NOTE TO READER
The following excerpt was extracted from the ongoing, ever-evolving Afterward to my memoir, The Gold Connections Trilogy. Originally, I planned on posting this as a singular Day in the Life piece, whereby I gave a complete account of the day of November 21st, the day I attended Mark Z. Danielewski’s 2019 Book Tour. However, due to the devastating worldwide pandemic, my plans have changed. Please allow me to explain.
The excerpt you are about to read was initially conceived as a two-chapter story; the first chapter can be likened to an elongated snapshot of my mundane, daily life, with me waking up in the morning, eating breakfast, commuting to Orange Coast College in order to deliver my twice a week lectures, while the second part pertains to my experience later that evening in Pasadena, where, after all these years, (nineteen to be exact) I finally got to meet and converse with one of my literary inspirations; this being, of course, Mark Z. Danielewski.
To be perfectly honest, I simply have not had sufficient time, due to my hectic scholastic schedule, to hone and perfect the second chapter of this Day in the Life of sorts; it is nowhere near completed. Yet, this is not the case with the first phase of the story; it has been sufficiently perfected. In fact, it is this first chapter that is included herein.
In short, given our current unthinkable pandemic state of affairs, I think this first chapter is of pressing, even vital, importance, (and I am not being arrogant or presumptuous here, trust me).
As most folks know by now, the traditional modes of American education have been forced to transform, almost over night. For instance, virtually all college classes have transitioned to a remote online format. And, of course, it is anybody’s guess as to when this makeshift situation will revert back to normal, where classes are, once again, held in standard brick-and-mortar buildings.
To me, this is a type of tragedy, all unto itself. In my not-so-humble opinion, online learning is inherently inferior to that of face-to-face instruction; that visceral, dynamic tension is sorely missing. In fact, if I was America’s education czar, I would outright outlaw or at least severely restrict remote learning. Again, for me at least, that palpable, inspiration-filled connection is simply not there.
But I am afraid this is the way of the future…yet another new normal.
And this is precisely why I believe the first chapter of Fear and Loathing in Pasadena: The 2019 Mark Z. Danielewski Book Tour, is so important; it’s basically a birds-eye view into what used to be the case, but, sadly enough, is no longer (or at least for the foreseeable future). Little did I know when I was penning this piece that it would be so timely…so perfectly suited for the current catastrophic moment. As much as it pains me to say this, (I tend to be a ‘by design’ guy) accidents can actually be pretty amazing things.
And yet, it is not just the timing of this piece that is important; the actual subject matter maps on, I believe, remarkably well to our current unfortunate, sociopolitical situation. Unbelievably, we are now living in a time when white supremacy has somehow reached the mainstream…a time when young children are actually being held in cages…a time when well-established facts are no longer well-established facts…and a time when, for the first time I can remember, our sacred democracy is truly at stake.
In closing, as the death toll now stands at almost one hundred thousand persons, and well over a million and a half reported cases of the coronavirus, I would just like to state the obvious: we are all in this war together. And, in this war, we will fight, albeit not on a conventional battle field, but instead at home with loved ones, constantly washing our hands, sanitizing everything in sight, sporting masks in public places, while always maintaining our social distance. Indeed, it appears as though the old, seemingly absurd, Taoist dictum is actually the case; that is to say, by doing nothing, we will have, in turn, accomplished our ultimate goal.
Hope you enjoy.
(Memorial Day 2020)
P.S. – Included in this piece are references to Kobe Bryant. I have chosen not to extract these references, despite inevitable objections concerning convenient exploitation. And yet, I can assure you, any one of my students would testify that his name was, indeed, mentioned. In fact, every thing that follows from this point on is as close to an exact, verbatim account as humanly possible.