Hey, There’s a Bird in This Mirror!

Diversion Enthusiast Society, est. 2007

Oh, no. That’s God. He just thinks he’s Bono.

with 10 comments

I spent the weekend whiny and petulant, on the couch, recovering from a Tetanus shot in my left arm and a Hepatitis shot in my right. Whenever the drug companies go out of their way to reassure the trusting consumer that the side effects are mild and occur infrequently, I will, without fail, have said side-effects. So it doesn’t matter that my Hepatitis fact sheet says that only 1 in 15 people will run a fever, or that my Tetanus fact sheet says that only 1 in 4 will experience moderate pain at the injection site, I will invariably be popping Tylenol and inventing new ways to wash my hair without lifting my arms over my head. This also means that I am no fun at parties, as I can neither drink coffee nor more than one glass of wine or one mixed drink. Oh, and a full dose of NyQuil makes me hallucinate. If this was the 19th century, I’d probably get the vapors. Neither fact sheet said a thing about congestion and a sore throat, though. I think my immune system needs to calm down. I’d even say it should take a chill pill, but those probably cause mild to moderate skin irritation in some patients, so…

While waiting at the bus stop this morning after my visit to the dentist (Festival of Preventative Health Care!), I saw a small flock of very attractive, tan birds perched in the bush behind me. They looked kind of like Cedar Waxwings, but smaller, and not quite as elaborate. Because I’m, well, me, and because J.D. Salinger, bless him, has me dead to rights*, I spent a half-hour this morning on bird identification websites, trying to figure out what these little fellows were. I didn’t have any luck, but I do have a couple of observations to share (thank heavens!) – first, I need a North American bird identification guide if I am going to, at some point, become a successful and well-informed Crazy Bird Lady. Second, I went through about fifty pictures of all sorts of wild birds and, in about a third of the pictures, the birds were being held by the photographer. I have owned our gracious hosts, Marvin and Otis, for three and five years, respectively. I am not allowed to touch Marvin, rarely allowed to pick up Otis, and here’s what happens when I point a camera at them at close range-

Empty cage?

(They were on the back perch when I opened the camera. If you look at the right, top corner of the photo, you’ll see Otis’s tail as he beats a hasty retreat to the top of the cage. Marvin, whose toes are visible in the top center of the picture, beat him to the escape route.)

I swear that we are very, very nice to these birds. We play with them, buy them new toys, and blast U2 at 11:15 on a Monday morning to amuse and delight them (“Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?” seems to be a big hit with the Melopsittacus undulatus set), but they are absolutely insistent upon the “NO TOUCHING! OH MY GOD, NO TOUCHING!!” rule. So either these wild bird lovers are drugging the poor things, or they’ve got some sort of bird-vibe that I’m completely incapable of cultivating. Ah, well. I can stifle my inner Elmyra somehow.

As long as “Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World” is on, I should, really, talk about U2. January till March is U2 Season in my world (seriously, The Unforgettable Fire was meant to be played on New Year’s Day, which is weird, because “New Year’s Day”… oh, never mind). See, I’m Irish, actual Irish, not “green beer on St. Patrick’s Day even though I don’t know who St. Patrick is” Irish. There’s no way around it – I look like a Hobbit, people. I walked into a new age store in Madison with my sister once and the hippie guitarist they had hired for the afternoon started playing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” In keeping with our heritage, we discussed jumping her.

One of my best friends/former roommates is similarly afflicted. When we were living together, we had very few rules, but one of them was this: Bono is fucking family. Do not make fun of Bono. Ever. Ever. Bono is cooler than you. Yes, he’s full of himself. Yes, he’s unbelievably self-aggrandizing. Yes, he has been photographed with George W. Bush. The Irish are a people of myth, legend, and all-around grade-A truth liberation. He is entitled and he is good at it. Don’t make me bring up the Famine. More to the point, don’t make him bring up the Famine.

Once, my roommate invited over this very distasteful fellow who had designs on her. Upon seeing the U2 poster prominently displayed in our living room and perhaps not noticing the copy of The Easter Proclamation** hanging on the dining room wall next to the entrance to the living room, he decided to endear himself to her by proceeding to make fun of Bono for the first ten minutes of his visit. I was hiding in the dining room, writing, and increasing the volume on my Discman every time I heard him say “Bono.” By the time he left, my poor roommate was positively purple. After he was shown the door (hoo boy, was he shown some door!), we turned to one another and yelled “Bono is fucking family.” Distasteful fellow never came over again and she stopped returning his calls.

We probably did shots after that, though I seriously doubt that we sang “Danny Boy.”


* “Very luckily, to push on and make my point here – and I don’t think it’s the kind of point that will survive an interminable build-up – I found out a good many years back all I need to know about my general reader; that is to say, you, I’m afraid. You’ll deny it up and down, I fear, but I’m really in no position to take your word for it. You’re a great bird-lover. Much like a man in a short story called ‘Skule Skerry by John Buchan, which Arnold L. Sugarman, Jr. once pressed me to read during a very poorly supervised study-hall period, you’re someone who took up birds in the first place because they fired your imagination; they fascinated you because ‘they seemed of all created beings the nearest to pure spirit – those little creatures with a normal temperature of 125 degrees’.” From Seymour: An Introduction. If you’ve only read The Catcher in the Rye, you do not understand. Not at all.

