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!