Painfully resonant, funny, wise: legacy. Whose legacy?: the immigrant’s, the jew’s, the orphan’s, the escape artist’s. Brilliantly performed by Christopher Lane with all the accents right: Bronx, Harlem, Brooklyn, Westchester, Polish, German and of course Santa Barbaran.
Lola is a puckish mostly happy 84 year old ex-motel keeper who works at a charity shop In Claire Australia .. She is much loved by her granddaughters whom she has mothered and marshalled like a general, and who drop in to complain about their husband their children and each other. Funny senior citizen fiction….
Miss Sophie Long is a Catholic School teacher who can’t parallel park, until she meets Lois, Vietnam Vet, trained sniper, mechanic, and lesbian. They live in the same neighborhood as Morgan, a size 16-18 police detective with a demented mother. At some point, to make ends meet, Sophie and Lois decide to begin killing for hire… bad guys only. And so the story zigzags between 60 year old lesbian couples, sex offenders, wife beaters, fat female cops, drug addicted daughters…. with some brilliant laughs along the way. Beautiful reading as always by Bernadette Dunne.
An all but dead movie director, inspired by a creative CIA operative, flies to Uzbekistan to shoot a reality show about a mafioso war lord in the post soviet territories with problems. “Wife is bitch on wheel. Son wants to join fuckink Taliban. Daughter like pussy.” A perfect formula for good reality television in Central Asia.
Their suite at the Intercontinental resembled the vegas highroller suit relocated to Riyadh: the bathrooms were marble tiled with gold gilt faucets.. there was a sunken tub, a dozen white fluffy towels, and inlaid mosaics featuring jinns floating over mosques.
“We’re flying to Nukus tomorrow afternoon.”
“Where is Nukus?”
“About a thousand kilometers from here… on the way to the Aral Sea. It’s located in Karakalpakstan which is supposed to be an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan but isn’t. It’s run, if you could call it that, by the Uzbeck government. It’s hot, ugly, polluted — used to be the location of a secret Soviet chemical weapons factory, which for all we know is still toxic. They’ve got dazed camels wandering around wild on the outskirts of town. The best hotel looks like a rundown Ramada in Utah. They got running water only 6 hours a day. The only place to eat is a Korean noodle restaurant where you got about a 50/50 chance of not getting ptomaine poisoning. And the whole town smells from rotting cotton and chemicals.”
“You don’t find warlords in places with five star hotels.”
When they land in Nukus, which looks like a deconstructed Stalinist version of Tuscaloosa, without traffic or traffic lights, Charlie Berns (the not so dead director) hires a Polish lesbian camera woman, who falls in love with the warlords daughter. The warlords wife never leaves her tent so they write her into the script as recovering from plastic surgery in Tashkent, the warlord’s son rebels against his father to join the Taliban so they write him up as running away to law school, to escape the family business… The show becomes a hit, and is stopped only when the entire crew of Entertainment Tonight, along with the warload’s private army, the line producer and the CIA operative are held in seige in a bar in Turkmenistan by heavily armed America-hating religious fanatics, staging a jihad against profane reality television.
Another nifty look at the Hollywood sausage factory, read by Tom Weiner who sounds like he has a piece of fatty lamb Kebob swimming in his mouth.
A jolly, fat, overcurious middle aged caterer, and her homicide detective husband are off to Catastrophus for a long delayed honeymoon. There they are told by Charon, the boat operator, that there there is no way on or off the island for two weeks. A series of demi-tragic catastrophes follows, comically distributed among 7 fellow tourists: Diana, a beautiful unashamedly lusty wife of a fanatic (Every time you tear a lettuce leaf it screams…) botanist; Sidney, a likable plumber; Sky, a trained, embittered nurse; a pair of sappy vapid young lovers who dress in matching outfits, an ill-mannered, unpleasant, nasty brutish husband and his submissive, pliable, apologetic middle aged wife.
On the sidewalk outside of The Kitchennette on West Broadway, the old men are debating the apologetics of New York Liberals bending over to receive Islamic sensitivity training.
One famous lawyer takes out the day’s NYTIMES, which reports that: “The Islamic Society of America is complaining that television shows portray Moslems as ‘the bad guys’. …”
“Oh, please…” moans the former US attorney for the Southern District of New York: “It’s not like we’re at war with Blonde Swedish Catholics. I haven’t noticed any Episcopelian Icelanders becoming suicide bombers and charging into any synagogues….”
“They claim to be Islamic to a man and they are terrorists therefore they are Islamic terrorists….
“Bullshit!”, exclaimed Saul Silverstein, an ex-Marine who survived Io Jima, and then made a fortune in women’s apparel. “Six months after a bunch of terrorists who claim to be acting in the name of Islam murdered a few thousand people in the World Trade Center, Columbia University held a one day in service training center for more than 100 NYC high school teachers… its like we’re apologizing because some of their fellow Moslems declared war on us…. ”
This is The Sons of Liberty Breakfast Club and Girl Watching Society, which meets to haggle over the politics, the rumours, the news … and of course.. the pretty girls walking past, with and without summer dresses. This is as good as Paris in the 1920s, except that the intellectuals are lawyers, not artists, they’re chewing peach pancakes, not brioches… and they’re probably not smoking.
