The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday and Cornell Scenery

“Men at Work
By Julie Bruck

     I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
     He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.
                                                            —"Down Under"

We middle-aged sense them immediately:
four brittle pop stars sprawled across
the rigid fibreglass chairs at the airport gate.
It's not just that they're Australian, that gorgeous
thunk of English, the stacked electric-guitar cases
draped with black leather jackets, or their deep
tans on this Sunday night in midwinter Toronto
that holds everyone's attention, drawn as we are,
pale filings to their pull. Even their rail-thin
lassitude attracts us, as it must Doug, the portly
Air Canada gate manager in his personalized jacket,
who arrives to greet the band, cranking hands
and cracking jokes. Doug, who must live in
Mississauga with the wife and a couple of kids,
and who insists the boys come back to play Toronto
next year, when we clutchers of boarding passes
will have abandoned our carry-ons for tickets
to a midsized arena and a resurrected band
whose lyrics never did make sense but
which are laced to a beat that won't let go—
propelling us down the carpeted ramps
of late-night flights on feeder airlines, hips
back in charge of our strange young bodies,
now shaking down runways in rows.


Possibly the most relevant New Yorker poem of the year (I adore Colin Hay -- anyone who wrote "Waiting For My Real Life To Begin" gets status as my imaginary boyfriend forever). Bruck's 1999 book is The End of Travel.

I did lots of driving back and forth on Monday. Daniel went in the morning to work on his summer project, and after dropping him off, I took Adam as promised to look at Wacom tablets. He wanted one with an erase feature and good pressure sensitivity, so he ended up getting a Bamboo CTH460 with some of the money he earned from selling a video to It Only Hurts When I Laugh and spent a lot of the afternoon setting it up, learning to use it, and making art with it. We went back to pick up Daniel in the afternoon and got to see the propellers of the rotor device that he's working on as they spun up. I mentioned that we had seen Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey for the Nintendo DS in the store, and ended up agreeing to buy it for him today on the condition that he's not allowed to play it till he finishes the college common application essays. So he finally did start on those, in addition to doing more work on the summer project which needs to be mostly finished before he goes back to school next week.

Late in the afternoon, I folded laundry while watching Cruel Intentions, which had come up in conversation a couple of times both because "Bittersweet Symphony" seems to be getting a lot of air time of late and because somehow we ended up talking about how well Ryan Phillippe plays John Malkovich in the film -- it's not an adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses so much as it is a reconception of Dangerous Liaisons set in the modern era, and all the actors seem to be playing their counterparts in that movie. We all enjoyed it and now my kids know that people behaved just as naughtily in the 1700s as on prom night. I think I said everything else I had to say in The Green Man Review. Later we all half-watched the Titans beating the Cardinals, which I care about only because the Redskins' lead Hog Russ Grimm is now an offensive coach on the Cardinals (the Ravens beat the Redskins while we were at the Vienna Teng concert). Now we are watching Jon Stewart's utterly fabulous explanation of why we must all stop watching Fox News or we'll be supporting terrorists, according to Fox News!

The dormitory that housed women when Cornell became one of the first universities to admit them.

The view of the mountains from the back of the student union is glorious.

Willard Straight Hall also has interior carvings of some of its namesake's least favorite professors from when he was a student.

The front of the building has much of the growth one expects of the Ivy League, though at this point I've seen most of the Ivy League schools and they don't have as much ivy as Bryn Mawr.

Sage Chapel has beautiful murals and stained glass.

Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences is the largest undergraduate division at the university, and shares its quadrangle with the College of Architecture.

A statue of the university's founder, who wanted to be remembered for creating a school that offered admission regardless of religion, race, or gender.

The grounds are beautiful in the summer, like this bridge over a running creek. I can't vouch for what the water looks like in January, or whether it can be crossed in the snow.

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