Friday, February 26, 2010

Downstate and Downtime in the Empire State

Empire Fulton Ferry State Park. Photo by Brooklyn Beat.

Excerpt: "Move over, New Jersey, you're getting a run for your tax money as the nation's most dysfunctional state from the once great mecca of commerce and finance known as New York. Politics in the Empire State has become a carnival of spendthrifts, sexual miscreants and the all-purpose ethically challenged.

In the latest sign that the Apocalypse is upon Albany, New York Governor David Paterson announced yesterday that he won't seek election to a full term in November only two weeks after he had announced that he would. Mr. Paterson, a Democrat who became governor in March 2008 after Eliot Spitzer resigned in a prostitution scandal, has spent the past two years lurching from one fiasco to the next. Meanwhile, back in Manhattan and in the spirit of the current New York state of mindlessness, Mr. Spitzer is said to be plotting a comeback. As gossip columnist Cindy Adams of the New York Post likes to say, "Only in New York, kids, only in New York." Alas.

Twice as Farce: Second, Consecutive NYS Governor Forced Out

Like most New Yorkers, we greeted the rise of David Patterson, NY's Lt. Governor, as New York's first African American and disabled governor, with great joy, pride and hope, following the resignation of elected former Governor Eliot Spitzer.  Although his administration got off to a slow start, citizens were hopeful and willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The recent swirl of rumors notwithstanding, one had to give him a great deal of respect for attempting to battle the odds and seek election to a full term. The recent crisis brought on by the alleged malfeasance of his trusted assistant, David Johnson, followed by indications that the NY State Troopers appear to have been involved in pressuring Johnson's fiance, as well as a call by the Governor to Ms. Booker, Mr. Johnson's fiance, followed by the the resignation of the administration's criminal justice coordinator over this apparent interference, have swept through Albany and thrown state politics into a maelstrom. The Governor will make a statement later today on his future plans.

AP-Sources: Paterson Won't Seek NewTerm

NY Daily News: Insider, Governor WIll Not Run

NY 1: Patterson Abandons Plan to Seek Full Term

Oh, It's a Mess Out There

Happily, our younger girls in high school and my Better Half, who has to drive to the school where she works on the Queens border,m are all home today, as are our college-age kids who are hoem and off for the day.

Hiking before 7 AM to East 17th Street, which was unplowed, I walked in the tracks of cars that had made it through. Some neighbors were trying to dig out their cars. The snow, thick, wet and heavy, was more burdensome than the more recent snow day a couple of weeks ago. The Q train moved slow as molasses, or, more accurately, glacially slow.  The train was emptier than usual at that hour; I sat at the end of the car, and instead of tuning out to my Ipod, I sat and witnesses the morning commute.  A gentle sort of crisis, snowstorms bring out all of those dedicated, or simply more habituated souls, who find adventure in the thick white piles, or else who simply feel the need to make it into work. The train crawled along quietly, some folks reading or watching the flakes fall. By the time the Q got to Church Avenue,  passengers began to get and receive calls -- "Where were they?" "Are they making it into work today?"  I continued my morning of texts with a colleague who was commuting in from Staten Island on an Express Bus as the Q chugged along.  On a snowy day on the subway, there is an unspoken acknowledgement that we are all part of that subset of New Yorkers: NYC working people.

I finally got down to Brooklyn Heights and treated myself to a good cup of coffee and an egg white and spinach sandwich from Court Order deli. I got up to the office and was the first one in.  Unlike yesterday, when Brooklyn had mostly rain, the snow was thick and even drifting in spots all across Court Street. The phones started ringing early, but it wasn't business, just folks checking in to say they were doing the sensible thing and staying home.

My colleague from Staten Island made it in, as did a few other folks.  It seems like it will be a relatively slow and quiet Friday

In the current economic downturn, I totally empathize with those people who need a job, want to work, but don't have one right now. On an ordinary day, especially when I haven't taken a day off in awhile, I will be tired, a bit resentful of the grind; imagining staying on my train after my stop to go to a film or a museum or just a leisurely breakfast somewhere, anything other than (ugggh) work.  So there is something strangely comforting, perhaps another one of those metaphors for living, about the effort to get into the workplace on a very snowy, inclement day, the value that we place on our working lives and our identities. Work is of course about money, "earning a living," but it is more than just that. 
On a snowy day, making that special effort to get into work is how we demark our lives from one of "homo ludens" -- people who play and consume, to "homo faber" -- humans who make, and work and do. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brooklyn Heights Update:Wind, Snow (in the air) and Slush (on the ground)

Although we hear in some neighborhoods (Flatbush, Staten Island and Queens) a bit of snow is piling up, here in Brooklyn Heights not much snow on the ground to speak of...heavy in the sky but just slush underfoot. Let's see what happens later today, although the revionist forecast is now talking about a meer 3 inches or so in most places. Go easy, y'all.

