Sunday, April 27, 2008

From Brooklyn to the Schuylkill River: Notes on Philadelphia (& New York City)

I read that John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Edward Rutledge agreed to meet with British General Howe at the beginning of the War of Independence. It took them 2 days to reach Staten Island on horseback from Philadelphia. It took us a couple of short hours on the NJ Turnpike to reach this city near the Schuykill River ("school-kill", Dutch for "hidden river.")

We visited for a couple of days with our younger daughters. We made a point of going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which sits grandly visible at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. We wanted to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit. Although Frida Kahlo, born of Mexican and German/Jewish parents, has long since entered the popular culture, in that regard dwarfing her husband, muralist Diego Rivera, this huge retrospective of her work is very energetic and comprehsensive, quite an experience to view. The show includes works from throughout her life, along with family photographs, lots of informative text, and a cool audio accompaniment.
Organized in celebration of the centenary of the artist's birth, this exhibition of over 40 paintings focuses on Frida Kahlo's extraordinary self-portraits. Also on view are portraits and still-life paintings, in which Kahlo projects her passions, both personal and political, onto other people's likenesses or everyday objects.

Particularly interesting: Claire Booth Luce, editor of Vanity Fair, had commissioned Kahlo to paint a tribute of a socialite friend who had leaped to her death from a hotel. Kahlo's "portrait" of the dead woman, intended as a gift from Luce to her grieving mother, was a painting that portrayed the woman in the act of suicide. Luce refused to accept the painting, wanted to destroy it, but ended up not paying for it and returning it to Kahlo. Kahlo's politics, like her art, appeared to address social and gender/sexual relations and issues, both in her personal life and in society at large. There is a lot here to take in, aesthetically, politically and philsophically. And through her emotional depth and the body awareness that is imbedded in her work, it is grandly aesthetic but with notes of violence, pain and loneliness everywhere. The show is on view through May 18th.

The hotel we stayed at in Philadelphia overlooked Logan Circle, which, according to local history and a plaque in the lobby, was the site of public hangings until 1823. This thought loomed large when we saw the CNN report about the conclusion of the trial of the 3 NYPD police detectives charged in the shooting of Sean Bell. While NY media is so dominant to us, we also learned that a demonstration was held in Philadelphia over the weekend to protest a number of deadly force killings of civilians by the Philadelphia police that have occurred over the last couple of years in Philadelphia. Although not all of the Philadelphia shootings by police mirrored the Sean Bell case (in some instances, the victims in Philadelphia were armed, although apparently the illegal weapon had not been drawn at the time they were shot), the info indicated that despite the numerous occurrences of unjustified deadly force, no District Attorney/ grand jury investigation has ever occurred to look into these matters. In New York City, it appears that Federal lawsuits and civil trials will likely follow, so that, despite the NY Judge's determination that the detectives were not criminally culpable, it is clear that in NYC the repercussions from the NYPD shooting of the unarmed Sean Bell are far from over. Errol Lewis had a great, thoughtful op ed piece in today's NY Daily News, with concrete proposals on how NYC can begin to address this tragic situation, to try to prevent it from occurring yet again. Cops are clearly often in life and death situations, but it is our obligation as a city to prevent the shooting of innocent (primarily minority) civilians. The Errol Louis article is "a must read". It is sobering to note however that in some cities, such as Philadelphia, which was the focus of a lot of attention in the recent Democratic primary, in those instances when apparently unjustified use of deadly force by police have occurred, the investigations have yet to even begin, in some case years after the shootings.

New York City can and must do better. This is an issue that must be addressed head on, with all deliberate speed.

Errol Louis here:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"PAUL SIMON: American Tunes" at BAM

The Brooklyn Academy of Music presented "Paul Simon: American Tunes," part-tribute concert, part-Paul Simon concert, and mostly an opportunity to hear many of the standards from the Paul Simon solo catalog from a different musical perspective. Simon opened the show with the Roche Sisters and his superb band, with "American Tune" which never sounded so relevant as it does today. When that song was first released on "There Goes Rhymin'Simon", in the era of Watergate and the dismay at the apparent closing of the Age of Aquarius and AntiWar- liberation movements, we thought that we had "issues" as a nation when we realized that our politicans were corrupt and malfeasant in their disruption of the political process, and that the Viet Nam war had lead the U.S. down a dark corridor. Well, who knew then that "we hadn't seen anything yet". This was followed later by "Me and Julio" which was warmly received.

