Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

I took the three blackout-related posts from yesterday and synthesized them into one reasonably-coherent 1200 word thing. There's a few new funny lines in here, but I wouldn't really call it "new" so much as mostly a cut-and-paste. But here it is anyway. And I'll have a song parody or something else later tonight.


27 hours without power. Makes an 8-hour take-home exam seem like cake.

I came back home to New York just in time for "Blackout 2003." The news radio station I was tuned to on the Fisher-Price "My First Radio" I dug up in my closet had apparently navigated the legal process with ease and had the phrase trademarked by 5 hours into the event, and was trying to use it as much as possible. "You're listening to non-stop coverage of Blackout 2003, here on the Blackout 2003 news leader, bringing you commercial-free Blackout 2003 information for all of you affected by Blackout 2003 and anyone else interested in Blackout 2003 and its aftermath." The competing news radio station I switched to at around 8 hours in was using the phrase "Great Blackout 2003" instead. Coming next year - Blackout 2004: The Klumps.

Besides missing the stats from Mark Prior's complete game for the Cubs this afternoon on one of my fantasy teams because he was on the bench and, without power, I couldn't get on the Internet to rotate him into the lineup for his start today, I believe I'm no worse for the wear.

An observation, after spending too many of the last 27 hours listening to the radio and thanking the divine spirits I'm not in Cleveland: New York thinks it's really special. It's great that we got through a night of no power with only one instance of looting (and even that: a shoe store in Brooklyn (Payless. Pay a lot less. Pay nothing at all.)? Be honest: if you were going to loot during a blackout, would you really choose to loot a shoe store instead of, say, an electronics store, a jewelry store... or perhaps an adult novelty store?), fewer arrests than on a usual night, not too many car accidents, some added fires but all of them caused by morons incorrectly using candles rather than widespread arson, and no riots in the streets - but does this really make us so special?

All night, I kept hearing things like: "If not for the resilience and unbelievable brilliance and physical attractiveness of New Yorkers, Blackout 2003 could have ended in tragedy. But, because New Yorkers are amazing people, we've shown the world how blackouts really ought to be handled;" "This is New York at its very best, the people of New York demonstrating how they truly are one-of-a-kind, just like Blackout 2003 is one-of-a-kind, and this news radio station is one-of-a-kind as well;" and "The real lesson of Blackout 2003 is not about power grids or electricity; it's about a city, its people, and what a great place New York is and how even the terrorists know, if there's one city in the world that you want to attack, it's got to be New York. Oh, and Washington too I guess. But New York is so much better."

Do the people in New Jersey and Connecticut leave their neighbors to perish on street corners? Kick the blind and tease the deaf? Set monuments and national parks ablaze? Because that's sort of how it sounded. I'm all for pride in where you live, and the people you live with, but is acting civilly and responsibly during a blackout really so extraordinary? Are there any other options for coping with a blackout besides stopping carefully at intersections without signals and being kind to the people around you? Are New Yorkers really all that kind and patient compared to other people? I wasn't so sure about that. Yet all night long, politicians, news anchors, people on the street... all of them talking about what a great night this was for New York, and how we really showed the world how great we are. The power went out. We didn't kill each other. Is this really so thrilling?

After the blackout ended, I took my grandmother home (she lives 5 minutes away but had been staying with me and my parents since yesterday; our house was cooler - I mean in the temperature sense, not the does-the-furniture-have-plastic covers sense, of course) and helped her empty her refrigerator and freezer of any food that had spoiled.

The food museum is now closed.

Her freezer was filled with artifacts covering the evolution of food over the last 50 years. The Mezozoic shelf included some chopped liver which, in the blackout (excuse me, I mean "Blackout 2003"), had separated into solid, liquid, and brand new organism; a first-edition salisbury steak TV dinner; something made of tofu before tofu was fashionable; matzoh balls from the matzoh meal fiasco of 1956; and egg drop soup -- which finally answered the question of what came first, the chicken or the egg (the chicken first appeared on the next shelf down, so we now know it appeared about 10 years after the egg did). The Paleozoic shelf included some chopped turkey, a vegetable dumpling, and a cinnamon roll complete with its original packaging (a rare find!). From the present-day era, Olive Garden leftovers in the original bag, Haagen-Dazs chocolate soup, some brownies, half a gyro, and some no-longer-frozen yogurt.

The exhibit starts from scratch tomorrow. By winter, no one will be able to tell the freezer had ever been emptied.

I've been evading the real issue so far in this column, I know. We had a blackout. We're law students. The natural question: who can we sue?

I've started making a list:

1. The power company. Too obvious, but we have to start somewhere. We pay them for power, they didn't deliver. An open and shut case.

2. The government. Under the takings clause. They took our power away. So there.

3. McDonalds. If people weren't so fat, they wouldn't need as much electrical power to cool their extra-large houses with extra large door frames, to power their extra-large microwaves, to shine light on their extra-large bodies, to run their extra-large clothes-stretching machines in their closets. And because McDonalds is the cause of obesity, they are clearly liable here.

4. Class action suit against the news media on behalf of African-Americans. Why the heck is it called a *black* out? Everything bad is always Black. Black plague, Black Monday, black eye, black lung, black sheep, blackout. Whiteout is a helpful little paint that covers up mistakes. Blackout is a calamitous loss of electricity that causes all sorts of crappy things. We should sue the news media for perpetuating this racist term.

5. Microsoft. My computer was running about a dozen different Microsoft programs when it crashed, including a few I'm sure I've never even heard of. Clearly there must be some connection. (And, besides, think Deep Pockets!)

6. Paul Newman. His salad dressing went bad in my refrigerator. Why can't he make shelf-stable dressing? Bad man. Bad, bad man.

That's all I've got for now. Air conditioning was a great invention.