Culture postsWednesday December 17, 2008
My French teacher, Nathalie, spent a week in Sayulita, Mexico last month and took this picture of the Mexican version of Shepard Fairey's famous series of Obama posters. Cambio. Change.
The people there told her about the spontaneous celebrations that erupted the night Obama got elected. As here in Seattle. As all over the world.
I'm sure there are similar posters from different countries and in different languages. If you know of any, or, better, if you have images of any, please send them my way.
I was reading something yesterday and the author used the word “humbug” as a noun and my mind immediately tried to translate it into modern terminology. “Fraud” would be accurate but my first impulse was “bullshit.”
That actually works better as a translation for the word as an exclamation. Which made me imagine Scrooge saying it throughout “A Christmas Carol.”
“Merry Christmas, Uncle!” said Scrooge's nephew, as he strode into the office.
“Christmas,” muttered Scrooge. “Bullshit!”
Makes him seem less quaint, and crazier.
Eastwood and CIA: Offline
I cut through the Sunday New York Times these days — basically: Week in Review, Arts & Leisure, Sports during baseball season, maybe the Magazine if the cover looks good (“The Year in Ideas”: No) — and in the cutting through this morning there was an interesting pro/con about the Internet.
In a mock-fearful but ultimately laid-back article on Clint Eastwood and “Gran Torino,” the writer, Bruce Headlam, whose first sentence is great, mentions that the menu at Eastwood’s Mission Ranch restaurant has plenty of meat, adding:
Despite what you might have read on Wikipedia, Mr. Eastwood is not a vegan, and he looked slightly aghast when told exactly what a vegan is. “I never look at the Internet for just that reason,” he said.
Meanwhile, in an Op-Ed in the Week in Review section, Art Brown, a 25-year veteran of the CIA, lists what’s wrong with our spy agency. His first point? Its distrust of outsiders breeds a brand of insularity at odd with its mission of keeping Americans safe:
Despite their reputation as plugged-in experts on other countries, many C.I.A. officers do not even have Internet access at their desks. Worse yet, they don’t think they need it.
I empathize with both arguments. The Internet is the new form of communication with a lot of crap on it. Doesn’t mean you can’t communicate on it well, or accurately, but it does mean that if you want to stay up-to-speed with what’s going on in the world you need to at least be aware of the kinds of things you’ll find there. The danger in not doing so is apparent in Brown’s Op-Ed and even in Headlam’s profile. Eastwood’s attitude is: I do what I do, and I do it for me. In his movies, he shows his age. With the exception of beating up punks, he acts his age. He’s got a great quote on not playing your age:
“You know when you’re young and you see a play in high school, and the guys all have gray in their hair and they’re trying to be old men and they have no idea what that’s like? It’s just that stupid the other way around.”
There’s a quiet power in movies like “Million Dollar Baby” and “Mystic River” but, Headlam notes, also an anachronistic quality at odds with their contemporary settings. This is part of what happens when you let modern culture and all of its idiocies pass you by. In Eastwood’s case, the trade-off might be worth it. The CIA, not so much.
Some of the most coveted real estate for any illustrator — probably the most coveted — is the New Yorker cover, and this week, for I believe the second time, the owner is Marcellus Hall, with whom I ran cross country at Washburn High School in Minneapolis in the early 1980s. He lives in Brooklyn now. You can view his Web site here. You can view his MySpace page, and listen to his music, here.
Amazingly talented even back then. Somewhere I have an old Marc drawing titled “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” and delineating what we considered our predicament: a skinny, geeky dude sitting by himself, while a bulbous, dopey football player is surrounded by admiring girls.
The New Yorker cover is titled, in typically dry New Yorker fashion, “Green Christmas.”
Two Huff Posts to bring to your attention.
The first, mine, is a look at Barack Obama's book "Dreams From My Father." It will also be in the book review section of this site soon.
In the second, Chris Kelly, a writer for Bill Maher and easily the funniest guy on the site, takes on those chest-beating Kid Rock/National Guard ads that play before trailers in chain theaters. The ad includes a "citizen-soldier" (read: out-of-work actor) in Afghanistan, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. spinning the track, and Kid Rock screaming and then singing: "So don't tell me who's wrong and who's right when liberty starts slipping away/ And if you ain't gonna fight, get out of the way." First time I saw it I nearly threw up. Kelly shells the thing with his wit. Check out the rubble here.
But read mine first.