Friday, April 7, 2023

In was in 1967 that I discovered Antonioni and Fellini. I saw Blow-Up (1966), Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Persona (1966), The Loved One (1965), and Andy Warhol’s Vinyl (1965). I watched Godzilla (1954) and Kiss Me Deadly (1955) on late night TV. I read a Wonder Wart-Hog comic book. I saw a drunk sleeping on the stoop of Carnegie Hall.
It was the summer an Army buddy and I took over the second floor of an old duplex in Galveston and put in some time arguing politics versus culture. He was a Swiss Marcusian and argued that politics shapes culture. I argued the opposite.
It was the summer of the Six-Day War and our favorite cartoon showed the aftermath of a collision between an Arab and an Israeli tank, the Arabs holding their hands in the air, the Jews holding their necks.
I read the Koran that summer and I was impressed by the idea of houris.
I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Sitting by the pool at The Galvez, a grand, beach hotel one afternoon, I suddenly understood what a function was and lost my fear of mathematics forever.
My friend loafed on the beach while I programmed computers at an insurance company downtown. After work every day, I'd drop a deck of punch cards off at the computer room and the operators would run my latest Keynesian model on the company’s IBM 7080 mainframe. The models always blew up. I never got the accelerator and the multiplier right.
My friend totaled my red '65 Barracuda Fastback on the Boulevard one afternoon. He had just come back from the Monterey Jazz festival. The richest man in town sent him out there with somebody's wife, probably as a joke. He ended up inheriting a department store in Basel and slowly disappearing, like that big cat.
Somebody’s wife ended up finding Jesus under the sink in the bathroom of a cheap motel in Laredo one night. She was crouched in the corner, desperate for help, and it was Jesus or the big cockroach that had just crawled out from under the sink.
I still think it's about culture. About education in all its forms. If I don't know what a credit default swap is, never saw a play or an opera, never read a serious book or saw a serious film, don't know what a function is, never read any history, how can I believe I know anything worth knowing at all? What does “serious” mean? I think it’s about the intention to do more than pass time. 

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