Arts Desk

Five Books I’d Read

in which the author discusses five books he'd read, if time permitted.

1. Decoded, by Jay-Z.
I was never a huge Jay-Z fan, but I was also never into Transformers, milk chocolate, G.I. Joe, chocolate ice cream, "E.T.," chocolate sundaes, James Joyce, chocolate donuts, post-Keith Morris Black Flag, Three Muskateers candy bars, the Beach Boys, chocolate fudge, cubism, chocolate milk, the British Monarchy, or Count Chocula. The point: The waves will keep breaking, but I don't have to ride every one.

2. William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls, by Katie Nicholl.
Like I said, the discreet charm of the royal family has always been a little too discreet for me. I know that these folks retain at least the glimmer of a symbol of a vestige of actual political power (like in that movie The Queen when Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth has to grant the dude who plays Tony Blair the power to form a government), but, beyond that, the whole "I'm-an-American-gay-man-obsessed-with-the-British-Monarchy" thing seems a little tired. I did always admire the landscaping at Buckingham Palace, though, and those dudes with funny hats. And if I was playing a show in London, I'd put the Queen on the guest list. I'd even given her a plus-one. But, since she's got so many ladies-in-waiting, she'd probably need, like, a plus-100. Sorry, Elizabeth. We just don't have that many spots on the guest list.

3. I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas, by Lewis Black.
Can someone quickly, preferably by e-mail, let me know whether this guy is actually funny? I'd look into it, but I'm already over my laugh quota for 2010, and I don't want to inadvertently chuckle and get fined.

4. An Object of Beauty, by Steve Martin.
I read all of Steve Martin's novels despite the fact that his press materials invariably include the phrase "wild and crazy."

5. Hollywood Incoherent: Narration in Seventies Cinema, by Todd Berliner.
I like books about the golden age of 1970s cinema even though someday soon we, as a society, will have to recognize that the golden age of 1970s cinema is no longer quite as golden as it once seemed and, in fact, some films from that golden age are starting to look pretty dated (see The Exorcist, Rocky, Apocalypse Now, etc.) and, whether we like it or not, we're going to have to devote ourselves to appreciating contemporary cinema, which is the aesthetic that we live with, even if that aesthetic is often pretty crappy (see Avatar, Harry Potter, Funny People, etc.) I mean, I like Martin Scorcese and Francis Ford Coppola and Mean Streets and The Conversation and Being There and all that, but those movies came out before I was born and I can't keep watching them and thinking about them and, after paying $10 for some Tyler Perry "Madea" movie, keeping wishing that that Tyler Perry "Madea" movie was more like Badlands or something. I've just got to move on and live in the present, which is a Twilight-type of present, not a Robert Altman/Peter Bogdonavich/Hal Ashby-type of present. I want to "be here now," not "be somewhere else then." So, golden age of 1970s cinema, I'm moving on. From here on out, not fetishizing you anymore. (Readers please note: A similar "be here now" argument will never convince me to like the musical phenomenon known as "Radiohead." I hate "Radiohead," except for that song "Creep.")

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