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Talk of the Town - Catholic like me May 13 2004

Ode to the code



Strike a blow for cultural fascism — I have been forced to read a book. The Da Vinci Code — 6 million copies and still consuming forests after more than a year — is mandatory in my neighborhood.

People perusing the runaway best seller fall into two categories: non-Catholics enthralled and terrified by the ornate, sinister goings-on, and Catholics like me (a lousy one) just as enthralled and terrified. With the additional caveat that, to quote Ricky Ricardo, we got a lot of splainin' to do.

Particularly in the Deep South. A depressing number of fundamentalist brethren below the Mason-Dixon regard the Catholic Church as an evil, loony cross — no pun intended — between the Skull & Bones society and Six Flags Over the Vatican.

With the morbid curiosity of tourists visiting Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, they want to know more. As an authentic papist-in-residence, I'm elected involuntary spokesman for my wacky creed.

So let me begin by pointing out a salient fact about The Da Vinci Code, a book that has captivated millions with its incense-scented blend of intrigue, suspense and Old Masterish mystery stretching across two millennia: It's a novel.

That means the guy who wrote it — a talented, and by now filthy rich fella named Dan Brown — made it up.

It's fiction.

As in that part of the bookstore separate from the section where they keep history books, which tell you what actually happened. (Or not. Some historians have been known to tell a few whoppers.)

It's just a story!

Albeit an excellent one, which I won't give away in case you haven't read it — yet. But still, a tale.

This does nothing to dampen the conspiratorial ardor of people with a totemic belief in the sanctity of print, i.e., that the contents of a book must be true just because it's between two covers. Place said volume in the genre known as historical fiction, and you're really in the soup.

Couple public credulousness with a nasty nativist streak that has long regarded the pope as close cousin to Ming the Merciless and Catholics as less than 100 percent Amurican, and you have the makings of a prejudice packed piñata. Whack The Da Vinci Code and all sorts of bigoted booby prizes fall out.

Listen to me: If you're losing sleep about the diabolical Catholic Church, if you're worried about its worldwide tentacles committing mayhem at the best of grim men in funny red beanies over in Rome (Italy, not Georgia), remember this: Bingo.

Yes, this power-mad religious autocracy, this smooth-as-a-cardinal's-silk-cape multinational conglomerate, relies for its survival, at least on the affiliate level here in the U.S.A., on little old ladies shouting, "N-19!" and moving black buttons across cardboard squares. In linoleum-covered parish halls befogged by a thick haze of tar and nicotine.

Now add some other factoids:

Most U.S. Catholics — and many in Europe — are as about compliant as a hyperactive Great Dane flunking obedience school. In addition to being of the Christmas-Easter variety, many regard key church dogma — woof! — concerning abortion, contraception and women in the priesthood — as a philosophical smorgasbord with items they can put on their plates or pass by. Mostly the latter.

Second, the lack of fresh recruits. New priests are about as plentiful as tree-hugging environmentalists in the Bush administration. The last few times I've been to church, the sermon was delivered by an English-challenged guy who made Latka Gravas sound like Sir Richard Burton.

Plus, there are the unending, money-draining sex and corruption scandals, which would indicate a level of indiscipline rarely associated with a well-oiled monotheistic machine.

This is no way to run a power-mad autocracy.

Still, Catholicism does have a strange effect on people. But don't worry, it's only limited to screwing up us Catholics.

Take me. I haven't gotten over the first time I went to confession. I was 7. Problem was, I had nothing to confess. What kind of sin can you commit when your parents make you go to bed so early, you can't even watch first-run episodes of "Bewitched"?

But you're kneeling in this darkened wooden box, the good padre slides opens that little cheese grater window, and ... you're on!

So I made something up. I confessed that, in school, I had stolen Henry Schwartz's brand new Bic ballpoint pen. The kind that "writes first time, every time"!

What the hell? Henry was Jewish. I figured he wouldn't mind me using his name.

Then, after I said three Hail Marys and three Our Fathers as penance (priests prefer symmetry when it comes to renouncing sin), a feeling of uncertainty welled up in me — a sensation familiar to those in the know as "Catholic guilt."

Because to make a decent showing at confession, I'd lied to the priest. After all, I hadn't taken Henry's pen.

So the next day at school, I did steal it.

Just to keep things honest.

Amen.

glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com


Glen Slattery will confess to anything in Alpharetta.



More By This Writer

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Article

Thursday September 16, 2004 12:04 am EDT
In the eye of the folks | more...
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  string(65) "Talk of the Town - Three cheers for Rutherfraud September 09 2004"
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  string(19) "(But only one term)"
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  string(4751) "The Republican candidate for  president, he lost the popular vote but gained office through quasi-judicial feats of prestidigitation involving Supreme Court justices, bitter partisan bickering, and a  disputed electoral vote.

I write, of course, about Rutherford B. Hayes (also known as "Rutherfraud" or  "His Fraudulency") and the election of 1876. Rivulets of ink compare this chicanery-laden contest with the no less odiferous 2000  election that snuck G.W. Bush into the White House.

Most commentary barely gets past a first mention of Hayes, or pays but passing notice of him as a massively bearded nonentity. He's from an age — the long dry spell between Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt — when most American leaders were inept, weak, hirsute or a fine varietal blend of all three, with  subsequent obscurity only relieved by  occasional service as the "U.S. Presidents for $500" answer on "Jeopardy."

But in this season of political hubris, I am nostalgic for old Hayes. He did something no one does today. Use a privy? Well, yes. But there's something else, too.

Hayes promised to only serve one term. And he kept his word. He didn't run for re-election. Can you imagine any extant American politician doing the same?

This happened at a time when the country was virtually polarized — sound familiar? — between North and South (we call it Red States vs. Blue now) in the wake of that difference of opinion known as the Civil War.

The hot conflict might have ceased by '76, the nation's centennial year, but battle for control of American government — and the attendant patronage that went with it, raged across the barely reunited land.

It was the wide-open era known as the Gilded Age, an era begun, really, during the easy economic pickings to be had up North during the war. An era summed up by the story of a Cabinet member said to be so corrupt that, in the memorable words of Pennsylvania Rep. Thad Stevens, "the only thing he wouldn't steal is a red-hot stove."

When the inevitable demand for an apology came from the aggrieved magnifico, a retraction was issued. On second thought, Stevens said, the Cabinet secretary would steal a red-hot stove.

Amid this economic grab bag, enter the George Baileyish figure of Hayes, wanting to be "an executive under no temptation to use the patronage of his office to promote his own re-election" and who stated that his "inflexible purpose" was "not to be a candidate for re-election to a second term."

What modesty! What moral introspection! What's more, on gaining the White House, Hayes behaved as a man acutely aware that as many Americans voted against him as for him.

And I think of that, of him, with a little wonder amid the  convention gasconading of his Republican heirs. Listening to today's GOP, you'd be hard pressed to know they gained power with no mandate at all. An anti-mandate  if you're churlish enough — and I am  nothing if not churlish — to count the 539,947 popular votes their ticket lost by  in 2000.

