Sunday, October 28, 2012

Parkour ... or Zumba, maybe?

Josh looks fantastically fit. Like maybe he's been taking parkour or Zumba classes?

Whedon on Romney

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Long Haul or What I Learned at Summer Camp

When you get old, you enjoy comparing things. Things like incomes, relationships and especially people. Comparing the trajectories of people's lives is also interesting. Let's take these two for example:

Sixto Rodriguez is 70 years old. He's been making folk music since he was a teenager. His "big break" came at age 28 when his album Cold Fact was produced. Then he got ignored by the American music scene for decades.

 Rodriguez is sort of like a Hispanic Bob Dylan. His songs are about the disenfranchisement of the lower class, the resentment created by racism and the isolation of poverty. Although a fellow Detroiter, he's nothing like Eminem. For some bizarre reason, white South Africans latched onto copies of Cold Fact way back in the 1970s and 80s and declared him 'the voice of their generation'. Go figure. Unfortunately, Rodriguez didn't know he was huge in South Africa for decades. Then somebody hunted him down, now he tours and does sold-out shows. It only took 40 years for his art to be recognized, to find an appreciative audience.

And that's okay because giants like Van Gogh and Oscar Wilde never really found their audiences. They both died in relative obscurity and poverty because Van Gogh was nuts and Wilde had been disowned by London society after his indecency trial. Today Van Gogh's paintings sell for more than the GDP of some third-world countries and Wilde's plays are perpetually being re-interpreted in theaters and on film.

Let's compare Rodriguez to this woman. Lena Dunham is the daughter of New York artists. She grew up in and around the New York art scene. She attended a prestigious school in New York famous for producing artists made up of the genes of other artists. Then she graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio. It's an elite liberal arts university that has graduated a number of Pulitzer Prize winners, screenplay writers and other over-achievers. It costs $50,000 a year  to attend Oberlin. Just the tuition is $50,000. Forget room, board, a nice beer bong, etc. According to one Ohio news site, it's about $200,000 to get an undergraduate degree. Throw in a modest car accident (college kids are not the best drivers), a little pneumonia or maybe an appendicitis and that's a quarter of a million dollars to educate one kid. Wow, her parents must love her.

Dunham made an independent film when she was about 25 called Tiny Furniture and won a bunch of awards. It's about a recent college grad from an elite liberal arts college trying to decide what to do with herself after college. I'm sure this was a huge stretch for Dunham, I mean to get inside the lead character's head, examine all that self doubt and white rich person's guilt. I'm guessing Tiny Furniture is like the cinematic equivalent of Native Son. It does for wealthy white New Yorkers what Richard Wright's book did for oppressed black people in the 1940s. I mean how does one escape the curse of being rich, white and privileged? You kill your metaphorical rats, you endure the lines at the new up-scale bistro and you accept your fate to live near the top of America's social ladder. Oh, the horror.

Recently Dunham, who's been ridiculed for her successful HBO comedy Girls, signed a book deal with Random House to write a memoir/humorous confessional of her early years. The publishing deal nets her $3.5 million. (Looks like the quarter mill for that Bachelor's paid off.) And Random House has surprised no one by doing what every harebrained, cookie-cutter publisher left in America is doing: latching on to the shiniest, momentarily interesting writer and hoping this one is the goose capable of crapping gold. I mean, just think of all the slack-jawed trustafarians slouching around Williamsburg who will flock to the bookstores to buy this tome. Wait, those kids read books don't they?

And are there any physical bookstores left?