11 July 2010

I’m not planning on or interested in jumping on the Nicole Krauss-bashing bandwagon with regards to her recent jacket blurb kerfuffle.  I’m not even sure kerfuffle is the right word.  I do think that Laura Miller‘s piece in Salon, “Beware of Blurbs,” in the wake of all that, is worth a read: she doth speak the truth, I think (although, if I may, let me just say that I have no personal relationship with either of the wonderful authors who wrote blurbs for Long for This World).

What I would like to draw your attention to, a year after Michael Jackson‘s death, are a few recent homages (of sorts) to him that warmed my heart: one at Conversational Reading — a kind of side joke aimed, I suppose, at Nicole Krauss, but giving MJ his due nonetheless; another at The Millions, as part of Jon Sands‘s terrific commencement address to the Bronx Academy of Letters; and finally Nancy Griffin‘s excellent article in the current issue of Vanity Fair, “The Thriller Diaries.”

What can I say.  I was 10 years old when Thriller was released.  My sisters were 12 and 13.  MJ was our Beatles, our James Brown, our Elvis.  To some degree, our JFK.  From Griffin’s article:

To me, Thriller seems like the last time that everyone on the planet got excited at the same time by the same thing: no matter where you went in the world, they were playing those songs, and you could dance to them. Since then, the fragmentation of pop culture has destroyed our sense of collective exhilaration, and I miss that.

Me, too.  RIP, MJ.

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14 February 2010

BBC News reports on a new study by psychologist Clay Routledge at North Dakota State University on the positive health effects of nostalgia.  There is, apparently,

dedicated research in recent years suggesting that nostalgia is “good psychological medicine”.

Studies by Mr Routledge, along with colleagues at the University of Southampton, have found that remembering past times improves mood, increases self-esteem, strengthens social bonds and imbues life with meaning.

But then another dude named Damian Barr

fears the generation that reached adulthood in the 1990s and 2000s could find themselves handicapped by excessive nostalgia

“We are less prepared for our difficult present by having had a very easy time of it when we were very young,” he says. “We grew up in a boom – we are living in a bust.”

Facing a present defined by recession, the threat of international terrorism and warnings of environmental doom, young adults are fixated on the happy associations from a more hopeful past…

All of this by way of feasible explanation for why I’ve been playing Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” on repeat all night long?  (Don’t knock it ’til you try it…)

8 November 2009

Have you seen the new Michael Jackson film yet?  At The Millions, I write about my experience watching it last week – which is a little different from a “review.”  But those of you who’ve read my essays at The Millions know that I only write reviews “sort of” if I write them at all.

A great comment on the essay from a reader:

At my six-year-old’s incessant and ardent insistence, I viewed This Is It last night–with no expectations. Your description of the viewing experience is exactly like my own. I walked out of the theater feeling that my days, while not by any means empty, could certainly be fuller and more filled with love. This Is It is the anti-cynicism. It makes you bust moves in the theater parking lot and drive home hungry for life.