Posted by: jamesmvward | March 21, 2010

Egregious Excess

I should be working but must give vent to my boiling blood. I just wanted everyone to know even those with excessive discretionary wealth have worries: might have to downgrade dreams from Bentleys and Aston-Martins to high-end Audis, until someone else is found to foot the bill. I like my comforts as much as anyone – comfort being a relative term. But on so many levels the outward signs of excess fouling the Westside of LA are just plain wrong. You’re worried about your cash flow yet you make one of the worst purchases you can possibly make (even the most collectible cars are illiquid fool!). A standard and immediate loss of 30% of value when you drive it off the lot – you need a good beating, not a better income. More importantly, isn’t there something better you could do with your money and as a corollary, your time? The second basest desire of the species – an excessive feathering of insecurity with glittery things – stinks of greed and stupidity. You will not get well on spending You can get better on helping others. Impress me with your charity and good works, not your $1200 heels, $3500 handbag and $200k car. You’re not as stupid as you look and sound, are you? I didn’t think so.

Need Or Greed?

Posted by: jamesmvward | February 12, 2010

Generation Y Bother Paying

Generation Y Bother Paying

I have been cogitating on this topic for some time.  This article was the prompt I needed for a new post.  It appeared in NYT yesterday and bespeaks the relative endgame of this cycle of intellectual property.  I suppose I should be happy that anyone in their teens actually reads at all, whether they have paid for the material, or as author, has paid, even in gratitude, for the original creators of the work.  There is a bigger message in the news though.  And questions loom over what is the next step.

  Here’s my thought on the evolution of things.  Generation X was the starting point of the most recent curve.  The cycle of conformity, revolution and hangover had ended.  They were left with rubble.  What’s to do but dance, drug, shag and profiteer.  They were followed by Generation Y (Why) in a demi-generational leap of 10 years.  With the birth of the internet, file ‘sharing” – lovely euphemism for intellectual property right infringement – Generation Y pioneered the degradation of proprietary creation.  The dancing continued – the idea – a bit of stick it to the man although they too were as much of The Man as anyone else.  Technology zoomed ahead for Generation Y Bother, who followed on the cusp of 2000.  Sorry Generation Y Bother, with your falling standards of intellectual output (seriously, what have you given us? Reality TV, sampling, remixes and remakes? Thanks), expanding teenage waistlines, and general identity with self-entitlement well beyond ordinary adolescent righteousness, you witnessed your opportunities vanish, idols fall (except the sit-on-your-ass-and-watch American Idol variety) and Starbucks soon became your most legit career option.  Now, in 2010, Generation Y Bother Paying is in full blossom.  Having had the road paved for them by their predecessors and aided by social acceptability, Generation YBP does not question, defend or excuse their ‘right’ to appropriate content.  Witness the publishing apologist (who is just happy to hang onto her job) for Frauline Hegemann.  There is no originality, just authenticity.  It’s one thing to compose an ode on a Grecian Urn, albeit the poor sculptor of such was unknown, but it is another to not even acknowledge you even so much as sniffed a shard.  I hope ‘Airen’ has a good copyright attorney.  With Hegemann’s book selling like bootlegged DVDs on Canal St., surely there is plenty of pie to go around.

Posted by: jamesmvward | January 11, 2010

The Cost of Doing Business

Just a quick observation having been trawling LA today for a few essentials of home furnishing: the cost to the consumer is always on the rise.
It used to be street parking in the City of West Hollywood was the most expensive in town. Ah, this is not the case anymore. Widespread changes have been made in The City: $.25 gets you 15 minutes, true, and already in prime shopping and dining districts (Melrose’s Design Gulch; LaBrea with its Boom and Bust Art-Design-Fashion district from Beverly on south) there is no such thing as free parking on Sunday. I must find you some statistics for the bump in parking revenue for the 11 am to 5 pm pay parking on those days but I imagine there is an appreciable rise in parking fines receivable. Talk about stealth taxes! And for those poor souls who still believe in the myths of User Taxes and the Flat Tax As Fair Tax, this ain’t a tax on everyone. It directly targets The Spending Class who are generally more likely to pay as a parking ticket will not result in them missing any meals. Or shopping opportunity. In fact, it was probably that Sunday Brunch got you the ticket to begin with.  So perhaps not such a bad demographic target for the cash-strapped city.  Like good breaking-and-entering guys: go where the money is!
Now, outside of my son, I must be the only one not to have seen Avatar – probably because I am waiting for him to go with me. He’s delaying my post about storytelling, drama and the only hope for film (gasp, Jimmy Cameron as posterboy??).
Meantime, short story workshop begins Thursday, one of mine featured. Let’s be open here, constructive there.