Simon left the stage for a while, as the Roche Sisters, provided lovely interpretations of Cecelia and other tunes. One tune, "Another Galaxy" concluded withthe comment how great it was to be "In Brooklyn--Another Galaxy". "That's right!" someone shouted. Next,

Amos Lee performed "Peace Like a River" from the first post-S&G Simon solo album. Amos Lee, a Philadelphia-born musician has played with Bob Dylan and others. His intense, blues-tinged folk, gave a deep undercurrent of sad truths told joyfully. Grizzly Bear, a Brooklyn-band, took the stage, complex arrangements from a spare 4 piece group.

Olu Dara, combining jazz, blues, Afro-caribbean rhythms, performed "50 Ways to Lose Your Lover" and other tunes. Dara made a peculiar joke to the audience not to litter since his band mates earned money on the side cleaning up after the show. This felt a little awkward, one of a few attempts that Olu Dara made at connecting with his large audience, but this sort of fell flat. At any rate, I guess it seemed like patter for a smaller club and a different audience.

That said, the show was interesting since it attracted a diverse audience with a core of long time Simon fans but it was not strictly a Paul Simon-retrospective performance. In fact, after the 3rd or 4th performances without Simon, someone yelled out "Where's Paul ?" Although all of the musicians appear well established, the show seemed to highlight the irony that rock music, essentially an American and avant garde form, is subject to certain cultural and aesthetic assumptions, apparently not the least of which is based on age.Rock music rolls on. Those Simon and S&G recordings are only a snapshot. The music, like the musician, is ever changing, subject to new interpretations and musical passions. After the first couple of sets, and one realized that Paul would not be on stage all evening, it was great to just sit back and let all of the music happen all around you, hear familiar Simon tunes done by different voices and different, though essentially faithful to the original, arrangements. The fact that new generations of musicians are equally in love with the Simon songbook was just such a powerful statement on the originality and relentless creativity of this great artist.

Josh Groban, a fabulous singer with an incredibly strong and clear voice, brought new depth and range to "Bridge Over Troubled Water". Remarkable too, Gillian Welch and partner David Rawlings, performing "Duncan" with Simon. Stylistically, Welch is an intense and hard to categorize fusion of bluegrass, folk, country and blues.

Simon returned with his band and tore through "Train in the Distance, " "How Can You Live in the Northeast", "Late in the Evening" and more. Mark Stewart, Simon's musical director, of Polyphonic Lounge and Bang on a Can Festival, an remarkable multi-instrumentalist, stands out in Simon's already tight and very high powered band.

There were so many songs it was hard to keep track, but it was a night for, by, and about Paul Simon. It was an amazing amazing show all around.

Paul Simon: American Tunes extends through April 27 at BAM's beautiful Howard Gilman Opera House.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spiritual Technology 3: Passover in Flatbush - Food and Folly

Do I see a theme developing ? I am afraid so. From the Sacred to the Profane and Back again. Just a post to wish a Happy Passover to y'all who celebrate it, and a Happy Spring to those who don't. The flora in Flatbush is only matched by the beautiful clear skies this week. Spring is finally here.

We observe Passover in our home, which means a lot more food prep throughout the week. We try to make it fun by cooking more than usual, trying to be creative within the limits allowed. But it wouldn't be Passover without a few boxes of Passover cereal, some of which the kids like a lot, some of which they say tastes medicinal, like cardboard, etc. I have found it fascinating to see how food technology has tried to adapt, through complex, multi step recipes, and using kosher for Passover products to come up with different types of products that may involve some preparation, but which attempt to resemble products that are otherwise Not Cool for Passover. (If you are Vegan, think of Tofurkey at Thanksgiving). The Passover products are often just a shadow of what they are intended to replace, but that self-denial/abstinence is part of the point of the holiday, I guess. Some foods that you make yourself from scratch are fun adaptations, like Matzah-Pizza, or Matzah-lasagna. But others, when you try to create the illusion of a Passover rolls, doughnuts, some of the cakes, or leaden pancakes, it is just a fool's errand, so lots of things like that we just avoid. I was home from work for a few days and today whipped up a few funky Passover thangs to keep the house moving along and the kids' interest piqued. For instance, using a combination of Passover cake meal, matzah meal, potato starch and real veges and of course those staples of the holiday -- eggs and olive oil, I fashioned a vegetable cheese quiche, noodle kugel (sort of a cake-pudding hybrid with lots of dried fruits), potato kugel (straight from the box), and a couple of cakes (honey and crumb). This is not some of the healthiest eating of the year, so we try to supplement with lots of fruits and salads, etc.

OK, I am off and running. Tonite: Paul Simon at BAM. Ciao.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spiritual Technology 2: Dorsky Museum: Photographs by Allen Ginsberg

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of the Arts (SDMA) in the Hudson Valley never fails to inspire or surprise. Whether an exhibition of faculty or student work, or a show from its great collection of modern art and photography, the Dorsky, located on the campus of SUNY - New Paltz is remarkable in its passion and quality. A great recent show included "Beat and Beyond: Photographs by Allen Ginsberg." The collection here largely includes photos of the usual Beat suspects (W.S. Burroughs, Kerouac, et al) but it is remarkable that some of these photos from the Beat era that are virtually iconic were taken by none other than Irwin Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) from the 50s through his death in 1997. Some of the photos include poesy and commentary that Ginsberg had written directly on the print. Recent writings surrounding a book "A Blue Hand- The Beats in India" suggests that AG's real talent was for living. Maybe so, but this exhibit, that deserves a wider audience, highlights yet another dimension of the enormous talent, energy and creative output that surrounded Allen Ginsberg-- a poet, philosopher, critic, musician, artist, cultural visionary and activitst, and photographer, the 11th anniversary of whose passing recently occurred (April 5, 1997). These photos, along with an expanded collection of other works, "A Discerning Vision," are from the collection of Howard Greenberg,a collector and curator who founded the Catskill Center for Photography (CCP) back in the late 70s. The collection includes originals of other classics, such as "An American Girl in Italy" by Ruth Orkin, as well as photos by Weegee, Lewis Hine and Walker Evans. A concurrent exhibit of painting and prints at the
museum, "Defining Art" includes Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, and other recently acquired works by luminaries and other lesser known, but wonderful artists. A smaller show, "Reading Objects 2008" includes art coupled with commentary by students and faculty in New Paltz's art programs.

Dorsky remains a smaller museum that nevertheless packs quite a punch.

Samuel Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spiritual Technology: "Outside the Text: Non-Textual Sources of Meaning in Rabbinic Civilization " Lectures at NYU by Professor Michael D. Swartz

After work, over the last couple of weeks, I attended a series of public lectures at NYU's Skirbal Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies entitled "Outside the Text: Non-Textual Sources of Meaning in Rabbinic Civilization. " This represented the Inaugural presentation in a new annual series at NYU, the Benita and Sigmund Stahl Lecture Program in Jewish Studies, which combines special graduate seminars with public lectures. The program's first lecturer was Professor Michael D. Swartz, of Ohio State University. Since Professor Swartz is a former NYU doctoral student who also has co-published academic works with Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Professor and Chairman of NYU's Hebrew and Judaic Studies Department, it seemed to represent a sort of homecoming for him, as he was greeted warmly by the Department.

