It’s a Harry Potter kind of day. In the 90 minutes it takes to write, Spell Check, pray over this column 450,000 copies of “Deathly Hollows,” the last in J. K. Rowling’s enchanted series will be sold.
5000 a minute! $35 a copy. $21, at forty percent discount, if you’re lucky. [Update: 71.5 million copies worldwide sold in two days. 8 million, USA. Holy Hogworts!]
For a week now I’ve treasured my own sorcerer’s stone. It amuses, informs, allows me magically to reach out to others here, there, everywhere on the face of this shrinking planet. I possess godlike powers undreamed of 2007 years ago. (By Jove, I’m sending an email to heaven. Pearly Gates dot com. St. Peter, can you top this?)
Like wide-eyed Harry Potter, I, with my brand new iPhone have acquired a touchstone of necromancy, an amulet of geniihood, a conjuring oracle of abracadabra, a power tool of images, opinions, iTunes, You Tubes, BTL access (AND — there’s no such thing as a free brunch, Danny Radcliffe — a two-year, 60 bucks a month, contract with AT&T).
From my front porch (exhibiting glorious $600 conspicuous consumption), I iPhone my friend Gordon, wishing him a Happy Harry Potter Day. (Gordon wore prescription “Harry Potter” glasses decades before Harry was even a literary gleam in his unemployed creator’s eye.) We commiserate about Rowling’s astronomical wealth — second only to Queen Elizabeth’s — and our lack of same.
Gordon — Roseville’s uncrowned Tzarina of Trivia — footnotes Miss Rowling’s alchemical gift of changing basic prose into shining polished gold with, “and, of course there’s Oprah. She gets $260 million a year, and, there’s my hunk, Hugh Laurie. He gets $300,000 per episode. 24 per season. My dear! He can diagnose me anytime. Oh, yes, there’s my honey: Matt Lauer. He gets $12 million per year. And, believe me, he deserves it for his five o’clock shadow alone. Need I go on?”
For whatever reason of entanglement of ticker-tape information I ring off, feeling better (but not much) when fifty steps from my door a panhandler asks for bus fare. In honor of Harry Potter I give him a dollar, and walk to nearby Barnes & Noble to see what J. K. Rowling tributes are taking place.
In the Starbucks Cafe balloons are bobbing about. Tables are festive in color. Gooey doughnuts and pink punch are free. Staff wear Hogwort grad caps, wave wands, wear trademark horn rims. Halloween in July! Regretting not having come as Luna Lovegood I move on. [Ledger entry: 78 copies are sold here that day.]
In a quiet corner I iPhone news check. Next to Harry Potter hoopla, just routine stories. The Iraq War ($255 million a day). 40th anniversary of Detroit 12th St. Riot ($1 billion, inner city, burn-baby-burn cost). Bush’s polyps, five (the nation’s ulcers because of him: beyond counting). Bread and circuses. Lord Voldemort reigns . . .
At sunset another enchantment unfolds. This time real but make-believe . . .
Since the mid-1970s the Fourth Street Fair in my hickied neck of the woods takes place on an isolated block-and-a-half. Today it’s packed with goths, gays, tattoo tomcats, rap artists, musicians, T-people, leftists, progressives, film makers, would-be chefs, vendors, war protesters, thrift shop devotees, carefree kids — a cavalcade of live-and-let-live, Haight Ashbury 1960s throwbacks. Hippies reincarnated . . . Ah, yes . . .
I was 30 during Viet Nam. It happened an ocean away. And Twelfth Street. It was outta sight. Then as now, I lived in my own fantasy world. Stupefy! Stupefy! Just don’t get involved.