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Fri January 3, 2014
Rush, Conan, Subarus, Lesbians, Restaurant Critics, Martian Colonists: What's Noseworthy?
It's 10:30 on a Friday morning, which is kind of "zero hour" for me to figure out the final order of topics for The Nose, our weekly culture roundtable. Maybe I can straighten out my own thinking and give you a window on our process in the same big gulp.
What we're working on now is what's called "the flow," and Chion Wolf has already popped into my office asking about it, because she wants to sync music up with the topics.
She said she's "overwhelmed" by the email exchange of the last 24 hours in which the three panelists (Jim Chapdelaine, Tracy Wu-Fastenberg, Irene Papoulis) and I have been churning through topics, and wondering which ones are the most talkable, and whether any of them link up.
We sometimes talk about a "Papoulean thread," referring to Irene's penchant for detecting common issues running through disparate stories. Consider this one, a strong contender for inclusion in the show: We started with this relatively insignificant bit of Rush Limbaugh peevishness. That got Irene thinking about the degree to which each of us thinks he or she has (informally speaking) patented something: a word, a phrase, a style we've made our own.
I countered with the notion that humankind is intrinsically mimetic; 99.99 percent of what we do simply builds on or transmogrifies the work of others. Meanwhile, Tracy was musing: "Perhaps I'm biased against Rush for many, many reasons, but I do find it irritating when people insist they are different, original, inventors when they aren't, really. Take some (not all) hipsters, for example." That led to a whole sidebar on hipsters.
Meanwhile, Jim was talking about originality in terms of spurts, citing, in particular, Charlie Parker and the bebop explosion of 1941. I chimed in with Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Copernicus, and the documentary about 1913 that ran last week on Studio 360. Whew! And that's only about half of where we went on that Papoulean curve. (For example, the guy Rush does admit to copying just died. And so did Bob Grant.)
I thought it might also tie in to one of my favorite stories of the week: Adam Platt's decision to dispense with the fiction that he, as a restaurant critic, is anonymous. It's not exactly the same as claiming to create, but Platt is talking about the anxiety of influence in a different way. How can one do "pure" work?
Meanwhile, another Papoulean arc starts with Chris Kluwe's much publicized exit from and denunciation of the Minnesota Vikings. (That ties in, for me, with the dismissal and reinstatement of Duck Dynast Phil Robertson.) I also thought it might link to this piece in the Times about anti-disparagement clauses. And if Kluwe's correct -- if he really got bounced for his views -- it's kind of fascinating to compare that to Subaru's courting of lesbians.
Okay, that does it for me, but let me share some of the ideas left waving on the station platform: pardoning Snowden. (This also came up last week. It borders on being too newsy for The Nose and too likely to be discussed everywhere else.) #Surnamegate. (Tracy has a great riff on this based on her own complex Wu-Fastenbergishness.) People who might live on Mars. (Jim said it looked like Lorne Michaels picked them.) Reflecting on 2013. (More Snowden.) Alternatives to Cold Turkey. (I could see this one getting rolled over into Monday's Scramble.) Oh, and Colorado pot.
Anyway, I think I like the way things shook out, but tell me I'm wrong. Tell me there are more Noseworthy topics. After all, we've got two whole hours! Well, less than that.