Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ozark | Lefsetz Letter

This show went from five stars to two and a half while we were watching it.

But I can’t turn it off.

I don’t know what’s going on anymore. I’m sitting on the crapper reading my phone and freaking out. The ruling party in Poland is taking over the Supreme Court and the Palestinians want to break off relations with the Israelis and America’s a second-class citizen sans leadership. We went from the ruler of the free world to an also-ran in six months. All in the name of selfishness. That’s what it’s all about. Those damn foreigners and ethnic people are ruining our country and our economy. Manufacturing our TV sets, coming here and taking our jobs. If we could just return to what once was everything would be great.

But there’s no turning back.

That’s what they don’t tell you about life, it’s all forward all the time. And it’s very fucking weird. Especially now, when the whole paradigm of life has been shot to hell and those in power tell us they know what they’re doing when they don’t. Not only the buffoons in D.C., but the entertainment titans in Los Angeles and the bankers in New York. Greed doesn’t seem to be very good. There’s no long term planning. It’s all now, now now, and you wonder why the underclass is desperate. And we’re all hanging on by a thread. Statistics tell us we’ve got no savings, we’re leveraged up the wazoo and we’re unprepared for retirement. But then that comes, watcha gonna do? It’s kinda like health care. The ACA sucked until suddenly you got insurance and I don’t want to go left and right here because that’s another thing I’ve learned this year, it’s positively useless, you can’t convince someone to switch sides, facts are no help, you can’t fight decades worth of indoctrination. It’s kind of like when you go away to college and find out your parents are not perfect. Then again, maybe the “best friend” millennials still think theirs are, and their parents certainly think they are, so what we’ve got is an endless circle jerk.

Nobody goes to the movies. Of course there’s a business, of comic book superheroes, one wherein the prices are raised so grosses look good but the problem is the paradigm no longer works. I think about going to the flicks now and again, “Baby Driver” and “The Big Sick,” but they don’t start when I show up, never mind the fact that I have to drive over to see them. I would have paid twenty bucks to see them day and date at home. Even more if it was more than me. Instead, when I’m not reading, when I need a jolt of humanity, which is what TV, when done right, delivers, I turn on Netflix and binge.

Now notice it’s not HBO. HBO’s destined for the crapper. There’s this fiction that content is king. But what do I always tell you, distribution is king! And the problem with HBO is they dribble out the product, I have to wait a whole damn week to see a new episode, and by time a couple have already played I’m too far behind and give up anyway. What was that Reese Witherspoon show, “Big Little Lies” or something like that? Got a lot of press, actually watched one episode, but I was too far behind and I already know the ending but when I start a show on Netflix I feel like I’m going down my own personal rabbit hole, with the stars on the show, and if I like it I can go deeper and deeper and it makes me feel coddled in a world where Sting can get tons of publicity and his album can stiff and a derided rapper can become ubiquitous. And I don’t need to shit on Lil Yachty, hell, I’m not even that familiar with his material, but when his elders and contemporaries are both complaining where does this leave me? Do I dive in or..?

And I’m not saying Sting’s new music is any good either, that it’s worth listening to, everything just drops on your doorstep and disappears. Just that fast. And no one knows everything and no one knows what’s going on and so much of what’s offered on the streaming services is crap, but when you find something to dig your teeth into, that titillates you, it’s so satisfying.

So this is another drug show. As in crime. As in cartels. That’s the drama. And it’s been overdone, it’s just that Laura Linney is such a good actress. And it turns out Jason Bateman is pretty good with drama and how old is he now anyway? His wife may be too old to have kids. That’s how you know time has passed, when the youngsters become oldsters, where does that leave you, in this case, me?

And in this show Bateman is smart. He’s got good quips but even better analysis. And for so long the men on TV have been dumb. And don’t beat me up for that, it was a story in one of the papers, and women rule the world anyway, it’s just that she cheated and he did not and I don’t want to give away the plot but why is everybody so moral on the outside but different on the inside?

Someone recommended a new book, I skimmed the sample chapter, I’m not even gonna look up the title, I’m done with most non-fiction, it’s a way for people to get rich, they all have an agenda, even vaunted Malcolm Gladwell, have you listened to his podcast, L.A. is famous for its private golf courses? Nobody has EVER said that to me in my lifetime, but he’s got a point to make, everybody’s got a point to make, when they’re not making money, which is why art is so satisfying, it lives outside that system.

So Bateman and family move to Lake of the Ozarks to try and launder money.

I’ve got a fascination with resort areas. Having lived in so many. Either you’re a local or a tourist and you want to be a local but you can’t make ends meet. Did I tell you that when I was a ski bum, a starving freestyle skier, there was a coterie of twentysomething in Bogner one-pieces, which is like driving a Lamborghini, or at least it was, with no visible means of support? They were DOPE DEALERS! COCAINE! As my father always told me, there are no mysteries, your goal is to pry beneath the surface and uncover the truth, don’t be satisfied with the surface story.

So they’re fish out of water and desperate and except for the overdone rednecks, the show kind of resonates. Takes me away from this fast-paced world which is simultaneously humdrum that I can no longer figure out and makes me happy and what truly makes me happy is the lack of frustration, I can watch to my heart’s content, finish the whole damn show in one day if I want to, I’ve done that, but tonight we watched three, and it was a great antidote to a week of b.s. and if you’re looking for lessons you’ve got to know that TV rules, because it’s on demand and in the home and Netflix rules because it’s all available at once and it’s not quite the theatre but the soundtrack was blowing up the Sonos subwoofer and it reminded me of nothing so much as the seventies, when I went to the movies almost every night, taken away into a visceral world that made me feel rooted and alive.

I went back there tonight.


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