Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Mouth of Alex Williams

Alex Williams, in his piece "Jolly and Green, With an Agenda," in the Fashion section of the Times today, likes to listen to himself write.
The holidays have always been an emotionally combustible time for families, bringing together a sometimes volatile mix of siblings, crotchety grandparents and ill-behaved children. But in recent years, a new figure has joined the celebration, to complicate the proceedings even further: the green evangelist of the family — the impassioned activist bent on eradicating the wasteful materialism of the holidays.

Otherwise known, at least to skeptical traditionalists, as the new Grinch.

This Grinch, however, is not out to spoil Christmas, but merely to use it as a platform to advocate ecological responsibility. Perhaps emboldened by the “Live Earth” benefit concerts and Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize, this is the family member who is the first to point out, over the bountiful Christmas dinner, that the 2.6 billion holiday cards sold each year in the United States could fill a landfill the size of a football field 10 stories high, or that those conventional lights on the Christmas tree contribute up to nine times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as the leaner-burning L.E.D. models; or that some Christmas-tree growers use as many as 40 different pesticides, as well as chemical colorants, on their crops.

The question that an increasing number of families face is whether the proselytizing green member of the clan adds spice to the proceeding, like, say, a cup of whiskey in a bowl of eggnog, or an explosive element, like that same cup of whiskey tossed into the fire on Christmas morning.
This is the same Alex Williams who wrote in September, in a piece called "Brooklyn's Fragile Ego-System":
The number of trendy boutiques, bistros and music clubs in Brooklyn may have spiked in the last five years, but its infrastructure of cool still represents only a fraction of that found in Manhattan. Its new identity is moored to a finite number of shops, restaurants, luxury condominiums and, yes, celebrities. If even one leaves, a void is created. Could the borough’s new status vanish as quickly as it ascended?
Can't wait for the novel, I have to must say!

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