Rainbows and Dust
|Arthur Rothstein, Texas, 1936|
I expected Bruni to be a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize earlier this month, if not a winner (he was neither . . . this year) for his great New York Times columns in which, among other things, he determinedly hammers away on same-sex marriage and other gay issues. I loved his essay about his father's evolving acceptance of having a gay son:
"In the years before Mom died, I had my first long-term relationship, and I could tell that seeing me coupled, just like my brothers and my sister were, gave [my father] a new, less abstract way to understand me. I just wanted what they wanted. Someone special.
"He welcomed the man I was with effusively. Took the two of us out to eat.
"Then Mom was gone, and all the parenting fell to Dad. He tapped reserves I’d never imagined in him. When I broke up with the man he’d been so effusive toward, he must have told me six times how sorry he was about that. It was a message—that he was rooting for my happiness, no matter how that happiness came to me."
But Bruni's memoir, Born Round, about his lifelong battles with weight and eating, doesn't have the feel of consequence that that single column has. So, thanks to The Dust Bowl, I'm not going to finish it.
Even the last book I read—courtesy of my old pal the Total Femme—felt more substantial than Bruni's: The Other Side of the Rainbow: With Judy Garland on the Dawn Patrol, an out-of-print sleeper by the surprisingly not bad writer Mel Tormé. The book—about the making, and unmaking, of Judy Garland's one-season-long TV show, which Tormé worked on—illustrates the frustratingly sad fate of an out-of-control addict with mammoth gifts who has not a single person in her life really looking out for her (including Mr. Mel Tormé).
I've been on a bit of a Judy Garland kick of late (which perhaps the Total Femme intuited), having seen the fabulous Broadway show End of the Rainbow last year as well as, more recently, Garland's underrated final film, I Could Go on Singing, in which she plays, wittingly or not, a spot-on version of herself in the last, frayed years of her downward spiral.
What all of this rambling adds up to is this: We all deserve to have someone looking out for us, whether a loving parent, the government, a colleague, or a perceptive friend.