Darwin observed that conscience is what most distinguishes humans from other animals. If so, grief isn’t far behind. Realms of anguish are deeply personal—yet prone to expropriation for public use, especially in this era of media hyper-spin. Narratives often thresh personal sorrow into political hay. More than ever, with grief marketed as a civic commodity, the personal is the politicized.
|By: TBogg Sunday December 4, 2011 1:59 pm|
Fondly nostalgic without ever descending into weepy misty water-colored memories, Lucking Out is populated with a who’s who of the 70′s culture explosion when a new breed of critics reinvented the rules, rock and roll collapsed inward upon itself and reemerged angry and raw, and porn stuck its head out from behind the peepshow curtains and found out that the time was right to come out and play with the non-raincoat crowd.
Beginning with the literary force of nature that was Norman Mailer whose letter of recommendation put Wolcott on the road to what should have been perdition, we also encounter Mailer’s bête noire Gore Vidal, Alfred Kazin, Groucho Marx (describing Marilyn Monroe as having “square tits”), Clay Felker, Robert Christgau ( the “self-proclaimed, scepter-wielding Dean of American Rock Critics” working the kitchen like June Cleaver while wearing only a pair of red sheer bikini underwear), Ellen Willis, Paulene Kael (whose presence permeates almost every page and to whom an entire section is devoted), Lucian Truscott IV, Joan Didion (wickedly eviscerated and hung out to dry by Kael), William and Wallace Shawn, Al Goldstein, Ed Asner, James Toback, Harold Brodkey, Andrew Sarris (whose entourage played the Sharks to Kael’s Paulette-Jets in a critics dance of death), David Lynch, Suzanne Farrell, Alene Croce, George Balanchine, Gelsey (“A name that falls in the mind’s ear like a sprig of mint”) Kirkland, Ugly George (a paleolithic Joe Francis armed with a shoulder-mounted camera and a perpetual hard-on), Tom Verlaine, John Cale, David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, The Ramones, Lester Bangs, and of course, Patti Smith.