no one was surprised

On August 9, 1969, I was sitting in the shallow end of my sister-in-law’s swimming pool in Beverly Hills when she received a telephone call from a friend who had just heard about the murders at Sharon Tate Polanski’s house on Cielo Drive. The phone rang many times during the next hour. These early reports were garbled and contradictory. One caller would say hoods, the next would say chains. There were twenty dead, no, twelve, ten, eighteen. Black masses were imagined, and bad trips blamed. I remember all of the days misinformation very clearly, and I also remember this, and I wish I did not: I remember that no one was surprised.

The White Album by Joan Didion

On not talking about your creations

“When you finish anything, people want you to then talk about it. And I think it’s almost like a crime,” he explains. “A film or a painting – each thing is its own sort of language and it’s not right to try to say the same thing in words. The words are not there. The language of film, cinema, is the language it was put into, and the English language – it’s not going to translate. It’s going to lose.”

David Lynch, David Lynch: ‘You gotta be selfish. It’s a terrible thing’, The Guardian, 6/23/2018

Notes on the last 6.5 episodes of The Bear

A group of people scream at each other and yet it is surprisingly engaging, because all of the characters are likable underdogs that you’re rooting for along the lines of the cast of rejects in Ted Lasso or Slow Horses.

It hits on contemporary themes like working class and small business insanity, the death of the American city, corruption, and the struggle to do something with your life.

What will a second season bring? Can we tolerate another 8 episodes of unrelenting scream therapy? (My wife wasn’t even watching it, but being able to hear it from another room made her exclaim on more than one occasion — “Jesus Christ!” — desperately wanting it to stop.) Granted, the creators wisely create short digestible episodes, but how much more will we put up with? I look forward to seeing what their next move is.

I think it’s also worth remarking this is a Gen X show, even though some of the main characters are too young for that generation, but many are the old dog lifers from that 90s era (and beyond) still grinding it out in an occupation that doesn’t require any particular education or accreditation. Yes, you could get this just from the obvious age differential between characters, but the dead giveaway is the music, from a Pearl Jam outro in the first episode through — god forbid — I believe the Counting Fucking Crows. Whatever.

We good, chef?

Advice

People never listen to the advice you give them, and when they ask for advice it’s specifically with a view to not following it, and have it confirmed by an external voice that they are stuck in a spiral of annihilation and death; the advice one gives them plays exactly the same role for them as that of the tragic choir, confirming to the hero that he has taken the path of destruction and chaos.

Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq

Notes on 1.5 Episodes of The Bear

I look at The Bear as the successor to Mr. Robot. Dumped into a situation that is confusing as hell but exciting. A main character, Bear (Carmy, Carmen), who is an expert in his field but is dropped into an environment filled with a cast of novices, smart-asses, and goodie-two-shoes that he must bring together in order to achieve the impossible. A similar thing is going on in Slow Horses, although in that case there’s no obvious hero-leader. Hell, a similar thing was even going on in Community and I’m so happy to see Jeff Winger again!

For now the draw of the show is trying to understand what in the hell is going on. I guess there’s humor, but scenes move so fast there’s no time to laugh. There’s kitchen culture that only those who have worked in it or have been avid readers of Anthony Bourdain would instantly understand. There’s a weird techno-cultural thing going on around a coin-operated video game. Words like “cucks” and “incel” are dropped letting you know this is taking place now or at least within the past few years. And it’s set in a city that gets short shrift in movies and television: Chicago. Probably better that way so that city can maintain whatever shreds of authenticity are left of any American city at this point.

The real test of this show will be what it does with this scenario. Will everyone’s motivation and backstory be explained away revealing that there wasn’t much to this story in the first place? Will it matter? Does Bear have multiple personality disorder that helps him cope with suicide-level anxiety? Will the dream sequences with the sadistic CDC (or is it EC? Sous chef? Assface? ??) continue to appeal? Maybe as with Mr. Robot, a show that garnered praise for getting computing concepts right, it will be enough for The Bear to teach us everything we need to know to fake our way into the French Laundry.

Thank you, chef.

the current post-pandemic situation does not fit the standard models

What is most striking about this slowing wage growth is that it is completely out of line with the predictions of standard macroeconomic models. Wage growth should not be slowing when the unemployment rate is below 4.0 percent. The fact that we are seeing a sharp slowing of wage growth, even when the unemployment rate is near its half-century low, indicates that the current post-pandemic situation does not fit the standard models.

The Fed Should Not Allow Itself to Get Bullied into Bringing on a Recession, CEPR