“Why talk about wine when you can talk about talking about wine? New media “culture” is bullshit, ALT TECH BROS. Just because you ride your Vespa around in your lofftice and show up to work in day-glo shirts at 11 doesn’t mean you’re progressive. It means you’re a jackass. Shut the fuck up and actually monetize, cockwaffles. Your life-changing product helping people procrastinate and identify their “personal brand” is gonna suck eventually, no matter what you do.”—
I know Zuck had an “I’m CEO…bitch” business card and so he is a little irreverent, yes, but I assumed YoungManhattanite originated this quote and attributed it to Zuckerberg for the purpose of humour-making. No? (Also: would Zuckerberg ever be able to utter the words “your life-changing product helping people procrastinate…” before thirty PR flacks muzzled him??)
“How did this happen? Well, I followed a pretty typical trajectory after college, casting about in a general fugue of post-B.A.-in-English angst for a few years, and then settled in New York, where writers have been losing their souls for centuries.”—
…[Tucker Max] had his ads thankfully removed by Chicago’s Transit Boards in a transit-based struggle that would make Rosa Parks want to rise from the dead to beat the piss out of Max for messing with her legacy of transit-based struggle.
Foster Kamer can hurl any pejorative he likes at me. This is true.
“According to British tab-rag The Sun, Jackson once told a friend — a rabbi! — Shmuley Boteach that Hitler, leader of the anti-Jews, was a genius orator. Which, despite the murderous dicator’s message, is, sadly, accurate. So said Jackson, according to Boteach’s secretly recorded tapes: Hitler was a genius orator. To make that many people turn and change and hate, he had to be a showman and he was. In addition to praising Hitler’s oratorical manipulation, Jackson also insisted that he could have cured the hate-filled Fuhrer. Which, we suppose, could be true: Hitler’s entire genocidal concept would have been inverted after seeing a black man turned into a white woman.”—
I absolutely, literally directly navigated to skybarn’s blog just to see if he’d comment on this. I know it’s easy to pile on Belonsky, but “Michael Jackson Had Unrequited Love For Hitler’s Oral”? Does that even actually mean something?
So now you’re stuck with my righteous-rage-without-outlet.
I feel like Name/Chris/Douchebag McAssFace is doing this to make some sort of “point” about how “liberals are so crazy and hysterical” and “refuse to reason with anyone.” And then he’ll post a link to his Tumblr and talk about how righteous he is.
To borrow SpLove’s phrase, it hurts my heart. It hurts my heart that there is a person in this world who would make a point in such an evil way.
I couldn’t stop myself. You know, I don’t agree with this dude’s opinion, at all, but he’s entitled to it. It’s the fact that he thinks possessing the freedom to express his opinion means he should, even if it’s insensitive and indecent. I don’t even need to see eye-to-eye with him on health care; this is about basic human courtesy.
(And even if he’s just trolling, it’s still inexusable.)
to buy Chynna Phillips a dictionary, so she can better understand “rape”?
But Michelle Phillips’ daughter, Chynna Phillips, who is Mackenzie’s half sister, says: “After long nights of heroin use, (Mackenzie is) claiming that she once woke up and that my father was on top of her having sex with her. Was he actually raping her? I don’t know. Do I believe that they had an incestuous relationship and that it went on for 10 years? Yes.” (MSNBC, via Jezebel)
Chynna, first you dashed all of my pre-adolescent hopes by marrying Billy Baldwin and now this?
“Right! and the constant awareness of what people might think of you if they are huge sexists can actually make you the most incoherent person alive! “ha ha, well, I’M LAUGHING AT YOUR JOKE, but it’s really not funny, and I’M NOT INSANE, but i think that’s fucked up, BUT I WANT TO BE NICE ABOUT IT, but you are being an asshole!” this constant dance between feeling obliged to speak up and trying to do the insane performing-monkey Look You Can’t Stereotype Me Dance.”—Sady Doyle, Tiger Beatdown: Sexist Beatdown: Douche Chills Edition
“Say you were standing on a hilltop with someone who had no Noise. Would it be like you were alone there? How would you share it? Would you want to? I mean, here we are, the girl and I, heading outta danger into the unknown and there’s no Noise overlapping us, nothing to tell us what the other’s thinking. Is that how it’s sposed to be?”—
— The Knife of Never Letting Go, this month’s Tumblr book club selection, which I am clearly way behind on (only about 100 pages in).
This line makes me think of Prufrock, among other things. (But I will spare you the dissertation on consciousness as a hermetic chamber.)
