Obsessions and Lamentations #17 - Nonconformist Edition
I continue to watch and enjoy this show, even though I’m repeatedly reminded by paid critics that it sucks. In fact, I recently learned from a highly informative A.V. Club article that it’s a great show only if you don’t think about it too much, because if you do, you’ll see that the critics were right in the first place, and that behind all the entertaining banter and silly but fun romantic entanglements, there is a steaming pile of shitty television stinking up your living room. I’m not going to take issue with the litany of complaints in the article, most of which seem to be true anyway. It’s just that I don’t watch a lot of series TV and my main requirement for repeated viewership is some kind of hook, like good acting, decent drama, a few consistent chuckles - stuff like that. I know TV is going through some sort of second golden age, but as much as I like Mad Men and Curb Your Enthusiasm, they are still just good shows to me. They may have their moments of transcendent art, but they are few and far between. Even Twin Peaks, which for me was the best show to ever grace the airwaves, only had a few episodes which stood up to the best moments in David Lynch’s filmography. So I don’t get all worked up about transcendent television. I do what most people do: crash on the couch, eat pretzels and zone out to the pretty lights. This series kept me entertained in my recumbent position and I’d like to thank Jeff Daniels, Aaron Sorkin et al, for bringing it to me.
New York City
What the fuck is happening to my beloved Manhattan? Once a great Mecca for exiles and freaks (See Ginsberg’s Howl), it has morphed into a Valley of the Dolls for conformist hipsters. Thick, expensive frames? Check. Facial hair? Check. 120 dollar, deliberately messy haircut? Check. Slave labor-produced t-shirt expressing your individuality? Check. Skinny Jeans? Check. Oh and let’s not forget the newest and most crucial part of the whole ensemble – the dude purse. It might be a cheap backpack or a fancy leather over-the-shoulder number, and in all likelihood there will be nothing in it until these guys start applying mascara and requiring tampons, but not-a-one of them will be seen without it. The modern hipster is a problem everywhere, I know and feel your pain, but in NYC it is reaching epidemic proportions. The fact is this is what you get when the rent is too damn high and all the interesting, poor people are forced to flee. It probably portends some kind of cultural death, which is a shame because the City still has the best pizza, pastrami and Chinese food on the East Coast, and only the true outcast (as a Jew I claim honorary membership in that club) can appreciate all that.
The last time I wrote one of these columns almost two years ago, I whined about Facebook and what it might be doing to us. Well, I finally had enough and recently decided to get off of it and see how that goes. The problem was my day to day experience with Facebook was usually a net negative and I figured why subject myself to so much bad mojo in the name of keeping up with technology. It turns out, as I long suspected, that I’m a bit misanthropic and people tend to bug me, particularly people I barely know either putting their best foot forward or shamelessly complaining about their shitty lives or both at the same time. Then throw in all the wedding, party and baby pictures, amateur art photos, self-help sloganeering, obscure music links, witless YouTube videos, those fucking, jokey greeting cards with the black and white drawings of folks from the fifties, people pretending to care about others they wouldn’t give the time of day to in real life, attention-seeking chicks who “need a shower”, pics from parties I wasn’t invited to, people without jobs on ”vacation”, gals with wonderful “hubbys”, guys who can’t get laid, and on and on. And these are just my friends. Anyway, I stuck with it long enough to decide it wasn’t for me. It seems useful primarily as a marketing vehicle and dammit, I’m not for sale! On the other hand, my band Rialda and the Pissantics and the High and Low Podcast are, so please check out those Facebook pages ASAP.3 September, 2012 - 16:10 — Alan Shulman