As I posted when I stopped back into my apartment to hang out while my boyfriend and his son grab dinner, my brother dated a great Tri Delt at UCLA who used to say that “going to the car dealer is like a dry fuck.” I could not have been over 10 or 11 and I didn’t know what it meant of course but even then I found it amusing.
All the weirdness in the Saab–the remote key’s failure, the steering lock’s malfunction–turns out to have been the result of a dying battery-and this morning I went to go get breakfast at Tre Lune (my poached eggs on the perfect toast with homemade mixed berry jam and the indeed Peerless coffee) and discovered the car had died. I was already miffed because I am working my ass off at the gym as I always do pre-NYC trips, one hour in the pool followed by Pilates or weights, and woke up with a slight sinus infection, so I had to take my boyfriend’s Prius for a quick breakfast.
I came back within an hour and fought with 2 irritating, I mean really rude and awful Republicans, which I said I would not do anymore. But I felt sick and lethargic and had no energy, so I did not pop in Season 6 of Grey’s Anatomy which still sits unopened a year after ordering it.
I don’t know why I waste time like this when I could be watching a show that touches my soul this deeply. I suppose I know that my boyfriend isn’t into the show and that I love it so entirely that I will be in this other realm thinking about it and then won’t be able to share it and perhaps on a subconscious level that stops me from diving right in. I haven’t seen the show since George died at the end of Season 5, during the breathtaking song by Greg Laswell, a musician I discovered through the show and truly love and keep meaning to buy on Amazon, written specifically for the show. If you haven’t heard it, do go to YouTube and type in “Off I Go” with “Season Finale of Grey’s Anatomy, 5″ or something like that. You will see Izzie’s wedding during her cancer treatment and it’s overpowering emotionally.
I have seen a lot of Season 6 on YouTube however and cannot wait to see the context for the Callie scenes with her wealthy, Catholic , homophobic father played by the incomparable Hector Elizondo (Nothing in Common, Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, Chicago Hope and much, much more). I love Steven Spielberg’s daughter with Kate Capshaw–Jessica, who plays Callie’s lesbian lover and ever-perky pediatric surgeon who jaunts around the hospital in “wheelies.” The “good man in the storm” scene is impeccable. We learn that Arizona was not named for the state , but the aircraft carrier, and that her grandfather was a war hero after whom her parents named her.
I am also dying to see how the Mark and Lexie love affair turns out–Eric Dane and Chyler Leigh have tremendous chemistry and since I have always loved older guys, that storyline appeals me to me greatly–with the third figure Alex, played by former Calvin Klein model and father of five, Justin Chambers.
Instead, I fought about Bristol Palin, the dopey daughter of Sarah whose great accomplishment in life seems to have been getting knocked up and then making a lot of money preaching abstinence and dancing in at best a mediocre fashion on a show I think is stupid based upon the one and only time I watched it straight through: Dancing with the Stars.
I have known, throughout my life, dancers with more talent in one hand than that less than graceful girl, whom I will credit with one thing and one thing alone: she picked a kickass plastic surgeon and her nose looks phenomenal. The work she had done on her face improved it dramatically and I give her credit for that. Still, she will never hold a candle to her beautiful mother because she is a bit “horsey” and no matter how thin she is, she has big bones and a round face and those are unalterable facts of her physical being.
Today, in my own defense, I felt too sick and lethargic and emotionally unresponsive, truly to connect with Season 6’s opening episodes about which I know a bit. Also I feel like I need to “get my head back into” the show by watching some of the end of Season 5 which I also own. My brother bought me Season 4 for Christmas which was very nice as we are not at all close and yet he remembered his little sister liked the show. I found that very thoughtful and touching. I take TV seriously. I don’t watch it hardly at all. I have two shows I am truly dying to see and I just never get around to ordering them on Amazon or finding them on Hulu or Sidereel which my friend in the OC watches a lot: Parenthood and The Good Wife.
But I remember when Julie Carlson, Romanticist at UCSB and my ex-dissertation chair with whom I had a truly horrifying rift I have written about before on Victorian Chick (more like breaking up with a friend or spouse or analyst than a professor or mentor), taught Literary Theory 200 my first quarter at UCSB in the fall of 1996, she talked about the way in which it was necessary to “get one’s head” into structuralist thinking. She said it was like putting pegs in a hole or something like that and I feel that when TV is worth watching, it is serious and legitimate art–an aesthetic object–and makes real emotional and mental demands upon its audience in terms of engagement.
Either I am engaged with a show or I am not. And I don’t bother with mediocre or bad TV. I’d rather read or talk on the phone or now, be on Facebook or blog than watch shit TV and to me, reality TV does not even deserve to be called television. It is a blight upon American culture and panders to the already diminished mindset of average Americans, many of whom in my view simply lack even a semblance of taste. If that makes me a culture snob, so be it.
