June 17, 2011

Culture Cartoons


The Paris Review‘s Culture Diaries (in which artists, writers, curators, editors, filmmakers, and their bohemian ilk chronicle their art production and consumption) induces ambivalent emotions. On one hand, it’s easy to find the accounts name-droppy, narcissistic, and occasionally implausible. On the other hand, the reports do contain a lot of good book recommendations. The series invites parody and, indeed, has been parodied by David Orr at The Awl:

12:30 p.m.: Gaze poetically heavenward while sharing a light lunch of organic pearl onions and filet of local cassowary with James Franco and Harold Bloom at the Yale Club. Franco gets a little tipsy and punches a waiter while shouting something about “Twitter” (possibly “water” or “mother”; his enunciation was suffering). Waiter out cold. I cover waiter with my favorite made-to-measure ascot and flee.

2:35 p.m.: Sex, hastily, then petit-fours.

3:00pm: Drinks in Alphabet City with Greta, a Norwegian tea sculptor and amateur horticulturist whose great-grandfather invented the meatball. We agree that the state of Danish cinema is dire. Adrien Brody is seated beside us, and I deliberately order a Stella while smirking.

It requires a certain knack to present your own life in an appealing way, and the masters of it are the cartoonists. For example, when New Yorker cartoonist Zachary Kanin reports that he spent the whole day writing and working projects, it doesn’t sound like bragging… not when it looks like this:

And no one will accuse Joe Ollmann (Mid-Life)of making pompous literary references, not when he portrays his culture consumption like this:

Listening to Cormac McCarthy on the treadmill