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2002-01-10

Edith Wharton (b. Edith Newbold Jones)
B. 1.24.1862 New York City / D. 8.11.1937 St.-Brice-sous-Forêt, France
Strokes

Edith Wharton! Edith Wharton! Touring Manhattan round Christmas with my new friend Roland Barthes I pointed out the church where you were married and he said Who?
Edith Wharton! Ground Zero is not what it was. Even then all the fuss was unwarranted—visually—nothing remained: no steam, no twisted cage wall. (See below for the smell.) Now three weeks later, even cleaner, purer, even paved, they say the lines to the “viewing platforms” start to peak at ten blocks long.
Edith Wharton! How are you getting on with your Americana? What is it with Americans now—have you a view? Are there viewing platforms in Olympus? Do you step from your bergère in a coved ceilinged room across marble floors straight into a balcony crowd of ghoulish downward-gazing god-types—and are they all dressed in logo-branded sportswear too?
Edith Wharton! How many shiftless black beggars shaking change cups did it take to deafen the city in your day?
Did they use tin? Was it prettier? Edith Wharton! Tell Proust to dig this: the precise high September stink is on sale among the powder-blue wallets in the basket “displays” at Prada Soho.
Old Uptown girl—Edith Wharton! Meanwhile Murray Hill has been swept by the Land Rover craze—there are brochures spilling off the night table onto the duvet, onto the floor. In my day, Land Rovers had twenty-six gears and you rode in them with the understanding that all your pubic hair would be scraped off
(Not yours, Edith Wharton!) on any terrain. Now they’re for sexy schoolgirl commutes; the climbers love them.
Edith Wharton! Edith Wharton! Still (at my age!) to be the hot oddball, burrow-sunk inside a snowy flank—the chance matter known to have struck something bigger as funny, and harmless, and cute as a small button. I’ve got the density down but no mass, no eminence.
Mistress of the Mount—Edith Wharton! Galaxies of growth opportunities gone, gone while I dithered gyroscopically between discomfort and regret—a lonely arc in space, pursuing vague assumptions of a better ending—gravity a disregarded risk—every crash inevitable.
Edith Wharton! Can you spare a dime or ten? Miss Jones! Sister!

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