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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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I love Larry

March 1st, 2006

BY CATE GARRISON

One of the best things about moving back to the city from the High Desert is the happy rediscovery of old friends… and even more, the reconnection with old chums from television. Perhaps for the same political reasons as those which drove our rustic video store to deem Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 unsuitable viewing material and refuse to stock or order it, or our one and only fitness center to show only Fox News on the supra-treadmill monitors, our country cable company would not stoop to offering us, inter alia, the Comedy Channel (no South Park, no Daily Show) or BBC America (no Mile High, no Bad Girls, no Coupling, no Monty Python or Black Adder reruns). It’s a nice little irony therefore that, while in order to avoid such soul-destroying homespun activities as card games, knitting, and singing around the piano, our evenings over the mountain were of necessity devoted to the Goggle Box, however limited, we are now tempted to stay home more than ever, despite being surrounded by restaurants, bars, cinemas, and pleasure domes of every kind, stately or otherwise.

We feel like kids in a candy store. But because we are grown up, we try to limit ourselves to watching only during the hours of darkness (I exclude sport, which Himself would watch from Lark Rise to Sparrow’s Fart given his druthers, and CNN, which I watch while getting dressed in the morning, or doing chores, or rather, thinking about doing chores). Such daytime self-discipline means of course that to justify the large amounts of money we now pay, willingly, for the bounty offered us by Comcast, we stay up later and later as we flick back and forth over the 500+ item menu. Our mornings are therefore spent in a kind of dozy blur that is its own type of hangover (the evening’s large gin and tonics probably don’t help).

It should be clear by now that I am not one of those high falutin’ individuals who claim with pride that they never watch the tele. Apart from a few years while I lived with and among a group of arty intellectuals (and during which I restricted my first child to fifteen minutes of children’s TV in the mornings (Watch with Mother) and twenty minutes in the afternoon (Jackanory or Playschool… sorry, honey!), I have always loved to nestle up on some couch and allow the flickering screen in the corner to carry me off to fantasy land.

I still marvel at the technology, much as I did when, as a small child, I heard Mrs Shields next door tell my Gran I could go to her house each day at five o’clock to watch Children’s Hour since they now had a set (we were too poor; it was years before I caught up with Champion the Wonder Horse). Our screen is bigger, wider and infinitely more well-defined than our old neighbor’s nine-inch blurry black and white (oh Andy Pandy, oh Muffin the Mule, oh Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men!), just as our living room lacks her moth ball and lavender scent, or the pipe smell of her husband as he noted down the exotic-sounding football scores from the wireless (“Queen of the South 2, Hearts of Midlothian Nil”) before we were allowed to switch on. But my dog feels very like her momma cat and its constant stream of kittens as he curls up on my lap to sleep while I peep (oh Ali G, oh Creature Comforts, oh Queer as Folk!). And my sense of wonder hasn’t changed much as I lose myself in Law and Order, or CSI, or chuckle at House, or puzzle over Six Feet Under, or belly laugh at Larry David.

Perhaps Larry David is the main reason I feel sorry for people who look down their noses at us tele-gawpers on grounds they’d rather read a book or do a crossword (and by the way, I do both). Not only do they miss out on the series’ hilariously twisted plots, excellent acting (especially great improv), and well-drawn characters, they lack the greatest gift of all… the Larry David attitude to life.

For those who don’t know, let me explain that Larry David (co-creator of Seinfeld… and if you don’t know Seinfeld I’m doubly sorry) has a show in which he plays himself, more or less, called Curb Your Enthusiasm. It is a work of pure genius, in which David finds himself again and again the victim of trivial but frustrating circumstances that thwart what should be a totally carefree existence. In other words, apart from the fact that David is a millionaire surrounded by celebrities, living in Los Angeles, semi-retired, and is in all respects a neurotic, paranoid curmudgeon, the series is entirely true to life.

To my life, anyway, particularly now, with all the boring but endlessly irritating crap that house moving throws in one’s face. I swear there’s not a day goes by in which I don’t think to myself, “What would Larry David do?” Take the movers who failed to show at eight a.m. on the appointed day and called seven hours later, in mid-afternoon, to say they were on their way and still expected to be paid (by which time, a bunch of friends had come around and packed the U Haul with us, potential hernias notwithstanding). Without Larry, I’d simply have accepted their pathetic excuses (two workers ill that morning) and paid up, without suggesting that, as hangovers were obviously the cause, it would be wrong of me to give them booze money and make them late for the next morning’s chump (I know my curses would certainly have lacked the je ne sais quoi of Larry’s invective invention).

Or take the fake, prelit Christmas tree I ordered from a well-known Warehouse store to come, expensively, by Fedex so my baby grand-daughter Evelyn Inez could enjoy its twinkling on her brief winter visit, but which arrived by UPS standard delivery the day after she left. Without the benefit of Larry as mentor, would I have called the CEO (or at least his voice mail) after reading his on-line résumés, to tell him I admired his success in cutting costs and, in emulation, felt he should reimburse me for services unrendered? I think not, any more than I would have suggested to the guy who was supposed to install our gas fire that, as we had actually paid him, he might consider completing the job before we died of hypothermia and our children sued for burial costs. And how would Himself and I have illustrated to our extended family our feelings generally about the whole Christmas thing as they tried to persuade us to accompany them to midnight mass, except by forcing them to watch, on DVD, the episode where Larry eats the Baby Jesus cookie from his wife’s Nativity scene, then goes on to fight with an actor playing Joseph in a tableau by remarking on the grandeur of the Virgin Mary’s breasts (a fight which enables him finally to cough up a pubic hair that has been lodged in his throat).

Admittedly, Larry David also visited us in the country, thanks to the apolitical ubiquitousness of HBO. But in style he belongs to the city, along with Bill Maher and Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, or Dr. House or Frasier or Will, Grace, Jack, and Karen, or even the suburban lovelies of Desperate Housewives. And so, indeed, do we.

And though I have plenty more to say on the subject, I see that it’s nine p.m. already, so I’m off to pick up the dog and the gin and join the people I really care about. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Garrison | Link to this Entry

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