Ever since, Bush has governed like he was FDR in '36 or LBJ in '64, as if there was some groundswell of public opinion backing him up. And with the next election upon us, nothing has changed. Except that the  traditional arrogance of power is now accompanied by an even more profound deafness — and a corresponding desire to get Ralph Nader on the ballot in as many states as possible.

But it's part of a depressingly long and less-than-noble history. American politicians, the few R.B. Hayes types excepted, never go gentle into that good night.

That's why I like the Brits. Yes, I know, we blew off the whole king thing during the Revolution. But you have to admit that their politicians are a lot better than ours when it comes to giving up office.

If a British politician's integrity is in  disrepute, if their mandate is in question, if a public officeholder is found face down in a pool of Guinness Stout after a long pub crawl, out they go. They leave office. No one has to tell them, or force them. They have a natural, innate understanding of when it's time to take a powder.

It's called introspection. And a sense of shame. Neither of which are to be found in the "Jeopardy" category "Qualities Associated with U.S Politicians." For any amount of money.

I don't have George W. Bush's inaugural address in front of me, but I'm pretty  damn sure that at no time did he say, "I  am acutely aware that a plurality of you,  my fellow citizens, did not elect me with your votes. And I will serve as your  president, as president of all the people, mindful of that fact."

Meantime, lock up the red-hot stoves.

glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com


Glen Slattery of Alpharetta will not seek a second column."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(4774) "__The Republican candidate __for  president, he lost the popular vote but gained office through quasi-judicial feats of prestidigitation involving Supreme Court justices, bitter partisan bickering, and a  disputed electoral vote.

I write, of course, about Rutherford B. Hayes (also known as "Rutherfraud" or  "His Fraudulency") and the election of 1876. Rivulets of ink compare this chicanery-laden contest with the no less odiferous 2000  election that snuck G.W. Bush into the White House.

Most commentary barely gets past a first mention of Hayes, or pays but passing notice of him as a massively bearded nonentity. He's from an age -- the long dry spell between Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt -- when most American leaders were inept, weak, hirsute or a fine varietal blend of all three, with  subsequent obscurity only relieved by  occasional service as the "U.S. Presidents for $500" answer on "Jeopardy."

But in this season of political hubris, I am nostalgic for old Hayes. He did something no one does today. Use a privy? Well, yes. But there's something else, too.

Hayes promised to only serve one term. And he kept his word. He didn't run for re-election. Can you imagine any extant American politician doing the same?

This happened at a time when the country was virtually polarized -- sound familiar? -- between North and South (we call it Red States vs. Blue now) in the wake of that difference of opinion known as the Civil War.

The hot conflict might have ceased by '76, the nation's centennial year, but battle for control of American government -- and the attendant patronage that went with it, raged across the barely reunited land.

It was the wide-open era known as the Gilded Age, an era begun, really, during the easy economic pickings to be had up North during the war. An era summed up by the story of a Cabinet member said to be so corrupt that, in the memorable words of Pennsylvania Rep. Thad Stevens, "the only thing he wouldn't steal is a red-hot stove."

When the inevitable demand for an apology came from the aggrieved magnifico, a retraction was issued. On second thought, Stevens said, the Cabinet secretary would steal a red-hot stove.

Amid this economic grab bag, enter the George Baileyish figure of Hayes, wanting to be "an executive under no temptation to use the patronage of his office to promote his own re-election" and who stated that his "inflexible purpose" was "not to be a candidate for re-election to a second term."

What modesty! What moral introspection! What's more, on gaining the White House, Hayes behaved as a man acutely aware that as many Americans voted against him as for him.

And I think of that, of him, with a little wonder amid the  convention gasconading of his Republican heirs. Listening to today's GOP, you'd be hard pressed to know they gained power with no mandate at all. An anti-mandate  if you're churlish enough -- and I am  nothing if not churlish -- to count the 539,947 popular votes their ticket lost by  in 2000.

Ever since, Bush has governed like he was FDR in '36 or LBJ in '64, as if there was some groundswell of public opinion backing him up. And with the next election upon us, nothing has changed. Except that the  traditional arrogance of power is now accompanied by an even more profound deafness -- and a corresponding desire to get Ralph Nader on the ballot in as many states as possible.

But it's part of a depressingly long and less-than-noble history. American politicians, the few R.B. Hayes types excepted, never go gentle into that good night.

That's why I like the Brits. Yes, I know, we blew off the whole king thing during the Revolution. But you have to admit that their politicians are a lot better than ours when it comes to giving up office.

If a British politician's integrity is in  disrepute, if their mandate is in question, if a public officeholder is found face down in a pool of Guinness Stout after a long pub crawl, out they go. They leave office. No one has to tell them, or force them. They have a natural, innate understanding of when it's time to take a powder.

It's called introspection. And a sense of shame. Neither of which are to be found in the "Jeopardy" category "Qualities Associated with U.S Politicians." For any amount of money.

I don't have George W. Bush's inaugural address in front of me, but I'm pretty  damn sure that at no time did he say, "I  am acutely aware that a plurality of you,  my fellow citizens, did not elect me with your votes. And I will serve as your  president, as president of all the people, mindful of that fact."

Meantime, lock up the red-hot stoves.

__[mailto:glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com|glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com]__
____
____
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  string(5041) "    (But only one term)   2004-09-09T04:04:00+00:00 Talk of the Town - Three cheers for Rutherfraud September 09 2004   Glen Slattery 1223649 2004-09-09T04:04:00+00:00  The Republican candidate for  president, he lost the popular vote but gained office through quasi-judicial feats of prestidigitation involving Supreme Court justices, bitter partisan bickering, and a  disputed electoral vote.

I write, of course, about Rutherford B. Hayes (also known as "Rutherfraud" or  "His Fraudulency") and the election of 1876. Rivulets of ink compare this chicanery-laden contest with the no less odiferous 2000  election that snuck G.W. Bush into the White House.

Most commentary barely gets past a first mention of Hayes, or pays but passing notice of him as a massively bearded nonentity. He's from an age — the long dry spell between Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt — when most American leaders were inept, weak, hirsute or a fine varietal blend of all three, with  subsequent obscurity only relieved by  occasional service as the "U.S. Presidents for $500" answer on "Jeopardy."

But in this season of political hubris, I am nostalgic for old Hayes. He did something no one does today. Use a privy? Well, yes. But there's something else, too.

Hayes promised to only serve one term. And he kept his word. He didn't run for re-election. Can you imagine any extant American politician doing the same?

This happened at a time when the country was virtually polarized — sound familiar? — between North and South (we call it Red States vs. Blue now) in the wake of that difference of opinion known as the Civil War.

The hot conflict might have ceased by '76, the nation's centennial year, but battle for control of American government — and the attendant patronage that went with it, raged across the barely reunited land.

It was the wide-open era known as the Gilded Age, an era begun, really, during the easy economic pickings to be had up North during the war. An era summed up by the story of a Cabinet member said to be so corrupt that, in the memorable words of Pennsylvania Rep. Thad Stevens, "the only thing he wouldn't steal is a red-hot stove."

When the inevitable demand for an apology came from the aggrieved magnifico, a retraction was issued. On second thought, Stevens said, the Cabinet secretary would steal a red-hot stove.