A journalist is someone who “obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for an entity…” according to Chuck Schumer’s amendment to New York’s shield law. Zachary Seward, writing for Nieman Lab, points out that the phrasing in the amendment excludes student journalists and bloggers with day jobs, but I do think it’s difficult to find language that is limiting enough in scope (restricting the protection to those who actually report) without making protection hinge on compensation.
Okay. I’m not a habitual reader of GofG, not out of any pointed disapproval, but because its tone somehow reminds me of a stereotypical high school yearbook staff: Allow us to show you the (relatively) cool kids in our little world. It doesn’t bother me, but it doesn’t particularly interest me, either. No big deal.
I do read RBNS and have read it since its inception in January (for those of you who don’t know, RBNS is an abbreviation for “Reblogging NonSociety,” a blog dedicated to reblogging and parsing Julia Allison’s vanity blog “NonSociety”). It is often hilarious, well written and incisive; it is also occasionally mean-spirited, petty and inane. I’m admitting that I read it mostly because I suspect MANY people do, but are hesitant to say so.
Regardless of how anyone feels about either GofG or RBNS, there are many, many things wrong with this article. First is Chiara Atik’s obviously biased recasting of her AIM (!!) interview with RBNS’ “Partypants,” a.k.a. Alice Walker Wright (full text of their chat here). Now, GofG hasn’t necessarily set itself up as committed to honest journalism. But, in my mind, once you’re writing under professional auspices, you have some responsibility not to develop (or set in stone) an angle before you interview your subject. Atik, who forgets most of her questions during their chat, clearly has her article already half-written; Wright’s answers are almost superfluous. It’s dishonest and completely lacks integrity. Why interview Wright at all? (Also, a minor copy editor’s quibble: Atik capitalizes the “b” in her link to Reblogging NonSociety but even a cursory examination of the site shows this is wrong.)
But here’s the bigger issue, aside from Atik’s (and GofG’s) questionable ethics: passing judgment on what other people do in their free time. Atik makes much of the fact that Wright considers her blogging a hobby. Well, that’s a bad hobby! Atik intimates that it’s a pathetic hobby. After all, Wright has dedicated her “life” (or the last two or three months) to mocking Julia Allison. Good hobbies, according to Atik? Crocheting! Bowling! And those are fine hobbies. There is nothing wrong with those hobbies. But here’s a controversial thesis: barring torture or murder, people can do whatever the fuck they want when they’re not punching a clock.
A few months ago, Tom and I and one of Tom’s roommates (who has since moved away) were watching Trekkies, a documentary about rabid Star Trek fans. Some of the fans were pretty extreme! One lady wore her Star Trek uniform almost all the time! Another dude taught Klingon as a second language! To people who wanted to learn Klingon as a second language! At the end, both Tom and his roommate, who was (is) an inveterate hipster, were chuckling over how “sad” these people were. But I didn’t see any sadness. These were happy people with a hobby that isn’t socially sanctioned. And so I said to the hipster roommate, who kind of hated me for not being a bomb-ass hipsterette with a headscarf and an overweening love of Seattle-based podcasts, that these Trekkies were no different than folks who park their single-gear bikes in front of Barcade on a break from training for Brooklyn’s finest adult spelling bee. In other words: hobbies reflect the idiosyncrasies of the person engaging in them…and we are all kind of lame, depending on who’s looking at us.
There are people who enjoy Pilates. Some enjoy handpainting coasters for their Etsy shops (to those people, I say: “Thanks!”). Some have DVR marathons of True Blood. Others follow Clay Aiken all over the world. Some of us blog. Some of us blog mean shit. Occasionally, some people seem obsessed with their hobbies!
But an actor once said that he thought people like to “play” at being obsessed with things, so “obsessed” fans generally didn’t freak him out. That actor was David Duchovny. I know this because I once belonged to a listserv called, I shit you not, The David Duchovny Drool Brigade. I was 15 and, in between PSAT prep and newspaper meetings, I liked to watch The X-Files and occasionally read some fan fiction. What a loser, am I right? But I was a happy, well-adjusted kid. And eventually I moved on to other things (I still have some nostalgia for it; to wit: I absolutely paid to see The X-Files film that came out last summer). Obsession, real obsession, is only evident if that person can no longer function because her hobby has eclipsed all other duties or concerns. Since most of us seem perfectly capable of blogging on a daily basis without neglecting our jobs or loved ones, I don’t see why Wright would be any different.
So I think someone can say, “Hey, while that Obliterati party sounds bangin’, it’s not my scene. I’mma head home and draw some cartoons and finish How Fiction Works and maybe watch In Living Color on Hulu” (or I can say that, whatever) because your time is your time. And you can do whatever you choose with it! (Yay!) One can also say, “Hey, Partypants, I don’t agree with what you say about Julia Allison, or how you say it, and it’s disingenuous that you say you don’t think she’s fat but you guys rip on her ‘cankles,’” because that’s a criticism of substance. But I loathe the implication that Wright is a loser because she’s snarking in her free time. (Andrew Belonksy, on the other hand? Total winner! ‘Cause dude is getting paid!) Hey, can anyone teach me to say “bullshit rhetorical tactic” in Klingon?
Just for the next couple of days. Tom and I are leaving for Belize on October 1st, and the magazine’s Fall Books issue needs a lot of work in the interim. It’s one of those taking-off-for-a-week-requires-doing-three-weeks-of-work-in-advance kind of things. Hopefully I’ll be able to wrap up enough of the important stuff by the end of the week. Tumbl on, Tumblrers.
“South African runner Caster Semenya, who is at the center of a gender row, has been placed on suicide watch amid fears for her mental stability. The Daily Star quoted officials as saying that psychologists are caring the 18-year-old round-the- clock after it was claimed tests had proved she was a hermaphroditeintersex.” (cite)
fixed the terminology for them. but who is surprised by this? take an 18 year old woman and poke and prod her and talk about her genitals in the international news and tell her she’s not a woman, no matter what she thinks about the subject and what her family thinks about the subject, and OH WHAT A SURPRISE, it seems to have upset her!
What a disaster! One tiny element of chaos and MTV fell apart—and so did America. One millionaire was mildly mean to another millionaire. Make no mistake: little Taylor Swift is at the head of very wealthy and successful business empire. And the head of another business empire was mildly impolite and out of order at a music awards show! Which is to say he created some excitement not previously sanctioned by an MTV producer.
When did America get so fussy and uptight?
I won’t go so far as to suggest that everyone was flipped out that this angelic little white girl (and she is super-cute) was accosted by a probably drunk—and definitely crazy—older black man. I’ll keep that thought to myself, but I’ll keep thinking it.
I briefly considered not reblogging this but: I disagree with a lot of what Choire is saying. While I’d agree that there’s something unsettling about the image that people are choosing to circulate around the Internet (of Kanye taking the microphone from a sweet, delicate, slightly hesitant Taylor) and I’m concerned about how that kind of image could play into and feed unconscious racism, I still have trouble understanding the urge to defend Kanye here.
Whether Taylor Swift “deserved” her VMA (and seriously, Orson effing Welles and Citizen Kane were almost completely shut out of the Oscars, so award shows are not arbiters of anything, ever) and whether she and Kanye are millionaires has nothing to do with it. Do we judge the rightness or wrongness of what is done to someone by how fortunate she is? If I run over one of Paris Hilton’s dogs, should we all LOL and say “Paris Hilton is a wench and she’s rich and she can buy as many dogs as she wants”? Or would I even be justified in approaching her and telling her she’s a terrible, horrible, no-good human being? Yes, I wouldn’t be breaking any laws in doing the latter and certainly Paris Hilton has said and done a lot worse to other people, but: so what? And I know: Choire is saying “why get into a lather over two people who are richer than we are? Who cares about their feelings?” But this happened in a public space, so naturally people will comment and the relative wealth of the participants isn’t really a factor (and I kind of feel like this is the standard attempt to invalidate an argument: “Don’t take it so seriously! Why do you even care? LOL”).
But here’s the worst part about defending Kanye: Kanye West is full of it. Really. Does anyone actually believe that he was standing up for “real pop culture”? First of all: what is “real” pop culture? Beyonce, who has been a product since she was a teenager, is no “realer” than Taylor Swift. I will repeat what I said in an earlier post: This is not about Beyonce. This not about Taylor Swift. This is about Kanye being Kanye and glorifying Kanye. It’s offensive — not because he’s stealing the spotlight from an artist, who, admittedly, is already very successful — but because he’s so unbelievably disingenuous about why he did it. Will everyone lose their minds over the fact that Taylor Swift is an adorable, blonde, young cherub? Yes. Is it kind of an overreaction? Probably. But had he done this to ANYONE, it would still be ridiculous and worthy of censure.
Also (ready your tomatoes, YoungManhattanites), I disagree with Choire’s pointed inclusion of Kanye’s opening to Taylor: “I’m going to let you finish” and that it was MTV who ushered Taylor offstage. Oh, HE’s going to let her finish? Kanye West, the soul of generosity, is going to let the person who actually won the award finish her speech! And the idea that anyone, even the most self-possessed person on the planet (and Swift, while wealthy, is still only 19), could continue after that is unreasonable. I don’t believe for one second that Kanye thought she could make her thank-yous after he was finished, or that anyone would’ve been paying attention if she did.
And I get it, sometimes people love the spectacle; they love the idea that Kanye would be ballsy enough to employ guerrilla tactics to air his opinions. And if you personally sit back and chuckle while Kanye overturns the applecart, because it’s all bullshit anyway, that’s fine. But let’s not legitimize his insane, self-aggrandizing notion that he is somehow above this, that he is an Artist who ignores civility for the sake of his Craft and Real True Art. He has only one cause: the further propagation of the Awesomeness of Kanye West. Mission accomplished, because what are most people discussing today? Beyonce’s video? How it was robbed? How Kanye’s opinion was dead-on? No. They are talking about Kanye West.
“I’m going to sleep on figuring out just what about this whole thing was “real,” and what became “real” after Kanye’s initial outburst unfurled across the Radio City stage-slash-the Internet, and what was merely a way to distract from a lineup that was lacking many of the biggest pop acts in America right now, dispensing with them in favor of the likes of Adam Brody and That Hills Chick. (Because, you know, who cares about pop music.)”—
While I think Kanye’s outburst was real (and: really, this was not about Beyonce or Taylor Swift or music videos but, as always, about Kanye needing to assert his presence. Excuse me: ASSERT HIS PRESENCE), Maura raises an excellent point. MTV has almost no connection to the music industry anymore. I was a kid in the 90s and while it probably wasn’t exactly the heyday of MTV (they had already inaugurated series like Real World/Road Rules Challenge and Undressed, which is sort of where I personally chart their decline), I still remember how they’d have music “blocks,” an hour of alternative or hip hop or pop, and while they featured a fair amount of mainstream artists, you’d still get the opportunity to hear about bands who weren’t exactly burning up top 40. It’s a really old, unoriginal complaint but MTV is unwatchable today. Their many reality shows, populated by telegenic but charisma-free jackasses, make me long for the days of Kennedy and Matt Pinfield (Alternative Nation, too late have I loved thee) and yes, even Carson Daly’s Twelve Angry Viewers.
What bothers me most, I think, is that I know there are people, like me, who are not as deeply in love with music (I’ve always focused more attention on literature) who relied on networks like MTV to get a sense what other, cooler people were listening to. And maybe I’m doing that Burgeoning Old Person Thing, wherein I get super-complain-y about Kids Today, but I sometimes wonder if 12-year-olds, ones who might not have a particular curiosity about or passion for music, will have an experience like the one I had watching the video for “Heart-Shaped Box” for the first time, or feel the shock of Kurt Loder announcing that Biggie had been shot. The music industry, or at least the one MTV represented, felt like an entire world of artists and their stories and the importance of their craft. It made you want to care about music. Now it’s all spectacle.
Sadly, I don’t think it’s that MTV doesn’t give a shit about pop music. They don’t give a shit about music, period.
I never know what to do or how to feel on September 11th. Eight years ago I was a freshman in college, living and going to school in the financial district. It was the second week of my first semester and I was adjusting to living on my own, to unfamiliar surroundings, to city life, to germs. For three or four days prior I subsisted on a diet of orange juice and liquid Tylenol to combat the “new environment fever” I had somehow contracted. On 9/11, I woke up finally feeling better.
Class was just beginning when a student, who was late, came in to tell us that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. “I think it’s terrorism,” she said. Melodrama! I refrained from rolling my eyes. The pilot was probably drunk or suicidal or both, I thought. Fifteen minutes later, as we were helping our somewhat hapless professor figure out how to use our VCR, the classroom shook. Shit. A couple of students ran out and quickly back in. There was a second plane and it just hit the other tower. An immediate exodus followed. We crowded in the hallway, staring out of Pace’s windows, as plumes of smoke emanated from both towers. Our professor canceled class and suggested we all go out for coffee. Go out while that’s happening? No, thanks.
With no signal on my cell phone and the dorm’s phone system suffering sporadic outages, I went down to the lobby and called my parents from a pay phone. “I’m okay. Don’t worry.” When I returned to my door room, I found my roommate, Nicole, on the phone with her mother. “I hope you don’t mind,” she said, looking past me to my TV, turned on and playing CNN. We were in that early roommate stage, where you ask permission to breathe the same air. I shook my head no; I didn’t mind. “Is it working now?” I asked, gesturing toward the phone. “Sometimes,” she smiled and returned to her conversation. I sat on my bed, turning to look at my own room phone. It was blinking. Messages. One from a concerned cousin working farther uptown, one from my aunt. I returned their calls, assuring everyone that everything was fine.
