2002 Notebook: Weak XXXII
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8 August 2002
No. 5,011 (cartoon)
I thrive on my bitterness.

I savor my despair.

We are meant for each other.

8 August 2002
Sergeant Floyd Dade, Jr.
I met Sergeant Floyd Dade, Jr., of the U.S. Army’s 761st Tank Battalion at tonight’s opening of the Unlikely Liberators exhibit.

The show documents the incredible history of the 761st Tank Battalion. Almost half of the battalion’s men suffered casualties during the last six months of World War Two as they conducted campaigns that might charitably be described as suicidal. The 761st Tank Battalion was a segregated unit comprised entirely of black men. Quite a coincidence that they got some of the most dangerous assignments, no?

The Unlikely Liberators documented how the men of the 761st Tank Battalion liberated concentration camps. I was deeply moved by the accounts of black soldiers only too familiar with racial abuse and lynchings rescuing the concentration camp inmates.

The huge gulf between past and present vanished when I spotted Floyd standing in front of a photograph of him made during the war. There he was a couple meters away, a retired fighter wearing medals from a war that ended well over a half century ago.

I spent an inordinate amount of time composing my introduction before I approached him.

“Thanks,” I said as I shook Floyd’s hand.

“My pleasure, son,” he replied.

This is the first—and probably last—time I’ll ever brag about shaking someone’s hand.

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9 August 2002
Volleyball Grid
I recently saw one of the loveliest pieces of art I’ve seen in a long time when I discovered a disused volleyball net in a local park. The net was created as a grid of hundreds of perfect squares, but time, weather, gravity, and chance transformed it into a delightfully complex web.

I was tempted to take the lovely piece of sculpture, but that would have destroyed it. The net will die where it’s lived; there’s no other possibility.

10 August 2002
Almost Beerday
Something’s going on here.

Recently, Evy told me that she’s renaming the nights of the week to Saturnight, Sunnight, and so on. And today, I read that Saparmurad Niyazov, the president of Turkmen, née Turkmenistan, wants to rename most months as well as weekdays.

If his proposal is approved by the Khalk Maslakhaty (People’s Council), January will be renamed after the ambitious president himself, and April will henceforth be named after his mother: Gurbansoltan-edzhe. If all goes according to plan, September will be called “Rukhnama,” the title of one of Niyazov’s books.

Here’s the new lineup of weekdays ...

Monday will be Main Day;
Tuesday will be Young Day;
Wednesday will be Favorable Day;
Thursday will be Blessed Day;
Saturday will be Spirituality Day;
Sunday will be Rest Day.

For some reason, Niyazov decided not to rename Friday. I want to advise Niyazov to call Friday “Beerday,” but the crafty megalomaniac hasn’t published any contact information.

Something’s going on here, and what it is ain’t exactly beer.

11 August 2002
No Surprise Divorces
Ruth told me that drunken former boyfriends from long ago keep calling her. They insist on explaining, at great length, why they’re getting divorced.

“I think it’s good that you support your friends,” I said.

“But I’m not supportive,” Ruth replied. “I know exactly why they’re getting divorced. That’s why I dumped them long ago.”

“So what do you tell them?” I asked.

“I tell them to call me when they’re sober,” Ruth responded, “even though that means I probably won’t hear from some of them again.”

12 August 2002
I turned up at a breakfast meeting wired on two double espressos (equals a quadruple espresso?), which led Melissa to send me a followup note.

    I felt a little like I’d joined a party already in progress. You certainly have a commitment to excess.



Melissa was, of course, correct. Life is a party already in progress. And, as far as excesses go, William Blake said it all. “The road of excess leads to the palace of Wisdom.”

Or perhaps Blake was wrong. I live far away from the palace of Wisdom. In any case, I’m sure Melissa wasn’t surprised when I admitted I’d never heard the word “abstemiously” before.

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart