Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bob Dylan at the White House Next Month

Bob Dylan at the White House on February 10 to celebrate Black History Month. Details here Other performers attending include Natalie Cole, John Legend, Smokey Robinson, Seal, and Jennifer Hudson. Actors Morgan Freeman and Queen Latifah will serve as emcees. Dylan is honored for the role that his music palyed in the civil rights movement, including his performances at Dr. King's historic March on Washington, and in the South during the civil rights movement in the 60s.

All things considered, watching President Obama's speech last night, itself a historic moment, brought to mind, as it did for the author of the above article, Dylan's lyrics for "The Times They are a' Changin'." As the Senators and Congresspersons, held back by partisan politics and rooted in their disparate ideologies, left and right, Dem and GOP, sit on their hands, despite the call for change at a time that seems to represent new possibilities:

Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt, will be he who has stalled
The battle outside is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows, and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Arnold, President Obama, and the Rhythm of American Politics

An interesting interview with Governor Schwarzenegger, Republican of California:


Tea-party-style voter revolts are just part of “the rhythm” of American politics, he said.

“I’ve been the victim of that myself,” he observed. “People change very quickly, and you can’t complain because that’s the way people are....
“Obama was a great candidate. He speaks well, looks good, he’s articulate, he’s smart, blah, blah, blah, all these kind of things. They went running towards Obama: ‘Here’s our savior.’ They hated Republicans. So then Obama gets to office and talks about the things he promised. ‘We’re going to stimulate the economy.’ Well, wh-wh-what is this? Is this handouts? So everything that is put on the table is being fought as if he’s going against his promises, which he isn’t. But that’s the way it works, and it’s a very odd thing.”

Did Obama make a mistake, using all his capital on health care?

“He let other people do the negotiating,” Arnold replied. “If you want to travel around, if you want to put fires out all over the world, O.K., but you’ve got to be there for those negotiations.”

James Cameron’s Terminator likes to look at the big picture, or the “master shot,” as he puts it. And his own master shot shows him jumping from bodybuilding champ to top movie star to governor, scaling every peak “with tunnel vision.” He overcame movie focus groups that said, as he recalled, “Jeez, he scares the hell out of me, I feel like I’m in Germany and the Nazis are back.”

He speculated that Democrats and Republicans were too scared of him to pass a law allowing immigrants to run for president, but if they had, he would have jumped in — “because it’s there.”

Full Interview from Maureen Dowd's NY TIMES column

Record number of Americans Unemployed - Very hard hit are young people, particularly inthe African AMerican community, who have relied on part-time employment as a stepping stone to full-time work and as support while pursuing higher education and additional training.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Late Night Wars--Jimmy Kimmel's Post-Mortem, Ken Burns' Style

Via NEW YORK Magazine's Vulture: Jimmy Kimmel, who has been fearlessly taking on NBC and Jay Leno in the closing days of the Late Night Wars, unleashed a parting salvo, a documentary, Ken Burns-style, that is as hilarious as it is poignant, now that Conan has moved onto The Next Thing.

New York Magazine Vulture article here

Friday, January 22, 2010

From the U.K.: From One Extreme to the Other-- The Photography of Nat Finkelstein

Three Icons. Poster from the Idea Generation Gallery Show on the photography of Nat Finkelstein. Photograph by Nat Finkelstein.

Nat Finkelstein was one of the most respected photojournalists of modern times. Renowned for his iconic and intimate documentation of Andy Warhol's infamous Factory, and later his political activism including an allegiance with The Black Panthers that forced him to live abroad for 15 years, Finkelstein remained at the heart of the cultural zeitgeist up until his death aged 76, 2nd October 2009.

If you happen to be in London between now and February 14, this is a show to catch.


Nat Finkelstein website

The Idea Generation Gallery

If you are fortunate enough to be in the the next few weeks, details on the show are as follows:
Opening Hours Throughout Exhibitions
Monday - Friday 10-6
Saturday & Sunday 12-5

How to Find the Idea Generation Gallery:

(Just off Redchurch Street
off Shoreditch High St.)
Nearest tubes Old Street / Liverpool Street

Take a visual tour of the Idea Generation gallery here

Conan Farewell: Take the Money and Run

Conan O'Brien

Neil Young is among the guests on Conan's last "Tonight Show." In rejecting NBC's bid to reshuffle late night TV, Conan says he is doing it for the institution of the Tonight Show. So, ironically this most traditionalist and conservative of rationales is leading him to take a completely new path. Producing, radio, internet, his own comedy series, FOX ? Quo vadis? Who knows. But now Conan has the cash to try to do his own thing. He's got the tools, he's got the talent, it's Miller Time. Speaking of which, although he doesn't do covers, maybe it would be appropriate for Neil to play the following, as the Tonight Show takes a yet a different direction, and Conan, along with network/broadcast TV scratches their heads and tries to figure out what's next. Steve Miller Band "Take the Money and Run"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bright Star

So quickly, in January, the afternoon Sun lingers longer and longer. The days are changing, although we are still in winter, the changing light gives a promise of the further seasons to some. These days, in the mornings, weather permitting, I usually get off the train at DeKalb Avenue, making the straight walk up a quiet Fulton Street, to my office on Court.