The lectures explored the ideas that the Jewish people, commonly viewed as a text-centered civilizaton and faith, with the Torah at its center, also has profound roots that are non-textual in nature. That in fact, the Torah, as an object, or an abstract, was created before the world. I am no kabbalist, but esoteric Judaism and "Scholastic Magic" (the title of a book by Dr. Swartz) suggests the deeper structures of Jewish life and culture. The program comprised 3 lectures by Dr. Swartz:

"The Signifying Creator" explored "alternative creation myths in Jewish interpretation (Midrash) and synagogue poetry (Piyyut). Whereas in the classical rabbinic myth the Torah was used as a model for the creation of the world, some sources state that the sacrificial rituals, the Tabernacle, and the Jerusalem Temple were created before the world and serve as the focal point for the act of creation. This myth then yields a more general teleological conception of creation, in which each created thing has a purpose in future history." Professor Swartz cited Genesis Rabbah that the Torah was created first by G-d, that the Torah was created before the world, and served as the blueprint from which the world was created.

"The Semiotics of the Priestly Vestments in Ancient Judaism," another fascinating lecture, explored "how the elaborate golden and jeweled vestments worn by the High Priest in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem served as the subject of an intricate semiotic system in Midrash and liturgical poetry. This system attaches moral and cosmological symbolism to each article of clothing. According to this method of interpretation, each garment symbolizes an Israelite tribe or an episode in biblical history and at the same time serves as an active instrument in achieving the ritual goals of the sacrifice." Professor Swartz discussed the 4 garments of the common priest and the 8 garments of the High Priest, which the High Priest would wear and inquire of the Urim and Thumim which were a form of (my term) spiritual technology, that were used to communicate with G-d..A passage of the Books of Samuel mentions three methods of divine communication - dreams, prophets, and the Urim and Thummim. When the powerpoint presentation on the priestly vestments crashed, one wag, an acquaintance from Park Slope who works at NYU, commented "They've got to reboot the Urim and Thumim."

"Divination and Its Discontents: generating Meaning in Talmudic and Esoteric Judaism", the final lecture of the series concerned "the ancient art of divination in Jewish culture and how the rabbinic class in late antiquity participated in it and responded to it. Some historians have argued that divination was the first form of hermeneutics. Divination systems involve such activities as scrutinizing the natural world for signs of signification, developing techniques for generating random results, and reading personal significance into such disparate events as the chanting of children in a schoolhouse and the arrival of barges at a riverbank. In this lecture these techniques were explored, along with related legends in which animals, stars, the earth, and other elements of nature are sentient and communicate the divine will." This cruised along, tweaking dichotomies, for example, as to how Ancient Judaism could condemn divination and magic -- except when it was acceptable. Professor Swartz mentioned a story about driving in a car with Professor Schiffman at about the time they were working on a book relating to ancient Judaic magic. Schiffman's kids were in the backseat, riffing on magic and Judaism. One child gave the example of when Moses appeared before Pharoah, and his staff turned into a snake. The other child said "No, that wasn't magic, that was an example of the power of G-d." I, too, always thought that scene (whether Charlton Heston on film or in Exodus on the printed page) was a fascinating moment, almost a duel between light and darkness, in some abstract sense, a duel between magicians' except for the fact that, indeed, Moses was not the author of this transmogrification, he was a conduit for the power of Adonai.

Also present in the audience for the lectures was Professor Elliot Wolfson, of NYU's Hebrew and Judaic Studies Department. Professor Wolfson, who at first I mistook for a postgraduate student, asked some deep and challenging questions of Professor Swartz which seemed to be at the core of scholarship and the continuing search for knowlege. I had read some excerpts from works by Dr. Wolfson regarding Jewish history, spirituality, and the Lubavitcher movement. He noted to the audience that, at the conclusion of the series, it was bittersweet, in that the series had been so enjoyable but that it indeed had ended. Professor Wolfson mentioned a lovely quote from his father, that (I am paraphrasing, I hope correctly) when something wonderful ended, it was like awakening from a dream. Professor Wolfson also has a fascinating website of his painting, poetry and scholarship, but I will leave it to the interested reader to research and discover, just as this lecture series offered this writer some spiritual nourishment, a few small steps in a long journey, in the days leading up to Passover in the Jewish year, and spring in the natural world around us.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Poor Boys and Pilgrims: A Brief Second-Hand Report on Paul Simon at BAM Last Night

I saw my good friend SLC as we were crossing Boerum Place this morning. He was at BAM last night to see the Paul Simon performance of "African Skies". Lucky ! Awesome show, he reports, amazing Simon, in great voice with a fantastic band, and with a guest appearance by David Byrne. Simon and company performed all of Graceland, lots of celebrities in the audience (Steve Buscemi, David Schwimmer, among other notables). SLC reports that "at one point, Simon brought out a Brazilian singer who sang some Milton Nascimento tunes. Simon put his guitar down and sat on the edge of the drum stand and just bopped his head to the song. He was at once the maestro directing every detail of the show and also just one of the crowd grooving on the tune." Sounds like truly a Stellar Night.