After she hung up, Nicole moved toward the window where our formerly awesome view of the WTC was now an awesome view of the WTC burning. But we were calm. The fire department was there, things would be contained, no need to panic. Nicole joked about how when the first or second plane hit (she couldn’t be sure which) she, a California girl, sleepily assumed it was an earthquake, rolled right over and nestled back into her bed. We stood in front of the window, chatting about how weird this all seemed. Then there was a low rumble. I can’t say for certain whether the slight vibration I remember is an invention of memory or if it actually happened, but I remember the shock of seeing the south tower collapse. Not on television but right there, just outside my room, big as life. Smoke covered our windows. Wow, I’m going to die. (I hope you’ll forgive me for how overwrought that seems now but that was what I really believed in that moment.) I collapsed into sobs as school staff banged on our doors, telling us to evacuate the dorms.
We were herded downstairs to the university gym, which was below ground, because the administration thought that was probably the safest place to be. The room was stunned silent as the faculty explained that it was too dangerous for them to allow anyone to leave right now but, when they determined it was safe, if we wanted to leave, we could. We were instructed to hold a handkerchief or a damp paper towel over our noses and mouths to protect us from breathing in whatever was floating around in the air (to which my older, more cynical voice now says, “A paper towel will protect me from inhaling asbestos? Really?”) if we did decide to take our chances outside.
After about thirty minutes (I am doing some ballparking here), they let us go and Nicole and I went up to the caf/lounge area where every single television was tuned to CNN, the chyron head reading “America Under Attack.” We listened but didn’t process, until we were told we had to move, again, to an office area because officials were converting most of Pace’s lobby and caf area into a makeshift triage. They were also taking in frightened tourists, who were stranded because all the subways had been shut down. So then I sat in an office chair, listening to the radio for what seemed like hours, hearing the name Osama Bin Laden for the first time. (It seems weird now when I try to remember my pre-9/11 lack of awareness of terrorism.)
Finally we were allowed back into the dorms. The north tower had collapsed, too, and emergency crews were still at the scene, but everything seemed okay. Back in our dorm room, my computer displayed instant messages blinking and pinging with insistence. “Are you okay, Reggie???” my friend Claudia asked. “Yes,” I wrote back, already tired. I tried using my cell phone. No signal. I checked the room phone. No dial tone. I went down the hall to the floor bathroom, washed my hands and prayed for the day to be over already. As the door was closing behind me, I noticed the bathroom had gone dark. Weird. I pushed the door open and flicked the light switch. Darkness. Huh.
I walked back down the hallway to our room. Something seemed different. Our overhead light was off. My laptop was now running on battery power. You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. A voice on a dorm loudspeaker told us that our power had gone out, “but we expect our backup generators to kick on shortly.” (We later found that out our main source of power was somehow connected to WTC 7, which collapsed at some time past 5.) My phone rang (don’t ask how — seems like I could now receive calls but could only sporadically make them). It was my dad. Sitting there in the dark, feeling exhausted and confused and lost, I broke down."Dad, I’m scared," I said, my voice breaking. No cars were allowed into Manhattan, he couldn’t get to me, he said, but he assured me that, somehow, I would be okay. Some of the subways were running again and one of his friends worked uptown. If Nicole and I could meet her at Times Square, she had a car and could drive us to my parents’ home in the Bronx. He told me not to worry, that I would be safe. We hung up. My mom sat down next to dad. She later told me that it was the first time, in their 30-year marriage, she had ever seen him cry.
Some of the students were being shuttled to Pace’s Westchester campus — even though the administration was sure the backup power would come on “soon.” But anyone who was leaving had to sign a sheet. Nicole and I signed out and, remebering the helpful tips we received, held sweatshirts over our noses and mouths. As we walked to the nearest train station (at least a solid 30 blocks away), we noticed a light coating of ash and dust on the ground and surrounding buildings. It was eerily quiet. No traffic. No pedestrians. I said something about half-expecting a tumbleweed to roll past as we strolled down equally deserted Soho streets. The sight of a few police officers broke the surreality of the moment, as we politely (remember how super-politeness made a brief comeback then?) asked where the nearest subway station was. Shortly after that we were on the F, on our way uptown, and managed to meet up with my Dad’s friend, who very kindly bought us dinner and drove us home.
As soon as we walked into my parents’ house, I was descended on by family members and, amid a chorus of “Thank God!”s, was hugged harder than I have been in my entire life. The stress of the day had renewed the force of my cold/fever and my voice was almost completely gone as I said “I’m fine” for the thousandth time.
