Monday, March 05, 2007

The last New Yorker

In 2004 I sent in a subscription to The New Yorker. Kent had said he would read it, I’d read and enjoyed the magazine in small doses (though there was one point a friend had passed her subscription to me and I let the issues gather dust in my room for a year or two before finally throwing them out), and the subscription offer was real cheap, the “professional rate”. When the issues started showing up I would flip through them, look at the cartoons, read a poem, scan the movie reviews, then they would fall into this pile or that pile and the next issue would crowd in.

When I switched to a parttime job last spring I began to clean up some piles and in doing so collected the New Yorkers. Was I going to throw them out again, lightly read, as I had that friend’s batch? I decided to give reading them a try. I could always change my mind. I didn’t read them in chronological order (unusual for Glenn, typically obsessive about that sort of thing) and I let myself skip or skim articles, particularly ones about the 2004 presidential election (we know how that depressing thing turned out), and the Iraq War (I never wanted to be an expert on Iraq), but I read all the fiction, and most everything else.

Kent never did read much (though I see the last two I read are serving as bathroom distraction right now). As I finish with them I dump the issues in the recycle bag. I finished the last issue of the subscription. The Oct. 18, 2004 issue. It’s not, as I said, the last I received, the subscription ran out in 2005, it’s just the one that was on the bottom of the pile. It calls itself “The Politics Issue”. Yes, I mostly hopped over the article on “How George W. Bush reinvented himself.” I like Clive James’ poem “Exit Don Giovanni”; am thinking about copying it out. It would be the second poem I’ve copied out from the subscription issues (the first appeared in an article as an example of a song by an Eskimo tribe).

In this last issue there’s an article on a Boston charter school that tries to give the extra to students struggling. One of the students profiled is Rousseau Mieze, a goodlooking, smart black boy whose struggles with school seem more to do with boredom and the difficulties of living poor than with understanding the assignments. He writes poetry, which seems primarily influenced by rap music, and there are excerpts in the article.

My life yo I’m thankful
On the real I feel I’ll tank though
I feel like death is hangin’ on my ankle.

Mieze tortures language for his rhymes here. The subject is serious, isn’t it? But I get the feeling the language is enjoying its torture and the seriousness is shot through with humor. Humor helps, people.

You be the minority, preferably black?
The new social profiling is green in fact.

Mieze is worrying about college. If you can’t show the school that you’re a consistent high achiever then the financial aid that makes school possible won’t come through. Mieze’s grades are middling.

He’s stepping with some newness
What problems? He can do this.

I find that couplet utterly charming.

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