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A Token of Gratitude December 22, 2010

Posted by monty in comedy, politics, pop culture.
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As if I didn’t already have enough reason to love Larry David (co-creator of Seinfeld and the man responsible for the brilliant Curb Your Enthusiasm), he’s now written a hilarious op-ed for The New York Times thanking Republicans for extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

The satire will probably be lost on most Republicans, but it perfectly encapsulates the absolute absurdity of the argument that those in this tax bracket would be in any way financially disadvantaged if the tax cuts had been allowed to expire.  It’s just another example of how the GOP has manipulated the dialogue to make the average middle-class American think it’s their patriotic duty to support an upper class that couldn’t give a shit about them.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt:

It’s also going to be a boon for my health. After years of coveting them, I’ll finally be able to afford blueberries. Did you know they have a lot of antioxidants, which prevent cancer? Cancer! This tax cut just might save my life. Who said Republicans don’t support health care? I’m going to have the blueberries with my cereal, and I’m not talking Special K. Those days are over. It’s nothing but real granola from now on. The kind you get in the plastic bins in health food stores. Did someone say “organic”?

Larry David: Thanks for the Tax Cut! (The New York Times; 12/20/10)


Current listening:

Balthazar – Applause

Last movie seen:

From Within (2008; Phedon Papamichael, dir.)


All We Make Is Entertainment December 21, 2010

Posted by monty in comedy, movies.
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When it comes to movies, we’re conditioned to respect singularity. The pop culture landscape is cluttered with the names of directors who are credited as the sole voice, the lone vision, behind their films.  This gets hammered home through trailers, commercials, and opening credits, when movies are billed as “A (insert name here) Film” or “A Film by (insert name here”).  This often gets done without recourse to logic or reality, when even marginal talents who haven’t contributed anything of real consequence to cinema history, but who also don’t write or produce their own films, are granted an authorial credit.  I don’t particularly have anything against Jon Turteltaub, but I remember being especially peeved during the trailer for his recent film The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, when it was marketed as “A Jon Turteltaub Film,” as though that actually means anything to anyone.  (“The visionary behind National Treasure is directing a Disney flick marketed to kids?  Sign me up!”)

Sometimes, though, it’s earned.  In this country, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane stands as probably the most obvious example, with Welles as producer-writer-director-star of what is often considered to be the greatest movie of all time.  Woody Allen is another good example, taking a writer-director credit on all of the 42 features he’s directed, and starring in many of them, including undisputed classics like Annie Hall and Manhattan. Probably the most relevant contemporary example is writer-director Quentin Tarantino, whose films clearly boast the man’s unique visual style and verbal gameplay. Even pulpier names like Kevin Smith and George A. Romero can lay legitimate claim to singular authorship.  As both writer and director of many of their movies, there’s no denying that the end products reflect their particular sensibilities.

More interesting to me, though, is the creative partnership.  Whether it’s Martin Scorsese’s brilliant work over several movies with Robert de Niro, Tim Burton’s partnership with composer Danny Elfman (13 films), or Christopher Guest’s unparalleled troupe of improvisational comedians, I’m drawn more to the work of people who clearly inspire one another and do their best work in each other’s company. I’m sort of fascinated by things like Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost’s brilliant trifecta of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz, or even how Judd Apatow has continually worked with certain actors over the course of his career.  Interpersonal dynamics, and the process by which artists complement each other, are, for whatever reason, much more compelling to me than the notion of one person taking primary responsibility for a work of art.  I’m not taking anything away from that accomplishment (when was the last time I wrote and directed a movie?); I just find it less interesting than, say, Bill Murray showing up in every one of Wes Anderson’s films.

My favorite partnership, though, is pictured at the top of this post.  Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant – while not solely filmmakers – have done more to entertain me in the last seven years than anyone.  Their original UK version of The Office is one of the best shows of the decade, and I watch the whole thing at least once a year.  Their follow-up, Extras, doesn’t hit quite the same heights as its predecessor, but it’s every bit as entertaining and possesses some impressive emotional undercurrents  that sneak up on you when you don’t expect it.  And their podcast with Karl Pilkington is glorious in its free-associative absurdity.

