Friday, March 13, 2009

I like to watch ...

... not to go all Being There on you or anything. But here's some stuff I've watched or plan to:
  • Last night I stayed up past my bedtime and, along with who knows how many millions, I watched The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central for the hugely advertised mini-showdown between Stewart and Jim Cramer, the mad-dog marketeer of CNBC. Some minutes in, it became clear that Stewart had dropped his humor shtick and was going for a serious shaming of Cramer and his ilk. It was mildly interesting, but mostly not, especially as it went on and on and Cramer kept agreeing, owning up to his and his cohort's failings. I kept wishing the funny would come back. Why? Because the funny frequently hits the mark. This, however, was as off-target as all the rest of the so-called analysis and especially the outrage that's filled the airwaves since the economic crisis hit. Stewart focused on the liars, the cheats, the thieves in banking, housing, mortgage lending, the stock market and so on. Fine. There are liars, cheats and thieves galore thereabouts. In fact, from my point of view they're all liars, cheats and thieves by definition. But lying, cheating and stealing did not create this crisis. This is a cyclical crisis of capitalism. A classic crisis of overproduction. The owners, the bosses, the traders could be clean as fresh-fallen snow and such crises would continue to recur, each one worse than the last. The capitalist system itself inexorably creates them. All the indignation in the world, fake or honest, as is probably the case with Jon Stewart, doesn't change that. To prevent more of the same, more layoffs and evictions and ever-increasing mass misery, the whole system has got to go.
  • This coming Tuesday evening, March 17, I'll sit my tuchas down on a folding chair at the McNally Jackson bookstore in Soho and watch and listen as the wondrous gifted Justin Torres reads from his story "Lessons," in the current issue of Granta. Justin is such a bruisingly good writer it's breathtaking, and his gifts are being recognized quickly and justly. He's also a darling dearheart who I adore. I met Justin two summers ago when we were both fellows at the first annual Lambda Literary Foundation's summer LGBT writers' retreat in Los Angeles. (If you click on this link, you'll see a picture that includes a few of us there with the magnificent Dorothy Allison. That's me hovering above Dorothy, and Justin leaning on the table on the right. Also in the photo: Doug Jones and Ruby Kane.) He actually workshopped this story there, not that there was much more than a comma here and there that needed changing; I remember we were all stunned by his talent, all of us aware that here was the real thing, that the world would soon know of him. And here he is in Granta, having already been in Tin House and several other noteworthy magazines. I can't wait to see him. Meanwhile, Maud Newton, lit blogger extraordinaire and no slouch as a writer herself, also has a piece in the Granta "fathers" issue, online only I think. I haven't read it yet but it's in my queue.
  • My tushie will get another concentrated rest (as if it ever does much of anything else) in a couple weeks, for I got myself a ticket to see the City Center Encores production of Finian's Rainbow. I'm so excited, for lots of reasons that I'll go into when I report on the show. There's politics. It's written by the great Yip Harburg, and it has a strong anti-racist, pro-worker them. There's my love of the musical theater, and of Finian's music, which includes the hauntingly lovely "How Are Things in Glocca Mora" and lots of other great songs. And there's, I admit, a great wash of sentimentality, nostalgia, having to do with my childhood, my mother, the 50s, you name it. UPDATE: Unfortunately, I had to sell my ticket. Scheduling conflicts. Sad, because this is a show that is not often mounted.