Unrequired Reading: Oct. 23, 2009

Last night, I had dinner with pals in Brooklyn and walked in the door at 1:15 a.m. (at least 40 minutes of my lateness was due to a two-car collision in the Lincoln Tunnel and two separate construction zones near the Meadowlands that turned magically turned three lanes of Rt. 3 into one). This morning, I drive down to suburban Philadelphia to deliver a flatscreen TV to the winner of a raffle at my annual conference. Because my publisher doesn’t want it to get damaged in shipping.

So while you read these links, I’ll be cruising along the highway, checking out the foliage, trying to stay awake, and wondering how this ever became part of my job description.

Oh, just click “more”!

Continue reading “Unrequired Reading: Oct. 23, 2009”

What It Is: 10/19/09

What I’m reading: I finished Moby Dick last week, and got swept up in George, Being George, an oral history of George Plimpton, over the weekend. Reading the section on Plimpton’s divorce from his first wife, I felt really sad for his kids. I went to college with his oldest daughter, but don’t recall having any interaction with her during our time at Hampshire. When I finished that chapter, I thought, “Man, I hope she has kids and they give her a big hug today.” Outside of that, the book’s very entertaining. The scenes at the Paris Review offices sound like they were wonderful, although I’m guessing that, had I submitted a resume back in my post-college days, my name would’ve triggered a lack of a callback. (Not that Plimpton was anti-semitic, so much as, um, well, it just sounds like there weren’t many Jews (or black people) working at the Review, is all I’m saying.) Midway through the book, it occurred to me that Plimpton was “Fitzgerald who wanted to be Hemingway.” I thought this was a pretty good insight until I reached the last quarter of the book, where I learned that Plimpton had in the 1990’s adapted Fitzergald and Hemingway’s correspondence into a dramatic dialogue that he performed with Norman Mailer and Mailer’s wife Norris Church (who played Zelda). So I’m no genius. Anyway, it’s a really fantastic book, despite the sadness of the closing years of Plimpton’s life, where it became clear that his devotion to the social sphere had taken its toll on his body (and was part of his inability to be a good husband). Here’s the only passage that I dog-eared:

JAMES SCOTT LINVILLE: The only time I saw George nervous was when he was about to interview Andy Warhol for the magazine. There was something in Warhol’s voice, which had always been so flat, almost inhuman-seeming, but here . . . well, I thought: My God, he really wants George to like him. I realized he’d have had to have been hurt by the Edie book years before, and here he was talking to him. And George, George clearly did not like him, but he was fascinated by him. I suddenly realized these two guys had in some sense studied each other, for decades, how the other fashioned himself in the media — George of course with his effortlessness, the patrician thing, and Warhol . . . well, whatever he was. It was clear they had each paid attention to how the other had moved through some grid of public awareness.

It’s a topic I’d love to spend time writing about, trying to understand these two representative figures and how they shaped our ideas of celebrity. But I’m too busy watching the Balloon Boy story unfold. (Just kidding; I laughed about the story when it first began and devoted zero time to it after that.)

What I’m listening to: Nothing specific; just letting the iPod shuffle away.

What I’m watching: Adventureland (meh), the Yankees (yay!).

What I’m drinking: Not a thing till I’m over this cold.

What Rufus is up to: Wearing his coat when we go out for walks, and making friends at our local dry cleaner. I was a little nervous when the proprietor said, “Greyhounds are very valuable in Korea!” but he didn’t make any comment about how tasty their haunches are, so yay.

Where I’m going: Probably down to suburban Philadelphia, to deliver a TV. Don’t ask. Also have a get-together with a bunch of pals at Peter Luger in Brooklyn on Thursday evening.

What I’m happy about: That my wife’s pal Kate delivered her baby! Welcome, Charlotte!

What I’m sad about: Getting snow on Thursday. And being sick for basically two straight weeks. Grr.

What I’m worried about: Pettitte will have That One Inning this afternoon in Anaheim. You Yankee fans know what I’m talking about.

What I’m pondering: When NJ diners began getting liquor licenses. Was it around the same time they got rid of their jukeboxes?

Waiting for the eclipse

I haven’t slept well lately, so I assume my fourth estate alter ego has been working overtime on plumbing my mind for good arts articles. What’s in today’s edition of the Official Newspaper of Gil Roth?

  1. a walking tour of the architecture of Park Slope,
  2. a review of an exhibition on the origins of abstract painting in America,
  3. what we draw about when we draw Babar,
  4. Van Gogh: just because,
  5. and the coup de grace: the history (and sales record) of a possibly fictitious acolyte of Andy Warhol.

I guess this means I’ll get better nights of sleep once the Sun closes up shop, but my arts life is going to be a lot less interesting.

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