Now, onto my summer /viewing list:
- Cultural Amnesia by Clive James. Started this one about a month ago and have been slowly working my way through it. It is a collection of short essays organized around an A-to-Z list of important cultural figures of the 20th century. The major theme of the essays is the way artists and intellectuals responded to the two great cultural threats of the century: fascism and communism. It is the best type of political criticism, raising serious questions about the moral standards we should hold artists to. They are the types of questions many avoided in the wake of the Paul de Man Nazi controversy but they need to be asked. But this is far from James' only concern and he proves himself to be the best type of dilletante, letting his omniverous intellect range from Dick Cavett to the death of the teaching of prosody.
- 7 Seconds or Less by Jack McCallum. I have always loved the Phoenix Suns, coming of age as a sports fan just in time to witness their fabled 1992-93 season in which Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson and Dan Majerle led them to the finals and united the city like no other cultural event before or since. Their renaissance over the past three years has been one of the great sports stories in the city's history. We have long been both a sports and cultural backwater, but the current Suns team has revolutionized the game and simultaneously injected a dash of intelligence, class and innovation into the usually staid, conservative and red-state world of pro sports. Head coach Mike D'antoni is an Italian celebrity who spends his summers at Donna Versace's villa. Leader Steve Nash is a (formerly) long-haired Canadian who reads Marx and favors anti-Bush t-shirts. Leandro Barbosa grew up is Sao Paulo, Brazil and his life apparently inspired the movie City of God. Boris Diaw is a dapper and classy Frenchman. Raja Bell became a folk hero by bodyslamming Kobe Bryant, the epitome of everything intelligent and decent people hate about sports. They are the rare sports team that a lefty book nerd can love unconditionally. Anyway, this is all to say that I am happy McCallum's book has come along to document this wonderful creation. McCallum folowed the team for most of last season, shadowing the coaching staff. It is a fun and entertaining read and a great examination of the job of NBA coaches.
- Veronica Mars Season 1. I got into this show towards the end of season 1, then lost interest about halfway through season 2. Apparently, I jumped off at the right time, if critics are to be believed. Anyway, I always wanted to go back and watch the rest of the excellent Season 1 and I found the DVDs for $20 yesterday. I figured it is a good way to wean myself off of the equally witty and brilliant Gilmore Girls, which ends tonight.
That is all of my list for now, but more is to be added in the weeks to come. In closing, I would just like congratulate David Stern. Once again, your half-assed enforcement of your own rules is putting the Spurs and Pistons on a collision course in an attempt to break their own record for lowest-rated Finals ever. I don't know why Stern seems intent on punishing clean-playing, entertaining teams like the Suns and rewarding teams like the Spurs, who are only interesting when doing something dirty.