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The humor and pathos of “Louie” come not only from the occasional funny feelings that he has about his privileges — which include walking through the city in relative safety and the expectation of sleeping with women who are much better looking than he is — but also, more profoundly, from his knowledge that the conceptual and imaginative foundations of those privileges have crumbled beneath him. He is the center of attention, but he’s not entirely comfortable with that. He suspects that there might be other, more interesting stories around him, funnier jokes, more dramatic identity crises, and he knows that he can’t claim them as his own. He is above all aware of a force in his life, in his world, that by turns bedevils him and gives him hope, even though it isn’t really about him at all. It’s called feminism. The Death of Adulthood in American Culture

What I failed to do here, and what I’ll be doing in the future with Alton, is separate the televised persona from the man himself – I had expected Real Life Alton to be as genial and friendly as Television Alton. He’s not – he’s a good deal more cynical and curmudgeonly. I don’t know what I should have expected – it’s like I expected Stephen Colbert to actually be the Bill O’Reilly caricature he inhabits on the air. I blame myself, really. But when I was in Cedar Rapids, I bought Jacques Pépin’s memoir, The Apprentice. It’s excellent so far, but if he turns out to have been a collaborator under Maréchal Pétain, I’ll be fresh out of heroes. Probably that won’t be the case, since he was a little kid during WWII – but if he turns out to be an asshole, I don’t know what I’ll do with myself. I’m resolved to never find out, because I think I’d like never to meet Pepin now – not because of any ill will I bear him, but for the opposite reason: the real man might not bear up against the narrative I’ve constructed for him. The Taste of Disillusionment

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