Wednesday, April 30, 2003

the bag bunny and Newman's Own Underwear

My morning drive to work winds forty miles through the picturesque North Georgia countryside. Thus far, it has been my favorite thing about this new job, entirely compensating for the fact that it cuts a two-hour chunk out of every day. It provides me a terrific vantage point from which to scan the local fields for crop circles, which to my knowledge have never appeared in this state and that, for lack of a more poetic turn of phrase, fascinate the crap out of me. The length of the trip, particularly when coupled with its rural backdrop, also offers the opportunity to catch other sights I might miss on a shorter, hastier journey.

For example, this morning I was trailing a pickup truck that held a large pet carrier in its bed. I kept seeing movement from within the carrier, but the movement seemed off-kilter, inexplicably rapid, and I couldn’t guess what sort of animal it might contain. I sped up, closing the gap between us in order to get a closer look. For all the world, there appeared to be a rabid bunny inside, bouncing wildly from surface to surface like a cartoon character who’s inadvertently set its own ass on fire. Finally I gained enough distance to discover that it wasn’t an animal at all but rather a plastic grocery bag the carrier held, being buffeted ‘American Beauty’-esque in the wind coming over the cab of the truck.

A strange coincidence this morning: the new job I’ve mentioned is as retail sales manager for Road Atlanta, which is a racetrack just outside Braselton. One of my primary duties in this position is to serve as manager for the track’s pro shop (which, consequently, is really just a glorified gift shop that also happens to sell flame-retardant suits and socks and underwear for drivers who I guess might’ve left them at home). This morning, I was standing at the front of the store, contemplating sending a friend who has a young child some toddler-sized something emblazoned with our logo. I picked up a legless onesie (which is a one-piece garment for the littluns, for those of you unhep to the child-rearing lingo) for closer examination and was instantly reminded of one of my favorite movies.

“Looks like the underwear Paul Newman wears in ‘The Sting’,” I said to myself.

Then I looked up through the big front window, and there was Paul Newman. He wore big amber-colored sunglasses and was walking briskly toward the gates that lead down to the pit area of the track. Questioning the office staff later, I learned that Mr. Newman is an avid race car driver and was here in Georgia today testing his car. I was hoping he’d come into the shop so I could ask him if he thought the onesie looked like his underwear from ‘The Sting’ too, but he never showed.

Monday, April 28, 2003

one sorry excuse for an entry

Wouldn’t it be great if the pizza delivery guy worked like the ice cream man and you could just flag the delivery car down when you wanted a pie? I swear I never want pizza more than when one of those marked cars drives past full of other people’s dinners. Maybe I’ll start my own roving oven. I could use an old step-van outfitted with a loudspeaker playing ‘That’s Amore’ or something and drive up and down Fraternity Row. Call it “Catch-As-Can Pan,” or “Sprinteroni,” maybe.

Monday, April 21, 2003


They made it easy to miss. I wouldn’t have caught it myself had I not been zoning out at work, stuck tagging shirts and hats with a needle-tipped pricing gun for hour after hour until I was forced to give myself a break, to stop and relax for a moment or run the risk of sticking the needle through my finger in a momentary lapse of attention.

I say they made it easy to miss, but in truth, for me, they made it easier to find. When I read the newspaper, I look for the good stuff, the strange or uplifting, the offbeat and human interest tales. These do not constitute the bulk of most media, written or otherwise. On Tuesday, the day in question, I skipped through twelve solid pages of downbeat reportage — Iraq, Syria, SARS, school shootings, some dangerous chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (which resides in Teflon cookware and Gore-Tex clothing and most everything else we own) under investigation by the EPA, and several full-page cries of clearance sales and storewide savings — before I found it, only three short columns, news from Bethesda, Maryland that the Human Genome Project is complete.

It’s been fifty years since James Watson and Francis Crick first discovered the structure of DNA, and now scientists have sequenced and produced a near-flawless map of the 3.1 billion units of DNA that comprise the human genome. In essence, this information is the beginning of the end of disease, all disease: cancer, AIDS, leukemia, meningitis, lupus, Alzheimer’s, on and on. The completion of this work, almost two years ahead of schedule and available in its entirety, for free, on public genetic databanks, means hope for all the hopeless. It changes everything.

But it isn’t front-page, top story news. Hope doesn’t sell papers. Just look at the way news ratings have skyrocketed over the course of the past month if you want proof.

They say no news is good news, but isn’t good news better?