WOMAN: It seems to me that as a social system, anarchism makes such bottom-line sense that it was necessary to discredit the word, and t
From the book:
WOMAN: It seems to me that as a social system, anarchism makes such bottom-line sense that it was necessary to discredit the word, and take it out of people’s whole vocabulary and thinking—so you just have a reflex of fear when you hear it.
CHOMSKY: Yeah, anarchism has always been regarded as the ultimate evil by people with power. So in Woodrow Wilson’s Red Scare [a 1919 campaign against “subversives” in the U.S.], they were harsh on socialists, but they murdered anarchists—they were really bad news. See, the idea that people could be free is extremely frightening to anybody with power.
That’s why the 1960s have such a bad reputation. I mean, there’s a big literature about the Sixties, and it’s mostly written by intellectuals, because they’re the people who write books, so naturally it has a very bad name—because they hated it. You could see it in the faculty clubs at the time: people were just traumatized by the idea that students were suddenly asking questions and not just copying things down. In fact, when people like Allan Bloom [author of The Closing of the American Mind] write as if the foundations of civilization were collapsing in the Sixties, from their point of view that’s exactly right: they were. Because the foundations of civilization are, “I’m a big professor, and I tell you what to say, and what to think, and you write it down in your notebooks, and you repeat it.”
If you get up and say, “I don’t understand why I should read Plato, I think it’s nonsense,” that’s destroying the foundations of civilization. But maybe it’s a perfectly sensible question—plenty of philosophers have said it, so why isn’t it a sensible question? As with any mass popular movement, there was a lot of crazy stuff going on in the Sixties—but that’s the only thing that makes it into history: the crazy stuff around the periphery. The main things that were going on are out of history—and that’s because they had a kind of libertarian character, and there is nothing more frightening to people with power.
One of the things I like best about Chomsky, is that, regardless of whether you hail or diss him, you're bound to understand what he's talking about. It's always clear-cut, referenced throughout and simple, even when dealing with complex and even advanced matters at times, but if you just re-read that stuff if it feels hard to get, you will get it.
To begin with, he both discusses what anarchism has been, is and is not, which is vital.
The anarchist historian Rudolf Rocker, who presents a systematic conception of the development of anarchist thought towards anarchosyndicalism, along lines that bear comparison to Guérin’s work, puts the matter well when he writes that anarchism is not a fixed, self-enclosed social system but rather a definite trend in the historic development of mankind, which, in contrast with the intellectual guardianship of all clerical and governmental institutions, strives for the free unhindered unfolding of all the individual and social forces in life. Even freedom is only a relative, not an absolute concept, since it tends constantly to become broader and to affect wider circles in more manifold ways. For the anarchist, freedom is not an abstract philosophical concept, but the vital concrete possibility for every human being to bring to full development all the powers, capacities, and talents with which nature has endowed him, and turn them to social account. The less this natural development of man is influenced by ecclesiastical or political guardianship, the more efficient and harmonious will human personality become, the more will it become the measure of the intellectual culture of the society in which it has grown.
His thoughts on anarchy are massive, intrinsic and needed. He exudes socialism and anarchism where he discusses matters as far-flung as language, freedom, politics and philosophy of today as well as during the days of Descartes, George Bush and how corporate capitalism has taken over to be the lingua franca state of life for many people.
In his attack on the right of private or bureaucratic control over the means of production, the anarchist takes his stand with those who struggle to bring about “the third and last emancipatory phase of history,” the first having made serfs out of slaves, the second having made wage earners out of serfs, and the third which abolishes the proletariat in a final act of liberation that places control over the economy in the hands of free and voluntary associations of producers (Fourier, 1848).
And he often exemplifies how anarchism lives, not only in the mind, but very closely:
MAN: Then how can we build a social contract which is cooperative in nature, but at the same time recognizes individual humanity? It seems to me that there’s always going to be a very tense polar pull there.
CHOMSKY: Where’s the polar pull—between what and what?
MAN: Between a collective value and an individual value.
