — Hollywood as it is. It really hits all my Obama/Change buttons — and has some of the practical meat that Obama’s oratory sometimes lacks. I really like how he uses storytelling — setting up antagonists, taking them on staged visits to places, setting outlandish goals for himself to build tension — is he gonna make it — to push the agenda. As if the momentum of narrative will help do some of the work. Makes me think about the law and storytelling, and storytelling and storytelling —

Of course, that might just be little old literary me — and me watching him do it, that might be the difference between Oliver and America — Oliver makes the TV, and America watches it — I don’t know if it’s fair to say we are passive, I think that’s a cliche and fairly obvious, and like anything fairly obvious, probably wrong in the details — but I do think we are tired and confused and busy. We respond to narrative, but have difficulty creating it. A lack of resources might come into play as well — to create a story out of real life requires work, hard work, unceasing work —


I went down to Florida with my father this past weekend for an Allman Brothers Band music extravaganza jamfest. It was pretty intense, a little jammy, and I was pretty stressed about taking a weekend off with so much work to do — we had bought the tickets awhile a go — some harebrained scheme of mine that seemed better on paper than in the very real light of massive amounts of unfinished work — but I brought my laptop, and worked in the airports, etc …

We met up with and camped with my Dad’s best friend from high school (in Florida), who he hadn’t seen or really spoken to in 30 years, until a couple of years ago, I guess, when via the Internet (Tagline: Where Nothing Is Lost) they restarted a tentative correspondence.

It was crazy watching them re-meet. My dad and the friend, Fred, they had last seen each other on a mountain outside of San Francisco thirty years ago, with the friend calling the dad a sell-out or something for not wanting to go live the hippie dream. The friend stayed on the path, made it work, became a carpenter, then a general contractor, can build anything, moved first to Hawaii, and then to Alaska. Pretty amazing life. Great stories. Sailing boats using the stars to navigate. Swimming with humpback whales. Building a Zen retreat in Hawaii and dealing with all the lost souls/crazy hippies who wandered through. Building an organic farm on land leased from the Mormons, building a model farm, with the best stuff, and then having the Mormons try to take it all away —

My dad was shyer about his stories. Never got the chance to swim with whales. Moved to Philadelphia and stayed there, looks like it will be forever. Three children, normal set of minor problems, some middle class ennui, mostly in the kids, mostly in this kid, some learning trouble in the youngest, a happy normal stable marriage, the couple of inevitable bad deaths every person that age is acquainted with —

Then there was me, watching them both watching each other, looking for their old lives, talking about their new ones, but its just one life, that’s been continuously happening to each of them, separately, one damn thing after another, and now, for a moment, back together —

Made me think about life, and making one, and the intention that goes into it, and not sleepwalking. It made me want to be a better friend to my friend, and then, on the airplane back, was reading a definition of friendship, about desiring your friend’s good for his good, that his good becomes a part of your good — and it made me think of stories, and how they are like and different from life — and yet how we can’t help but share them with each other.

I wanted to share this one.


LOST tomorrow. I can’t wait. Have you seen Treme yet? Thoughts?

Hope you’re well.