Thursday, January 28, 2010

Q: Where's The One Place That You Can Always Hear A Pin Drop?

Fig.1 Google Images says this guy with the hearing aid - is David Brooks. I'm not kidding!

Fig.2 OK, let's try again. Google Images says THIS IS DAVID BROOKS. End of argument. (Both images courtesy of Google Images)

Q: Where's The One Place That You Can Always Hear A Pin Drop?
A: A bowling alley.

Oh, and in the House of Representatives last night, while Obama was winding up his State-'a-th'-Union speech. Once his politicalizations were out of the way, he got lecture-ish with his elected audience, and that was fine by me. Remember that bit? He was calling the bullshit of the games people play. The games of Congress, Wall Street, 'n the Media. In the reaction shots showing various Congress people, the whisperings and titterings ceased. Expressions froze. Yes, you could hear a pin drop in the pauses. What could some of their thoughts be? 'This uppity Negro can't lecture ME!' 'WHO'S playing games??' 'I made you; and I can destroy you!' 'Why that miserable -!', etc. I won't speculate too much. If I can think sadistic 4th grade thoughts about a French teacher who slammed a yardstick down on his desk to make a point of honest discipline, you can well imagine the quiet rage going on in the minds of these superior governing people. Whatever you think of Obama, he can do this sort of lecture very well, though the media will never give him proper credit for it, let alone take up the value of what he's saying. They'd just ape what Former President of the United States of America George W. Bush said to Tim Russert that time (and I just howled with Vegas-quality guffaws when he said it): 'The political season has begun.'

[INTERVAL I: I hope that it's not for the last time that I now give my stark opinion of Obama: I think that he is at heart a conceptual reformer and reviser of vast potential, but the simple reality is that he faces mafia-style forces - yes, ORGANIZED CRIME-style forces - every minute of his being president. Such forces are merely tolerating him, and his whole presidential dance is to compromise with these forces, as he hasn't a prayer in transforming or disempowering them. End of somber interval.]

One thing about viewing such Stately extravaganzas in HD, all the tawdry details that used to be shaken out in low-res transmission are here in pore-close detail. In these crowd sequences, we can clearly see what 'everyday folks' these players are, what with the goofs in simply moving around, the meanness of the expressions, the shortness of statures, the things plainly unsaid, the body language of touchy-feelies, Harry Reid's ancient yawn, the breathy ear-talk, the bad make-up, the full-figured gals still dressing like Nancy Reagan, and on and on... (One cinematic gem of a vignette: Michelle Obama's Cecil Beaton pose, tacitly acknowledging applause from under peek-a-boo bangs.) In general, this variety hour ain't no carefully staged DeMille mob scene. It's more like a Waterpik sales convention at a freeway-side Holiday Inn. Or even a Howard Johnson's. Plus, the physical makeup of the House itself is all too painfully present. Why, this august chamber appears no more than a basement Rec Room in a split-level suburban palazzo, c. 1975, pitifully kitted out in cheap dark paneling accents, with plaster reproduction fasces mounted on either side of the dais to provide a bit of Better Homes and Gardens class to the Formica marble behind. (Mussolini would cry 'copyright infringement!' if he knew...) Quite frankly, I found the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to have more charm, if not raw might. Both chambers of Parliament in London are much more cozy and bookish (e.g. learned). No wonder our Congresspeople are increasingly dreary: their nest sets the tone. Looks like their design team is a combo of experts specializing in small town clinic waiting rooms and holy roller church interiors. Hasn't anyone there seen any of those gay 'make-over' shows? (Perhaps Mark Foley could have been good for something on-site, besides cruising...)

[INTERVAL II: Stay tuned for some DAVID BROOKS items, coming later. End of an interval full of promise.]

Speaking of dreariness, Obama is totally correct on another thing. His well-placed slam on media pundits is, as we all know, all too true. The institution of said pundits has never been so powerful or prosperous. With few exceptions, their candy-assed smugness betrays their egomaniacal self-reflection as the smartest minds in the whole wide room. Some, of course, are worse than others. Currently, NBC is probably the least offensive. Brian Williams is actually quite dignified and restrained, don't you think? And this David Gregory fellow is such a distracting oddball. CBS is hardly worth mentioning, except that Katie's stagers seem to have ceased (IDEA!!) bathing her in that bizarre footlighted presentation that made her look like a plastic puppet in a cheap exploitation flick, and Bobs Schieffer, folksy old Tex that he is, is, for all practical purposes, about as irrelevant as the Sage of Nationalistic Pentagonical Radiation, Dan Schorr. ABC? Well, Kid George and the withered beldame known as Diane (Diane always seems like such a youthful name!) have become unspeakable. (Elizabeth Vargas, I would've gone the full route of devotion to you!) Diane's methods of expressive speaking and facial reactions are hallmarks of very bad and insipid theatre. I imagine her big excuse is that she's 'relating' to audiences or something. You're getting it ALL WRONG, DIANE. (Bawdy Diane story from an old 'Penthouse' of my youth: At a party, a male associate of Diane's becomes drunk enough to say to her, 'Diane, you've got a flat ass!' Her reply: 'What do you mean? I've got a GREAT ass!' See what I mean about smartest asses in the whole wide room??)

Anyway, that brings us to PBS. (I haven't had cable since 1991. Sorry Fox, CNN, C-Span...) Aging Jim Lehrer is fine by me, I guess. He's so damn neutral, but that's what he's sticking to, and I can't fault him for that. Besides, my wife thinks he's cute. Mark Shields, staunch old Marine that he is, is a bit wobbly now. His triumphs are past him, so it seems that he's just saying stuff to please others, rather than vent his belly acid that surely seethes below that anchorperson desk. I honor Mark, but when he says stuff like 'Ronald Reagan was a MASTER at (fill in the blank)', I get, well, sad for him.

What's left? Or, who, rather. David Brooks, of course. Snaggletoothed, chucklesome, beaming with fake modesty so as to showcase his punditty capital, touches of distinguished grey at temples framing a still babyish face, sensibly balding, turgidly winning a fat-race with Bill Kristol but keeping his lower arms in tone by his Valley Guy hand gestures, David is in high gear, a man at the summit of his influence and achievement, with more summits to come, no doubt. But I'm not sure about proceeding with critiquing him, as his success in the pundit industry indicates some serious evidence of the decline of American civilization. Types like Glenn Beck need no explanation or indeed, interpretation. But taking Brooks and his mediocrity seriously is a very bad sign indeed. And another dead giveaway about Brooks is that it is obvious that he doesn't believe in what he supposedly propounds. There just isn't any conviction there. Sort of like Sarah Palin. He duly rattles out his required pronouncements to fill the time, then grinningly hands the floor back to Mark with oily grace. Such a nice guy, too. How could you really get mad at him, especially when he spouts stuff like 'people should pray for President Bush'? (Will he invoke his Lord on President Barack Hussein Obama, as well? Oh, David will you? It might help!) Like most of his kind, Brooks is a very bad actor, and after the show, you can be sure that the money is counted, followed by the Big Dinner and then a sound sleep. Any deep thinker worth his or her salt spends most of their time suffering, either from conscience or from idealism. David Brooks is the apotheosis of the self-absorbed consumer posing as Vox Populi for the yuppie (still a term worth circulating) lifestyle. He is corporate narcissism achieved.

Added feature:

I like Matt Taibbi. He's one of the most worthwhile reporters today. But forget further praise. None needed. Here are his own thoughts on Brooks, regarding Haiti:

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