Monday, September 13, 2010

Pleasures Large 'n' Small

I suspect we all agree that sex can be quite wonderful, as too can a glorious meal, as too can finding a $10 bill in the pocket of something you haven’t worn in a while. I can imagine that hearing the oncologist say, “It’s benign,” must be a wonderful feeling too, though, with any luck, it’s an experience neither of us will ever have.

I have come to believe over the past 10 days that one of the greatest pleasures available to hay fever sufferers (for whom I could be poster boy) is scratching an eye made itchy by pollen in the air. The bad news is that the instant you stop scratching, you would given anything in the world not to have scratched. This past spring, that nice Dr. Powell in Fishkill prescribed a medication he said would relieve the itching, but then it turned out, like most of what he prescribes, to cost $80 for 10 milliliters.

A far more nearly universal experience of intense pleasure is the one motorists experience when the cop behind them turns on his or her siren — and then goes right past them, pursuing someone else.

Here in Beacon, self-described Gateway to Poughkeepsie, over the weekend, the civic-minded among us received a jumbo jolt of pleasure from the unveiling of the new Welcome Center just a few blocks from my home. Built entirely by volunteers, the facility will dispense colorful brochures and helpful advice to both first-time and repeat visitors to our little corner of the Hudson Valley, formerly best known as the boyhood home of Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps, and more recently celebrated as the home of Richard Butler of 80s hitmakers The Psychedelic Furs. Folk legend Pete Seeger is commonly glimpsed on Main Street (between Vrmont and New Hampshir Streets) either entering or departing the post office, putting unleaded into his modest Japanese vehicle, or harmonizing with the unemployed do-rag types who commonly loiter in front of BJ’s. a sort of restaurant.

As it was the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, not a few of the dignitaries who addressed the several thousand in attendance felt called upon to salute America’s great resiliency, about which no remark was similarly made eight years ago when I, freshly expatriated from the USA, attended the meeting of a big writers’ group in Richmond, the corner of London out of which the Rolling Stones burst in 1963 with their infectious beat and scandalously oversized lips. I remember two things about that meeting. The guy in charge, who didn’t feel compelled to specify his credentials for us newcomers, was a high-handed prick, and the only participant whose work didn’t make me wince was a specialist in found poetry — that is, little poems constructed from words and phrases found in unlikely places, as on the backs of bus tickets.

I have recently thought often of trying to assemble a found poem from the pairs of words Facebook commonly makes you type to prove you’re not a bot, or what have you. I have on more than one occasion thought of trying to write a whole blog entry on the subject, but as the present one vividly demonstrates, my standards are far too high for such shenanigans.

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