Thursday, February 8, 2018

The CanLit dumpster fire: a most uncivil war


I have a few things to say here. And I'm sorry if I called Joseph Boyden a bad name (but not really), and sorry I blew a raspberry at Jonathan Kay. But not really.

I try to stay out of this fracas, because I'm not really IN it, except that I care. I care that people's feelings and life's work are being stepped on by writers who are considered "la creme de la creme" by everyone, especially the media. Why? Because they sell copies,that's why, enough copies to make the literary Who's Who that the media never stop yammering about. Anybody who's anybody is in it. Everyone else is jealous, see? That's why they make such a fuss over things. Besides, the literati are the only ones who can write anyway.

Such was, and is, the tweeting and twatting in the nasty little world of Canadian literature, which has become the realm of bad feeling and poison darts.

And I mention that the big publishers are American. Well, they ARE, so the big publishers better get over it. You're not Canadian, you don't reflect anything but moving copies and winning Gillers, but the small presses, struggling along, barely able to make it, are. Every ten years or so a "marginalized" writer from a "small independent press" is tossed a Giller nomination, and the signatories of the UBC Accountable open letter say something like, "See? We're all equal here. You're almost as worthy to sit at the same table as we are." It's considered by the press to be a minor miracle, and such lucky writers are asked, "How in God's name did you manage to do that?"

Just to explain, the bad name I called Joseph Boyden doesn't reflect my usual language, but it DOES reflect the language of people who lack cultural sensitivity. And how about people who pretend to be something they're not, winning literary prizes galore in the process? Becoming famous for something you actually aren't. Does the name Grey Owl mean anything to you? How about Iron Eyes Cody? 

(From Wikipedia) Iron Eyes Cody (born Espera Oscar de Corti April 3, 1904 – January 4, 1999) was an Italian-American actor. He portrayed Native Americans in Hollywood films. He also played a Native American shedding a tear about litter in one of the country's most well-known television public service announcements, "Keep America Beautiful". In 1996, Cody's half-sister said that he was of Italian ancestry, but he denied it.

A ball in the Lark!

There is something very strange about this video, because it's neither black-and-white nor colour: it's pink! Washed-out pink, almost pinkish-grey, ashes-of-roses pink. I suppose this is the effect of ageing, film stock changing colour as it slowly degenerates.

I became re-fascinated (as opposed to re-fastened) with the Studebaker Lark when a certain jingle recently popped into my head: "You're gonna have a ball in the Lark/The '62 Lark!" This ad ran on TV when I was eight years old, and I remember it as if it were yesterday. Certain ads seem permanently recorded in my brain, along with a lot of other useless stuff.

I'm trying to find one that goes, "Plymouth's on the move, Plymouth, Plymouth, Plymouth's on the move. . . ", but so far no luck.

It interests me how this car is presented. Obviously it's a jazzed-up version of what used to be a very stodgy, dull family car. The fact that the woman who drives it is running around in a bathing suit is never explained, but the voiceover insists that it's a "very sexy car". I believe this short film was meant for dealers rather than consumers, but it's still very interesting. They're obviously supposed to give it a certain spin.

It didn't work, and Studebaker collapsed, I think the year after the "ball in the Lark" ad (video below). Up to that point, the "Studey" had been a serviceable, solid, conservative car. A safe bet. Did the Lark kill it? More likely, it was competition from the other swank sports cars of the era: the T-bird (of Beach Boys fame), the Stingray, the Porsche 911.

And yes, I had to look those up.

Though I've made some very long gifs of these ads (OH how I love to make gifs of old car ads, late at night!), I want to include the
"ball in the Lark" jingle, along with that hectic dance number, like an Archie comic on amphetamines.

BONUS GIFS:The 1957 Studebaker! For some reason, old ads that are sepia rather than black-and-white make the best gifs. There is a certain crispness to them, and an ivory tone which is quite sensuous. And these are long, about a full minute each, when the average gif is a few seconds.

To me, it already looks pretty sexy. But what do I know.