The Week That Was: April 15-21

A volcano whose name we cannot pronounce! High-altitude ash clouds over northern and central Europe! Air travel disruptions! APOCALYPSE!

But, happily, an apocalypse that does not apply to us. In this respect Eyjafjallajokull is much like a doorman strike.

True, we did commiserate with the publishing people who had planned to go to the London Book Fair and were now stuck in New York. But we ourselves had no plans to go anywhere, despite the cheery entreaties of Coachella-bound friends (probably the same bunch of jokers who also made it to South by Southwest). We are only a little jealous of these Southern Californians, who likely spent the weekend sleeping in their parents’ pool houses and wearing shorts while seeing Jay-Z.

Shorts and Jay-Z are sure signs of a good public outdoor activity. All that was going on in public outdoor New York was that the Parks Department got a super lame new mascot: “Pearl the Squirrel.” We wish that outdoor recreation could have a more impressive animal ambassador. Or if it had to be a squirrel with a rhyming name, perhaps a squirrel named “Earl.” 

Anyway, we may not have Coachella, but we do have the Tribeca Film Festival. We could get our act together and see a movie. Maybe one offering “a gorgeous and dangerous marinade of passion, art, and ambition that languorously intoxicates the senses” (brilliantlove), or maybe one about a band of misfits starting an underground newspaper (Beware the Gonzo). Or maybe just James Franco‘s Saturday Night.

More likely we will spend our time reading reviews of Alan Brinkley‘s new biography, The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century. It is fun to look back on the journalism of yore. Also, while Alan Brinkley is the former provost of Columbia University and a National Book Award winner, we associate him most strongly with his American History: A Survey, truly the finest textbook of our high-school years.

American History: A Survey! Alan Brinkley, you are a learned man, so it pains us to admit that we were probably attracted to your book less by an interest in serious historical analysis than by a penchant for weird old things. Like the Oneida utopians, or the Zimmerman Telegram, or Boston.

On that note, we read this week that the Donner Party had been absolved of cannibalism. But a friend and sometime Donner Party scholar told us not to buy this, and that even the most defensive survivors had characterized the party’s eating habits as a sort of “wacky eucharist.”

We do not know whom to believe.

We remain, like the April weather, kind of hazy. What do we feel? Where are we going? We do not yet know. In the meantime, we do things like attend readings about the Internet at a bar called Happy Ending.

It pleases us to be surrounded by our equally hazy peers. Girls at the Internet reading carried totes from at least three different literary journals, and only a few of the boys were beginning to bald.

Peers, you always make us feel better.

The Week That Was: April 15-21