The Unbearable Banishment: Another sign of the apocalypse

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another sign of the apocalypse

When it’s nice outside, I like to spend my lunch hour in Central Park. It can provide an instant and miraculous change of attitude after a stressful morning. It’s peaceful. It really is!

There are a few specific benches I like to occupy. One is by the pond near 59th Street. Another is in a bit deeper near Wollman Rink. I’ll read a book or text/chat with friends. It’s the quickest hour of my day.

I also like to sit near the 6th Avenue entrance and watch the tourists. They congregate there to rent bicycles or hire a Pedicab. They’re such a happy bunch! And why not? They’re on vacation.

You can also hire a handsome carriage, which is the quintessential Central Park experience. From my bench, I watch the plumed horses parade by and I catch snippets of the driver’s rehearsed Central Park history lesson. Why is a driver with an Irish accent more compelling to listen to that the others?

But what do we have here? Surrounded by friends and riding through Central Park on a beautiful, perfect, blue afternoon, he would rather BURY HIS FACE IN HIS iPAD than soak it all in.

Wife had to talk to the other couple to get any attention.

I couldn’t believe it. I watched as they slowly passed by with my big stupid mouth agape. He wasn’t taking photos. He never looked up once. Why would you even bring the damn thing with you?! And those carriage rides aren’t cheap. They’ll set you back about $80 bucks. He might just as well have stayed in his hotel room alone with his iPad. Or home. This isn't even the worst case. Yesterday, I saw a father and his young son in a carriage and Dear Old Dad never once looked up from his cell phone. It's what gave me the idea for this post. Seriously, earthlings, if we don’t change our ways, we’re doomed.

* * *

I recently finished re-reading Nabokov’s Lolita. I read it many years ago when I was in my 20s and remember it being not only astonishingly well written but also unexpectedly funny. Now that I have a 10-year old daughter, I didn’t think it was so goddamn funny. I was still impressed with how well it’s written. Some of the sentences are so perfectly constructed that I had to read them a few times before moving on.

The problem is the book’s reputation. A friend sent me an article about how difficult it is to design cover artwork that accurately reflects the story. Many of the jackets, and also the Stanley Kubrick movie from 1962, depict Lolita as a little sexpot. That is not the case at all. The story is much more horrible than that. She’s a 12-year old child who is held captive and repeatedly raped. It’s pretty rough stuff. "...and her sobs in the night—every night, every night—the moment I feigned sleep." What the hell was I thinking when I first read it? How did I ever get the impression it was funny?


Blogger savannah said...

re the techno zombies, they're doomed, sugar, we just get a few chuckles watching them! as to nabokov, i have to admit, i've not seen the movie or read the book. i know of it, but that's it. i guess i was reading other things back in the day...xxoxoxo

June 7, 2012 at 5:05 PM  
Anonymous dinahmow said...

"Doomed!" I tell you. "Doomed!"
And serve 'em right;it's their loss to miss the sights.

Lolita? yes, 'way back when I first read it, I admired the writing. But I don't recall thinking any of it was funny.Perhaps that's a gender-bias? I should re-read it;thanks for the nudge.

June 7, 2012 at 5:43 PM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

while watching pedestrians outside a bar patio walking down the street, heads bowed in smartphone prayer, a friend of mine remarked "They remind me of the little robots in 'Wall-E'"

June 7, 2012 at 5:44 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Sav: I would have recommended it all those years ago but now I'm not so sure. It got pretty ugly. He denied her the morning coffee until she "performed her duty." It's quite obscene.

dinah: Don't blame me if it's an unpleasant read. I tried to warn you. But that dude knows how to write a paragraph. Whoop. Right upside your head.

daisy: The guy in the photo looked like one of the humans from Wall-E.

June 7, 2012 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

Lucky you to be able to have your lunch hour there.
My son repeatedly talks about going to NY to work, and if his music career takes off (he's on the edge of some really serious growth)he might just do it.

Mind you, I think that his idea of NY is based on Friends.

I can't understand those guys, surely experiencing a new place requires your full attention. But. Do you remember some years ago, you couldn't go to any of the favourite tourist destination anywhere in the world without seeing the hundred of people walking about videotaoing "the experience" Not much different really.

June 7, 2012 at 10:23 PM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

I remember really liking Lolita. And surprisingly enough, I also liked BOTH the movie versions.

June 8, 2012 at 3:08 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

TSB: I have never lost my sense of appreciation for how fortunate I was to land here. It was by accident; not design! I am an eternal tourist. Your son would sink or swim but he should absolutely embrace the opportunity if it comes up. And I disagree with your video camera comparison. At least when you're video taping, you're paying attention and are somewhat involved in the matters at hand. When you get lost in a device, it takes you away from where you are. You become completely disengaged.

nurse: I *did* like it quite a lot. I just don't remember being this upset the first time. I haven't seen the Jeremy Irons version but it's on my list now.

June 8, 2012 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

That's why I gave up on my cine camera. I saw half of Canada through the lens.
I suppose I ought to re-read Lolita as a mature person but I don't think I can bear to.

June 8, 2012 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

So, they're looking for drivers with Irish accents eh? I sing too! :¬)

June 8, 2012 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Pat: It's getting worse, I'm afraid. Just came from a play and the girl two seats over from me started texting while the actors were on stage. I reached over her friend and snapped my fingers a few times in her face. She apologized! She's lucky I didn't chuck the phone against the nearby brick wall.

Map: We don't want any of those phony put-on Irish brogues. They have to be the real deal. Can you drive a horse? If you can drive a horse I think you've got it made.

June 8, 2012 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

I bet he was playing solitaire...or maybe Angry Birds.

P.S. At the risk of sounding pedantic, did you mean Hansom? :)

June 10, 2012 at 12:36 PM  
Anonymous alonewithcats said...

With the iPad idiot, you've hit on one of my (many) pet peeves. I especially hate people at restaurants who are more concerned with snapping cellphone photos of their food than actually eating it. I assume eventually they'll just starve and die out.

June 10, 2012 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

HIF: Crikey! You're right. It is Hansom. I'm not going to correct it. It's part of my site's charm to be littered with errors.

AWC: Thank you for admitting it's a pet peeve and expanding on the worst case scenarios. I thought I was the only one and, hence, abnormal.

June 11, 2012 at 7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done UB for doing that at the theatre. I also can't stand it--it's actually quite creepy, a sort of social exclusion, a public autism.

June 13, 2012 at 5:47 AM  
Anonymous Sid said...

I have never managed to finish reading Lolita. I keep getting stuck midway through.

June 19, 2012 at 8:06 AM  

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