The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Faces of Science #26

Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong.

5 comments :

mister muleboy said...

In the mid-60s, well before Apollo 11 changed his role in history, Armstrong was part of a NASA goodwill tour that visited Bogota, Colombia. I went, with my family, to the airport to greet him upon his arrival -- a six-yr.-old towhead American boy in a sea of mestizo Colombians with jet black hair. Armstrong came through the corridor, with that "public event march" that looks at everyone (yet no one), and moves slowly (but quickly) to transport him through a throng.

I stood there with my little hand outstretched, and he barged right past. About one step.

He then spun to his right, knelt down, and shook my hand.

Wow.

I didn't know that he was going to the moon at the time, but by Gahd I'll tell ya that within two years, I had that American astronaut doll [a boy with a doll!] with a lunar lander (it wasn't an action figure then; it was a doll. Well, fuck 'em -- I played with dolls. . .).

I've kinda liked the guy ever since. And I especially like him because he wants his privacy.

PS His best quote from that goodwill tour? It would be easier to fly to the moon than to drive a car in Bogota.

I guess he was right.

Greg said...

I like that he's never been a fame seeker too. He's always described in the NASA docs on the subject as quiet and slightly removed, something I prefer over loud bravado anytime.

Fred said...

I've always admired the fact that he never "sold out." Robert Klein used to do a routine where he said "How much would Armstrong have made if he stepped on the moon and yelled Coca Cola"? Armstrong didn't lessen his event by going for cheap commercial ploys. In an era when every athlete who actually wins something is "going to Disneyland" and every starlet is ready to pay someone to post her own secret sex tape, and anyone who appeared for a nanosecond on television is hawking some garbage on infommercials, it is truly refreshing to remember how Armstrong walked on the moon, safely returned home, went to the tickertape parade and then DIDN'T try to cash in. Also, he avoided the game show circuit, unlike his buddy Buzz.

Greg said...

Fred, I also remember Klein's joke and how many variations he did on the company in the joke itself, my favorite being Armstrong stepping on the moon and shouting, "Eat at Vinnie's Crabcake Emporium!"

marietta said...

Wat have seen his eyes in the orbit?