Wednesday, December 10, 2003

So Which Are You?

"Only doctors and hookers need pagers."
Bernie Brillstein, legendary Hollywood talent agent, in his forthcoming and eagerly awaited tell-all memoir, 'The Little Stuff Matters Most: 50 Rules from 50 Years of Trying to Make a Living.'

I'd have to add to that list people who accept cellphone calls while you're talking to them, with the understandable exception of those who are waiting for truly urgent calls (defined as health-related or from your spouse or kids. No others need apply). And let's also add to that list guys (and sorry to be gender-exclusive in my remarks, but this particular form of adolescent rudeness seems confined to guys, who seem to use these devices as stand-ins for their sex organs, which even they know they can't be manipulating in public). You know the type: they're trying to send you the subliminal message about how busy they are, how, with their thriving practices they simply can't be out of touch for more than seconds at a time (hell, if I miss that call by just 10 minutes, that $4 million deal will go elsewhere). How very 1997. Sorry guys, but the adults have been there, done that. Hey, this is a new century, a time when you need to plan better and pose as a Master of the Universe less. And a key thing in 2003 is spending more quality time in a real conversation, even if it's just 10 minutes. If you do it right, and get rid of the damn toys and gadgets and actually focus on what one person is telling you, it's amazing what you might learn and how well you might connect in just those few minutes. And then you can get back to playing with all your Radio Shack toys in the privacy of your own time and off in a quiet corner somewhere. Are we in agreement on this?

Burning Down His So-Called Career. And in news of another long-awaited book, though this one is more of the train-wreck-in-the-making variety, Jayson Blair's noxious memoir is getting close to being completed. And yes, that laughable blame-shifting title you may have heard about is going to stick. If you want to see the cover, click here. But be warned: you'd do well to first grab your barf bag...

An Aha! Moment. We've all read far too much about the endlessly dissected story of the World Trade Center, me more than most. And the comparison to Pearl Harbor, especially this week during the anniversary week of "the day which will live in infamy" is by now so obvious and overdone that it's become cliche. So it was wonderful this morning to come across this small gem in a Times review of a new book by two of its own, James Glanz's and Eric Lipton's City in the Sky--The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center. Nothing very new or remarkable till the last paragraph of the piece. And then this bright light bulb: "After finishing 'City in the Sky,' it is impossible not to feel that the destruction of the World Trade Center is the psychological equivalent of the sinking of the Titanic, an archetypal disaster that similarly undermined belief in the inevitability of progress and the infallibility of technology." How true, how obvious in retrospect, even. Only, it wasn't obvious till this reviewer noticed it and wrote it.


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