CHOMSKY: I guess I don’t see why there has to be any contradiction there at all. It seems to me that a crucial aspect of humanity is being a part of functioning communities—so if we can create social bonds in which people find satisfaction, we’ve done it: there’s no contradiction. Look, you can’t really figure out what problems are going to arise in group situations unless you experiment with them—it’s like physics: you can’t just sit around and think what the world would be like under such and such conditions, you’ve got to experiment and learn how things actually work out. And one of the things I think you learn from the kibbutz experiment is that you can in fact construct quite viable and successful democratic structures—but there are still going to be problems that come along. And one of the problems that people just have to face is the effect of group pressures to conform. I think everybody knows about this from families. Living in a family is a crucial part of human life, you don’t want to give it up. On the other hand, there plainly are problems that go along with it—nobody has to be told that. And a serious problem, which becomes almost pathological when it arises in a close-knit group, is exclusion—and to avoid exclusion often means doing things you wouldn’t want to do if you had your own way. But that’s just a part of living, to be faced with human problems like that. Actually, I’m not a great enthusiast of Marx, but one comment he made seems appropriate here. I’m quoting, so pardon the sexist language, but somewhere or other he said: socialism is an effort to try to solve man’s animal problems, and after having solved the animal problems, then we can face the human problems—but it’s not a part of socialism to solve the human problems; socialism is an effort to get you to the point where you can face the human problems. And I think the kind of thing you’re concerned about is a human problem—and those are going to be there. Humans are very complicated creatures, and have lots of ways of torturing themselves in their inter-personal relations. Everybody knows that, without soap operas.
The chapter on language and freedom goes into anarchy from a linguistic route, even as it's very human. The chapter on Spain and the anarcho-syndicalistic ideas that grew into action from there is also really interesting.
All in all: very recommendable, even if you're not into politics. It's mind-bending in a good way....more
This is a book that succeeds in ambition, but fails in depth; while it is plainly and succinctly written, I feel it would have increased in rating ifThis is a book that succeeds in ambition, but fails in depth; while it is plainly and succinctly written, I feel it would have increased in rating if the style were more personal; here, there are a lot of anecdotes, of which a lot are smarmy, yet interesting; it's a bit "Schindler's List" which goes to serve memory and what the Holocaust was about, on a human level, but this is really not for historians, neither for people looking for an in-depth version of the Raoul Wallenberg story.
The story kicks off in a good way, where Raoul's relatives are concerned (bar his mother):
The Wallenberg who is best known and most admired in this family of remarkable characters is one who was never fully accepted into their ranks. Raoul Wallenberg did not have the total support of his powerful relatives in his early professional struggles. More tragically, the Wallenbergs failed to play a vital, positive role in the life of their cousin, the Soviet captive. They have done precious little to win his freedom.
When, in 1947, President Harry Truman offered Marcus Wallenberg his personal help in extricating Raoul from Soviet custody, the elder Wallenberg thanked the American but declined the offer. “Raoul,” he told Truman, “is probably dead by now.”
Raoul Wallenberg was on his own, clearly. A man from a very wealthy family in Sweden, he kissed his riches and former life goodbye in order to try and help people whose fate he learned more and more about. And, as such, he cajoled, lied, begged, forced his way, stole and borrowed as much as possible to get somewhere.
But his life is not without critique. For example, even though he saved many thousands of lives through his great, unselfish actions, he saved the young and at times discarded people due to feeling unable to help them. Hence, yes, he was a human being. Hagiographies suck.
The pace between how Wallenberged lived and worked and how Adolf Eichmann was, worked well:
Eichmann invited the Jewish Council of Budapest to his headquarters. He faced eight frightened old men—bankers, lawyers and industrialists who had been stripped overnight of whatever position they had still retained in Hungarian society. They were now beggars. Eichmann made an attempt at humor. “You know who I am, don’t you? I am the one known as the bloodhound!” He roared with laughter, but it was not picked up by anyone else in the ornate lobby of the Majestic. He tried another approach. With his narrow, angular face, which was itself a broken promise, he leaned toward his “guests” and in low, confidential tones reassured them that all new measures would be temporary: “When the war is over, you can go back to your normal lives. Help me, and you can avoid a lot of trouble.” He told the old men what they wanted to hear: “I am a reasonable man. Trust me, and keep your people calm.” It was all very genial, very lulling. They were to print their own newspaper, but it had to be drafted first in German, for the SS censors. Actually the paper, like the Jewish Council he had just summoned, was to be a vital link between the death squad and its quarry.
