Wednesday, September 8, 2010

NPR Interview with Michael Gross

At 10 a.m. Eastern this morning Tom Ashbrook interviewed Michael Joseph Gross on his On Point radio show from Boston. The entire show can be heard at the first link in this post. I want to send out a special thank you to PB reader Cambridge Knitter for posting the link in a comment on the Kicking Butts & Taking Names post. The interview is well worth hearing!

If you have been following the whole Vanity Fair series of articles involved, I am sure you are already aware of most of the content of this interview. However, there are two particular new elements of the story that I noted in the live interview that deserve mention.

The first is when Mr. Gross is asked by the Mr. Ashbrook to describe exactly what the author meant by his phrase a sad and smoldering strangeness lies beneath. First of all, Michael choked on this question to the point that the sudden infusion of the bane of radio, dead air, caused the host to try to fill the void, and then after asking Mr. Gross to continue, Ashbrook finally cut to a commercial. After the commercial break, Tom Asked Michael a different question, but Michael asked to return to the original question. Before I mention his answer, I want to say that visions of Babygate and the sadness that Gryphen has mentioned surrounding that mystery flashed in front of my eyes! Michael's answer was methodically spoken, as if it was very carefully considered. His reply concerned the pall that seems to surround Wasilla and its sad, confused residents. He said that he had spent nearly three weeks in the town talking with residents, and most of their comments were along the lines of feeling betrayed when Sarah abandoned them for fame and fortune in the Lower 48. As you might surmise, I am sure that a lot of Wasilla residents gave Mr. Gross this precise impression, but I am not totally convinced that his reply to the host's question was the entire truth of the matter. Michael obviously chose to think the question and his answer through thoroughly before blurting out something that he might live to regret. My guess is that the truth of Babygate is hidden somewhere in the mind of Mr. Gross as he pondered his reply. I thought much the same thing the first time I read that key phrase in his Vanity Fair article, although to be fair, I also considered the paranoid citizens of Wasilla, just as he stated.

The second nice surprise was much more interesting: a lady called in to ask about Babygate, and they almost discussed it! Before you get too excited, remember that this is the top rung of my Babygate soapbox. Liberal NPR radio host Tom Ashbrook squashed this opportunity to discuss the truth just as efficiently as he could muster on a moment's notice. He mumbled some reference back to the rumors that had been so quickly disqualified back at the beginning of Palin's national career, and then immediately proceeded to make damn sure that the audience understood that this was not a serious matter to be discussed. See! This is exactly what I have been ranting about! This is how they do it, over and over again. This is why this horrible monster is taking over our country. The blankety-blank media, even the so-called liberal media, are helping her do it!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Laugh at Me

One of the tunes by Mott the Hoople that caught my ear the first time I heard the band's first album in 1970 was "Laugh at Me", written by Sonny Bono and sung by Ian Hunter in a distinctly Dylanesque style. As you can see from this picture of me from 1965, I was a huge Dylan fan from his classic years. After staring at the cover photo on Highway 61 Revisited and other notable Dylan poses, I had my sister tease my hair, donned my paisley shirt and shades, and had her take my picture in front of a rusty little red wagon in our back yard. This shot from 1965 was originally taken as a slide with a Kodak Instamatic, so the quality may not be the best, but the point is that I have a sense of humor, about both myself and my heroes.

Although I have been writing since the '60's, due to my four blogs, I currently have more readers than I have ever had in my life. The point of this post is to show some of the readers of my more serious material that I do have a soft spot for humor blended with nostalgia. This quality permeates most of my books and commentary, but my fourth book, Timeline of America: Sound Bytes from the Consumer Culture, wallows in it. Timeline is a little book of facts, entertaining anecdotes, irreverent humor, and a big trivia quiz in the back. You would think it is a reference book, the kind you never actually read from cover to cover. For many readers, this may be true, but I personally found its relentless humorous facts pounded into my nostalgic desires to be entertaining reading as a conventional book. Of course it is the kind of reference that is always fun to read piecemeal, but I would expect at least a few readers to enjoy it cover to cover, too. Just don't try to read too much of it at one time or your brain will turn to mush. I have always thought Robin Williams is the most talented stand-up comic of our generation. It is his relentless, rapid-fire comedy that is so chocked full of jokes in such a small space of time that impresses me. I tried to emulate this type of comedy within a nostalgic, factual context in Timeline.

For you readers coming here from Palin Babygate, I think most of you would enjoy Timeline of America if you like the more humorous posts on that blog. I have mentioned The Last Horizon: Feminine Sexuality & The Class System many times at Palin Babygate. I hope to explain the relationship for you more thoroughly now. When the subject matter of Horizon began to materialize in my mind back in the late '60's, my biggest fear was that The Class System, as I called it, would eventually devour all of American culture. The book, as it was finally revised and released in 2002, begins with a detailed explanation of The Class System and its origins in Darwinian theory and the herd instinct. Horizon starts out as a book impersonating a much more academic tome before it loosens up into a more entertaining book than you might expect from the first two chapters. Horizon is basically about the DNA of the herd instinct that drives Americans to make many poor choices in life, from their sexual partners and mates to their elected officials. First we elected an actor President, then a pseudo-cowboy party guy, and now a mean girl moron puppet threatens to darken the doors of The White House.

Much of the material on NIAFS (this blog) and Palin Babygate was intended from its origin to become part of a sequel to both Horizon and Timeline, entitled 2012: Timeline for a Psychotic Nation. If the plan progresses as originally conceived, this book will be released sometime next year and cover the period between the Midterm Elections of 2006 and at whatever point prior to the Presidential Primaries of 2012 that I choose to end it, depending on whatever happens economically and politically between now and then. The first Timeline covers all the fun things about American history, only briefly mentioning wars, social strife, racism, and economic issues. The sequel was originally planned for 2010, but recent events have pushed the release back a couple of years. How seriously depressing will the 2012 sequel be? That is the question that I have difficulty answering, even as I have pondered it for several years. America has had very little to laugh about over the past decade. This is why Horizon and Timeline of America have been so light. Depressing my readers is not my goal. Before I dive into the depths of what America has recently become, give Horizon and/or Timeline a read and try not to laugh. This is what Nonfiction in a Fictional Style is all about. You might be pleasantly surprised!