For what it’s worth, I think this will be the last entry of the old year. The de facto holiday weekend begins tomorrow, so I might as well get down with the program, and give myself a couple days off as well. I plan to spend them brooding and cleaning. I brood while I clean, and vice versa. Nothing like a dirty bathroom for a good brood. And when it’s all over, you have a clean tub, which always improves my mood. This week I put the finishing touches on a long-simmering creative project, reread it all, and came to a conclusion: Well, this sucks. Get me rewrite. Time for a brood. And a workout. And the removal of all this Christmas stuff.
I get an annual Christmas newsletter from a couple of old friends. She’s a state officeholder in Ohio, he’s a lawyer, and some of you know who I’m talking about by now, but if you don’t, sorry, I’m not going to name them. They’re a loving, ambitious family, and over the years, I’ve found their annual chronicle of their year — and their successes, always their successes — a little oppressive. Their kids are all well-adjusted, smart and attractive. Even their dogs and cats are photogenic. Year after year, the newsletter details trips to glamorous overseas destinations, scholarships, admissions to exclusive schools, election to office, and one year, even a
Robert F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. When you’re like me, and your successes have not featured photo ops with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, and your holiday letter could boil down to a phrase or two — another year older, no longer wearing anything other than Bermuda shorts in summer, love, Nance — opening theirs is sometimes an uncomfortable exercise.
This year’s letter arrived with a big disappointment in the lead — sorry, friends, no insider’s tour of the United States Senate for you in the new year — and then settled into its usual tone of optimism. There was even a guffaw, one made for a Christmas letter, in which their youngest son, already supporting himself as a full-time college student by working as a waiter in a jazz club and “modeling when assignments come along that he can fit into his schedule,” was approached about auditioning for “The Bachelorette,” but turned them down. (I told you this family was special.) And it occurred to me that success of all sorts is relative, and I’m putting 2010 down in the win column. We all stayed healthy, employed and afloat in some very stormy seas. That will have to do this year.
I hope you can read this appreciation of Quincy Jones (Wall Street Journal, paywall, etc.) pegged to his new book. If not, I’ll share one morsel I loved:
As (Michael) Jackson’s producer, Mr. Jones selected the songs—plowing through 800 to find nine—hired the musicians and engineering team, and supervised the recording, mixing and mastering of his three monster hits. Yet Jackson lost his appreciation for Mr. Jones’s contributions. “All he does is sit there and hold his head,” said Jackson, according to Mr. Jones. Jackson’s father, Joe, claimed the producer spent too much on “Thriller,” though the budget was well under $1 million. Thus far, the album has sold about 100 million copies.
Have they given out the Darwin Awards yet? Because I think we have a late-season winner.
It’s easy for the mayor of a city like New York to think your job is somehow greater than its description. Michael Bloomberg should have studied the career of Chicago’s Jane Byrne — in the end, it’s all about snow removal.
And with that, adieu for the year. See you on the new calendar.