What I Am Reading: H. Blum & J. Connolly 2006

This will be a short entry. I also do not think this piece was written not first published in 2006, but that is the only date I have. Yesterday I walked downtown to meet her after work and I went into Border to grab a book and an iced tea while I waited. The first book to catch my attention on the new release shelf, I go to the trade paperback book table in case I want to buy something. I hate dropping $35 on a new hardcover.

I am a slut for the Best of series. The one that caught my eye this time was the Best Crime Writing of 2006. I forget whom the editor if this volume is, but it was somebody that I have heard of. (sidebar)While I hate ending a sentence with a preposition, I see Mrs. Knight making fun of me in front of the 3rd grade class, the alternate ending, ‘of whom I have heard’, does not sound right.(/sidebar) I was reading “Hit Men in Blue?” which I think was originally published in Vanity Fair. The story was about NYPD cops turned bad that were on the take for the mob and even served as hitmen.

It read like a movie treatment. The opening paragraph could have been the text displayed on the screen right at the beginning of a movie (for the life of me I cannot find what the term for this on-screen text is.) What was missing, however, from the piece was an admission of this Hollywood intrusion. I cannot imagine the authors did not think about how some readers would find the story too seamless and too complicated to be non-fiction. If I had been writing the piece I would have made an admission in an effort to distance myself from its unbelievability. I guess that is one excellent reason they are paid to write professionally and I am not.

I did not finish the story because my mother called and then after I was done with that conversation the girl called me. She was done with work so I left the cafe to meet her. But there was a funny event that I was witnessed. While I was in the cafe there was a woman on the other side speaking rather loudly into her cell phone. Not a big deal. Next to her was a man with a book in Hebrew propped on a bookstand. Immediately in front of him was a Hebrew-English dictionary and a blank journal where he was busily translating the Hebrew text. The woman finished her calls and started to clean the mess at her table. She turned to the translator, who was rather professorial looking, and apologized for being so loud. He walked away in a manner that did not attract my attention.

A Borders employee came into the café to clean up books left behind and she told him of the rude man, rather loudly. “He looked at me like I was trash. People in this city are so rude, the rudest city I have ever been in. I was trying to apologize and he just looked at me like I was trash. I guess I should wear my PhD on my sleeve.” I swear she spoke like this: rapid fire, she was not waiting for the employee to acknowledge her or to even affirm her. “See now, you are only speaking to me,” I did not think he was speaking at all, “because you work here.”

Next to the employee at a table next to mine, in between myself and the woman, was a man who also alone and also reading. I felt the urge but he acted on it. To disprove her whitewashing of DCists as rude, he looked up at her engagingly. She saw him and started in again: rapid fire not waiting for acknowledgement or affirmation. “I apologized for being loud and he looked at me like I was trash. People in this city are so rude. I guess I should wear my PhD on my sleeve.” As if she wasn’t wearing it on her sleeve.

How silly. In the heart of think tanks and policy institutes, this Borders might be in the most highly educated square mile in the world, and this woman thinks she is special because she has a PhD? And, if she were being rude then it is all excused because she has a PhD? She reminded me of one of my professors in graduate school who was also really proud of her PhD and was shocked when we did not give her the respect she thought she deserved. This woman was not at all intelligent and she would agree with everything this particular graduate student said, even when he was messing with her by being contradictory. A large middle-Tennessee looking woman: dumpy, black dress, pink undershirt and a matching large floppy pink hat.

I thought it was going to be a short entry.

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