Archive for the ‘Fonzie of the Week’ Category

Fonzie of the Week #19: Anybody but J.D. Salinger

January 29th, 2010 2 comments

Guess what? Your mom is Fonzie of the Week! So’s mine! And this week, so long as you are Anybody but J.D. Salinger, you too can call yourself Fonzie of the Week. Congratulations!

Lots of people are going to go out of their way in the next few days to demonstrate what a genius J.D. Salinger was, but don’t you believe the hype, loyal reader. The supposed greatness of his one novel and several short stories aside, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and point out that he was a complete nutjob, and definitely not deserving of the honor that you and everybody you know has earned this week. Mourn not the loss of Mr. Salinger, rather congratulate yourself for not being him. Way to go, you Fonzie, you!

I suppose I should provide some explanation for my dislike of the recently-deceased Salinger. To start with, I hated The Catcher in the Rye, which by all accounts I should have loved, having read it as a young white guy. Now there’s no accounting for taste, and I’m not going to argue with people who love the book. That’s a perfectly valid opinion to have. But so is mine, which is that Holden Caulfield was a spoiled rich kid who couldn’t hack it at his expensive private school, so he goes to New York and wastes a bunch of money he didn’t earn feeling bad for himself. What a page-turner. If only we could all afford to treat ourselves to a weekend in New York when we were depressed at 17. Now I’m not saying that Mr. Salinger didn’t create a believable character in Holden Caulfield. He did, and skillfully so. But that doesn’t make The Catcher in the Rye a good book: I’ve had to endure rich assholes in real life; I see no point in wasting my free time reading a book about a fictional one.

Regardless of my feelings towards Caulfield, J.D. Salinger’s life was an insult to people (espeically artists) who actually work for a living. I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but facts are facts. I hated The Catcher in the Rye, but let’s pretend for a moment that I loved it. Hell, let’s assume that I loved every scrap of fiction that Salinger ever published – there are plenty of people who do. Even so, the guy hasn’t published anything in more than 40 years! There’s plenty of speculation that he continued to write prolifically in his little New Hampshire fortress of solitude, but at best Mr. Salinger didn’t die an author; he died a former author and active weirdo recluse. I only write this blog that very few people read, and I often manage to fail my lowly goal of one post per week – and yet I’ve released more original content to the reading public in the last 6 months than Salinger has in decades. I’m not saying I’m a better writer than Salinger. I’m just saying I’m the only one of the two of us to actually write something people can read in the last 40 years.

But here’s the worst part of the hoopla surrounding Salinger’s death: people are praising him for not writing. What the hell? Verlyn Klinkenborg wrote in a New York Times editorial that “there was a purity in Mr. Salinger’s separation from the world, whatever its motives, whatever his character. His half-century of solitude and silence was a creative act in itself, requiring extraordinary force of will.” Bullshit. Anorexia takes extraordinary force of will, too, but I don’t see the Times honoring all those tapeworm-eating teenage girls out there.

Let’s apply the J.D. Salinger path to greatness to an equally important but less lauded career: janitor. In this scenario, a young J.D. Salinger, just home from the war, fulfills his lifelong dream of perfecting the art of custodial maintenance. And he’s great at it! He quickly rises through the ranks, landing the most coveted shifts at the swankiest office buildings. Until one day, sick of his superiors and clients lavishing praise on him for his keen attention to detail, he retreats to his home and never cleans again. Or, in Salinger’s case, there would be wild speculation that he continues to clean in private, compulsively toothbrush-scrubbing his floors with furious abandon. But nobody can say for sure, because he won’t let anybody see his (possibly) spotless home. I guarantee that when Salinger the janitor dies, nobody’s going to claim that he was the greatest American janitor of his generation. Rather, they’d wonder why such a promising young custodial all-star went so batshit crazy. That’s what I’d like to see written about the real Salinger – preferably in a more prestigious publication than my lowly blog. Salinger may have been a great writer, but he wasted the second half of what could have been an even more accomplished life, and there was nothing noble or artistic about his freakish seclusion. It was his right to be a recluse, but let’s not praise him for it.

