I don't know why you're here either.

"Clown and Circus Tent"

Bruce Davidson, 1958

the greater april fool.

April Fool’s Day is weird. By which I mean - April Fool’s Day sucks. Usually the prank consists of something that’s just mean spirited and not a prank at all. You get punched in the face. What was that for, you ask. April Fools, they say.

They totally got you.

Although it’d be in the spirit of the day for me to lie and say that those are the only kind April Fool’s Day ‘pranks’ I encounter, they’re not. But if I were to say that, if I were to say that the only pranks I fall victim to on April the 1st of any given year are simply mean spirited bullyings, you would believe me. And why wouldn’t you believe me?

This of course brings me to the second most common genre of misdirected Fool’s deed: somebody tells you something, anything. And you, being a normal person with the standard and logical amount of trust in your fellow man, decide to believe them. Oh, what a fool you are. You should have known better than to have such blind trust in your girlfriend when she called you in a frenzy and announced that she, as a result of some sort of misfire, your misfire, is now carrying a human parasite inside of her abdomen that shares half of your DNA. How could you have been so foolish to take this person, who you have made an implied oath to place a massive amount of trust in, at her word? You are so dumb.

I think there’s some sort of universal desire for people to be the kind of person that plays pranks. Someone who’s light-hearted and goofy and witty and creative - but the problem with this whole situation is that the light-hearted, goofy, witty, and creative guy is great because anything he does is completely without motive: it’s great because it’s pointless and nonsensical. Just for fun. But to orchestrate pranks weeks in advance in order to carry them out on this specific day is to be a tourist in that persona - which is in direct conflict of the persona itself.  The prankster does not meticulously cultivate his archetype. It’s just who he is.

You’re probably thinking, “alright Teddy. This is exhausting. Why can’t you just accept the day for what it is? Stop being so condescending.” But the jokes on you. That was just a character I was playing - a character that’s cynical and overly-analytic and just a general chore to be around. Somebody who acts superior just because other people are having more fun than him. Not me, just a character.

I totally got you.


“Pacific Ocean,” a shredded photograph by Gloria Baker Feinstein. This image accompanies “Memory’s Passages,” by Sarah Manguso, in the February 2014 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

The most happiness I find on the trip is when we’re in the car and I can blare the Chuck Berry tape I brought. We drive the trail where thousands died, and I listen to music and think, what are we supposed to do with the grizzly past? I feel a righteous anger and bitterness about every historical fact of what the American nation did to the Cherokee. But at the same time, I’m an entirely American creature. I’m in love with this song and the country that gave birth to it.

Listening to “Back in the USA” while driving the Trail of Tears, I turn it over and over in my head. It’s a good country. It’s a bad country. Good country. Bad country. And of course, it’s both. When I think about my relationship with America, I feel like a battered wife. Yeah, he knocks me around a lot, but boy, he sure can dance.


Revealing your interests is important.

This American Life - Kid Logic from Jack Hitt

Well, it all began at Christmas two years ago, when my daughter was four years old. And it was the first time she had ever asked about, what did this holiday mean? And so I explained to her that this was celebrating the birth of Jesus.

And she wanted to know more about that. And we went out and bought a kid’s Bible and had these readings at night. She loved them. Wanted to know everything about Jesus. So we read a lot about his birth and about his teaching.

And she would ask constantly what that phrase was. And I would explain to her that it was “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Then we would talk about those old words and what that all meant, you know?

And then one day, we were driving past a big church, and out front was an enormous crucifix. She said, who is that? And I guess I’d never really told that part of the story. So I had to sort of— yeah, oh, that’s Jesus. And I forgot to tell you the ending, yeah.

Well, you know, he ran afoul of the Roman government. This message that he had was so radical and unnerving to the prevailing authorities of the time that they had to kill him. They came to the conclusion that he would have to die. That message was too troublesome.

It was about a month later after that Christmas, we’d gone through the whole story of what Christmas meant. And it was mid-January, and her preschool celebrates the same holidays as the local schools. So Martin Luther King Day was off. And so I knocked off work that day and I decided we’d play, and I’d take her out to lunch.

And we were sitting in there, and right on the table where we happened to plop down, was the Arts section of the local newspaper. And there, big as life, was a huge drawing by, like, a 10-year-old kid from the local schools of Martin Luther King. And she said, who’s that?

And I said, well, as it happens, that’s Martin Luther King. And he’s why you’re not in school today, because we’re celebrating his birthday. This is the day we celebrate his life.

And she said, so who was he? I said, well, he was a preacher. And she looks up at me and goes, (EXCITEDLY) for Jesus?

And I said, yeah, yeah, actually he was. But there was another thing that he was really famous for, which is that he had a message. And you’re trying to say this to a four-year-old. It’s very— this is the first time they ever hear anything, so you just very careful about how you phrase everything.

So I said, you know, well, yeah, he was a preacher, and he had a message. And she said, what was his message? And I said, well, he said that you should treat everybody the same, no matter what they look like. And she thought about that for a minute. And she said, well, that’s what Jesus said.

And I said, yeah, I guess it is. I never thought of it that way, but yeah. And that is sort of like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And she thought for a minute and looked up at me and said, did they kill him too?

Excerpt from Sled Driver: Flying The World’s Fastest Jet by Brian Shul

There were a lot of things we couldn’t do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane—intense, maybe, even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.
It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plane in the past ten months. Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet.

I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat. There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us, tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him for when we began flying real missions, when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it. I still insisted on talking on the radio while we were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn’t match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury. Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him. The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace.
We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot who asked Center for a read-out of his ground speed. Center replied: “November Charlie 175, I’m showing you at ninety knots on the ground.” Now the thing to understand about Center controllers, was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the “Houston Center voice.” I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country’s space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the Houston controllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that and that they basically did. And it didn’t matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios.

Just moments after the Cessna’s inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his ground speed in Beech. “I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed.” Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren.
Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios. “Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check.” Before Center could reply, I’m thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million-dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a read-out? Then I got it, ol’ Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He’s the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet. And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion: “Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground.” And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done—in mere seconds we’ll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now. I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn.

Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona, there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet. Then, I heard it—the click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: “Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?” There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if was an everyday request.
"Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground." I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice: "Ah, Center, much thanks, we’re showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money."

For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center voice, when L.A. came back with, “Roger that Aspen. Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys have a good one.” It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest, the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on freq were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day’s work. We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast. For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out.
If you must gamble away your life sexually, don’t play a Lone Hand too much.
— Mark Twain on masturbation – a scandalous-at-the-time, satirical 1879 lecture poking fun at society’s sheepish religiosity (via explore-blog)
Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.
— David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (via observando)