April 19, 2002

I can be very fatalistic. I always anticipate the worst, and when I anticipate the best, the worst always happens. Lou Reed says you need a busload of faith to get by, but so far I've gotten by on hopelessness. (Jules Shear says "The best thing about true hopelessness is that you don't have to try again.") This is without fail.

On September 10 of last year, I started a bartending course. It was, it seemed, the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Jody Beth Rosen. I was full of hope, dreams, ambition, all bright eyes and bushy tails. Finally, I was gonna make something of myself.

On September 11 -- well, you see where this is going. As I watched the streets fill with smoke, ash, and debris, and smelled the waft of burning flesh blowing in on the autumn breeze from across the river, I thought "Well, this fuckin' figures!"

I stayed with the class, but my heart wasn't in it. I slumped back into that old reliable depression, just stunned by the outrageousness and grand mal tragedy of what was going on. I didn't know whether to be happy the world was ending ('bout fucking time!) or to give a great big golden shower to the ones who were trying to end it.

And there was a Dylan album released that day. That's symbolic -- but not in the way you'd think. No, he's not a prophet, or a spokesperson for any higher authority. What it is symbolic of is that we were given a chance to fall in love with Bob all over again -- here he's put out his best record in about 10 years, and that should be a big deal, a really big deal (the Village Voice thought so, but these are rock critics, geeks like me, not real people). I liked the Dylan record. The music was a little flat (better than that beer-commercial Lanois bollocks), but the lyrics were exquisitely wrought jokes, puns, come-ons, poemlets, playlets -- this is the old Bob, the good Bob. It's too late in the game to expect a classic from Zimmy, but it's miraculous he can follow up a piece of cornspew like "To Make You Feel My Love" with anything as decent as what's on Love and Theft.

Luckily, most of the reviews were in the can by the time 9/11 rolled around, so we didn't have to hear about Bob's "apocalyptic" symbolism until the end-of-year polls.

But you see, Bob's not the prophet. I am. I predict doom, doom, doom. And if I'm wrong, I'll boil and eat my shoe and Les Blank can film it.