So to conclude: congratulations, Anybody but J.D. Salinger! Your steadfast dedication to not being J.D. Salinger is a true inspiration to children everywhere who boldly aspire to grow up to be somebody other than J.D. Salinger. Get out there and share your gifts with the world.

Fonzie of the Week #18: Conan O’Brien

January 15th, 2010 No comments

I’m real late to the party in supporting Conan O’Brien and joining the internet riot against the treachery of the Leno Industrial Complex. And if you’re reading my obscure little blog, then it’s a safe bet that you already know all about the poor guy getting royally screwed by his soon-to-be ex-employer. Needless to say, I’m with CoCo. So with gratitude for the many years of laughs he’s provided as writer or host for Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Late Night, and most recently his criminally short tenure at The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien is Fonzie of the Week.

True story: on December 29th I sent myself an email as a reminder to make Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg (the trombonist from the Tonight Show band, and the guy who sings the “In the Year 2000/3000” theme song) Fonzie of the Week someday. If only I had known what was to come, I might have sped things up and honored him already. But with what looks like only one week left before Conan is off the air – at least on NBC – LaBamba’s out and Conan’s in. (Sorry, LaBamba: you are just another piece of collateral damage generated by NBC’s deal-breaking blitzkrieg. Damn you, Jeff Zucker!)

The bad news is that Conan is most likely going to lose The Tonight Show in the next week or so. It’s a slap in the face to hard-working people everywhere. Conan paid his dues and patiently waited his turn, only to have NBC yank the rug out from under him less than a year later. The real insult is that Jay Leno got his 10pm show in the first place: it’s insulting to Conan because it sent a clear message that NBC was willing to handicap his Tonight Show to keep Leno happy; and it’s insulting to viewers because NBC’s reason for creating The Jay Leno Show was primarily an economic one: Leno’s show is way cheaper than scripted dramas or comedies. I understand NBC has to protect its bottom line, but this strikes me as putting the cart before the horse. It’s almost as slimy as the reality show boom of the last decade, but at least this time they were paying writers (if only those employed by Jay Leno).

The good news is that Conan will be back, and I believe better than ever. It’s disappointing that his unique brand of humor won’t carry the Tonight Show brand, but with Leno hijacking the show from its rightful host for arguably the second time, that brand no longer carries the street cred it once did. The only question now seems to be which network will host CoCo’s triumphant return. FOX seems to be in the lead, if the rumors are to be believed, but I think that Conan might be best served by a cable network where he’ll have fewer restraints placed on him by the FCC. Sure, Jon Stewart never had as big an audience as Leno or Letterman, but it’s easy to make the case that he’s made a bigger impact on American culture, even with his smaller platform. The history books will elevate him higher than any Nielsen ratings ever could. Conan is great on network TV…how much greater could he be minus the red tape that comes with a broadcast network? It’s a question worth asking.

Lastly, even if he weren’t the comedy dynamo he is, Conan would be Fonzie-worthy this week because of the statement he published in defense of his show. It was classy, thoughtful, gutsy, and striking in its honesty. And in true Conan O’Brien style, it left you with a laugh. Here’s hoping your final shows at The Tonight Show are great ones, Conan. I’ll be watching. You will be missed while you figure out your next step, and rest assured there will be many of us waiting to join you when you make that step. Viva Conando!

Fonzie of the Week #17: Cavemen

January 8th, 2010 No comments

A couple of quick things before I commence with the Fonzie naming: happy new year, TLF Readers! (Yes, I just started abbreviating the blog’s name. We’ll see if it sticks.) And second: sorry for the lack of posts in recent weeks. I suggest you blame it on Baby Jesus. He’s rolling in the free frankincense and myrrh, and the rest of us get screwed out of our weekly Fonzie fix. What a raw deal!

Anyways, 2010 is upon us. So let’s stop focusing on the past and look to the future!

…Actually, on second thought, scratch that. Everybody and their mother is out in Las Vegas at the International Consumer Electronics Show looking to the future, and news flash: in the future, all your cutting-edge electronic gadgetry sucks big time. Honestly, it was only a few months ago that I finally managed to scrape together the dough to pick up an off-brand semi-big HDTV, and next thing you know Al Roker communicates through said TV that it’s no longer any good because it’s only 2D. Apparently “what’s happening in my neck of the woods” is seething rage over the short shelf life of 21st century electronics. Which leads me to the point: Cavemen are the Fonzie of the Week. Think of it as a retro thing. Really retro.

