a hundred and ten cornets close at hand


Since it’s just been the 4th of July, I’d like to go ahead and say it: I’m an elitist. I’m an arrogant, disdainful, sarcastic dilettante who believes that intellect beats “gut feeling” nine times out of ten (and the tenth time is a fluke). I say things like “God, that is so ‘The Ice Storm'” and “he’s in a C#-minor mood”.

I went to prep school. Then I went to a large Public Ivy and some of us made fun of the in-staters, at least the ones that kept their spittle collected in 2-liter bottles on a shelf in Hinton James dorm. I listened in the classes I liked, and then used that information later to make money.

I’m such a smartypants blowhard that I’m actually ashamed of my country more times than I’m proud of it. I find Sarah Palin to be utterly ghastly; a profoundly shallow, delusional twit with a criminal lack of curiosity about the world. I want to play Boggle and embarrass the holy fuck out of her. I want to play Scrabble just so I can make fun of the way she spells “poise” with a “z”.

I installed solar panels on our roof and drive a Prius, not so much for environmental reasons, but because it makes me feel smugly justified to extend my middle finger to Dick Cheney. My particular environmentalism is an act of revenge. Do you know what I listen to in my Prius? NPR. I attend with rapt attention to their “driveway moments” and have shed the occasional tear over “This American Life”.

I am white. I like the stuff white people like, especially those in my class and educational bracket. These include Macintosh computers, espresso pods with Irish Crème syrup, the Amazon Kindle, sweaters, and triple-paned glass windows with argon gas (to keep out the noise of a world gone mad). My tomatoes are organic; my oatmeal lumpy.

I think the second amendment is a crock of shit. I think people that spend their time crafting the Defense of Marriage Act are laboring in such Freudian denial that they absolutely have to be gay. I think all country music sounds the same, and leather cowboy hats make me instantly exhausted, the kind of fatigue that sets in after a Xanax (which I obtained legally).

I believe that Kentucky’s political choices are a blight to free thinkers everywhere. I also know that I used synecdoche in that last sentence and I’m also glad to teach you the difference between it and metonymy. In fact, my unchecked bloviating allows me to offer you pop quizzes in a multitude of categories at a millisecond’s notice.

I am a huge advocate of excellence in all things. I know the difference between someone who had a few lessons and someone who has spent hours honing their craft. I pity those who wasted their 20s and 30s being pretty and precious, as they pretty much have precious little left to offer. I also recognize the previous sentence doesn’t quite scan, but wish to keep the play-on-words for effect.

My opening advice is usually “you better fucking catch up, the rest of us are on page 37.” My wife made a joke about the 17th-century painter Peter Paul Rubens in the car last week, and I wanted to have sex with her in traffic. I quote Morrissey with abandon, yet love boobs.

And it is for this, the ability to be such a foofter, to be such a sanctimonious agnostic, to have such disgust for so many, and a short, odd list of heroes, that I love America. As others fight to keep my kind marginalized to the liberal fringes, I, in turn, fight to make sure that I’m always smarter than they are. They come after us with bibles and guns, but we pancake them with logic and stem cells.

May we all live together near the 37th parallel. You may shame me for my tastes, but only in the USA are we allowed such delicious complexity.

0 thoughts on “a hundred and ten cornets close at hand

  1. Anne

    Good point; well made.
    I’m wondering how you interact face-to-face with your fellow citizens who are bible-thumpers, NRA members, “rednecks”, Sarah Palin fans, etc. Do you engage with people who think and behave in radically different ways from you and your friends? If so, how does that work? Do you leave the elephant untouched in the living room, or wade into the turbulent waters of open debate?

  2. Neva

    I hear ya Ian. Elitist is such a derogatory sounding term. Since when was being smart and well educated become a negative thing. I for one would like all my leaders to be smart and well educated.
    To address Anne’s question above I work, live, and am friends with plenty of people with opposing few points. I tend to keep my mouth shut after having lived through many knock down drag-out fights over issues where no one’s opinion was changed and relationships were injured. I do find it frustrating when folks want to argue points they know absolutely nothing about. There are many, many issues I wouldn’t dare debate (economic ones for instance) but nothing seems to be out of the knowledge base of some of my more conservative associates.
    Just this weekend I had to deal with my father-in-law trying to rile me up with things like “how to do like that socialized medicine your man is pushing?”. I took a deep breath and didn’t engage. The man knows absolutely nothing about this topic but could argue his completely uneducated point until the cows come home.
    Call me elitist. I don’t care. At least I read about something before I expound greatly on it.

  3. eric g.

    I spent an hour this afternoon on a treadmill reading my Amazon Kindle and thinking that if guns weren’t so easy to obtain, Steve McNair would probably still be alive.
    Draw what conclusions you may.

  4. Ruthy

    your readers know all that, and we love you for it, and often agree. It’s ok if you have to sum it up now and then and scream it from the solar-panelled rooftops.
    BTW, I have read the term “public ivy” in print, so it must be true, especially since I have a degree from there.

  5. jen

    But, isn’t there a danger in becoming so predictable? Even those folks who are not well-read can memorize formulas. Before you know it, they’ve mastered the ability to pander to your intellect. So, my point is, you’re really not that predictable, are you????

  6. raputa

    The wikipedia entry confirms my suspicion that the term “Public Ivy” is only one subscribed to by students and alumni of the schools on the list. Harvard, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, Princeton, Yale – those schools are in the Ivy League. Carolina is in the ACC, Michigan is in the Big Ten, etc. I love the blog but “Public Ivy” is just goofy.

  7. Ian

    raputa: agreed. I always thought it smacked of Me Too-ism.
    However, I still refer to Harvard as “The Carolina of New England”.

  8. raputa

    LOVE that! My cousin went to Harvard, I went to Syracuse, we’re the same age, and he always loved reminding me that I was paying an Ivy League price for a Big East degree. At age 38 and still paying off the loans, the harsh reality still brings a certain monthly pain.


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