bschaller at ltoa dot com
Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Class Wars...

I am not a class warrior. Ok, some people would argue against that and maybe they're right. I don't purposely hate rich people and actively try to "dethrone" them in some Marxist proletariat revolt. However, over the years I have developed an acute sense of class and for that matter, race. All though the two are mutually exclusive they do seem to go hand in hand in the great US of A. I am a very tolerant of every kind of person in the world except for bigots. I don't care if they are rednecks in hoods with confederate flags, rich people who patronize and condescend the less well off, or black people who want to kill "whitey". They really piss me off. Not to mention when you get into religious bigots like the good Catholic family that hates the "faggots" down the block. There is a special section of hell for those people no matter how many crackers they eat or prayers they pray.
This being said, you can see how when I was browsing the sociology section at Borders and came across a memoir about a white kid who grew up in the projects of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, I had to read it. Honky is this book. This is a must read. Conley discusses race and class in a way that is not only comical, but shows how America really operates. From the ghettos of Manhattan to the bigots of suburban Pennsylvania. I had never heard of this book and just randomly came across it, I am glad I picked it up. You should all go out, pick up a copy, and read it. After you are done reading it, read the dedication again. That really adds a nice touch to the end. I can't say enough good things about this book so I will leave it up to y'all to decide for yourself. As always, let me know what you think. B

Learning to Live With Holden and Other Ghosts...

If I have learned one thing in my life so far, it is that everyone likes The Beatles and The Catcher in the Rye. I will continue to believe that everything The Beatles released before Rubber Soul is complete trash until the day I die. However I have decided that Salinger is worth a little more thought and meditation. It is not the fact that I want to like the book, I am just curious why everyone else does. Armed with my Little Brown paperback edition and a couple of hours, I decide to investigate. Here is what I found.
Being new to the "I read two books a week" club I am very picky, almost snobbish about prose. I found this to be a problem with Strip City and it was a definite issue here. The 1950's were a long time ago. In understand the whole period piece thing and how TCitR was banned for Holden saying "goddam" a lot. This was more boring than risque to me. I realize that if Salinger had used "fucking" instead of "goddam" and "like a motherfucker" instead of "like hell" it probably would not have rubbed me wrong. Since it was written half a century ago and I decided to let up on being a snob. I have let my prose objection go. That makes the book easier to like for sure.
However there was still this problem of Holden Caulfield. The problem was people, and a lot of them at that, kept telling me how they liked Holden and how they could empathize and relate to him. Now had this been some random Beatles loving people I could understand their poor taste and just move on. The problem was I liked and respected these people. I not sure if it was for their sake or mine, but I had to unravel this mystery. After a lot of thought and couple trips down memory lane this is what I came up with. I am not Holden Caulfield. A quick side not: If you want to watch a movie about a poor schmuck who thinks he is check out Chasing Holden. It stars DJ Qualls from The New Guy and cheetah skinning fame. By the way, it is terrible. Like I said before, I am not Holden Caulfield, but I was, kinda. In my quest to become to delightful, well-adjusted young professional that I am today, I am just a wee bit guilty of sweeping my past into a nice dusty closet with a very thick door.
Let me just start by saying the fact that I graduated high school has got to be something close to a miracle. I am still not quite sure how I pulled that off. I think they passed me out of pity or something. It is not that I did poor work, I did no work. And as most of you know, college was not for me. I do regret this decision (or lack there of) because I think I would have enjoyed it. I never went on an extended weekend hiatus around Manhattan or even ice skating at Radio City, but I do remember ditching out for a day or two at times, or at the very least threatening it. I was also not always the suave and debonair fellow you know today. Although I never wore a hunting hat, peak to the back, or had a run in first hand with a prostitute, I do remember being a 17 year old kid wearing a Sarah McLaughlin t-shirt and thinking that somehow this made me cool and I should get all the ladies. Even though it did work out one time (with that shirt), I was far from a lady killer. If you want to go back to the days of middle school it gets much worse. The thought of most of that time stills makes me shudder with intense embarassment. The Byron of today is not the Byron of yesteryear. For those of you who knew me then all I can say is sorry and thanks for sticking around. Relating to Holden is something I didn't really want to do, but I guess it is the truth. I should probably thank him for saving me years of regression therapy. I guess this proves my theory that reading is some scary shit. I am too deep in it now to stop so I might as well ride this one out.
I finished Honky last night and a review and discussion is probably going to be posted tomorrow or later today if I get bored. I also started to read Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Diving right back into my own past. I will off a full review when I am done probably early next week or late this week. I do have to comment on the first chapter though. It is about how he had to take speech therapy as a child in elementary school. Most of you have no idea what I am talking about so I will explain. Speech Therapy is where they teach you to speak normal. In Sedaris' case he had a lisp in my case I could barely fucking speak. I stutter. In case you missed that, I s-s-s-s-s-stutter. It is probably the worst affliction in the world next to gangrene or herpes or something. I have come along way and most people I know don't know this about me. I still do it. If you think that public speaking is hard when you have glossophobia, try not even being able to get a "goddam" word out. It was nice that someone else knew what having a "special" session that dragged you out of class to read kindergarden books is like. Maybe one day I'll write a humorous account of my childhood to teach and entertain others. However, before I start that I have a few issues I still have to work through myself. Sedaris also tells this story with great humor and self deprecation. I am sure I will enjoy this book and the whole reading thing in general. Look for the Honky post soon. B
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Down at Ye Olde Pub...

