Date: Sat, 18 May 1996 23:58:41 -0400
Subject: Veni, vidi.

Joe on the Alumversers first (and only?) live gathering


I considered going to Baltimore this week to attend the first union (reunion, to my mind anyway, seems to indicate something happening for at least the second time) of devoted fans of the TV series Homicide. We'd tour the town, see the relevant sights, watch the season closer. But I didn't. No. I showed my devotion to the alumverser concept. Homicide (remarkably enough) has just been renewed for two more seasons; poetry is always at the edge. When I originally heard of the on-line poetry course, it was in a newletter for my class, and, silly me, I thought it was only being offered to members of my class. Good thing I was wrong; it would have just been Leon and me. Instead, as I only learned later, it was being offered to all alumni, and a hundred and twenty-five showed up. On the one hand, for a virtual class, this seemed like maybe way too many people. But you twist it around and look at it the other way, and you see the plight of poetry. After all, how many Penn alumni are there? A million? Ten million?? I don't have the exact figure here with me, but it seems like there's a lot. And yet only a hundred can spare the time from their busy lives to spend a few minutes a day with poetry? Yes Joe, that's true. Oh well. Anyway, I had never even been to a Penn alumni day, though I've attended (counting the one coming up) seventeen consecutive Princeton alumni days, and I don't even know anyone who went to Princeton.

So, in keeping with keeping my priorities in order and placing the body where it oughta be, I spent this cool, overcast but rather pleasant day on the Penn campus. The concrete on the highrises has weathered well (they built them when I was there) and they're still the same lovely shade of whatever you call that color. There weren't a lot of us there; I didn't figure there would be. I thought that the spunky music from a Mummer's string band made conversation a little difficult, but I was wrong. It was when they left and a brass band struck up a melody that conversation became difficult and drifted into rumor. Given my long term penchant for forgetting names as soon as I hear them (I also have an annoying tendency to think all people look alike) I can't tell you about everyone I saw. I can, however, say that Adam seems like a very positive, upbeat kind of fellow, signing those posts "Cheers" isn't just for show. Doc Gonzo did not look at all like I mentally pictured him. Instead, he looked much more like a, well, And a muscular one at that. This is not the guy you want to arm wrestle. Conni was much younger than I expected, somewhat to her delight I might add. I had mentally made her our virtual mothering image, particularly now that Ingrid has cast Uma Thurman to star as herself in the movie. I can warm up to Uma in a lot of ways, but she doesn't have that mothering feel to me. (By the way, I seriously considered attending today as Ingrid, but I couldn't get the walk right). TheSteven was the image of his name, courtly, elegant. Elsie you could tell is the kind of person who can get things done; if you have some things that need doing, email them to her. An alumverser from Chicago (Nancy?) sent a surrogate, a pleasant young fellow who arrived to take our picture and jot down our names (might have been an FBI plant, you can never tell with those guys, and he had the look).

And Al. He looked younger than his picture, not as heavy, and a lot less less angry. Beard very neatly trimmed (due to a speech he gave yesterday was his excuse, apparently you have to excuse good grooming) and nary a white hair. Most attractive family, we imposed upon him to pull out the wallet pix. Mildly intense, well spoken (big surprise, huh?), clearly intrigued by computers (he does his home page himself; speculation around my house had been that underlings really did that stuff for him, remember Carlos and Christy? Did they drop off the face of the known universe or what?), but still describes himself as "a poetry guy" with no particularly special technical knowledge. The word charismatic comes to mind, as do charming, impish, and puckish.

My greatest disappointment? Mali from Cambridge, still authoress of my all-time favorite alumverser post, beloved, mystical (or is that mythical?) enchantress of my poetry sodden mind, darling, daring Mali did not appear. I waited and waited, to no avail.... )-;

The day went nicely, but not perfectly. Roaming the area bookstores, I failed to find two Nietzsche related works I figured would surely be carried around a bigtime college. Oh well. So these are just quick, impressions, initial in their nature. Tomorrow I'll have all different ideas about the experience. (In dental school they told us that the questions and answers on the exams were the same from year to year; the only thing that changed was the answer scored as correct.) That's why I told you today, so you can be like contemporaneous with contemporary events.

It's the computer age. For us, anyway. I think it was Noam Chomsky (?) who recently remarked that eighty percent of the earth's population have never even placed a phone call. Think about that for a while. That is as it is. I am

As B/4, Joe