It is possible to write your heart and your mind, both, to the point where they meet each other. There, they will shake hands and say “hello”. They will make small talk and exchange pleasantries. They will ask about wives and children. They will laugh. And you will shake your head at their fine demeanor and grand talk. Because you will know them for what they are, for they are yours. More here.
When life gives you lemons, they say, make lemonade. When life gives you cooling weather, I say, smash a duck inside the wicked confines of a duck press. These and other thoughts on the change of the seasons, the need for inhumane yet nourishing sustenance, and much, much more in my recent essay on the glorious la presse a canard.
This past weekend I dragged my ass out of bed (it had been a bestie’s birthday the night before), put on whatever was on the floor (not what I wore to bestie’s birthday), and walked down to Hillary Clinton’s campaign office on 103 and Broadway. About thirty people were already there, milling around outside. They held coffee cups and the little green ticket the office had handed out—a ticket down to Pennsylvania for a day of knocking on doors and canvassing for Hillary in Bustleton, a struggling blue collar neighborhood in the swing-state of Pennsylvania.
Because everything is ephemeral and nothing lasts forever and if you want to keep it around you’ve got to build it yourself, I’ve grabbed this piece I wrote for Gawker and just want to put it here. Today I read of the site’s demise and pending shutdown, all of which has sent the New York media society abuzz. So it goes. Happy as I was to publish this piece and peace that I made with my $300 payment for it, Gawker always struck me as a snide, snarky little site that took a bit too much pride in the misery of others and trafficked a bit too freely in a rather unbecoming strain of self-righteous gossip. So, goodbye to all that! I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what the kids come up with next…
Channeled the original Doyen of the Plaza for a new article-sized dose of time-traveling snacks and treats, curtesy of the New York Public Library‘s newly digitized selection of menus. Come swan around with me, nibbling patties of frog legs and sipping every last mint julep we can get our hands on. As my dear friend’s three year old daughter queried this past weekend, “What about raisins?!” Indeed, we’d kindly like a silver dish of those too please! Thank you!
Thrilled to have a new piece up on the freshly revamped yet ever-glorious Farmer General, edited by superstar Sarah Kanabay. The issue, titled “Don’t Call It a Comeback”, features stories of summer kitchens and pie and ghosts and the phrase “silvered fingers” to describe that particular discoloration that happens when you root around in the dusty nail bin at the hardware store for too long. How true! Mine is about addiction in its many forms and guises. Thank you, Sarah!!
What you want to do, when everything else is going to hell and you sort of want to do nothing, is to realize that you don’t want to do nothing. You just maybe want to become a little bit more like the Dude. Because sometimes there’s a man who, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude, in Los Angeles. And even if he’s a lazy man– and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the running for laziest worldwide. But sometimes, there’s a man… Sometimes, there’s a man…
One of the major themes we have looked at this year across a wide range of works has been the realities—and illusions—of the so-called “American Dream”. You will recall our many warm-ups and classroom discussions, as well as cinematic presentations, that have touched upon this theme, from The Great Gatsby to The Lovely Bones, to the broader body of work by actor Al Pacino, to Meru and the exploration of the most extreme places on our planet, and even segments from the popular show This American Life.
Today we continue our study of the American Dream from a different and somewhat disillusioned point of view. Let’s face it—things don’t always work out the way we would hope. We’re often in places and situations we would rather not be in. Misunderstandings and confusion is everywhere! Clarity, peace, and mutual understanding, well, that’s in pretty short supply.
So I am happy to share with you one of the best films to examine this sense of disillusionment and frank disappointment in American society, The Big Lebowski. A masterpiece of the filmmaking team of two brothers, Joel and Ethan Coen, The Big Lebowski explores themes of disappointment, abandonment, ambition, and resignation in the context of a seemingly apathetic world and nation.
Filmmaker Joel Coen has described the film as “having a hopelessly complex plot that is ultimately unimportant.” In 2014, the National American Film Registry added The Big Lebowski to its list of films deemed to be of “cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance.” It has been heralded with numerous awards and far-reaching recognition for its capture of American society at both its best and, perhaps, its worst, and has even been cited by Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann in her opinion on Kinney v. Barnes, an important freedom of speech case. It is not too much to say that, since its release in 1998, The Big Lebowski has continued to raise key questions about what it means to be American, free, and in control of one’s life.
As we watch this film, look out for the major themes that appear and the ways they are treated—are they being made fun of? Are they being taken seriously? What, in American culture, is sacred? What is being mocked? Why? The Big Lebowski seeks to turn everything on its head and, for the most part, it does.
We will keep up our warm-ups and short writing assignments as we continue our study of the “American Dream”, but you may find yourself struggling with or even rejecting your earlier notions of this concept as we watch this film. This is a good thing! We will discuss.
And above all– Enjoy!