High Winds, Heavy Snow

Well, here we are.'s storm track and local travel advisories

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stew and Heidi "Making It" at St. Anne's Warehouse

We caught Stew, Heidi Rodewald and their great band (Marty Beller-drums, Michael McGinnis-woodwinds, Joe McGinty-keyboards, Dan Peck-tuba, Brian Dry- trombone) at St.Anne's Warehouse. Although the Tony-award winning success of "Passing Strange" as it moved from workshop in Berkeley to off-Broadway, to Broadway as well as Spike Lee's film of the Broadway performance, has virtually associated them with new musical theater, the current show is essentially a concert, featuring a song cycle, soon to be an album, called "Making It" that follows the complications that life can take when Stew and Heidi began to achieve the dreams from the earlier years that they sang about in "Passing Strange." It features a number of new tunes, very expansively developed with the wind section and the entire band.

On Saturday, Stew was wearing a bright orange coverall. Was this comfortable concert wear, like Pete Townsend, circa Pure and Easy, or like something you would wear in Fresno County Jail, a metaphor that asks the question, even after "Making It," is Stew a prisoner of the road?

As Stew made clear, it was a concert not a theatrical event ("Plays close. Concerts don't.") It was a somewhat abbreviated concert at that, an hour of the new music, followed by a few songs from the catalog (including "Ken" about a gay "Ken" Doll). Still, although Stew asserts his identity as a musician over that of a dramatist, the show managed to feature some interesting stage-crawling theatrics and multi-media moments by set and video designers Jim Findlay and Jeff Sugg.

But, still, abbreviated it was. Maybe it was the full-day they had spent in the studio, but before the show was even over, Stew was griping a bit over the scheduled "talk back" moderated by Bill Bragin, a producer and apparent goombah of Stew and Heidi from Public Theater days. This appeared to be part of St. Anne's "Meet the Composer" program. As Stew kept saying, who needs the talk anyway, don't the songs say it all? In fairness to the performers, since "Making It" was commissioned by St. Anne's this chat appears to have been contracted as a part of the run.

Once the lights went up and the musical portion ended, things got interesting and a little wild, even for St. Anne's. In the chaotic littoral between the actual set and the subsequent gabfest, and not knowing how long the "talk back" would last, some folks, since things appeared to be in motion, got up and made a beeline for lobby. Others in the audience also made their move, either to hit the streets looking for a drink or for a quick run to the rest room.

I couldn't tell if Stew was amused or annoyed, but he began to lead the band in a down and dirty improvised vamp of "They Don't Want to Hear the Talking!" which frankly was among the more amusing, unscripted moments of the night. Some retook our seats. The moderator made his way to the stage. Some folks left for good and Bragin led a fairly brief, tame and mildly informative chat with Heidi and Stew, seeming to rely too much on the audience's input. Stew alternately complimented the audience's intelligence for not asking questions, and chided us, for being afraid to ask. But, like Stew,and Her Majesty, once the show was over, the audience didn't have a lot to say.

But there were two interesting nuggets culled from the "Meet the Composer" talk back: Heidi Rodewald had a strong solo in "Making It," seeming to share the spotlight more fully with Stew (at least for one number) than occurred in "Passing Strange." She observed that, because it was a concert, she had that featured role but wondered if it went to a full-blown theatrical production, whether she would be allowed to retain the spotlight. Stew laughed but, as with all ex-es, no doubt there was more than a twinge of truth in the humor.

Also, when a youngster in the audience asked what inspired him to turn to music, Stew mentioned the usual rock fare of The Beatles in Hard Day's Night, but then he came clean with a great great great great bit of 1960s honesty:

Stew's early and important inspiration? Glen Campbell.

Glen Campbell performs classic Wichita Lineman

"Making It" is at St. Anne's Warehouse through February 22.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Duking It Out on Mount Parnassus

Duking it out on Mount Parnassus, l to r: Gore Vidal, Janet Flanner, Dick Cavett, Norman Mailer

Last night I was thinking of the George Washington article in the NY Times the other day and I remembered the famous 1971 interview on Dick Cavett with Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer. A small part of it concerned Vidal talking about Washington’s teeth, that they weren’t wood, they were ivory and bone which he soaked in Madeira wine. Cavett commented: “They must have been very tasty..”

The rest of the interview involved (or devolved to, with great comic effect) the famous feud between Mailer and Vidal, with Cavett as witty interlocutor who turned his barbs on Mailer when the late author, violating the cardinal rule of “thou shall never be inebriated on TV,” turned on all of the other guests and the audience. It was a classic confrontation, which Mailer himself deliciously recounts, with mordantly self-deprecating flair in his collection of essays, “Pieces and Pontifications.”

In fairness to Mailer, Vidal had charged in a NY Review of Books article at that time that he was part of “3M – (Henry) Miller, (Charles) Manson and (Norman) Mailer” promoting violence against women. Mailer, a great American author and journalist, was no saint in his personal life, even arrested for assaulting one of his wives, but to charge that his writings were akin to mass murder is an insult to both Mailer and Miller. While I enjoy Vidal’s writing as well, his argument about 3M was an intellectual construct of that era, but it is ironic in retrospect that Gore turned his back on freedom of expression, in accusing Mailer and Miller of fomenting violence against women, while today Vidal feels free to "report" on the wide conspiracies he sees in 9/11. But that was in the 1970s, at the same time complex, and yet more innocent, than today.

Here is a portion of the Cavett interview/debate/verbal jousting match

And finally Dick Cavett’s delightful recounting of the interview in his NY Times blog is here
It includes the following:
Flanner: They’re here, he’s here, I’m here . . . and I’m growing very, very bored. [Throws kiss to
Mailer with her white-gloved hand, getting big laugh.]
Mailer: You still haven’t told me whether you’re Gore’s manager or the referee.
Cavett: If you make history here by punching a lady. [laughter]
Flanner: I won’t have it! I won’t have it!
Mailer: Now, look, you see the sort of thing that goes on. Now you say I make history by punching a lady. You know perfectly well…you know perfectly well that I’m the gentlest of the four people here. [laughter]
Cavett: I just hope it lasts through the next whatever we have left.
Mailer: I guarantee you I wouldn’t hit any of the people here, because they’re smaller.
Cavett [beginning to steam]: In what ways smaller?
Mailer: Intellectually smaller.
Cavett: Let me turn my chair and join these people. [I do.] Perhaps you’d like two more chairs to contain your giant intellect. [applause]
Mailer: I’ll take the two chairs if you will all accept finger bowls.
(Mailer wrote later about this moment: “This remark was sufficiently gnomic for Cavett to chew and get to no witty place.”)
Cavett [mystified]: Who wants to grab this on our team? [pause] I nearly have it. It means something to me. Finger bowls. Things you dip your fingers in after you’ve gotten them filthy from eating. Am I on the right track? Am I warm?
Mailer: Why don’t you look at your question sheet and ask a question?
Cavett: Why don’t you fold it five ways and put it where the moon don’t shine.
[Following this exchange, wild, sustained laughter. Mailer, eager to reply, can only stab the air with his finger until it subsides.]
Mailer: Mr. Cavett, on your word of honor, did you just make that up, or have you had it canned for years, and you were waiting for the best moment to use it?
Cavett: I have to tell you a quote from Tolstoy?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Live from New Orleans! Mardi Gras

Forget the snow in NYC. Sure looks like they are having fun in NOLA!

The term Mardi Gras" , refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Epiphany and ending on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday" (in ethnic English tradition, Shrove Tuesday), referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which started on Ash Wednesday. Related popular practices were associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. Popular practices included wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, etc. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.

In many areas, the term "Mardi Gras" has come to mean the whole period of activity related to the celebratory events, beyond just the single day. In some US cities, it is now called "Mardi Gras Day" or "Fat Tuesday".[ The festival season varies from city to city, as some traditions consider Mardi Gras the entire period between Epiphany or Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday. Others treat the final three-day period before Ash Wednesday as the Mardi Gras.

More here:

Known as ParadeCam during the Mardi Gras Season, Streetcar Cam gives you a window on the corner of Napoleon St. and St. Charles Avenue where the New Orleans streetcars run and Mardi Gras Parades begin their route

Livestreaming from New Orleans here

Monday, February 15, 2010

THEATER: Shepard's Tale - 'A Lie of the Mind'

In mounting the first major revival of Sam Shepard's "A Lie of the Mind" since its 1985 off-Broadway run that featured Harvey Keitel and Geraldine Page among its legendary cast, Ethan Hawke has taken on a challenging play for ensemble, that is dark, chaotic, with mythical subtexts about family, loyalty, love and violence. Shepard's play is set in the modern American West,and this off-Broadway staging by the New Group theater company, directed by Ethan Hawke, resonates with the conflicts, pressures, and search for identity that seems to trouble the water in the current day, as war, economic upheaval, social unrest and identity crises bring challenges to us as individuals and as a society.

