Been chewing on a number of issues lately----one thing I haven't done up to now with this blog is write on a personal level----poetry, yeah----fiction & prose, sure----art sometimes, of course----seldom in this arena have I just sat & jawed with you----so right now I'm gonna do that....
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.
Seen the movie? Nah....me neither.
I could probably start at ground zero, as a writer and a friend of writers---as someone who's watched at least one generation of underappreciated scribes churn out some superior and intellectually turned-on erotica get summarily ignored and dismissed while this toe jam sells zillions.....it goes beyond that, though.
Lots of the BDSM people have gone off at length about how the book and/or movie mischaracterizes the lifestyle as romanticized abuse and codependence----basically a variation or extreme caricature of 1950s marriage. I've personally got no dog in that race, and the BDSM crowd don't need me in their peanut gallery....they have plenty of their own eloquent speakers.
I've hypothesized for years that THE STORY OF O is a parable about Codependence, Abuse and loss of identity wrapped up in a veneer of Erotica....friends and I have gone round and round about that, and of course, Pauline Reage is no longer around to speak for herself on the issue----but I think that's the line in the sand between smart erotic literature and dumb....I doubt EL James, or whatever her name is, has ever taken a moment to ponder such enigmas.
The neat thing about 50 SHADES, though, is, not since BATTLEFIELD EARTH have I witnessed a book endure so much open snarking....google yourself 50 SHADES OF GREY EXCERPTS and have a ball....
This one was my running favorite:
“His pointer finger circled my puckered love cave. ‘Are you ready for this?’ he mewled, smirking at me like a mother hamster about to eat her three-legged young.”
He mewled? He MEWLED!!!! You know what that is, right???? That's the sound a cat makes!!!! The above hilarity had me following my better half around the apartment for weeks, making randy overtures in a voice similar to Henrietta Pussycat from the old Mister Rogers Show. “Heeey, baby....meow-meow-meow-meow-meow-meow-meow!!!!”
And then I wonder why she seems to be in such a hurry to leave the room.
I've come to find out, however, that the above chestnut may be fake---not in the book at all. And yeah, I'm crushed. Is there no actual mewling in this book? Oh, please, God----tell me there's mewling......
Of course, whether there is or not there are plenty of great, cringeworthy passages to go around....
"I don't remember reading about nipple clamps in the Bible."
Yeah, actually, I think it was in Deuteronomy somewhere.
“I suck harder and harder … Hmm … My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.”
I'm gonna just reiterate what I've been saying for at least a year, now, three legged hamsters or no....all my writer friends need to be out there securing book deals, 'cause if the bar's this low, there's gold in them thar hills!
Shit, maybe even I can score one....
Anybody see the Oscars this year? Nah....me neither. We've come to realize that the “Oscar Movie” is almost a subgenre unto itself and is as easily identifiable as any other.....most of them are “serious films” with opulent set design and respectable budgets.....most of them are ponderous in nature, trying to call attention to themselves as “important”. The only flick in the running I'm all that interested in seeing is “Birdman”, which sounds pretty smart and I'm a Michael Keaton fan----glad to see the guy working.
I largely dislike Award Shows and find them useless---I've noticed that whether we like them or not and whether we watch them or not, we're all compelled to talk about moments from the shows...everybody's got to weigh in on what an asshole Kanye is, and inevitably that weird NAKED LUNCH moment sinks in and we realize, “oh, no----we're TALKING ABOUT KANYE!!!!”
So I didn't watch the Oscars, but probably like everybody else, I emerged with some takeaways from our culturally-shared “Oscar Osmosis”.
ONE OF THE BIG ONES: It's always funny when someone who, objectively, is and always has been a pretty good singer, does something slightly different and everyone's jaw drops because they never realized she could sing. So, what, I guess y'all were just too mesmerized by the meat dress the whole time?
Whether you wanna cross the street for what she's selling or not is one thing, but yeah---the girl's got talent.
The larger issue that got me thinking about is the perceived opposition between talent and outre performance, and like most dichotomies it's a fake dichotomy that doesn't hold water. Outre artists always run the risk of alienating audiences but therein lies a litmus test...we're interested in those that PASS the test.
Back in the heyday of “The Abbey of the Lemur” it was a given that x number of viewers would be offended, shocked, put off, whatever. I was never interested in the people who knee-jerked and failed the test (to quote Jodorowsky; “why would you make a film for that person? They are blind!”), I was interested in the cool people who got it.
Another film in the Oscar mix was “American Sniper”, which has inspired a lot of passionate reactions and it's also one I'm not especially interested in seeing. I was kind of spellbound last week as the trial wound to a close and couldn't help but see it as a classic case of the Darwin Awards....I mean, what sane, intelligent person thinks it's a good idea to take a guy with PTSD to a gun range?
“Geez, Chris, what're we gonna do about the crazy guy???”
“I'm not sure, but I think he needs help....let's take him shooting!” And no disrespect meant to the dead, but....DERP!!!!!!
Okay----enough of that.
Two weeks ago (give or take) I learned that Fayetteville's PEG Cable Administrator (or whatever title it is they give to them now), Fritz Gisler, was moving on to greener pastures....I've been meaning to write about it for quite some time but am only now getting the opportunity to sit down and reflect on it.
Fritz was a polarizing figure in the Fayetteville City Government...depending on where you stood he either ushered in a new era of spic-and-span professionalism and upped the technical level of Fayetteville's Access Channels or he was complicit in ruining them. As with most things the truth was probably somewhere in the middle.
It would probably surprise a lot of people (and Fritz might be included in that) to learn that I never disliked the man. I defriended and blocked him on Facebook (something I almost never do) for Security reasons---this was 2010, in the midst of the old CAT Board's meltdown, and he was just too heavily tied into the whole thing....I had family to protect, so the cut was made.
It was a decidedly insane time in many of our lives---friends became enemies, people seemingly went crazy, the worst was brought out in a lot of people and a lot of lives were damaged...most of us moved on. Because of the arrogant, duplicitous nature of politics in general (and city government in particular)(as well as the eternal Rashumon Effect that seems pervasive in Fayetteville) some of us are resigned to the fact that we'll never know the whole story. My belief with Fritz has always been that he came into his position with a mandate....those crazy folks down at Access are always fussing, fighting and complaining....see what you can do to streamline the operation and see if you can shut up all those flaky, handwringing hippie activists down there!!!
And if that's the case, Fritz came in and did the job he was paid to do----don't hate the player---hate the game.
Some change was definitely needed at the PEG Center....whether it got what it needed or whether it just got neutered is a matter of perspective. A lot of the struggle down there was a collision of ideologies----mindsets from a corporate world versus mindsets from the activist community....tech heads versus idealogues. A Tech Head will look at a tape library and say, “is there any way we can just get rid of all these old VHS Tapes?! We could put in a whole array of state-of-the-art doohickeys along this wall!” The Idealogue's response: “Are you insane??? That's a heritage archive of this whole city! This is the story of peoples' lives, their endeavors---people who've died have been on these tapes!!!!! This is history!!!!!” They'll go round and round on these issues and they never will agree.
And so the heritage archive prevails, but it's stashed away in a prop closet where the public can't peruse it----back in the day anyone in the public could come down, comb through the library and request that any tape be aired...now the only programs the public can request are those they've produced themselves.
This is what you're left with when the Tech Heads win.
And so Public and Government Access limp along, although for the most part they just seem to be on life support....most of the time I go down there the place is all but empty. They have a lot of great new equipment that nobody seems to be using; There's a clean professionalism but no sense of community or public outreach; Using the equipment is now free if you can muddle through, what----six to eight weeks worth of classes? There seems to be a dearth of the Great Unwashed down there these days----nobody's showing up with their dog, there are less homeless and/or mentally ill and/or mentally challenged down there----so the atmosphere's nice....mostly just pretty people....when they bother to show. It's no longer “For Everybody”......is it “For Anybody”?
Fritz joined various members of VIPA at the PEG Center last time we had a meeting down there-----he seemed genuinely concerned about the way things were going and he wanted to know what we might think could be done to rekindle public interest in the place.
They could get it back----who knows? The lesson is that you don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The future is unwritten.
Good luck in your travels to come, Chief.
THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
THE DREAM SYNDICATE-”The Days of Wine and Roses”
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND-”The Velvet Underground and Nico”