Saturday, November 05, 2005

Reasons to Live; Reasons to Die

Reasons to Live--the Salon writing of Gary Kamiya



"You, sir,
are an unmitigated cad!"

An Appreciation of George Sanders

By GARY KAMIYA

First and always, there was the voice: silky, insinuating, impeccable, its languid Oxford cadences reflecting a malice so well-bred, a lasciviousness so refined, that even the most exacting hostesses would always make a place at their tables for it. Then there was the face: supercilious, intelligent, a mask of urbanity that did not quite conceal a lingering hope that life might yet hold some surprise. It was the face of a man who had seen it all, but was too polite to point it out -- the face of George Sanders, the greatest cad of all time.

What gives Sanders' persona its enduring charm? Part of the answer lies in its strangeness: a Sanders character is an emissary from a world that no longer exists. Just as there are no longer any circumstances in which one can imagine saying, with the chorus of puffing 19th century husbands, "Sir, your insolence is intolerable!" so the lamentable fact is that there are no longer any cads. Our diminished modern keyboard of sexual villainy no longer possesses that peculiar note. Assholes, losers, creeps, yes. Bozos, jerk-offs, schmucks and idiots, to be sure. Men with "issues," co-dependents, sex addicts and those "unable to commit" -- these can be found on every bar stool. But cads? They have gone the way of dueling scars, vapours and the monocle -- an ocular accessory, not coincidentally, much favored by our hero.

To be sure, if one defines a cad simply as a man who trifles with the affections of what inexplicably used to be called "the sex," he is indistinguishable from a garden-variety asshole. And perhaps, at bottom, there is little ethical difference between the two. This makes Sanders' feat all the more impressive: virtually single-handed, he sublimated the scoundrel, transformed the bounder into a work of art. "In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing," said Oscar Wilde's Gwendolyn, a phrase one can almost hear emerging from Sanders' slightly-curled lips; and indeed, in the course of a long career in which he played every variety of sexual adventurer, he gave such glorious style to his characters that one would rather burn in hell with them than sit in heaven with the good, the true and the maritally dutiful.


Reasons to Die

Federline's Hip-Hop Revealed

Kevin Federline boasts about his life with wife Britney Spears and demands to be called "Daddy" in a track from his forthcoming hip-hop debut. The 27-year-old's LP has yet to be released, but a track called "Y'All Ain't Ready" has appeared on the internet. Federline celebrates the lifestyle he shares with Spears and their baby son Sean Preston, but makes an embarrassing slip - confusing the word paparazzi with the surname of opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. He raps, "Back then they called me K-Fed/But you can call me Daddy instead/Go ahead and say whatcha wanna/I'm gonna sell about 2 mil, oh, then I'm a goner/I know you all wish you was in my position/Cause I keep getting' in situations that you wish you was in, cousin/Steppin' in this game and y'all ain't got a clue/Getting anxious? Go take a peep/I'm starrin' in your magazines now every day and week/But maybe baby you can wait and see/Until then all these Pavarottis followin' me."

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