It’s a time that, eight years later, seems so vivid in my mind. It’s still kind of painful, to be honest. But it’s problematic because I know now how that event, which was and is a profound loss, is necessarily imbued with political significance. It was a politically-motivated attack and then became a political tool for a government eager to expand its power. But in those initial moments, without that knowledge, all I had was pain and sadness and the feeling that someone had (repeatedly) sucker-punched me in the stomach.
And so, not to torture (!) you with this, but I wonder if, for New Yorkers, there’s a collective psychic split between the intellectual interpretation, which pushes us to regard 9/11 as a historical event to be analyzed with detachment (and, naturally, a healthy amount of cynicism and skepticism) and the actual memory of 9/11 as an emotional event, where the hurt takes over and intellectualism seems oddly inappropriate. I don’t know if they can be reconciled.
"Dems heckled Bush, but Wilson was different" (POLITICO.com)
So why the outcry over Wilson?
I think it’s because Congressional Republicans have used the health care debate to vent a deeper, uglier contempt for Obama that verges on the personal.
They’ve done little to discourage the party’s fringes from questioning Obama’s legitimacy to serve through the birther movement, fitness to govern through the death panel canard — and even the territorial integrity of the US under a Democratic president through Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s flirtation with secession.
Anger may stoke the base at town halls — and goose Glenn Beck — but it just looks ugly on the national stage.
I understand Glynnis MacNicol’s point but casting Obama’s criticism as a complaint about “the media” is problematic. The media is not a monolith. President Obama was taking aim at specific claims made by specific members of the media who are (perhaps intentionally) misinforming the public. What I find most striking is that President Obama knows how to express disagreement strongly and forcefully without belligerent shouting or lowering the level of discourse. (If I could hear from a conservative commentator who could disagree vehemently without being snide, I’d appreciate it.)
I think it’s entirely appropriate to hold someone, whether it’s a politician or a pundit, accountable for propagating lies or misinformation. But there are better and worse ways to do that. Calmly clarifying what are “bogus claims” and what aren’t in the context of a speech designed for that exact purpose? Acceptable. A congressperson shouting “You Lie!” (twice!) in the middle of the president’s televised address to congress? Unacceptable, ridiculous, rude and inappropriate.
Criticism is not the problem. Using the words “lies” or “liar” is not the problem. The flagrant lack of respect for anything approaching civil engagement is.
“This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President’s remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility”—
Oh my god, overweight women disrobing in a ladies’ locker room? WILL THEIR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY NEVER END?
Seriously, this entire article made me laugh. I don’t know if it’s age or maturity or just mental fatigue but it’s so difficult to work up any kind of outrage over people who are this ridiculous. I can’t wait for her next article about her discomfort with people pooping in bathrooms!
I think it’s important to specify that the blogs themselves, whether it’s LATF or TIWYF or the "Shit My Dad Says" Twitter, (or the people behind them) aren’t stoking my ire. It’s just frustrating to watch publishers grasping desperately at something — anything — that can be cheaply produced with a low level of creative output to boost flagging book sales.
And by the way, this attitude isn’t limited to blog book deals: In a couple of weeks Quirk Books will release Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, coming on the heels of its very successful predecessor, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which was essentially a 200-page reiteration of the same joke. S&S&SM drops Sept. 15th. Do you know when Quirk first announced the book deal? July 15th. Two months. Two months between the announcement and the release. That is not just a rarity in the book world; it borders on absolute impossibility. And if you watch the trailer (yes, there’s A TRAILER for a book), you’ll see the character of Willoughby say he’s “a sensible man, not easily swayed by emotion.” How Regency! How British! How totally inaccurate if you’ve ever actually read Sense and Sensibility. If they can’t even write 20 seconds of dialogue (before the sea monsters appear) without destroying one of the biggest pieces of characterization in the novel, can we really expect a book that is cheeky and fun but also well integrated into the story Jane Austen told? The whole project seems slipshod and is obviously motivated by the desire to make a quick, cheap buck. Forget about quality. Forget about artistic integrity. And I know we’re talking about sea monsters here, but “not serious” does not and should not equate to “lacks integrity.”
