Sunday, January 20, 2008

There is something, one specific condition of life, for which I have a huge, throbbing soft spot.

In fact, that's probably an understatement.

I'm a little obsessed.

I am a little obsessed with people who grew up in rural Pennsylvania (and, to a lesser extent, anyone who grew up in the rural Northeast) and turned out fabulous. Artistic, design-y, literary, eccentric, brilliant, cosmopolitan...just in any way interesting or sparkly.

Here's one:

Another big icon of I Survived Rural PA is, of course, Jay McCarroll, the first Project Runway winner.

Another is my friend Jon David (sadly, no pic.)

Of course I knew none of these men growing up. None of them lived anywhere near me (there's plenty of rural in Pennsylvania, it's a big state.) - Jon David and Jay are a decade younger than I, and I think Chip Kidd is too. (So, when you watch the video and see his astonishing graphic output, evidenced by the fact that he designed, like, EVERY BOOK COVER AND JACKET IN THE LAST 20 years, you can ponder what in the hell happened to your career.) (He writes novels too.) (They're good.) (The nerve of some people.)

I didn't know them, but I feel like I knew them. I feel a link to these men, so that if I passed Jay on the street, or met Chip at a party, he would not necessarily stop and hug me, but would glance into my eyes for a moment and then give me a look - I can't even describe the look I mean, just a look of understanding that passes anything that could be spoken of.

(Don't roll your eyes. I said I was obsessed. You must have known it was going to be weird.)

You know what my hometown is like? What it was like?

Rent Nobody's Fool.

it's set in New York, and it has not one thing to do with the place I grew up. Nothing like the events in the plot ever happened to anyone I know. But I have to tell you, no movie has ever replicated the feel of my home town like that one.

Incidentally, the same caveats apply to Wonder Boys; no one at Western Maryland College in the early 80s sold an undergraduate novel or fathered a child with the dean's wife or tried to seduce her English prof wearing red cowboy boots. Or shot a dog. To the best of my knowledge.

But that movie is what college felt like. To me.

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