He had humor:
Humor, the mainstay of Budapest life, second only to paprika as the national staple, thrived. The riddle that was making the rounds was: “What is the difference between Hitler and Chamberlain? Answer: Chamberlain takes his weekend in the country. Hitler takes his country in the weekend.” And so he did. One early spring Sunday, when the chestnut and plane trees on Margit Island were starting to show off their first greenery, the Reich’s army marched in and the music died.
Tales from the lives of people in Hungary are strewn throughout the book, to show how people's lives changed from bad to worse.
How explicitly the Jews observed the new instructions presented them each day is described in the diary of a thirteen-year-old girl. Eva Heyman had an adolescent’s passion for recording her own reactions to the days’ events. She and her family of middle-class Jews lived in Nagyvarad, near the Hungarian-Rumanian border. March 31 Today an order was issued that from now on Jews had to wear a yellow star-shaped patch… . When Grandma heard this she started acting up again and we called the doctor. He gave her an injection and she is asleep now. Agi [Eva’s mother] again wanted to telephone the doctor but couldn’t. Then Grandpa told her that the telephones had been taken away from the Jews… . They also take the shops away from the Jews. I don’t know who will feed the children if the grownups aren’t allowed to work… . April 20 ... Today they took all our appliances away from us: the sewing machine, the radio, the telephone, the vacuum cleaner, the electric fryer and my camera… . Agi said we should be happy they’re taking things and not people. But very soon the gendarmes ran out of “things” to take away. Then they took people. The thirteen-year-old continued to fill in her diary from the ghetto. May 10 Every time I think: this is the end, things couldn’t possibly get worse, and then I find out that it’s always possible for everything to get worse and even much, much worse. Until now, we had food, and now there won’t be anything to eat. At least we were able to walk around inside the ghetto, and now we won’t even be able to leave our house. May 14 ... We can’t look out the window because even for that we can be killed. ... May 18 ... I couldn’t sleep so I overheard the adults talking … They said that the people aren’t only beaten but also get electric shocks … The gendarmes don’t believe that the Jews don’t have anything left of their valuables. For example, we deposited Grandma’s jewelry for safekeeping with Juszti, that’s true. Agi said people are brought to the hospital bleeding at the mouth and ears and some of them also with teeth missing and the soles of their feet swollen so they can’t stand. ... In the ghetto pharmacy there is enough poison and Grandpa gives poison to the older people who ask for it. Grandpa also said it would be better if he took cyanide and also gave some to Grandma. ... The gendarmes finally came for Eva Heyman and her family on June 2, 1944. At Auschwitz she was allowed to live for four months before she was sent to the gas chamber on October 17. Her diary was kept by the family’s Christian housekeeper.
I shan't "spoil the ending", but as a Swede - which I am, born and braised - I know that both the Swedish government and the Wallenberg family hasn't exactly tried to pry information from Soviet fingers, to know what happened to Raoul; we know the Soviets claim he died in 1947, which buckets of people contradict. Mostly, these persons are former prisoners who have met and/or communicated with Raoul Wallenberg. There are indications that he lived well in the late 1960s, which means he lived for at least 20 years after the war ended.
All in all: interesting and well-written, but could have gone far deeper....more
A bunch of celebrities, or quasi-celebrities, write letters to their 16-year-old selves. This is kind of cute. In some instances, it's touching, as wiA bunch of celebrities, or quasi-celebrities, write letters to their 16-year-old selves. This is kind of cute. In some instances, it's touching, as with J.K. Rowling:
One last thing. One day, you will not only meet Morrissey, but he will know who you are. I KNOW!
All in all: interesting, funny and in some instances boring (as where several writers say something like "don't start smoking" or "you should invest in Google, Apple and Microsoft!") but all in all an entertaining read....more
Within weeks, CB was more popular than ET. As soon as night descended on the valleys, entire networks of teenagers began transm
A quote from the start:
Within weeks, CB was more popular than ET. As soon as night descended on the valleys, entire networks of teenagers began transmitting messages to one another, using codenames to protect their identities from the police. The police, meanwhile, would be stationed on the other end of town, listening in from their vans. As far as they could fathom, an underground criminal network had come to town; it would be some weeks before they realised it was just a bunch of kids. Meanwhile, the codenames grew ever more mysterious: Gruff became known as ‘Goblin’, while the weediest kid in school renamed himself ‘The Black Stallion’. It was communication chaos – a kind of primitive social network – and the more it continued, the more an interesting side effect emerged: since all the coded language had been inspired by truckers in American movies, a weird hybrid language began to develop that was part Hollywood bandit-speak, part Welsh tongue.
