A Decade of Penance

Rock critic Lester Bangs was probably the most astute cultural observer of the 1970s. Bangs is best known today as the critic who, in his '70s work for the Detroit-based Creem magazine, summoned punk rock into existence several years before there was actually a music of that name. But in the years before his death in 1982, Bangs was also working on pieces of a mammoth novel that would sum up the '70s zeitgeist of numbed isolation. It was to be called All My Friends Are Hermits.

I'm afraid that if he had survived, the '80s Bangs sequel might have been called All My Friends Are Lawyers. That's certainly the way it seems to me sometimes. Well sure, a few of my friends are teachers, and I even know one professional community organizer. But the number of lawyers in my peer group is astounding.

I have a feeling that the same professional demographics must apply in the social circles of television screenwriters. That would explain why they feel compelled to spin script after script about the legal profession.

Even my lawyer friends agree that America has far too many lawyers. Now we also have far, far too many TV shows about lawyers. Sure, I watch LA Law like almost everybody else. But I hit the wall with Equal Justice and only sampled The Trials of Rosie O'Neill (briefly) out of respect for the corpse of Cagney and Lacy. I watch Against the Law on Fox, but only because the star (Michael O'Keefe) is Mr. Bonnie Raitt. I can't bring myself to get near The Antagonists, which I gather from the promos is a sort of neo-bratpack "Young-Top-Gun-Lawyers in Love" thing.

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