Dr. A is more disciplined that I am. She’d been on a rather stringent diet until she came home craving a burger but not at midnight. We ordered delivery from Shake Shack in the broad daylight. I’m not sure if the Nighthawks are eating hamburgers but I wouldn’t be surprised.
This week’s theme song was written by Lowell George and Roy Estrada in 1970 for Little Feat’s eponymous debut album. It’s a long-time favorite of mine; one that I used to request when I saw the band live. They ignored my pleas. And I wrote such a lovely tribute to Paul Barrerre in 2019. Oh well, what the hell.
We have three versions of Hamburger Midnight for your listening pleasure: the studio original, a 1973 live version, and a 2014 live version with guest vocalist Vince Herman.
Little Feat’s first single was Hamburger Midnight/Strawberry Flats. Here’s the B-Side:
Now that I’ve made you flat-out peckish, let’s jump to the break.
July has been wet, wet, wet in New Orleans. As long as it’s not flood-level precipitation I don’t mind it. It keeps the heat down. That’s summer in the Crescent City: too hot, hot, hot or too wet, wet, wet. My needle seems stuck, stuck, stuck…
Pete Townshend wrote this week’s theme song for the Who’s 1981 album Face Dances. It’s a criminally underrated record that I’ve loved since the first time I gave it a spin. It was the soundtrack of my life in the year I moved from San Francisco to Washington DC.
Don’t Let The Go was inspired by Townshend’s guru Meher Baba who urged his followers to “hang fast to the hem of my robe.”
We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the studio original, Townshend’s demo, and the Who live on German teevee.
Greetings from balmy Ashland Oregon where the temps today will stretch all the way to the mid 70’s and the cloud cover will, well, cover the sky most of the day.
It’s an interesting change from Sonoma where the temps will hit the hundreds while we’re away. Ah, too bad. Along the drive it was astounding to see the change in topography as we sped north, from the arid brown of the Golden State to the lush green forests of the Beaver State. No jokes please, we’re woke around here.
This is our first stop as we wind our way through the PacNorWest ™. Five hours from home, it’s one of the longer drives we’ll be making. That’s a good thing as the wife (Cruella) was just about done with my bad jokes and choice of music. Apparently Gregorian chanting isn’t her thing. Go figure.
Ashland is of course home to the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Since 1935 the Festival has presented a variety of plays both Shakespearian and modern in their five performance spaces. The most famous of the theaters is the Elizabethan outdoor stage, a model of Will’s own Globe theater. Fortunately the modern audience all get seats, no groundlings allowed. The season runs from early March to early November.
Of course COVID hit the Festival hard, cancelling the entire 2020 season and forcing a drastic cut down of the 2021 season. Usually 10-12 shows are done per season, this year there will only be two, a new musical called FANNIE about the life of civil rights pioneer Fannie Lou Hamer which will be presented in the outdoor theater starting July 1 (too late for this trip) and IT’S CHRISTMAS, CAROL a gender bending take on the Dicken’s classic opening in late November.
Actually the real reason we come to Ashland is to eat at this place:
This is Omar’s Steakhouse and with neon like that you just know it’s going to be good. And it has been for the last 75 years. A dry martini, a fine steak, some Dragonfly Tempranillo wine, what more does a man need? A good story to go with? It’s got that too. Seems the man who started it was named Omer and that’s what the sign was supposed to say, but Noodnick Nate the Neon Man screwed up and old Omer didn’t want to offend so he just went with it.
We on the other hand just go with the mouth watering steaks and coma inducing desserts. This is old school eating. Bring your second stomach and be prepared to fill it.
Ashland is also home to Southern Oregon University, where “artsy” children are sent by their parents who have compromised in order to at least get them to go to college and not head up to Portland to live out their coffee house and poetry dreams. That and the fact you have a Shakespeare Disney World right next door might lead you to the conclusion the town is just a tad liberal. You would be correct. But it’s a small island of blue in a sea of Southern Oregon red.
