Friday, February 07, 2014


Matthew Makarewicz tipped me to the best barbecue in Kansas City last year, and I really wanted to revisit Nicholas Payne's soliloquy from Thomas McGuane's 1971 Bushwhacked Piano ,  even before he requested it. Now imagine two guys shouting it out in unison in Harvard Square in about 72, laughing so hard they are falling down, each trying to one- up the other-- see a few posts below. Here you go, Matthew!

Payne has just been asked by his girlfriend's odious parents, the Fitzgeralds, what he believes in. They have already condescended to him about "fun" and dismissed his recommendation to read Samuel Butler ("We have"; Payne: "Do it again.")

"The mother told Payne that they had had enough of him. "We merely asked what you believed in, " she said. "We had no idea it would precipitate nastiness."

"What I believe in? I believe in happiness, birth control, generosity, fast cars, environmental sanity, Coors beer, Merle Haggard, upland game birds, expensive optics, helmets for prizefighters, canoes, skiffs, and sloops, horses that will not allow themselves to be ridden, speeches made under duress; I believe in metal fatigue and the immortality of the bristlecone pine. I believe in the Virgin Mary and others of that ilk. Even her son whom civilization accuses of sleeping at the switch...

"I believe that I am a molecular swerve not to be put off by the zippy diversions of the cheap- minded. I believe in the ultimate rule of men who are sleeping. I believe in the cargo of torpor which is the historically registered bequest of politics. I believe in Kate Smith and  Hammond Home Organs.  I believe in ramps and drop offs...

"I believe in spare tires and emergency repairs. I believe in  the final possum. I believe in little eggs of light falling from outer space and the bombardment of the poles by free electrons. I believe in tintypes, rotogravures and parked cars, all in their places. I believe in roast spring lamb with boiled potatoes. I believe in spinach with bacon and onion. I believe in canyons lost under the feet of waterskiers. I believe that we are necessary and will rise again. I  believe in words on paper, pictures on rock, intergalactic hellos. I believe in fraud. I believe that in pretending to be something you aren't you have your only crack at release from the bondage of time. I believe in my own dead more than I do in yours. What's more, credo in unum Deum, I believe in one God. He's up there. He's mine. And he's as smart as a whip.

"Anyway, you get the drift. I hate to flop the old philosophy on the table like so much pig's guts. And I left out a lot. But, well, there she is."

Soon, perhaps, "The Shining City."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I am blushing and honored. If you find your way back to Kansas City I would be happy to treat you to some more of that barbeque. Now, I am going to pull The Longest Silence off the shelf. Only because I just finished re-reading Querencia.