Learning Patience

One aspect of my personality that often challenges me is finding patience. I like results to come quickly, particularly if I think the anticipated item will be positive.

A year after the publication of my Terry Bradshaw book, a notable reviewer on sports literature has published a review.

https://tinyletter.com/sportsbiblio/letters/sports-biblio-digest-11-25-18-southern-quarterbacking-icons-brett-favre-and-terry-bradshaw

I couldn’t have asked for a more thoughtful review as she addresses the focus on celebrity and on southern culture.

Advertisements

Love, Simon Hype

I so looked forward to seeing the movie Love, Simon, which we taped earlier in the week. I heard a great deal about how good it was from reviewers and friends that I expected too much. We are all familiar with that experience. The high expectations game that one rarely can win. After all, few things live up to our imaginings, particularly if we are a person who enjoys spending time in our heads. We have the most wicked imagination of all!

I saw the movie last night. While it kept my interest, the lead character did not excite me very much. Although not the precocious teen of Call Me By Your Name, which in some ways is a blessing, Simon seems bland. As bland as the surroundings of the movie, which felt like suburban anywhere America.

Accompanying the blandness is a lack of tension. The plot makes me not feel fearful for the character. It also places him in contact with few people who draw out much positive or negative energy from Simon.

The distance between my feelings after seeing the movie and the hype cause me to read reviews. Generally, the top critics give the movie a positive review. Some even hype of the fact that the movie “is the first gay romance from a mainstream studio.”

Perhaps. As some reviewers mentioned Love, Simon played like a John Hughes 1980s style rom com. While Hughes made his cotton candy, independent studios and studios from around the world began making gay romances. Beginning with Steven Fears’ My Beautiful Laundrette through the late 1980s Merchant and Ivory collaborations (Maurice), these movies challenged sexual norms. The best of them also situated the viewer firmly in a specific environment and included tensions based upon the ethnicity or class background of the characters. During the 1990s we visited the south for Fried Green Tomatoes, middle-class New York City in The Wedding Banquet and the British housing projects for Beautiful Thing.  A somewhat comprehensive list of movies featuring gay, lesbian, bisexual and other sexual categories and interests appears here.

The reviews of Love, Simon that I found most insightful are included below. The first compares the movie with the book that gave it is origin. The book appears so much richer in character and sense of place. It also features more gay sensibilities. The movie hints at this with a comment between father and son that clues in the knowing viewer to the son traversing of the gay online world.

The second review challenges Hollywood liberal politics which it claims always safely return to the status quo regardless of where the movie takes the viewer. I found this reviews analysis of other movies featuring gay teens to be spot on. It reminded me how much I loved the movie Being 17 French film from 2016 that showed the tensions of being out, being gay, and having feelings that you don’t know how to handle. The violence between the boys is something that I I understood from my own experiences.

Armond White’s mentioning of the movie The DUFF  illuminated for me what remains similar in the romcom genre. Leah, Simon’s best friend, like so many other best friends of the leads in romcoms remains unattached. She is special as her description of her and Simon during the bedroom scene informs us. And many of us can relate to her, but why should she remain the only one of the group without a love interest?

Here’s hoping for more changes to romcoms!

Bradshaw Offers Another Opinion

Terry Bradshaw is never short on opinions and has no trouble expressing his. He jumps in on the latest Steelers’ concern over running back Le’Veon Bell. You can see this in my book on the former quarterback and in the piece that follows

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2795449-i-would-have-signed-him-terry-bradshaw-says-only-bell-can-lead-steelers-to-sb

Procurer for the Stars

Gay Hollywood: confirms things that my book Hollywood Bohemians gleaned through Hollywood’s own publicity.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/movies/heres-a-surprisingly-touching-documentary-about-the-gas-station-owner-who-was-cary-grants-pimp/2018/08/15/cfdfbd1a-9d9b-11e8-843b-36e177f3081c_story.html?utm_term=.10b9f538653f

Economic Woes

Sunday’s Washington Post contained several articles that illuminate the tough job situations that many people are facing across the United States. The quantitative data started with the low unemployment rate but quickly raised the question of why did they receive so many stories documenting the struggles people are having. More people are employed as temporary or contract workers than ever before. The number of part-time workers has climbed from 1 to nearly 3.5 million since 2008; costing most of these people are range of benefits: from health insurance to retirement plans. Workers’ wages averaged a 4% increase in 2000 and dropped to a 2% climb by 2016. The value of these wages has essentially flat-lined since the 1970s.

The Great Recession of 2008 damaged the prospects of not only working-class and older people. The crises crippled the prospects of middle-class millennials as well. Alissa Quart’s book Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America, is reviewed in the Outlook section. This group suffered the double-whammy of rising costs of raising a family and declining prospects for professional careers.

The news has documented the costs of college education and student’s accumulation of debt. Sanders’ promoted the idea of erasing that debt in his 2016 campaign. Yet, whip away the debt and these people still need to earn a living. The new reality is that contingent work has spread into once stable professional careers, ranging from journalism and paralegal to academic and radiology technician. The adjunctification of these positions lowers the salaries of each and deprives the person of the benefits as well.

Most disturbing is the review hints that the book contains an underlying assumption that millennials should have seen the disaster coming so they are at fault for their own career choices. This approach of blaming the individual and the victim is common throughout American history (happen during the Great Depression as well). But it misses the systemic structures that are allowing and promoting jobs to become contingent and for those jobs to pay workers less. Indeed, the US economy has been doing very well according to recent reports but how does aggregate success help these individuals who are struggling? If workers make less then whom is making more? Follow the money and the profits.