Amid this economic grab bag, enter the George Baileyish figure of Hayes, wanting to be "an executive under no temptation to use the patronage of his office to promote his own re-election" and who stated that his "inflexible purpose" was "not to be a candidate for re-election to a second term."

What modesty! What moral introspection! What's more, on gaining the White House, Hayes behaved as a man acutely aware that as many Americans voted against him as for him.

And I think of that, of him, with a little wonder amid the  convention gasconading of his Republican heirs. Listening to today's GOP, you'd be hard pressed to know they gained power with no mandate at all. An anti-mandate  if you're churlish enough — and I am  nothing if not churlish — to count the 539,947 popular votes their ticket lost by  in 2000.

Ever since, Bush has governed like he was FDR in '36 or LBJ in '64, as if there was some groundswell of public opinion backing him up. And with the next election upon us, nothing has changed. Except that the  traditional arrogance of power is now accompanied by an even more profound deafness — and a corresponding desire to get Ralph Nader on the ballot in as many states as possible.

But it's part of a depressingly long and less-than-noble history. American politicians, the few R.B. Hayes types excepted, never go gentle into that good night.

That's why I like the Brits. Yes, I know, we blew off the whole king thing during the Revolution. But you have to admit that their politicians are a lot better than ours when it comes to giving up office.

If a British politician's integrity is in  disrepute, if their mandate is in question, if a public officeholder is found face down in a pool of Guinness Stout after a long pub crawl, out they go. They leave office. No one has to tell them, or force them. They have a natural, innate understanding of when it's time to take a powder.

It's called introspection. And a sense of shame. Neither of which are to be found in the "Jeopardy" category "Qualities Associated with U.S Politicians." For any amount of money.

I don't have George W. Bush's inaugural address in front of me, but I'm pretty  damn sure that at no time did he say, "I  am acutely aware that a plurality of you,  my fellow citizens, did not elect me with your votes. And I will serve as your  president, as president of all the people, mindful of that fact."

Meantime, lock up the red-hot stoves.

glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com


Glen Slattery of Alpharetta will not seek a second column.             13015651 1249707                          Talk of the Town - Three cheers for Rutherfraud September 09 2004 "
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Thursday September 9, 2004 12:04 am EDT
(But only one term) | more...
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  string(54) "Talk of the Town - Season's beatings September 02 2004"
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  string(4552) "The new television season is a lot like banking, with fewer and worse choices merged into bigger, not-so-better monoliths. Sitcoms are out. Reality is king. The dancing cigarette pack of yore is starting to look like Masterpiece Theater. But air one unexpected bizzaro runaway hit and it could all change in the blink of a Nielsen family.

The only sure thing? My cable bill will go up another couple of bucks next month — and every month thereafter. Deregulation, 'tis a grand notion. Anyway, here's a pseudo-preview of what you might expect in prime time.


br>?SUNDAY
8 p.m. (REALITY TV) "Meet Joe Sociopath" (new contestant each week)

8:30 (DICTATOR) "My So-Called Reich." Goering enters a blutwurst-eating contest without telling the Gestapo.

9 (UNNATURAL) "Cockroach Racing"

9:30 (BADHISTORY) "Lug Nuts of the Crimean War"

10 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "This Old Crack House." Fixing troublesome pipes.

10:30 (BIMBO) "Beach Beanbag Finals"

11 (GRADE Z) "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mensheviks" ** (1936) The boys get mixed up with Leon Trotsky and a plan to collectivize the Dust Bowl. Dig that Woody Guthrie score.


br>?MONDAY
8 p.m. (UNNATURAL) "Trading Louses"

8:30 (DICTATOR) "Everybody Loves Stalin." Joe gets a cold reception when he attacks the Finnish neighbors.

9 (BADHISTORY) "Ancient Geeks"

9:30 (REALITY TV) "Deer Factor." Combination first-day-of-hunting/season finale.

10 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Iraqi Makeover." This week: remodeling with rocket-propelled grenades.

10:30 (BIMBO) "Soccer Mom: SUV." Housewife catches crooks by unintentionally running them over with a gigantic gas-guzzler.

11 (GRADE Z) "Nightmare on Orthopedic Street." (2004) * Freddy Krueger gets so old he forgets to kill people.


br>?TUESDAY
8 p.m. (UNNATURAL) "Winnie-the-Dust Mite"

8:30 (BIMBO) "World's Wildest Botox Videos"

9 (REALITY TV) "Outside the Jury Room." 3 Musketeers vs. O'Henry.

9:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Sinkhole Appeal"

10 (BADHISTORY) "Celebrity Poker Genocide"

10:30 (DICTATOR) "Castro & Colmes." Liberal commentator sentenced to five years in prison. (repeat)

11 (GRADE Z) "Gold Diggers of 2004." (unregulated) Lobbyists sing and dance their way through Congress. Pharmaceutical finale has great special psychotropic effects.


br>?WEDNESDAY
8 p.m. (BADHISTORY) "Extreme Ethnic Cleansing"

8:30 (REALITY TV) "Big Brother XXVIII." Company monitors every e-mail written by employees. Wait, it's already been done.

9 (UNNATURAL) "The Weakest Mink"

9:30 (DICTATOR) "Kaddafi Duck"

10 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Divine Doublewides." Your host: Bubba Flotsam.

10:30 (BIMBO) "Merdur, She Almost Wrote"

11 (GRADE Z) "Carnival of Blood Red Tape." (2002/horror) Normal taxpayer trapped in DMV office for 48 hours. No one will be admitted during the eye-test sequence!


br>?THURSDAY
8 p.m. (REALITY TV) "Things I Hate About Mimes." Highest-rated show on television.

8:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Decoupage with Lint." From the dryer to your desk.

9 (BIMBO) "World Series of Stiletto Heels." Brought to you by the National Association of Chiropodists.

9:30 (BADHISTORY) "Awesomely Bad Air Strikes." U.S. Air Force vs. Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.

10 (UNNATURAL) "Weird, Wonderful Wombats"

10:30 (DICTATOR) "Who's the Fuehrer?" German foreign policy loses altitude when Rudolf Hess flies to England.

11 (GRADE Z) "Willie Wonka and the Deficit Factory." (2000: sequel in preparation) Eccentric chocolate factory magnate becomes right-wing president, manufactures gigantic budget shortfall in no time at all. Your move.


br>?FRIDAY
8 p.m. (BADHISTORY) "Modern Morons"

8:30 (REALITY TV) "CEO Perp Walks"

9 (DICTATOR) "Mr. Himmler's Neighborhood"

9:30 (UNNATURAL) "The Incredible, Edible Slug"

10 (BIMBO) "Butter Me Up!"

10:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Hovel Hunters"

11 (GRADE Z) "Tarzan the Ape CPA." (1940) Jane makes him get a white-collar job with benefits and a clothing allowance.


br>?SATURDAY
8 p.m. (REALITY TV) "Who'll Deport My Dad?" First-generation Americans punk the foreign-born paterfamilias.

8:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Weekend Arsonist"

9 (UNNATURAL) "Parrot Makeovers." When feathers go out of fashion.

9:30 (BADHISTORY) "Fascist Feud"

10 (BIMBO) "The Thong Show"

10:30 (DICTATOR) "That's So Franco"

11 (GRADE Z) "He Wore a Yellow Ribbon." (1969) Recently discovered John Ford film — last of his classic Westerns — with a cross-dressing John Wayne who fights Apaches and a plunging neckline.

glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com


Glen Slattery is remote behind the control in Alpharetta."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(4635) "__The new television season __is a lot like banking, with fewer and worse choices merged into bigger, not-so-better monoliths. Sitcoms are out. Reality is king. The dancing cigarette pack of yore is starting to look like Masterpiece Theater. But air one unexpected bizzaro runaway hit and it could all change in the blink of a Nielsen family.

The only sure thing? My cable bill will go up another couple of bucks next month -- and every month thereafter. Deregulation, 'tis a grand notion. Anyway, here's a pseudo-preview of what you might expect in prime time.


br>?____SUNDAY____
8 p.m. (REALITY TV) "Meet Joe Sociopath" (new contestant each week)

8:30 (DICTATOR) "My So-Called Reich." Goering enters a blutwurst-eating contest without telling the Gestapo.

9 (UNNATURAL) "Cockroach Racing"

9:30 (BADHISTORY) "Lug Nuts of the Crimean War"

10 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "This Old Crack House." Fixing troublesome pipes.

10:30 (BIMBO) "Beach Beanbag Finals"

11 (GRADE Z) "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mensheviks" ** (1936) The boys get mixed up with Leon Trotsky and a plan to collectivize the Dust Bowl. Dig that Woody Guthrie score.


br>?____MONDAY____
8 p.m. (UNNATURAL) "Trading Louses"

8:30 (DICTATOR) "Everybody Loves Stalin." Joe gets a cold reception when he attacks the Finnish neighbors.

9 (BADHISTORY) "Ancient Geeks"

9:30 (REALITY TV) "Deer Factor." Combination first-day-of-hunting/season finale.

10 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Iraqi Makeover." This week: remodeling with rocket-propelled grenades.

10:30 (BIMBO) "Soccer Mom: SUV." Housewife catches crooks by unintentionally running them over with a gigantic gas-guzzler.

11 (GRADE Z) "Nightmare on Orthopedic Street." (2004) * Freddy Krueger gets so old he forgets to kill people.


br>?____TUESDAY____
8 p.m. (UNNATURAL) "Winnie-the-Dust Mite"

8:30 (BIMBO) "World's Wildest Botox Videos"

9 (REALITY TV) "Outside the Jury Room." 3 Musketeers vs. O'Henry.

9:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Sinkhole Appeal"

10 (BADHISTORY) "Celebrity Poker Genocide"

10:30 (DICTATOR) "Castro & Colmes." Liberal commentator sentenced to five years in prison. (repeat)

11 (GRADE Z) "Gold Diggers of 2004." (unregulated) Lobbyists sing and dance their way through Congress. Pharmaceutical finale has great special psychotropic effects.


br>?____WEDNESDAY____
8 p.m. (BADHISTORY) "Extreme Ethnic Cleansing"

8:30 (REALITY TV) "Big Brother XXVIII." Company monitors every e-mail written by employees. Wait, it's already been done.

9 (UNNATURAL) "The Weakest Mink"

9:30 (DICTATOR) "Kaddafi Duck"

10 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Divine Doublewides." Your host: Bubba Flotsam.

10:30 (BIMBO) "Merdur, She Almost Wrote"

11 (GRADE Z) "Carnival of Blood Red Tape." (2002/horror) Normal taxpayer trapped in DMV office for 48 hours. No one will be admitted during the eye-test sequence!


br>?____THURSDAY____
8 p.m. (REALITY TV) "Things I Hate About Mimes." Highest-rated show on television.

8:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Decoupage with Lint." From the dryer to your desk.

9 (BIMBO) "World Series of Stiletto Heels." Brought to you by the National Association of Chiropodists.

9:30 (BADHISTORY) "Awesomely Bad Air Strikes." U.S. Air Force vs. Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.

10 (UNNATURAL) "Weird, Wonderful Wombats"

10:30 (DICTATOR) "Who's the Fuehrer?" German foreign policy loses altitude when Rudolf Hess flies to England.

11 (GRADE Z) "Willie Wonka and the Deficit Factory." (2000: sequel in preparation) Eccentric chocolate factory magnate becomes right-wing president, manufactures gigantic budget shortfall in no time at all. Your move.


br>?____FRIDAY____
8 p.m. (BADHISTORY) "Modern Morons"

8:30 (REALITY TV) "CEO Perp Walks"

9 (DICTATOR) "Mr. Himmler's Neighborhood"

9:30 (UNNATURAL) "The Incredible, Edible Slug"

10 (BIMBO) "Butter Me Up!"

10:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Hovel Hunters"

11 (GRADE Z) "Tarzan the Ape CPA." (1940) Jane makes him get a white-collar job with benefits and a clothing allowance.


br>?____SATURDAY____
8 p.m. (REALITY TV) "Who'll Deport My Dad?" First-generation Americans punk the foreign-born paterfamilias.

8:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Weekend Arsonist"

9 (UNNATURAL) "Parrot Makeovers." When feathers go out of fashion.

9:30 (BADHISTORY) "Fascist Feud"

10 (BIMBO) "The Thong Show"

10:30 (DICTATOR) "That's So Franco"

11 (GRADE Z) "He Wore a Yellow Ribbon." (1969) Recently discovered John Ford film -- last of his classic Westerns -- with a cross-dressing John Wayne who fights Apaches and a plunging neckline.

__[mailto:glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com|glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com]__
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  string(4826) "    Or, why I learned to read   2004-09-02T04:04:00+00:00 Talk of the Town - Season's beatings September 02 2004   Glen Slattery 1223649 2004-09-02T04:04:00+00:00  The new television season is a lot like banking, with fewer and worse choices merged into bigger, not-so-better monoliths. Sitcoms are out. Reality is king. The dancing cigarette pack of yore is starting to look like Masterpiece Theater. But air one unexpected bizzaro runaway hit and it could all change in the blink of a Nielsen family.

The only sure thing? My cable bill will go up another couple of bucks next month — and every month thereafter. Deregulation, 'tis a grand notion. Anyway, here's a pseudo-preview of what you might expect in prime time.


br>?SUNDAY
8 p.m. (REALITY TV) "Meet Joe Sociopath" (new contestant each week)

8:30 (DICTATOR) "My So-Called Reich." Goering enters a blutwurst-eating contest without telling the Gestapo.

9 (UNNATURAL) "Cockroach Racing"

9:30 (BADHISTORY) "Lug Nuts of the Crimean War"

10 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "This Old Crack House." Fixing troublesome pipes.

10:30 (BIMBO) "Beach Beanbag Finals"

11 (GRADE Z) "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mensheviks" ** (1936) The boys get mixed up with Leon Trotsky and a plan to collectivize the Dust Bowl. Dig that Woody Guthrie score.


br>?MONDAY
8 p.m. (UNNATURAL) "Trading Louses"

8:30 (DICTATOR) "Everybody Loves Stalin." Joe gets a cold reception when he attacks the Finnish neighbors.

