Struck by Moonstruck

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Watching Moonstruck on HBO last night got me thinking that this is the best Woody Allen film that he ever made. And sadly, could not make. While it’s a great paean to NYC, which Woody can do in his sleep, it’s so much more than that. Woody’s self-absorption and over-intellectualizing  never allowed him to tell a tale so humble, so true, and so in love with humanity.

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Whiteout at the Winter Olympics

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Watching “Slopestyle” got me thinking that the Winter Olympics is somewhat of a celebration of the Western world and its economic dominance. Though painful to admit (with apologies to all the crunchy peeps who ski/board here in America and across industrialized nations in Europe) the fact is that all these fabricated sports of the winter Olympics are born out of white privilege, and fail to portray a true representation of our new global community.

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Do We Expect Our Children to be Perfect?

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Watching 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia compete at Sochi, got me thinking. Is this healthy, the level of competition and scrutiny we put on our children? Are we becoming a world where we lead our youth to become so decidedly great on a public stage, that we ignore their greatness on the small stage of life? I believe in competition, but to what end? As I hear the judges say she is technically brilliant, but lacks emotion and artistry I can only ask, “Why wouldn’t she?” She’s 15 years old. What has she given up to get to this level of perfection? I can only imagine. And what will she give up moving forward in her life, despite the fact that she’s technically brilliant at such a young age? What is it we are celebrating? Is it just the manifestation of our empty culture of celebrating the 1% no matter what it costs them or us?  Just like Philip Seymour Hoffman. He may have been better off not ever gaining fame. He may have been happier and healthier just being a great stage actor, until he reached an appropriate age to be one of America’s best character actors.

 

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Are We Still Friends?

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This line from Arcade Fire’s recent missive got me thinking:

“Now, the signals we send, are deflected again/ We’re still connected, but are we even friends?/  We fell in love when I was nineteen/ And now we’re staring at a screen.”

And while it’s moved at the speed of mercury what to make of Arcade Fire’s latest album – from the expected critical acclaim declaring it the best thing since The White Album to the online backlash equating it with something closer to Queensryche – I will say that this line seems brilliant. Say what you will about Win Butler, but he has a way of encapsulating the fears of the digital age in a way that seems to say we all have a full understanding that it’s here forever, but that doesn’t mean we should reject it, embrace it or lie to ourselves that we even know what it all means.

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Purveyors of Pop

BROTHAgain, reading about Roth and his prolific output through so many stages in life got me thinking. Has anyone other than I (not that they should or ever would) associated Mr. Roth with my other great hero in art, Bruce Springsteen? It seems obvious on the face of it: both men grand artistic purveyors of New Jersey  – its belches and its brilliance – both working tirelessly, far past a young and a middle age, to make sense of this grand American equation. But beyond that, the personal nature of their works: fathers, sex, family and the struggles of individuality throughout an age when most art, while entertaining us immensely, has literally failed us in considering these things.

 

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Bravo! Bravo!

 

 

la-et-ms-lou-reed-dies-singer-remembered-influ-001Remembering a rather contentious but inspired performance by Lou Reed at Radio City Music Hall in 1988 got me thinking about a rather small gent at stage side screaming his lungs out prior to the encore. Like a lover of opera, or some other refined art rather than an acerbic performance from Lou Reed (whom I love to death and in death), this fellow was shouting, “BRAVO! BRAVO!” at the top of his lungs. And all I could think was that “bravo” must extend from the word bravery. And how appropriate that familiar call is to any artist who dares to step out onstage and bare their soul.

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Roth Unbound

8713927390_591981f83c_bReading Roth Unbound, a literary discussion of the life of Philip Roth, got me thinking that we live in an age when “progress,” whether with regard to economics, technology or culture, has largely anesthetized us as a people rather than invigorated or inspired us. Looking at Roth’s life ¾ in which polio was a scourge when he was a schoolboy that science eventually overcame, through the global horrors of the Holocaust that actually led to a safer, more humane world to the grand achievements of technology, NASA and TV (YES TV) and the expanse of transportation from automotive to airlines ¾ the list of progressive achievements is stunning in not only its scope but in the positive impact it had on the human condition. While I’m not a Luddite on par with two of my favorite contemporary writers, Eggers and Franzen, it really did get me thinking that we should take pause to consider what is actually happening to us as a people.

 

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Free Diver Dies Trying to Break World Record

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This photo got me thinking that many of us will never know when death shall come upon us. This dear soul knew clearly. As he rose to the surface he hopes to feel oxygen filling his lungs but had 10 to 15 precious seconds to realize that wouldn’t happen. That his lungs had shrunk and were perhaps filled with water or blood or both. And so he had that brief time to decide perhaps, was it worth it, or figure out what went wrong, or ask for God, or remember a loved one. Who knows? What got me thinking is whether this ephemeral experience of the cognizance of one’s own imminent death is a blessing or a curse. Or both.

 

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  1. Jolly Heath

    My gut response was that it’s a curse. Who wants to know death is coming – right now?! It’s inconceivably horrifying, but, before I could finish that thought, I found myself wondering about the blessing side.

    Maybe it would help somehow to have a few seconds to prepare for the unknown. However, this reminds me of the moment you realize the exam is in 5 minutes, it’s impossible to study any more, and the only thing left to do is relax and begin. Once you acknowledge the nearly immediate inevitability of your own death, maybe your emotions transition from fear to acceptance, then possibly relief and if there’s still a second or two, excitement for whatever awaits in chapter two.

    So, what do I think? This one’s got me teetering. I’m scared, but also fascinated and curious. If there is “a light”, then I think I’d rather walk through it with my eyes open than closed.

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