That Was the Month That Was


In Case You Missed It


Photo: Jack Weir, via Wikimedia Commons

Before everyone gets too deep into March—what with its Madness; its Ides; its suspicious “in like a lion, out like a lamb” mentality; its trying Lenten sacrifices; its Prince Kūhiō Day; blah, blah, blah—let’s not forget dear old February, arguably the most hated month, if not the cruelest. At only twenty-eight days, it always gets short shrift, even during leap years; it’s as if we can’t wait to wash our hands of it. Well, we’re here to say: we’re going to miss it. It was a fine month, one for the books, and we have proof—below are some of the excellent long essays the Daily published. Now, onward, to Saint Patrick’s Day, Pi Day, National Potato Chip Day, and Save a Spider Day.

Sabine Heinlein: “We sat across from each other in a circle surrounded by several other convicted murderers and three Quakers who led the ministry. Richard looked ashen and frail, and yet I could see something glowing in him.”

David Pablo Cohn: “They could just once utter that coveted phrase in a loud, authoritative but calm voice: ‘Stand back, everyone—I’m a computer scientist.’”

Clifford Chase: “‘You may hear a cracking sound,’ said the oral surgeon, who was also named Cliff. He was inserting a pair of pliers in my mouth. I heard the cracking. Occasionally life plunges you into an experience that, for its utter intensity and obscure resonance, may as well be a dream.”

Rebecca Bengal: “In the midseventies demimonde of Memphis, things had a way of becoming totally and suddenly unhinged, and McGill was frequently the author of their unhinging.”

Andy Battaglia: “’Pour it a little more aggressively,’ he said through a mouthpiece to a production designer wetting the set with a strange, unidentified liquid. To the actress Ellen Burstyn, in the midst of a stubborn scene, he suggested, ‘I think we should not smile.’”

Sharon Mesmer: “I knew that the smudge was the result of the camera having been in motion when the photo was taken, but I felt that that smudge was my soul.”

Matthew Olshan: “People think of Washington, D.C., as a transitory place—a city of four-year leases, tourists, and revolving doors—an impression that dates back to the earliest days of the federal capital. The city fathers, desperate to counter the District’s reputation as a provincial backwater, fought back by building monuments.”

Adam Leith Gollner: “When we parted, on the boulevard du Montparnasse, I leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek. ‘If you do find paradise,’ she said, turning to leave, ‘send me a grape.’”

Edward McPherson: “During the Civil War, St. Louis had slaves but was not southern. It is not western, like Kansas City, on the other side of the state, but it is not eastern, not really—just ask any transplant from the coast. It truly is Middle American, whatever that means. There’s the old joke: what kind of city would advertise itself as a jumping-off point, an exit door, a gateway to somewhere else?”

Harry Backlund: “We follow a naive, Chaplin-esque everyman through a huge city, dropping in and out of the lives of strangers: nursing a dying woman, farting on a group of businessmen, falling in and out of love with a prostitute.”

Miranda Popkey: “Picture a Venn Diagram; label one circle ‘Fans of the New England Patriots’ and the other ‘People Who Have Studied Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.’ The person who exists at the intersection of those two circles was sitting on a couch across from me, anxiously eating chips and guacamole.”