October 11th, 2004



I met some people last night at George's which I hadn't set foot in in 15 years at least. Back then it was the Writer's Workshop lube shop of choice, and you'd hear people's voices get loud, slurry, and more pretentious and stentorian on abstruse topics than you'd ever previously thought possible. I fit in perfectly, or thought I did, or fit in perfectly in all the wrong ways.

The occasion was a guy from the non-fiction program at the University interviewing a couple of my hip hop friends for a think-piece about race and hip hop. That went about as well as could be expected, with Z and J cracking wise and dancing around the issue as best they could. I get asked a few questions, and I'm sure I sounded about 2 beers into my pompous and dumb mode, but I think I pulled back from the brink. Thankfully about 10 people will read the essay, if I'm lucky.

But the weirdest part was sitting in a bar for 2 hours on a sunday night, and knowing everyone who came through the door. A folk singer who has been around town for nearly 30 years, who I'd just tried and failed to get to play at a benefit show. The goofy guy who has a guitar call in show on public access cable -- well the idea of his show is goofy as hell, but in person he seems to take himself completely seriously without seeming too much a twit. A local guy who has published a couple of critically acclaimed novels and memoirs, who moved into the house next to our first house after we sold it to a friend.

The pond, it seems, is exceeding small in Iowa City. And, the only woman in the joint was the bartender. After the interviewer left, and Z and J started getting drunk enough to stop being interesting, and the middle aged minor emminences started seeming a little pathetic for being away from their families on a Sunday night, I had to leave. It was starting to feel like a hobo jungle, where people get drunk and believe each others lies as an act of makeshift friendship. Not that I was any different but I'd had an actual errand that brought me there, and I stopped drinking too soon to join in the fun.

Not that there's any real point to this, but from being interviewed to seeing only familiar faces in a public place I never usually visit, it was a weird couple of hours.

And the Guinness on draft was weak and overly fizzy.