Monday, October 10, 2011

Week in Review : Steve Jobs, Occupy Wall Street, Cheever – Falconer, Yankees, Chris Christie

Can you believe it? It’s already October, wonderfully though, summer weather has lingered for a wee bit more making the transition into fall seem faint. What has this first week of October brought? Lots. There are things in politics, culture, and the personal that will effect the weeks and months to come. Below are a few tidbits, reveries and espousals.

Steve Jobs died on October 5th at age 56. For those living in a cave, he was the co-founder and zen master guru of Apple (and Pixar) and he made home computers and portable devices sic in design and function that made everyone, and literally their moms, have to have one, or two or five Apple’s products. There is no doubt that Jobs was one hell of an innovator but the memorializing following his death was a bit much. Jobs was the Neo of the tech industry. With him gone there is a question of “will there ever be anything so cool again?” That anxiety is understandable but people, people, the crying and the i-pod/touch candle light vigils? Come on people, get it together! Also, Apple does a bulk of its manufacturing in the Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn) which is notorious for very poor labor practices and also a rash of suicides by its workers. You can read more about this in Ben Davis’ article on Art Info entitled “Think Different: Why Steve Jobs Doesn’t Deserve Your Tears.” Now, while I do not hold as much aggression towards Steve Jobs as Davis does, the point is taken and should be aired. Apple is the über brand, it surpasses Coke even because it is both for everyone but also a status symbol. And there is a reason for this success; Apple products that Jobs so rigorously refined are beautiful instruments for creating and communicating.

Occupy Wall Street has been going on for four weeks now but no one really started giving a hoot until about a week or so ago. Stationed at Zuccotti Park in the Financial District, the university students and full time agitators have been strengthened and validated by the accumulating support of labor unions like teachers and post office workers and fellow citizens. The mix of the working class and the early activists has made Occupy Wall Street into more then just a pot luck street parade. Do the Wall Street bankers need to be shamed? Yes. Does something have to radically shift in policy, accountability and punishment for banking and investment sectors so that they can’t ruin everything for everyone? Yes. The whole thing is impressive, it truly is, but I have an unsettled feeling in my guts, I have an auto-reflex of cringing at the revelry of the spectacle in all of this. Evidence of your time at Occupy Wall Street is the hippest thing to post on social media sites. There is this clinging to be a part of history, of a movement, of something, anything that feels intense, real, and meaningful. Is that a bad thing? No. Perhaps I am a bit jaded, perhaps a bit resigned. Will this change things on Wall Street? No, not unless it gets gawd awful big and that really won’t happen unless the cops start being agro again. Will this defeat Capitalism? Not at all. I only hope that those who are “in it to win it” also reflect not only on a big, bad, rich target, like Wall Street but also look at themselves as well; the way they personally function as consumers with food, clothing, travel, all of it is always entwined. That’s the change that will have the greatest effect. Wall Street needs a Nuremberg style judgment day; will that come from these actions? Probably not, but at least not everyone is playing dead.

John Cheever is really good. I just completed my first novel by him entitled Falconer, 1977. It’s about a guy named Farragut who was a professor but also a drug addict, (heroin), and he was charged with killing his only brother, which he recalls as an accident. He is sent to prison, called Falconer, and there you learn about him, his inner and outer monologues and the people around him. Cheever is a generous writer. He is selective and tight but not razor sharp. He has the feeling of a heavy warm blanket or a piece of pound cake on a plate. His shifting of past and present in the form of memory is impressive in its lack of explanation. His characters are characters, distinct but functioning in roles. Issues like heroin, suicide, gay prison sex, and other subjects that seem easily susceptible to dramatizing or cliché are masterfully re-contextualized. There are no tricks in the way Cheever writes. It is a thing he obviously enjoyed doing, and enjoyed doing it well. I highly recommend Falconer, albeit the ending, I thought, was a bit too tidy, a bit too neat.

The Yankees are out of the running for the World Series. Thank goodness. I hope Detroit gets it this year, god knows that town could use a hurrah.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has officially declared he will not being running for the 2012 Presidential Election. Good, but he’s a man you have to keep an eye on. He’ll be back. And yes, he’s a physically large man, but it’s mean to make that the go to joke. If he were as big and black, no one would say a thing. If he was as big and a women, he would never have made it past Supervisor of Schools. He is definitely not someone I want as President, but he is frankly the most fascinating politician to watch at the moment.