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Mr. Know-it-All


I read “Mr. Know-it-All (The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder)” by John Waters by the water. The ocean. In Montauk. It went down well with waves and sand.

Talk about hilarious. Cool. Daring. Outrageous. Inspiring.

Waters’ truths, eccentricity, and wisdom belong in our souls and tickle our funny bones. In the section, Gristle, he imagines the restaurant he’ll open. He wants people with food issues to stay home. And not because he plans to serve kittens.

He shares hysterical, nontraditional ways of raising money for his films and ruminates on his favorite music ranging from 1960s car-accident teen novelty records to Glen Gould’s piano playing.

I loved tragic car-accident records. And Glen Gould’s piano playing. Still do. Talk about genius. Talk about a human being mastering Bach. My mother took me to a Gould concert at Buffalo’s Kleinhans Music Hall. She was the only person with whom I shared my Gould excitement. In 1958, I knew no one else who heard him play. Or knew of his genius. Thank you, Mom.

Thank you, John Waters for entertaining me, making me feel less alone, sharing who you are, inspiring me, and for reminding me a writer’s job is to surprise. Yes!

“Mr. Know-it All” made me think of the not-as-funny, not-as-cool, not-as-honest and not-as-intelligent know-it-alls I’ve tolerated. And try to avoid. Along with Waters’ ‘food issue’ folks, they should stay home.

Upon finishing the book, I sang every word of the setting sun song I helped my Color War teammates write 60 years ago about camp spirit and sportsmanship (of course, of course) as I watched the sun set in Montauk.

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