Every spring, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents awards for outstanding achievement in all aspects of mainstream cinema. These are the Academy Awards. Mainstream cinema is a major industry in the United States, and so are the Academy Awards. The AAs’ notorious commercialism and hypocrisy disgust many of the millions and millions and millions of viewers who tune in during prime time to watch the presentations. It is not a coincidence that the Oscars ceremony is held during TV’s Sweeps Week. We pretty much all tune in, despite the grotesquerie of watching an industry congratulate itself on its pretense that it’s still an art form, of hearing people in $5,000 gowns invoke lush clichés of surprise and humility scripted by publicists, etc. - the whole cynical postmodern deal - but we all still seem to watch. To care. Even though the hypocrisy hurts, even though opening grosses and marketing strategies are now bigger news than the movies themselves, even though Cannes and Sundance have become nothing more than enterprise zones. But the truth is that there’s no more real joy about it all anymore. Worse, there seems to be this enormous unspoken conspiracy where we all pretend that there’s still joy. That we think it’s funny when Bob Dole does a Visa ad and Gorbachev shills for Pizza Hut. That the whole mainstream celebrity culture is rushing to cash in and all the while congratulating itself on pretending not to cash in. Underneath it all, though, we know the whole thing sucks.
“The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that—well, lucky you.”—Philip Roth, American Pastoral
Last night after the No Regrets event I took the F home and there were two incredibly drunk guys in my car, middle-aged white guys in button-down shirts, not young fratty bros. They were hugging a pole in the middle of the crowded car, talking to each other loudly, moving unsteadily, slurring their words. I was worried, like I am 50% of the time on the subway at night, that vomit might happen on or near me. But they were only bothering each other, til they started talking to a woman who was sitting in the outer seat of a two-seat facing them, effectively underneath them, such that to talk to her one of them had to put his hand on the metal pole right behind her head so that he was sort of crouching over her. She had big, obvious neon green headphones on and I couldn’t see her face because of the direction her seat was facing. And she had a book open, but they were talking to her anyway. I couldn’t hear anything she said. She laughed at one point but to me it sounded like an uncomfortable laugh. Everyone else in the car was looking at these guys, looking at her, looking at each other, saying nothing. And then the louder of the two guys I guess wanted to get her attention because maybe she went back to her book and stopped nervously appeasing him so he reached over and touched her shoulder, not hard, just like “hey,”
DON’T TOUCH HER, I screamed.
"Whuh? Hey, I’m just … mind your business, we’re just talking," or whatever nonsense, he slurred.
DON’T TOUCH WOMEN AND DON’T TALK TO THEM. YOU’RE DRUNK. SHE DOESN’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU. DON’T TOUCH WOMEN AND DON’T TALK TO THEM, I screamed.
He protested, he called me “McSweeney’s” (!!) and he called me some other names, including, of course, “crazy,” But other women in the car chimed in, telling him to lay off, back off, calm down. And I got off at the next stop, so I don’t know what else happened.
“Machines are for answers; humans are for questions. The world that Google is constructing—a world of cheap and free answers—having answers is not going to be very significant or important. Having a really great question will be where all the value is.”—
“If I have a point—and I am not sure that I do—it is that we do not have to give a quote to the New York Times just because they asked us for a quote. We do not have to write a Tweet just because we are waiting in line for the bathroom. We can spend entire days in silence if we so choose. You can keep your mouth shut. It is possible.”—Gabe Delahaye: R.I.P. Everyone
“Phil Hoffman and I had two things in common. We were both fathers of young children, and we were both recovering drug addicts. Of course I’d known Phil’s work for a long time — since his remarkably perfect film debut as a privileged, cowardly prep-school kid in Scent of a Woman — but I’d never met him until the first table read for Charlie Wilson’s War, in which he’d been cast as Gust Avrakotos, a working-class CIA agent who’d fallen out of favor with his Ivy League colleagues. A 180-degree turn.
On breaks during rehearsals, we would sometimes slip outside our soundstage on the Paramount lot and get to swapping stories. It’s not unusual to have these mini-AA meetings — people like us are the only ones to whom tales of insanity don’t sound insane. “Yeah, I used to do that.” I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: “If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” He meant that our deaths would make news and maybe scare someone clean.
So it’s in that spirit that I’d like to say this: Phil Hoffman, this kind, decent, magnificent, thunderous actor, who was never outwardly “right” for any role but who completely dominated the real estate upon which every one of his characters walked, did not die from an overdose of heroin — he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine.
He didn’t die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed — he died because he was an addict on a day of the week with a y in it. He’ll have his well-earned legacy — his Willy Loman that belongs on the same shelf with Lee J. Cobb’s and Dustin Hoffman’s, his Jamie Tyrone, his Truman Capote and his Academy Award. Let’s add to that 10 people who were about to die who won’t now.”—Aaron Sorkin's obituary for Philip Seymour Hoffman in Time
“My original take on this scene was a loud, late night pronouncement from Lester Bangs. A call to arms. In Phil’s hands it became something different. A scene about quiet truths shared between two guys, both at the crossroads, both hurting, and both up too late. It became the soul of the movie. In between takes, Hoffman spoke to no one. He listened only to his headset, only to the words of Lester himself. (His Walkman was filled with rare Lester interviews.) When the scene was over, I realized that Hoffman had pulled off a magic trick. He’d leapt over the words and the script, and gone hunting for the soul and compassion of the private Lester, the one only a few of us had ever met. Suddenly the portrait was complete. The crew and I will always be grateful for that front row seat to his genius.”—Cameron Crowe Tells the Story of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s ‘Uncool’ Scene From Almost Famous
“One of the first items sold on [eBay] was a broken laser pointer for $14.83. Astonished, Omidyar contacted the winning bidder to ask if he understood that the laser pointer was broken. In his responding email, the buyer explained: “I’m a collector of broken laser pointers.””—eBay - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia