Well, crap. I waited all day to write something, hoping to have a few snappy lines from today’s Jim Harrison reading/signing at Shaman Drum Bookshop, and then what happens? We arrive 10 minutes early but the crowd had already filled the half of the store where he was sitting, and the overspill in to the other half was big enough you couldn’t even get close enough to see him. Plus, he had already started.
So we went to Border’s. Bought two Judy Blume books and the first Narnia book for the household’s youngest reader. That’ll teach ’em.
You can read the Freep story about Harrison’s new book here. I think it makes a bit too much out of the question whether it’s the Michigan novel, but no harm done. The picture on the website is tiny, but it ran big in the paper, and it looks like Jim’s gout is acting up again. A cane? Maybe he’s getting over a knee injury or something.
So the day wasn’t a total waste, anyway. Raced into town early today to catch another History of War class. Today: Pearl Harbor, among other things. I was impressed the prof made it 100 minutes into a 120-minute class before he felt the need to sneer derisively at the movie of the same name, which shows some restraint, if you ask me.
With no famous man of letters to speak of, let me tell you instead about Kate’s school talent show last week, which I think I may have enjoyed nearly as much as the James Brown show Jones and I caught in Columbus back in ’82 or so. I remember my elementary school talent show; I told the teacher, “But I don’t have any talent,” and she said, “You can be the M.C.” So I was. If only I’d been born a little later, like now, when jumping rope in a pair of deely-bobbers is considered stageworthy. And you know what? It was.
Good riddance with the talent fascism of my youth, when you had to sing or dance or play the piano. Hail the talent show of today, with its crazed mix of acts — two kids demonstrating karate moves to the musical accompaniment of “Kung Fu Fighting;” a girl who spins the hula hoop for three minutes, alternating with spells of using it as a jump rope; girls on the cusp of middle school doing a booty dance to hip-hop; a Bow Wow singalong…oh, the head spins.
I could scarcely believe it. When I was a kid, I wouldn’t have appeared before an audience in anything other than a 60-member choir. But no one seemed embarrassed by anything — no one even got stage fright, or seemed to, anyway. Is this the sort of self-confidence that leads to plagues upon the land like “American Idol”? Maybe so. But as I always say: Where else can you get entertainment like this at these prices?
Vince said on June 3, 2004 at 12:38 am
No stage fright? No pangs of self consciousness? I say blame TV! Or at least the home video camera that puts everyone on their home TV from infancy on.
Performing for the camera – or an audience – has become simply another part of family life in America.
Not so before the video cam. 8mm film was too expensive to play with the camera all the time. That was saved for vacations.
Now it’s an everyday plaything – and it’s transforming behaviors too.
Connie said on June 3, 2004 at 1:04 pm
I see both Jim Harrison and Laura Lippman will be autographing at Book Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago on Saturday, which is the day I will be attending. You could go try again, librarian one day pass is $45 and all the books are free. See the list at bookexpoamerica.com. Former President Clinton will be opening the show tonight. Based on previous year’s book expos it is likely to be carried live on C-Span. This is also where Al Franken and Bill O’Reilly had their screaming fight last year, also carried live on C-Span.