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  • Lance Mannion
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"Hollywood is selling vicarious fame, vicarious wealth, vicarious beauty, and vicarious sex." It's not just Hollywood, which is but one spoke in the wheel, a revelation I had in the checkout line at the grocery store this afternoon where I picked up "Oprah Living" or "Oprah Homes" or "Oprah something-or-other" with a cover photo of Oprah's new Hawaiian home.

Ms. O had taken an admittedly ugly beach house, with the ugly photos to prove it, that happened to possess a "heavenly" view on a deserted stretch of paradise, and turned it into a perfect, interior-designer-approved, plantation-style house with Verandahs. And wild horses not only trotting by on the property in beautiful pull-out page photos, but matching horse folk art in the Oprah residence.

It wasn't until I read you tonight that I realized the strong feeling surging through me while flipping these pages was a new appreciation of the concept of Vicariousness As A Way of Life. For All of Us.

Kevin Wolf

I was lucky enough that my hometown paper, The Hartford Courant, had a decent critic named Malcolm Johnson. As I remember it, it took a while for him to get up to speed but he was pretty good (and also handled theater). I think he's retired.

Sadly, no one has even come close to filling Pauline Kael's shoes. No one seems to want the job.

I really try to stay away from coverage of celebs. It doesn't take much to get my stomach turning.


As a former actor, now retired due to disability, I must thank you for that salute to talent. Too many people think actors are just pretty people who pose for photos, and many of them are, of course ;)

As far as newspapers go, I do know what you mean. I am sure at least some of this is due to the consolidation of chains,etc. My local hometown paper in Connecticut was bought by Gannett, and rapidly deteriorated into the equivalent of one of those 'shopper' papers you see given away free everywhere.

And, Kevin Wolf, I too, remember Malcolm Johnson, he was a good critic, even though he did slate some 'friends' of mine (hee hee). Nothing savage or ill-deserved, more a damning with faint praise, if you know what I mean, and I'm sure you do.

I read you ever day with much enjoyment, BTW, Lance!



harry near indy

lance, i wouldn't call roger ebert a celebrity critic. he's one man who wrote of the aesthetic issues of movies/film/cinema that you would read in, say, film comment or sight & sound, but written in a solid newspaper style.


harry, I wasn't picking on Ebert. I only meant that he's a celebrity because he's on TV. And that's the main reason so many newspapers run his reviews.

Gentlewoman, thanks. I have a very high regard for actors.

SFMike, I will make a point of avoiding that issue of Oprah's magazine. I'm already leading too vicarious a life.


When I lived in Chicago, the Trib's features section went through numerous ups and downs. Whenever it would morph into a good thing, management couldn't keep its hands off it and would destroy it. Last I remember, the section started stealing the thunder of the local alt weeklies, which had long held a corner on literary journalism, the kind of stories that could draw you in and hold you spellbound with subject matter you neither knew or cared anything about.

When the critical acclaim started pouring in for the features section that time around, Trib management decided that jobs there sure must be plums. Accordingly, they started rotating other writers in while tossing out the team that had done such a wonderful job at rescuscitating the damn thing. And, predictably, it went back to being crap again (although, as newspapers go, still better crap than you'll find in most markets).

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