I’ve detailed my admiration for Gervais elsewhere on this site, so what I really want to do is take a few moments to talk about the underappreciated Merchant.  As good as Ricky is, it’s only in his collaborations with Stephen that he truly soars.  For instance, Gervais is a fine standup comedian, but his two American specials aren’t essential viewing in the way The Office or Extras are, and Ricky’s first directing credit without Stephen, 2009’s The Invention of Lying, is certainly sly and funny, but it’s also frustratingly uneven and dips significantly in an overlong final act.  While their individual strengths are obvious – Ricky is an expert at broad comedy, where Stephen seems to be subtler, quieter, and more self-deprecating – it isn’t clear exactly what role each man takes in their collaborations.  However their responsibilities are defined, it’s clear that Gervais’ best work is done with his frequent partner.

One of my favorite things about Extras is that it allowed Merchant to introduce the character of Darren Lamb, the well-meaning but completely incompetent agent to Gervais’ character, Andy Millman.  Their scenes together transcend typical TV comedy because their interactions are based 100% in character; there’s never a sense that the comedy comes in favor of jokes at the expense of who these two men really are.  And, more importantly, each of their scenes is tinged slightly by sadness and frustration, giving the show surprising emotional heft.  Darren really wants to do well, but he lacks the necessary something (responsibility? mental acuity? common sense?) to get the job done.  Even so, there’s always the sense that the shallow and indecisive Andy doesn’t deserve someone as loyal as Darren, even though the agent is clearly not helping Andy’s career.  It’s a virtuoso tightrope act, where the viewer’s allegiances can shift within a scene, from wishing Darren would finally do something right for a change, to wishing Andy would take it easy on a guy who’s clearly trying his hardest.  I think this dynamic is mainly a credit to Merchant, who could easily play Darren as a dolt.  Instead, he comes off as a good-natured and fiercely loyal scatterbrain, whose best will just never be good enough.

What follows is a montage of some of the best of Darren’s bits with Andy.  I don’t know how well these brief excerpts will translate to someone who doesn’t know the show, so I’ve also included a longer scene, which is one of my favorites.

These scenes serve as a compelling testament to the quality of Gervais and Merchant’s partnership, but they also prove that Merchant is crucial to their joint endeavors.  In this way, Merchant looks to be Brian Eno to Gervais’ David Bowie: Gervais is capable of quality stuff on his own, but it’s only with the right collaborator that he achieves greatness.


Current listening:

Duran Duran – All You Need Is Now (2010)

Last movie seen:

The Alphabet Killer (2008; Rob Schmidt, dir.)

Friday Funny (12/10/10) December 10, 2010

Posted by monty in comedy.
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I’ve had tickets for nearly four months, but tomorrow is finally – finally! – the night to see Louis CK.  I hesitate to use terms like “favorite standup comedian ever” (too hyperbolic by far), but he’s damn close.  Here’s one of my favorite bits.  Enjoy.


Current listening:

Big Troubles – Worry (2010)

A More Perfect Union April 23, 2010

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Despite my general disdain for James Cameron’s Titanic, I’ve always been a huge fan of Kate Winslet.  In fact, she could star in a half dozen sequels to Titanic, and I’d still come down firmly on her side just for her portrayal of Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s to her immense credit that, post-Titanic, she didn’t snatch up every big paycheck that came down the line at the expense of her artistic integrity.  Instead, she’s stuck mainly to her indie roots, with only the Nancy Meyers-directed comedy The Holiday her only true foray into Hollywood convention (and even that one’s a little perverse by trying to pass off Jack Black as a romantic leading man).  Her other projects have all been stubbornly independent: Quills, Little Children, Holy Smoke – even movies like Finding Neverland and Revolutionary Road, despite their prestige and big-name casts, haven’t been terribly mainstream.

And then there’s her appearance on Ricky Gervais’ brilliant Office follow-up, Extras. For those who don’t know the plot, Extras focuses on a pair of the titular background actors, Andy Millman (played by Gervais) and Maggie Jacobs (Ashley Jensen).  The show isn’t quite as uncomfortable as The Office, but it still explores some of the same territory, as the harmlessly self-centered Andy and the hapless Maggie try to get a line or two while on the set of their latest movie, usually to humiliating effect.  The beauty of the show, however, is due to its celebrity cameos.  David Bowie, Ben Stiller, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Daniel Radcliffe, and others show up in various episodes and poke vicious fun at their public personas.

