A Good Old York on Us

Harry Drabik

I mostly missed (no service) decades of TV shows. I’ve found reruns of programs from the 90’s on are OK evening fare. If I doze off (highly likely) I don’t miss much. But I started to notice an odd thing. Trump’s name came up (derogatorily) far more than I’d have thought. (There was a similar case with Leona Helmsley, but you didn’t remember her until mentioned, did you?) In a number of sitcoms Trump was injected as a jab line, and I recall one movie where Mike Tyson, Col. Sanders, and Trump were packaged together. Not a favorable combo is it?  

Hope you’re not worried I’m going to go down a Trumpian path. Well, I’m not. Aside from the decades long largely negative appearance of Trump in media and entertainment he’s not of as much interest as the “source.” Would a developer from good old Chicago get that much notice? How about the Radisson chain? It’s a major chain with US and overseas hotels. Do its people draw as much attention? But New York, well, we’re programed to hold it high. If you can make it there you can make it anywhere. Right? Have you been there? Much of it isn’t (wasn’t to me anyway) very attractive. Of course, nowhere else can you spend way too much to sit in a seat for a few hours than on Broadway? Why accept a myth of so much about so little? What’s the appeal of an overcrowded urban area? Is the congestion superior, trash in the streets more attractive, or crime better done than other places?  

It is not true that something coming out of Hibbing outshines something similar from Virginia or that size makes Duluth inferior to Minneapolis in anything but population. I don’t have to tell you there are excellent people all over the country. You may well be exceptional, but the NY mindset tosses everyone and every other place aside like a stray dirty sock. The belief that the best in talent and opinion is only found certain places comes from people egotistically self-congratulating for being part of the unelected elect.  

How about a literary example? A recent in-crowd winner reminds me of insider dealing. The author is presentable as a currently favored type. The opening parts of her prize winner affirm its suitability for praise. Here tis. Set in NYC, a cheating, gambling husband abandons clever, devoted mother. First-flush single mom dotes on new-teen son and takes the precious boy child special place, museum where right wing anti-art activists set off a bomb. Pre-set values line up like floor tile.

Then in my view what could be a straightforward plod has to get better, meaning pretended cleverness and creativity. Before knocked unconscious boy sees girl he can’t forget. Revived boy crawls around, finds man who was with girl. Dying man (who in my view dawdles at the task) give boy his ring and an address. Boy exits ruined museum and makes his way home. By the way he’s carrying an artwork from the 1600’s. At home no mother. She has been killed off before the reader gets to know or care about her. Other characters in the story are less fortunate, such as the “troubled” affluent socialite family boy is parked with until he can be moved into another creative environment.  

You wouldn’t believe how much reading my synopsis saves, because this construct of tedium runs near 800 tight print pages. Imagine a big book where the characters are similar to those in an underwear catalog; stiff faces and changes in pose and garment the primary action. There is a lot of detail forced in, but it details the difference between 36 loops in an underwear hem and curlicues of 48. These are among the least genuine characters imaginable. I tried to like the boy and feel for him only to decide it would have been best if the author snuffed him along with the mother.   Now the boy’s trauma is given the creative twist of reintroducing the gambling dad and his new wife who move the kid to Las Vegas. See it? Utopic diverse NYC is replaced by an empty Vegas suburb. Apparently, it seems, if you’re creative that’s how you see America. It’s either NYC or Vegas, maybe LA if really crea-create-creative.  

Cut-out gambler dad and bar-worker step mom are joined by another, though unexpected in type, paste on in the form of a Russian (Boris) slash Ukrainian (Borys) living with largely absent abusive single father (a creative balance for other parent or parenting in general as exists in the richly loving author’s POV). Boris/Borys (BB) has lived (his mobility a replacement for the loss of NYC in the storyline) all over the planet, including a Chippewa Reservation in Alberta. That would likely be Chipewyan instead, plus note that First Nations Lands in Canada are not termed as eat-out bookings. BB is stereotypical as a Russkie boy can be but his appearance adds the creative element of vodka and drugs causing the boys and their friendship to thrive. Real young people are usually not so fortunate in their addictions as these cut-outs.  

I’ll speed forward (the story does this later by eight years, a jump much too late and far short) to gambling dad’s death (if you can’t form engaging characters I guess you kill them off) and boy’s flight from Vegas. Guess where” Biloxi and Milwaukee don’t make the favored list. Back in NYC boy connects with partner of earlier dead man. BB reappears. Suspicious art investigators and dealers haunt boy about missing painting. Remember the painting? BB took it. Boy didn’t know. Does this make sense? Award winner?  

A truly told personal story from the Shore, Twin Ports, or Iron Range would hold more natural value than a NYC flavored hash of preposterous pretense. Value your instincts. Why trust a reviewer who says what’s good if they can’t spot what isn’t? - In the old days libraries used to ban books. Now only certain kinds are approved. The result is the same.