** Irishmen and Irishwomen (see that?!): “In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.” Way better opening than the Declaration of Independence. Dead generations! Ghosts!


Written by Raina

January 14, 2008 at 12:27 pm

10 Responses

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  1. “Did I ever tell you about the time Bono took me out to go get a drink with him? We go off looking for a bar and we can’t find one. Finally, Bono takes me to a vacant lot and says, ‘Here we are.’ We sat there for a year and a half — until sure enough, someone constructs a bar around us. Well, the day they opened we ordered a shot, drank it, and then burned the place to the ground. Bono yelled over the roar of the flames, ‘Always leave things the way you found ’em!'”

    “We once had a bachelor party for Bono. He ate the entire cake before we could tell him there was a stripper in it.”

    “The character of Johnny Appleseed was based on Bono… except for the part about planting apple trees… and not raping men.”


    January 14, 2008 at 4:47 pm

  2. My family is hella Irish, and no one cares bout Bono. I’m not arguing with you, I’m just saying, I’m not sure it’s an irish thing as much of a ‘you’ thing.

    Patrick Ripoll

    January 14, 2008 at 6:50 pm

  3. Yeah, and I know Italians who could care less about Frank Sinatra. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value for others.

    I was trying to be amusing, Patrick. What’s with all the surly?


    January 15, 2008 at 10:55 am

  4. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to come across that way! It’s just the first I’ve heard of Irish-Americans’ affection for Bono.

    And no Italians have anything but worship for Blue Eyes. That’s scientific fact. A scientist proved it. His name was Fritz or Werner or something. Truth.

    Patrick Ripoll

    January 15, 2008 at 6:24 pm

  5. I really loved Liz Phair’s first album. Still do. And there’s things that make each successive album of some worth, some are kinda great, even up to her self-titled 0.0 crossover attempt. But, with Somebody’s Miracle, I had to wash my hands. I’m just saying.

    I concede early U2. I do.


    January 15, 2008 at 8:58 pm

  6. Yeah, but Springsteen, Neil Young, and Dylan have all gone off the tracks at various points and gotten back on, so there’s always hope for Phair and U2, who practically had the whole train on but the caboose on All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Same thing with Bob Mould, who managed to make a few of my favorite albums (Workbook, Warehouse: Songs and Stories, Flip Your Wig, Zen Arcade, even The Last Dog and Pony Show), as well as maybe the single worst in my CD collection (Modulate). I still root for the guy.

    U2 were too big of a band for me, pre-Achtung (an album I learned to appreciate more after a few years) for me to ever completely write off, as much as I dislike Zooropa and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and outright loathe Pop. The new one has the Eno/Lanois production team from Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree, so I’m cautiously optimisic.


    January 16, 2008 at 8:32 am

  7. Oh, for sure, giving up would mean not enjoying New York or Songs for Drella. Though I think Sick Boy has a certain point: there may be some songs on Earthling, but I’m not gonna chuck it on as oft as I do Ziggy.


    January 16, 2008 at 2:31 pm

  8. All depends on the artist. I may not own any post-Tin Machine Bowie albums, but I’ve probably listened to Freedom, Ragged Glory, and Weld even more often than Young’s 70s albums (with the possible exception of the Decade compilation).

    The same might go for Reed, depending on what you consider his classic era, the dropoff point, and the comeback. When you consider the Velvets and the early 70s stuff, The Blue Mask in the early 80s, the New York/Drella/Magic and Loss period, and some of the absolute crap that came between all of those, his career’s more just an unpredictable series of highs and lows, I think.


    January 17, 2008 at 4:58 pm

  9. Well, I would argue there is no low point in the official VU canon (I’d chose between the second and the fourth, and it would be easiest to call Loaded the weakest because of the artistic compromises, but if someone told me it or White Light/White Heat was the best album ever I could not argue with them), but that has nothing to do with anything, though I would say I haven’t glommed on to any of Reed’s last couple effort, though I tried to make college apologies for Set the Twilight Reeling (which I may still own and may have not listened to in eleven years).

    It all depends on the artist, yeah, but age and rock n roll don’t mix well. I’ll give Iggy his Repo Man song, and little else for the last 25 years. I would compare it to cinema, in that some artists have something to say right away and achieve their success and spend the rest of their careers coasting on sameiness and goodwill, while great artists are worth checking in on throughout their career and may have those misses but always have something interesting to say.

    U2 has been for me a church of diminishing returns for quite some time. And, for better or worse, their prime period has gone into semi-retirement in my collection because of overexposure. I don’t know if I’d call it radio music, but it’s close. And to me radio music is stuff that you don’t need to own because it’s always on somewhere.


    January 18, 2008 at 1:27 pm

  10. i am an avid fan of salinger, but i must admit that i do not fully understand his comment on the normal temperature of birds. ‘they seemed of all created beings the nearest to pure spirit – those little creatures with a normal temperature of 125 degrees.’ i was hoping you could help explain the significance of the 125 degrees.


    June 16, 2008 at 1:36 pm

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