And that’s where Kate Winslet comes in.  In the series’ very first episode, Andy and Maggie are extras on the set of a Holocaust-themed movie.  Andy plays a German soldier, Maggie plays a Jewish refugee, and Winslet plays herself playing a nun who hides the Jews in a church.  In one of the episode’s subplots, Maggie reveals she has a new boyfriend who likes to talk dirty on the phone, but Maggie doesn’t know how to respond.  In a feat of comic derring-do, Winslet shows up to give her lessons.

(The following video of the first ten minutes of the episode is very funny, but if you only want to watch the shorter clip in question, watch from 5:00 to 7:20.)

Then, toward the end of the episode, Winslet checks in with Andy and Maggie to see how the phone call went.

Winslet’s performance is great for a variety of reasons, but for me the pleasure comes from seeing an actress often known for playing straight-laced characters in period movies (Sense and Sensibility, Quills, Finding Neverland, Jude) give lessons on masturbatory dirty talk.  And of course there’s an extra layer of subversion as she does it in a nun’s habit.  Winslet has shown hints of comic flair before, but her work here is so terrific (some of which admittedly has to be credited to Gervais, who has a knack for making everyone shine) that I wish she’d take the plunge and do a full-fledged comedy.  Stick her in Judd Apatow’s next movie, or let her star in something with, say, Zach Galifianakis or Paul Rudd or Steve Carell.  I’d be first in line.


Current listening:

Josh Ritter – So Runs the World Away (2010)

Last movie seen:

The Crow (1994; Alex Proyas, dir.)

Stiller Saturday April 17, 2010

Posted by monty in comedy, TV.
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The Ben Stiller Show is one of the great lost TV shows of the 90’s.  Not only did it feature, over the course of thirteen stellar episodes, razor-sharp parodies of popular culture, it launched the careers of a handful of our best comedians.  Besides Stiller himself, Judd Apatow was a producer and writer, the three cast members consisted of Bob Odenkirk, Andy Dick, and Janeane Garofalo, and David Cross joined the writing staff late in the series’ run, and appeared as a cast member in a few episodes.  Along with The State and The Kids in the Hall (and eventually Cross and Odenkirk’s own Mr. Show), The Ben Stiller Show was certainly one of the very best sketch shows of the last 25 years, and in its best moments, it’s top-notch television, bar none.

The two sketches below were written by Cross.  The first is probably my favorite sketch in the series’ run, called “The Legend of T.J. O’Pootertoot,” and the second is a sly parody of Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men (featuring Andy Dick’s killer impersonation of Keifer Sutherland).

And, what the hell, here’s one more.  It’s called “Legends of Springsteen.”  Enjoy.

Intermission January 8, 2010

Posted by monty in comedy, Nonsense.
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The next time you’re tempted to claim there’s nothing of value on the Internet, just remember that it gave us this:

Wow!  Whoa!  Wow!


Current listening:

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (2009)

Last movie seen:

Daybreakers (2009; The Spierig Brothers, dirs.)

Intermission January 6, 2010

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Not to get into the habit of posting a video from The Daily Show on a regular basis, but on last night’s show, Jon Stewart and Aasif Manvi had a terrific conversation about the supposed persecution of Christians.  It’s a nice little follow-up to my recent columns about Brit Hume’s attempted religious conversion of Tiger Woods.  The entire video is worth a watch (hell, it’s only 4:40), but if you’re crunched for time, fast-forward to 2:35 for the key bit.

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How and Why Our Dads Lost the War January 5, 2010

Posted by monty in comedy, news.
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As usual, the Daily Show hits it out of the park.  In last night’s episode, Jon Stewart said everything I was trying to say in last night’s post … only, you know, funnier and more intelligently.  Fast-forward to 6:10 to hear more about one thing I only touched on briefly in my own post: the right-wing’s hypocritical attacks on Obama, which conveniently manage to forget everything they said in the last eight years regarding terrorism.Vodpod videos no longer available.

Resignation Studies January 2, 2010

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I wish I could take credit for this, but I’m not feeling nearly inventive enough.  Dan Schneider at DanWarp has compiled a list of phrases it’s time to retire.  Again, I didn’t come up with the list, but I agree with its contents, which is really the important thing, isn’t it?

