Apr 27, 2008

Back to Waco, by George!

George had warned us that the food theme for Steve Martin’s memoir would be geographic, so none of us was expecting any funny stuff. Last Tuesday, he delivered on his promise, and served up pulled pork and slaw right out of Martin’s hometown of Waco, Texas. I’m not sure where Stephanie’s chocolate-laced pecan pie hailed from, but I’m sure Steve Martin would have approved.

In my sampling afterwards, I heard universal acclaim for the pulled pork. Indeed, Garth fell off his vegetarian wagon in order to partake! For our next meeting, Stan may have to put him on a diet of carrots and pureed bitterroot.

Our acknowledgments would not be complete without commenting on the three ferocious canines that greeted us at the door. In particular, we were absorbed by the Pug Gymnastics orchestrated by Stephanie in the back yard. An appearance on David Letterman is imminent, I'm sure.

The Book
I’ll confess that I groaned when we rejected Cormac McCarthy in favor of Steve Martin’s sawed-off memoir. My bad attitude persisted as I read the book and found myself underwhelmed. I was heartened to discover that most of you felt the same way, if for different reasons.

We were all impressed by Martin’s exposition. Stan summed up our feelings when he described Martin as a fine technician. His prose was carefully wrought and he took us through the 1960’s and 1970’s with a clear sense of direction. But while we got an A-to-Z recitation of what it required for Martin to develop into an accomplished comedian, the personal Steve Martin was never on full display. Even his callow years at Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm were less about the wonder of growing up and more about specific magic tricks, his stagecraft, and a few of his fellow travelers. To his credit, George fell on his sword and apologized for proposing this pleasant diversion from our normally meaty fare (again, glad to have you aboard, Garth).

Steve Martin had his defenders, though. Chief among them were Jack and Stan, who both admitted that their admiration for Martin determined their rating for the book (each an 8). Notwithstanding these victims of Martin’s cult of personality, our overall rating was a middling 5.8 (which includes Jeff’s absentee vote of 6).

Our dinner discussion was bracketed by viewing clips from Martin’s Tonight Show and his SNL appearances. Thanks to Glenn and Tom for the content, and to Larry for bringing a phonograph, which proved so unnecessary in this age of Youtube and digital downloads.

Next Up
For our next selection, Stan offered up two wildly different products of the counterculture era: Dickey’s Deliverance and the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Neither got us too excited, but his third choice did. We picked Blindness by Jose Saramago, a past winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. When we meet next at Stan’s, let’s come in dark glasses and consider what it means to live in a sightless world.