“I didn’t see this one in my parents’ basement, or in a living room I had to share. This was in my house, my living room, on my TV, with my Latrell Sprewell-styled air punches thrown and me not giving a rat’s ass if I woke up my kids who were trying to sleep in the next room.
“New York is not Hair. It is John Wayne in The Green Berets at the Valencia in Jamaica. New York is not these reedy, bland, leavened, pasteurized, homogenized scarecrows running into Bonwit’s. It is a real person wearing a sundress, the body a litle dumpy from having children, the face a little too lined, the hands a little rough and the fingernails shortened from housework and from biting, the reflex against bills in the mail. A real person like this, shopping on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, a street on which there is more human feel to the crowds than almost any other place in the city. New York is not a cocktail party upstairs at Sardi’s. It is a shot of Fleischmann’s with a Rheingold on tap for a chaser in Neal’s on Fordham Road in the Bronx. And it is not Plaza Suite. It is a motel on Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens.”—
Jimmy Breslin, “Is Lindsay Too Tall to be Mayor?,” New York magazine, July 28, 1969, as recommended to me by my friend Justin after he read this.
I’m really glad I hadn’t read this first, because I don’t think I’d have had the temerity to try to make the point that reminded Justin of this. But then again, it’s not every day somebody tells me that something I wrote called to mind Jimmy f*****g Breslin, so maybe you just take the compliment and be glad you get to read a feature by Jimmy f*****g Breslin from when he was throwing godlike heat.
I will start with this: I don’t know Zach Braff, and I have no idea if he’s a nice guy or a heel. I saw Garden State and wasn’t nuts about it, and I’m not a huge Scrubs fan. I’m also jealous of his New York apartment which I once saw in maybe the New York Times? It was beautiful. So basically…
There is nothing brave or courageous or remotely [Jackie] Robinson-esque about my contemplating the carrying of a purse, any more than there is in my taste for pink shirts, though I was once informed by a mother of my acquaintance, half disapprovingly, that wearing a pink shirt was a brave thing for a man to do. It’s simply the case that, as I get older, I seem every day to give a little bit less of a fuck what people think of or say about me.
This is not the result of my undertaking to exercise a moral program or of increased wisdom or of any kind of willed act on my part. It just seems to be a process, a time-directed shedding, like the loss of hair or illusions. I am a husband, a father, and a son, whether or not I think, ponder, or worry about gender, sexuality, my life as a man; and maybe there’s a kind of pleasure to be taken in simple unconsciousness, an automatic way of moving and being and acting in the world. And maybe for an instant here and there, in the taking of that pleasure, I partake of a grace like the grace of Jackie Robinson.
”—Michael Chabon, from the essay “I Feel Good About My Murse,” in the collection Manhood for Amateurs