This is one excerpt from how the Furries worked, and how they allowed shoots and outbursts of inspiration to guide them, and their creative process.
This story is not really rambunctious, neither in disarray; SFA was - and is - a group of highly clever, funny and well-tuned musicians who go where they may. Feet doused in psychedelia, their inspiration is everything and accidents, and this shows in their music. And how they're not afraid - unlike most lock-jawed pop stars - to say what they mean, be it about the royal family, corporations or very large animals.
At the Super Furries’ next London gig, at the Monarch in Camden Town, it wasn’t journalists that made up the audience, it was publishers, record labels, fans – and McGee. ‘Nice work, lads,’ he said after the show, patting Gruff warmly on the back, ‘but you might want to try singing in English next time!’ Gruff laughed nervously, keeping it to himself that they had in fact sung in English throughout.
SFA’s final EP for Ankst demonstrated a combination of pop flair and cheeky mischief. The title Moog Droog is a knowingly anglicised subversion of the Welsh slang for marijuana (‘mwg drwg’, meaning ‘bad smoke’), as well as a nod to Moog synthesisers and the dystopian ‘droogs’ in the film A Clockwork Orange.
And they drew inspiration from everywhere:
Another new instrument, the balalaika, would not. It had been decided that the Russian folk instrument would match the desolate atmosphere of ‘Gathering Moss’, so the band dialled up a session player from their Musician’s Union book. A Russian arrived the next day wearing a t-shirt that read ‘I LOVE AIRPLANE RUNWAYS’. Naturally enough, Guto enquired as to what this meant. ‘Well, you know those guys who protest airport expansion?’ said the man. Guto nodded. ‘I’m not one of them. I’m pro-airports.’ Suddenly there was a shout from upstairs that the lights had gone out. Then the ground-floor lights went out. Then the whole studio was plunged into darkness, leaving the Russian airport supporter in a confused panic. Guto ran upstairs to find Gruff looking out the window. There, out in the darkness of night, was a strange shower of sparks. ‘What the fuck is it?’ whispered Gruff. ‘It’s the twenty-third day of the month!’ howled Gorwel from behind a sofa. ‘We’re doomed!’ The next day it all became clear: a swan had flown into a nearby power line, exploding in the process and shutting down Rockfield’s electricity. Naturally the beast had croaked – but it was commemorated for posterity the next day in a song called ‘Fuzzy Birds’. It was the strange duality of the songs they were recording – that were both simple and twisted – that led to the band naming the record Fuzzy Logic. The phrase is traditionally a computing term, used to cover degrees of truth which can register anywhere between completely true and completely false – shades of grey, in other words. In the studio, fuzzy logic of a different kind was manifesting itself as the band began referencing a scrapbook of heroes and pop icons, including everyone from Bunf’s hamster Stavros and Ron Mael of Sparks, to the Welsh weathergirl Sian Lloyd and American stand-up comic Bill Hicks, whose leftist libertarianism appealed to SFA’s taste for outlaw culture.
