Saturday, August 30, 2008

Spaceship Brooklyn: Buckminster Fuller and Humanity's Design Imperative at Home in Williamsburg, at The Whitney, and in the World

Starting with the Universe,open through September 21 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, explores the life, work and ideas of R. Buckminster Fuller. Fuller, who became well known in the 60s and 70s through his coinage of the term Spaceship Earth, and his design of the geodesic dome, had a long career as a designer and philosopher, sometimes toiling in obscurity, sometimes in the limelight. But throughout, as the Whitney exhibits shows, he was an original thinker. Interestingly, the branches of the tree of Fuller's design extend across the world, even to Brooklyn, NY. Read on:

Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) was an American architect, author, designer, futurist, inventor, and visionary. He was the second president of Mensa. He lends his name to a family of complex carbon structures called Buckminsterfullerene also known as Bucky Balls.

Wikipedia: Throughout his life, Fuller was concerned with the question "Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly and successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how?" Considering himself an average individual without special monetary means or academic degree, he chose to devote his life to this question, trying to identify what he, as an individual, could do to improve humanity's condition, which large organizations, governments, and private enterprises inherently could not do.

Pursuing this lifelong experiment, Fuller wrote more than thirty books, coining and popularizing terms such as "Spaceship Earth", ephemeralization, and synergetics. He also worked in the development of numerous inventions, chiefly in the fields of design and architecture, the best known of which is the geodesic dome. Carbon molecules known as fullerenes or buckyballs were named for their resemblance to geodesic spheres.

Late in his life, after working on his concepts for several decades, Fuller achieved considerable public visibility. He travelled the world giving lectures, and received numerous honorary doctorates. Most of his inventions, however, never made it into production. Often dismissed as a hopeless utopian, he was strongly criticized in most fields he tried to influence, including architecture.

I first became aware of Fuller's ideas through Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog, and its later incarnations as CoEvolution Quarterly and Whole Earth Review. Folks familiar with Fuller's work continue to assert that his work has not yet received the attention that it deserves.

The Whitney exhibit on Fuller is a combination detailed overview, seminar, and exposition of his work, with an enormous amount of text, graphics and models that explore his work in great detail. A model of his Dymaxion car, a three-wheeled wonder about the size of a minivan but that had remarkable control, was simple to parallel park. and was an efficient vehicle, and a film on the car in action,a cardboard dome, and models of his Dymaxion house, alone are worth the price of admission. If it had impact on humanity, Fuller applied his thought and design sense. Fuller was a modern mind in his awareness of the importance of marketing within the design spectrum. He coined or adopted many neologisms, such as Tensegrity (tension- integrity) and Dymaxion (Dynamic Maximum Ion) that he felt helped to express the value and meaning of the design process and his idea.

Today, Design asserts itself everywhere in the postmodern world. With the recent flack about the Waterfalls and its environmental impact, I thought about how, although the NYC Waterfalls are so interesting, it essentially projects a wonderful aesthetic, but if Bucky had the chance to give his two cents, he might have suggested that it be self-sustained using water from the falls to generate power for the pumps or lighting of the exhibit, or even for nearby homes or streetlighting. My suggestion is probably too small by a Fuller standard. But, whatever it was, Bucky's vision of the Waterfalls would fulfill both an aesethetic and a human-centered design imperative

Well, I had the pleasure of discussing this very question with Will Elkins of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, which is located, where else, but in Brooklyn, USA, Williamsburg to be exact. No surprise there, right?

Mr. Elkins, who is a staff member at BFI, observed in an online interview with DITHOB that he has "had similar thoughts about the Waterfalls. Namely, that they
are taking large amounts of energy to imitate one of nature's great energy sources." In the words of Buckminster Fuller, "I am not trying to imitate nature, I am trying to discover the principles she is using" - Fuller.

Mr. Elkins continued: "I hope to see more art installations that take on issues of
sustainable design. The current PF1 farming project at PS1 is very inspiring in this sense."

The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI), explained Mr. Elkins, "was started in 1983, before Bucky passed away, by his family - notably daughter Allegra Fuller Snyder and Jaime Snyder (both of whom still serve on our Board of Directors). Originally in Philadelphia, BFI quickly moved to California (LA, Santa Barbara, Sebastopol) where it operated until 2004. At that point BFI moved to Williamsburg Brooklyn."