Phrases That Aren’t as Cool or Funny as They Once Were:

  1. “Not so much,” and its even more tired cousin, “Eh, not so much.”
  2. “Too much information!”
  3. “And by [that] I mean [this].”
  4. “I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.”
  5. “Good times.”
  6. “Did I say that out loud?”
  7. “_____ much?” (e.g., “Jealous much?” “Angry much?”)
  8. “Hey, stop eating my dinner, Eatie McEaterson!” (or any similar phrase that ends in Blank-y McBlankerson)
  9. Really?!
  10. “It’s like a party in my mouth.” (in reference to food or drink that tastes good)
  11. “Hey, don’t go there!”
  12. “Burn!” (spoken after someone has delivered an insult)
  13. “Alrighty then.”
  14. “Ya THINK?”
  15. “Thanks for sharing.”
  16. “Best.  _____.  Ever.”
  17. “Oh, snap!”
  18. “Business.” (as in referring to one’s personal body parts as your, his, or her “business”)

Phrases That Aren’t Attempting to Be Funny, but Still Need to Be Retired:

  1. “At the end of the day.”
  2. “It is what it is.”
  3. “It’s all good.”
  4. “Just sayin’.”
  5. “Epic win” and “epic fail.”
  6. “Pics or it didn’t happen.”
  7. “That’s how I roll” or “That’s how we roll.”
  8. “I’m not gonna lie…”

Leave a comment with your own additions to the list.


Current listening:

The Clientele – Suburban Light (2000)

Last movie seen:

Ginger Snaps (2000; John Fawcett, dir.)

Song of the Day (12/1/09: Standup Comedy Edition) December 1, 2009

Posted by monty in comedy, TV.
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So tonight I had on the Comedians of Comedy documentary as background noise while I did some work, and gradually found myself doing more watching and less work.  As this horrific slide toward sedentary oblivion progressed unabated, I had the pleasure of discovering again just how freaking funny Maria Bamford is.  She gets a little overshadowed by Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn, but her comedy is so bizarre that it’s a shame more people don’t know about her.  Here are a few clips from her Comedy Central specials that do a pretty good job of capturing what she does.


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“Office Enemy”

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Can’t Help but Smiling November 5, 2009

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Monty Python will always be one of our most significant cultural dividers.  There’s really no waffling when it comes to what I consider to be the greatest collection of comedians of all time (just so there’s no question about which side of the divide I rest on).  You either love them fervently, slavishly, and absolutely, or you can’t figure out just what the hell everyone finds so funny.  If there’s a middle ground – slight, though it is – it might be the people who find Monty Python & the Holy Grail quite amusing, thank you very much, but who don’t have much time for the rest of their expansive output.

Fittingly, it’s with Holy Grail that I became a fan.  When I was a high school sophomore, a couple of my older friends were huge devotees of Python, and because I was a spineless little weasel, all I wanted was to be in on the joke.  One Friday night I went to the video store (I don’t think it was Blockbuster yet; it might have still been Video Towne), rented a copy of Holy Grail, and my comedy horizons were broadened forever.

It really was like nothing I’d ever seen: broad visual jokes (horsemen with coconuts), physical comedy that verges on slapstick (the battle with the Black Knight), bizarre arcana (“A five-ounce bird could not carry a one-pound coconut!”), unapologetic intelligence (“We’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune!”), and a proliferation of non sequiturs that shouldn’t have worked but did.

I still didn’t know who everyone was, so it wasn’t until much later that I realized John Cleese played Lancelot and Tim and the Black Knight and one of the French guards.  And the jokes came so fast and furious that I vividly remember the movie coming to an end, immediately rewinding it, and starting it a second time.  It just blew me away.

And so began what has become a life-long love affair with all things Python.  As funny as Holy Grail is, I actually think The Life of Brian is a better movie – smarter and more sophisticated, to be sure, and a more comfortable mix of their verbal and physical comedy.

And I think – although I’m not positive – that this was the first example of satire I’d ever seen.  I didn’t then have the knowledge base that I have now, but even as a 16-year-old, I got what they were saying about the dangers of organized religion, and the peril of following a false prophet – as well as the importance of verb conjugation.

