Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pret A Snorter

Nobody is feeling more emotional about the
sad death of Robert Altman
earlier this week than Lindsay Lohan. Lohan, who was directed by Altman in his last film, A Prairie Home Companion, issued her very own statement yesterday responding to the news of his passing. By "her very own statement, I mean that she spewed something into the public domain without first running it by her publicist. Or her spellcheck. Or that grammarcheck function which turns its nose up at all my sentences and tells me that they're mere fragments and should be revised. Don't you have that, Lindsay? The fragment-finder? You could use it, for starters, to locate the fragments of coke that still linger in your nostril-hairs after the three lines you must have blown before writing this searingly elegaic, AA-speak-infused prose in the back of a cab while Calum Best rifled through your wallet:

"I would like to send my condolences out to Catherine Altman, Robert Altmans wife, as well as all of his immediate family, close friends, co-workers, and all of his inner circle.

"I feel as if I've just had the wind knocked out of me and my heart aches.

"If not only my heart but the heart of Mr. Altman's wife and family and many fellow actors/artists that admire him for his work and love him for making people laugh whenever and however he could..

"Robert altman made dreams possible for many independent aspiring filmmakers, as well as creating roles for countless actors.

"I am lucky enough to of been able to work with Robert Altman amongst the other greats on a film that I can genuinely say created a turning point in my career.

"I learned so much from Altman and he was the closest thing to my father and grandfather that I really do believe I've had in several years.

"The point is, he made a difference.

"He left us with a legend that all of us have the ability to do.

"So every day when you wake up.

"Look in the mirror and thank god for every second you have and cherish all moments.

"The fighting, the anger, the drama is tedious.

"Please just take each moment day by day and consider yourself lucky to breathe and feel at all and smile. Be thankful.

"Life comes once, doesn't 'keep coming back' and we all take such advantage of what we have.

"When we shouldn't..... '

"Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourselves' (12st book) -everytime there's a triumph in the world a million souls hafta be trampled on.-altman Its true. But treasure each triumph as they come.

"If I can do anything for those who are in a very hard time right now, as I'm one of them with hearing this news, please take advantage of the fact that I'm just a phone call away.

God Bless, peace and love always.

Thank You,


Lindsay Lohan

"Be Adequite?" Be Adequite? It's my new favourite line. That, and the snark of one commenter on defamer: "BE LITERITE!"



Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Little Piece of Heaven

Here follows heavy advertorial for the sheer, lucid, glorious BRILLIANCE of's takedown of the laziness, bigotry and vacuousness of the Sunday Independent. This has needed doing for a long, long time, and that it has been done so thoroughly and so clear-headedly just makes it all the sweeter. Drool.

Link via Bloggorah, who smell revolution.

update: Tuppenceworth's Paper Round is comprehensive, taking in the Examiner, Herald, the Tribune and a Friday edition of the Times, and deserves a fuller perusal. It's just the beginning of the road for this project, and already looks very promising. Nor is it confined to the realm of satire, as I previously thought; tuppenceworth is deadly serious about this, as his research and the application of his criteria (witness: where lies the difference between PR and advertorial? journalism and opinion?) show. Not that satire can't be deadly serious, but, focusing on one area, satire generally runs out of steam. This is different.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

My Big Fat Scientology Wedding

Something panfried, something blue... I've got it all sorted out.

No cats were harmed in the making of this post. A pan was, though, and will probably never again be usable.

Anyway, to celebrate today's happy event, here's a little clip for y'all from way back in those heady first days of Katie's contractual agreement: the David Letterman interview, conducted just after Tom's couch-jumping stunt on Oprah. Poor Katie was but a novice at the scientology/beard lark at this point (and hadn't started wearing awful satin blouses everywhere, either), and was clearly having trouble remembering the lines she'd been fed by Tom's handlers: notice how panicked she gets when Letterman asks her for anything like a concrete detail. Where did they meet? Shit! She can't remember the official answer to that one. Well, never mind, she'll just waffle her way through it, and hope it works....

It doesn't.

PS, my favourite detail out of all of today's coverage: La Dolce Vita, the film alluded to in so many headlines about the wedding and the paparazzi attention it has garnered, is apparently also the most hotly-anticipated title of the year. In gay porn.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another Distraction

Where have you been all my life, Critical Mick? And "when your anger is focused" (whatever the hell that means), could you possibly be "the most talented writer at work in Ireland today"? Bafflingly, you seem to think this title might already be claimed, what with chancers like Hugo Hamilton, DBC Pierre, Eugene McCabe and John Connolly daring to scribble on the old sod. (Oh, and some women too. But not many.)
What I'm trying to say is: read CM. He does things with reviews I never thought possble. Vernon God Little becomes an episode of South Park. Claire Kilroy's first novel inspires a sort of father/daughter/daughter's friend/UCD Arts Block love affair. The Master becomes a send-up of every panel discussion I've ever listened to, or been on, or had anxiety dreams about. And as for what he does with Utterly Monkey....just read it.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Times Select

