Here are some of the best pieces I've come across in the past week, in the hopes of getting you through to this weekend's Dornochapalooza:
Alec Baldwin's disappointment, undimmed by success.
By Ian Parker
I have no idea why, but Alec Baldwin is one of those actors that steals every scene he's in, the constant focal point, whether he intends to be or not. Like a poor man's George Clooney. Maybe it's due to the fact that he's characters that are essentially himself for the past 15 years (cynical, endlessly disappointed, never shy about saying what he's thinking even though he probably shouldn't be thinking it in the first place). In this piece from last week's New Yorker, he explains the history of the Baldwin brothers, how he came to loathe Vicki Vale, and the reasons behind his infamous voicemail.
An example of the kind of life that has left Alec in an eternal state of disontent:
Baldwin was wary. It was a sitcom, and he had played Macbeth and Stanley Kowalski on the New York stage. His mind turned to the example of Conrad Bain, the actor with a fine theatrical background who came to be Philip Drummond, the white father of two adopted African-American boys, on “Diff’rent Strokes.” Embroidering on this thought, Baldwin imagined an actor who signs up for the quick money of a sitcom pilot quite confident that the show will never be commissioned: “The agent’s saying, ‘Don’t worry, it’s the biggest piece of shit in the history of show business.’ Cut to six years later: you’re in your dressing room, you’re in season five, and on the wall are posters of you from the New York Shakespeare Festival—these achingly beautiful posters on the wall. By that point, you’re making a hundred and seventy-five thousand a week, you’ve got a house in East Hampton, you’re getting laid constantly, you’ve got closets of beautiful Italian suits, and you’ve got three cars in the garage and you’re paying alimony to your ex-wife who’s living down in Florida. And you’re doing the same jokes, again and again and again.”
Some guys just never seem to catch a break.
Rock and Read
by Will Percy
The son of Walker Percy (Walker, a noted author, and the man largely responsible for getting John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces published more than 10 years after Toole's death) interviews Bruce Springsteen sometime during the Ghost of Tom Joad tour (probably late 1996 or early 1997). A fascinating look into what inspires The Boss. I love Bruce's sense of what his job as a songwriter is: "I think it was Walt Whitman who said, ''The poet's job is to know the soul'. You strive for that, assist your audience in finding and knowing theirs. That's always at the core of what you're writing".
Thanks to LM for the tip.
Peru: Hell and Back
By Kira Salak
A fascinating and somewhat terrifying look into the world of Shamanism deep in the heart of the Amazon. The effects of psychoactive pharmacology are brought to life in vivid detail, as the author aims to release some of her inner demons by means of the kind of soul purging that can only take place during the sacred ayahuasca ritual. Intense stuff.
Celebrating the 10-year Anniversary of our Ignorance
by Ken Rosenthal
It's hard to believe that this was only 10 years ago. It feels like it was in another lifetime.
(If you want to see the difference in popularity between Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds, just look at the way Bonds' teammates respond to HR #71, and compare that to the unabashed love and joy McGuire's teammates feel for him). Thanks to Skeets for the link.
James Mirtle documents a nail-biter in women's Olympic hockey qualifying. Call me crazy, but I don't think a men's hockey team is running up the score like this.
Essential reading for Dornochapalooza 2008: