Elliot: No trash talk here


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So now, the incredibly intelligent and all-knowing City Council wants us to hide our outdoor garbage containers. Perhaps indoors.

All to save the children in Darfur, of course.

(Saving the children in Darfur was a big cause 10 or 12 or 15 minutes ago — who can remember when it comes to saving children? Because they always need saving, somewhere — elsewhere, generally. Rarely does one hear of saving the children of, say, Iowa City, at least in life as we know it.)

Life as we know it only rarely pops its head up on the City Council, usually in the name of James Throgmorton. The rest of the council seems to be unable to walk and peel a banana at the same time. Or, given this council, maybe that’s unable to peel a walk and to banana at the same time.

(That last bit was easy during the days of Eugène Ionesco and Samuel Beckett, but these days, it seems the City of Literature has settled for the City of Light Reading.)

But meanwhile, in this burg, garbage containers are somehow the height of evil and must not be seen. Or perhaps that’s the basement of evil. It’s always unclear what’s up or down with the City Council.

Maybe that’s because things are so often sideways. This is how you get: city-issued garbage containers, ugly; city-issued 20-story monstrosities, beautiful.

You know what I mean by garbage containers: those big, bulky green things that the city forced us to use in the first place in its Kafka-esque sense of being, because this is the City of Literature. Don’t ask.

Now, however, those big, bulky green things will be hidden just in case children and — gasp, adults in their late-formative years (and we do mean late-formative years ) — might catch a glimpse of said garbage containers. The horror. The greenness.

What? The city is not so proud of the big, bulky green things it forced us to use?

What? The touchy-feely people in this town don’t want to admit that human beings produce garbage?

I mean, human beings produce garbage? Who knew?


What’s next? Will the city ban the display of the works of James Joyce and Henry Miller on local bookshelves because they are pornographic garbage and one of the touchy-feely people might possibly catch sight of the title Ulysses or The Tropic of Cancer and be overcome by delicate sensibilities to the point of fainting on the floor of Prairie Lights?

OMG, that would be worse than catching sight of those big, bulky green garbage containers next to someone’s house. What is this world coming to?

I mean, really, what is this world coming to? — in addition to everybody abbreviating every word that comes down the pike — S.T.O.P. — and then misusing the word “acronym.”

(An acronym is a small subset of the large set of abbreviations, which has an evil, secret plan [isn’t that the way it always goes, Republicans?] to take over the world and turn it into “wld.” Large sets are just like that. Ask any mathematician. We have plenty of good ones here at the UI, and they’d be happy to talk with a non-mathematician for a change. I know this because I once asked a UI mathematician about Poincaré and algebraic topology and spent the next hour nodding enthusiastically as the UI mathematician spoke in a language that probably originated in the rings of Saturn. No offense, Sebald. “NATO” and “radar” are acronyms; your tweets and text messages are not full of acronyms, as much as you might want them to be. Not to engage in trash talk, which we were.)

It goes without saying.

Though these days, it seems, it says without going. Especially when it comes to Iowa City and trash.

You can ask Poincaré about this.

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