The larger city nearby, Medford, for many years has been the home of Harry and David, the gift packaged fruit kings of the world. If you’ve ever opened your door to find a gift from your Aunt Gertrude containing fruits and nuts lovingly arranged in a reusable, if you use those sorts of things, gift basket it was probably from Harry and David. They are a huge company with 8000 employees but most of that is farmed out labor. They were purchased a few years ago by 1-800-Flowers and in the midst of the pandemic closed down all their stores, laid off all the store employees and went completely online. Complaints are up, mostly about the quality of the fruit and the customer service. The company’s response? Teach your Aunt Gertrude how to use a computer.
Albino Sword Swallower At A Carnival by Diane Arbus.
The featured image is a photograph by Diane Arbus who was an extremely interesting and deeply weird photographer. Her motto was: “Take pictures of what you fear.” Words to live by.
I’d amend that to say: Deal with what you fear. I’m trying to do that in my own life. I’ve long had a fear of heights and a bridge phobia, which has intensified as I’ve aged. The bridge phobia is particularly unfortunate as I’ve always lived in places where bridges are a fact of life. I just white-knuckle it and muddle through. What else can I do?
My phobias also explain why I’m taking it slow in regard to the COVID after times. I may be fully vaccinated but many are nor. It’s why I’m proceeding with caution. I did, however, eat in a restaurant on our anniversary. A small triumph for trying times. Oh well, what the hell.
Before moving on to our theme song, some Diane Arbus trivia. She was married to actor Allan Arbus who is best known as army shrink Sidney Freedman on MASH. Allan was also a close friend of Montgomery Clift. The late Patricia Bosworth wrote excellent biographies of both Monty Clift and Diane Arbus. If you like tragic tales of talented people who died too young, they should be up your alley.
Stephen Stills wrote this week’s theme song for CSNY’s 1970 album Deja Vu. As the opening track, it gets things off to a rousing start and remains a staple of his set lists. I’d say CSN’s set lists but Crosby’s malakatude has made a reunion impossible. Imagine pissing off the most mild-mannered of rock stars, Graham Nash.
We have two versions of Carry On for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a raucous live version featuring shouty, off-key vocals and sensational guitar playing by Stills and Young.
Ready to visit Disambiguation City? JJ Cale wrote and recorded *his* Carry On in 1981:
Now that we’ve had deja vu and worn shades, let’s jump to the break.
We finally had our first day with a high of 90 degrees. As someone who lives in a semi-tropical climate, I prefer Fahrenheit to Celsius: 30 degrees Celsius does not sound as hot as it gets in New Orleans. It’s where ice people go to melt.
Surrealism and the Beatles go together like peas and carrots hence the featured image by Rene Magritte. He’s my other go-to Surrealist. I hope Max Ernst doesn’t mind.
She Said She Said has an opening stanza worthy of Surrealist poet Paul Eluard:
She said “I know what it’s like to be dead I know what it is to be sad.”
And she’s making me feel like I’ve never been born.
This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon and McCartney but it’s all John. Once again, it’s from 1966’s Revolver album, which has a suitably surreal cover by the German artist/bassist Klaus Voormann.
The session at which She Said She Said was recorded was a sign of trouble in Beatle World. Macca didn’t like the arrangement and didn’t play on the track. George Harrison played bass. Yeah, yeah, yeah or is that no, no, no?
We have three versions of She Said She Said for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Gov’t Mule, and The Black Keys:
Now that we all feel like we’ve never been born, let’s jump to the break.
The weather remains the leading topic of conversation in New Orleans. A tornado ripped through the city causing property damage but no serious injuries. It took place a mere two miles from Adrastos World HQ ,but I slept through it. I seem to be turning into a cat.
First Draft contributor Ryne Hancock came over to record his podcast with yours truly as his guest.
Beatles month continues with this week’s theme song. It was written by Lennon and McCartney for 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. It’s mostly a Macca song but has a mordant aside written by John: “It can’t get no worse.”
We have four versions of Getting Better for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Cheap Trick, Peter Frampton & the Bee Gees, and Gomez.
Feeling better? Let’s jump to the break before it gets much worse.
