Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Game of Life

One of the key bits of parenting advice embedded in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is to give your kids in fantasy what you can't give them in real life. Perhaps that's why my kids are in the midst of a craze over the game of "Life." Even my son, who's twelve, relishes finding out he has had a baby girl, and naming her Lily. Isn't this the secret behind the success of Monopoly?

All I had to do was open the biggest Vogue ever this September (i.e., before the bank crashes and Sarah Palin) to read the tea leaves: certainly we haven't seen sculptural platforms like the ones at Prada this season since the Great Depression. (Although the 70s recession/oil crisis brought skyscraper wedges to our shoe racks for a few years.) And just look at the colorways: mustard yellow, teal blue (in the 1930s teal was known as "peacock"). Recently my daughters inherited a chest of their great grandmother's paste jewels, which no one except old ladies has had a jot of interest in since the period between the wars, when the same sharp great grandmother Carrie, who grew up in a pioneer cabin in South Dakota, bought a 100 lbs. of sugar at the right moment and so was able to provide cakes for church socials throughout the Depression. The girls thought they'd been given the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and now I see "strass" jewels all over Vogue: I believe that's the precious metal my grandmother used to call "pot metal." No doubt I will be borrowing from their stash to bolster my confidence.

And behold, I went to a movie with my girlfriends at the tiny Crandell Theatre on Main Street - all I knew was that Meryl Streep was in it - and suddenly the whole cast is singing and dancing, the silliest of lyrics, too - Abba! Are we doomed to recycle our past, as a sort of lullabye to ward off stress?

LA's Early Moderns (Victoria Dailey) is about LA's first modern art scene in the 30s. It strikes me that a lot of great art was made during the last Depression. (Artists like Diego Rivera did fine, as painter Wayne Coe points out.) Perhaps that is a message of hope and courage to artists working now: invention flourishes during times of struggle. Drinking champagne in the Temple Bar in Noho - circa 1989? - toasting to sex, we didn't realize we were flappers, and the crash was inevitable.

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