Foro TV, a product of the Mexican broadcasting conglomerate Televisa, promises to feature some of this country’s leading journalists and commentators, like Hector Aguilar Camin (co-author of “In the Shadow of the Mexican Revolution”), Denise Dresser and Leo Zuckerman.
But it opens the morning news with Brozo the clown. What does it say about the viewing audience—or Televisa’s perception of us—that we might want our news from a green-haired, red-nosed jokester?
Actually, Brozo has quite a history in Mexican current events, and it hasn’t always been a laughing matter. The costumed persona of journalist Victor Trujillo is known for an irreverence that often skewered the mighty and powerful. Embattled politicians all the way up to a president’s wife have chosen him to be the recipient of exclusive interviews or campaign promos.
A few years back, Brozo stunned a high-ranking city official who was appearing as a guest on a morning show the clown hosted at the time. Brozo aired a secret videotape showing the man stuffing a briefcase and then his pockets with thousands of dollars in alleged bribe money. The man’s career was toast, and the scandal may have cost his boss, then-Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the presidency in 2006.
Brozo left morning television following the death of his wife in 2004 but is returning now to what he says will be a no-holds-barred format.
Located inside the Urban Design Center Kashiwa-no-ha, the Ogori cafe looks innocuous enough, but holds a surprise in store for its patrons. In a nutshell, you get what the person before you ordered, and the next person gets what you ordered. Thus, if you’re in on the game, you can choose to be either a generous benefactor, and treat those that come after you – or try your luck at being cheap. Either way, it’s an interesting experiment that explores surprise, kindness and encourages interactions. . . .
[Caleb Stasser explains:] “As I sat down to enjoy my surprise Appletizer, loving this insane idea and wondering what would happen if you tried it in America, a Japanese woman approached the cafe. Since she could actually speak Japanese, she could read the large sign at the front and, fortunately or unfortunately, got advanced warning of what she was in for. Before making a final decision on what to order, she quietly snuck up to me to try to ask me what I had ordered, knowing that it would be her unwavering refreshment destiny. The staff put a quick stop to her trickery, and I didn’t answer.
“Of course, regardless of what she ordered, she got the orange juice I ordered a few minutes earlier. But here’s one of the moments that make this experiment cool: she actually chose orange juice, just like I did. So she got what she wanted. Ogori cafe synchronicity!”
The saddest thing about life is that you don’t remember half of it. You don’t even remember half of half of it. Not even a tiny percentage, if you want to know the truth. I have this friend Bob who writes down everything he remembers. If he remembers dropping an ice cream cone on his lap when he was seven, he’ll write it down. The last time I talked to Bob, he had written more than five hundred pages of memories. He’s the only guy I know who remembers his life. He said he captures memories, because if he forgets them, it’s as though they didn’t happen; it’s as though he hadn’t lived the parts he doesn’t remember.
I thought about that when he said it, and I tried to remember something. I remembered getting a merit badge in Cub Scouts when I was seven, but that’s all I could remember. I got it for helping a neighbor cut down a tree. I’ll tell that to God when he asks what I did with my life. I’ll tell him I cut down a tree and got a badge for it. He’ll most likely want to see the merit badge, but I lost it years ago, so when I’m done with my story, God will probably sit there looking at me, wondering what to talk about next. God and Bob will probably talk for days.
I know I’ve had more experiences than this, but there’s no way I can remember everything. Life isn’t memorable enough to remember everything. It’s not like there are explosions happening all the time or dogs smoking cigarettes. Life is slower. It’s like we’re all watching a movie, waiting for something to happen, and every couple months the audience points at the screen and says, “Look, that guy’s getting a parking ticket.” It’s strange the things we remember.
Mr Bain was followed by a white-face, the classic circus clown, like Grimaldi himself, reading from the Gospel of St Mark. His eyebrows, one a smile, the other a frown, formed a sharp, black contrast to the pallor of his face and the red of his ears. The gold, pink and blue sequinned glory of his harlequin coat sparkled as he meandered up and down the aisle playing a tiny saxophone.
Cheerful though his appearance was, the melody was melancholy, as clowns themselves often are. Sadder still was the recitation of names of clowns who died in the past year. As the poignant litany of departed jesters was recited—Bozo, Boxcar, Uncle Dippy and the Unknown Clown—beaming children placed a thick cream candle for each clown at the back of the church.