A libertarian friend of mine on FB, a new friend who writes a blog about secular conservatism, wrote a funny comment an hour or two ago, when I re-posted an Orwell line about truth being a revolutionary act in a society of universal deceit. The caption: truth is not hate speech. When I saw this on another new friend’s wall, a conservative with great federal power at one point, I thought: DUH. Truth is a revolutionary act in a fascist society, a government ruled by a tyrant who depends upon the eradication of a free press. But America is not a dictatorship, however much Republicans want to paint Obama as a communist Islamic/Hawaiian monarch (I’m consolidating here for effect).
I wrote, “It is a fallacy that all Democrats are PC. God knows, I’m not.” This clever man wrote, “I’m beginning to think it’s a fallacy that you’re at Democrat, lol!” This surely is because I detest reverse snobbery–every bit as bad to worship people who live in landlocked states simply because it takes them 8 hours to see a decent body of water and listen exclusively to country music as it is to look down on them because of this–and because I am not egalitarian in my assessment of human achievement or potential. Of course there are stupid people and smart people, talented and talentless people, interesting people and boring people, beautiful people and unattractive people. A dumb, boring, untalented and unattractive person can be a wonderful human being with a great generous heart and spirit. That does not, however, make said person beautiful, brilliant, talented and dynamic.
So when Bristol asked the drunk pissed off middle-aged queen with an oddly masculine air if he hated her mother because he was “a homosexual,” I had no problem with this. He was gay and admitted it but then got stupidly belligerent and demanded to know how she knew. For the second time in one day, my thought was “Duh.” It was in West Hollywood for the love of God, though I had no idea there was a cowboy/hillbilly bar with a mechanical bull in WeHo. How depressing it that! One does not think of cowboy bars with mechanical bulls in WeHo. If she wanted to shoot something in a place with “Saddle” in the title, why not go to Saddle Peak Lodge in Malibu, a great fine dining place with a cool lodge feel?
I guess that is just too classy a venue for the daughter of the woman I used to call Rifle Chick but now just call Palin, after seeing her quite good speech on Labor Day in Iowa, when she was lucid, strong, charismatic and really quite charming. Her joke about pole dancing and stripping was cute. (But as I have said on FB before, it must be requirement for attendance at a Tea Party rally that one is enormous, just as it must be at the union rallies one sees posted on FB. I have to say, while I am infinitely more tolerant of weight issues than my father, Americans have got to get this obesity thing under control. You don’t have to be a size 8 as a woman but 3X just isn’t healthy!)
But Bristol handled herself quite well. She repeatedly asked the drunk man why her mother was evil and he could not produce one solid reason. He looked bad. Of course, if you are Sarah Palin’s daughter (not nearly as bad as being Michelle Bachmann’s girl with Mr. Ex-Gay Clinic as a father, in the comparable situation but still not great) and you go to a bar in West Hollywood, what the fuck do you expect? It reminds me a little of the Upper West Side rabbi David Mamet recently discussed in the junkets he gave to announce his transformation from “braindead liberal” to sane, rational and right-thinking conservative.
Apparently some rabbi–I think he was in fact an Independent not a Republican but certainly right of center–was bemoaning the inhospitable treatment he received at the hands of his uber-liberal congregation on the Upper West Side. Well, that’s too bad. I don’t like to see a rabbi unfulfilled ever. But maybe if you’re right of center you shouldn’t be on the Upper West Side, which is practically a parody of liberalism. If you don’t like that congregation’s political bent, go to a different congregation in New York state or the surrounding burroughs. It’s not like there is a dearth of Jews in New York, for God’s sake!
So while she did handle herself well, for a person intending to make money off riding a mechanical bull in a hillbilly WeHo bar, I think she’s an inarticulate young woman of little talent or education who promotes an irresponsible public health platform and has the maturity of a gnat, with that homophobic flame war with that other lovely Palin girl, Willow. (A better response: “You are drunk and rude and you’re not worth my breath” and then a speedy exit. Dad always told me not into get into pissing contests with skunks, but sometimes I can’t help myself, and today was one of those days. There is also a line from the New Testament about arguing with a fool, a bad idea because a passerby won’t be able to tell who is the fool.)
What ever happened to Barbara and Jenna Bush as models of First Daughters? What happened to Julie and Tricia Nixon? It’s a sad commentary on our society that Nixon gave us Tricia and Julie (to say nothing of Eisenhower’s daughter, Julie also); Bush gave us Jenna and Barbara; and Palin and her apparently lovely husband (I’m not being sarcastic, by all accounts Todd Palin is a model political spouse and a class act through and through even according to the “communist rag” Newsweek) gave us Bristol and Willow.
But more, what the fuck is the daughter of a major force in national Republican politics doing riding a mechanical bull for a reality TV show, whether it is like that drivel about the houswives in various cities or not? (One of my very favorite uber-conservative friends informs me that her show isn’t going to be just warts-and-all confessions, but still.)
I know Wasila, Alaska isn’t exactly a mecca for film and TV, but didn’t anyone in Alaska in a position to counsel this young women, see Urban Cowboy and remember that Debra Winger on that bull was the film equivalent of the pin-up of Farrah Faucet, which furnished masturbation material for a generation of American teens and young men? Her mother is an ex-governor as well as ex-VP candidate for the President of the United States of America! We aren’t talking about some assemblywoman from East Bumfuck. This is the former Vice-Presidential candidate on the Republican ticket!