The weather has been horrendous in New Orleans this week. We’ve had high winds, thunderstorms, and torrential rain. One day it looked as if we were having a tropical system out of season. I hate thunderstorms, they’re like heavy metal. I hate heavy metal.
It’s been so bad that we’ve had to work around the weather for fear of street flooding. Dr. A went to work preposterously early yesterday because she was administering an exam. I was so grateful that the garbage men closed the bin lid that I went on the porch and thanked them.
This week’s theme song was written by Francis Rossi for Status Quo’s 1968 album Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo. How’s that for a long ass title? It was to be the band’s only major hit single in the US&A.
The song was inspired by the paintings of Mancunian artist LS Lowry. He pretended to be an unsophisticated artist but had serious chops as a painter. Lowry also excelled at myth creation often telling wildly contradictory stories. His painting Main Press is this week’s featured image.
There’s some dispute as to whether Lowry should be called a Mancunian artist since he lived in nearby Salford. But I like saying Mancunian so I’m sticking with it. FYI, a Mancunian is someone who hails from Manchester, England, mate. Who the hell wants to be a Salfordian or is that Salfordite?
We have three versions of Pictures Of Matchstick Men for your listening pleasure: the studio original, Status Quo live, and a 1989 cover by Camper Van Beethoven, which was a hit in the US&A.
We’re not finished with matchstick men, here’s a 2018 song written and recorded by Mark Knopfler:
Now that we’ve pondered matchstick men in music and art, let’s strike quickly and jump to the break.
I made a Magritte joke this morning in my album cover art post. This time it’s a sight gag: the featured image is a Magritte painting called The Therapist, which is, in turn, a joke on the surrealist movement’s passion for psychologically provocative images. And some think Francophones have no sense of humor.
The lockdown phase of the pandemic began a year ago. It’s been tough. We’ve all despaired and been distressed. Things began to improve with the presidential election. There was a major setback with the Dipshit Insurrection, but things got better after the inauguration.
In my last 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief I declared February to be the 14th Month Of 2020. That’s NOT how I feel about March 2021. It feels like a new era has begun. In the immortal words of the Brothers Gershwin, Things Are Looking Up.
If I should suddenly start to sing
Or stand on my head or do anything
Don’t think that I’ve lost my senses
It’s just that my happiness finally commences
The long long years of dull despair
Are vanishing into thin air
And it suddenly seems that I’ve
Become the luckiest man alive
Congress is on the verge of passing the most important piece of progressive legislation since the ACA in 2010. I would argue that it’s even more important because it was done without giving an inch to Republican “moderates” who sought to water it down. The MSM is obsessed with that point but they’re wrong. History will see that as a footnote and a minor one indeed. In the immortal words of Joey B. Shark, “This is a big fucking deal.”
I’m hoping that the COVID relief bill is a sign that Democrats have got their mojo back. The dual Reagan landslides in 1980 and 1984 were traumatic. They were really based on Reagan’s persona and extraordinary communication skills, but Democrats care about policy, so they convinced themselves it was about the prose of governing, not the poetry of campaigning. Are we still allowed to quote Mario Cuomo despite his jerk son’s malakatude?
Ronald Reagan was fundamentally a salesman. He gave his party the gift of messaging; something they still excel at, which can’t always be said for Democrats. Our mojo may be back, but our branding remains shaky. Repeat after me: The label on the package is just as important as the contents.
And now for a brief musical interlude:
In other optimistic news, things are looking up on the COVID front. It helps to have an administration that believes in government. Team Trump dropped the ball on handling the pandemic, but Team Biden has recovered the fumble and done a helluva job at getting the vaccines out there.
The several states are ramping up their vaccination efforts thanks to the administration’s hard work on distributing the vaccine and ensuring adequate supplies. The Merck-Johnson & Johnson agreement is another big fucking deal. It shouldn’t be smercked at…
On the personal front, I got my first haircut in a year last weekend. Not much grows on top but the back gets bushy and curly. Who the hell wants this guy on the back of their head:
I don’t have that shocking contraption on my head. It was the weirdest GIF I could find so I went there. Poor Curly. I bet it was Moe’s fault.
