Monday, December 6, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
On the tragic side: among many other good congresspersons who went down was Alan Grayson. Ah the pity of it.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Patti Smith, in her Just Kids, is her memoir of the years she spent with Robert Mappelthorpe, from 1967, when they met, penniless and virtually homeless kids of twenty one, and how, over the following years, in the Village and in Chelsea, lived, loved, and created their art, he ultimately becoming the photographer who would capture in striking blacks and white s/m tableaux vivants among others, and she, the plastic artist, poet and punk-rock performer. They separated physically as Mappelthorpe discovered his homosexuality and Smith went on to marry and start a family, but they were never apart in their hearts and sensibilities. Her recounting his coming down with AIDS and dying in 1989 is terribly poignant. Smith's writing is poetic, tender, sublime.
A rather different memoir is Norris Church Mailer's Ticket to the Circus, in which one learns much about Ms. Mailer's colorful life in Arkansas, where she got to know the young Bill Clinton, how she met Norman Mailer, became his sixth and, as she let people know, his last wife, and became virtual mother of his many children. But Ms. Mailer was no stay-at-home mom: she has had her own career as a writer. This memoir, fun in its own right, will provide Norman Mailer fans with insight into the foibles and as well as the moral strengths of a good man, our late, great novelist and essayist.
Christopher Hitchens' Hitch-22 is a reliving of his childhood, university, and political and journalistic life. A lifelong man of the left, Hitchens seeks to justify what compelled him to support the American invasion of Iraq. Agree with him or not, this brilliant essayist (see especially his 2000 collection, Unacknowledged Legislation) writes with force and great wit. To many on the political left, Hitchens has become a notorious apostate. But one should follow J.S. Mills' dictum, that by reading someone you know a priori is dead wrong you may very well wind up with your position punctured or, if you can muster your arguments, strengthened. You decide. Meanwhile I recommend this book to every thinking person, left and right.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Stuart Archer Cohen, The Army of the Republic.
Hans Fallada, Every Man Dies Alone.
David Goodwillie, American Subversive.
Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Ferenc Karinthy, Metropole.
P.F. Kluge, Gone Tomorrow.
Simon Mawer, The Glass Room.
David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Those familiar with the history of the acceleration of violence by fascists in Weimar Germany just before Hitler's ascension to power and in Spain just before Franco's invasion in 1936 will find awful analogies to our own conditions. No doubt that our case is much different; but what is not different between fascists then and now is the growing confidence of our own rightist terrorists, inspired by the trumpeting of patriotic symbols by their charismatic darlings, Beck and Palin.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Some days before the Health Care Reform Act was passed by the House of Representatives, I wrote a friend the following:
"The US is at a turning point with the health care bill. I've never felt that the US is so imperiled by polarization as it is today. Parliamentary deadlock has always preceded breakouts of violence. If the health care bill passes, then what? The Tea Party folk have driven themselves into a frenzy, and they carry guns. I think the Hannity/Beck Tea Party people are more dangerous than the John Birchers of yesteryear. Those far right-wingers were isolated from the rest of the country regionally; they had no national presence. Today FOX News gives the Tea Party and other such ilk 24/7 national exposure and 24/7 inspiration to take action. Beck is particularly dangerous because he aims at the 90-95 IQ levels, where most of the Tea Party masses are, at least politically, judging from the abysmal ignorance about the health care plan that most of them betray when expressing themselves, levels where immediate, non-reflective connection between incoming message and knee-jerk emotional response is most likely. And, to reiterate, they carry guns. "
This was written, as I note, a few days ago. Meanwhile, Beck's inflammatory remarks e.g., his boorish fantasy of doing violence to Nancy Pelosi, have given birth to a lot more. See the next posting.
Monday, January 11, 2010
"Nixon Papers Reveal War on Media, Kennedys and Modern Art: Nixon's Penchant for Political Espionage Evident in Latest Release of Papers
"In a memo to Haldeman, [Nixon] writes that 'those who are on the modern art and music kick are 95 percent against us anyway. I refer to the recent addicts of Leonard Bernstein and the whole New York crowd. When I compare the monstrosity of Lincoln Center with the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, I realize how decadent the modern art and architecture have become. This is what the Kennedy-Shriver crowd believed in, and they had every right to encourage this kind of stuff when they were in. But I have no intention whatever of continuing to encourage it now.’"
"’P.S."’, Nixon added, ‘I also want a check made with regard to the incredibly atrocious modern art that has been scattered around the embassies of the world.’"