A study in unforeseeable outcomes, with an unlikely man finding an unlikely end to his days on the opposite edge of the world. Names are dropped in br...moreA study in unforeseeable outcomes, with an unlikely man finding an unlikely end to his days on the opposite edge of the world. Names are dropped in breathtaking number, and world-famous persona show up late to borrow the couch for the night. Remarkable to read this final chapter in the great writer's life, wherein all the civilized world ends up shipwrecked on this distant shore, having tea with Garbo.(less)
Disappointingly generic macro analysis of- well, how marketing ate our culture. Unless you're somehow innocently unaware of the calculation and precis...moreDisappointingly generic macro analysis of- well, how marketing ate our culture. Unless you're somehow innocently unaware of the calculation and precision that goes into modern advertising, there's nothing new here. Reminiscent of the blandly wide-angle material you find in the pocket of the airline seat in front of you... (less)
Charmingly period-perfect view of Advertising from the poised & tasteful Mr. Ogilvy. Covering the fundamentals from the origins forward, even a re...moreCharmingly period-perfect view of Advertising from the poised & tasteful Mr. Ogilvy. Covering the fundamentals from the origins forward, even a really broad overview like this one is capable of conveying the glee of discovery, the dizzying successes & wretched failures -- of a distinctly modern discipline.
Most appropriate anecdote : When Fortune Magazine featured him with the blurb "Is Ogilvy A Genius?" --he is reported to have reflected, "you know, I almost sued them over that. The question mark, I mean." (less)
"Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul." Marilyn Monroe
If you are a film buff of any...more"Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul." Marilyn Monroe
If you are a film buff of any type and haven't read this, it is most highly recommended, an encyclopedic exposé of the tarnish on the tinsel.
Hard to think of a more High End Brand, with it's U.S. state-department-approved soft-culture trademark, gee-whiz practical sense and enchanting, casual glamour -- that had a more unsavory backstory, a seamier underbelly, than what's included here.
Lots of Weegee-style flash photos of those brittle, hangovery moments when the limosine went off the cliff with the superstar in it ... or what the superstar looked like, momentarily, without quite enough pills in her, or the makeup-disguise on ... and lots of the facts that went into the Hush Machine, just before that cold morning light.
The photo of Jayne Mansfield's little lapdog, deceased & bloody beside the smashed bottles in the flashbulb's glare ... finishes a sordid little epic. It's Not Really A Wonderful Life.
Nothing to dwell on here but should be seen once. Makes you wonder what after-midnite mysteries were covered up successfully .... (less)
The initial appeal here is the logical continuation of the title, What Cops Know--- specifically, And You Don't. When you consider all the hidden aspe...moreThe initial appeal here is the logical continuation of the title, What Cops Know--- specifically, And You Don't. When you consider all the hidden aspects of the human psyche that are cloaked, concealed or disguised, you begin to get the idea -- cops know about it, cops have been there, cops are always there.
As recording cameras for the creaky contraption of justice, as unblinking eyes in the long watches of the night -- cops are the ones whose observations and powers of recognition must stand between functional civilization and its opposite. Not what they see, but how they've learned to see it. Quiet, thoughtful --sometimes life or death-- scrutiny.
Well. If only this were the narrow agenda for Ms Fletcher's book. As it is, there is a goldmine of relatively disconnected factoid here, and many intriguing aspects unearthed. For example, the majority of burglaries are committed during daytime hours, before it is dark. Score one for the sherlockian "hide in plain sight" dictum.
But rather than just letting the unrestricted cop-blogging comprise the whole book, she might have done better putting it into a framework that would impose some kind of order on the lists & anecdotes. I can understand the idea of letting the cops speak without modification or spin by the author, and that helps this to be a good read.
But you do get a whole lot of very embellished sounding tales, (ie we've been telling this one so long it's become an arabian nights tale), and you do get a lot of stories in which the teller just happens to be, albeit always self-deprecatingly, the coincidental hero. Lots of "well we caught the perp from the most-wanted sheet, but his chimpanzee escaped with the swag ... go figure," ... kinds of stories. Lots of real precinct-house perennials, ending with stuff like "so I'm up there storming the attic while the perp's sliding down the front bannister" classics.