Back to the real world. I’m getting vaccinated at the Morial Convention Center on Saturday. I qualified under the Gret Stet’s phase-2 guidelines since I’m old and overweight. Not long after I made my appointment, the governor loosened the requirements since the vaccine is flowing like wine. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s better than spilling it:
Now that there’s adequate supply, the several states should jab anything that moves. It should be like Word War II era draft boards who inducted anyone that could stand up even if Mr. Potter rejected Slacker George Bailey.
We need to vaccinate 75% of the population before things can get back to Gamalian normalcy. We’re finally on our way but there will likely be speed bumps ahead. Shorter Adrastos: DON’T SPIKE THE BALL.
One more quote from Ira Gershwin:
Bitter was my cup
But no more shall I be the mourner
For I’ve certainly turned the corner
Oh, things are looking up
The last word goes to dueling divas: Billie was a bit subdued whereas Ella was exuberant. I’m somewhere in between.
The cold weather is gone for now. We haven’t run the heater for a few days. Yay. I shudder to think what our next utility bill will be, but it won’t be like the budget-busters in unregulated Texas; at least I hope not. Freedom, man.
I’m feeling cautiously optimistic on the COVID front. But some people are already getting carried away. That’s been the pattern and it’s a lethal one. I’m keeping my guard up even after I get vaccinated, which should be in the next few weeks. Let’s be careful out there.
The featured image is by Archibald Motley who was a Jazz Age modernist active during the Harlem Renaissance. The image is of well-dressed Black ladies having cocktails. I’d call them flappers but that could cause a flap, Jack…
This week’s theme song was written by Peter Frampton for his 1973 semi-solo, semi-band album Frampton’s Camel. It’s the ultimate rock hangover song.
An edited version of a live version from the monster hit album, Frampton Comes Alive later became a hit single. How’s that for a version diversion? I hope it was diverting.
We have two versions (there’s that word again) of Do You Feel Like We Do for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 2000 live performance.
We’ll have more about Peter Frampton after the break. We might as well go now.
I’m not alone in heaving a sigh of relief over the Impeached Insult Comedian’s imminent defeat. The extended election season made it difficult to do a typical Odds & Sods post. So, I’m going to do something different and post this week’s theme song at the end of the post.
Unlike the current occupant, I’m passionate about the right to vote. I agree with Joey B Shark that the “right to vote is sacred.” There have been a series of struggles over that precious and fundamental right. The 14th Amendment granted the right to vote to all males over 21. The goal was to enfranchise the freed slaves. The Southern states had a different idea. It was called Jim Crow.
Women were not enfranchised nationally until the 19th Amendment. They helped elect Warren Gamaliel Harding in 1920 but nobody’s perfect.
Black citizens were not fully enfranchised until the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The arc of history may bend towards justice, but it does so slowly.
The featured image is a poster from the 1944 campaign by the legendary lefty artist Ben Shahn. It was commissioned by the CIO, which was more militant before merging with the AFL in 1956.
The CIO were key players in the Roosevelt coalition. CIO leader Sidney Hillman was so influential that FDR allegedly told his people to “Clear it with Sidney” or that’s what their opponents said. Hillman was Jewish so that led to anti-Semitic attacks from the GOP:
Hillman’s nose was not that large. Anyone surprised? The same thing happened to Jon Ossoff this year. The more things change the more they remain the same.
The comparison of the New Deal to “foreign isms” was particularly odious. Negative politics are as American as apple pie. This pie had a worm in it.
Finally, this week’s theme song is an anthem of defiance written in 1973 by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Don’t give up the fight.
We have three versions of Get Up, Stand Up for your listening pleasure: the Wailers original, Peter Tosh, and a live version from the Amnesty International Conspiracy Of Hope tour.
That’s it for this week. The last word goes to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris:
The special Senate election in Georgia is getting nasty and weird. Doug Collins, seen above next to George Wallace, is attacking Kelly Loeffler over the Warhol that was spotted at her palatial crib:
Chinese dictator Mao may have killed more babies than the Democrat party. Something that’s sadly, very hard to do. Why @KLoeffler , did you buy a $56,000 portrait and hang it in your Atlanta mansion? pic.twitter.com/YZ5ZbHoCkL
George Wallace called him Mousey Tongue. How about you, Dougie?
