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in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. Weather on the Air: A History of Broadcast Meteorology, by Robert Henson.
You can’t please all the people all of the time, especially when your field of expertise is the default small-talk option for strangers at a loss for what to say to one another on elevators, around water coolers, and at wedding rehearsals.
“Hot today, isn’t it?”
“Not as hot as yesterday.”
“No, but tomorrow will be even hotter.”
“Oh, I heard tomorrow was going to be cold. Damn cold!”
“Colder than the day before yesterday? That was cold.”
“Yeah, but not as cold as it’s going to be two days from now.”
Et cetera, et cetera. Meteorology—-it’s a miracle anyone goes into this cursed field.
2. The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption, and the Control of our Food Supply, by Marie-Monique Robin.
I learned at punk-rock school that Gillette was bad because they test perfume on animals and Exxon was bad because of the Valdez spill, but nobody said anything about Monsanto. That’s cool, though—-the punk-rock corporation hate list is long, ever-evolving, and, since no corporation’s name is ever stricken from the hate-list once it appears, I have the rest of my life to loathe Monsanto for its crimes against humanity, whatever they are.
3. The Dead Detective, by William Heffernan.
I’ve heard that, in summer, people like to read mysteries on the beach. I’ve always preferred to read Kant or Wittgenstein while catching some rays oceanside and scoping out the bikinied New Jersey babes who, though they appear to be total guidettes obsessed with their abs and ill-conceived tramp-stamps, might be closet existentialists worthy of my undivided ruling-class attention.
4. Beating the Bear: Lessons from the 1929 Crash Applied to Today’s World, by Harold Bierman, Jr.
“My dear child, let’s curl up with this cozy book about the Great Depression—-its causes, its impact on American culture, and what we can do to avoid the economic depressions of the future. And, just when you’re ready to go to sleep, we can go over my SEC filing for reverse-splitting my short-sale of pork bellies before my covered calls and naked puts are converted into a complex DOW-tracked mortgage insurance instrument. It’ll be a total gas.”
5.13 American Artists Children Should Know, by Brad Finger.
If I’d read this book as a child, I’d have been way more prepared to flirt with fine arts majors in college, which probably means I’d have gotten laid a lot more and been into way kinkier shit. Alas—-I read Chronicles of Narnia instead and became a LARPer.