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In-Depth: Michael Rectenwald Crosses the Street

Kevin Ryan writes in The Blaze:

Whole societies exist inside colors, sounds, phrases. — Fernando Pessoa

Michael Rectenwald smiles as we walk past glass walls with reflections of us walking. It’s been a lively day for the NYU professor, writer, and former Libertarian Communist. He arrived at Mercury Studios this morning, then spent two hours talking with Glenn Beck about academia and God for Glenn’s weekend podcast. He’s satisfied and hungry and a little cold — temperature-wise. I tell him the studio is always this cold because the stage-lights get so hot, and people wear sweaters year-round. So when we step out into the Texas heat, the sunlight is blinding like a warm hallucination. We stomp through witchgrass and overgrown clover then jaywalk across Royal Lane through tufts of exhaust from passing motorcycles. There are cars at every gas pump of the 7-Eleven, and the air undulates with gasoline fumes. This is one of those moments for Rectenwald — when the world is gliding along and you catch a glimpse of perfection. On a sunny day like this, with everything so alive, you never expect tragedy. But it happens. Life is full of broken things, and sometimes you are one of them.

For now, Rectenwald is elated. He has the broad gait of a professor who’s always chatting with students as he walks around campus. His accent hints at Pittsburgh abruptness, with the pace of a New York transplant, but he’s also a lifelong reader so there are refinements to his speech you hear mostly during sermons and lectures.

These are the last days of Texas summer. And Rectenwald is in a suit — looking rather professorial with his half-knotted tie and his hair mussed slightly. He has the added level of distinction you see in professors from elite universities. His glasses are Wayfarer-style, with those prescription lenses that get darker depending on how bright it is. At the moment, they are nothing but black.

We decide to have lunch at Desi District, an Indian restaurant next to the 7-Eleven. A bored family yawns at a brightly-lit table. It’s not entirely clear that they’re here for any reason. The room echoes with the jives and exotic tumbles of a Bollywood soundtrack — music that, however corny, somehow always sounds majestic.

None of the women at the counter understands a word that we say, and, to be fair, we cannot understand them either.

Point-and-order.

Smile and nod.

Nod, then pay.

I ask Rectenwald about the time he spent with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

Continue reading here.


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