Ruminations

A Tale of Two Hollywood Cemeteries

When I close my eyes and picture Hollywood, I see grime and water-starved palm trees, white plastic sunglasses and discarded needles. For every Rodeo Drive, with its well-manicured streets, designed for beautiful cars and beautiful women, there are two or ten or twenty Melrose Avenues, the reason the descriptor "seedy" exists, slightly menacing, but mostly sad, where dreams of celebrity go to die and, from those ashes, give rise to cement, patchouli-scented sex shops, and Walgreen's staffed by more security attendants than cashiers. 

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Why Tom Petty Was Hard to Kill

Killing Tom Petty wasn’t easy.

The formidable grunge wave of the nineties couldn’t make him irrelevant. The demise of a 22-year relationship that precipitated an oppressive depression and sent him retreating to an isolated cabin in the woods couldn’t do it. A father that “beat the shit” out of him couldn’t do it. Heroin failed. And an arsonist who burned down his house couldn’t do the trick.

In the end, some biological cowardice snuck up on Petty when he wasn’t looking: cardiac arrest.

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Meaningful Media, Part 2

Last August, I was stuck in a rut, seemingly incapable of producing art, able only to consume it. I realized that while I yearned to create and chaffed at my apparent failure, being surrounded by wonderful films and TV shows and essays of the caliber I hoped to one day create actually wasn't the worst thing. So I settled into my role as consumer, and resigned myself to producing just a few worthwhile reflections on the art I liked. It helped me to create both a time capsule of the things that inspired me at the time, and ultimately helped me to get out of my rut. Today, some seven months later, I find myself in that place again -- totally stuck. But I've learned since then, so I'm skipping the whining and going straight to the appreciation of other's successes.

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No Re-Joyce Here

Every few months or year, you meet someone so unwilling to share their essence, you come away with a task, an exoskeleton to crack, some fleshy part to find and poke at. But that’s usually a misguided assumption; often, people who seem cloaked in steel aren’t hiding. Rather, they’re being painfully honest about who they are, and who they are is pricklier than a fire blanket after emergency use. 

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Readin', Writin', and Morality?

This fall, nearly 50 million American children began school at a public institution. For the past few months, they've been going to class for seven or eight hours a day, five days a week. They listen to short lectures from their teachers and work on practice problems. The math builds upon itself over the years and the readings become denser with each ascending grade, all according to a pre-planned curriculum. But in between lesson plans and test preparation, an even more important type of learning is taking place: Social learning.

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