The last section on Mafia practice-- honestly, I think she got the wrong guys to talk about this -- could have been written at the Extras Craft Service table on the Sopranos set.
I would've hammered & clawed my way through 8oo pages of what cops notice and why-- but I don't think it's really here, honestly. I kind of get the impression that their real life-&-death signs and cues are held close to the vest, for the reasons of not blowing the gag to the opposition. What's here is entertaining overall, but a little bit too much cop-cliché about that time that Flanigan took on the room full of narco desperados and defeated them with an unloaded firearm, you know, cause he's forgetful, old Flanigan. That old Thin Blue Line does its own public relations, case by case, and these are the stories they tell.
Plus and minus sides accounted for, this is still a lot of good solid material for the Crime Fiction or Mystery afficionado, and I'd put it on a musts list for a crime writer. Read it and weep-- just don't expect the real inside story, mac.
This book is about the photos primarily. A nostalgic look at the countercultural camelot that settled in just above L.A. for awhile, in the late sixti...moreThis book is about the photos primarily. A nostalgic look at the countercultural camelot that settled in just above L.A. for awhile, in the late sixties and early seventies. Bittersweet look back at the Ladies Of The Canyon and their gentlemen friends.(less)
The Bingo game is held in one of the larger rooms at the recreation center. The parking lot is filled with cars and golf carts. Inside, nobody shows t...more The Bingo game is held in one of the larger rooms at the recreation center. The parking lot is filled with cars and golf carts. Inside, nobody shows the slightest interest in helping me find a seat. Bingo, I learn, attracts a tough crowd. Social niceties quickly give way to acerbic moodiness as soon as the bingo balls start bouncing...
With a slow, soft target like this one, I had the impression that Leisureville would prove to be what is today called a 'hit piece', formerly known as a hatchet job.
But it's not-- Blechman has turned in a solid, thoughtful analysis of the Theme-Parking of advanced age in America, carefully investigating what it is and what it isn't.
What it is : Florida has rules that originated with Walt Disney’s first themepark deal in the early sixties --- wherein if you, as developer, can promise a certain primary investment, and then provide a yearly taxbase to the state, they'll be happy to waive virtually every kind of control, regulation and, importantly, waive-by-proxy the rights of the future citizenry to vote for their own representation.... Kind of like the fairly absolute powers you would expect if you owned your own Medieval Fiefdom in the middle of underdeveloped central Florida....
So you have these smiley, doddering elders spinning around "The Village” in their golfcarts, reading only the company’s newspaper, watching the company's cable tv, and living in a preplanned theme-community done by themepark designers who did Universal Citywalk. (ridiculous lighthouse on a manmade lake, faux 'legends' and 'heritage' all manufactured, fake plaques piously commemorating fake “history” and a relaxing muzak soundsystem that is built into all the town lamp-posts, buildings & landscaping....) And : allowing by agreement that any future civil adjustments or evolution will be handled by unelected representatives who are the employees of the development company....
Author Blechman manages to keep a straight-enough outlook on all this, doing a kind of limited-participation journalism tour of the whole bizarre concept. One striking discovery is that with advances in health & medicine, we could easily see people "villaging" away the last third of their lives in these fabricated Ye Olde Eldervilles, attending their golf, pottery classes & continuing-education courses right into oblivion ... And as it all unravels, the book lays down the truth : like any kind of imposed discrimination, age segregation is shot full of civil injustice and impossible sanctimony.
Also pointed out is that just at a point when elders could turn to volunteering and mentoring in the communities that nurtured their own development -- the Leisurevilles tempt them to cut all ties with their past, their origins, their neighbors & peers -- and enter a gated community with nearly zero contact with the outside world.
Nicely done book, sets up the foundation for age segregation, and then knocks it down. It's well enough balanced that even though the reader has his own sense of the verdict, it comes as a shock when, toward the end, Blechman delivers the judgement, "there's something rotten at the heart of these leisurevilles..."
I have to say I best liked the short intervals where the old salty backwoods Florida comes through ....
