Fenton Bailey writes:
Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems by Cesar Millan – Invaluable knowledge about the human condition lies between the covers of this book! There are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners, says Cesar. And that all comes down to the projection of Calm Assertive Energy. It’s amazing how all he has to do is walk into a room and the darned dogs calm down. The book doesn’t exactly tell you how to do it. Because projecting Calm Assertive Energy is not like baking a cake. It’s your inner you. Something you project. Like BO. But you can’t smell it. Well, dogs can. Sense it. This idea of a whole deeper level of communication, of an energy flow that goes beyond language that might actually be what determines how the world works, really stuck with me. Paula Abdul described it perfectly in one of her baroque latter-day singles: vibeology!
Boffo! by Peter Bart – I bought this because i love everything Peter Bart writes (can also be read with Fiasco: A History of Hollywood’s Iconic Flops, by Robert Parish). The thing that makes both these books so fascinating is that, like the Sphinx’s secret, there’s really no formula to what makes one movie a hit and another a bomb. Instead, there’s an energy flux that surrounds a movie. It’s a kind of magnetic field that has nothing to do with the merit of the film. In other words, it’s vibeology.
Desperate Networks starring Katie Couric, Les Moonves, Dan Rather, Jeff Zuckere, Teri Hatchere, Conan O’Brien Donald Trump and a host of Other Movers and Shakers Who Changed the Face of Primetime TV by Bill Carter – I bought this book on the title alone. Not so long ago a nameless executive from a cable network called up. She was, she said, desperate for new fresh ideas and “anything that could play on an iPod.” But as this book tells, most TV execs (and they are truly madly desperate) wouldn’t know a good idea (iPod-ready or not) if it hit them on the head. As the book illustrates, everyone passed on Pop Idol, the British hit show that only became American Idol when Elizabeth Murdoch called her dad Rupert and told him to make a deal. One more for vibeology.
Vanna Speaks by Vanna White – Revisiting this classic from the mid-’80s. Before Paris Hilton there was – and still is – the inexhaustible letter-turner. Not sure if she had a hit record, but I think she had her own perfume and patented teeth-whitening system. She has made a zillion-dollar career out of not really saying or doing anything other than projecting calm assertive energy. Can I buy a vowel? Vibeology!
I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir by Josh Kilmer-Purcell – A story of the alcoholic drag queen who falls in love with the crack-addicted hustler. Hello, Augusten Burroughs, right? No calm assertive energy here, for sure, with loads of melodrama and epigrammatic wittery ricocheting off the pages. But the thing that draws Jack (the hustler) and Aqua (the drag queen, hello) together is unspoken, unwritten, and completely magnetic. It’s the same energy that drives them apart. They never really speak about it. They never have it out. The author doesn’t put it all down on paper. Yet it’s this force that makes the book come alive. The vibeology is sublime.
– Fenton Bailey