TImes Select, the online part of the New York Times which is generally hidden behind a subscription wall, is free all of this week. It's worth a look if you're in search of yet another form of distraction, and with the mid-terms today, this is a good week to be able to avail of it.
One piece I'd recommend is this article on a cache of over 800 newly discovered Dorothea Lange photographs, from the period in the 1940s when tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans were rounded up and sent to internment camps on the west coast of the U.S. as the war with Japan escalated. Lange's photographs were impounded by the government soon after they were taken and have been in the National Archives until now; W.W. Norton has just published 100 of them in a book called Impounded. The book's co-editor (with Linda Gordon) describes the kind of America this was, as families were ordered at gunpoint into horse stalls and shacks, where they were interned, in many cases for years afterwards, in the intense California heat. An editorial from the L.A. Times read: “A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched — so a Japanese-American, born of Japanese parents — grows up to be Japanese, not an American.”

Lange had actually been employed by the government to document the process, presumably to show that detainees were not being mistreated. But at most of the locations she visited, she found her work being censored by government officials even as she tried to create it; at one camp, she was forbidden from taking photographs of wire fences, watchtowers, armed guards or anything like that. The photographs then disappeared almost as soon as the commission was completed.

To my shame, this is a period of history of which I only really became conscious last year, when I was researching the life of Isamu Noguchi, one of the most famous sculptors of the 20th century, who was Japanese-American. By the 1940s, he lived an artist's life in New York, had designed many high-profile pieces including the entrance to the Rockefeller Centre, and was a revered collaborator with the choreographer and dancer Martha Graham. In response to the growing anti-Japanese sentiment in the U.S., Noguchi established a group of writers and artists calling for democracy and travelled to California to oversee a documentary about the internment. He left California lest he himself be interned, but when he found, back in New York, that his efforts to influence government officials were failing, he decided to become a voluntary internee at the Poston camp, located on an Indian reservation in Arizona. He designed parks and recreational areas within the camp - including, tellingly, a cemetery - but soon realised that officials had no intention of implementing them. And when he applied for release, he was deemed a "suspicious person" due to his involvement with the artists for democracy group. He was forced to remain on for several months, and investigated by the FBI after his eventual release.

I was shocked to learn that this had happened to Japanese-Americans, in their hundreds of thousands, in the U.S. Looking at the country today, of course, I don't know why I was shocked. Noguchi was one of the lucky ones; he returned to his life in Greenwich Village, to exhibitions, acclaim and friendships with influential artists and the celebrities of the time. Other Japanese-American internees had less to look forward to. As the essay accompanying Lange's photographs makes clear, both the lives led by internees within the camps and the lives to which they returned after their release were often tragic.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Editor

He's a hard taskmaster.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Doherty gets Moss's ring stuck on his finger. No, I didn't make that up.

The latest from the Kate Moss/Pete Doherty farce...

I still want to believe this guy is an elaborate KLF hoax. But even they couldn't dream up half the stories that come out about him.

In other news, how much more closely can Kate Moss come to resemble a wig-wearing Ian Beale before she is no longer considered a supermodel? Just wondering...


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Richard Ford Trilogy, NYT Style

A Seattle reader of the New York Times has done what has needed to be done for a long time: he has socked it to the newspaper over its odd policy of often reviewing the same book twice, once on the weekday pages and once in the Sunday review. In this case, he's talking about what he saw as excessive coverage of Richard Ford's new novel, The Lay of the Land. The novel got two reviews, a reasonably poor one from Michiko Kakutani, and a more glowing specimen from the paper's film critic A.O. Scott. In between the two, the Arts section carried a front-page feature on Ford and the travels he undertook as part of his book research. At this stage, the reader wondered whether Ford had an "in" with the newspaper.

Publishing a feature as well as a review seems reasonable to me, especially in the case of a book as eagerly awaited as this one, which is the last in Ford's acclaimed Frank Bascombe trilogy. But the policy of double-reviewing has never made sense to me, particularly since the reviews are often in complete opposition to one another. Yes, there's a lot to be said for diversity of critical voices on a new title, but not in this form. Either publish one review and have another critic respond to that review, or publish one review full stop. Or, publish one review and allow the opportunity for another perspective on the book to come across in the course of a feature or interview. But publishing two reviews? Get off the fence. And use the weekday pages for other books. It's not like there aren't enough of them waiting to be reviewed.

Read the complaint, and the borderline-sniffy response from the NYT's public editor, here. (Registration may be required, but it's free.)

I'm off to my first class with Orhan Pamuk. Up for discussion is Mann's Tonio Kroger. Report later on...