The Great Plotnik

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

10-9-12 Newark

It's very nice to fly, or, put a better way, to set out, like that Tony Earley story about the latter days of Jack, the boy who climbed the bean stalk and slew the giant, but that was when he was young, and after that he could never quite duplicate the buzz of his younger years. Plot read the story today on UA112 to Newark, in the latest New Yorker, the one that has the terrific article by Margaret Talbot, his friend Steve's sister, about their dad Lyle Talbot, the actor, who set out in the 1930s to travel on the train from Nebraska to Hollywood, putting himself with that one act onto a hegira from obscurity to a kind of stardom.

Plot remembers Lyle, when he was already over 90 and living in an assisted living apartment near Opera Plaza, and could sometimes be found in Steve's basement helping his granddaughter Caitlin and her two friends, one of whom was Melina, who later married a young Navy guy, had his baby and is now divorced and living in Newport News, Virginia, and the other one was The Great BZWZ, now hustling along her own journey to become a PhD, to bore enormous holes into lake bottoms and thus discover how climates have changed over the past kajillion years.

Caitlin is following in the family footsteps. She's in LA, making movies and TV pilots, producing a lot and sending out steady streams of requests for financing.

Lyle's three children are all writers, producers, artists and actors. This setting out thing ends up involving many people, most of whom will not even be born by the time you are no longer here to explain to them how the whole thing began.

The Great Plotnik likes flying. He likes airports. He likes pilots and stewardesses and baggage handlers, at the same time that he despises every bit of it, the taking off of shoes and belt, the raising your hands over your head like Homeland Security is going to grab your nuts and make you cough, the nickel-and-dimeing in Coach while the Plutocracy gets extra bags of peanuts, the BULLSHIT smiles and BULLSHIT regulations and BULLSHIT cramped, stuffy, smelly...but wait.

It took all those Nebraska Plotniks, who Plotnik has only recently found out about, who have names like Lolly and Wenceslaus and Jakub, and who converted to Catholicism somewhere in their Bohemian past and have been in America since 1874, the better part of a year just to get half way across the country, while UA112 is going to accomplish twice that distance in less than five hours. Really!

After a short layover in Newark, a city, of sorts, once synonymous with the failure and destruction of the American dream, but now experiencing a modest recovery, of sorts, Plot and Duck will board UA1290 for an eight and a half hour sail above an ocean whose crossing took most early mariners three months at a minimum, plus mutinies, starvation, scurvy, sea chanties, privateering and death, but also brought a few lucky ones untold fortune, political favor and Conquistador Seed transferred at gleeful velocity into the comeliest of MesoAmerican maidens, followed immediately afterwards by destruction of culture, smallpox, infanticide, religious insanity, slavery, snake bites, disfavor, treachery and death.

We can do the same stuff in 'way less time now.

Plot and Duck will maybe end up in a few weeks in Cadiz, the city from which sailed Cristobal Colon, the Conqueror, to some, The Indigenous People Murderer, to others and a National Holiday, of sorts, to everyone else. Talk about setting out without understanding the consequences.

They may also take a side trip to Faro or Borges, in southern Portugal, on the Atlantic ocean, where Prince Henry the Navigator, the man who is the spiritual father to all the European sailors who followed him, had his lighthouses and observation towers, and who sent forth da Gama to find the bottom of Africa, and Magellan to prove you could sail away to the West and sail home from the East, and they did it using little more than their eyes and a few primitive astrolabes and sextants and cormorants.

Magellan didn't make it home. They killed him and ate him in the Philippines. This was a superior and effective method for dealing with conquistadors. Imagine if they had had Twitter back then. The word would have spread like wildfire. Bongo@spearworld: "These guys are tasty!!!" Take that, Cortez, and take that, Pizarro, and take that, Lawrence of Arabia, and take that, George W. Bush, get the hell out of my country or you will end up being picked out of these strong, pointy native teeth with a thin but effective shard of ivory. And this time, when we slay the giant, he will stay slain, Jack.


At 8:55 PM, Blogger J and J said...

Safe Travels Cuz!

At 6:53 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Was there a lot of coffee involved before the writing of this? Or are you just jazzed to be in Newark? Hope you have as much fun on the trip as you had with this post!

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous jj-aka-pp said...

Well done! Brought it all the way back to Jack!


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