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« Horror and Catholics Redux | Main | Jack and Diane Rereredux »

August 20, 2002

Jack and Diane Reredux

Friedrich --

Coach Hackman

I caught up with "Hoosiers'" on your recommendation and enjoyed it a lot, many thanks. It certainly deserves a place on my ongoing list of "art and entertainment works that have done justice to midAmerica." Those big, earnest, wholesome emotions got to me, and Gene Hackman's wit and spark gave it all some focus and contrast. By the way, have his recent performances struck you as being as bad as they've struck me? I used to think he was almost always great. These days I think he's almost always lousy -- twisted and domineering, usually.

I also enjoyed the "Hoosiers" recreation of clunky, earthbound, oldtime whiteboy basketball. That's the way it was played in my public high school. I remember all those scrawny whiteboy armpits too.

General question: I find that the big city makes almost no room (and certainly shows no respect) for the kinds of wholesome, earnest emotions that a midAmerican tends to experience. City life seems to be all about being cynical, self-interested and smart, and (if at all possible) hoodwinking people and juggling abstractions.

I spend much of my life in the city feeling emotionally parched, and aware that most city people would be quick to label what moves me "sentimental" or worse. That is, if I were ever fool enough to let them know what really moves me -- the smell of maples, the look of cornfields and small towns, the modesty, sweetness and generosity of the kinds of people I grew up with. All of which I tend to think of as "normal life," by the way -- but I can hear, right now as I type those words, some urban lefty "friend" railing away: "Normal! What gives you the right to say what's normal? Isn't it fascistic to impose your vison of normality..." etc etc.

Do you, fellow mid-American-gone-urban, find this to be as much the case on the West Coast as I find it to be the case in NYC? To be honest, attending my 30th high school reunion got my simple-minded emotions all stirred up. And then watching "Hoosiers" -- lordy, the emotions and nostalgia (all of them, I suspect, about "home") got downright overwhelming.

But my emotions have been close to the surface generally since the cancer operation. Some days I think they've settled down a bit. Then I learn better.

Oh, another candidate for our "justice to midAmerica" list: "Home Fries," a touching, small Drew Barrymore vehicle, and amazingly '70s in feel, like "Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins."

Drew in "Fries"



posted by Michael at August 20, 2002


As a former midwesterner myself (Illinois), I enjoyed your article and suspect that you're mostly correct. On the other hand, I now live in a very small town, Valley Center, in California and find that the extreme right wing sensibility prominent in the area can be just as disheartening as the cynicism and so forth found in a big city. Here's a suggestion for further thought, has it occurred to you as it has to me that some of us might use cynicism as a defense against romanticism (for want of a better word)?

Posted by: Jeff Rust on February 12, 2004 11:48 AM

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