Thankfully, there's a lot of Pete Fowler - their main designer of all things graphic - in here:
A month later, Pete was driving through the car park of a Bethesda music festival where SFA were due to headline. It was a sunny afternoon, and he smiled as he drove. Then he hit the brakes. The car skidded. He blinked a few times and got out of the vehicle – walking carefully sideways with his head tilted towards the sky. Up there, from behind some tall trees, a fifty-foot monster was slowly moving into view: a huge red bear with demonic eyes strapped behind a Zorro mask, its polyester belly gently but powerfully breathing in the sun. The monster’s creator took a few moments to take this in – then paused for a quiet laugh. His painting had travelled further than just the album cover; it had morphed into reality. It had all started at one of John Andrews’ notorious pub meetings. ‘OK, chaps, we’ve two grand in the bank – those Oasis albums have been selling very nicely indeed – and it’s time to whip up a marketing campaign for Radiator. Let’s have a look at the cover then!’ Gruff handed John the artwork, which depicted a cartoon bear strolling through a city with a drink in his hand. The bear was looking at his reflection in a shop window, which depicted an evil version of himself, with pointed ears, lizard eyes and a skull logo on his cola cup. ‘Nice artwork … very nice!’ said John. ‘So what did you want to do with the bears again?’ ‘Well,’ said Bunf, slurping on a margarita, ‘the idea is that we have life-sized versions of the good and evil bears on stage with us, during the tour. What do you think?’ ‘I don’t see why not,’ said John, stroking his chin. ‘Perhaps they could even be inflatable balloons. Tell you what,’ he said getting up, ‘give me twenty-four hours and I’ll let you know. Now I’ve got to get out of here. Anyone else for another margarita before I go?’ * The next day, John called Furry HQ in Cardiff. ‘Good news, guys: we can afford the bears!’ Gruff held the phone away and relayed the news to the band, who let out a small cheer. John continued. ‘And in fact it was curious, because as I was talking to the inflatables company, they mentioned that it would cost exactly the same price for an eight-foot balloon as it would be for a fifty-foot balloon! Can you believe it? Naturally I told her that … er …’ John noticed that the line had gone quiet. ‘Gruff?’ There was mumbling in the background. Mumbling, followed by another small cheer. Gruff returned to the call. ‘John?’ said the singer. ‘I think we’ll take the large bears.’
The following week, the bears were hand delivered in their crates to Creation, from where the band and John Andrews excitedly took them down to Primrose Hill. Once there, a pair of jet-powered steel burners were hooked up to the first bear – the evil one with the Zorro mask – and Gruff grinned as he prepared to pull the chain that would inject life into the creature. But then, suddenly, a cry came from over the hill. ‘Wait!’ John Andrews looked up to see a junior A&R scout, apparently in some kind of panic. ‘Stop!’ he shouted, staggering towards them. ‘We just got a call from the council. They’re aware of what we’re up to and phoned to see if we’ve got a bouncy castle licence …’ John Andrews raised an eyebrow. ‘What the fuck is a bouncy castle licence?’ ‘That’s beside the point – we’ll almost certainly be arrested if we inflate without one.’ Daf, sensing a publicity blitz, clapped his hands together. ‘Even better! Pull the chain, Gruff!’ ‘Wait!’ shouted John, moving between Gruff and the chain. ‘We have to take this seriously: if you inflate that bouncy castle it could spell the end of Creation.’ The band looked at one another, suddenly aware of the gravity of the situation. After a second’s pause, Bunf quietly spoke. ‘It’s not a bouncy castle, John. It’s a bear.’ ‘I know it’s a fucking bear!’
...and on how Fowler and SFA influenced each other:
With mobile phones and Shinto deities now informing aspects of Guerrilla, it was clear that Pete Fowler was inspiring the band just as they were inspiring his artwork. The two artistic entities were close to looping into one other, especially on themes such as technology and communications. ‘Almost every picture of Pete’s at the time contained a reference to mobile phones,’ confirms Gruff, ‘so I think it was Pete’s influence that led to us picking up on those themes in Guerrilla.’
I think it's lovely to read excerpts from a point in time when a) there were some great, mid-level record companies that endowed bands with cash and b) allowed weird things to happen, cue Mr. Alan McGee:
‘Hello, the British ambassador speaking,’ he piped up in a precise, BBC accent. ‘It’s reception, señor. There is a creative director on the phone from England. He says he wants to speak with you about the political situation.’ ‘Well, I suppose you’d better put him on.’ There was a click. ‘Hello, the British ambassador speaking.’ Brian immediately went into speech mode, explaining how he worked for a Sony-backed record label who wanted to shoot in Colombia. The video would be a celebration of their culture, promoting tourism and casting the country in a positive light. ‘But,’ he added, ‘I’ve been told there’s a civil war breaking out?’ There was a pause. ‘Just a minute, Brian,’ said the ambassador, putting down the receiver and leaning out the window. He paused, listened for a few seconds, then returned to the phone. ‘Everything looks jolly fine to me!’