Great cast, featuring Frank Whaley, Josh Hamilton, Karen Young, Maggie Siff, Alessandro Nivola,Laurie Metcalf, Keith Carradine and Marin Ireland. Gorgeous set by Derek McClane. Haunting original music by Gaines, performed on found and adapted instruments. Laurie Metcalf, Karen Young and Keith Carradine as the parents of the couple at the heart of the story, played by Marin Ireland and Alessandro Nivola. Frank Whaley and Josh Hamilton are the respective brothers of the troubled couple who try to provide support, and in their opposing ways, set things right. Maggie Siff is the sister of Nivola's Jake, whose personal demons have twisted love and violence in a Gordian knot that leads to the spousal abuse that sets the play in motion. "A Lie of the Mind" is a complex, dark, and ultimately mystifying journey that again shows why Sam Shepard is an important contemporary American playwright, and especially in the hands of director Ethan Hawke and this powerful ensemble of actors, musicians, and theater artists.

In limited run through March 20. Theater Row, 410 West 42nd Street, NY. Tickets available call 212-279-4200 or go to The New Group link here.

A N.Y. Times interview with the cast here.

A New York magazine piece on Ethan Hawke and the New Group company here

Above photo by Chad Batka for The New York Times
Clockwise from top left, the cast and director of the new Off Broadway production of “A Lie of the Mind”: Frank Whaley, Josh Hamilton, Karen Young, Maggie Siff, Alessandro Nivola, Ethan Hawke, Laurie Metcalf, Keith Carradine and Marin Ireland.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Despite Blizzard, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Other Musical Luminaries, Perform at the White House

Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Yolanda Adams,Joan Baez and other musicial luminaries performed at the White House yesterday in a program focusing on the music of the American civil rights movement.

The show was the fifth in series of programs the White House has staged to celebrate American music. The performance featured Dylan, Yolanda Adams, Joan Baez, Natalie Cole, Jennifer Hudson, John Mellencamp, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Smokey Robinson, the Blind Boys of Alabama and others.

One of the standout performances of the night was by Smokey Robinson, who sang “Abraham, Martin & John.”

“Has anybody here seen my old friend Martin?” Robinson sang. “Can you tell me where he’s gone?/ He freed a lot of people but it seems the good die young.”

Bob Dylan's performance of "Times They Are A-Changin'" can be heard here.

More details here

The performances will be televised on “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement,” a special that will air on PBS this evening, February 11 at 8 p.m. ET.

Aftermath of the Snowpocalypse

Although I tried to keep on the snow shoveling all day yesterday, by last night, when we tried to dig out My Better Half's car, it was clear that today was going to be "The Aftermath of the Snowpocalypse." We dug for 2 hours but it was still tough going, and that was just to get out of the driveway.

My Better Half works as a teacher in Bushwick-East New York, so, since the City saw fit to reopen the schools, what is normally a complicated drive through Brooklyn to the edge of the borough, was, this morning, an earlier than usual shlepp through snow-covered streets so she could take two buses for an hour and a half ride to get to her school. After she was at the bus stop, I got on the subway for a comparably uneventful ride to downtown Brooklyn. Many of the subway cars were partly empty, both because a lot of folks were either arriving late/not bothering to come in at all, or because each car seemed to have its Homeless-Person-in-Residence.

Today, the NY Times also reported on the continuing controversy over global warming. Some scientists say that far from contradicting global warming, the increasing frequency of weather extremes like the storms we had yesterday and that Washington had last week are a by-product of this creeping climate shift. Keep those shovels handy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Blizzard of 'aught-Ten

Scenes along East 17th Street near Avenue H, Fiske Terrace.

Looking southwest on Avenue H, toward the Subway Station.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Governor Standing Firm: No Sign of "The Times"

With the rumored bombshell NY Times story about the Governor's personal life Missing In Action the Governor is standing tall, calling the rumors "Absolutely false" and stating he has no intention to resign.Link

According to the Associated Press, a spokeswoman for New York Gov. David Paterson is calling rumors about his personal behavior "absolutely false" and says he will not resign. Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein made the statement Monday.

Rumors around the Capitol and anonymous reports in some media outlets about Paterson's personal conduct come as he considers seeking election later this year.

Many in the Democrat's own party prefer Andrew Cuomo, the more popular and better-financed attorney general.

Paterson became governor in 2008 after former Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal. When he became governor, Paterson admitted that he and his wife had been unfaithful to each other.

