Jack

McCarthy

May 23, 1939 - January 17, 2013

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Savants

If you say to them, “November 6, 1904?” they will answer, “Tuesday,” and they are always right. “Calendric savants,” they’re called, a subset of idiot savants. Usually they’re retarded, frequently autistic, but they have this one curious skill, infallible. How would their talent work? I picture something whirring in the mind as in an old […]

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Saltpetre and Robert Frost

At the boys’ school I attended we all believed the legend of saltpetre in the mashed potatoes. The salt was said–as when grease fires flare in kitchens–to deaden the unruly flames of forbidden sexuality. But if saltpetre was there truly, it was notable for ineffectuality. This was the same school where they brought in some […]

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Magnum Iter

I We were ripe for intimidation and the most inimitable intimidator of all was Mister Hatch. He taught Latin and his classroom was right next the marble portal inscribed Huc venite pueri ut viri sitis- “Come this way, boys, that you may be men.” The road to manhood ran past Mister Hatch. He was the […]

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Drunks

for my father, and the people who almost saved his life We died of pneumonia in furnished rooms where they found us three days later when somebody complained about the smell we died against bridge abutments and nobody knew if it was suicide and we probably didn’t know either except in the sense that it […]

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Careful What You Ask For

I was just old enough to be out on the sidewalk by myself, and every day I would come home crying, beaten up by the same little girl. I was Jackie, the firstborn, the apple of every eye, gratuitous meanness bewildered me, and as soon as she’d hit me, I’d bawl like a baby. I […]

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A Prayer for John Fernandez

In the late 70’s, Catholics were actually studying the Bible—a really radical idea. The Church had never trusted us around the Bible, like those warnings on the back of a TV set: “We strongly suggest you not open this up if you don’t know fuck about it…” I was part of a Bible discussion group […]

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Epithalamion: A Few Words for Kathleen

We are here today to celebrate the wedding of Kathleen and Mark. Kathleen, when she was eight years old, started coming with me to AA meetings on Friday night. That meeting had really good coffee, and as Kathleen made her way time after time to the coffeepot, I’d lose sight of her because she was […]

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The Walk Of Life

You weren’t here that long near the end of a career that wasn’t quite Hall of Fame. We knew you through the box scores and the car radio. And I remember as that fateful season neared its end almost hearing tears in the announcer’s voice as he tried to describe the sight of you careering […]

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