Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Toxic Culture for the Heart

Governor Mark Sanford's public meltdown and Americans' reaction to it are good evidence of a basic illness in our popular culture (and our political culture as well). Actually, let's just call it an illness in our culture as a whole.

I suppose that most of us (me included) have been somewhat amused by but also horrified at the totally inappropriate public performance of a guy who until now was a go-getting man of alleged principle. It's been both riveting and cringe-inducing.

But really, why do we have this reaction to him? Our outraged or amused or uncomfortable reaction to him is in total contrast to the kinds of movies and songs and stories we all make popular.

In "High Fidelity," Nick Hornby is on to this oddity:

People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss.
Think about this comment from the other side of "love." We don't worry about our kids (or us) watching movies or listening to songs that cajole us into "following our heart" and searching for true love, or looking for and finding our "soulmate." Disney and other studios churn this stuff out by the bushel, and we eat it up.

And yet when we are confronted by a guy who actually did this, the reaction is "What a loser!" or "How horrible!" or "What a hypocrite!" or "This is hilarious!" And we want to know all the details so we can stomp on the guy.

I'm not defending Sanford, and I know that this mess is having a terrible effect on his wife and children. Families and spouses and children are never the same after this kind of thing happens.

Sanford is a self-indulgent guy at this point in his life. His affair and then his shrink-session-style press conference are evidence of that. His abuse of the language of religion and faith is at least as unforgiveable as his infidelity is.

It's just that I think we all participate in some kind of bait-and-switch for the heart.

In Disney movies, we often cheer people who shun convention and "dull" long-term commitments to family and chase the whims of their hearts.

In political life or other important arenas, we give them the "tsk tsk" and a sneer, and we feel superior.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Governor Mark Sanford is a Hybrid of Ray Nagin and Bill Clinton

Gov. Sanford at a press conference: "I spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina."

First, that's a GREAT title for a country song.

Second, can't this guy save the blabber for the shrink's couch? Sort your life out, please, but don't do it on national TV. On a human level, I feel for the guy. But this is undignified, even for a Republican.

Third, disappearing for days then melting down in public. Pure Nagin. Chasing skirt in Buenos Aires. Pure Clinton. An unholy amalgam indeed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Comparative Beers

I find Lazy Magnolia's Indian Summer Ale to be FAR superior to Abita's Satsuma Harvest Wit.

I am a BIG fan of Abita, but the Satsuma stuff just doesn't do it for me. I'm not a fruit and beer guy, and this particular brew from Abita tastes more like a Holiday brew than a summer brew to me. But that's just me with this one brew. I love every other Abita brew.

The Lazy Magnolia Indian Summer just nails it. Summer and beer and fun and nice with food. Beautiful. World class. Thank you, Kiln, Mississippi.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Naked Bikers in French Quarter

This opens up all sorts of possibilities for us in the Black and Gold Bike Patrol.

I hope that these people were able to display some Saints pride somewhere on their persons.

I wonder if anybody had a fleur de lis hardhat on.

If we adopted this uniform standard for the bike patrol, I would miss the jumpsuit.

I think most viewers would wish Berto and I were wearing the jumpsuits too.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Do-ers, Trek, New New Orleans

1. From the NY Times Magazine today:
“How do I say this delicately?” [Senator Max Baucus] asked. “President Bush, he liked being president. You know, there are be-ers, and there are doers. And I think he liked being president, as opposed to doing.” Obama, on the other hand, strikes Baucus as a doer. “You’ve really got to work at it, rather than just enjoying the job,” he said.
Most of us aren't in a position at this point to assess whether President Obama actually is going to be a real do-er--and I think he does in fact like BEING president (Who wouldn't?)--but I take this comment from Senator Baucus as a positive sign.

This comment also leads me to reflect on people I encounter in my professional life. I am often confronted with people whose job is to have and keep his/her job. These people are not interested in doing much, in taking the risks necessary to accomplish great things. Popular mythology would lead you to believe that those sorts work exclusively in government. To the contrary--I see these people all the time in private business and in the supposedly more entrepreneurial world of private or religious education.

Be-ers--that's old New Orleans, old Detroit, millenial New York City. These are the people who show up to work with the number one goal of impressing others with how in tune and smart they are, showing how much they are into "moving forward," and protecting their salary and company car and weekly meetings with those in the know.

Do-ers--that's new New Orleans. These are people who show up to work trying to stir the pot and get things done, willing to say "no" or "I disagree" or "Waitjustaminute," willing to be fired in the cause of trying to push the envelope.

Old New Orleans is still around, protecting turf and overpaying for "smart" people from out of town who help them protect the status quo in subtle ways. Are you listening, Ed Blakely and others of your ilk in key positions around the city? Carpetbaggers, your days are numbered.

2. New New Orleans also includes the likes of Oak Street. Have you been there since the initial round of street repairs? Wow! The T-P quoted a guy in his 80s who said Oak Street has NEVER been this nice. These ARE the good old days.

Check out the new Rock N Bowl, too. Old New Orleans will tell you what a shame it is that it had to move and everything. Baloney. John Blancher has done it right--moved it a few blocks away in Orleans Parish, next to his other business to promote efficiencies of scale. And the new place is great.

3. To answer Tim's question: I love the new "Star Trek." I confess I've seen it three times in the theater. And I enjoyed the third time MORE than the first two times.