Posted by: jamesmvward | December 28, 2009

No, Actually I Get That a Lot

An Easy Mistake to Make

I had the misfortune over the past few days of being exposed to that pernicious brain drain known as television. During a pause in some fascinating segment of “Biggest Celebrity Scandals of 2009″ or some such thing comes a scantily-conceived Candid Camera recherche entitled “I Get That A Lot”. Touted appearances in initial installments include Gene Simmons, master of every marketing opportunity available and some host-model for a reality tv show pretending to be real people doing dumb jobs. Actual real people come up to the counter and tell these very important personalities how much they look like the personalities they actually are – if you are following, you can sense the hilarity or certainly the lack thereof.
  I had a sitting post here commenting on the number of occasions I am stared at or mistaken for a certain actor, although I am much prettier and have never been married to his death-spiral diva of an ex. I have never been able to trade on any resemblance and do, at his behest, have to suffer a stalker or two in a book store or crawling car while I am walking the dogs. I was once followed closely by a tour van until the driver could block my path, open the doors and ascertain my untrue identity.  In social situations, I don’t hear it too much, certainly not from people with whom I would ever socialize again.
A friend made the LA mistake recently of confronting a woman with a small child in a restaurant. The friend swore this woman had been looking over at her several times during the meal and she wracked her brain trying to remember where she knew her from: school, a cocktail party, a support group – it is LA after all.  Fact is, my friend had probably been staring over at the other woman enough to frighten anyone.  Finally my friend goes over and says – “Do I know you?” – and at that minute she realizes her out-of-towner mistake: “You’re an actress, right?” Ah, that familiarity combined with lack of placement, especially with supporting cast members, effects us and we nod dumbfoundedly forgetting for the moment the obvious relation we probably have to this fine-featured creature.

  Let’s see if I can repiece this ending here ie has managed to destroy – and it was sooo good too.  Here is the advice my friends, to avoid  the ignominy of any such embarrassment:  if you think someone is Somebody, be cool, be quiet.  You don’t want to be that person who none of us are in LA,  New York, London or any other capital of sophistication.  Worse yet, if that somebody turns out to be a Nobody (to wit – me) the last thing he wants to hear is how he resembles a certain Somebody – unless of course you are going to pay for my drink or dinner, than you are permitted albeit without an effin parade.  It is bad enough I have the same name as 2,500 other people in this state alone!

Posted by: jamesmvward | December 14, 2009

Hello Kitty – Tiger and the Function of Gossip

This morning, Colin Cowherd and his sidekicks on ESPN radio were busy star-rating Tiger Woods’s peccadillo pals, with 5 or 6 relegated to Skankdom, not including the Perkins waitress. The Tiger beat goes on – perhaps causing a ripple in a reader/viewership not overly obsessed with gossip other than causes of on-field distress.

  Gossip is not new.  It probably predates Aristophanes and Plautus, their snarky satires never really made much of an effort to disguise the targets of their jabs.  There is a direct line from them through Dante and straight on to Joy  Behar, People magazine, TMZ and Perez Hilton.

Over an animated and intelligent dinner Friday last, the topic turned not so much to the details but the essential function of gossip in our lives.  Aristotle and Joseph Campbell came up as they would in any discussion of heroes, drama and the narrative – whether that narrative is life or the grander stage.

So we have elevated certain individuals above us for their talents, proclivities or from their incredible abilities to con us into it.  We have needed heroes and indeed drama to give order, structure and meaning to our otherwise ambling, senseless lives.  And heroes’ journeys are the stuff of our catharses.  So why do we revel so in their suffering and fall?  This Schadenfreude follows an almost absurdly mathematical progression: they need to be pulled down as far below us as we elevated them above.  And it isn’t the hero’s balloon payment on fame: it’s all about us.  As we have raised them to exalt in the vicarious experience of their successes we eventually swell with misery we are not them.  They become a reminder our lives are middling.  There is always the growing dread we don’t ever want to see. 

Then they fall. Huzzah!  Our lives are redeemed - in our quotidian apathy – we are better.  Our mediocrity, our complete unspectacularity is validated.  We need to assure this fall to assure our comfortable station and restore balance to our psychic universe.  The cycle is therefore completed. 

There appears to be only one antidote to gossip: self-worth.  If one can recognize and accept the rhythm and merits of his or her individual life, the need for heroes will be abrogated, the cycle will be broken.  At the very least, there will be less need for Dancing With The Stars.

Posted by: jamesmvward | December 14, 2009

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