Jay Meehan: The jury is out
“Gotta straighten out that closet one of these days… ”
~ Fibber McGee
Hoarder? Who, me? Au contraire.
The fact that circumstances have dictated I gather what little I possess and move on to separate but somewhat equal digs and that the sum total of said possessions barely fit into a dozen trips to the liquor store for additional empty cardboard boxes can easily be explained.
First of all, the cubic capacity of each box is rather small, a case of booze not occupying much more space than a breadbox. And when you get right down to it, the boxes-to-bookshelf ratio is no fair match either. Just ask my son Smokey, who – surprise, surprise – has ended up performing the heavy lifting.
Although there are many more volumes squeezed onto the poetry shelf than say the equally sized one that houses the Russians, a box of books is a box of books. One might think that a carton of David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, Richard Powers, and William Gibson would be much heavier than the mean average, but that is not so.
Pretty much, as I alluded to earlier, a box of printed works of fiction or nonfiction on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers are just exactly that. What has proven most interesting in this endeavor is the strange bedfellows that have come to rest side-by-side over the twenty-five years I’ve been randomly pairing authors and single-malts in these parts.
Randomly is the key word here. I would never assign specific spirits to an individual author, or vice versa. The Sherlock Holmes mysteries have grown quite comfortable alongside those of the late, and adorable, Park City historian Gary Kimball, and, boy, would I like to be a fly on that wall.
The whole place is like a bachelor’s junk drawer. In fact, for all intents and purposes, it is a bachelor’s junk drawer. As I move on to a different spatial setting, one thought occurs to me: my kingdom for a bevy of de-clutter queens to sit on my shoulder and say “NO” at the proper time.
Meanwhile, back at that only somewhat platonic relationship between the moving boxes and the bookshelves. Well, actually, prior to the books settling into the boxes, the most interesting juxtapositions are with those accidental neighborhoods that have evolved over space and time.
Take one of the few shelves that, so far, has resisted the general upheaval that is currently reshuffling the once existing decks.
Easily located is the block where, living side-by-side in whatever peculiar alliances and combinations fate deemed, The Maltese Falcon, Portnoy’s Complaint, and Slouching toward Bethlehem lean up against each other. You gotta love it, baby! What has organization ever done for me, anyhow? The proof is in the pudding.
The evidence keeps mounting. The charge that the individual-in-question possesses little, if any, clarity, should be a slam-dunk for conviction. But, what, me worry? What could they possibly do, attach additional years to what is already a life sentence?
I dawdle, therefore I am! And all evidence to the contrary is purely circumstantial. What good is it to have stuffed bookshelves and packed liquor cabinets if not to dive into the depths of each? I suppose I’m a “Spelunker,” of sorts. I’m sure the judge and/or the jury will take that into consideration.
It was really no different when I cavorted in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles or at various locations in Park City, Woodland, and Hebertown. Writers and distillers have always occupied the uppermost strata of my Pantheon.
I, of course, include musicians in this mix. What are pickers-and-grinners if not improvisational composers? And, although I’m the world’s slowest beer drinker (just ask McGee or Smokey), I certainly salute the brewers in our midst. It’s just that, to me, a “sixer” is probably a good month’s stash with one or two left over.
I shouldn’t leave this without a nod to my bathroom bookshelf, which, as you could well imagine, is rather esoteric. That’s where Maynard Dixon and Dorothea Lange, in conjunction with Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz, run a numbers racket and off-track betting book for Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, Jim Harrison, and Sidney Bechet.
Well, whaddaya think? I say guilty as charged. This dude couldn’t keep ducks afloat, let alone in a row.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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