Showing posts with label Salon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Salon. Show all posts

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I’m a sex writer with a secret shame — hoarding -

Salon has always been editorially obsessed with sex-talk, convinced, perhaps, that the prosaic writings of those engaged in the continual grinding of genitalia constitutes a literary form who's time has come. It is , of course, porn for the nervously middlebrow, a poor sister to travel writing. 

Now we have a sex writer who is more interested in doing field research than keeping a clean household. Salon, we thought, was supposed to be covering the culture in a smart and literate way, but these stories are tiresomely shallow beyond a certain point, being neither things we can relate nor shocking nor insightful . I am not , of course, a mental health expert, but I find it ironic that someone who is interested in lifestyles that push back the boundaries of sexual expression , so to speak, has come up against a literal wall in their real   world domicile. There is , in fact, scarcely any more room  for clutter in the space provided. 

Our writer, seeking to cram as much life into the years she has on the planet, perhaps has used up her psychic space allowance for ignoring larger issues both the clutter and the sex drive might be symptoms of. Again, I am not a mental health expert, but I can sling a metaphor or two.

 Sometimes the metaphors are apt.

Friday, July 20, 2012


There events in our lives that are so stunningly horrible and unexpected that the only response, it would seem, is silence, the ghostly quiet that follows a bloody battle, the closed mouth response that takes over after all expectations and assumptions about decency, order and general goodwill have been pulverized.  "The Dark Knight Rises" had  premier midnight showing in Denver this morning and a man shows up, wearing a mask, heavily armed; he releases a gas bomb and begins to open fire on the crowd; twelve are dead, scads injured. Nothing makes sense. 

But we do have yammering media reiterating the same    spare facts, repetitions occasionally seasoned with one talking head's glittering generality . It's not that we can't stand not knowing, it seems to me, it's that we can't stand the silence . We need to talk. And critics, it seems, need to seem serious about their jobs no matter how tangentially a bit of horror  touches their area of expertise. Salon's film reviewer Andrew O’Hehir just couldn't pass up the chance to opine on something where opinions are useless.

The shootings in Denver are awful, evil in their intent and effect, an act of a deranged man, a "lone nut", that has , so far, left twelve people. It makes all of us heartsick to think of twelve gone from this world due to one person's delusions ; it makes me even sicker that a professional stress monger like Andrew O’Hehir is already wringing his hands with this inane, vapid column attempting to establish who is responsible for letting this massacre happen.When confronted with the horrible, the ugly, the unthinkable, the truly tragic, the likes of O’Hehir respond with copious amounts of scapegoating, finger pointing, general pouting. I venture this a way for writers who make a living interrogating the ebb and flow of pop culture make themselves feel relevant when events makes everyone's interests and passions seem absolutely trivial. This sort of writing appears to be an attempt to moralize, but the tone, uncentered and lacking any real point, seems less like an argument or more like someone talking to themselves after an accident. It is babbling of the first order, disguised as commentary. Shame on O’Hehir for feeling compelled to add his two cents. Two cents buys you nothing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Salon, take your own pulse

Salon's Mary Beth Williams wonders in a  recent article   if actor Charlie Sheen can be saved from his drug addicted ways. It's a content provider's dream, a topic needing little research, or original analysis. One need only arrange established facts in an accurate timeline and then join the chorus of hand wringers who've been virtually drooling over the actor's repetitive misadventures. Besides the ongoing tales of infamy, it's a depressing sign of what passes for cultural commentary.Where is Dwight MacDonald when we need him, a loud scorn who can beat back the rising tide of  baroque trivia clogging the talk of the town.

 Sheen will likely die a sad and predictable death that awaits nearly all practicing alcoholics and drug addicts (unless he has the fabled "moment of clarity" and achieves the means to keep the epiphany bright, shining and alive), and what I wonder , after all these years, is why this marginally talented actor's relapses are still considered news.True enough Sheen has squandered the considerable resources he has to sober up and clean up, but it's telling that much our entertainment medias squanders it's opportunities to highlight and promote the best of what our artists, authors, poets, film makers, actors and instead maintain death watches over those celebrities who cannot get their lives and careers back on track.

The rise of 24 hour news cycles and instant Internet updating, of course, turns the daily mishaps of Sheen, Lohan and others into something of a low overhead gift for a growing class of journalists, the gift being that of the serial relapser who will dependably screw up again , and again, and provide a meaty grist for the mill. This is the kind of ongoing situation that fills many column inches, fills hours of airtime, and generates unending Internet blather and videos; little investigating, research, or analysis is needed at all.These are the stories that write themselves, and the pity of it all is that this makes the media not reporters of events nor historians, of a sort, who bring coherence to an onslaught of new information, but rather game show hosts officiating over a vulgar, ritualized form of public suicide.

And we? We cease being interested citizens seeking knowledge about how our society works politically, culturally or how it succeeds or fails in it's quest to make ours a more decent place to live.We're reduced to being little more than ersatz sports fans reading insanely irrelevant articles like whether Charlie Sheen is beyond redemption in prestige publications that used to know the difference between what's important, interesting and crucial and what's mere noise, distraction, trivia.

Charlie Sheen is powerless over drugs and alcohol and his life, outside of work, is unmanageable. The phone calls for new jobs, though, will stop coming, sure enough, and this pitiful man's saga will rapidly change from merely sad to being tragically fatal. Our media, though, which is to say the technologized projection of our national conversation, is seemingly powerless over the existence of celebrity fuck ups.
And the inability of any brave editor or owner to change the terms of that conversation suggests a malignant unmanageability; unable to fix what's wrong in our lives, we've been turned into routine bigots exchanging our bad faith over the metaphorical backyard fences and cracker barrels.

Nobody wins.