Speaking of the Furries' wonderful outlook on monarchy:
Inside, the Furries were already getting reacquainted with Colombiana, a local drink consisting of lager, rum and soda. Behind closed doors, however, a small crisis was developing in the kitchen. Several of the club staff were gathered around a TV, which appeared to be announcing news of a fatal car crash. The junior waiter suddenly yelped. The words on the screen read: ‘THE PRINCESS OF WALES HAS DIED’. Minutes later he was explaining the situation to his boss. ‘No!’ exclaimed his superior, mopping his forehead with a tissue. ‘Our guests will be inconsolable. You must announce this terrible news to them! But … make sure you do it while offering them the best cocktails known to man.’ ‘Si, señor!’ nodded the waiter. Out on the club floor, the messenger nervously approached SFA’s table. He laid down his tray of cocktails, coughed, and respectfully made the announcement. ‘Your princess is dead!’ Bunf raised an eyebrow. ‘What?’ ‘Your princess is dead!’ Daf laughed. ‘I don’t have a fucking princess, mate!’ ‘You know Diana? She die in a tunnel! Is terrible car crash.’ ‘Ah,’ said Gruff. The band patted the waiter on his back and thanked him for delivering this tragic news. Bunf then promptly bought a round of drinks for all the locals. A huge toast was proposed: ‘Death to the monarchy!’ ‘The band wouldn’t wish death on anybody,’ remembers Brian Cannon, ‘but clearly they were not only not English but also republicans, and simply didn’t give a flying fuck.’ It was decided there and then: everyone was to have a big night out in Bogotá.
All in all, the Furries did a lot of things, a lot of more things, in fact, than what the above let on, and developed far beyond a noisy psych-band. It's the Beach Boys of the modern ages, people. Get in it.
This book is written kind of the way Jon Ronson writes, especially where "Frank" is concerned; it's a simple read, extremely entertaining and loads of fun. And it contains a long list of translations from Welsh to English, which was a boon for me! SFA OK....more
This is a straightforward autobiography. Having said that, it contains a lot of the stuff that I usually attach to Poehler, i.e. quick turns of eventsThis is a straightforward autobiography. Having said that, it contains a lot of the stuff that I usually attach to Poehler, i.e. quick turns of events, fast dialogue and fun stuff. The good parts that I was hoping for, but didn't expect, were those where she extrapolated on her youth and her hurt. For instance, what she refers to as her demon:
Dating in high school was very different. Boys suddenly went up your shirt. Girls were expected to give blow jobs and be sexy. You had to be hot but not a slut. You had to be into sex but never have it, except when your boyfriend wanted it. If you had sex you had to keep it a secret but also be very good at it, except not too good, because this better be your first time. Darling Nikki masturbated to a magazine, but Madonna was supposedly still a virgin. It was very confusing. Once high school started, I began to see the real difference between the plain and the pretty. Boys, who were going through their own battles started to point out things about me I hadn’t yet noticed. One told me I looked like a frog. Some told me I smiled like a Muppet. A senior told me to stop looking at him with my “big, weird eyes.” I looked in the mirror at my flat chest and my freckles and heard a sound. It was the demon, suitcase in hand. He moved in and demanded the top bunk.
Now, as I continue, please know a few things. I usually find any discussion about my own looks to be incredibly boring. I can only imagine what a yawn fest it is for you. But I cannot, in good faith, pretend I have fallen in love with how I look. The demon still visits me often. I wish I could tell you that being on television or having a nice picture in a magazine suddenly washes all of those thoughts away, but it really doesn’t. I wish I were taller or had leaner hands and a less crazy smile. I don’t like my legs, especially. I used to have a terrific flat stomach but now it’s kind of blown out after two giant babies used it as a short-term apartment. My nose is great. My tits are better than ever. I like my giant eyes, but they can get crazy. My ass is pretty sweet. My hair is too thin for my liking. My Irish and English heritage and my early sun exposure guarantee that I am on the fast track to wrinkle city. Bored yet? Because I can’t stop.
The bad thing about this book is the lack of editing. Where Tina Fey's "Bossypants" excelled, was where she was able to wrangle her experience and scatterbrained existence into a quite coherent book, but Poehler doesn't succeed even remotely as well. I wished her editor could have skinned a lot of the information that regards her children, and her pregnancy; it's just too much, and not interesting (to me). Still, this book is a rock-solid breeze in comparison with Lena Dunham's "Not That Kind of Girl".