Let’s not leave out, of course, the memoir Bristol wrote (which has apparently sold a lot of copies) about her vast wisdom at the age of, uh, 20. The same conservative friend told me the book is really a defense against all the abuse hurled at her in the press, and again, this is a very smart man of Puritan stock (seriously), whom I both respect and like. So he could be right. But so what? If Michelle Kwan or Steffi Graf had written a memoir about the Olympics or Wimbledon, or a great classical violinist or pianist–a musical prodigy–ha written about his or her life in music at that age, fine. But this is a girl who hasn’t even finished a degree at a reputable four-year college and she’s not some writing or directing film prodigy. She’s not even a great rock musician. Now that, as Mrs. Bachmann would say, is CHOOTSPA!
Her great “talent” is showcased on DWTS and she got knocked up before I even lost my virginity and then bought a 4K and change square foot house in Maricopa, AZ. I know toddlers are a lot of work, but 4K square feet in a place that averages what, 110 degrees or something completely inconceivable? Maricopa ain’t Phoenix or Scottsdale, folks. It’s not even Tucson.
So yes, the natural course for this woman of great achievement, education, natural talent, culture and grace would be to write a memoir because God knows we can all learn so much from her, right? And since she comes from a distinguished line of literary greats, some of it had to have rubbed off on her. Surely, her prose must possess some of the natural grandeur of her mother’s speech and reveal some astonishing level of self-understanding derived from deep psychoanalytic probing or religious training in a divinity school of some sort. (Not to mention that the father of this unfortunate toddler seems to be a terrible person, a “gnat” was the word I believe used to describe him.)
So yes, I killed a couple hours talking about her. I saw her on Fox once and the fawning of those three hosts was truly sickening. They were trying to figure out if her mother was going to run or not and she said something about knowing the answer but not wishing to disclose it. Fair enough. But a more vapid young woman I have rarely seen. (Rex Harrison comes to mind, once again: “their heads are full of cotton, hay and rags.”)
When I was a TA at UCSB, kids were not as a rule as smart or accomplished as they are today. UCSB, as I have written on Victorian Chick before, used to be a “back-up” or “default” UC school for undergraduates, respectable of course, but not like the flagship Berkeley or UCLA. (It was and remains always more highly ranked for the graduate schools which even in my day, made the top 50 in the nation.) Not so anymore. It’s very difficult to get into UCSB.
But even then, I had only a handful of really dumb kids out of some 225 total over eight quarters of teaching (nearly three years), and three or four of them were men. I did have one or two dumb girls, vapid and devoid of basic writing skills. These kids were in Writing 2–freshman comp–which means that they didn’t learn how to write in high school and either didn’t test out with AP English with a 4 of a 5 or failed the writing test administered to incoming freshman. I never once, in 5 quarters in the English department, met or interacted with a single student who struck me as dumber, emptier, or shallower than Bristol Palin.
Now, let me say: Keith Olbermann, whom I have never seen as I rarely watch TV news (and never MSNBC, except on Jetblue a few times), was quite wrong and stupid in my view to call her “the worst person in the world.” She’s too dumb to be the worst anything in the world. She’s not a serious person or a person of any substance or depth at all. You can’t be a true asshole without having brains and depth. She has neither. She’s not interesting enough to be evil.
In addition, her emotional range in the interviews with her or articles about her I’ve seen–with the exception of a flare of temper here and there–seems blander than Melba toast. I think she’s a pathetic celebrity who would be no one but for her last name. But this is not a bad human being. (I take it Olbermann has some “worst person in the world” segment on his show, so I think this is sort of a joke or a gag, rather than a serious weekly survey of an evil person like a serial killer or a terrorist.) In a word, she is the Kardashians (but considerably better looking and in some ways , less disgusting, as she is so young and the young do many dumb things).
I hope she keeps her shit together well enough to raise that baby of hers and that she likes Maricopa. At the very least, it should keep her thin. I was in NYC in the summer and no one in his or her right mind can overeat when it’s that hot. You feel sticky and awful all the time and yes, I realize Arizona is dry heat but 115 is 115. I don’t give a shit if it’s dry heat; that’s like living in an oven. At least in NYC, you tolerate the weather to be in the best city in the country.
I’m heading back to my boyfriend’s apartment where I will have a lovely bath in the downstairs tub and then curl up in our bedroom and watch some Grey’s. I have a stack of books as high as a yardstick, just barely begun, and I have a few more I wish to order, including John McEnroe’s memoir You Cannot Be Serious. I did not know he was a New Yorker and went to Trinity, where my ex-boyfriend went before boarding school in CT, and Tatum O’Neal’s book, which got tremendously high marks on Amazon. I enjoy reading memoirs for fun. They are undemanding and obviously I enjoy the genre of autobiography since even my pure literary criticism has a strongly self-reflexive component.