Rich people have Warhols, Dougie. If your man President* Pennywise had any taste, he might own one himself. He did, however, consort with Andy and a polo pony:
I betcha thought I was making that up. It reminds me of a classic Ed Norton moment from The Honeymooners:
Polopopnies? Sounds like my ancestral region, the Peloponnesus.
My mother loved that Honeymooners routine. In fact, she added Poloponies to the name of the infamous Brutus the beagle chihuahua mix. Not my favorite dog: I caught Brutus peeing on the cover of my copy of Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison. It’s a pity that Van wasn’t there to admonish the dog who renamed that fine album Tupeelo Honey. Now I need some of this:
It’s funny to watch Collins and Loeffler try to be the Trumpiest Trumper in Trumpistan when the Impeached Insult Comedian is increasingly unpopular with other GOPers. Does that make them Throwback Trumpers?
If David Pecker still ran The Enquirer, he’d want to know. Enquiring minds and all that shit.
I don’t know about you but I’m rooting for this guy:
For some reason, Georgia has adopted the Louisiana open primary system. Who copies the Gret Stet in politics? Food, yes; politics no.
I refuse to call it a jungle primary because of connotations that George Wallace and Doug Collins would surely get.
A new grant program in central Wisconsin will employ artists to paint murals in rural parts of Portage County. It’s inspired by New Deal-era employment programs, and designed to help put artists who’ve been affected by the pandemic back to work.
“Paint the County” is a new project by the nonprofit CREATE Portage County. They’ve identified five sites for the murals so far, and have opened applications for artists interested in creating them. Over the next year or so, CREATE will use grant funding of between $50,000 and $100,000 to pay the selected artists to create the murals, said Executive Director Greg Wright. The funding comes from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and Arts Wisconsin, with state money through Wisconsin’s “We’re All In” COVID-19 relief funds. It’s intended to help support artists, and also to create work that will be meaningful to small towns in the area.
“Part of this for us is trying to figure out how to use the arts to give people hope and excitement during this time,” Wright said.
I liked Irv Docktor’s cover art for Art Tatum’s Discoveries so much that I checked out his book covers. Docktor was particularly known for his work with Robert Heinlein so we begin with a pair of those covers followed by two more pairings.
Self Portrait After The Spanish Flu by Edvard Munch.
My sleep pattern remains wacked out. This lifelong night person has become a morning writer. I’ve even awakened before Dr. A a few times and fed the cat. Both she and PD were disoriented. Such is life during the pandemic.
I decided to use one of Edvard Munch’s lesser known works as this week’s featured image. It’s a reminder than one can survive even the worst pandemic. It also explains why he was such a Gloomy Gus. Of course, he was Norwegian; it goes with the territory.
This week’s theme song was written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller in 1968. They shopped it around before finding the perfect singer: Peggy Lee. I’ll have more about Miss Peggy Lee and our theme song after the jump.
We have two versions of Is That All There Is? for your listening pleasure: the Peggy Lee original and a swell cover by the woman whose name I cannot stop saying, Chaka Khan. It’s a mantra in my family and it should be in yours. Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan.
Our next musical pairing involves a title that’s similar to Miss Peggy Lee’s last hit. To add to the needless complexity of this post, they’re different tunes.
You say this, I say that. Let’s call the whole thing off.
Now that we’ve questioned everything, let’s take a dubious leap of faith and jump to the break
Richard Thompson-Edward Hopper month continues. We begin with with a weather bulletin of sorts. Y’all are used to my weather obsession by now.
We had a cold front in New Orleans this week. Nighttime lows hovered around 50 several nights in a row. That may not sound like much to people from the frozen north but by our standards that’s cold for mid-April. Some locals whined about the cold, but I like it. Some folks just like to bitch. You know who you are; piss off out of my virtual kitchen.
Every time I search for Hopper paintings online, I’m told he was an “American realist” painter. That’s what he called himself, but his work is deeply weird. The painting above reminds me of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I’ve never thought of Hitch as a realistic filmmaker even if regular guy Jimmy Stewart starred in that flick. His character was a laid-up photographer turned peeping tom. That’s weird, not realistic.
Sunday is Greek Easter, so I decided to pick a Richard Thompson tune with religious undertones. According to Mark and other bible dudes, Gethsemane was the garden at which Jesus prayed before his betrayal and arrest. It still exists and is a tourist attraction with an elaborate web site.
Gethsemane is also the title of this week’s theme song. It was written by Richard Thompson in 2003 for The Old Kit Bag. It’s an ominous sounding song that opens with this ominous verse.
“Among the headstones you played as boys
Crypts and tombs like a roomful of toys
Just up the river from the smoke and the noise
We have two versions of Gethsemane for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a recent solo acoustic interpretation by the songwriter.
There’s also a song from Jesus Christ Superstar called Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say.) Here’s the original cast recording with Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan in the title role.
I suspect playing Jesus Christ Superstar was nothing like working with Ritchie Blackmore. They did, however, produce some swell music:
Christ on a cracker, that rocked.
All this talk of Jesus and betrayal reminds me of this Asia tune:
Edward Hopper is associated with scenes of urban isolation and alienation. As you can see, the same thing applies to his rural scenes. That gas station isn’t hopping, which is par for the course for Hopper.
The Gret Stet of Louisiana is making progress with the pandemic. The curve is flattening slightly BUT there’s a big problem with racial disparity among the afflicted. Twice as many black folks have died of COVID-19 related illnesses as white folks. Terrible is an accurate but still inadequate word to capture the horror of this discrepancy. If I believed in using emojis here, I’d insert a sad face BUT:
This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson in 1981 for the final Richard and Linda Thompson duo effort, Shoot Out The Lights.
Walking On A Wire is one of the ultimate breakup songs. It’s some serious shit, y’all. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a recent solo acoustic version by the songwriter.
I’m still feeling wiry. Time for some Leonard Cohen as channeled by Aaron Neville.
I’m a bit wired from all that walking on a wire. Keep your balance as we jump to the break.
I’m trying something different this month. I’m pairing the artwork of Edward Hopper with the music of Richard Thompson. Each Saturday in April will feature a different EH image and RT tune. I think they work well together.
My oak pollen allergy has been bonkers this year. We’ve hit a prolonged dry patch: no rain since some time in February. We tend towards extremes in New Orleans. It either rains too much or not at all. The happy medium is unknown in our forecasting annals.
The worst thing about this allergy season during the pandemic is that it’s hard for me to go outside at all. The last time I took a walk, I had a pollen related sneezing jag, which led some fellow strollers to glare at me as if I were Typhoid Mary. So it goes.
This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for the Pour Down Like Silver album. I have a soft spot for that album: it was the first RT album I ever purchased but not until 10 years after its release. I was a late RT bloomer.
We have three versions of For Shame Of Doing Wrong for your listening pleasure: the Richard and Linda studio original, a poppy version produced by Gerry Rafferty, and a cover by RT’s former Fairport band mate, Sandy Denny.
Is it shameful that I like the poppy version from Rafferty’s Folly? Hell, I like the song below too. It was inescapable in 1978:
As I hang my head for shame of doing wrong, let’s jump to the break in a shameless manner.
My stomach bug was a persistent bugger. It slowly got better but I lived without coffee for four days; an experiment I’m not eager to repeat. It’s hard to be alert when you’re under-caffeinated, Coke Zero and tea don’t quite do it. The result was a groggy unprolific blogger. So it goes.
A quick note about the featured art and its influence on the Krewe of Spank. Our theme this year was NOLAOPOLY and our float was designed to be a rolling version of the game board. I suggested that the sides should look like a Mondrian painting. Our float captain, Greg, went for it with gusto.
I may not be able to paint or draw but I have a good eye. Besides, Di Stijl is always in style.
I decided to try and put some pep in my step with this week’s theme song. It was written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler in 1930 for a Ruth Etting movie, The Nine-Fifteen Revue. Etting was later played by Doris Day in the 1956 movie Love Me or Leave Me with Jimmy Cagney as her gangster husband.