In my mind, Bucky and his geodesic domes and Dymaxion design concepts, seems so outfront, that it was naturally at home in California, on that frontier. So, pardon the banal question, but, why Brooklyn?

Mr. Elkins said: "Moving to Brooklyn was simply a way for BFI to begin anew on the East Coast. A lot of the work BFI did in California dealt with formalizing Fuller's archives (housed at Stanford) and keeping in contact with local BFI members. Newly appointed director, Elizabeth Thompson, helped to spearhead this move in hopes of connecting BFI with a larger community of active participants in the NY region. Since the move, BFI has been very productive - running the Design Science Lab,
in conjunction with the UN, for three years, and then launching the annual Buckminster Fuller Challenge last year."

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is a fascinating, visionary undertaking sponsored by BFI that seeks to further expand and explore the application of design, science, creativity and ingenuity in support of bettering the human condition. BFI links a worldwide network of design innovators. Each year a distinguished jury will award a $100,000 prize to support the development and implementation of a solution that has significant potential to solve humanity's most pressing problems in the shortest possible time while enhancing the Earth's ecological integrity. To give you an idea, one of the concepts that did not win the Challenge last year involved using a revolving door in a building to generate useable energy.

Fascinating and insightful idea index here:

from BFI: "If success or failure of the planet and of human beings depended on
how I am and what I do ... How would I be? What would I do?"
— Buckminster Fuller

"Buckminster Fuller's prolific life of exploration, discovery, invention and teaching was driven by his intention "to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone."

"Fuller coupled this intention with a pioneering approach aimed at solving complex problems. This approach, which he called comprehensive anticipatory design science, combined an emphasis on individual initiative and integrity with whole systems thinking, scientific rigor and faithful reliance on nature's underlying principles

What was BFI's involvement in the Whitney exhibit ?
Elkins: "BFI was not directly involved with the show at the Whitney in terms
of design or planning- the curators worked more with the Estate of Buckminster Fuller for image and object use rights. We were included in many conversations with the curators, but our technical involvement includes things like selling maps and books through their museum store, and obviously promoting the show."

Has the "Greening of America"/sustainable culture (in the design sense) as a movement in any way caught up with Fuller? Or are his ideas still out front, blazing a trail well in front of current design ?

BFI's Will Elkins said: "It is very interesting to follow the Sustainable movement, and great that many people are 'discovering' the works and philosophies of Bucky as a source of inspiration. In my opinion there is still a bit of a disconnect between the heart of Fuller's work and where the sustainable movement stands today."

He continued: "Mainly, I see the difference involving scale and necessity. Fuller's main design principles follow along the lines of "How can we provide for the greatest amount of people with the least amount of resources" or "Do more with less." I feel that a lot of designers are still missing this point. Let's not
take an object that already exists and try to make it "more green" -
let's get at what purposes that object serves and tackle that issue in
the most efficient way possible."

Design not just for aesthetics but for the greater good?

Elkins: "Fuller had a great analogy about piano tops serving as floating rafts in the event of a cruise ship sinking. But just because piano tops can function as safety rafts, it does not mean that we should design safety rafts based on piano tops. He said society is clinging to too many piano tops. And I think this
is still the case. Not to completely dismiss the green movement, a lot
of people are doing great things - but perhaps some should reconsider
their lives and work in the spirit of Bucky."

Starting with the Universe extends through September 21, 2008 at the Whitney Museum.

Starting With the Universe also will present a weekend long symposium on Buckminster Fuller's ideas and impact on the 21st century at Cooper Union on the weekend of September 12. Visit the Whitney link for more information.

Wikipedia on Bucky:"

About the exhibit:"> timeline and key concept:

The Buckminister Fuller Institute:

BFI Buckminster Fuller Challenge:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Coney Island of the Soul: The Boardwalk on a Late Summer's Eve

What is it about the inexorable approach of the end of summer. Even though I love the fall, and even the winter, when it is not too intense, the approach of the week before labor day brings a little bit of ennui, a rootlessness and sense of endings, of movings on..

For most households that include children, adolescents and young adults, when this time of year comes around the scent of salt water, seaweed and suntan lotion begins to curdle and set into the faint whiff of the Death March to Bataan..our household is not much different.

