IT IS 2016 AND TIME AND PLACE THE BLOG IS BEING TURNED INTO A SERIES OF BOOKS. THIS IS THE FIRST POST FOR THE 2013-14 EDITION. A note seems in order. This post really belongs in my book blog, Avoiding the Real World, doesn’t it? But no, that’s not true. It is very much about being out there in the world through our most consistently available and the most thoughtfully enlightening form of travel—reading, and one of our most pleasurable and easy forms of travel—movies. So please join me for all my travels whether in books and media; train, car and plane; Time and Place for 2013 and 2014. (San Diego, Thanksgiving 2016)
LAUNCHING 2013 DEEP IN ‘OLD’ MEDIA: What’s not to love about my new Surface tablet, laptops, smart phone, smart camera, etc.? About facebook and google and all things to come? Nothing. My communications would be considerably slower, more cumbersome without them. They are so immediate, so today. But my heart lags behind with my old familiar friends, my ‘old’ media—books with paper and pages, movies with people and popcorn.
This weekend belonged to them. My means of travel without a ticket and of forgetting anything out of kilter in my life. And plain old education and entertainment all wrapped up a hard/soft cover or a warm dark theater.
The Books: Chrystia Freeland’s study of The Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else does cover the world. Although I am only about halfway through, this book has been an eye-opener. The word ‘plutocrat’ immediately brings to mind a gouty old white haired white man and/or his handsome polo/golf playing son who is in the process of inheriting the family fortune made from oil or trains or canals—in other words real things. They have vast amounts of money and reluctantly part with any of it but on occasion the workers/masses must be pacified so a penny-raise here, a library there are doled out. Wipe that image out of your mind.
The new plutocrats are a truly international cast of character, still mostly male but as apt to be from India or Russia or China as from NYC or London. And for the most part they made their money—the old fashioned way—working for it. The fact is that largely unforeseen and impossible to imagine technological advancements and wild fluctuations in world economies gave these new workers, with their Ivy League educations and good opinions of themselves, just the right moment in time to launch their fortune-seeking. Voila! The new Plutocrats. A very good book but you must pay attention…Freeland tells us almost too much about these One Percenters. They are not like you or me but they are not like Rockefeller or Vanderbilt either. Bill Gates is one, Steve Jobs was one. Starbucks and Google as well as the banks and hedge funds created them. They run the world.
Finished, in the middle of or just beginning tales of dastardly deeds from Paris (Murder in the Marais by Cara Black), Iceland (The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridsason) and Denmark/Lithuania (The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol & Agnete Friis). It’s all about seeing the world after all. Whether through the eyes of those new very rich kids on earth’s blocks or lively girl and cranky boy detectives it can still be an exciting trip. Cara Black’s heroine Aimee Leduc is simply too wild, crazy, cute, sexy to have the touch of believability I demand from my mysteries. She’s over the top—Angelina Jolie in “Salt.” I really like my friends in the murder business to be a bit gloomier and being a little older doesn’t hurt. Like Indridason’s cops, all flawed enough to be my neighbors, or the screw-up do-gooder character of Nina in “The Boy in the Suitcase” with a past that we are not privy to early on. Just started the latter book and these two Danish authors are new to me so not sure how I feel about it yet. As long as no superheroes, male or female, appear it may be alright. But Henning Mankell they aren’t.
Movies: Time to try once again to accomplish that ever-elusive mission—seeing all the movies nominated for Oscars before THE SHOW which is February 24th this year. Starting this weekend with Argo and Lincoln and as usual cursing myself for not going to the movies more often because I so love them when I do.
Continuing with the weekend travels…books to film. To Iran this time with Argo which is now one of my 10 or 20 film favorites. Very unexpected. I thought I was going to a movie I would like but not love—but who can know when that magic moment will happen and you fall … in love … with him her them it. Argo is history lesson, suspense, comedy. True story. When Iran took U.S. Embassy staff as hostages, six people escaped and wound up at the Canadian Embassy; a crazy movie-making plot was hatched up by a CIA good guy, Ben Affleck; it worked and the six managed to make it to a Swiss Air flight out of the country in the nick of time. Even though I knew how it all turns out it was still edge of the seat for me. Not an easily achievable mix, tension and Hollywood wise guy jokes, but Affleck handily put it all together. There is certainly a political slant but no really pure characters (well except Ben’s CIA guy!).
Finally I stayed closer to home with Lincoln, traveling back in time to watch a badly corrupted, chaotic and frequently downright stupid U.S. House of Representatives. And yes everyone that says ‘things never change, do they…it’s just like today’, is partially right. But the worst of the reps from Lincoln’s time still don’t seem quite as disingenuous and cluelessly dumb as most of today’s U.S. representatives. It is a great movie in any case. I could see Tony Kushner’s theatrical sensibility everywhere (my imagination perhaps) in the dark and dreamy background, the vivid lush sometimes stark scenes, the staginess of it all.
A culturally rich few days with my old media pals…now back to posting, googling, blogging, texting…
A BELATED HAPPY NEW YEAR!