The holidays are finally at an end. Nothing really settles this like the first Tuesday back to work after a long break. I decided to approach this return to the old at the beginning of the new year by integrating a little old and new myself. First off, the new. I am no longer the shaggy beast of a man that most of you saw over the holiday. I am now all shorn a proper with my new haircut. I kind of makes me look like one of those peg people you played with when you were younger, but without the round hole instead of legs. I think of this as a positive change for no other reason than it is something new and interesting, I am sure the charm will wear off soon. It also looks like a great week to see a movie, I have two on the list: Big Fish and The Cooler. Big Fish is the latest work from everyone's favorite gothic millionaire, Tim Burton. It tells the story of a man who in turns tells the story of his father's life. The catch is he is unable to separate the fact from the fiction. Watch the preview and read the reviews. It looks very cool. The Cooler, on the other hand, is a much smaller venture. It is the story of a gambler with wicked bad luck in Vegas. It received very warm reviews at Sundance and stars William H. Macy. This will either be enough to convince you to go see it on Friday when it comes out or never think of it again. Hopefully the former.
Now with all the newness in 2004, it is nice to get back to some of the oldness as well. This is the first week since before Christmas that I will be able to take back up my weekly dart game with my father on Tuesday and make my Thursday evening appearance at the Ale Emporium. Two traditions that I do miss. It looks like a week of drinking and art film. God I hate that. Pretty soon I will feel just like Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day again, but for now it nice that the old is not so old right now.
On a completely unrelated note. I finished Catcher in the Rye on Sunday. I was a good solid 2 out of 5. I know that some people swear by this book, but I can't figure out why. If any of you have some answers, let me know. For now I hope you are eagerly awaiting the review of Honkey. Cheers. B
Monday, January 05, 2004

Generational Crisis...

I am a man without a country. Actually I have a country, it is a generation that I am lacking. Being born in the middle of 1980 on a warm summer day, during the rise of the Reganite regime, I am a cultural misfit. I have devised a little way to make this clear. Answer the following four questions. If you select the first answer you get a point. If you select the later you get no points. Question 1: Which movie do you better identify with (and has a better soundtrack), Singles or The Fast and the Furious? Question 2: Fill in the blank. When I grow up I want to be: Eddie Vedder or Fred Durzt. Question 3: Which were you most likely seen dressed in high school, flannel shirt and ripped jeans or chic designer wear you saw on TRL? Which would you rather watch on MTV: 120 Minutes and YO! MTV Raps or Jackass and Viva la Bam!? I score a 4. Which I hope you all do too... But that's beside the point. I clearly belong in Generation X and I am born on the cutoff year for statistics. If you got a zero, by the way, you are Generation Y ( as in, Y have you not killed yourself yet and done us all a favor...). I don't quite get it. I clearly feel a kinship with fellow Xers even though I almost consider myself a touch too young. I guess that could explain why I have almost always hung with older people or just snobs like me. Maybe I heard the sounds of Grunge just soon enough to be have my soul saved from the post-grunge fall out. I mean, what the fuck happened. In 1992 No Doubt was a ska band opening for Sublime is the LBC, and Jewel was a homeless Alaskan trying to make it through music. Now Jewel has sold her soul to product placement and is proud of it and Gwen is about to go solo with a hip album with "touches of r&b". "TOUCHES OF R&B" !!!!! WHAT THE FUCK!!!!! It's ok, like I say on The One Two One Giga, I never liked the bitch anyway. As much as I want to hate the little Vin Diesel wannabes wearing their red Yankees hats and slamming to rocked up gay men (read as George Michael), I can't. It's not their fault. The fault lies squarely on the fucking baby boomers. Let's face it, they lost the Gen-X battle. For those us who actually wanted an "Alternative" the jamband and inde-rock culture took to the sky. Without radio play and big labels we actually got, and still do get, good music. Corporate America lost. The baby boomers lost. They were down but not out. They decided that our younger siblings and even some of our kids were going to be under their control. The stepped up their game. They recruited and polished "inde" kids to lead the way and then dumped more sugar covered plastic into out music stores than Wonka has plastic covered sugar. A sure sign that it is not just the baby boomers, but the corporations as well can be summed up in two words: Paris Hilton. She is the mermaid on the bow of corporate America's ship. She is leading the charge, and she is too dumb to fucking know it. She makes it cool to be a corporate mogul. John Rockefeller eat your heart out, you don't have shit on Paris Hilton. This, in a nut shell, is why I get so pissed about the thought of being grouped with a whole generation that didn't have a fucking chance. Yet I still feel a little too young to have been at the Lollapalooza '92 show where Eddie Vedder was skateboarding around the venue because nobody knew who the fuck he was. I feel torn so I guess I will just have to brave my own way at the tail end of what could have saved all those youngsters. Our parents had The Who to talk about their generation. Who did they give us? Brittany fucking Spears. Gee, Thanks. With all this it is no fucking wonder that W is in the White House. Tell me what you think and how you did on the quiz. Later. B

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Don DeLillo: White Noise
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NPR (try it, it's good)
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Google News
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Staff Art Selection...

Edward Hopper: "Rooms By The Sea"

Things To Do...

Open a Record Store
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Buy a Sail Boat
Start a music site better than these guys
Start a Band again...
Start a Leroy Neiman collection
Take up Yoga

My Most Recent BlogCritics Posts

Thirteen: Teen Vice in Inde Film
The Bens: 4 Track EP
Johnny Cash: Cash Unearthed
Don DeLillo's White Noise
Mystic River: A Real Contender
On The Road With Dean and Sal
Learning Modern Classics from Penguins

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