From The Desk Of Cotton Mather: Dr. Harrison Did It, With The Napkin, In The Dining Room!

Cotton Mather’s Robert Harrison gets brownie points for ambition. Death Of The Cool (The Star Apple Kingdom) comprises 11 of the 64 songs he’s been writing in an extended fit of creativity inspired by the I Ching, the ancient Chinese divination text—one tune per hexagram (or reading). Seriously. Harrison will be guest editing all week.


Harrison: My father, a man of impeccable taste and manners, had one ghastly failing at the dinner table. When he decided he needed to dislodge something from inside his nose, he’d raise a napkin in front of his face and just go to town back there, with his hand banging against the cloth like a Tahitian shadow puppet on uppers. It would have been better to just see it. The napkin made it worse somehow. Or as the director of a Montessori School where I worked years ago said to a little boy who was exploring his privates during choir, “There are some things we do alone in our beds!” Even when I was a child I knew, it was totally wrong somehow.

Another unsettling thing about my childhood was the feeling of claustrophobia that would come over me whenever we played the game Clue. When it happened to me the other night with my children, I realized why. The house they’re all in has the worst feng shui. That’s probably why someone’s always getting murdered there.