So there’s a massive industry-wide flail, of which the blog/tweet books are a part, that’s annoying the hell out of me. But it’s also exacerbated by my suspicion that these books won’t sell. Because if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that people who aren’t buying print material [books or magazines] anyway but like reading things online probably won’t buy a book of something they read/can continue to read online. Peter Feld wrote something awhile back that I thought was incisive: that “audiences are more stratified by media habits than they are united by common interests.” And if the fanbase(s) for these blogs/twitters are people who spend a significant portion of their time reading blogs or tweeting, if they “hang out” online, my Spidey sense tells me they might find blog-books or tweet-books stale — the nature of the medium that gave life to LATFH and TIWYF and SMDS is one that is constantly updating in small increments. While none of these blogs are particularly “newsy” or topical, I would argue that you read them with a different mindset than you read a book, even a collection of discrete works (like stories or essays or poems or anecdotes). Blogs and tweets just possess an inherent sense of immediacy that books don’t. (Now in the cases of LATFH and TIWYF specifically, if the pictures are well-composed and interesting, that might be enough to make the medium irrelevant. But I’m not sure how this works for non-photo blogs or tweets.)
Again, this isn’t a dig at any of the people who have secured book deals. I just think the publishing industry is making some questionable creative decisions based on very questionable business “savvy.”
I suspect what will happen is that these kinds of books will either be profitable or they won’t (shocking!); but if they are, they’ll just quietly slink off into niche-dom, which isn’t terrible but it does mean it won’t be newsworthy when, you know, Insanity Wolf gets his book deal (which I’ll have to buy and review because he’s threatening to napalm my office building).
Having to move back home at the age of 28 almost universally signals defeat. Images of an unemployed, not-so-well-adjusted George Costanza character from “Seinfeld” might spring to mind.
In Justin Halpern’s case, moving from Los Angeles to his parents’ house in San Diego planted the seeds for a Twitter page that’s quickly growing into an Internet phenomenon, attracting offers from literary agents and book publishers.
Once a day, Halpern, 28, posts a memorable quote that his dad, Samuel, had said the day before. More than 200,000 users subscribe to get their daily dose of Sam.
COME ON NOW, KILL ME. BE A MURDERER LIKE YOUR FATHER. COME ON, ALL YOU CORLEONES ARE MURDERERS ANYWAY.
by Regina Nigro
So, as I recently mentioned, I watched The Godfather (partI and II) for the very first time this weekend. I did so under duress. Well, not entirely. Tom, my boyfriend, is a filmmaker and has been since embryonic implantation (I am only partially kidding - he was making films since he was 12, including one starring his brother Joe, entitled entitled “Jobocop,” complete with homemade “Robocop” suit. This one is slightly less famous than the Obama Girl videos he’s done, which you may or may not have seen). Tom was appalled that I had somehow reached the age of 26 without ever seeing The Godfather. “But…you’re Italian!”
And that’s precisely the reason I haven’t seen it. I’ve grown up with the references; I’ve heard lines like “I know it was you, Fredo!”, “Leave the gun; take the cannoli”, and “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse” quoted countless times by my family and other Italian families and friends. They also quote Goodfellas. Casino, too, occasionally. And of course, The Sopranos. I’m trying to find a non-overly-PC-jackass way to say this but: these works of art make me uncomfortable.
But my feelings cannot be summed up as simply as “These films/shows reinforce negative stereotypes about Italians and are BAD FOREVER. THE END.” Because some of them, to greater and lesser extents, have depth and humanity, and are trying to illustrate greater thematic concerns than “LOLZ ITALIANS ARE CRIMINALS.” But the complexity that I grapple with all the time is that the “cool” parts of these movies, the “fun” parts, the quotable parts, are invariably when some character is righteously laying a smackdown on or murdering someone. And while there are elements of Italian-American culture - huge family gatherings (true), obsession with food (true), the influence of Catholic morality and guilt (you bet!) - the element of criminality is so prevalent that it’s almost become characteristic instead of coincidental. And because the fun parts are where these characters are being very, very bad people, the mob aspect is fetishized and people - Italian people - passively absorb these stereotypes and embrace them.
Hence the popularity of Growing up Gotti, Victoria Gotti’s reality show. Victoria and her sons are “mob royalty,” and thus (really?) secured a reality show. But there was no depth there. In its brief run, the Gotti boys’ entire cultural contribution was teaching a number of young NY/NJ Italian dudes to wear Armani Exchange shirts and gold chains, gel and spike their hair, bathe in Drakkar Noir and invest in Day-Glo Orange tans. There was nothing interesting or poignant about the Gottis’ lives, but because the criminal element of Italian “culture” is glamorized, they were handed a certain amount of cultural influence.
And that’s my culture, man. So, in a peculiar act of rebellion, I’ve avoided it and ignored it, and especially avoided The Godfather, the granddaddy of Italian mafia movies, even though it’s widely considered one of the greatest American films ever made.
But a lady can only hold out for so long.
