No Holds Barred: Redoes and Redux

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It seems like most of us are simply laying in the weeds wondering whether we can actually redo our 2019 lives or just double down and wait for the next shoe to drop. In the meantime, friends are doing colonoscopies and shingles and pneumonia vaccines. Shots are hot and it makes us feel we are at least doing SOMETHING beneficial while we ponder where we go from here. But it’s the dregs of summer, and we are just now beginning to test our social and entertainment “sea legs.”

For instance, in November, Steven Spielberg is debuting his movie version of West Side Story. Talk about a retread! Especially since Lin Manuel Miranda already came out (box office and streaming) with his terrific In The Heights, which felt like a real updated answer to West Side Story.

Scenes from Spielberg’s West Side Story.

Yes, it was too long, but it was fresh and new and presented Washington Heights, which is a whole different locale to the old gang-loaded Bronx. But in the end, even Lin-Manuel Miranda was criticized for not having any Afro Latinos in his movie. He humbly apologized. Hasn’t the man already served by making the Founding Fathers diverse rap artists in his historic “Hamilton?” Lately, it’s never enough.

And a scene from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. You decide!

Meanwhile, there are actually luxury fashion shows like Balenciaga still going on. Who honestly cares about live shows and runways anymore?  Isn’t it all about the small screen? We still have Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum reappearing on “Making the Cut” for potential “influencers,” and of course, “Gossip Girl” and I guess “Sex and the City” for network rehash of “trending.”  Talk about stale.

On sale at American Eagle.

It’s hard for retail to get a pulse at the moment even though people are shopping. Inventories are thin, and the public is bored and less engaged. The one market that does have heart and soul right now is “Back to School” anything.  Consumer surveys say the forecast for school spending this fall will be through the roof.  Teens are already big spenders in the secondhand category and the good old “fast fashion” retailers (welcome back H&M and American Eagle) are expecting banner seasons.

Remember … parents are sending their kids back to school. For some it is the first time, and for most it is the first time in a long time.  Get ready for a Visa/Mastercard explosion. Not only for jeans and backpacks, but pens, glue sticks, sneakers, and headsets.  Nobody is looking for sustainable fabrics and luxury brands here (other than maybe Nike). “Back to School” has to be the powder keg for any real retail return.  This is the market. Tik Tok already gets it.

Speaking of streaming fashion,  I saw the exciting trailer for the new season of HBO’s “Succession.” Can’t wait! It was Succession’s Roy Family (wealthy owners of a media conglomerate — à la Murdoch) who first exposed us to THE corporate uniform (for men) of fleece zip vests over button down shirts and chinos.

The accessories are always an iPhone 12 in one hand and a grande Starbucks cup in the other (the sign of a real two-fisted money grab).  Except in “Succession,” the characters were wearing $1,500 Montclair or Canadian Goose puffers and vests, or $2,000 Loro Piana blazers and pants. Even patriarch Logan Roy (Emmy winner Brian Cox) made wearing a plain black $42 baseball cap the ultimate cherry on top of the power brand.

“Succession Chic” took off in 2018. But now it has crash landed at the recent Sun Valley Billionaire “Summer Camp” conference. Whether it was Jeff Bezos or Barry Diller or Bill Gates or Robert Kraft — every one of them looked lumpy and shlumpy in polo shirts, denim shorts (Zuckerberg), and even $35 flip flops.

Never mind the visuals… why is this conference still going on or considered news?  No doubt it is a giant meet and greet for all of them, or as one critic wrote: “These people are the biggest starfuckers of all and love to hang with each other.” But haven’t they done that already? The biggest conference revelation was Bill Gates blaming himself over his recent messy divorce in a “tearful confession in a Q & A session after his climate control lecture.” He was wearing a shapeless blue sweater and baggy pants.  Never mind his affairs and gazillion dollar environmental deals — he needs a stylist!

Meanwhile, Elon Musk and Richard Branson took a hike from the conference and got lost in space. Good for them? But the truth about Branson’s giant galactic space flight is it lasted four minutes. Andy Warhol once said everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. Branson was a social media headline for two hours before being replaced by the more important Euro 2021 football finale at Wembley. See how long blockbusters last?

Lost in space.

For me, Branson could have been broadcasting from the Disneyland “Tomorrowland” ride. In fact, I’d rather do Disneyland’s version of space and streamed from my very own living room. Believe me, that will happen soon!

The best thing about the Euro 2021 finale was the picture of seven-year-old Prince George (joined by his folks the Duke and Duchess William and Kate) in the stands looking ecstatic in the earlier moments of the game, then devastated at the English loss. The picture of his Dad William placing his hands on his son’s sagging shoulders was iconic. And that picture alone finished off the recent exhausting Harry vs. William competition.

From jubilation …
… to heartbreak. Photo: BBC.

Then again, it was just announced that Meghan and Harry and Oprah are up for an Emmy for the “outstanding hosted nonfiction series, or special category.” Can this story just STOP?! They are all past their 15 minutes.

Actually, all news has expiration dates that are fast and furious.  No one is watching breaking news anymore. And nothing sticks. But hold on… it seems Fox is starting a 24/7 “fast action” weather channel.  I get it… natural disasters; heat waves, fires, and double rainbows! Even star TV meteorologists getting blown sideways in hurricanes — all in real time.  And of course, climate change.  I’m looking for my daily dewpoint highs and lows over political contenders and congressional flops.  I’ll take shark reports and flood survivor stories over celebrities and corporate sex scandals.

And remember, weather really does change at least every 15 minutes! It fits our ADD attention spans. Now what would Warhol think?

A storm is coming!

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