Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm Such An Asshole. And A Genius!

Have you heard that "missed connection from 1973" story that's been slithering around the e-world today? Google it. It's a craigslist ad (since removed) placed by a guy who shared a night of romance with a girl back in '73, and now he's hoping she's out there somewhere. The story takes place in New York City on Thanksgiving Eve and Day.

You know me. I had to check. I had to. The weather. He says it was a rainy night, followed by a wintry mix the next day. So I went to Weather History at And sure enough (because most stories you hear are total bullshit), no precipitation reported in Central Park on 11/21/1973. In fact, there wouldn't have been a cold rain or wintry precipitation with highs reaching the 60s on Thanksgiving Day. I even found some photos of that day's parade, which show the sun shining brightly and people in short sleeves.

Okay, now to answer some of your questions:

1. Do you have that disease where you're emotionless and immediately start counting the guests at a wedding instead of congratulating the bride and groom?

Well, it's borderline. Just kidding. I'll out-emotion you any day. I'll work emotional circles around ya, I'll wrap yer fuckin' head in with a ratchet! Wait, where was I? Ah yes, look, jerky, I appreciate the sentimental story, but don't bullshit people. He seems pretty positive of when this happened, and I'm telling you that there's visual and recorded proof that that time didn't look like what he said it did. Maybe he added the rain and wintry mix for effect. Maybe there was a little rain and it just wasn't measurable--despite that he implies this was quite an extended weather system. Or maybe he was one year off or something. Hell, maybe he meant Canadian Thanksgiving. But what really happened was, he's full of shit.

We're just going to have to accept this story as a good piece of fiction. Like the Bible. Any other questions, leave 'em with my secretary.

Samuel R. Delany opens his autobiography reminiscing about the passing of his father, noting that he possesses "clear memories" of his illness and death. Of his writing (or attempting to) the eulogy near Grant's tomb. Of the funeral, where he was given his father's ring. For years afterwards he told all who asked that his father died in 1958, when he was 17. Twenty years later, while writing a biographical sketch, he realized through his research that his father died in 1960, when he was 18.

The book is very good.

Memory is a funny thing, and the associations we make that bind events together can be stretched and compressed in our minds. I don't know the chap that posted that story online, and maybe he is seeking attention or being a troll, but, that he is sure it happened that way doesn't mean it did. Nor do factual errors in the narrative mean it didn't happen at all.

I'm reminded of Augustine of Hippo's 'Confessions,' where he considers, "When then I remember memory, memory itself is, through itself, present with itself: but when I remember forgetfulness, there are present both memory and forgetfulness; memory whereby I remember, forgetfulness which I remember. But what is forgetfulness, but the privation of memory?"

What, indeed?
Jere, if the Bible has taught us nothing else -- and it hasn't -- it's that girls should stick to girl's sports, such as hot oil wrestling and foxy boxing and such and such.
Ha, took me a second but then Homer's voice came to me. Or did I misremember......
NYT, 11/23/1973: "And for New Yorkers, of course, there was Macy's Parade, which joined with delightful weather to draw a massive crowd along the route."
Liam: It's all very interesting how we remember and don't remember shit. But I'm wondering how today's world is changing the act of reminiscing. (And I didn't exactly use modern technology--we've been recording the weather for a long time, I just used the web to access the data faster.) If everything is recorded, it will be harder and harder to tell a personal tale assuming it can't be debunked, when it most likely could be, provided there was at minimum one other person or camera (or weather-measuring device!) there at the time.

It's kind of, but not really, like how Bob Costas once noted how people keep calling Michael Jordan a "legend," and how that's wrong, because in the "old days," we had legendary tales of people like Babe Ruth, but now every single game, every play, is recorded, so there's no such thing as a legendary performance by a modern athlete. Well, not one that can't be clearly debunked anyway.

So if someone tells me 50 years from now that he once saw LeBron James jump over the backboard during a playoff game in 2012, should I just nod and smile because the storyteller has wrinkles on his face and appears "wise" and uses colorful adjectives? Or should I whip out the DVDs?
It's all very interesting how we remember and don't remember shit.

And that is why we need accurate stats to help us measure players and teams.
Mom here.
I wrote a memoir. Memoir means memory in French. I learned that no matter how clearly I remembered something, my cousin remembered the exact same event differently. But you can get away with that when you label what you wrote a memoir because as everyone knows (hah!) a memoir is a remembered life, not the one that actually happened, i.e. the writer's truth as opposed to the truth. Or as Mark Twain said, The older I get the more convinced I am that something that happened never did. And as a fiction writer, I've discovered that if you want to know the truth about an era, read a novel written during that era because historians make everything up. Just like those coupla guys down at the tavern in Jerusalem who wrote down all their jokes which were passed down through the ages to be known as the Old Testament, and then there was Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, who wrote memoirs centered on their good buddy, Jesus,(same events, different takes) that came to be known as the New Testament. The best college course I had was called, The Bible as Literature.
But Jere, I think you're conflating the way memory can exaggerate accomplishments with the way it can compress/expand time and the way we remember particular events.

This story might have happened, but perhaps he got the date wrong? Or he remembers it being cold and associated that with Thanksgiving (for some reason)? I don't know, but getting the weather wrong doesn't mean, if I may quote you, "he's full of shit." He could be, but then again...

Jere's Mom: I'm not entirely sure about your tone or personality, but I'm assuming you're kidding when you write "historians make everything up." History is a discipline, and while one should be weary of the nonsense that comes from people who dip their toes in the practice and come up with crazy ideas like "Shakespeare didn't write any plays!" or "Jesus never existed!" actual historians are far more methodical, concise and tend to eschew paradigm-shifting declarations that the evidence doesn't justify. They're not as entertaining as Dan Brown but far more reliable.
Let's just say I had no doubt the weather wouldn't match. If by chance this classic fake Internet story turns out to have really happened, I'd love to hear his excuses as to why he would confuse Thanksgiving with another day where everybody goes home and eats a meal together, or a wintry mix with a mild sunny day, or whatever.
Mom, I had a feeling you'd "chime in" on this!
According to Weather Underground, they got 0.02 in of rain the night before. I have no idea how much that is though. Maybe it was damp and he mixed up the snow the next day?
The level of detail for every other part of the story is really high though, so it does kind of throw it into question when it looks like certain other details are wrong.
I wonder why there are two different recordings of the exact same spot floating around out there...

And that site shows 0.0 for the next day. It just doesn't seem like this night-into-next-day mixed weather event that he describes (especially with that photographic evidence, and the fact that the temps were never anywhere near freezing over that 2-day period), and it's hard to believe you could confuse Thanksgiving Day with any other day, especially given all the details he mentions that are specific to Thanksgiving. The whole "he got the year wrong" thing IS plausible, but, how would you not know the year it happened when you know so much else, like what year of college you were in at the time?
I thought that he might have gotten the year wrong too—(maybe by thinking "oh well I graduated in '75 and it was my sophomore year when this happened so it must have been '73" and therefore forgetting that the fall semester happens the previous year)—but the Thanksgivings in 72 and 74 were clear as well. Plus, the year doesn't seem random, it was presumably chosen so as to be 40 years in the past this Thanksgiving.

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