Apart from the lack of needed editing, it's really interesting to see how Poehler comes at writing a book, having a relatively long career already in writing for TV and film:
Authors pretend their stories were always shiny and perfect and just waiting to be written. The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not. Even I have lied about writing. I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of shit. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver.
She does touch on a lot of stuff that we all come across in our young years, which is heartfelt.
Is there a word for when you are young and pretending to have lived and loved a thousand lives? Is there a German word for that? Seems like there should be. Let’s say it is Schaufenfrieglasploit.
The girls were a tough bunch as well. I was pushed into a locker and punched by a cheerleader. One girl pulled my hair at lunch because she thought I was “stuck up.” It was bad to be “stuck up.” It was also bad to be a “slut” or a “prude” or a “dexter” or a “fag.” There were no openly gay kids in my high school. My school had a quiet hum of racism and homophobia that kept all of that disclosure far away. Every year the girls would have a football game called the Powder Puff. The girls would play tackle football on a cold high school field while the boys dressed as cheerleaders and shouted misogynist things at everybody. It was as wonderful as it sounds. I played safety and tried to talk my way out of getting beat up. I saw a girl hike the ball and then just go over and punch someone in the nose. There was so much hate and hair spray flying. Black eyes were common. I started to learn that as much as I chased adventure, I had little interest in the physical pain that came with it. I also realized I didn’t like to be scared or out of control.
Doing comedy for a living is, in a lot of ways, like a pony and a camel trying to escape from the zoo. It’s a ridiculous endeavor and has a low probability of success, but most importantly, it is way easier if you’re with a friend.
I like her straightforward way of telling us what she likes in comedy.
For me, as a person in comedy, I am constantly weighing what I feel comfortable saying. There are big differences between what you say on live television and what you say at dinner, but you realize you have to be responsible for all of it. Each performer has to figure out what feels right. I am a strong believer in free speech and have spent most of my adult life in writers’ rooms. I have a high tolerance for touchy subject matter. There isn’t a taboo topic I can think of that I haven’t joked about or laughed at. But I have an inner barometer that has helped me get better at pinpointing what works for me and what feels too mean or too lazy. I like picking fair targets. I don’t like calling babies on websites ugly or comedy that relies on humiliation. I love ensembles and hate when someone bails or sells their partner out. I love watching a good roast but don’t think I would be particularly good at roasting someone. Maybe it all comes down to what you feel you are good at. I have a dirty mouth but know that I don’t always score when I work really blue. I have a sense of what kind of jokes I can get away with and still feel like my side of the street is clean. I like to lean my shoulder against limits and not depend on stuff that is shocking.
Her tales of working on Saturday Night Live match those that I've read about in books like Tina Fey's, and the immaculate interview book named "Live From New York", which is to say you basically give up your life to be a performer on SNL and any sense of time as well. All is frantic, and a minute is ample time to get 20 things done.
One day before a Wednesday read-through, Rachel Dratch threw her back out and had to lie down on the floor. Host Johnny Knoxville offered to help and pulled ten loose pills out of his pocket before realizing none of them were painkillers.
When Ashlee Simpson’s song screwed up, Dratch, Maya, and I were dressed in Halloween costumes for Parnell’s “Merv the Perv” sketch. We screamed and ran into Tom Broecker’s wardrobe department and hid under a table. Maya was dressed as a pregnant woman in a catsuit. I was Uma Thurman from Kill Bill. Dratch was Raggedy Ann. I remember us huddling together buzzing about the excitement of that weird live moment and then someone saying, “At least 60 Minutes is here.” For those who don’t remember, 60 Minutes was doing a profile on Lorne and happened to be there. Jackpot, Lesley Stahl!
“Relax” is a real tough one for me. Another tough one is “smile.” “Smile” doesn’t really work either. Telling me to relax or smile when I’m angry is like bringing a birthday cake into an ape sanctuary. You’re just asking to get your nose and genitals bitten off.
All in all: it's entertaining and quite funny, but somewhat caves in a bit after 70-80%. The bits where she writes about sex - especially where she, I don't know why, tells women that yes, they have to bite the bullet some times and just have sex with their men. Also, thinking only men and women exist as genders is pretty CIS and boring and daft. Still, this is an interesting book and it made me laugh a few times, but I prefer Tina Fey's book....more