" ... I returned from Bushnell along a sun-bleached, cracked two-lane county highway that goes through gorgeous rolling pastureland with broad vistas. I admire the shady stands of old live oaks in the meadows, and an occasional glistening lily pond. This is the Florida of piney woods, saw palmetto scrub, and sun-dappled hummock ..."
There's nothing endearing, really, about swamp, forest thicket and slave-shack, but -- compared to the elaborately faked Americana of "The Villages" ... well, at least it's for real.
Adelstein seems to have looked back on his abbreviated career in the Japanese print media and determined that it wasn't just "crime beat" but actually...moreAdelstein seems to have looked back on his abbreviated career in the Japanese print media and determined that it wasn't just "crime beat" but actually Noir. Okay, well enough, but this leads him down a peculiar prose path: rather than saying, for example, that he just interviewed someone with possible Yakuza connections, he noirishly sketches out the loner journo leaning his stark frame against a shattered doorway whilst lighting the millionth cigarette of the morning --before getting down to the connections. That kind of thing.
Let's not be too hard; this is all based on a real adventure in the seamy milieu of Japanese organized crime, murder, sex-slaving, cosplay and kink, along it's intersection with otherwise normal society. Though it can tend a little to self-aggrandizement, it's also got it's eye on the culture, the atmosphere, and the little details that make this kind of narrative come alive.
And unpredictably, the haircuts. There is Takeshi Aida, owner of a chain of adult clubs, who sports "a punch perm-- tight curls all over his head, a thin mexican mustache, and photochromatic oval shades." Or "Saeki, the head of Saitama homicide... running the press conference. He had bad skin and thick glasses, and even though he was at least twenty pounds overweight, he still managed to find suits that were baggy on him. He was growing bald, so he combed his hair, grown long on the sides, over the bald part on top, producing the hairstyle known in Japan as bar-code".
This kind of cross-cultural slang and shorthand is the real foundation for the book; when bad guys do bad things, it's just cowboys and indians, but when they've been tatooed from head to foot first, or do it with a bow beforehand, it can only be Japan. All in all, an intriguing ride. doːitaɕimaɕi̥te. (less)
...More like three and a half stars... Slightly dated ('94) by now, but still well stocked with fascinating material about Fringe Japan, from the motor...more...More like three and a half stars... Slightly dated ('94) by now, but still well stocked with fascinating material about Fringe Japan, from the motorbike-punks to the salaryman-bar hostesses, from the yakuza wiseguys to the otaku, the computer hackers. Each chapter a different outing with a different subgroup, all of whom the author seems to have befriended for at least a while.
There is no doubt an unresolved question with a project like this one, resting on the ethics of representing a (fairly conservative) nation via it's most flamboyant outliers. I'm not sure I'd like to be reading a report about my own country that takes up the flag of the most dazzlingly flakey subsets; or to have such an account seen as reprentative of the whole "pie". But I suppose if a wide range is covered, tilting toward all extremes, it's somewhat characteristic, on average, at least of those thinner slices of the national pie.
This is more a compilation of essays that it is a coherent thesis, but: each and every one is a compelling read... which is no mean feat.
Modern-day Tokyo is a society in symbiosis with the machine. Exactly where human beings end and technology begins can become confusing in a city that resembles, more than any other city on the planet, a neon-lit circuit board writ gigantic. Grandmothers in kimonos bow in gratitude to their automated banking machines. Young couples bring hand-held computer games along for romantic evenings out. Workers on a Toyota assembly line vote their robot coworkers into the auto workers union. A woman calls the Matsushita-Denko kitchen design showroom to complain because her kitchen doesn't look like the model kitchen she saw in a virtual reality walkthrough demonstration. "I was expecting more vivid oranges and pinks. Something more cartoony," she complains. Voice-activated elevators. Cars that tell you to slow down. Houses that adjust internal temperatures themselves. Vacuum cleaners that alert you when it's time to clean ...
In many respects, Japan is itself an absorbing case-study for where modern world culture may be travelling. The point may be made that no other singular culture in the world has been through such drastic upheaval, and consequent evolution, in the last hundred or so years. Even though this collection is written before universal cellphones & blackberries, and more interestingly, before the Internet-- it's well worth the read. (less)