Friday, September 16, 2005

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Checks In

So I get an email from Ari, he’s in town for the weekend for a conference being thrown by an ex-president, the one with a brain. I’m not sure I understand the goals of the conference, world peace is involved and environmental issues, but a good deal of it seems to be about crossing your fingers that the planet will still exist when Bush gets off the stick.

Ari and I meet and take a seat at the Sheraton Bar and the Emir of Qatar walks by dressed in a giant tissue. We talk (I can't divulge the things we discussed, but suffice it to say when he rules the world we will be much better off) then Ari gets a call on his cell.

“I have to get this,” he says, “It’s the mayor of L.A.”
“I understand,” I say.

He leaves the bar to take the call in the lobby. A woman walks past wearing enough jewelry for a record label. Ari comes back.

“I want you to meet someone,” he says.

We go out into the hallway, towards the front entrance. Jesse Jackson is standing there, quite a bit taller than I expected -- he must have been able to dunk back in the day. We wait for him to finish an interview with a young reporter writing notes on a pad.

“This is my brother Josh,” Ari says to him.
The Reverend turns to me. He’s big, but he has small lips and tiny teeth – hard to read. He has the eyes of a man who has seen a lot of things.
"Arrrgh ffflllwh gggrump gadommp vurrm," he says.
"Uh, thank you," I say.
"Gaadoom, grump, gggeeeblueh, rrrgh," he adds, pointing at Ari.
"Yes, I’m proud of him."
"Aggahdah daggah duhhm," he nods. It's quiet for a beat.
"Hey, great job in New Orleans," I say.
"Gggah duggah duggah duh!!"

He shakes our hands and leaves through the front door with his assistant. Ari and I walk back to the bar.

"What he say?" I ask Ari.
"You didn’t hear him?"
"Not a single word."
"Really? I thought you did."
"Hey, I’m a pro."

I couldn't hear Rev Jesse because of background noise. Background noise is the bane of any person wearing any kind of hearing device. One of the many remarkable things about the (working) human ear is it can pick out one voice out of a sea of voices all the same volume, and hear that voice. This is done completely unconsciously. An implant or a hearing aid doesn’t have that same capability to focus, so every voice is amplified equally. In noisy environments like the lobby and bar of the Sheraton, with dozens of conversations and music blaring even Rev. Jesse is talking gibberish -- though it must be said that he talks it with style.

Which brings me to the blog question of the day: What the heck is the deal with background music? Why is it blared everywhere? At the bar and in the lobby, ok, but also in the elevator, and, I learned this week, in the bookstore. The bookstore? Why are they playing technopop at Barnes and Nobles? That seems to go against the whole idea of reading. Is it that dangerous to leave people alone with their thoughts? One of the great things, I think, about deaf culture is that people are alone with their thoughts a lot which fosters a natural empathy.

Back at the bar, Ari introduces me to a few other people: a man, I think from Pakistan, a couple with as much money as Pakistan, and a woman who takes my order and brings a martini the gods would envy.

”I like her best,” I say.
“Let’s see how Sam’s doing,” Ari says, as Sam had just been turned on a few hours before.
We text message Sam and he writes back “This stuff sounds strange.”
“Have you met up with Morpheus yet?” we ask.
“Not yet, but it’s like that,” Sam writes.

I think Sam and I may have very different experiences with the implant, at least initially, because he can still hear through a hearing aid in one ear – the new computerish sound through the implant must sound doubly weird when compared to sound through the hearing aid. I can’t wear an aid so I don't have that problem.

Ari and I say goodbye and I get on the subway and go home.
“I just met Jesse Jackson,” I tell Carl, my roommate. “He's tall. We talked for a couple of minutes.”
”Nice,” Carl says. “What'd he say?”


Blogger Bankable Poetry said...

Yeah, this is funny shit. Yeah, I nearly pissed my pants. Yeah, Carl is lucky to have you as a roommate. But what I really want to know is: have you tried listening to Frank Zappa yet?

1:09 PM  

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