Reading and singing the summer away


Good day to ye from the Jersey Shore where Libby’s family and my family are vacationing for a week. (We do this on a semi-regular basis and for Lib and moi it provides a daily walk on the beach that often generates breakthrough thoughts about what we’re working on — a nice bonus from all the oxygen and salt running through our systems.) Image is sunset from the Roberta family abode this week.


I’m not going to tell you about shore art. Here instead is a snap of a souvenir treasure I picked up. (image lef) It’s the cover (a reproduction, not the original) of a piece of vintage sheet music for the anthem “Ocean City (I Love You)” words by Dr. E.S. Carson, music by Oreste Vessella. The copyright to the song says 1928 and the earnest lyric and syncopated melody makes you sigh for a calmer, less irony-clad time. Definitely a high point this week. ($1.)


Meanwhile, road rage and bad manners have made it to the shore, vacationing from their usual spot in the city and suburbs. Even the seagulls have let their etiquette slip, snatching food right out of peoples’ hands.


But escape is at hand. Books! I finished Jeffrey Eugenides “Middlesex” midweek (more than middling — excellent book!). Then hit the used bookstore and snapped up a couple things — “Seabiscuit,” which I skipped first time out the gate but seems a good shore book. My friend Bay told me it was a great book if you love animals, so I picked it up ($4. used); and, the find du jour, “Killing Critics” by Carol O’Connell, ($3.50 used) a New York crime novel in which somebody is killing the city’s art critics one by one (and some artists along the way).


“Killing” is pretty well written in a snarly, irony-clad, pulpy kind of way. It’s just silly enough to be readable.

Everybody’s a cartoon in this book, from the cops to the waitresses to the street people. The first critic is described as having inhuman blue eyes with pupils like missiles coming at you. He also has the passive aggressive affect of a Siamese cat. ffffft. He’s not dead yet but I’m waiting.

The next critic is described as looking like a boy until you get up close (he’s 48). The guy is manic depressive and off his lithium, self-medicating with alcohol. He’s also, for some unexplained reason, in thrall to some Brunhilde public art commissioner and has a personal shopper at Bloomies.


This art critic, referred to by Mr. FFFFT as a following edge kind of guy who always writes the last review and never the first, somehow stages a raid on Bloomies’ finest stock and locks himself up on the roof in a kind of Ralph Lauren decorated bunker. It’s not clear why. I’m waiting for his plunge off the roof.


Stella’s books point to her current obsession — food and cooking — “Fast Food Nation” and Nigella Lawson’s “Summer Forever” from which she gets inspiration for omelettes and trifles and other yum stuff.


Steve the bibliophile is reading “Truth, Rationality, and Pragmatism: Themes from Peirce” by Christopher Hookway and, uncharacteristically, a fiction piece, “Checkpoint” by Nicholson Baker.

Actually he read that slim volume in about an hour he said.

So that’s what’s on my mind this week. We’ll be home tomorrow and will catch up on the fall happenings as they crash in on us.