9 (BADHISTORY) "Ancient Geeks"

9:30 (REALITY TV) "Deer Factor." Combination first-day-of-hunting/season finale.

10 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Iraqi Makeover." This week: remodeling with rocket-propelled grenades.

10:30 (BIMBO) "Soccer Mom: SUV." Housewife catches crooks by unintentionally running them over with a gigantic gas-guzzler.

11 (GRADE Z) "Nightmare on Orthopedic Street." (2004) * Freddy Krueger gets so old he forgets to kill people.


br>?TUESDAY
8 p.m. (UNNATURAL) "Winnie-the-Dust Mite"

8:30 (BIMBO) "World's Wildest Botox Videos"

9 (REALITY TV) "Outside the Jury Room." 3 Musketeers vs. O'Henry.

9:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Sinkhole Appeal"

10 (BADHISTORY) "Celebrity Poker Genocide"

10:30 (DICTATOR) "Castro & Colmes." Liberal commentator sentenced to five years in prison. (repeat)

11 (GRADE Z) "Gold Diggers of 2004." (unregulated) Lobbyists sing and dance their way through Congress. Pharmaceutical finale has great special psychotropic effects.


br>?WEDNESDAY
8 p.m. (BADHISTORY) "Extreme Ethnic Cleansing"

8:30 (REALITY TV) "Big Brother XXVIII." Company monitors every e-mail written by employees. Wait, it's already been done.

9 (UNNATURAL) "The Weakest Mink"

9:30 (DICTATOR) "Kaddafi Duck"

10 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Divine Doublewides." Your host: Bubba Flotsam.

10:30 (BIMBO) "Merdur, She Almost Wrote"

11 (GRADE Z) "Carnival of Blood Red Tape." (2002/horror) Normal taxpayer trapped in DMV office for 48 hours. No one will be admitted during the eye-test sequence!


br>?THURSDAY
8 p.m. (REALITY TV) "Things I Hate About Mimes." Highest-rated show on television.

8:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Decoupage with Lint." From the dryer to your desk.

9 (BIMBO) "World Series of Stiletto Heels." Brought to you by the National Association of Chiropodists.

9:30 (BADHISTORY) "Awesomely Bad Air Strikes." U.S. Air Force vs. Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.

10 (UNNATURAL) "Weird, Wonderful Wombats"

10:30 (DICTATOR) "Who's the Fuehrer?" German foreign policy loses altitude when Rudolf Hess flies to England.

11 (GRADE Z) "Willie Wonka and the Deficit Factory." (2000: sequel in preparation) Eccentric chocolate factory magnate becomes right-wing president, manufactures gigantic budget shortfall in no time at all. Your move.


br>?FRIDAY
8 p.m. (BADHISTORY) "Modern Morons"

8:30 (REALITY TV) "CEO Perp Walks"

9 (DICTATOR) "Mr. Himmler's Neighborhood"

9:30 (UNNATURAL) "The Incredible, Edible Slug"

10 (BIMBO) "Butter Me Up!"

10:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Hovel Hunters"

11 (GRADE Z) "Tarzan the Ape CPA." (1940) Jane makes him get a white-collar job with benefits and a clothing allowance.


br>?SATURDAY
8 p.m. (REALITY TV) "Who'll Deport My Dad?" First-generation Americans punk the foreign-born paterfamilias.

8:30 (HOME IMPROVEMENT) "Weekend Arsonist"

9 (UNNATURAL) "Parrot Makeovers." When feathers go out of fashion.

9:30 (BADHISTORY) "Fascist Feud"

10 (BIMBO) "The Thong Show"

10:30 (DICTATOR) "That's So Franco"

11 (GRADE Z) "He Wore a Yellow Ribbon." (1969) Recently discovered John Ford film — last of his classic Westerns — with a cross-dressing John Wayne who fights Apaches and a plunging neckline.

glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com


Glen Slattery is remote behind the control in Alpharetta.             13015593 1249594                          Talk of the Town - Season's beatings September 02 2004 "
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The last bastion of geekdom is under siege. Stamp collecting, that nerdiest of pastimes, is being enlivened by modern technology.

The Postal Service has permitted an outside company to produce customized postage stamps. Place an order, provide a photo, and your mug — or that of your pet iguana — can decorate the next mortgage payment. Before you warm up the digital camera, know the caveats. For one, these stamps are double the cost of the 37-cent variety — plus shipping. For another, this breakthrough in philately is hemmed in by a variety of restrictions.

Specifically, you cannot use material deemed "obscene, offensive, blasphemous, pornographic, unlawful, deceptive, threatening, menacing, abusive, harmful, an invasion of privacy or publicity rights, supportive of unlawful action, defamatory, libelous, vulgar, illegal or otherwise objectionable."

In other words, no nudity. Or anything like the movie you'll rent tonight.

But one can appreciate the need for  caution. Because without restrictions in this new postal world, there'd be a stamp  commemorating someone's butt faster than you can say "sesquicentennial."

Do you know what a sesquicentennial is? It's the 150th anniversary of something, and American postage has faithfully celebrated obscure anniversaries for, well, do the math. The sesquicentennial of U.S. stamps occurred in 1997. And you didn't even send a lousy 23-cent postcard.

How obscure are the anniversaries thus honored? A 1957 stamp marked 150 years of the Coast and Geodetic Survey — talk about federal overtime. A 1951 issue honored the 250th anniversary of explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac's landing at Detroit, presumably in a birchbark Coupe de Ville.

My personal favorite is the 1948 commemorative celebrating the centennial of the American poultry industry. It bears the portrait of a heroic rooster, its comb pointed toward the sunrise — and perhaps the henhouse.

By now you may have deduced that I am — or was — a philatelist. The admission is reluctant. Stamp collecting is considered passe, trivial and — worst of all — a lifetime passport to the Peoples Republic of Dweebia.

What happened? Philately used to be the pastime of world leaders: Franklin D. Roosevelt puttered with stamp albums to relax after a day spent fighting the Great Depression or the Axis.

Major cities boasted department stores with philatelic counters, and any decent-sized town had a stamp shop. As a kid I spent entire Saturdays in those creaky emporiums, poring over shoeboxes stuffed with envelopes from all over the planet. Stamp stock books were crammed with squares  and triangles depicting kings, dictators and  sesquicentennials aplenty.

The store proprietor was inevitably a cantankerous septuagenarian from Central Europe. The customers were stogie-chomping regulars who came in to shoot the breeze, complain that a stamp priced at 30 cents was only worth a quarter, and to spend three bucks in as many hours.

Women did not figure in this scenario. I know there are female philatelists out there, but they are rarer than the inverted biplane 24-cent airmail error of 1918. In the main, philately is passed along the male line, like pattern baldness. Stamp collecting may be the last vestige of the hunter-gatherer trait inherited from our male cave forebears.

My interest in philately was inherited from Uncle Bernie, the scent of whose black cherry pipe tobacco has forever scented the hobby in my mind's nose; and Uncle Fred, who used his duplicates to cover cigar boxes. Fred's piece de resistance philatelique was a three-panel screen wallpapered with thousands of stamps, European old masters on one side, entire sheets of 5-cent American commemoratives on the other.

All this was fine for me as a boy, but as a teenager, I realized that stamp collecting would be detrimental to my social life. Girls in high school were uniformly uninterested in seeing my well-centered, mint condition 1-cent deep blue from the Columbian Exposition series of 1893.

Such misgivings were echoed in society at large. Those dusty stamp shops were obliterated by high-rent mega-malls and kids raised on GameBoys. There are now purple neon-lit smoothie boutiques where men from Mittteleuropa once reigned with a pair of iron stamp tongs.

Stamps changed, too — until about 1950 they were monochromatic — with your choice of dull green, dull purple or dull yellow. By God, they were supposed to be boring, in color and content. That's how we kept the riff-raff out.

Stamps are now issued in plastic, gold foil and fruit-flavored holograms. You need a pair of Ray-Bans to even look at them. And now this deal where you can put Aunt Edna on a stamp, just to butter up the old gal and earn a place in her will.

It makes one yearn for the dweeby days of yore, a simpler time when the entire nation could and did pay its gas bill by licking the back of poultry.

Tastefully dressed, of course.

glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com


Glen Slattery is being canceled in Alpharetta."
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____
__The last bastion __of geekdom is under siege. Stamp collecting, that nerdiest of pastimes, is being enlivened by modern technology.

The Postal Service has permitted an outside company to produce customized postage stamps. Place an order, provide a photo, and your mug -- or that of your pet iguana -- can decorate the next mortgage payment. Before you warm up the digital camera, know the caveats. For one, these stamps are double the cost of the 37-cent variety -- plus shipping. For another, this breakthrough in philately is hemmed in by a variety of restrictions.

Specifically, you cannot use material deemed "obscene, offensive, blasphemous, pornographic, unlawful, deceptive, threatening, menacing, abusive, harmful, an invasion of privacy or publicity rights, supportive of unlawful action, defamatory, libelous, vulgar, illegal or otherwise objectionable."

In other words, no nudity. Or anything like the movie you'll rent tonight.

But one can appreciate the need for  caution. Because without restrictions in this new postal world, there'd be a stamp  commemorating someone's butt faster than you can say "sesquicentennial."

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How obscure are the anniversaries thus honored? A 1957 stamp marked 150 years of the Coast and Geodetic Survey -- talk about federal overtime. A 1951 issue honored the 250th anniversary of explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac's landing at Detroit, presumably in a birchbark Coupe de Ville.

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By now you may have deduced that I am -- or was -- a philatelist. The admission is reluctant. Stamp collecting is considered passe, trivial and -- worst of all -- a lifetime passport to the Peoples Republic of Dweebia.

What happened? Philately used to be the pastime of world leaders: Franklin D. Roosevelt puttered with stamp albums to relax after a day spent fighting the Great Depression or the Axis.

Major cities boasted department stores with philatelic counters, and any decent-sized town had a stamp shop. As a kid I spent entire Saturdays in those creaky emporiums, poring over shoeboxes stuffed with envelopes from all over the planet. Stamp stock books were crammed with squares  and triangles depicting kings, dictators and  sesquicentennials aplenty.

The store proprietor was inevitably a cantankerous septuagenarian from Central Europe. The customers were stogie-chomping regulars who came in to shoot the breeze, complain that a stamp priced at 30 cents was only worth a quarter, and to spend three bucks in as many hours.

Women did not figure in this scenario. I know there are female philatelists out there, but they are rarer than the inverted biplane 24-cent airmail error of 1918. In the main, philately is passed along the male line, like pattern baldness. Stamp collecting may be the last vestige of the hunter-gatherer trait inherited from our male cave forebears.

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All this was fine for me as a boy, but as a teenager, I realized that stamp collecting would be detrimental to my social life. Girls in high school were uniformly uninterested in seeing my well-centered, mint condition 1-cent deep blue from the Columbian Exposition series of 1893.

Such misgivings were echoed in society at large. Those dusty stamp shops were obliterated by high-rent mega-malls and kids raised on GameBoys. There are now purple neon-lit smoothie boutiques where men from Mittteleuropa once reigned with a pair of iron stamp tongs.

Stamps changed, too -- until about 1950 they were monochromatic -- with your choice of dull green, dull purple or dull yellow. By God, they were supposed to be boring, in color and content. That's how we kept the riff-raff out.

Stamps are now issued in plastic, gold foil and fruit-flavored holograms. You need a pair of Ray-Bans to even look at them. And now this deal where you can put Aunt Edna on a stamp, just to butter up the old gal and earn a place in her will.

It makes one yearn for the dweeby days of yore, a simpler time when the entire nation could and did pay its gas bill by licking the back of poultry.

Tastefully dressed, of course.

__[mailto:glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com|glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com]__
____
____
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The last bastion of geekdom is under siege. Stamp collecting, that nerdiest of pastimes, is being enlivened by modern technology.

The Postal Service has permitted an outside company to produce customized postage stamps. Place an order, provide a photo, and your mug — or that of your pet iguana — can decorate the next mortgage payment. Before you warm up the digital camera, know the caveats. For one, these stamps are double the cost of the 37-cent variety — plus shipping. For another, this breakthrough in philately is hemmed in by a variety of restrictions.

Specifically, you cannot use material deemed "obscene, offensive, blasphemous, pornographic, unlawful, deceptive, threatening, menacing, abusive, harmful, an invasion of privacy or publicity rights, supportive of unlawful action, defamatory, libelous, vulgar, illegal or otherwise objectionable."

In other words, no nudity. Or anything like the movie you'll rent tonight.

But one can appreciate the need for  caution. Because without restrictions in this new postal world, there'd be a stamp  commemorating someone's butt faster than you can say "sesquicentennial."

Do you know what a sesquicentennial is? It's the 150th anniversary of something, and American postage has faithfully celebrated obscure anniversaries for, well, do the math. The sesquicentennial of U.S. stamps occurred in 1997. And you didn't even send a lousy 23-cent postcard.

How obscure are the anniversaries thus honored? A 1957 stamp marked 150 years of the Coast and Geodetic Survey — talk about federal overtime. A 1951 issue honored the 250th anniversary of explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac's landing at Detroit, presumably in a birchbark Coupe de Ville.

My personal favorite is the 1948 commemorative celebrating the centennial of the American poultry industry. It bears the portrait of a heroic rooster, its comb pointed toward the sunrise — and perhaps the henhouse.

By now you may have deduced that I am — or was — a philatelist. The admission is reluctant. Stamp collecting is considered passe, trivial and — worst of all — a lifetime passport to the Peoples Republic of Dweebia.

What happened? Philately used to be the pastime of world leaders: Franklin D. Roosevelt puttered with stamp albums to relax after a day spent fighting the Great Depression or the Axis.

Major cities boasted department stores with philatelic counters, and any decent-sized town had a stamp shop. As a kid I spent entire Saturdays in those creaky emporiums, poring over shoeboxes stuffed with envelopes from all over the planet. Stamp stock books were crammed with squares  and triangles depicting kings, dictators and  sesquicentennials aplenty.

The store proprietor was inevitably a cantankerous septuagenarian from Central Europe. The customers were stogie-chomping regulars who came in to shoot the breeze, complain that a stamp priced at 30 cents was only worth a quarter, and to spend three bucks in as many hours.

Women did not figure in this scenario. I know there are female philatelists out there, but they are rarer than the inverted biplane 24-cent airmail error of 1918. In the main, philately is passed along the male line, like pattern baldness. Stamp collecting may be the last vestige of the hunter-gatherer trait inherited from our male cave forebears.

My interest in philately was inherited from Uncle Bernie, the scent of whose black cherry pipe tobacco has forever scented the hobby in my mind's nose; and Uncle Fred, who used his duplicates to cover cigar boxes. Fred's piece de resistance philatelique was a three-panel screen wallpapered with thousands of stamps, European old masters on one side, entire sheets of 5-cent American commemoratives on the other.

All this was fine for me as a boy, but as a teenager, I realized that stamp collecting would be detrimental to my social life. Girls in high school were uniformly uninterested in seeing my well-centered, mint condition 1-cent deep blue from the Columbian Exposition series of 1893.

Such misgivings were echoed in society at large. Those dusty stamp shops were obliterated by high-rent mega-malls and kids raised on GameBoys. There are now purple neon-lit smoothie boutiques where men from Mittteleuropa once reigned with a pair of iron stamp tongs.

Stamps changed, too — until about 1950 they were monochromatic — with your choice of dull green, dull purple or dull yellow. By God, they were supposed to be boring, in color and content. That's how we kept the riff-raff out.

Stamps are now issued in plastic, gold foil and fruit-flavored holograms. You need a pair of Ray-Bans to even look at them. And now this deal where you can put Aunt Edna on a stamp, just to butter up the old gal and earn a place in her will.

It makes one yearn for the dweeby days of yore, a simpler time when the entire nation could and did pay its gas bill by licking the back of poultry.

Tastefully dressed, of course.

glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com


Glen Slattery is being canceled in Alpharetta.             13015539 1249486                          Talk of the Town - Lick your face August 25 2004 "
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Wednesday August 25, 2004 12:04 am EDT
And pay the gas bill | more...
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  string(4874) "Every year, literary cognoscenti get moist in the metaphor observing June 16 — Bloomsday — the date in 1904 when fictional characters tour Dublin in that paean to modernist obscurity, James Joyce's Ulysses. One was the immortal Leopold Bloom, not to be confused with that timid bookkeeper in The Producers.

I never got over my exposure to the novel in college. It was foisted on us by a dipsomaniacal literature professor who, while thirstily waiting for the sun to touch the yardarm, or at least reach high noon, lugged two books to the podium — Ulysses and the Longwinded Lit Professor's Explanation of What's Really Going on in Ulysses.

The latter, brimming with footnoted alliteration, allusion and unadulterated academic horse offal, was twice as thick as the porky Irish masterwork. In tandem, these volumes did more to foster a youthful hatred of reading than an entire semester of post-frat party hangovers.

But you can't eliminate any holiday, even a literary one, without reciprocity. So I propose replacing June 16 with another observance — Gatzday — honoring an American hero, the Great Gatsby, romantic lead in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel of the same name.

The observance would occur right about now, on one of those late-summer days when an ominous trickle of dead foliage — precursor of the endless drone from gas-powered leaf blowers — lets us know that lush 'n' green is but a seasonal decorator quirk on the part of Mother Nature.

It was late summer when Jay Gatsby of Long Island, N.Y. (nee James Gatz of North Dakota) saw his search for lost love punctured by poolside gunplay. It's always a shock when mad mechanic George Wilson, erroneously convinced that Gatsby has both romanced and killed Mrs. W, shoots our protagonist before turning the gun on himself.

I hadn't read Fitzgerald's magnum opus in many a year, having ploughed through most of his stuff during a glorious stretch of unemployment that heralded my post-collegiate entry into the real world. It was a time when wealth and glamour still seemed an entirely reasonable proposition and I wasn't going to accept anything else.

And at an age when one should read Fitzgerald. For by the time we get older, plumper and prone to catnaps, there's not much point to roistering with Fitz. Most of his characters are vain, narcissistic and snobbish — a Coolidge-era version of the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association.

And that's what struck me with recent re-reading of his best book, its curious way of vibrating to the local zeitgeist. For there is something Gatsbyesque in the air here — and you thought it was ozone — something about the massive palazzos and garish lifestyle wrought forth upon recently defiled pastureland — and about the strangely rich people who have come to inhabit it.

Because you can reinvent yourself Down South. Ethnic Catholics become devout Episcopalians. Redneck Riviera Baptists morph into Anglicans — just like Prince Charles! And ex-denizens of the Bronx turn their backs on the Yankees — in more ways than one — to become diehard Braves fans.

For many, moving here is like putting yourself through an Etch-A-Sketch. One shake of the frame and the slate is clean to start over. Cash frequently fuels the change, and there are vast quantities of it to be made when a nail-and-mail mall civilization is being raised up out of thin air.

The process always amazes me: Good ol' boy cashes in selling property. Developer makes bundle liquidating 20 acres of wildlife. Construction company scoops up backhoe full of dough. I know of one guy who made his fortune selling that droopy plasticine fencing which holds the dirt back at construction sites.

And at day's end what do we have? A commercial conga line to nowhere featuring a lousy Chinese restaurant, a dry cleaner and a storefront chance to turn your kids into tiny karate machines of flying fury.

People on the sunny side of this equation buy all sorts of adult toys. The local Ferrari dealership has managed to prosper, despite having to do without my business. Even Gatsby never imagined dropping $200K on a car.

And you can pull the Ferrari into a new house befitting your status as a plastic fencing baron. I recently saw a 12,000-square-foot private schloss under construction, a place so big it had its own reception hall. A reception hall, for God's sake. A governor's mansion needs a reception hall, not a private residence.

Nouveaux richesse has its price, of course, including one of the highest bankruptcy rates this side of a dot-bomb stockholders reunion. This is my best chance at the Ferrari, if someone happens to unload one at 10 cents on the dollar. And my leisure preference, too.

Because there's no way I'm using the pool.

glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com


The Great Slatsby lives in Alpharetta."
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I never got over my exposure to the novel in college. It was foisted on us by a dipsomaniacal literature professor who, while thirstily waiting for the sun to touch the yardarm, or at least reach high noon, lugged two books to the podium -- ''Ulysses'' and the ''Longwinded Lit Professor's Explanation of What's Really Going on in Ulysses''.

The latter, brimming with footnoted alliteration, allusion and unadulterated academic horse offal, was twice as thick as the porky Irish masterwork. In tandem, these volumes did more to foster a youthful hatred of reading than an entire semester of post-frat party hangovers.