So, the other night, we were driven by the urge to hit the beach, to pretend it was Forever Summer. We walked the Boardwalk at Coney Island. First stop, Ruby's Bar and Grille, just a stumble away from Shoot the Freak!

We got 2 cups of Coors Light and split a piece of corn on the cob. As we sat down, watching the boardwalk parade, we started chatting with one of the managers at Rudy's, which was founded, he said, in 1934. After Ruby became ill, his daughter, son-in-law and grandkids came on the scene to help to run the business. After Rudy passed away in 2000, they took over. One family member, a mortgage broker 5 days a week in Nassau county, makes his way to Coney Island from April through October to serve the summer crowds. We talked a little about the pending real estate moves expected to change the face of the boardwalk forever. Although the current economic downturn may delay for a while the Atlantic-Citification of Coney Island, it is no doubt something that will happen eventually, changing the funky face of Brooklyn's southern shoreline. I can recall hearing of policy and business discussions for years and years about the vision for Times Square improvement. Finally it happened, and the funky charm has now been replaced by corporations, branding, and higher prices. No doubt the boardwalk will not be far behind. The hawkers on the boardwalk were selling their rosary-necklaces and their neon light sticks. The spinning lights expanding in the distance to un petite aurora borealis of the mind.

Next up, we strolled further and encountered the weekly Boardwalk rave, djs driving the dancing crowd onward, as darkness fell, and the crowd settled into the moment. We hung out a bit, getting into the groove. The beat infectious, the crowd waxing and waning and waxing again, pulling in passersby, as the djs worked their magic.

We strolled further, backtracking a bit now, and, even though we were sans children, I was pulled in by the claw machine. Feeding quarters, alternately cursing fate or fortune, until I came up with a prize for My Lovely Date.

Since we hit the boardwalk and restaurants in Brighton now and then, we decided to keep tonite's visit strictly to Coney Island. Back on the street, as luck would have it, we came across Steve Power's Gitmo Better, a political statement that is part thrill ride, part side show attraction. Climb the stairs, feed a buck into the slot, and wrestle with your conscience. The spongebob and squidward logo is a stroke of sheer genius and the fact that this has been discussed in the NY Times, The Economist and the blogosphere at large, doesn't leave much left to say. However, it is in the details and nuances of this artwork that you get the real flavor of the statement. For example, the blue blazer with the American flag pin hanging neatly on a hanger, while the interrogator has changed into his work clothes of a pulled up hoodie, suggests, whatever the politics of this incident, that the Grand Inquisitor here is just a working stiff, whether for Blackwater or the Central Intelligence Agency, just a guy doing his job. Nuff said and worth the cost of admission.

After having lectured our son about the calorie counts when we bought him a Burger King the other day (you gotta wonder, which number you would prefer to be higher, the calorie count or the price) , we decided to forgo Nathan's and we made our way to Taci's Beyti on Coney Island Avenue near Avenue P for wonderful shepherd's salad, eggplant and some kebabs. The service was very warm and welcoming in this family run Turkish restaurant.

Time isn't holding us. Time isn't after us. Brooklyn, full of dreams and dreamers, here at the shore.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Brooklyn Markets: POMEGRANATE ON CIA

We paid a visit to Pomegranate, the new kosher supermarket on Coney Island Avenue. Somehow, inspiration struck on a Thursday evening, so the store was crowded with curious shoppers, like us, who had passed the store while it was under construction, and then read about it in the newspapers or online, combined with families doing their Shabbos grocery shopping.

The store is new, bright, and spotless. Pretty woods, gleaming fixtures, brightly and colorfully lit. Klezmer music plays on thes sound system. Granted, Thursday evening is a heavy shopping time in the (observant) Jewish community , but the store appeared to be remarkably well staffed. While we shopped, we noted that the floors were constantly being swept. The long and winding deli counter with an enormous selection of prepared foods was very well staffed. Despite the crowds, they served the kosher delicacies, including chicken and beef in many forms, steaks, fish, a wide array of prepared salads, vegetables, etc., quickly and efficiently, even offering to provide samples of salads and vegetable goodies. The shelves are very well stocked with an enormous candy, chips, and goody selection, all kosher of course.

