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Wednesday, February 8, 2006

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Nuclear Flatulence
Although Tom Brokaw’s story about his humble beginnings proved mysteriously comforting at the moment of their recollection, it should have been no surprise when I rummaged through the evening’s swag bag later on that I would find a copy of his latest memoir A Long Way From Home: Growing Up in the American Heartland in the Forties and Fifties.

The book would prove helpful later on when I tried to recall the portent of events and the flurry of thoughts that were piqued by the evening’s affair. I wanted to be true to Brokaw’s words, so that I could convey how I was inspired by them in this musing, and so I was grateful to discover that his book actually retold the story he had seemingly conveyed extemporaneously at the podium - verbatim.

I thought “What a set-up!” and laughed, knowing that I’d been had, that his performance was not as spontaneous as it seemed, and that it was but a glean, a gleaming subtle pitch for his book. Regardless, I got over it, and I was just as quick to appreciate the smooth work of this veteran salesman. And I subsequently mused that it is no wonder that critics are so often wary of the power of the media.

Nonetheless, the very next day, instead of returning to my desk as I normally do, I decided to eat my lunch down in the commons so that I could devote the hour to reading Brokaw’s book, in particular, the chapter ending with this story on his first time in New York City. Following is my favorite excerpt:

“One of my favorite hangouts was a combination pool hall and bar called Bud’s Snooker. It has eight snooker and pool tables arranged in one row in a long, narrow room that always smelled of tobacco smoke and stale beer. The bar served ten-cent glasses of beer (sometimes mixed with tomato juice), cold Polish sausages, and hardboiled eggs—a wicked prescription for nuclear flatulence.”

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