Friday, September 25, 2015

Toni Morrison, grande dame of African-American literature, proclaimed Coates the intellectual heir to James Baldwin.
She called Bill Clinton "the first Black president".
Tim Russert told me that, according to his sources, Bill Clinton, in an effort to secure an endorsement for Hillary from Ted Kennedy, said to Kennedy, “A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags.”
Baldwin wouldn't have put up with this, but he was more sophisticated. That's where we are. It's sad.
But then, just as he had much of America listening to him, Coates decided to move to Paris for a year. He had discovered the city relatively recently, not having travelled abroad until well into adulthood. “The first time I came here,” he admits, “I guess I felt sort of stupid for falling in love right away. It was like I have become the writer stereotype. Sometimes I feel like a total cliché for the affection I feel.” 
Glou, the restaurant he has chosen, is known for the freshness of its ingredients. “We’ve been here a month; I’ve been here 10 times,” he says. Upstairs, the window is open on to the Picasso museum’s stately back garden, where teenagers are playing football.
A gentle and courteous presence, Coates shows none of the cold anger of the pages of Between the World and Me.

...We place our orders, starting with a shared plate of seafood tapas and a glass of wine each. His restaurant French (arguably the essential level for foreigners) is serviceable.
He was a protege of David Carr
In the 1990s, Coates met his professional mentor: David Carr, the New York Times journalist who died unexpectedly at the age of 58 in February. When they met, Carr was editing Washington City Paper. “There isn’t a dude outside my dad who had greater influence on my life,” Coates says. He still instinctively talks about Carr in the present tense: “He’s also just a tremendous friend; I can talk to David about anything — my kid, my marriage, delinquent taxes. 
“When I met him I was 20. I had only the vaguest sense of what writing was; I had been a failing student, I was not sure I was going to do anything with my life. I sent him some poetry. He called and said, ‘Take this internship.’ I was expecting what they called ‘scut work’, running around doing a bunch of shit for other people. But they were like: ‘Go find stories.’ When I came to David, I wanted to be an essayist, writing music reviews and giving my take on things. He wasn’t having that. You had to go out and report on the city, talk to people. He used to tell me: ‘Tell stories, less of the theory.’”
"I wanted to be an essayist,.." "Tell stories, less of the theory."
Baldwin was an essayist; he had no interest in theory.

Carr's other famous protege, Lena Dunham
Three years ago, New York Times media reporter and occult career-bender David Carr was taking a tour through South by Southwest and asked the festival's film person what movie he should see. She tipped him off to a movie called Tiny Furniture and he fell in love. He gave the movie and its creator/star, a 23-year-old woman named Lena Dunham, 1,000 words in the Times.

It was the first big write-up for Tiny Furniture and Carr "knew right away she would end up as a big deal." Dunham and Carr got dinner a month later and became fast friends. In the three years since, he's been a huge booster of her work, taking to various corners of the internet to spread the Dunham love:
People love to ankle bite her because she grew up well-situated, but nobody gave her a tv show for that. Nobody convinced Judd Apatow to co-produce because of who her parents were and HBO did not pick up Girls for a second season because she is wired.
It's true that Judd Apatow didn't decide to work with Dunham because of who her parents were. Instead, he chose to work with Dunham thanks to David Carr.

In 2010, Dunham had a blind script deal for HBO. What she was missing was the imprimatur of a Hollywood heavyweight. Meanwhile, Apatow, who is friends with Carr, was asking the Times columnist if he knew of any promising up-and-comers. Carr did know one.

Carr also knew, with his eye on the angles, that the director/writer/producer had a woman problem. Dunham was someone who could make Apatow's then-checkered track record with female characters disappear. Carr told Apatow to get a look at Tiny Furniture.
Most of the rest of the article is a list of posted tweets
david carr @carr2n
ducked a fine dining rez and went with @lenadunham to Hill Country Chicken. What did we eat? #Everyeffingtthing.
Carr was a reactionary from the mold of moralizing Catholic junkies for whom intimate moral honesty renders politics unnecessary. As punk journalism it's Baudelaire as boilerplate, and slips easily into cafe society, J.J. Hunsecker and The Sweet Smell of Success. The other name that comes to mind is James Wolcott. If Carr was strategic and cynical enough to hook up Apatow and Dunham, he certainly wasn't above seeing that a smart black kid on the make in the 90s would be a good investment for an "occult career-bender".

There's a fine line between decadence and its description. Conservative politics, even deeply ironic conservative politics, is not anti-politics. And moral indignation is not moralism. I don't care about Carr's corruption; the obliviousness of his audience is the worst of it.
It is the ingenuousness and sincerity of Larsson’s engagement with good and evil that give the trilogy its power to attract so many millions of people. There really is no suspicion in these books that his heroes’ obsessions might be morbid. Certainly the reader will not be invited to question his or her enjoyment in seeing sexual humiliation inflicted on evil rapists. That pleasure will not be spoiled. It’s not surprising, reading biographical notes, that as an adolescent Larsson witnessed a gang rape and despised himself for failing to intervene, or that in his twenties he spent time in Eritrea training guerrillas—women guerrillas, of course—and then much of his mature life investigating and denouncing neo-Nazis.

Indeed he was so active in these matters that he felt it wise not to make his address public, or even his relationship with Eva Gabrielsson, his partner of thirty years. The two didn’t marry, she has explained in an interview, because under Swedish law marriage would have required publication of their address. Nor did they have children. As a result, when Larsson died of a heart attack at fifty in 2004, shortly before the first part of the trilogy was published and without having made a will, his estate passed to his father and brother, to whom he was not particularly close, leaving Gabrielsson with none of the vast income that was about to accrue. A man with a better eye for plot, one feels, would not have allowed such a loose end to threaten his achievement; unless these are precisely the pitfalls of remaining a free individual outside any confining social system.
Happy Birthday H.P. Lovecraft. I highly recommend the essay on him by the French reactionary writer (and one of my favorites, to be honest – I don't care about his views on Islam) Michel Houellebecq.
The link to Tim Parks' review of Larsson is a repeat as well.
see also above, a more scholastic version of the self-satisfied conservatism of the American new black elite.

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