Pomegranate ain't cheap. There were sale items and many packaged goods were comparable in price to items we've see elsewhere in Brooklyn. And, to the uninitiated, it is kosher, so that means ixnay if'n you are thinking of shopping for lobster, shrimps, anything that chews its cud, or non-kosher items. Many items are kosher (and somewhat higher priced) forms of identical items, but if you, like us, enjoy experiencing the many different types of food stores and restaurants available in Brooklyn, you will find it an interesting alternative.

What we got: We are in the lead up to our older daughter's departure to her year of international study. At her request, I bought three types of humus (zatar flavored, Gallilee olive flavored, and a homemade style. We bought a bunch of lovely fruits and vegetables. We bought three kinds of tuna, breads (pita of different sizes and rolls), cheeses (not uber-aged), grilled veges, leben yogurt such as chocolate which is almost pudding-like, cookies, crackers, which should keep the six of us at home during the summer covered for a little while. The checkout counter was likewise remarkablly staffed, someone ringing stuff up, someone bagging, someone packing stuff in our cart. A grocery clerk cheerfully helped us shlep our stuff down the block to our car.

All in all, a colorful, fun, moderately glitzy shopping experience. The burning questions, now that you've built it, will they come? Does Pomegranate have it all ?
Judging by last evening, yes they will come and in droves since it provides an enormous selection in a comfortable setting. And, while Pomegranate does not have it all, it still has lots of stuff that will appeal to the interested cook or eater, it is fresh and appealing alternative for down home prepared foods, fruits, vegetables and healthy foods and snacks. It is an opportunity to delve into your Jewish soul, whether you are Jewish or not.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Wall in Flatbush: A Brickface Olympiad Tribute

The Wall near Cortelyou Road that served as a palate for much daily extra-internet posting and rude commentary, a sort of externalized blog (I guess the Romans called it "graffito") has now offered its merry, multi-cultural and profoundly un-PC take on the Beijing 2008 Olympics extravangaza. Once again, Art proves to be Bigger Than Life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Brooklyn Like Never Before": Dylan Doesn't Disappoint and Neither Does Celebrate Brooklyn

"Brooklyn like Never Before", the Bob Dylan website declared last night. "Bob Dylan and his band played Brooklyn's Prospect Park last night, his first concert ever in what may be New York City's greatest borough. He's certainly never played so close to Montague Street" the Dylan website reported. And what an evening it was.

A couple of days ago, I posted something on my blog about what Dylan had played at his last show in Baltimore, and now it was next stop, Brooklyn USA. When I was driving through the Slope to work yesterday morning, anticipating the show last night, I thought, and I mean I didn't know where he was staying or even if he was in the city yet, but I kind of thought "Dylan is under the same sky as we are (in Brooklyn) today." So atypical and unusually fannish of me, I don't think I would feel that way about any other performer. As a songwriter and musician, as a poet, writer, painter, filmmaker, as an anti-celebrity and anti-icon, as an artist, Dylan is an original, and although he plays "roots" music, in someways, after performing for 40 years or whatever, I guess he IS roots.

There was so much excitement and surprise when the tickets went on sale, and I was so late in getting them, and our tickets were for the lawn area, and I was so excited to see "Bob" again live, that I set my expectations about the venue very low. I didn't want to be disappointed. Well damn, it was a wonderful venue with a great crowd , and a fantastic set.

The crowd was very relaxed and civil. The long line snaked around the park. A few dark clouds appeared and some thunder clapped but it all seemed to happen away from the park. It quickly moved away and turned into a lovely, comfortable summer evening. Kids, teens, young adults, boomers and older folks, we all filled the place. We were sitting near a couple with their little guy, who was maybe 3, and the mom was cradling her newborn who couldn't have been more than a few days old. An older gent, smoking a stogey, leaned against a tree, holding a cane. Once the music started, everyone was on their feet, moving, shaking and grooving, even the gent with his cane and stogey cut a mean stomp.. Dylan and band appeared to a loud roar from the crowd, they started playing and didn't let up.