We have two versions of Get Happy for your listening pleasure. The artists need no introduction but get one anyway: Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald.
Since we’re trying to get happy, it’s time for Keith Richards’ signature song:
Technology changed everything, of course. Magazines disappeared; editorial contracts shrunk; streaming meant that writing for film or television was no longer likely to make you rich. Writing books was just going to make you poor. Fashion, once the purview of art, became the property of Instagram. All of these profound reversals crashed up against the hard metrics of the city’s soaring housing market.
I can’t speak to Instagram fashion or streaming markets but here’s what happened in the world of words: everybody assumed the good times would last forever, despite the example of ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY saying that there would be lean years, lean decades, in which maybe we should save our profits instead of blowing it all on bitches and blow. Media companies loaded themselves up with debt and made stupid, short-sighted decisions because that’s what they could afford to do, while they had a license to print money.
When the gravy train turned over, most of them tried to cut their way to prosperity and blamed their customers for seeing through the genius strategy of giving people half and charging them double. The bosses kept paying themselves, of course, and their spouses and their buds for “consulting services” or “event planning” or whatever we’re shoving sexual harassment payoffs under these days.
Now, 20 years into this “technological revolution” that no one saw coming except for all the people who did, we’re just now going to talk about the financial reckoning? And we’re going to do it by talking about how Harvard Law grads can’t get rich writing books anymore?
Look, I’m a writer. I would never say it doesn’t suck to see the life you thought you were gonna live — and I’ve had three separate ones blow up in my face by now and it doesn’t get any easier — disappear into the pockets of some Silicon Valley assclowns. I remember when blogging lead to book deals you could actually live on. That changed. It blows.
And the things cited in this article about fallout from industry shifts aren’t all down to industry shifts.
The stressors now so palpably afflicting the creative class — how to pay for a child’s college education, or clarinet lessons, or a party without plastic cups — were nowhere in evidence. In the last decades of the 20th century, you were more likely to encounter a meerkat on West Broadway than a cash bar at a party for a hot first novel. It was easy to assume that real adulthood would take care of itself.
In her new book, “Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis,’’ the writer Ada Calhoun delves into the professional and financial anxieties of women in their 40s and 50s, beginning with an account of her own challenges. Faced with the high cost of her family’s third-tier health care plan, the untenable nature of freelance life and mounting credit-card debt, she goes out looking for a “job-job,’’ only to find a teaching position for a six-week class that pays $600.
Systemic disinvestment in higher education is squarely on the shoulders of Republicans who think book-learnin’ makes you liberal and have assfucked public universities in the states they run into the ground. The housing market has more to do with public policy run by NIMBYs and greedy speculators than it does technology, and you can come here sometime soon for my rant about building inspectors and zoning requirements doing what we think cops and courts do to make this country livable.
Refusal to tax the rich at the level they deserve to be taxed has destroyed every facet of middle class life in America but sure, we can put it down to technology. DAMN YOU INTERNET.
The fact of the matter is that the crash is always coming and what looked to us like stability was carefully engineered by human beings to be that way. Our grandparents looked like they’d lived in suburban bungalows with a good American-built car and a union job or two forever, but in their lifetimes they’d seen the world at war twice and the country’s economy implode to a degree we never have reckoned with. Why do you think they saved every scrap of tinfoil in case they could re-use it?
The children they passed these things onto put them into the hands of greedy little hucksters like Ronald Reagan and the Georges Bush. I’m not saying Republicans killed Conde Nast but they sure didn’t help any other industry out any, including, in the long run, the duct-tape-patchwork-ball-pit that is our healthcare.
It only looked like adulthood on autopilot because it wasn’t our adulthood. We were looking at their prosperity and assuming they wouldn’t piss it all away before we got to benefit. Now that we know they have and will continue to do so, and yeah, that’s scary as shit. Almost as scary as this: People built the system and destroyed it in living memory and it needs to be built again. It can be done but it’s going to require outlasting a lot of bastards who’ve been here a long time. It’s no wonder we can’t sleep.