Sunday, February 24, 2008

From the "Not Ready for Family Newspapers" Files 1.0

(The following article didn't make the cut for its intended publication, the annual magazine published by the local newspaper group for which I work. Alas, space was the issue... Now I wish I hadn't edited myself, knowing its present destination. I suppose I could rewrite it a bit, but, you know, I've moved on in my art...)


In this journalistic experiment, dubbed “self-paparazzi” by editor M.K., I photographed myself over a 24-hour period. To avoid confusion, I will refer to myself in both the first and third person. As a minor celebrity (his column, In the Sellwood Kitchen, appears monthly in The BEE), O'Shaughnessy seemed the most appropriate and convenient subject, as we occupy the same body. To observe O'Shaughnessy is to be reminded of Victor Hugo’s declaration, “A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought.” Though it was hard to tell whether he was absorbed in thought or just napping.

12:01am: The experiment begins. Claiming to be a savant of classic literature, O'Shaughnessy dozes off while reading a “Wizard of Id” collection.

2:14am: Unable to sleep (perhaps because of all the flash photography), O'Shaughnessy finds serenity in the expressive vibrations of classical music. Is Martin Mull Baroque or Romantic?

4:04am: O’Shaughnessy sleepwalks. After meandering through the living room (indeed, at one point I had to gingerly coax him off the coffee table), I snap this photo of him kneeling in front of a globe, muttering “Galapagos.”

6:35am: Serendipity! Like a birder’s delight in spotting the rare Atlantic Puffin, I exalt when O’Shaughnessy steps into the shower! Who knew it was that time of the year?

8:00am: At the newspaper where he’s employed in Sales, O’Shaughnessy blows a sale.

9:35am: “Breakfast of Champions,” he laughs. “Yes,” I reply, “and losers, too.” The man has no sense of humor. I make myself scarce.

10:41am: Coffee kicks in. My attempt at stealth fails – he finds me curled up like a Garter snake in the bathroom sink.

1:45pm: Transcendental meditation, my ass! After presented with evidence that he was indeed asleep at his desk, O’Shaughnessy claims his right to an “Irish siesta” as a guarantee of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The internets refutes his claim.

3:54pm: “Absorbed in thought” again at the feet of Real Estate Advertising guru Ralph J. Fuccillo, who once met Joey Bishop.

6:33pm: O’Shaughnessy and his brothers have been amateur musicians for over 20 years. A 30-second sampling of his latest track reveals why.

8:05pm: After discovering “Ghost Whisperer” is a repeat, O’Shaughnessy retires to his library for “the soothing balm of classic literature.” He settles on a French translation of a Peanuts collection, and while he doesn’t read French, he appreciates Charlie Brown’s grimace, stating, “Cartoon grief transcends language.”

10:45pm: O’Shaughnessy has enough. He bangs out a little chin music. With my chin. I drop like a dirty shirt.

11:59pm: The experiment ends. Because we are the same person, I can’t tell which one of us is on the floor between the speakers, slumbering to the dulcet tones of Avery Fisher.

So what have we learned, except that O’Shaughnessy is a boorish man, a pseudo-intellectual with a mawkish nostalgia for low culture, and an infrequent bather? Just that while we live through the same day, it is a different day for all of us. And it is those differences that build these days into the categories of Myth, History, and ultimately Life.