A humorous, irreverent look at modern life by the internationally-renowned artist, Kerry Hallam. Poking fun at anything and everything in sight, he points out the foibles of technology and The Digital Age, which creates as many frustrations as the ones it's meant to solve.
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By Esla Verdad
Jan 25, 2014
No doubt the author thinks he is being oh-so-very witty and clever, but the aforementioned meme resurfaces whilst discussing his daughter's first sexual relationship: "I had to stifle my laughter. Only my daughter could come up with that combination [a Jewish sound engineer bagpipe player] in her first foray into the wacky world of intimate relationships."(Presumably the author hasn't consorted with and/or considered bedding members of the ethnicity himself having previously reduced them all in one brushstroke to a money-hungry lot who ethically cut corners on p. 47.) The strange enmeshed family dynamics on display with the revelation of private conversations with his daughter at least prepare the reader for when he discusses his own intimate activities. One vignette about a tryst with a woman he met on a ship describes the conclusion of the voyage with a rather ungentlemanly verb: "Felicity's mother and father would rather have died than admit that their twenty-year... More > old daughter had been writhing in ecstasy in odd spots about the ship every night". Amusing prose is peppered with this type of gratuitous comment ("writhing") which demonstrates an undercurrent of misogyny throughout. Women who are damned with faint praise in this and the predecessor book include the deferential smiling geisha who operates an elevator in a Japanese department store and various "fragrant" women who run errands for the author. These unfortunate choices set the tone for the rest of the author's writings that chronicle conflicts and grievances with other people-- East, West, young and old manifest throughout in angry encounters he has with people on Nantucket, including some bike-riders ambling through Nantucket's cobblestoned streets who almost collide with the author who was zipping around the most heavily touristy area and with some young women (reduced to "Valley Girl English" in the author's assessment) who want to snap a photo of his car. Somehow the author is surprised when the encounter ends with his own countrywomen calling him an "arsehole" of poor "attitude". The vignettes read funny at first blush, but the aftertaste is decidedly curmudgeon with a side of bitters. Though the Chronicles are occasionally amusing, the joke is on the author, as he lays bare his dark psyche- one pitted with conflicts with women, certain ethnicities and a need to deflect blame largely onto external sources. The reader is left wishing for him a better "observer self".< Less
What poses (and indeed may have originally been intended) as a light-hearted philosophical critique of the modern age is really a screed about very old grievances- both personal and political. Right off the bat, there is a section on world religions that commences with a light-hearted premise about ethnic quirks to draw in the reader and then quickly veers off into WWII(and earlier) era ugly tropes. "God had always taken special care of the Hebrews, who, owing to some problems with their tax returns, would later have to rename themselves simply 'the Jews'.....not content with the ten commandments, the philosopher and goldsmith Maimonides made a list of 613 more commandments which he found in the Jewish Bible that hadn't seen the light of day in decades...Everyone figured that enough was enough...The Jewish folk decided to ease off on all the religious stuff...and concentrate on what they really liked to do best: establish a profitable schemata business.....Judaism has few... More > essential beliefs: get it wholesale, guilt the kids, never mind the quality, feel the width, cut velvet, and want to get ahead, get a hat"...Jewish beliefs vary widely on theological matters such as interest bearing accounts, IRAs, and Safe Deposit boxes." The devolution of British (the author's homeland) society is chronicled thus: "You may recall the mention of a certain wealthy investor named 'Rothschild.'...The Rothschilds are one of many banking houses that have been instrumental in establishing banking as part and parcel of the ruling classes..." Descriptions of empires waxing and waning continues with the amusing comment, "...ancient Israel was predominantly Jewish, until the Jewish-Roman wars, which were a no-brainer since the Romans had weapons of mass destruction and the Jews had only matzoh balls". Bad taste creeps in again, as he continues: "After this the Jews became a minority in most regions, except Galillee and Palm Beach...1948 triggered massive migrations of Jews to Israel, and now all but three of them live in NYC and Florida." The unseemliness of the latter comments is really contextualized by the poor judgment (of both the author and his publisher, both fixtures on the otherwise lovely island Nantucket) by their initial reductive caricature of Jews that says a lot more about them than it could ever say about a whole race of people. They display ugly prejudices of a certain type of cranky ethnically homogenous old man whose brethren hail from crumbling empires.< Less
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