Sunday, September 19, 2010

Party People...Gatsby and La Dolce Vita

In The Great Gatsby, a poor boy cashes in on the American Dream to win back the rich girl he lost in his youth.  Encouraged by the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, Jay Gatsby gives epic parties, believing one night she'll attend and he'll redo history.  Of Gatsby's guests, F. Scott Fitzgerald writes:  "People were not invited--they went there.  Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all."

Designed to read as texts to the latest party, our Gatsby shirt celebrates a classic as relevant today as when published in 1925.  Fitzgerald depicts Gatsby chasing a dream.  Likewise, the author ran just as fast, globe-trotting from Long Island to Paris to keep up with the rich set. In The Crack-Up the iconic  writer tells his story, a life strung together by parties that left him feeling "drunk at 20, wrecked at 30, dead at 40."  Swept along by the fast crowd, he experienced  mental and marital illness, physical and financial ruin.

Fast- forward 35 years to a cinema classic, Frederico Fellini's La Dolce Vita.  The film centers on Marcello, a tabloid journalist  in search of meaning, this time in the cultural center of Rome.  Caught between the fast life of the wealthy and bored, Marcello is torn between materialistic hedonism and authentic artistic pursuit.  Though he longs to be a serious author he aimlessly wanders from one woman to another, one party to the next. The struggles of Fitzgerald and Marcello echo the plight of Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce's The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.  But the resolutions differ.

Living the dream first means defining the dream.  Rich man...poor man.  Still the stuff of lit and life.  But rather than the angst found in the 20th century masterpiece The Great Gatsby,  buzz around Chris Lehmann's book,  Rich People Things, to be released in October, is more a postmodern response.   Material Girls (and Boys) depicted in the 21st century book trailer (below) are more laughable than lamentable.  Likewise, check out blog post #41 on "Stuff Rich People Love."  In the countdown by Chas Underwood III today's  "Extravagant Parties" may trump even those of East and West Egg.  No doubt Daisy isn't the only one with a voice "full of money."

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