The word is out, folks, on Time
Magazine's Person of the Year. In the past, they've given the nod to Charles Lindbergh, Haile Selassie I, Mahatma Ghandi, Wallis Simpson, Adolf Hitler, and Richard Nixon (twice). This year, the winner is...You. Assuming, of course, that You have already leaped into the giant mosh pit of digital democracy and are "using or creating content on the World Wide Web." That means that I, too, am a Person of the Year, since I've created this very blog and am about to start an excellent new gig at Netscape.com
. Whoopee! Still, I feel a slight tingle of disappointment. According to this report on Yahoo
, the original front runner was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But Richard Stengel, the magazine's managing editor, confessed that it "just felt to me a little off selecting him." I second his emotion, especially while the Iranian president's Holocaust Denial Slumber Party is in full swing. On the other hand, I prefer it when the magazine chooses an actual human being, with globe-girdling accomplishments and individual peccadilloes and at least a smidgeon of personality. Why? Maybe it's that classic dilemma, stated most elegantly by Groucho Marx: I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members. In any case, congratulations to all of us. And thank you!
First, Benjamin Franklin on giving up vegetarianism. All it took was the sight of a disembowled cod:
When the Fish were opened, I saw smaller Fish taken out of their Stomachs:--Then, thought I, if you eat one another, I don't see why we mayn't eat you.... So convenient a thing is it to be a reasonable Creature, since it enables one to find or make a Reason for every thing one has a mind to do.
Leave it to Franklin to see that in a dog-eat-dog (or fish-eat-fish) universe, we can find a reason to do anything we like. And now here's Garth Hudson, on giving up music:
You must, after the age of 33, continue to do a certain type of work, or else go into the shoe business: forget music or it'll turn into hatred, or else reiteration, redundancy, and in many cases death.
Hudson uttered those words in 1984, but they seem to anticipate Richard Manuel's suicide two years later. It's a forbidding, weirdly eloquent statement, especially coming from a 47-year-old who was more than a decade past his self-proclaimed expiration date. Franklin gave up vegetarianism. Hudson, luckily, didn't give up on music, and I don't think he's repeated himself yet.