Thursday, 15 November 2012

What I like about the Petraeus Affair.


Monday was Remembrance Day. Not coincidentally, there were a lot of military faces in the media, average age creeping up to 90. So, you know what’s really heartening about the Petraeus affair? Two women, 40 and under, are at the centre of it. Yup. Youngish. Women. With toned arms. And hair you could lose your hand in (quoting Junot Diaz here). Yet those types don’t often make it to the top of the military news. Even Entertainment news, traditionally reserved for the young and bodacious, has been invaded by old-timers. You don’t think so? Read my post of 30 August on Geriatric Movies.

The dental implant smile is everywhere, oldsters looking into the cameras, beagle-eyed, sadly painful, nutcracker-style.

IN POLITICS Castro,86, half-dead and scoffing at death rumours. Baroness Thatcher,85, brain-dead, but reanimated in a bio pic by Meryl Streep. And Mao, fully dead but still staring down on the Forbidden City from IMAX-sized posters.

IN RELIGION, the Pope,85, recently declared that IT IS BEAUTIFUL TO BE OLD:telegraph.co.uk. He and the Dalai Lama, a youthful 77, rule their congregations de facto, while Ayatollah Khomeini is only present in the spirit and in glowering images, shaggy brows disapproving of all fun.

IN MUSIC, the average age of oldsters drops to the 70s. OK, Leonard Cohen is an elegant old codger and still has poetry in his heart. But can we get over Mick (“I got nasty habits”) Jagger and Wrinkled Richards? And what’s with Ancient Babyface Paul McCartney, rumoured to be dead since ’69 and surfacing alive once again after a terrifying experience. His helicopter became DISORIENTATED, as hecklerspray.com tells us. So, please, please, can we move on to tech-house music now? The synthesizers always look good.

IN LITERATURE, kudos to Alice Munro. She’s the exception to the old-timer rule. Refused to be considered for the Giller Prize, remembered that there is a next generation.
No kudos for octogenarian Tom Wolfe, author of Bonfire of the Vanities, best-seller of yore and master of overstuffed prose today. What can I say about his latest book, BACK TO BLOOD? Let me quote the master himself: AahhhuhwaaaAHHHHHock! I second the Globe & Mail reviewer: Toss Wolfe’s mimetic nonsense on the bonfire.
And then there is Herman Wouk, another former best-selling author. Reviewer Michael Posner coyly admits he thought Wouk was dead, but he’s 97 and alive. So, OK, I’ll go with Posner on that one. Respect your elders and concede: At that age WOUK SHOULD BE SALUTED FOR GETTING OUT OF BED, let alone writing a novel.

The merciful thing about authors: You don’t have to look at their faces. Skip the author photo on the back cover of their books. Don’t go there, and you’ll be fine on the aesthetic front. As for literary taste, consult your inner lit.crit.

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