Posts Tagged ‘Roy Blount Jr.’

There is no slow lane on the road to Hell

October 26, 2018

This sort of nonsense is on a par with descending a ladder made of razor wire and Ginsu knives.

“Thank God it’s Friday,” you say? Not so fast, Sparky. Just when you thought things were winding down, turns out I’ve been winding up another episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

This one has its roots in a New Yorker essay I read about a risk-management program gone all pear-shaped. The author, neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin, like me an elder of the geezer persuasion, did himself an injury while test-driving an escape ladder and afterward mused at length on the vicissitudes of the calendar, caution, calamity, and consequences.

I had recently been on a ladder myself — not a cheapo folding one, and not dangling from a third story — but happily I made it back to earth without burning up on re-entry.

I can’t say I enjoyed the experience, but if need arose I’d probably do it again, my guiding principle being, “I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway.” This is why, like Levitin, I have spent some time enduring the tender mercies of the medical-industrial complex.

As Roy Blount Jr. has taught us, fucking up is not what it used to be. That was the lede, word for word, to his essay “I Always Plead Guilty,” from the 1984 collection “What Men Don’t Tell Women,” and it’s a lot funnier than Levitin’s New Yorker essay or even this episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

Blount wrote it in an era not unlike today, in a nation “where major corporations are in charge and there is absolutely no charm left in fucking up.”

Nevertheless, he argued, fucking up is a very American thing — “going into the unknown for the challenge of it” — and urged that we find some middle ground between caution and catastrophe, asking:

“Why do we have to draw back so far from the abyss?”

So, yeah. Read the essay, buy the book, and lend a ragged ear to the latest episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded using an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio on a late-2009 iMac using Apple’s GarageBand. The sound effects are from Freesound, and the blues loop playing in the background is from fredsonic at Freesound.