Former 2:24 marathoner, now pushing 50 and reduced to a pitiable spastic shuffle • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on distance running since 1999; mostly a crank since approximately 2016 and possibly long before • Coach and adviser of less pessimistic perambulators • Dobie-mix owner Sentence-fragment impresario

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Instead of tweets, Vol. 5


  • The word "jogger" seemingly should have gone the way of "Negro" and "gal" by now, still tenaciously tumbling from the faces of especially old, sheltered or antisocial folks but nowhere else. Not because it's offensive, but because it's stupid. Yet the general media knows no other word besides "jogger" to describe a pedestrian who is not walking, crawling, hopping, or skipping, and we're always reminded of this when runners find dead human bodies, or otherwise bear witness to some kind of shit that has either degraded or ended someone's life. I am at times deeply disappointed to have never found a human corpse while running, or for that matter at any other time, with the most interesting unexpected find I have had during a jog being two people about my current age fornicating in a clearing in the woods of New Hampshire. (That happened when I was about ten years out of high school, a couple of miles from that high school, which made sense because both participants in these copulatory shenanigans were teachers there, and married. But not to each other, as I knew, or at least had good reason to believe, as a result of having had one of them as a teacher myself. That whole encounter could have gone darkly hilarious in a hurry because I had a loose dog with me who though disciplined, was naturally curious every time he saw a bare human ass thrust into the air, which, to be frank, wasn't all that often.)

    Anyway, I am convinced at this point that this "jogger" convention is not a journalistic convention at all but an inviolable rule. If Usain Bolt himself left the Olympic Stadium, a gold medal in each hand and one around his neck, and happened to see someone getting mugged during a private moment en route to his limo, and dashed over to intervene, the headline would read "Jogger Fresh Off Pair of Olympic Record Foils Would-Be Thief." Better still, say some unfortunate finalist in the Olympic 1,500 meters dropped dead after the start of the second lap. If his body were sprawled across the first two lanes when the field came around a minute later, if the announcers thought he was merely unconscious or play-acting, they would bark about the athletes having to hurdle him. But if they knew he was dead for some reason (say, his head had become separated from his body by an errant, whirling circular saw blade, which probably only happens in Naked Gun movies), they would cry with dismay that a group of joggers had just torn past a deceased victim of foul play with nary a concern for anything but their own unseen destination.
  • Being accosted by free-roaming dogs has become so commonplace now that I have an (always restrained) dog of my own that it almost doesn't bear mentioning. Tonight's version took place in East Boulder near the track at the middle school there, when a bigass bulldog with a bigass block head came bulling into the street and kind of bunted Rosie. She was prepared to defend herself, but the beast's owner called it back into their yard, offering a couple of "Really sorry, man," in the way people say when they mean "Sorry I fucking gambled again 'cause frankly I don't really give a shit, this is my neighborhood." As always, the main hazard here is not (so far) the threat of Rosie or me being attacked outright. It's me being bound up in the leash thanks to all the whirling and fuckery that comes with trying to gain a modicum of control in such situations, and winding up busted to shit on the ground.

    I have started relegating the "Sorry, man" crew to my realm of dark David Lynch-style death fantasies, wherein the violence is so extreme that even someone generally averse to such displays can at least snicker. Like, I imagine myself picking up a handy, smooth, almost spherical rock from the ground, planting my feet just so, rearing back, and with my 49-year-old corn husk of an arm, throwing a fastball at the guy's head with Nolan Ryan-caliber velocity, let's say 103 MPH on the JUGS gun, but just burning a streak like an inverse mohawk across the crest of his goddamn bean. Enough so that you could kind of see tendrils of smoke rising from the shredded middle of his scalp, with white bone glistening beneath. The best part would be the guy not realizing he'd been hit at all as he turns and wobbles back inside, his shit-hound licking bits of blood-and hair-flecked scalp matter off the lawn as it trails behind. And remember, that's just the friendly warning shot.
  • I recently started a Gmail conversation with myself called "Idea file," and this is where I store the results of any brainstorming I have when I am away from my keyboard. I blurt whatever it is into a new message using the voice-to-text function and hit SEND. I just went back and reviewed all 30 or so of these "messages," and while there might be some useful stuff in there, most of it just looks like the raving of someone who is being kept in both medically induced coma and on high doses of LSD, and is prodded to awaken once or twice a week to see what's been on his mind.
  • I can think of only one well-known song (albeit one almost as old as I am) that has the same single note struck for the duration of the tune -- at least as many times per measure as this one does (every eighth note, which for a song clicking along at 90 BPM means 180 per minute, making it perfect to run to). That song is "Join Together" by The Who, which starts with an intro on a mouth harp (sometimes called a Jew harp, which seems like a bad idea these days, not that the instrument gets a lot of, uh, play) knocking out F-F-F-F-F before the harmonica solo kicks in, and then Roger Daltrey's vocals and the synth line (a rolling Fsus4 chord that also continues from that point on until the outro), and then Pete Townshend's guitar, and finally Roger Entwistle's bass line, also sort of a rolling F. The song itself is written in B flat, and the only chord change takes place during the chorus: E flat, B flat, F. Any idiot can play it on a keyboard. which as you should know by now is why I am so familiar with it. The trick, of course, would be finding two people who could sing like Daltrey and play the guitar like Townshend to sort of, you know, flesh out the whole performance. Musicians of that caliber who are otherwise unoccupied are rare.
  • I realized last week that the farthest north and west I have ever been on Earth is Portland, Oregon. Its latitude is slightly higher than that of Montreal, which I had previously assumed was my northernmost point.

    Miami is as far south as I have traveled, or some shithole near there, and I believe Orono, Maine marks my easternmost point. That last one seems funny because it's also the closest of these points by far to where I grew up, but there is also a sizable ocean 40 miles east of my hometown running quite a ways NNE and SSW.

    Related: I sleep about five feet above the one-mile-above-sea-level plane (which, in case you've never been out here, can't be seen). The park down the street, or most of it, is below this plane. So is most of the part of East Boulder north of Baseline Road (which rides right on the 40th parallel, you should know, 280 meters from where I type). But most of the part of East Boulder south of Baseline Road, where a larger park that houses my favored track sits, lies above 5,300'. There is no significance to this at all other than the fact that I probably spend 95 percent of my time on a given day within 100' either way of one mile above sea level.
  • Another undeniable sign our species is not build to last: Those smoking rooms in airports. Do I even have to explain this one?

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