The Godfather is, ironically, about painful legacies and about family. It is also about nothing less than the destruction of someone’s soul. Michael Corleone is something of a rebel himself; the first Godfather film opens with him and his (blonde, blue-eyed, New England-bred WASP) girlfriend, Kay, at Michael’s sister’s wedding. Michael has just returned from serving in World War II, an odd choice for a mafia prince. (We learn in Part II that Michael’s father, Vito Corleone, pulled strings to secure a deferment so Michael could stay in college. Michael dropped out of school and elected to serve his country instead.) It’s clear that Michael loves his family, but has maintained a cool detachment from them - he only learns that his father has been shot by rival mob soldiers from the grim newspaper headlines when he and Kay happen to pass a newsstand one day.
Over his father’s unguarded bedside, where Don Vito lies vulnerable to attack, Michael grasps his father’s hand and says, “I’m with you now. I’m with you.” And from that moment on, he is. Michael begins a slow descent into crime, borne out of an almost characteristically (oh no!) Sicilian desire for revenge, wherein he conflates family loyalty with loyalty to the Family. The assassination of Michael’s brother and the family scion, Sonny, and the death of Apollonia, Michael’s Italian wife (in a car explosion meant for Michael), push Michael further into darkness, whetting his appetite to settle things for good.
And Michael has an unusual talent for revenge, cold-blooded and calculating in a way that his father, Vito, is not. Vito is part of a dying generation, someone who began a life of crime, as we see in Part II, simply to feed his wife and child. He’s vehemently opposed to dealing narcotics, even though both brash Sonny and level-headed Tom Hagen, family consigliere and adopted son, believe that drugs are the next step for their business. As for revenge? Vito says “I want no inquiries made. I want no acts of vengeance. I want you to arrange a meeting, with the heads of the Five Families. This war stops now.” And when he stands over Sonny’s mangled body, barely able to choke out the words “Look how they massacred my boy,” one understands why. In Part II, when Michael’s family is threatened by an assassination attempt at his home, he responds very differently: he spends the entire film trying to sniff out the traitor in his midst, desperate to crush his enemies under his heels.
By that point, Michael has had some experience in enemy-crushing. Perhaps the most beautiful moments of The Godfather (part 1) are when Michael is holding his infant nephew in church as the child is baptized and Michael is becoming his godfather. In the Catholic tradition, Michael renounces Satan and all his evil teachings - while his lieutenants are murdering the heads of the other mafia families. Coppola ingeniously juxtaposes these scenes: as Michael promises to spiritually safeguard his godchild, this newly-minted Godfather is securing physical safety and earthly power for himself and his loved ones. But at what cost?
The first film ends with Al Neri, Rocco Campone and Clemenza kissing Michael’s ring, paying their respects to the new Don Corleone. Kay, now Michael’s wife, can only watch helplessly as Michael’s study door closes on her. But the door isn’t just closing on Kay, it’s closing on Michael Corleone, war hero and morally upright citizen. The dream that Vito had of Michael being “Senator Corleone…or Governor Corleone” is dead. But Don Michael Corleone plans to bring his Family untold glory and spoils. It is thus, amazingly, an end and a beginning, both equally tragic.
The ending of Part II is the true ending, the real culmination of Michael’s quest for power. Michael has enormous wealth and influence, and while he may not be able to legitimize his business, he can stamp out opposition - long after any bloodshed matters. He has Hyman Roth and Fredo, his own brother, neither of whom can pose a threat, murdered simply as a show of force and vengeance. He divorces Kay after she tells him she aborted one of his prized male heirs; he limits her time with their children as punishment. He’s sending a message: you do not fuck with Michael Corleone. So Michael sits at the end of the second film, silent and alone, a man who has alienated or killed or lost the people he loved the most, a king with no kingdom.
But this beautiful saga, gracefully crafted and executed, carries its own heavy, sad irony. It is the representation of a painful legacy, but it is also the seminal work of a new legacy of collective cultural identity. And that identity, which lionizes crime and subsumes it into Italian-American culture, is one that I cannot really claim. At the start of the Godfather, Michael tells Kay, “That’s my family, Kay; that’s not me.” I identify.
Regina Nigro is an editorial assistant at America magazine. She tumbls here.
The hard part is getting people to actually agree to represent the content that the deal was based on when you realize the pictures you swiped off the internet are not public domain and unusable in the actual book.
Well, according to the PW notice (which I somehow missed), the book will “both mock and celebrate hipster culture.” So that might be a selling point for concerned hipsters, like “Hey, you’re being subversive by participating in a book that seems to be snarky but is, ironically, a celebration of hipster culture!” Or St. Martin’s or the author can just hire models and dress them as hipsters. Either way, the book will be less funny for the rest of us.