Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Dr. Pringle's Caveat

Based on whatever compulsion I keep "blogging" about the connection between Frank Sinatra and Jack Kerouac, and who cares? Not even me. So in VANITY OF DULUOZ, Kerouac writes about seeing Sinatra perform at the Paramount Theater in 1942. He's the only guy in line, he says, with thousands of young women. "... we get in the theater and skinny old Frank comes out and grabs the mike, with glamorous rings on his fingers and wearing gray sports coat, black tie, gray shirt, sings 'Mighty Like a Rose' and 'Without a Song... the road would never end,' oww." So on to lichens. Read a piece in today's New York Times about the possible immortality of lichens. The reporter compares lichens to vampires, but adds this parenthetical quotation to keep us from being too jealous of the lichens and assure us that they can die by external means: "('A bus can still run over them,' Dr. Pringle said.)" I have to hand it to Dr. Pringle! I am not sure what I like best about Dr. Pringle: that Dr. Pringle's name is Dr. Pringle or her blunt way of reminding us of the vagaries of fate. So don't get too smug, lichens! "No. 59 was dead too; probably it was 'swallowed by No. 8,' but it may have simply slid off the obelisk." See, it doesn't matter how immortal you are, you can always slide off the obelisk! I swear I read in the New York Times a couple of months back about an immortal jellyfish. I told McNeil all about it and he got excited. He told his college class about the immortal jellyfish and they didn't care. They're young! Here, let me try to find a certain passage from DRACULA: "Can you tell me why, when other spiders die small and soon, that one great spider lived for centuries in the tower of the old Spanish church and grew and grew, till, on descending, he could drink the oil of all the church lamps?" Something tickled me about the big, oil-drinking church spider! But now Van Helsing's ranting starts to sound like an article from the New York Times. The lichen article casually drops the idea in the middle of a sentence that the wandering albatross possibly DOESN'T AGE. An immortal bird is what? Scarier than a lichen? Something else?