“John has left me his town. Although now that his town didn’t have the children in it..”
The demented but funny* ex-wife of a husband who should have come with instructions on how to load the dishwasher invites our sympathy because:
1. the ex-person has custody of the children
2. she is vaguely overweight
3. her mother doesn’t recognize her voice on the phone [“Your father could talk to anybody, to Osama Bin Laden” as though there was another Bin Laden who was a better conversationalist.]
4. she opens a cat-house for middle-aged women with nothing to do but paint their bathrooms and get pedicures
She finds an old delapidated lodge just outside of the dull little University town of Onkwedo, hires the men’s crew team as research assistants for a science experiment on female sexual response, and launches her career as a Madame while she finishes a novel by Nabokov on the side.
She interviews with a potential sex-worker:
Sydney Walker carefully arranged a tiny ipod system with speakers …on the mantle above the fireplace. He turned on a Los Lonely Boys song, Heaven, and began to strip. It was the most interesting thing I’d watched since they put a mirror up for the birth of [my daughter].
She looks for a new place to live:
It looked as if a young architect, fresh from Onkwedo’s own Wainwright University, had fallen in love with Frank Lloyd Wright, bought himself a pile of wood, borrowed a hammer and set to work. Like the Second Little Pig had been schooled at the Bauhaus.
She goes to New York City to meet with a lawyer:
I wondered if his real name was Max or whether the company had merely insisted on something mono-syllabic.
She goes out on a date:
I used to be a catch. Dated three or four at a time. I burned out. And when they show up with those big pocketbooks I know I am in trouble… They bring their own sex toys. Is that progress? I feel like the Hoover guy….
“The thing you have to understand and understanding this explains so much about Murdoch’s success is that happy newspaper families are alike and unhappy newspaper families are, well, quite alike too: in the end they all lose their papers. As cautionary tales go you could hardly find a more hothouse example of families gone awry, of genetic dumbing down, of the effect of idiot-son primogenitor, and of the despairing results of idle hands than newspaper families…The Bancrofts are ridiculous.”
The use and abuse of genealogy as evidenced in old world newspaper families told fetchingly, by a bitchy, fact-loving gossip.
Wolff reads Murdoch against his century, against his country, against his father and delivers a kind of King Solomon saga, with the years of degeneration yet to come….
“Don’t make any major changes in the first year” … they say at AA. Matt Scudder has five or six weeks not to decide what he’s going to do about Jan, a girl he sees Saturday night and Sunday morning …
“Some people say not to make any major changes for the first five years… or even ten,” Jim, a fellow AA member, tells him.
After a meeting at St. Claire’s Hospital they walk home and Jim says:
“Something Buddha said as it happens: it is your dissatisfaction with what is that is the source of all your unhappiness..”
I said: “Buddha said that?”
“So I’m told, though I have to admit I wasn’t there to hear him. You seem surprised.”
“Well,” I said, “I never thought he had that much depth to him.”
“That’s what everybody calls him, and what he calls himself as far as that goes. Big guy. Must stand 6′ 6 . Shaves his head. Belly out to here. He’s a regular at the midnight meeting at the Moravian Church but he turns up other places as well. I think he’s a former outlaw biker and my guess is he’s done time but…”
The look on his face stopped me.
He said: “the Buddha. Sitting under the Bodhi tree, waiting for enlightenment.”
“Listen, it was a natural mistake. The only Buddha I know works at the Moravian Church.”
Making amends is step 8 of the 12 step program, and Jack Ellery is making amends when he ends up dead. His gay, persnickety, over-responsible sponsor has Jack’s list of amendees. He tells Matt Scudder that maybe he should “look into” whether somebody on the list is a killer. Matt Scudder does.
Dry, sidewalk humor full of alcohol and hotel rooms and pre-digital middle aged uncoupled city men. But also, that wry twist of fate that takes Order and Organization and runs over it.
This time, the Order is the Big Book and its steps: specifically step 8. How rules make themselves flesh, and how that flesh moves it’s rules around life and institutes life in their image.
The spunky wife of a floor licking, scum sucking, receptionist-nailing hack accountant discovers her husband’s infidelity and writes up the dastardly deed in his monthly newsletter which she emails to kith and kin and customers. She accumulates notoriety (“SCORNED LOCAL WIFE SUED FOR SCATHING E-MAIL”) , attracts the appreciation of a geek girl with a business in female revenge communications, takes inventory, takes a lover, eats.
Funny afterscenes include the interview with her mother, published in the local Gazette,
Unable to return to her marital home, Mrs Terwilliger is reportedly staying with her parents… When contacted by the Gazette, Mrs Terwilliger’s mother, Deb Vernon, insisted that many wronged wives would follow in her daughter’s footstops if they thought of it.
“Everybody thinks Lacy’s gone crazy but that’s not true. She knew what she was doing… She was just pushed too far. And yes she overreacted a little bit, it happens to the best of us, but I don’t want to comment. Of course, if Mike didn’t want to be publicly embarrassed he shouldn’t have run around town chasing some hussy like his pants were on fire, but I don’t want to comment. I just wish people would mind their own business, but really I have nothing to say.”