The Mississipi River was shining like a National guitar -- damn, Paul is right up there at the summit of American songwriting. In the pantheon, way up there, certainly, not nearly quite as bottomless as the new Pulitzer Prize winner, more like the clear waters of the Hudson compared to Dylan's muddy Mississippi, but Simon is without question a songwriter's songwriter, a consciously lighter more pop touch, more NYC neurotic with a dash of classic restraint compared to Dylan's midwestern John Brown prophetic anger and genius... but Paul is an enormously gifted craftsman and superb guitarist, poet and minstrel, a tunesmith who has produced an amazing amount of classic pop music in different styles, and a pioneer on the world music front.

As I told SLC, "You've got me psyched, guaglione..." Now I can't wait to be there at BAM for Paul Simon's "American Tunes" in a couple of weeks...

We are going to Graceland, Graceland....

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Brooklyn Film: BAM screens "The Saragassa Manuscript" (Rekopis znaleziony w Saragossie)

The influence of the 60s never wanes. BAM Cinematek was crowded one evening this weekend for the short run engagement of The Saragosso Manuscript. A film from 1965, this black and white surreal epic of Polish cinema, directed by Wojiech Has and based on a novel by Jan Potocki is one of those marathon classics that one built one's day around at the old Elgin Cinema on 8th avenue in Manhattan or the Gramercy on Bleecker. Clocking in at a solid three hours, it was a true test of cinema willpower. But, once again, the patient, attentive filmgoer will be amply rewarded.

Basically, during the Napoleonic wars, an officer finds an old book that relates his grandfather's story, Alfons van Worden, captain in the Walloon guard. A man of honor and courage, he seeks the shortest route through the Sierra Morena. At an inn, the Venta Quemada, he encounters two Islamic princesses. They call him their cousin and seduce him; he wakes beside corpses under a gallows. He meets a hermit priest and a goatherd who may be possessed; each tells his story;Van Worden wakes again by the gallows. He's rescued from the Inquisition, meets a cabalist and hears more stories within stories. He finally returns to the inn where he receives incredible news. But this story line is easier said than followed. So, this viewer sat back and let the incredible imagery, contorted storylines and fabulist (sometimes arch and comic) dialogue work its cinema magic.

Although it appears to be soon-to-be-in-DVD release, with the lavish praise and support of Francis Coppola and Martin Scorsese, it really deserves a Big Screen viewing since some of the landscapes, filmed in Poland, are surreal and the set designs, costumes, and props are fantastic, in a well-produced, avant garde production. Interesting how Polish film in the 60s, still within the Soviet sphere, managed to mix Kabbalah, Islamic lore and culture, Catholicism and the Inquisition in a curious, mystical brew. It is clearly right down Luis Bunuel's alley, another alleged fan.

The film, as has been publicized, was discovered by the late Jerry Garcia at the San Francisco Film Festival in the late 60s. He donated a copy to the Pacific Film Archive with the proviso that they would unspool it for him whenever he had the yen to toke up and explore this classic, that unfolds, story by story, tale by tale, like a winding clock, for a good 2.5 hours, until it suddenly begins to fold in on itself and slowly, for the last half hour, though to this viewer, not completely, unwinds, so that some of the stories begin to connect, if not explain themselves completely.. Or at least enough to reward the patient viewer with the sense that they have been watching an actual if complex narrative, and even if it seems to have been written on a Mobius Strip. If you contemplate a drink before the show, make sure it is served in a Klein Bottle. Runs through Thursday, April 10.

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo