Spanking the Monkey

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Spanking the Monkey by James Howard Kunstler

The hysteria manufacturing business formerly known as the news media is enjoying multiple orgasms this morning in the outing of notoriously vulgar comedian Louis CK for exactly the sort of vulgar behavior offstage that he riffed about onstage. What a surprise. We also learn today that Jeremy Piven, beloved and admired for his role as a bimbo-berating Hollywood agent in the HBO comedy Entourage, is alleged to have groped a starlet in his trailer. Or was he just doggedly staying in character between set-ups? And what was she doing there, anyway? Stopping by to share the everything bagel with jalapeño cream cheese that she picked up at craft services?

I suppose these guys will be joining Kevin Spacey in his new dinner theater in Tampa, since they’ll never work in Hollywood again, and surely they have bills to pay, especially to their lawyers. Hollywood itself, being the vulgar place it has always been, must be nervously awaiting the inevitable next phase of this melodrama: when various actresses, and other women around the biz, are revealed to be sluts who screwed and blew their way to stardom — not to put too fine a point on it. Surely a few ladies out there have misbehaved in the way that ladies can, trading favors for fame and fortune — or do you suppose that never happens? Or only when men force them to? (Anyway, don’t count on hearing about that in The New York Times.)

Then the whole prurient cavalcade of cross-allegation and litigation will be as forgotten as a mass slaughter in Las Vegas, or Texas, or Lower Manhattan, and it will be back to business-as-usual in the news racket: nattering about contacts with Russia, a faraway land that, we’re told, is determined to corrupt the morals of our shining city on a hill.

The metamorphosis of the news business from a dignified and necessary component of the public interest to a gong and geek show is now complete. Some of you may remember that it used to be the task of news organizations to actually gather the news from far and wide. When Walter Cronkite came over the airways on CBS news, he “anchored” the revolving team of reporters in the field: we go to Marvin Kalb in Moscow… Fred Graham in Atlanta… Peter Kalischer in Paris… Lesley Stahl in New York…. Do you know what those people were doing? They were reporting the news on site, because it was important to actually be in the places where events were happening and talking to the people involved in them. And, by the way, do you think Marvin Kalb made contact with Russians? Or perhaps reported on other fellow Americans in contact with Russians? (And that was back in the Cold War, when Russia was run by the wicked Boris and Natasha).

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James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, “Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.” Home From Nowhere was a continuation of that discussion with an emphasis on the remedies. A portion of it appeared as the cover story in the September 1996 Atlantic Monthly. His next book in the series, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, published by Simon & Schuster / Free Press, is a look a wide-ranging look at cities here and abroad, an inquiry into what makes them great (or miserable), and in particular what America is going to do with it’s mutilated cities.