Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ron Jonson

I’m reading the paper on Saturday morning. “Cor!” I think, “This Jon Ronson’s quite good. I think I’d like to write something like him.” I wonder if I should write to Jon and tell him about my idea. “Hang on!” I think, “perhaps Jon won’t like that. Perhaps Jon will think ‘there’s only room for one person to write off-the-cuff, insubstantial fluff cunningly concealing real, genuine insight into one life’s merry masquerade.’ Perhaps, he’ll even take it as an attack.”

I wouldn’t like to attack Jon. I think he’s great. How do I tell him that I think he’s great without looking like I’m trying to attack him?

My boy Noel comes into the room. “Dad,” he says, “Can we go out and play in the pond today.”

I sigh loudly. My wife, down the hall in the bathroom hears me. “Ron!” she shouts, “take him to the pond. Stop obsessing about Jon Ronson.”

Later on, after I’ve wiped the flakes of mud off my glasses and out of my hair, I reflect that life must be really hard for Jon Ronson. “All those people writing to him the whole time, expecting things from him. I wouldn’t like that at all.” I decide I’ll definitely not write to him.

My wife is unimpressed and tells me that if I don’t stop watching Secret Rulers of the World again she’s going to go to her mother’s for the rest of the weekend.

Hmmm, I think. How does he do it? How does he transmogrify his dull everyday meanderings into comic nuggets of gold?

“I can’t stand the way he uses his family in his pieces,” my wife always says when we discuss Jon. I have always agreed with her. I decide to steer clear of anything like that and just report objectively on the things people want to know about, using my charming neurotic persona to smooth out any suspicion that I’m a grasping, malevolent journalist. I wonder what I should have as my first topic.

“How about conspiracy theories?” says my neighbour Dan, who’s come round to borrow the paper. “I can’t,” I say, “Jon’s already done that.” I point to a copy of Them, which sits on my shelf next to the Secret Rulers DVD. “Oh,” says Dan. He takes the paper and goes back next door.

I pause, stare out of the window, and clean my glasses. “I know. I won’t tackle any really big things at all, at least not at first. Instead I’ll just sort of write about what I’m thinking and the conversations I have.”

I stare out of the window a bit more. Then I have a very significant thought: “It’ll be sort of like an episode of Seinfeld.”

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bruce Molsky, Magpie’s Nest

Some people are so accomplished, they defy you to shrink them into language. Instead of piling inadequate superlatives upon them, you are left only able to give them a single, particular word; par example Bruce Molsky. The Bronx-born master of fiddle, guitar and banjo is nothing less than an all-encapsulating definition of the word ‘talent’. Molsky plays the fiddle as though charming an upturned, rapidly emptying bottle of wine. However it is that he plays something, it is how it is meant to be played. He plays accurate, smooth and as lively as a firecracker. Every now and then he jerks some new and unexpected sounds from his instrument, as though waking up spirits that are dozing inside. But the music, American old-time, is not so much mystical, instead practical and rational. It is not spirits, but pure joy that he jerks from his violin, a gift to all who hear it.