Hot Air: Real Stories

Ready for a Conspiracy Theory?

I just came up with one. This COVID-19 scare is a plot by the supermarket-industrial-complex to get us to spend twice and three times more than normal on groceries.

Ready, Go!

The Loved One and I stood in the checkout line at the Kroger Theme Park for 45 minutes this afternoon. I mean, everybody on Earth was there, cramming everything on the shelves into their shopping carts. It was like that old game show, Supermarket Sweep.

Usually, I’d be griping and moaning and TLO’d have to bite her lip not to blurt STFU at me but this time I made sort of a joke about it all. And TLO actually left the line at one point to fetch a bottle of wine for a woman who was busy keeping her little baby in her cart’s kid seat from starting to bawl because, judging by the kid’s eyes, she was long minutes past her nap time. That TLO can be a sweetheart now and then.

So, there you have it. This coronavirus is a hoax. Hey, me and Sean Hannity, baby!

Holiday Boys

If you missed yesterday’s Big Talk (if so, shame on you!) here’s the podcast link for my interview with Addison & Lewis Rogers, the music- and mirth-making brothers who make up Busman’s Holiday.

It was Part 1 of the interview with the second part to air next Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 5:30pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM.

Scary Books

I’m not going to win myself a ton of friends by writing this, especially in this college town bastion of rigid righteousness but a couple of recent developments in the publishing industry are really scaring the bejesus out of me. Plus, I don’t give a good goddamn if the fetishistic moralists-slash-presentists hate me or not.

Here’s what happened:

  1. Protesters raised holy hell over the publication of Jeanine Cummins’ novel American Dirt. It’s the story of a middle-class family that has to flee Acapulco after the husband, a journalist, writes a story about the local drug kingpin. The family dashes to the US border and meets scads of other individuals and families who are also fleeing from something in both Mexico and the other Central American nations.
  2. Protester’s again raised holy hell when Woody Allen’s memoir was due to be published. Allen, the septuagenarian, highly decorated film director who has been accused of child molestation by several of the children of his one-time live-in partner Mia Farrow.

The protesters in the first case said, basically, that Cummins had no business writing a fictional book about a Mexican family’s experience because she is not Mexican. In the second case, the protesters said, again, basically, that Allen had forfeited his privilege to recount in print his life because he’d been accused of such a heinous offense. (Allen was investigated but never charged with any crime; some say he was given a free pass by the state prosecutor. Two of Farrow and/or Allen’s other children present at the time of the allegation have spoken up in Allen’s behalf, saying they don’t believe it happened.)

In any case, Flatiron Books, the publisher of American Dirt, cancelled the author’s book tour in response to the protests. This despite the fact the novel was an Oprah’s Book Club selection and it was rocketing up the bestseller lists. Allen’s memoir, Apropos of Nothing, was scheduled to be published by Grand Central Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, next month. When word of it got out, protesters pressured Hachette to the point that it has decided to dump the book.

I suppose it’s good we have a constitutional First Amendment that prevents the government from exercising prior restraint or otherwise punishing people who write things that aren’t violations of national security, but in practice we have hyper-moralists who do the censorship themselves. Oh, and weak-kneed publishing executives who can’t stand the idea that anyone might be offended by a book or an author.

Don’t get me wrong, Allen creeps me out. His eventual affair and subsequent marriage to Soon Yi Previn, Farrow’s adopted daughter whom Allen served in something of a paternal capacity when she was a child, still makes my hair stand on end. That romance alone made me never want to see Allen’s movie “Manhattan” again even though it was one of my favorite films of the 1970s. In it, Allen’s character Isaac, who’s 42, has a torrid affair with Tracy, 17. At first I thought the age-thing was a joke, an exaggeration in service of the plot. After Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi was revealed, the plot device began looking uglier and uglier. As for the charge of child molestation, suffice it to say Allen’s behavior was described by the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic at Yale-New Haven Hospital as “grossly inappropriate” despite its report finding no solid evidence of sexual activity. The guy was, at the very least, way fucked up.

Since these incidents, I haven’t seen another Woody Allen film, even though in my early 20s I saw Allen as something of a role model. I shudder to think of it now.

No matter. He is a world renowned artist. His memoir would have been fascinating. For chrissakes, Richard Wagner’s memoir probably is fascinating, despite the composer’s vile anti-semitism. For that matter, the king of anti-semites, Adolph Hitler, wrote a fairly riveting memoir, considering who he was and how he came to be.

But protesters have made sure we won’t see Allen’s opus (for now).

Protesters similarly made sure Jeanine Cummins wouldn’t get the satisfaction of meeting her literary fans because she authored a work of art depicting characters that weren’t her. Hell, Stephen King isn’t a murderer but he wrote a story about a guy named Jack Torrance. And King — ever more vociferous these days — in response to the Cummins imbroglio, said, “We don’t threaten writers with violence. Not in America.” Oh yes we do. Both Cummins and booksellers who dared defend her right to write whatever fictional story she wishes, have received death threats.

Then again, in this third decade of the 21st Century, the death threat has become the new normal way of saying I disagree with you. But I that’s another matter entrirely.

King, as well, has said the dumping of Allen’s book makes him “very uneasy.”

For my money, we need to know a person can be a monster and still be capable of making great art or even coming up with a cure for cancer. We childishly see people as either angels or demons when in truth the vast majority of us are a bit of both.

Anyway, I’m going to read American Dirt as well as Allen’s memoir, should it ever be published, simply to make the statement that I can. I’m no longer a First Amendment absolutist now that hate groups are ascendant and, for all intents and purposes, blessed by the president. But short of people calling for harm to groups of people or the curtailment of their liberties, I’m fully in favor of letting people write and say whatever in the goddamned hell they want.

And, yeah, the fact that I can’t see Jeanine Cummins read from her book and that I flat out can’t read Allen’s, scares the living hell out of me.

2 thoughts on “Hot Air: Real Stories

  1. Renaldo says:

    I’m no Woody Allen fan, but — When it comes to artists who make work I like, but who cross the line of vileness as people, my general rule is simple: I won’t spend a penny on their stuff until they’re dead and can no longer profit from it.

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