Sunday, July 28, 2013

Stranger Than Fiction by Chuck Palahniuk

Continuing the Chuck Palahniuk series, I finished Stranger Than Fiction {True Stories}. It was pretty good. An easier read and less intense and disturbing than the novels of his I've read.

This is post Fight Club written in 2004 and the author is a bit more self aware shall we say. The book is a series of essays in several sections. The first section is crazy stuff Chuck saw through America like an annual demolition derby of farm combines. The middle section Chuck seems to be visiting/interviewing interesting offbeat type celebrities like Juliette Lewis and Marilyn Manson. The third section is Chuck writing in his own voice about meeting Brad Pitt (who recurs throughout the book), Hollywood life, the experience of being a famous author, his relationship with this father and the deaths in his family on his fathers side. He also discusses writing and some authors and writing style Chuck admires.

You would definitely have to read Fight Club first to appreciate this book. I liked it. Chuck is lucky, the former technical writer sitting in some corporate office writing about diesel engine drivetrains, then boom, this book he wrote and had pretty much forgotten becomes a phenomenon and Chuck becomes an unlikely part of the New York / LA scene - he seems to love every minute of it. I hope would too if that happened to me.

There's still some more Palahniuk to go through and I enjoy his work. So will continue this series.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

the Decline of Detroit

When I was growing up I always thought Detroit was this cool place. I wanted to go there.

So Detroit is bankrupt. $18 billion of debt among 700,000 residents. over $25k per resident. when you account for the dependant classes, the 47% (more than that there), it's probably around $60k per actual working taxpayer or business owner. yep, that's unserviceable, bankrupt. still the band plays on. at the time of the filing Detroit was seeking to borrow even more to cover a deficit this year of over $400 million.

municipal debt is interesting in that residents can repudiate paying their share just by moving out of the district. leaving their neighbours holding the bag. meh, I don't blame them, it's not like they were consulted in the borrowing of all this debt in the first place. the people who voted with their feet and left Detroit did so for a reason.

in Canada a lot of us know a bit more about Detroit. back around 1990-1992 or so for some reason the American channels we got were Detroit. the Detroit news was so bad, all crime, murder, mayhem, racial tension.

it's strange nobody ever seems to point out that the era of Halifax race based disturbances coincided with Detroit news being beamed in. and the Detroit narrative was cut off shortly after the troubles in Halifax appeared. not missed at all. the local news out of Boston and Rochester is just so much better and more positive.

what's most remarkable to me about Detroit is the swiftness of the decline. in the 1950s it was the fourth largest city in America. in the early 1960s Detroit was the wealthiest city per capita in the country. it only took two generations to transform Detroit from the most prosperous city in the land to the blight and bankruptcy it is today.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

50th anniversary

My parents had their 50th anniversary a little while ago. It was a good get together, kept it small.

I had the task to put together a slide show. I found the old 1960s projector from Eatons at my parents place. Plugged it in at my place and it seemed to work. Then smoke and sparks started flying out of it! I quickly unplugged and blew out the flames from the front panel. Put it outside on the concrete as a precaution.

So that was that. Luckily on kijiji there were a few projectors and I was able to get a good one c. early 1980s for $30. kijiji is awesome.

It took a while to to through the reels of slides and come up with a set for the party. But I was able to come up with a reel of 100 and about 25 more in a second reel. If I really tried I could have cut it down to one reel but nah. The slide show went over well so I was glad about that. My younger son ran the clicker. The slides ran from the mid 1960s to about 1980.

So now it's done. It's been a lot of change since the 40th and 25th anniversaries. Some for the better and some not so. It was good that this 50th was able to happen.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

I finished another book recently. It was Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk. I'd found the book a bit by accident. I just picked a shelf at random in the library and it happened to be in the Ps. I recognized the author of course from Fight Club so it was an easy pick.

It was an interesting book. A bit more intense and darker in ways than Fight Club. If that's possible. The book is about the last survivor of a religious cult Tender Branson. A greasy and opportunistic agent has a scheme to parlay Tender's last man standng status into a global celebrity and marketing/merchandise brand.

Typical of the author, it was a book that makes you think. About religion, happiness, identity, suicide, personal choice and fate. I'm not completely sure what it was all about. It was a good read, funny in parts, painful and disturbing in parts. The author as is his style uses lots of science in describing the arts of being a housekeeper and getting out stains of everything from tears, bruises, lipstick to blood. All in all a good read and there are a couple more by Palahniuk that I will definitely read.