Sunday, October 5, 2008

First stop: NYC

Just before I left Seattle, a friend told me he thought I was a “liberal, elitist snob.” In a text message. He meant it in the nicest possible way, but of course I was totally offended and pointed out that I couldn’t possibly be considered an elitist or a snob since I was friends with him. In a later conversation, I mentioned to that same friend that I was going to the New Yorker Festival, an annual literary and arts festival held in Manhattan every October…
“elitist” I heard him mutter under his breath. I chose to ignore him.

The festival was fun. The first talk I went to was a discussion entitled “Extreme Sports” with Greg Child, an Australian mountaineer; Andrew McLean, a ski mountaineer; and Lynne Cox, who swims long distances in arctic waters. (For an amazing article written by Lynne about swimming the Northwest Passage, check out The three talked about what inspires them, showed video footage from various expeditions, and took questions from the audience – most of which were directed toward Lynne; even the two mountaineers agreed that what she does terrifies them. I spoke to Greg Child briefly after the talk. I told him that I felt my own claim to fame is that if you google my name, you are directed to an article he wrote in 1997 for Outside magazine in which he quotes me; he seemed moderately amused at this news. The second talk I went to was “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes” given by Malcolm Gladwell. I can’t remember a more interesting or entertaining ninety minutes. He talked about aviation, linguistics, interpersonal communication, how mitigating language can kill people, why it’s obvious that a Jamaican woman would make a better commercial airline pilot than a Colombian man, and why Atticus Finch, one of the most beloved characters in American literature is really a ruthless, racist jackass. I don’t know if he gives the same discussion in his new book (Outliers: the Story of Success, due out next month) but it would be worth checking out just in case he does – although I don’t think he covers the Atticus-Finch-as-jackass-topic in the book since he mentioned that he had just come up with the theory a few days prior. The third talk I went to was an interview of Matt Groening by cartoonist Lynda Barry. Matt seems pretty cool (a bit “Hollywood” but of course he can be forgiven); Lynda is a truly horrible person and is probably also a ruthless, racist, jackass... I actually thought she was really cool after the interview yesterday and had written something nice about her, but I saw her again today and she TOTALLY dissed me, and taking revenge in this blog, which might be read by literally tens of people, is my only recourse.

Okay, so that’s my first post. I have to go now – they’re waiting for me down at the dog track.
That's the best I could do for somethng non-elitist I might be on my way to. I'm not really going to a dog track... but I could be. Oh never mind.

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