The Remains

Studio Theater in Washington, DC featured a world premiere of Ken Urban’s play, The Remains Brilliantly staged in a high end condominium’s kitchen and dining area, the play begins with two gay men sitting in the room fraught with tension. The men invited their families to their home to give them what is surely not good news. Having been one of the first gay couples to marry under Massachusetts law in 2004, they are now divorcing ten years later.

These are exciting times in the images of gay men. On Broadway, The Boys In The Band has received its first run on the great white way. Regardless if the viewer can stomach all the anguish, angst and self-hatred among many of the characters, Matt Crowley’s play and movie is a landmark in its presentation of gay men. Look at Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet, and Kaier Cutin’s We Can Always Call Them Bulgarians to understand how gays and lesbians had been represented in movies and theater through the late 1960s. Interestingly, images of gays and lesbians in Hollywood during the 1930s was different as I show in my book Hollywood Bohemians Transgressive Sexuality in the Movieland Dream 

Today Broadway is also staging a revival of Tony Kushner’s epic Angels in AmericaThis significant play captures a vital moment in gay history during the AIDS Crisis. The play featured a real crisis and the political and cultural opposition that gays and lesbians faced in the United States. However, it is not a play about realism as the playwright himself called it, “a Gay Fantasia.”

Realistic depictions of gay men and lesbian women most often appears in the form of “coming out” comedies and dramas. While self-discovery of personal sexuality is experienced by all and its importance can never be diminished, there have been numerous plays and movies capturing this moment. Whether in this year’s form as Love Simon or in the form of an older man, as Christopher Plummer’s character Hal in Beginners the plots and character arc’s become quite similar. Although these plays and movies made viewers happy, a majority have also wanted to see gays and lesbians in other stages of life. Everybody grows up and they want to see images that relate to their own experiences.

Intriguingly, over the last decade television served as the place where images of mature gays and lesbians appeared most often. With Will and Grace, Modern Family and The L Word, gay men and women appeared in relationships and sometimes, within the context of a nuclear family. Even the cable television programs made choices that often limit the kind of persons and situations it shows. Most of these relationships do not feature two or more gay and lesbian people who are career focused and facing tough choices about their relationships and careers.

Unlike a great deal of television, theater is known as a place to challenge its viewers. The Remains does that by revealing that the two men undertook marriage but combined the rite with the freedom of sexual liberation that has long been part of the gay male world. The play raises the issue of whether this choice ends up bringing about the dissolution of their relationship. One viewer thought so, saying, “It points a blame at the one character for being promiscuous.”

The play offers a hint to its own view on the situation. One character calls the impending divorce sad but not tragic. He notes that Georg Hegel’s concept of tragedy is not a battle between right and wrong but a struggle between a person driven to take one-sided action that both violates another legitimate right and plunges the hero into self-contradiction. But William Shakespeare’s tragedies often features seemingly heroic figure whose major character flaw causes the story to end with his tragic downfall. This seems to apply to this situation as both of the married men have personality quirks and weaknesses that become exasperated over the last years of their marriage when they are living on separate parts of the US.

What I enjoyed most about The Remains is its depiction of regular people in common spaces that face challenges recognizable to many.

DC Rental Market

If you are like me, you’ve asked yourself who is renting in the buildings going up all around Washington, DC? You’ve wondered how they could afford them and maybe what they did to earn a living.

https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/young-but-not-wealthy-a-look-at-who-is-renting-dcs-new-apartments/13992

Urban turf has provided some insight into these questions. The focus of the piece leaves a few questions unanswered: specifically what is the rental price difference between buildings built before 2013 and after 2013? Are there differences in the amounts of unit types between buildings built before 2013 and after 2013?

The Shaq Brand

Tonight on HBO’s Real Sports, they focus on an athlete who has successfully created a major brand for himself in today’s culture. Athletes branding themselves was the topic of a book I wrote last year. One of the biggest sports idols to create a huge market for himself in popular culture is basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. He is on television offering basketball analysis on TNT and TBS. He has commercials for The General Insurance Company, Carnival Cruise Line and Icy Hot pain relief among others.

The man has a brand and he calls it making you happy and smile.

The big fella is following in the footsteps of another big-time  sports figure: Steelers Quarterback Great Terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw has a boat load of commercials, records, movies, and a regular perch analyzing football on Fox.

Bradshaw has the “Southerner good-old boy act” and he seeks to bring a smile and laugh to people. His brand is detailed in my book: Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality

 

DCEFF’s Ocean Focus

Tonight we saw eight short films documenting the conservation work on oceans around the world. One illuminated efforts to develop a screen that filters out small particles of microplastic from sands.

 

The fascinating discovery is that ocean currents bring plastic debris to the same coastal areas year after year. If clean up efforts are concentrated on these beaches and shorelines we would see a dramatic decline in microplastics in the ocean. Called Gyres, the currents flow as seen in the map below:

 

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/man-invented-a-way-to-filter-microplastic-out-of-the-ocean/

Book’s Travels

Many of you already know that my latest book Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality came out this fall. I hired a publicist who made all the selections about the people and organizations that received review copies. When I saw the list I wasn’t sure about some of the locations and figured that most of them were his friends and connections in the newspaper and web football worlds.

I did get a kick that both MSNBC and Fox News Channel received the book. It even got into the hands of producers. However, since neither responded I suppose I can conclude that the book is something that the left and the right can agree upon.

My favorite response came from a writer for Jet Nation (covers the New York Jets football team). Phil said,  “The book was excellent. I can’t write a blog post about it because it isn’t Jets related. Super Bowls are kind of a sore subject for Jets fans.”