Cavemen are fast runners. They discovered fire and the wheel. And reportedly they’re skilled at obtaining competitive insurance rates. But the important thing here is that they’d be suitably impressed by my crappy no-name HDTV. So screw you, Al Roker. Screw you, James Cameron’s Avatar. I don’t need 3D glasses to appreciate cave paintings. Fonzie on, cavemen. Fonzie on.

Fonzie of the Week #16: People Who Crash Things

December 6th, 2009 No comments

People Who Crash ThingsI know it’s a few weeks early to be writing a year-end retrospective, but if I don’t act now those “Person of the Year” charlatans over at Time Magazine are going to scoop me, so here goes:

2009 was the year of the crasher. Suck on it, Time.

In recognition of this year’s hot trend, I’m declaring that People Who Crash Things are Fonzie of the Week. And I know what you’re thinking: “Everybody’s already talking about those White House party crashers, Jason. There’s nothing new here. You’re just recycling the news and passing it off as something original. You might as well be Jay Leno.” Ouch. But you’re wrong, dear reader, because this whole crasher thing goes way deeper than that.

It began subtly enough, with a little Canadian squirrel popping up in a honeymoon photo – sneaky, because nobody ever looks to Canada to be the origin of sweeping trends. But take it from me, I’m married to one: Canadians are way craftier than you think. They’re slowly taking over the world, one Tim Hortons donut at a time. You’ll realize I’m right 20 years from now when you’re picking up your grandkids at Curling practice and enjoying cheap prescription meds. And where did it begin? That’s right, with the Crasher Squirrel. He’s the biggest Canadian superstar since Dudley Do-Right. And unlike that goodie-goodie Do-Right, he’s a lovable rogue who doesn’t care whose photos he ruins. What a badass, eh?

But the Crasher Squirrel himself isn’t Fonzie of the Week, he’s just one of many Fonzies who meet this week’s criteria. The last week has been been a great example of how 2009 will be remembered for its many crashers. Obviously, “White House Party Crashers” Tareq and Michaele Salahi come to mind, but how about Tiger Woods? Sure, the infidelity part’s juicy, but let’s not forget how he grabbed the headlines in the first place: crashing his car. The crashing never stops!

Even Tom Brokaw was involved in a crash on the Bruckner Expressway this week. And I couldn’t make this up if I tried: as I write this post, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo is recovering in the hospital after his tour bus crashed in upstate New York this morning…after departing from Toronto. The Canadians are at it again! And those are just the newsworthy crashers from the last few days. Here’s a quick list of other notable 2009 crashers you might have forgotten about:

  • Captain C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger kicked off 2009 by crash landing his plane safely in the Hudson after plowing through a flock of Canadian geese…just another example of Canadian animals underhandedly shaping our cultural landscape.
  • Barack Obama pretty much crashed the Nobel Peace Prize. Way to freak out the establishment, Mr. President.
  • Okay, it technically started in 2008, but it bares noting that the U.S. economy crashed big time.
  • Kanye West crashed Taylor Swift’s MTV acceptance speech.
  • Rep. Joe Wilson crashed Obama’s health care speech. No lie.
  • A server crash caused almost all T-Mobile Sidekick users to irrevocably lose their personal data.

So there you have it, folks. Wanna be a Fonzie? Go crash something. But the year’s almost up – don’t dawdle. I have it on good authority that a beaver from Saskatchewan is planning something big for 2010 that’s going to make crashing completely passe. Don’t get left behind.

Fonzie of the Week #15: Turkey!

November 30th, 2009 No comments

Turkey!Okay, to be fair, turkey is really more delicious than cool, but power must be respected, and respect is cool…and I’ll be damned if turkey didn’t wield some extraordinary power over me last week, rendering me incapable of putting up a Fonzie of the Week post. That, and Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird. And Ben Franklin discovered electricity with nothing but a kite and a key. He’s like the original MacGyver.

So…turkey is the Fonzie of Last Week. There will be a new Fonzie by week’s end. I’m going to go poke some extra holes in all of my belts now.