The clowns then joined together in the Clown’s Prayer. They gave thanks for the gift of laughter… The final words of the prayer offered a gentle alternative to the financial hubris with which the world has been confronted: “As your children are rebuked in their self-importance and cheered in their sadness, help me to remember that your foolishness is wiser than our wisdom.”…
At the end of the service, a organist who resembled Groucho Marx bashed out Grimaldi’s favourite song, the Hot Codlings polka, on the church’s squeaky instrument. Mr Bain led a prancing procession of clowns down the aisle and out the door where they put on a proper show in the church hall. As they left, one of my friends, who is a devout atheist, leaned over to me and whispered: “If church was always like this, I’d come every week.”
Because Stillman praises convention and doesn’t shun virtue, there are more options open to him. It turns out looking at convention and virtue only through a perspective that disparages them can seriously limit your stock of references. Stillman’s characters can move from examining Jane Austen or War and Peace to analyzing The Graduate from the perspective of the make-out king. Stillman doesn’t feel the need for hip references; he simply explores his interests, and they are fascinating.
If praising virtue leads to creativity, this is good news for contemporary artists because it opens up more options for them. Stillman is proof that virtue doesn’t have to lead to canned narratives. Virtue in a world where it is largely misunderstood is fuel for drama, irony and a whole lot of cinematic fun.
It is not necessary to be Russian in order to appreciate holy fools however it seems to help.
There is a long tradition of fools for Christ’s sake in both Western and Eastern Christendom, containing both real fools and fools ex officio. In the West for example, St. Francis of Assisi exhibited some of the characteristics of holy folly, as did the order he founded. But it is Eastern Orthodoxy especially in Russia, that has produced the richest collection of holy fools. In the case of Russia the argument could actually be made that holy folly became a major theme in the national culture, both oil the popular and literary levels Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot being the undisputed literary climax of the tradition). Holy folly in the Eastern church may go back to the early days of the desert saints of Egypt, but the phenomenon became prominent in the sixth century Famous cases are those of Theophilus and Maria of Antioch, and of St. Symeon of Emesa Theophilus and Maria came from aristocratic families. They were engaged to be married, instead decided to become fools for Christ’s sake. They roamed the streets of the Syrian metropolis, he dressed as a jester, she as a prostitute, outraging the populace with bizarre and often obscene behavior. Gradually, it was recognized that this behavior was an expression of unusual piety. St. Symeon was an anchorite in the lands east of the river Jordan. He too began to roam through the towns and villages of this area. He would throw walnuts at people in church, overthrow the stalls of street vendors, dance with prostitutes in the street, burst into women’s bath houses and conspicuously eat on fast days. At first, of course, the reaction to this behavior was outrage. Then it came to be accepted that the behavior symbolized great religious mysteries…
Eighty percent of success is showing up.
Talkative barber to customer: “How shall I cut your hair?” Customer: “In silence.”
This knee-slapper comes from “Philogelos,” or “Laughter-Lover,” a Greek joke book, probably compiled in the fourth or fifth century A.D. Its 264 entries amount to an index of classical humor, with can’t-miss material on such figures of fun as the miser, the drunk, the sex-starved woman and the man with bad breath.
Let us not forget the “skolastikos,” or egghead: “An egghead was on a sea voyage when a big storm blew up, causing his slaves to weep in terror. ‘Don’t cry,’ he consoled them, ‘I have freed you all in my will.’”
Messner has already overthought and razed two dams this season alone. He dismissed the proportions of the first as “aesthetically dysfunctional,” and the second was built out of cottonwood, which he called “a mistake.” But, according to Messner, the latter experience got him thinking about different woods in ways he had never considered.
“What woods are the sturdiest, or the most visually pleasing?” Messner said. “What does a birch dam say? Everyone seems to love sugar maple, but it’s such an overfamiliar scrub tree. Would I be making a stronger statement with willow? I don’t want this to be one of those generic McDams.”
“What do I have to say—as a beaver and as an artist?” he added.
After much thought, Messner decided to reconstruct the anterior section of the dam with poplar wood on Tuesday, after he finished “highly necessary” preparatory work chewing the branches into uniform-sized interlocking sticks. Yet such tasks struck fellow lodge members as excessive.
“Get to work, get to work, build the dam, build the dam,” Cyril Kyree said as he dragged a number of logs into the shallow lick of river where the rest of the lodge has built their nests. “Chew-chew-chew. Need a mate. Build the dam.”