Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Joseph Mitchell-My Ears are Bent

Down in our condominium's "Community Room" we have two couches, a fancy rug, a glass table and some framed antique maps of our city, a television set--and a conference table with six office type chairs, padded, brown. All this is new: picked it out myself, with one other condo board member, only last year. The other member also got the maps and frames, and I framed them up.  It was a fun project, and I like to remember it.

We also have this large library of rejected books. When people move, they drop heavy freight in the community room. So when we got the furniture, I went through the library to thin it down. And I learned it's a pretty good library.

Oh, yes, the Point-
So, I picked up this book in there by Joseph Mitchell: My Ears Are Bent. It starts:
Except for a period in 1931 when I got sick of the whole business and went to sea, working on a freighter which carried heavy machinery to Leningrad and brought Soviet pulp logs back, I have been for the last eight years a reporter on newspapers in New York City.
I knew his name. He used to write for The New Yorker and the Herald-Tribune. He was a crime reporter and a political reporter.

The book is full of interviews: female wrestlers, fan dancers who imitate Sally Rand,  and anecdotal crime reporting. You hear about old men trying to beat the summer heat by drinking wine, watermelon-sellers, the way police got tips out of drunks in Harlem (no longer allowed, but still somehow a relationship) and the oyster trade plied off the banks of Manhattan Island. Osinning Prison (Sing-Sing). He went everywhere. He met characters everywhere.

These stories are short, and true, and written in the way of a man who listens carefully to crazy people. I still can't decide if he was a romantic, a cynic, or the most deadpan writer in American lit.

So, my ears will be bent starting at approximately 7 p.m. tonight and I have to get ready. I will be spending some hours with my seat in a padded chair in the Community Room this very night: CONDO BOARD MEETING. Another contribution is this ceramic statue of Buddha. I find myself looking at it during meetings when I need some calm. Right now he is also holding up more books.

In the meantime, here is Sally Rand and the fan dance. She made a fortune not revealing very much.


The Observer said...

Ann T:
Oh, seat in a padded chair--I thought for a minute it said padded room!

Enjoy your meeting?!?

The Observer

Linnnn said...

I loved this post. I'll be "following."

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
We are just done. There will be a zombie post in the future . . . by the end, my voice was thinning and it's so cold this week I had my coat on to give my presentation. Oh, ick! My shining moment. However, they did not have to send a loony car for me yet.

Dear Linnnn,
Welcome! I'm glad you came!

Thanks to you both,
Ann T.