Dylan looked sharp in his southwestern style suit and Spanish bolero-style hat. His current band rocked hard and long. Songs included:

1. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Bob on keyboard)
2. Lay, Lady, Lay (Bob on keybo ard)
3. Lonesome Day Blues (Bob on keyboard)
4. Girl Of The North Country (Bob on keyboard)
5. The Levee's Gonna Break (Bob on keyboard)
6. Spirit On The Water (Bob on keyboard)
7. Honest With Me (Bob on keyboard)
8. John Brown (Bob on keyboard)
9. Highway 6 1 Revisited (Bob on keyboard)
10. Beyond The Horizon (Bob on keyboard)
11. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (Bob on keyboard)
12. Nettie Moore (Bob on keyboard)
13. Summer Days (Bob on keyboard)
14. Masters Of War (Bob on keyboard)

15. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard)
16. Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on keyboard)
17. Blowin' In The Wind (Bob on keyboard)
(thanks -

His current band members are an amazing and tight group. It was true, for a few hours, Prospect Park Bandshell was transformed into Hipster Heaven. Life (sometimes) is Good. And one more thing:

After listening to all of his music all of these years, year after year, reading his interviews, books, seeing his shows, the films, etc,. I don't imagine or pretend to know who BD really is. To quote the line from some French New Wave Film from the 60s, I think by Jean Luc Godard,"Qui ĂȘtes-vous, Bob Dylan ?" I don't know and I don't really care. As a listener and fan, he seems just fine the way he is and I hope that he keeps making music and writing songs as long as he likes. Thanks Bob Dylan, thanks Celebrate Brooklyn and thanks Brooklyn, New York. So, you don't be a stranger to Brooklyn, Bob, now, ya hear?
--Brooklyn Beat

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tell 'Em All Tiny Montgomery Sez Hello: Bob Dylan Rolling into Brooklyn USA

from Boblinks...

Bob Dylan Set List from Pimlico Race Course. Next stop: Brooklyn USA Next

Baltimore, Maryland
Virgin Mobile Festival
Pimlico Race Course

August 10, 2008

1. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Bob on keyboard)
2. It Ain't Me, Babe (Bob on keyboard)
3. Rollin' And Tumblin' (Bob on keyboard)
4. Spirit On The Water (Bob on keyboard)
5. High Water (For Charlie Patton) (Bob on keyboard)
6. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
(Bob on keyboard)
7. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on keyboard)
8. When The Deal Goes Down (Bob on keyboard)
9. Summer Days (Bob on keyboard)
10. Ballad Of A Thin Man (Bob on keyboard)

11. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard)

(Thanks Don Mitchell for the email)

Band Members
Bob Dylan - keyboard, harp
Tony Garnier - bass
George Recile - drums
Stu Kimball - rhythm guitar
Denny Freeman - lead guitar
Donnie Herron - banjo, electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Richie Havens at Metrotech

Richie Havens. Another legend playing in Brooklyn. A wonderful show for a lovely summer afternoon, as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's summer long "R & B Festival at Metrotech." Kudos to BAM. Richie Havens' mellow voice and intensively rhythmic guitar with that unique thumbed open fret playing style. Tales of growing up in Bed-Stuy and playing stickball on Howard Avenue drew cheers from the lunchtime crowd. Great show, what a wonderful, diverse crowd. Amazing that the iconic Richie Havens, so associated with the 1960s, would draw such an appreciative crowd of kids, young adults, boomers, older folks.

Mr. Havens, occasionally accompanied by an electric guitarist and a cellist, played "My Love is Alive," "All Along the Watchtower," "Dreams," "Woodstock," and more. He was joined onstage for two numbers by Marcus Franklin, a young performer who appeared as the youngest metaphorical reincarnation of Bob Dylan in the recent film "I'm Not There," who sang Dylan's "Hour That the Ship Comes In" and "Tombstone Blues" with a little energetic tap dance thrown in.

Mr Havens' stories were funny, sometimes veering off into mystical head scratchers, such as the tale of watching a press conference where it was announced that Pluto was no longer a planet, and he wondered what would become of all of those folks born under the sign of Pluto ? But that voice, that voice that is so familiar and warm and wise, immediately brought back thoughts, memories and reflections of the Woodstock era and its many hopeful iterations. His version of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock", simply, gave chills.

Richie Havens forthcoming album on Verve Forecast is "Nobody Left to Crown." Richie Havens, still performing worldwide, is an icon of an era. While he is known more as an interpreter than a songwriter (his more recent albums have included many original compositions), his original style and unique artistic identity retain an important and enduring place in American popular music.

