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Monday, November 14, 2005

Southern Writers/Sucky Simpsons

Posted by on November 14 at 10:12 AM

This weekend I had the good fortune to collide with a pair of great art-and-entertainment spectacles, both involving (displaced) southern writers of note.

The first came on Friday, when I caught the ROCKRGRL showcase of Nashville-by-way-of-New-York singer/songwriter Amy Rigby upstairs at Cafe Vita. Since the release of her 1996 debut Diary of a Mod Housewife, Rigby’s been one of my favorite living writers, and her too-short-but-that’s-the-name-of-the-game RKRGRL set showcased what I’ve long loved about the lady (her wit, lyrical economy, and emotional fearlessless) as well as some impressive new traits (left alone with only an acoustic guitar, she can still rock the fuck out).

Saturday brought displaced Southern writer #2: Capote, whom I found flickering on the screen at the Egyptian. As press everywhere has attested, Philip Seymour Hoffman does a creepily good job bringing Capote’s simpering genius to life, and for anyone interested in how books get written, the movie is a must-see.

Then, on Sunday, all my good art karma came crashing down, with the broadcast of a new episode of The Simpsons. The show has been dabbling in suckiness for years—goopy learning-and-growing, sickly-sweet (for the Simpsons) happy endings. But last night’s episode made it official: The Simpsons have jumped the shark. Unprecedented goop (lesson of the night: moms get lonely, too), wince-worthy plot points (Marge and Bart get a bicycle built for two! And visit an English tea house! Then wrap it all up with a karaoke duet!), all “sustained” by a parade of self-cannibalized jokes from seasons past—it’s like they’re not even trying anymore. This sense of a barely subconscious Simpsons death wish was brutally underscored by the final scene: Marge singing “Sweet Home Alabama” into a remote control. We get it. You’re done. Now die, and let us forever cherish the unparalleled brilliance of the Simpsons’s glory years. (If there have every been five funnier words placed in a row than “the Blunchblack of Blotre Blame,” I am not aware of it.)