This morning, the rising sun was a fantastic orange and gold ball, impossible to ignore. It stopped me in my tracks and I turned to catch this image, the morning shadows slowly giving way to this emerging star, bathing sections of Fulton Street in
its soothing, blinding glow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Remembering America's Greatest Spiritual, Ethical and Political Leader, Martyr

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.(January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Had he not been martyred, could the Rev. Dr.King have been the United States of America's first African-American President? That would have been a remarkable dream. Despite, or perhaps because of, the despair triggered by his martyrdom, before his death, Dr. King predicted a Black US President within 25 years, countered to the more conservative prediction of 40 years by assassinated U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

Bob Dylan performs at the March on Washington

Joan Baez and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A troubling, visionary statement of what might have been had the Confederate States of America succeded and defeated the United States of America in the Civil War:
Kevin Wilmott's brilliant "alternative history"and faux documentary film, produced by Spike Lee, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti: When the already fragile is further shaken

A map showing the areas in Haiti, on the island of Hispaniola, impacted by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Tuesday.

From time to time, the pop and circumstance of daily living give way to the grim reality of living on a planet that brings its own separate grief, aside from the economic, social and political struggles of daily living, in the form of natural disasters. On an early morning Q train passing through Flatbush, three women chatted in hushed and worried tones about the latest disaster to befall Haiti.

“I couldn’t reach my cousins, I don’t know what to think.”

“It looks like nothing was left standing.”

This scene was no doubt repeated many, many times wherever emigrants from Haiti gathered, so, of course, there is great concern in Brooklyn’s Haitian community.

“First the hurricane, now this….”

Haitian-Americans in Miami, New York and other U.S. cities tell a similar story of frantically trying to get through to relatives and friends to see if they survived the largest earthquake to hit the Caribbean nation in 200 years. Communications were widely disrupted, making it impossible to get a full picture of damage and casualties as powerful aftershocks shook the desperately poor country where many buildings are flimsy.

The New York Times reported a comment from one Haitian in Miami: ''The level of anxiety is high,'' he said. ''Haiti has been through trauma since 2004, from coup d'etat to hurricanes, now earthquakes.''
The New York Times also reported that Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-American author whose books about the country have won the National Book Award and the Pushcart Prize, gathered family and friends at her Miami home, which has become something of a command center.

''Some people are online, some are watching CNN, some are listening to Haitian radio,'' she said late Tuesday night. ''There's a huge sense of helplessness about it. You want to go there, but you just have to wait. I think the hardest part is the lack of information.''

She said that for years, Haitians wondered with trepidation what would happen if an earthquake hit.

''Life is already so fragile in Haiti, and to have this on such a massive scale, it's unimaginable how the country will be able to recover from this.''
More from the Times here.

For more coverage, see The Haitian Times


And, a site established by
Yele Haiti, an aid and charitable organization founded by Haitian American artist Wyclef Jean.

The Miami Herald provides more detail and updates here.

U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek advised any citizens wondering about their family in Haiti to call 888-407-4747, a phone line set up by the State Department in conjunction with American Citizen Services.

Time Magazine Photos of the Aftermath here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Update from Cortelyou Road: The Latest From The Wall

Ditmas Park's own version of "The DaVinci Code" -- the grafitti wall at Cortelyou Road. From the plain to the arcane, it's all there. Photos by Anthony Napoli

Friday, January 8, 2010

Montague Street Journal: Brooklyn-Based Reflections on Bob Dylan

In “Joey,” from the Desire album, Bob Dylan sings about Joey Gallo (aka “Crazy Joe” and “Joe the Blond”), a mob figure from Red Hook, Brooklyn, elevating him from gang boss and gunman to a more mythical status, more guru than Brooklyn gangsta. Now, a new Dylan journal, has been published, “Montague Street Journal: The Art of Bob Dylan,” that not only takes its name from a street in the “town of Brooklyn” (that itself appears in “Tangled Up in Blue”), but also is published right here in the borough of Kings.

Montague Street Journal features more scholarly takes on the work and impact of Bob Dylan. Articles include “Reading Masked and Anonymous: A close of examination of Larry Charles’ off-beat masterpiece” and “Minds out of time: societal dichotomy and anachronism as recurring theme in Dylan’s lyrics.” It isn’t available in bookstores yet, but is available online here.

MSJ's editorial and publishing staff are Brooklyn residents. Editor Nina Goss grew up in Brooklyn Heights (attended P.S. 8 and P.S. 7), although, like many natives, she has migrated elsewhere in the borough. “Montague Street is a real and remembered place for me, like the layers of time portrayed throughout Blood on the Tracks,” she said in an email, “and it meant quite a lot” that her colleagues at the journal concurred on using it as a title.

She, like me, was at Dylan’s first Brooklyn show in Prospect Park in 2008, although on the masthead she indicates she also has attended a total of 38 shows. I always thought that, were Dylan to play Brooklyn, BAM would have been the first venue chosen. Nina recalls that Prospect Park was “a strong and vigorous set, and a wonderful counterpart to the next night's show at Asbury Park, which had a dark edgy quality to it.”

Nina Goss delivered her paper on globalization and Bob Dylan entitled “Show me all around the world, or the Whole Wide World Which People Say is Round” at the 2009 Northeast MLA conference, it will be published in an upcoming book on Dylan she is editing. She also publishes a website, Gardener is Gone, on Dylan.

For more on the bona fides of the editorial and publishing team (including number of Dylan concerts attended) here

A more in-depth interview from the Examiner online appears here.

Although I didn't have the opportunity to ask, I recall having heard a-- probably apocryphal/urban legend-type-- tale that in Dylan's post-Born Again days, in the 80s, around the time of Infidels, he spent a lot of time in Brooklyn, re-immersing himself in Jewish culture and studying with an Orthodox rabbi.

As a fan of all things in print, not just digital text, I salute Montague Street Journal's decision to go paper and am happy to see that Brooklyn remains fertile ground for the launching of new intellectual enterprise and as source of new knowledge and analysis on this important American artist.

Happy Friday: It Really Is 2010

The end of the first business week of the year; well, it will be in a few hours. The post-holiday lethargy begins to lift. For what it's worth, we've survived the transition into another new year. It really is 2010! Conan and Jay Leno at loggerheads? Alabama takes Texas? Let's see what the future brings. But for now -- "I don't wanna work; just wanna bang on the drums all day." ">Happy Friday.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Wassily Kandinsky @ Guggenheim Museum through 1/13/10

"Thirty" by Wassily Kandinsky 1937

Wassily Kandinsky 1913 or earlier

Portrait of Kandinsky by Gabriele Munter, a German abstract expresssionist painter who was personally and professionally involved with Kandinsky from 1902-1914. Her work is itself rich and intriguing. More on Munter here.

The Guggenheim Museum is presenting a breathtaking retrospective of more than 100 works by this founder of abstract art, culled from its own collection, as well as that of the Pompidou Centre and the Annegret Hoberg, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich. We caught the exhibition last weekend and it was packed, but absolutely, positively worth the visit to view such an extensive and informative exhibition on Kandinsky, the artist and theorist. The exhibtion runs through January 13.

Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky (English pronunciation: /kənˈdɪnski/; Russian: Васи́лий Васи́льевич Канди́нский, Vasilij Vasil'evič Kandinskij; 4 December [O.S. 4 December] 1866 – 13 December 1944) was a Russian painter, and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first modern abstract works.

Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow and chose to study law and economics. Quite successful in his profession—he was offered a professorship (chair of Roman Law) at the University of Dorpat—he started painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30.

In 1896 he settled in Munich and studied first in the private school of Anton Ažbe and then at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. He went back to Moscow in 1914 after World War I started. He was unsympathetic to the official theories on art in Moscow and returned to Germany in 1921. There he taught at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture from 1922 until the Nazis closed it in 1933. He then moved to France where he lived the rest of his life, and became a French citizen in 1939. He died at Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1944. More here

"Concerning the Spiritual in Art" by Wassily Kandinsky is an exploration of his theory and vision on art here

More on the The Guggenheim Museum Retrospective here

Friday, January 1, 2010


Above, Times Square, 2009


"America": Audio Recording Walt Whitman, Brooklynite, reading from "America." [This is a 36-second wax cylinder recording of what is thought to be Whitman's voice reading four lines from the poem "America." For more information on this recording, see Ed Folsom, "The Whitman Recording," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 9 (Spring 1992), 214-16.]

America by Walt Whitman
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear'd, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair'd in the adamant of Time.

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