But the real joy for me has always been their BBC program, Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Later sketch shows have done a good job of extending the Pythons’ humor, but there’s still really nothing that’s been able to match the dizzying display of comedy in an average episode of Flying Circus. The impact of their show has been somewhat diluted in the last forty years, but try looking at some other comedies during the late 60’s.  Everything had a punchline, and movies would end with a go-cart race or a pie fight.  The Pythons exploded all that – no punchlines, a slow pace when it was necessary, and an internal logic that you either accepted or you didn’t.

To try and post all the sketches that made a mark on me would take all day.  There are a few more here, which I put up a week ago in celebration of John Cleese’s birthday.  What I’ll leave you with instead is an anecdote I heard recently on the Independent Film Channel’s Python documentary, Almost the Truth, which I think perfectly captures the beauty of Monty Python.  In it, a comedian of Indian descent (I forget his name, sorry) recounted what it was like to be the first generation of his family to grow up in England.  He was gradually becoming more “English,” and as a result, the cultural gulf between him and his more traditional Indian parents was growing rapidly.  He hung out with British kids, listened to popular music, and fell in love with movies, and especially with Monty Python.  His mother, he says, could never understand it.  Something just didn’t translate.  Until the day she saw the fish-slapping dance.

That was the one and only time, he says, when he saw his mother laugh at Monty Python, and that moment forged a rare connection between mother and son.  There’s something about the fish-slapping dance that transcends culture and age to speak to all of us.  Funny stuff.


Current listening:

Mark klamath

Mark Eitzel – Klamath

Know Your Quarry November 5, 2009

Posted by monty in comedy, pop culture.
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carrie-prejean-picOh, karma, you glorious bitch.  Remember Carrie Prejean, the Californian beauty pageant contestant who hates gays but loves the fake boobs pageant officials bought for her?  Turns out she dropped her lawsuit against pageant officials once she realized they had in their possession an “extremely graphic” sex tape of herself.  Alone.  Playing solitaire, shall we say.

So, just to recap: homosexuality = bad; making a video of yourself tickling the ol’ ivories = good.

I can’t wait to see how her cheerleaders on the Christian right spin this one.  Demonic possession, anyone?

CNN (11/4/09): Carrie Prejean “Sex Tape” Spurred Pageant Settlement


Current listening:

Chris cosmos

Chris Bell – I Am the Cosmos

Happy Birthday October 27, 2009

Posted by monty in comedy.
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Everyone lift a glass or have a slice of cake in honor of John Cleese’s 70th birthday.

Happy Punday October 25, 2009

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Return of the Son of Anywhere I Lay My Head Redux, Part II: Electric Boogaloo October 20, 2009

Posted by monty in comedy, travel.
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Cross 2

A funny little bit of synchronicity dealing with two of my recent postings on here.  Sunday morning I reviewed my mixed experience at David Cross’ show in Atlanta (Cross = good; hecklers = bad), and yesterday I lambasted California for being a piss-poor state largely populated with selfish egomaniacs who think their state stands head and shoulders above the other 49.  Last night I was searching online for some other reviews of Cross’ show, and instead came across a recent interview with him in the Access Atlanta blog, published roughly a week before his appearance here.

Turns out I was wrong about Californians being unique in their geographical megalomania.  For those who don’t know (or who aren’t familiar with Cross’ personal life), he grew up in the Atlanta suburbs, not far from where I live now.  He’s talked about this in his standup and his writing, and the interview begins with a statement that doesn’t seem particularly controversial to me.  In fact, Cross could be talking about most major U.S. cities.  Here’s what he says about Atlanta, in total, in the entire interview: “I don’t hate Atlanta.  I really don’t.  I’m just disappointed by it.  I think it’s overgrown and traded a lot of its charm for corporate strip malls.”

That’s it.  That’s all he says.  Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?  It certainly reminds me of Los Angeles and its outlying suburbs, and it also makes me think of Dayton, OH, where I spent part of my youth, and whose city center has largely been replaced by the mall culture of its surrounding communities.  Cross’ comment also isn’t especially harsh or scathing.  He doesn’t condemn Atlanta or say it has no redeeming qualities or even criticize the people who live there.  It seems like a fairly even-handed comment that accurately reflects the disillusionment one feels in watching a favorite place change, and not necessarily for the better.

I’m establishing all this context so that the reader comments about Cross’ interview will make more sense.  Here’s a selection of the articulate, intelligent replies to Cross’ entirely reasonable statement about Atlanta:

•  “He’s a hateful, far-left jerkwad … He really does look down on all the unenlightened, stupid rednecks (or so he feels) that inhabit metro Atlanta. We’re not cool and trendy enough for him…that only applies to the Midtown people who get robbed and carjacked.”

