years ago, i’d read an article about playwright martin mcdonagh in which he references many of my favorites, from the pogues to oscar wilde, jorge luis borges to pinter’s "the birthday party." while the author of the piece does a wonderful job of convincing me that i must read this man’s work and intriguing me by the real-life ruggedness in which many of the plays are set, i’ve never been able to shake the memory of the following story mcdonagh, at age 16, told his brother:
A lonely little boy is on a bridge at dusk when a sinister man approaches. The man is driving a cart on the back of which are foul-smelling animal cages. The boy conquers his fear, offers the man some of his supper, and the two sit and talk. Before the man leaves, he says that he wants to give the boy something whose value he may not understand but will soon come to appreciate. The boy accepts. The man takes a meat cleaver from his pocket and chops off the toes of the boy’s right foot. As the man drives away, he tosses the boy’s toes to the rats that have suddenly begun to gather in the gutters of the town, whose name, we now learn, is Hamelin. The man is the Pied Piper, who saves Hamelin from the plague but kidnaps the local children when the town’s elders refuse to compensate him for his efforts. The boy is the only one of Hamelin’s children to survive, because he cannot keep up with the other kids, who follow the Piper out of town.
wow… commenter eric warner-weinstein took this article quite seriously. his critique:
Technically the fastest animal on earth is the peregrine falcon and since they used birds for their long distance category, there is no distinction between land and air animals so this list is just flawed. If were talking about land animals the fastest animal over distance/endurance would go to the dog.
this fine gentleman has battled tourettes syndrome, alcoholism, and depression to become a gold medal contender in skeleton. that’s right, eric bernotas’ former self may very well have been drunk while flinging himself down an icy ramp, head-first with a death wish, and screaming expletives the whole way.
the best advice i’ve gotten so far is, “this should never happen. there will be bumps along the road, and this one’s a hole, but it’ll be alright.” thanks, dad. that’s a very elegant way of putting it.
adj. yearning to move into a photo from a hundred years ago, to wade into the blurred-edge sepia haze that hangs in the air between people in hats and petticoats who walk the bare earth, who leer stoically into this dusty and dangerous future, whose battered shoes are anchors locked fast in the fantasy that none of it risks turning out any other way but the way it happened, which is just as well to you because the food’s 100% organic.