I am, I said — weary of Caroline

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NPR recently touched on my personal hell: the incessant singing of Sweet Caroline at Red Sox games.

No one seems to know how, eight painful and toneless years ago hordes of drunken Red Sox fans began to ululate to the chorus of that horrid, sickeningly-sweet tune, Sweet Caroline. It’s not that I hate Neil Diamond’s work in toto; being a child victim of the seventies War on Good Taste, I’m to be accorded a certain amount of slack in my musical predilections. It’s not entirely due to my existentialist loathing of Red Sox fans loitering outside my apartment. The central irritant of this insufferable phenomenon must be found virology.

Viruses are the most primal of creatures on planet Earth. They are composed of nothing more than a protective protein coat and strains of DNA (or RNA). So humble are they, that some biologists debate whether to classify viruses as life at all. But for now, grant me that these critters are among the living and indeed may be the most ancient form of life that exists today.

If Darwinian evolution is right (and it is), then life began in oceans of amino acids bundled into compounds called proteins. At some point, these proteins gained the remarkable property of self-replication. That is, some of these proteins made mirror images of themselves using the abundant material floating around it. These copies went on to make more copies and the wheel of life started a-turning.

But, as Londo Mollari noted, it is an imperfect universe. In making copies of itself, sometimes the protiens aren’t assembled entirely correctly. This is a mutation. Most mutations are harmful and kill off or disadvantage the offspring, but a small number of these lead to better adapted, more survivable life. So, given a couple of million years, several radical climate changes and a handful keyhole extinction events, these tiny replicators consolidate into colonies which form fish, amphibians, retiles, mammals and finally, you and me. All thanks to little mistakes.

Viruses make mistakes all the time, which is a bit sad considering they only do one thing: make copies of themselves. Besides the shear simplicity of these buggers, their penchant for mutating makes them difficult to contain with immunization and hard to isolate. Watch the most excellent movie, The Andromeda Strain for a clear picture of the terror contain in these unseen specks of goo.

And it’s the little mistakes that have, over nearly a decade, created another monster. Mutated, the once quiet, abashed chanting of the Sweet Caroline chorus across the street at Fenway Park has morphed into a hideous enormity of volume, grunts and self-congradulatory swagger that, without fail, chills my spine when I hear the opening salvo of cheesy disco horns. It is a Lovecraftian horror beyond reckoning. Ïa! Ïa! Cthulhu fhtagn!

Still, it beats those thrice-damned low-pass fly overs by F16’s. Would it be too much to publish the schedule of these fly overs so that I might not think WWIII has begun? A pox on your grumblecakes!


Update: As I finish editting this entry, some jackball is standing outside on the corner of Boylston and Yawkee Way wailing inarticulately and brandishing a sign that says “MVP API(L?) for President,” with appears to be in reference to some sort of base-ball tournament recently concluded. Fie.