Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I was riding the metro today and reading the Guardian. Reading the newspaper in the morning is one of my secret pleasures. It's not like I really care that the sturgeon population has dropped 90% in 30 years resulting in today a ban on beluga/sevruga caviar, nor do I really care that Arsenal and Man Utd. play like butlers after losing their hot-headed captains. All the pleasure in reading the newspaper is the fleeting glimpse at a bigger story. A fill-in-the-blanks type pleasure.

Take for example today: a photograph of a cheerleader, body stiff as a board, sailing through the air with a smile painted deep into her face which was captioned, "Stunt Trouble: Cheerleading gets risky." There isn't much else to the story; a rise in risky stunts has resulted in a rise of cheerleading injuries. Really? If we had a rise in risky surfing, we'd probably have a rise in surfing injuries. What the paper doesn't say is why on earth we need riskier cheerleading stunts and is cheerleading becoming a mainstream sport in the same way skateboarding gave birth to X-treme games? If so, does that mean we'll soon have X-treme Cheerleading? She looks basket-tossed from a coffin, but maybe that's the point.

Speaking of mind-boggling, apparently Vincent Gallo is selling his sperm online at the low low price of $1m. For an extra couple of thousands of bucks, he will perform "natural insemination," with the right to waive this option on being presented with photographs of the purchaser. Such a joker this guy. Seriously, you'd think selling his blowjob scene was the limit but Gallo is a strictly No-Limit guy. Next he'll be selling the right to eat his own babies.

But, like I said, this doesn't really interest me. The paper is just a doorway to more strange and probing questions. Like, does identity have anything to do with merit these days? Like, does it matter who wrote the a book you think is good? Or is cheerleading the most honest sport; it's sole purpose is to titillate by having people perform athletic tricks? Or, is that guy sitting in front of me really excited about Iran assembling nuclear missiles? He seems to be. He seems to be practically pushing his eyes out of his head, and poking his friend and saying something I can't understand while jabbing his finger almost into the picture of six Iranian women holding hands, a picture facing him from the front of my paper. I don't get this. I'm worried about my latent hostility towards Arabic looking men. I'm worried that I should automatically assume that they are gleeful over this development. I'm confused as to whether my reaction is correct in assessing his prejudices against western society, or whether I'm completely off my canter and he's just excited about something else. Maybe he's worried that the Americans will attack Iran. Maybe he has family there. Maybe he thinks that this will be a repeat of Iraq. Maybe he's just trying to learn english. Or maybe he's thinking that picture of JT Leroy is really Cameron Diaz and finally everybody's in on the hoax.

This bewildering set of largely uninteresting thoughts flash quickly through my head before I fold my paper pointedly and jump out the door at my stop. I'll never know the answers to these questions.