I was sitting in my room enjoying the sound of traffic when I heard the buzz and squawk of police megaphones. Since it went on for a while, I went outside to find Irvine cops treating a carload of kids like a cross between Al Qaeda and NWA. I mean, those kids had guns in their face, had to kiss blacktop and wear the steel bracelets.
It made me think about David Foster Wallace. Why? Because I always consider DFW as the avatar of a certain white, liberal, NPR listening, Volvo-driving, college town, extremely twee, middle-class. The kind of person who would never in his life had to belly down on the pavement for a cop, yet who would, at the same time, cluck his tongue at the treatment of those kids.
I’ve been writing an essay for a while about a particular DFW piece. In my mind, the DFW piece represents the failure of a certain branch of the American left. Because DFW was smarter and more sensitive than a lot of his colleagues, you can see his awareness of this problem, his struggle with it, his unhappiness with it. Which is why he makes a good target.
But I’m not sure: at what point does it become fair game to kick a dead man?