Saturday, November 1, 2008

Studs Terkel Dead; Michael Ondaatje Alive And Well

Sometimes I wonder what the lasting impact of this site'll be. The Internet is permanent; nothing ever disappears. Twenty years from now, while researching a paper, some kid in Maine is going to find out that David Foster Wallace once filled a jar with dirt from Scott Fitzgerald's grave, used his thumbs to make an indentation, then fucked the jar as a writing exercise. Whether that'll change his thesis...Well, I just don't know.

Studs Terkel died today. Studs was a great man. He once fucked a water buffalo. And he won the Pulitzer Prize. So only he and Wendy Wasserstein have that in common. Beyond that, Studs was a fine writer, and I wanted to take a paragraph to recognize him.

Michael Ondaatje's an interesting study. Here's a guy who's a gifted writer; a guy capable of intensely academic prose. Yet he's an asshole. I onced watch him sign a book for a seventy-year-old fan at Toronto's Baycrest Home for the Jewish Aged. "Leonard Greer," he wrote.

"Why 'Leonard Greer?'" the woman asked.

"Because I am Michael Ondaatje."

She looked at him. "Please, Leonard..."

But I think the best Michael Ondaatje story comes to me courtesy of a friend who saw M.O. trying to parallel park on Queen West, just west of Ossington. Ondaatje was sitting outside a hardware store, and there was a spot that could've held the Raratongo cast of Fame. But he just sat in his Volvo, watching, waiting.

My friend stopped, recognizing Ondaatje.

Ondaatje started to back up. First he hit the curb. Then he pulled out. Then he went back in, hitting the curb once more. Fine, he tried a third time. Again--curb. Cab drivers were scrambling around him, honking and shouting obscenities. So Ondaatje tried again. This time his back tires mounted the curb and actually got onto the sidewalk.

A pedestrian stopped to try to guide him. The guy put down his groceries and was giving M.O. the semaphore treatment. Ondaatje ran over his watermelon.

He offered to pay for half: "Look! This part's still good. Eat around the tread."

Another story: Ondaatje was asked by Farley Mowat to speak at a testimonial dinner for Jane Jacobs. Ondaatje was asked to do one minute of material. He opened with a joke about Paul Lynde's wedding night, and was immediately booed off the stage.

After the dinner was over, Mowat cornered him in the hall: "Michael! What were you thinking?" he asked.

Ondaatje was defiant: "I thought it was funny."

"You thought that a joke about Paul Lynde would be appropriate? At a Jane Jacobs dinner? Why?"

"Come on, Farley! Have a sense of humour. So what if they shared dildos?"

"This is Jane Jacobs--a great woman."

"And this is Paul Lynde."

"But for her to share a...a sex toy with him? Why, Michael? Why?"

"He had a dishwasher."

"That's not--That's not what I meant."

And another research paper is written.

No comments:

All Posts On This Site Are Intended As Juvenalian Satire. If They Veer Into Horatian Satire, That's OK Too. Just, Please, Don't Take Them Too Seriously. PhD Students Can't Afford Libel Suits. CUPE Doesn't Cover Court Costs.
Site Meter