Sedaris. Rhymes with hilarious.

I attended a performance by author David Sedaris last night. You may think it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a “performance” when he was merely reading his stories, followed by an audience Q&A. But that means you’ve never seen David Sedaris live. And I was in that group prior to last night.

I’ve read most of his books, and love them. I knew he’d be funny, insightful, witty, [insert other adjective for a writer of humorous, satirical essays here]. But I didn’t expect it to be bust-a-gut, rolling in the aisles, laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying funny. Yet it was. I haven’t laughed that much, or that hard, in ages. He’s not just a masterful writer, but also a powerful performer.

The promo blurb for the show was spot-on:

If you love David Sedaris’s cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think that you know what you’re getting into at his live readings.  You’d be wrong.  To see him read his own work on stage allows his autobiographical narrative to reveal a uniquely personal narrative that will keep you laughing throughout the evening.  

Best of all for a hack like me was the fact that the laughs were powered by David’s written words. No props, no fog machines, no show business shtick. Just short essays read by a 62-year-old man standing at a podium on an otherwise bare stage. Observant. Trenchant. Moving. And Hilarious.

David’s tour continues in the U.S. through early December. If he’s performing anywhere near you, you simply must go.

[David also used a bit of his stage time to promote another writer’s latest book. He raved about Ann Patchett’s new novel The Dutch House. I’ll have to check that one out.]

Thanksgiving in October

I love the sentiment of this quote, and especially the vivid language of it. “Your universe has tilted”… “irrevocably lost”… “bow before the mystery”… “let gratitude wash over you”…. “brief walk on our fragile planet”. It’s note-perfect.

This quote comes from Gratefulness.org. You can subscribe to their “Word of the Day” email. It’s usually a phrase instead of a single word, but it truly is the thought that counts.

I know you probably don’t need yet another email in your inbox, but this one takes mere seconds to read each day, and the heightened awareness can last a lot longer. Maybe even the rest of your “brief walk on our fragile planet.”

[I’m grateful to my good friend Phil Roberto for sending me the link to Gratefulness.org a few years back.]

You know you’ve chosen a horrible name for your blog when…

… the blog hosting company suggest this as an alternate name:

I suppose I really should start washing dogs – it would contribute more to society than my blogging.

The poor get poorer

Nick DiNardo is a fellow parent of Walnut Hills High School kids. Our sons played on the same junior high soccer team, and our daughter participated in the Ultimate Frisbee club that he leads/coaches.

(Photo: Jeff Dean/The Enquirer)

Nick’s day job is Managing Attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio. He was featured in a Cincinnati Enquirer special section a couple of Sundays ago. The Enquirer is doing a four-part series on the lingering effects of the Great Recession, and it’s well worth the reading investment. You quickly realize how the economic collapse of a decade ago created an even greater divide between the haves and the have nots, and how the cards are stacked against the poor.

The article that featured Nick is about payday lenders. After reading it, the term usury comes to mind.

The article is a great example of how hard it is for the poor (including the working poor) to keep their heads above water. All it takes is a single, solitary, unexpected expense — an urgent care visit or car breakdown — to crush you.

Most payday loan customers are poor, earning about $30,000 a year. Most pay exorbitant fees and interest rates that have run as high as 590%. And most don’t read the fine print, which can be unforgiving.

Cincinnati Enquirer article

Read the article to find out how a working single mom wound up paying $3,878 for an $800 loan. And she’d still be on the hamster wheel if not for Nick’s intervention.

Payday lending may not be illegal, but it sure as heck is unethical.

DiNardo hopes the new Ohio law regulating the loans will mean fewer cases like hers in the future, but he’s not sure. While mortgage rates go for 3.5% and car loans hover around 5%, poor people without access to credit will still turn to payday lenders for help.


And when they do, even under the new law, they’ll pay interest rates and fees as high as 60%.


In DiNardo’s world, this is progress. 
 

Cincinnati Enquirer article

It’s not “just business”…. and it’s not anywhere close to being just.

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