Stage 1. “I’m getting like that character in Hannah and her Sisters,” I said to my wife in San Francisco. “Which one? Michael Caine?” “No,” I said. “The Max Van Something or other. He hated everyone and thought they were all idiots. He didn’t want to sell his paintings.” “He was sad,” she said. “Yes,” I said. “He was.”
Stage 2: Conference observations. Here’s one: The proponents of critical thinking buying 6 dollar Buds just so that they can hold a beer and talk.
Stage 3. I cannot understand the phenomenon of the “Irish pub.” Harp. Guinness. Fried food. Is this the Irish symbolic? Is that all there is?
Stage 4. At a conference, attendees are afraid to venture too far off. “Let’s eat here” or “Let’s drink here” really means “There is a place close to the hotel that might serve something we can consume.” The attendees forget that the city extends outward, far away from the Hilton or its clone.
Stage 5. Why should I single myself out or be singled out for complaining about academia? For four days, attendees complained about wireless connectivity or lack of. “What do I know about building negotiations,” I thought. “And besides, hotels like this (Hilton) are not made for conventional stays. They are designed for reimbursement. For that reason, wireless is obligated to be expensive and extra. It is an expense.”
Stage 6. At a given conference, people must know how your town is treating you. “How is life in Columbia?” they ask. They. Everyone. They ask it more than once. “How is Columbia?” “It is cold in the winter and hot in the summer,” I say. “Really?” they say. “Really.” Do we really care about each other’s cities? Do you have weasels or monkeys where you live? How does your toilet flush? Is your marriage over? What smells bad where you live? Are there midgets?
Stage 7. This genre of writing makes me feel like Larry King writing a column….