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Stateside: Barry And Doug And Al And Babs

Stateside with Rosalea Barker

Barry And Doug And Al And Babs

::Barry gets his Babe::

Who'd have thunk, five years ago, that I'd likely remember for the rest of my life exactly where I was when a certain baseball player hit a milestone home run in 2006? I've been to one baseball game in my entire life and, while it was a tad more entertaining than watching a one-day international at the Basin Reserve, it hardly qualified as chopped liver.

But yesterday's Babe Ruth-matching 714th home run hit by San Francisco Giants player Barry Bonds at my local stadium--the Oakland Coliseum--coincided with my being immersed in a book I'd found in the discard bin of a local branch library that same morning. So where was I? By some quirk of synchronicity and a warp in the time-space continuum, I was at the Oakland Coliseum in 1991 watching a Grateful Dead concert.

::The pre-Xbox generation::\

The book was Douglas Coupland's 1996 book Polaroids from the Dead, a collection of short fiction and non-fiction that "explores the world that existed in the early 1990s, back when the decade was young and had yet to locate its own texture."

Besides the section comprising stories about tripping Deadheads in the Coliseum carpark and roaming the cavernous concrete walkways beneath the stands, there is a section of Portraits of People and Places that includes some wonderful observations about the politics of 1992.

And a section based on an article Coupland had tried unsuccessfully to sell to the LA Times about the fiercely protected invisibility of the LA suburb Brentwood. Who wants to read about Brentwood?, he was asked. Well, a few weeks later the whole world did because that's where OJ Simpson's ex-wife lived and died.

Coupland is the novelist who popularized the term Generation X. His latest book jPod was published just this month.

::Everyone's gone to the Cannes::

Everything's Gone Green is supposedly the first New Order song to feature computer-generated sounds. It's also the title of a movie written by Coupland, a comedy about Ryan, a good-natured slacker, who is tempted into a money laundering scheme while working for a lottery magazine. (According to the plot summary at IMDb.) The movie had its first screening for US and International buyers at Cannes on May 21.

Also in Cannes promoting his own movie was former VP Al Gore, whom I'd hoped to see speak when he came to the UC Berkeley campus on the eve of the film's US premiere next week. He was going to be addressing the China-US Climate Change Forum, but a labor dispute involving the janitorial staff on campus means that he's cancelled his scheduled appearance.

::Deadheads do DC::

No self-respecting Democrat would ever cross a picket line, so a number of the speakers for UCB commencement ceremonies taking place over the past two weeks have cancelled. All those lucky graduates and their families have been spared the likes of this predictably perfunctory speech given by US Senator Barbara Boxer at a private college a week or so ago:

"Highest legislative body in the world"? High on what exactly? What Coupland says in his short piece about the politics of 1992 is as true today as it was then: "blah, blah, blah."



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