This is the best thing I've read in a while, and I'm sharing it with you, so it can be the best thing you've read in a while: Luc Sante's essay, Maybe the People Would Be the Times. It is about being young and then growing old, watching a city change, New York City, music, and a lot of other things that many many other essays are about, but you have not seen these topics handled like this. It is alive, with a closing paragraph that continues to haunt me. It is an essay much too alive to be filed under nostalgia. I saw him read it just before the secret guest at the reading series that night, none other than Debbie Harry, with a selection from her forthcoming memoir (also pretty great) but when I got home, I went straight to my computer to look at the text.
I found myself in Las Vegas this week and finally went for a tour at the Neon Museum. It is the perfect museum for the way it uses a local phenomenon to get at the history of the location. Dreamy to walk through at night with that flickering sound like synthetic crickets. Until the tour, I did not know the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign and the old Moulin Rouge sign were made by a woman, Betty Willis. Or how much Googie design, like the giant flying saucer at LAX, is the work of a black architect, Paul Revere Williams.
I saw a bunch of good movies on the planes like Hotel Artemis (fun!), Aquaman (awesome, wish I had seen it in theaters), The Wife (well made, not as heavy handed as reviewers made it sound), and Brokeback Mountain, which is so much better than I remembered. What a curious movie, so tender. Inevitably an academic has written about this, and much better than I might; but I found myself thinking of it in comparison to the many depictions of male queerness authored by women (slash fanfiction, A Little Life) which often seems like a way to ground a fictional relationship in equal footing. This is very much a straight man's adaptation—Ang Lee, Larry McMurtry, the actors—and I remember it was a lot of straight guys at the time telling me how good it is. And it is very good!
I also had just enough time to catch the start of Almost Famous for that glorious beginning with Zoey Deschannel as the big sister ("It's Simon and Garfunkel, Mom!") and the sweeping use of "America," (“…It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw…!") Right up to Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs' "they are not your friends" mini-monologue, that's basically the only advice a young arts journalist needs starting out (but few are lucky to get!)
Thanks for reading.