Richie Havens website:

Youtube: Where the Legend Begins: Richie Havens at Woodstock 1969:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Change, Yes. But Hope ?: The Road to Reform on Wall Street

Facing a virtual meltdown of large segments of the financial, banking and investments industries, a Wall Street consortium led by Goldman Sachs managing partner E. Gerald Corrigan recommended new standards Wednesday for monitoring and managing risk. The report issued by the study group indicated that the financial industry must be better equipped to contain the potential for apocalyptic aftermaths potentially caused by irrational exuberance. (I said that, they didn't.)

The group's report, addressed to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Mario Draghi, chairman of the international Financial Stability Forum, suggested that big investment houses regularly perform "liquidity stress tests" to measure their expected flexibility in the face of a crisis. It also urged firms to make sure they have accurate snapshots of their exposures to institutional trading partners, with the ability to compile detailed reports within hours if necessary. The report suggests that this will likely require extensive expenditures on "infrastructure" (i.e., human capital and technology)on the part of the financial industry which will no doubt be good news for many in the industry who have found themselves on the street (or, rather off The Street) following this chaotic financial year.

One cherce nugget: "...As discussed elsewhere in this Report, throughout the credit market crisis, the behavioral characteristics of several classes of structured credit instruments have accounted for a significant fraction of the write-downs and losses incurred by large integrated financial intermediaries, hedge funds, specialized financial institutions and other market participants. Moreover, there is almost universal agreement that, even with optimal disclosure in the underlying documentation, the characteristics of these instruments and the risk of loss associated with them were not fully understood by many market participants. This lack of comprehension was even more pronounced when applied to CDOs, CDOs squared,4 and related instruments, reflecting a complex array of factors, including a lack of understanding of the inherent limitations of valuation models and the risks of short-run historical data sets. As a consequence, these instruments displayed price depreciation and volatility far in excess of levels previously associated with comparably rated securities, causing both a collapse of confidence in a very broad range of structured product ratings and a collapse in liquidity for such products."

Translation: Despite all of the legal gobbedlygook issued by financial firms in support of some of the complex equity and investment products issued in the past several years, investors were not fully aware of the level or potenial of risk that these items faced. Like the ads that promise results, accompanied by a counterpuntal voice saying "Prior experience does not guarantee future earnings". But it was a bull market. You have to be in it to win it, etc. Until it fails. Irrational exuberance indeed.

The bottom line? Addressed as it is to Treasury Secretary Paulson and Mario Draghi of the "Financial Stability Forum," it seems Reform is the Better Part of Valor. Or, the mantra on Wall Street, for now, Better to Self-Regulate Than Be Regulated.

One wonders how the outcome of the November 2008 elections will further determine the future direction of regulation on Wall Street, and how that might impact individual and institutional investors, borrowers, and the near term and future growth of the American economy and the global economy at large.

To whit, the decision by some banks and investment firms to freeze home equity loans for customers deemed to be at risk of default (see link below).

Containing Systemic Risk: The Road to Reform here:

Wall Street Advises on New Risk Regulations (Washington Post):

Some Banks, Equity Firms, freeze Home Equity Withdrawals:

The Late Dr. Bruce Ivins: Not the Anthrax Suspect ?

A very sobering article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal suggests that the late government scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins, was not in fact "Dr Anthrax", despite the fact that he was believed to have committed suicide because the FBI was closing in on him as the chief suspect in the anthrax letter attacks that frightened the country in December 2001. In addition to making Dr. Ivins, who may or may not according to subsequent press accounts have been marginally but non-lethally loony, an Enemy of The State, the investigation, as the article states, does not appear to add up. Clearly, this also raises questions as to the identity of the actual perpetrators, and whether they are still At Large.

Paging "V for Vendetta", "The Matrix", Jean Baudrillard, Slavoj Zizek, and all of those other sub-textual analyses of politics, totalitarianism, terror and reality. As the Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995 and the Unibomber showed, enemies of American democracy are homegrown as well as foreign. However, perhaps The Disjuncture in American Life, both subtle and profound, that the September 11, 2001 attacks represented, seemed to create a brief vacuum, a window of opportunity.

A Pandora's Box that creeped open with terror attacks on U.S. personnel and embassies for the past several decades, opened wide on 9/11, unleashing all manner of extremists. If the analyst's article is correct, what is most sobering and clear is that with the death of Dr. Ivins the anthrax killings may be far from over,

Wall Street Journal on the Dr. Bruce Ivins Story:

Significant Terror Incidents: 1961-2003

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