January 16th, 2006


"Who are you yelling at, dad?" "The guy who doesn't live there."

I know James Lileks is a big fan of The Simpsons; it would be fun if he uses his ample free time to go back, re-watch every episode, and figure out which jokes are specifically about him. In today's Bleat, he proves that even when I completely agree with him, he's still an asshole.

He talks about going to a reception at the Walker Art Museum that was catered by Wolfgang Puck. Then, after this shameless piece of namedropping, he attempts to defuse charges of shameless namedropping by an admission that he was "insufficiently impressed" with the famous chef. "I mean I’m sure he’s a nice guy and I like the food," says Jimmy, thus covering the two things any sane person might be curious about re: Wolfgang Puck, "but he’s not God." Who exactly has been going around claiming Wolfgang Puck is God is not made manifest; a Google search of the phrase 'Wolfgang Puck is God' reveals no direct matches, but at least now we know that whoever else is saying that, James Lileks isn't.

He goes on to claim that he finds the interior of the Walker confusing and poorly laid out. Now, here's the thing: I completely and totally agree with this statement. I have been to the Walker with my girlfriend, and while it's a fine museum, the interior of the newly redesigned and explanded building also struck me as confusing and poorly laid out. So you might think there would be no reason for me to grit my teeth in agony at what a self-righteous pouty-pants Lileks is being, right? Since I agree with him and all? Nope, wrong.

Here's the comment he drops near the end of his otherwise sensible observations about the haphazard layout of the Walker's floor plans:

How damnably clever, no? You bourgeois cows with your staircase-expectations and your gross American guts filled with lager-piss! We spit on your presumptious[sic]!

This is italicized, as if it's a quote from whoever it is who designed the Walker. I say "whoever" because I don't know who designed it; and if Lileks knows, he certainly doesn't do us the favor of saying so. However, it's clear from this quote that he thinks they're (a) communists and (b) Europeans. Because obviously, no good Red-state American could possibly have designed such a...a...socialist-feeling staircase! Yes, the man who thinks that in the Soviet Union, the sun itself rebelled against the soul-crushing totalitarianism of socialist rule likewise seems to think that only an America-hating pinko could possibly have designed such a traditional-values-flaunting stair. Of course, maybe the staircase really WAS designed by leftist Eurotrash, but Lileks doesn't do us the favor of telling; he just sort of assumes, despite the fact that flag-burning Marxists would probably not be in the business of designing Midwestern art museums, that anything that so confronted his aesthetic sensibilities simply must be the product of a Red fifth column. Sigh.

EDIT: I looked it up, and the Walker expansion was done by the Swiss firm of Herzog & De Meuron. The primary architects were the two Swiss partners and two Americans in their employ. Though (half-)European, it is doubtful that the design team, whose previous efforts consist largely of football stadia, wineries, and other musea, have much interest in spitting on the values of the hated Yank bourgeois.

Things I Did This Weekend

- Started working on a whole raft o' freelance assignments.

- Started working on a whole other raft, different from the first raft, of freelance pitches.

- Bought groceries.

- Had a brief episode of cardiac arrhythmia when I opened the latest gas bill.

- Ran errands.

- Failed to go to the comic shop to buy Infinite Crisis #3.

- Finished G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday and did not bother with Martin Gardner's thorough but thoroughly tedious annotations.

- Went to rum_holiday's place to play two of the best games of Cities & Knights of Catan ever; although I lost both games (including the second, where I achieved the stupefyingly dubious distinction of losing despite, at one point, controlling all three metropoli), they were both incredibly close, intense and competitive games.

- Had a tasty pasta dinner prepared by my roommate thaitea.

- Had a hilarious story about Li'l' Duce relayed to me by my awesome girlfriend ninafarina.

- Had drinks and discussed freelancing with my pal Claire Zulkey, who late-Christmas-gifted me with a bottle of Laphroig. Mmmmmmmmm.

- Went to see Munich (very good despite the botch of a scene near the end; probably the best Spielberg in 20 years) with Lara & Jeff.

it says here...

What we learned from Friday's poll

1. By a 41% majority, "monkey" was ruled to be the most overused conceptual punchline. I don't particularly understand this, because to me, monkeys are always funny, whereas pirates are not only way played, but also were never funny in the first place. But that's why we do these polls, so I can learn. (manningkrull very helpfully pointed out that I forgot zombies.)

2. In an unsurprising result, the most frequent response to the question about what kind of celebrity gossip those polled found the most annoying was that all kinds of celebrity gossip are equally annoying. In an even more unsurprising result, the second-most frequent response was that no forms of celebrity gossip are annoying. Of those expressing a preference, the least favored were celebrity baby drama and celebrity political punditry. (hoolifan helpfully pointed out that I forget stories about how much a celebrity paid for some useless, insanely overpriced bauble.)

3. The most popular choice for a recent decade to culturally revive was the 1920s, with 21% of you itching for a return to flapper fashions, wide lapels, alcohol prohibition, and easy credit terms. I would argue that we're already having something of a '20s revival, what with rampant overspending, government deregulation, a pro-business president, widespread jingoism, and fascism and economic collapse just around the corner; it's sort of like the 1920s with all the fun taken out of it. An 1890s revival was surprisingly popular; apparently a lot of you long for a decade-long economic slump, pumphandle mustaches, corsets, and men named "Adolph". Curiously, no one at all chose the 1970s. Somewhere James Lileks is smiling. (calamityjon not-so-helpfully pointed out that I forgot the Cryptic period of the earth's Hadean eon.)

4. There was a boffo three-way tie on the question about what you think life on a desert island would resemble. An equal amount said Lord of the Flies (suggesting they would be hunted down and made the target of a stick sharpened at both ends), The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (suggesting they would receive occasional visits from basketball-themed entertainers or their robot doubles), and a "Far Side" comic (suggesting they would wear glasses, grow out a scraggly beard, and every once in a while, say something pithy). No one chose Lost or "Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball", but four people chose Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence. (uvula_fr_b4 harmfully pointed out that I forgot to include every book, movie, television show, play, comic book and MMORPG ever made about desert islands.)

5. The answers to the "tell me something good about your town" question were very heartwarming to read. Picking a winner was difficult; brandawg's was funny, and and littlewashu's had Super Wawa in it. (A lot of you cited food as the great thing about your town, reinforcing my theory that most people are tied to their roots via a tasty bond of snacks.) But in the end, I have to give the trophy to masterninja66, whose hometown claim to the biggest squid catch in the country went uncontested by all.