But you can't eliminate any holiday, even a literary one, without reciprocity. So I propose replacing June 16 with another observance -- Gatzday -- honoring an American hero, the Great Gatsby, romantic lead in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel of the same name.

The observance would occur right about now, on one of those late-summer days when an ominous trickle of dead foliage -- precursor of the endless drone from gas-powered leaf blowers -- lets us know that lush 'n' green is but a seasonal decorator quirk on the part of Mother Nature.

It was late summer when Jay Gatsby of Long Island, N.Y. (nee James Gatz of North Dakota) saw his search for lost love punctured by poolside gunplay. It's always a shock when mad mechanic George Wilson, erroneously convinced that Gatsby has both romanced and killed Mrs. W, shoots our protagonist before turning the gun on himself.

I hadn't read Fitzgerald's magnum opus in many a year, having ploughed through most of his stuff during a glorious stretch of unemployment that heralded my post-collegiate entry into the real world. It was a time when wealth and glamour still seemed an entirely reasonable proposition and I wasn't going to accept anything else.

And at an age when one should read Fitzgerald. For by the time we get older, plumper and prone to catnaps, there's not much point to roistering with Fitz. Most of his characters are vain, narcissistic and snobbish -- a Coolidge-era version of the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association.

And that's what struck me with recent re-reading of his best book, its curious way of vibrating to the local zeitgeist. For there is something Gatsbyesque in the air here -- and you thought it was ozone -- something about the massive palazzos and garish lifestyle wrought forth upon recently defiled pastureland -- and about the strangely rich people who have come to inhabit it.

Because you can reinvent yourself Down South. Ethnic Catholics become devout Episcopalians. Redneck Riviera Baptists morph into Anglicans -- just like Prince Charles! And ex-denizens of the Bronx turn their backs on the Yankees -- in more ways than one -- to become diehard Braves fans.

For many, moving here is like putting yourself through an Etch-A-Sketch. One shake of the frame and the slate is clean to start over. Cash frequently fuels the change, and there are vast quantities of it to be made when a nail-and-mail mall civilization is being raised up out of thin air.

The process always amazes me: Good ol' boy cashes in selling property. Developer makes bundle liquidating 20 acres of wildlife. Construction company scoops up backhoe full of dough. I know of one guy who made his fortune selling that droopy plasticine fencing which holds the dirt back at construction sites.

And at day's end what do we have? A commercial conga line to nowhere featuring a lousy Chinese restaurant, a dry cleaner and a storefront chance to turn your kids into tiny karate machines of flying fury.

People on the sunny side of this equation buy all sorts of adult toys. The local Ferrari dealership has managed to prosper, despite having to do without my business. Even Gatsby never imagined dropping $200K on a car.

And you can pull the Ferrari into a new house befitting your status as a plastic fencing baron. I recently saw a 12,000-square-foot private schloss under construction, a place so big it had its own reception hall. A reception hall, for God's sake. A governor's mansion needs a reception hall, not a private residence.

''Nouveaux richesse'' has its price, of course, including one of the highest bankruptcy rates this side of a dot-bomb stockholders reunion. This is my best chance at the Ferrari, if someone happens to unload one at 10 cents on the dollar. And my leisure preference, too.

Because there's no way I'm using the pool.

__[mailto:glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com|glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com]__
____
____
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I never got over my exposure to the novel in college. It was foisted on us by a dipsomaniacal literature professor who, while thirstily waiting for the sun to touch the yardarm, or at least reach high noon, lugged two books to the podium — Ulysses and the Longwinded Lit Professor's Explanation of What's Really Going on in Ulysses.

The latter, brimming with footnoted alliteration, allusion and unadulterated academic horse offal, was twice as thick as the porky Irish masterwork. In tandem, these volumes did more to foster a youthful hatred of reading than an entire semester of post-frat party hangovers.

But you can't eliminate any holiday, even a literary one, without reciprocity. So I propose replacing June 16 with another observance — Gatzday — honoring an American hero, the Great Gatsby, romantic lead in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel of the same name.

The observance would occur right about now, on one of those late-summer days when an ominous trickle of dead foliage — precursor of the endless drone from gas-powered leaf blowers — lets us know that lush 'n' green is but a seasonal decorator quirk on the part of Mother Nature.

It was late summer when Jay Gatsby of Long Island, N.Y. (nee James Gatz of North Dakota) saw his search for lost love punctured by poolside gunplay. It's always a shock when mad mechanic George Wilson, erroneously convinced that Gatsby has both romanced and killed Mrs. W, shoots our protagonist before turning the gun on himself.

I hadn't read Fitzgerald's magnum opus in many a year, having ploughed through most of his stuff during a glorious stretch of unemployment that heralded my post-collegiate entry into the real world. It was a time when wealth and glamour still seemed an entirely reasonable proposition and I wasn't going to accept anything else.

And at an age when one should read Fitzgerald. For by the time we get older, plumper and prone to catnaps, there's not much point to roistering with Fitz. Most of his characters are vain, narcissistic and snobbish — a Coolidge-era version of the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association.

And that's what struck me with recent re-reading of his best book, its curious way of vibrating to the local zeitgeist. For there is something Gatsbyesque in the air here — and you thought it was ozone — something about the massive palazzos and garish lifestyle wrought forth upon recently defiled pastureland — and about the strangely rich people who have come to inhabit it.

Because you can reinvent yourself Down South. Ethnic Catholics become devout Episcopalians. Redneck Riviera Baptists morph into Anglicans — just like Prince Charles! And ex-denizens of the Bronx turn their backs on the Yankees — in more ways than one — to become diehard Braves fans.

For many, moving here is like putting yourself through an Etch-A-Sketch. One shake of the frame and the slate is clean to start over. Cash frequently fuels the change, and there are vast quantities of it to be made when a nail-and-mail mall civilization is being raised up out of thin air.

The process always amazes me: Good ol' boy cashes in selling property. Developer makes bundle liquidating 20 acres of wildlife. Construction company scoops up backhoe full of dough. I know of one guy who made his fortune selling that droopy plasticine fencing which holds the dirt back at construction sites.

And at day's end what do we have? A commercial conga line to nowhere featuring a lousy Chinese restaurant, a dry cleaner and a storefront chance to turn your kids into tiny karate machines of flying fury.

People on the sunny side of this equation buy all sorts of adult toys. The local Ferrari dealership has managed to prosper, despite having to do without my business. Even Gatsby never imagined dropping $200K on a car.

And you can pull the Ferrari into a new house befitting your status as a plastic fencing baron. I recently saw a 12,000-square-foot private schloss under construction, a place so big it had its own reception hall. A reception hall, for God's sake. A governor's mansion needs a reception hall, not a private residence.

Nouveaux richesse has its price, of course, including one of the highest bankruptcy rates this side of a dot-bomb stockholders reunion. This is my best chance at the Ferrari, if someone happens to unload one at 10 cents on the dollar. And my leisure preference, too.

Because there's no way I'm using the pool.

glen.slattery@creativeloafing.com


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Article

Thursday August 19, 2004 12:04 am EDT
No nouveaux is good nouveaux | more...
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[Admin link: Talk of the Town - Catholic like me May 13 2004]