• “Thankfully Delta [Airlines] was ready when he was. Seems pretty clear that he’s a waste of oxygen but we can at least thank him for not polluting the air or the scenery here very often.”

• “For all you idiots that don’t like Atlanta we have I20 going E and W, I 75 & 85 going N & S plus Delta is ready when you are. So get the Heck out of Dodge,knuckleheads!!!”

• “I’ve found News Yorkers to be some of the most obnoxious people around. If it isn’t in New York, it’s lame…or hillbilly….or whatever. Give it a rest. If Atlanta stinks so bad, leave and never come back. You won’t be missed. Really.”

• “After this interview gets around, it will be interesting to see how many Atlantans are willing to spend their money to see this dude. I definitely won’t be one of them.”

• “Ah, David Cross, the poor mans David Spade.

The guy’s probably angry at ‘rednecks’ for taking his lunch money all those years.
(He’s a proud graduate of Roswell High School)…
Hey, the guy’s an ATHIEST! That should tell you averything you need to know about the guy right there…

If it’s soooo bad here, why are people stlll moving here in droves? Hmmmm?
For those haters that don’t like it here, it must REALLY suck to have to live somewhere you hate!
Be mad at the lack of control you have over your life, then do something about it, like LEAVE!!
We don’t want you here!”

• “So it seems while Cross has disowned Atlanta, Atlanta has more than enough rights to disown him and to never open doors to him again. I hope he flops at his show and returns up North with his tail between his legs, digs a hole, and pull the dirt over him and stay there.”

I think you get the idea.  One thing that’s immediately clear (and becomes even clearer if you dig more deeply into the reader comments) is that most of these people didn’t actually read the interview.  If they did, surely they wouldn’t be levying such hatred at so innocuous a comment.  Right?  It sounds like they read one of the early comments saying, falsely, how much Cross hated Atlanta and responded to that person’s misreading of the interview instead of the interview itself.

But setting that aside, it’s clear that Californians don’t have a monopoly on the “love it or leave it” mentality.  And that mentality is one thing I’ve never been able to understand.  For one thing, uncritical (as opposed to unconditional) love always seems a little spooky.  A failure to recognize the flaws in something (or someone) is clearly delusional.  Nothing is perfect, and seeing those flaws doesn’t mean you don’t love it; it means you love it in spite of (or sometimes, perversely, because of) those flaws.

And secondly, why does anyone take it so personally when someone else doesn’t love the same things you do with the exact same amount of passion?  I’m not a reflector.  How I feel about California (or Atlanta or Dayton) shouldn’t in any way affect the way you feel about California (or Atlanta or Dayton).  So why get so angry when someone criticizes something you care about?

Case in point: I’m quite fond of London, England.  It’s truly the one place where I don’t feel nervous or anxious all the time.  I feel comfortable there, at home and at peace.  I love the city and its citizens, quite possibly to a degree many people would find unreasonable.  If you tell me, “London sucks.  It’s crowded and the people there talk in funny accents and the food’s lousy and the British are all a bunch of effete gayboys with crummy teeth,” I won’t get angry.  Promise.  I’ll feel sorry that you have such a limited worldview, but the last thing I’d say is, “Well, don’t go!  Just stay away then!  London’s too good for you!”  Because that’s the playground argument the “love it or leave crowd” always resorts to.  If you don’t love it exactly the same way I do, you don’t deserve it and therefore you should go somewhere else.  Like, now.

And that’s what a lot of these readers are saying in their misguided criticism of Cross’ completely sensible statement that it’s a shame Atlanta has become – like much of America – homogenized, corporatized, and mall-focused.  It’s not a criticism of the city as much as it’s a criticism of the corporate homogenization that has been allowed to flourish there, presumably eliminating some of the city’s original charm.  If anything, it’s actually a defense of the old city, and reflects the love one feels for something that, as Cross himself says, has disappointed him.  But because Cross doesn’t share the readers’ pathological and obsessive love of the city, he’s no longer welcome there.  Which means many Californians have something quite unexpected in common with their counterparts in ol’ Dixie.


Current listening:

Portis dummy

Portishead – Dummy