Article

OGTD, Original Gangsta

GTD is the new TCB.

As you might have guessed from the subtitle of this weblog, I am amused by declarations of the form “X is the new Y.” I have lately been informed, for example, that organic is the new kosher, Google is the new Netscape, quiet is the new loud, Clarendon font is the new Helvetica, chili fries are the new onion rings (Lisa rendered this verdict, but neglected to provide a link), Thursday is the new Friday, but Friday, once the new Saturday, is now the new Tuesday, and everything you can possibly think of, from anal sex to zombies, is the new black.

I was less amused to learn that, according to the Boston Globe, “getting organized is the new dieting.” I am pretty much immune to the siren song of dieting fads and gurus. But I cannot say the same thing about my resistance to the peddlers of organizational devices and schemes.
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More or Less Bunk

History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.
—Henry Ford, 1916

I don’t believe in curses. I believe we make our own destination.
—Manny Ramirez, 2004

A little more baseball history bunk for you today, as the Red Sox roll over the Cardinals in an anticlimactic World Series that makes it seem like they do this every week:
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Two Turntables and a Cactus Thorn

Gloria Swanson drops the needle.

This made me think of my good buddy Gamma Fodder, who is DJing his first real club gig in Toronto this week. It’s a magazine article on messing with the phonograph from 1917. Scratching and needle-dropping sixty years before Grandmaster Flash? “The street finds its own uses for technology,” indeed.
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Guinness is Good For You

I had some time to kill on campus the other day, so I parked myself in a comfy chair in Lamont Library and read A Positively Final Appearance, by Alec Guinness, in one sitting. It’s Guinness’ journal for the last few years of his life. I recommend it; like him, it was funny and wise and occasionally laser-sharp and only a little bit sad. The 80-something Guinness was, as we all know, weary of his unshakeable association with Obi-Wan Kenobi, but still plugged in to the popular culture: he was addicted to The Simpsons and had good things to say about the Leo diCaprio / Claire Danes version of Romeo and Juliet. There are lots of funny stories in there, in the Peter O’Toole-esque raconteur vein. In fact O’Toole and Guinness were buddies, from the same generation of gin-soaked British actors up to absolutely no good. Highlights include:

The story of a scandalous stage production of Peter Pan in the 1930s in which Nana contracted syphilis from an affair with Smee. (NB: Nana was the dog.)

The fact that Marlene Dietrich used to drive out into the California desert every New Year’s Eve for a date with “a well set up gentleman from outer space”—when Guinness asked Dietrich what the spaceman looked like, she said, “Handsome, darling, and dressed all in silver.”

Some nice, unfashionable fondness for the Royal Family, and impatience with the beatification of Princess Diana.

And, of course, the following oft-told tale:

A refurbished Star Wars in on somewhere or everywhere. I have no intention of revisiting any galaxy. I shrivel inside each time it is mentioned. Twenty years ago, when the film was first shown, it had a freshness, also a sense of moral good and fun. Then I began to be uneasy at the influence it might be having. The bad penny dropped in San Francisco when a sweet-faced boy of twelve told me that he had seen Star Wars over a hundred times. His elegant mother nodded with approval. Looking into the boy’s eyes I thought I detected little star-shells of madness beginning to form and I guessed that one day they would explode.

‘I would like you to do something for me,’ I said.

‘Anything! Anything!’ the boy said rapturously.

‘You won’t like what I’m going to ask you to do,’ I said.

‘Anything, sir, anything!’

‘Well,’ I said, ‘do you think you could promise never to see Star Wars again?’

He burst into tears. His mother drew herself up to an immense height. ‘What a dreadful thing to say to a child!’ she barked, and dragged the poor child away. Maybe she was right, but I just hope the lad, now in his thirties, is not living in a fantasy world of secondhand, childish banalities.

“A fantasy world of secondhand, childish banalities.” Ouch.

I love that story. I’m going to start telling it, and end with the punch line, “… and that boy grew up to be … me.”