A while back--and apologies to Brian and Chi for not posting this sooner--I participated in an Asian American "blog summit" on the meanings and potentialities of the Golden State Warriors' Jeremy Lin. It's been up for a few weeks here (I also wrote about Lin for Ta-Nehisi over here.) Below, one of my "summit" colleagues, Jay Caspian Kang, recalls an unlikely reunion with a once-beloved song, and the memories carried by a stray out-of-out-of-context horn line.
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SAILING TO BYZANTIUM
By Jay Caspian Kang
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.
You gotsta understand, Trick loves the kids
I don't quite remember where I was going, but at some point during my first year of teaching creative writing at a school for the children of San Francisco's liberal elite, I was walking down a hallway littered with unwashed, one-hundred-pound bodies, when I heard, with Swann's delight, a long-forgotten saxophone phrase. The sound was immediately swallowed up by the white noise created by forty teenagers talking all at once, and, as I picked my way through the tangle of legs, I wondered if what I had heard had merely been a misfire of my nostalgic imagination. Putting on a tired look, the look all scared first-year teachers reserve for these sorts of walks down the hall, I scanned the morass of faces for the source, but was quickly confronted with the ridiculousness of this particular witch-hunt--the phantom song had come out over ten years before and there was no reason for any of these kids to have ever heard it. But then, at the end of the hallway, I heard it again--the mellow sax, the tapping of the snare. I looked around and saw two kids sitting on a bench by a lone window. One was holding his iPhone up to the other's ear.