Jay Meehan: Giving thanks
November 25, 2014
To begin with, I’m thankful that I’m not even more of a posturing, insufferable, pedantic, know-it-all, narrow-minded blowhard than I am.
That being said, I’m thankful that I grew up in the latter days of print so that I not only experienced the joys of lugging around hefty hard copies of books and urban newspapers but also paperbacks, chap books, and small-town rags of note.
I am thankful to have occupied space on this orbiting rock well after writers and thinkers the likes of Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Whitman and Twain have passed on and still have their words and thoughts at my fingertips up on the shelf.
Not to mention Kafka and Camus, Joyce and Eliot, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Welty, Kerouac and Ginsberg, Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams, Hammett and Chandler, Patrick O’Brian and Wallace Stegner, and, especially, Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson, Edward Abbey, Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski.
Thankfully, I still have John le Carré, Cormac McCarthy, Barry Lopez, and Jim Harrison still breathing and pondering and typing. Philip Roth doesn’t write anymore and I’m not thankful for that, but, he abides, and somehow that’s enough.
And how could I leave out Gabriel García Márquez, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Jorge Luis Borges, and José Martí and the wonderfully insightful translators like Edith Grossman who brought, and still bring, that most-musical mother tongue home to monolingual wretches such as I. To them, "mi más profundo agradecimiento."
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I am thankful to those who have caused me to stretch, to reach, to reassemble. There exists in this mostly disordered houseful of books a designated "special" section that features the works of David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, Richard Powers, and William Gibson. To them, my utmost thanks.
The collective thanks I owe the Irish is incalculable. To Yeats, Shaw, Beckett, and Heaney, to Wilde, O’Casey, Behan, and O’Brien, to the Clancy Brothers, the Chieftains, the Boys of the Laugh, and Solas, to Mary Elizabeth Terheggen, Richard Emmett Meehan, Mary Frances McDonnell, and Robert Emmett Meehan I owe everything!
And, of course, there’s my favorite Mexican-Irish-American, Robert Brendan (Smokey) Meehan — he of the machine gun wit and over the top generosity. More than anything else in this world, I’m thankful for his unconditional love and friendship and his passions for music, sports, the outdoors, the Red Iguana, and the sharing of the occasional semi-exotic libation.
I’m also thankful that the sports teams I fanatically follow don’t ALL totally collapse at crunch time. With the L.A. Dodgers, USC Trojans, Utah Utes, L.A. Kings, and USA Eagles being almost the only eggs still residing in my ever-shrinking basket, I send out special thanks to hockey and rugby players everywhere!
Of course, I’m exponentially thankful to have lived in the time of the incomparable Bob Dylan. I often recount with pleasure who I was and where I was and what I was up to at the time of the release of each of his, what, forty or fifty albums. There is no one more exalted in my personal pantheon and I give thanks for his art.
I’m also thankful for Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Willy and Waylon, Django Rheinhardt, John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, Townes Van Zandt, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Tom Russell, Ian Tyson, Doc Watson, Johnny Cash, Mother Maybelle Carter, Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, the Glueboys, the Barfly Wranglers, and a hundred or so others of equal rank.
Then there are the theoretical physicists who spend their time searching for the elusive smallest common-denominator building block in the universe. String theory and the search for evidence of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN came out of this. Many thanks!
I give thanks for having so many close friends over here in Hebertown who are on the far opposite side of the political spectrum than I. While they certainly don’t fully understand why I’m a leftist, pro-wilderness radical who dislikes Obama far less than I do the Bushes or Reagan, they have absolutely no problem hanging out and sharing of themselves. They are beautiful and I love them and I am thankful for them.
My thanks also go out to all my artist friends, who continue to expand my universe with their improvisational sensibilities. Your proficiencies in music and sculpture and painting and poetry flat out blow my mind! You make me thankful to be alive! Happy Thanksgiving, world!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.