Albany Times Union - No sign" of the Times Article

But still the questions swirl around Albany. The Albany Times Union "Capitol Confidential" column reports that 10 State Troopers asdsigned to the Govenror's security detail have been reassigned, although denials have already been issued that they have anything to do with leaks surrounding the Governor.

Republican Rick Lazio has criticized the
Fred Dicker in the NY Post reports that by sitting on their supposed blockbuster of a story for nearly two weeks, the Times' scribes have created a paralytic frenzy in state government the likes of which have never been seen before.

Perhaps they're bucking for the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded for buzz.

It was left to Paterson's newest chief political ally to offer a, uh, reasoned defense of the embattled Democratic governor, one free of conspiracy theories and bogus enemies.

"If The New York Times is working on or has a story, then you should confirm or print it," Rick Lazio, the all-but-certain Republican candidate for governor, demanded of Times Executive Editor Bill Keller.

"If you do not, then you have a moral obligation to stop the drama and the psychological warfare on Gov. Paterson."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Governor Redux? - Patterson Poised for Resignation?

Move over Eliot Spitzer ? Hello Governor Ravitch? The rumor mill is working overtime as far as the pending revelations (or bombshell-in-the-works) about the Governor and his political future. Whether these are political moves, as reflected in the Obama Administration's lack of support for the Governor, or are predicated on personal revelations that exceed extra-marital issues to which the governor previously 'fessed up, remains to be seen. But for now, the kettle is boiling wildly, and what comes next in "Planet Albany" is anybody's guess.

Albany Times Union: Where's the Beef ? The NY Times supposedly has a pending bombshell news item on the Governor's personal life that will compel him to resign. The NY Times report has yet to see print.

Gawker: Patterson's spokesperson denies resignation-worthy bombshell in the wings

Huffington Post: "The Daily News' Elizabeth Benjamin says it's "far worse than his acknowledged extramarital affair with a former state employee."

Coached by Oprah, Jay and Dave's Super Bowl 44 Ad Helps Let By-Gones Be By-Gones

With Conan's $40 million walk part of TV history, it's time for Jay Leno to do a little image burnishing. The Super Bowl ad, with Oprah mediating for the Last Late Night Boys Standing was a surprise and cause for a hoot and a holler. One of the only really memorable spots on Super Bowl 44; but where's Coco?:

Oprah, Dave and Jay ad on Superbowl 44

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tumbling Dice

Exile On Main Street

Tumbling Dice with the Rolling Stones, 1972

M. Jagger, K. Richards

Women think I'm tasty, but they're always tryin' to waste me

And make me burn the candle right down,

But baby, baby, I don't need no jewels in my crown.

'Cause all you women is low down gamblers,

Cheatin' like I don't know how,

But baby, I go crazy, there's fever in the funk house now.

This low down bitchin' got my poor feet a itchin',

You know you know the duece is still wild.

Baby, I can't stay, you got to roll me

And call me the tumblin' dice.

Always in a hurry, I never stop to worry, Don't you see the time flashin' by.

Honey, got no money, I'm all sixes and sevens and nines.

Say now, baby, I'm the rank outsider, You can be my partner in crime.

But baby, I can't stay, You got to roll me and call me the tumblin',

Roll me and call me the tumblin' dice.

Oh, my, my, my, I'm the lone craps shooter, Playin' the field ev'ry night.

Baby, can't stay, You got to roll me and call me the tumblin' dice, (

Call me the tumblin')Got to roll me, Got to roll me, Got to roll me (Oh yeah)Got to roll me. Got to roll me, Got to roll me ( Keep on rolling, Keep on rolling)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Plastic Ono Band Dress Rehearsal at BAM: February 15

We Are Plastic Ono Band

Launched in 1969 with the single "Give Peace A Chance", PLASTIC ONO BAND is known for its avant-garde music, film, art, and activism. Revived in 2009, YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND includes Yoko Ono, Cornelius, Yuka Honda, Haruomi Hosono and Sean Lennon. On February 16, the group performs a very special SOLD OUT concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, featuring songs from their new album Between My Head And The Sky , welcoming many special guests, including some original band members.

Yoko Ono has just announced that tickets are now available for a "dress rehearsal" warm-up show with the Plastic Ono Band at 8 p.m. Feb. 15 at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave., New York City the night before her special birthday show at the same venue.

The new show was organized after the Feb. 16 birthday show sold out in two hours.

"Yoko was not happy that some of her most dedicated fans were shut out, so she came up with the idea of opening the doors to the public for a very rare concert experience," according to information on her MySpace blog.

Members of her core band -- Sean Lennon, Yuka Honda and Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada, Shimmy Hirotaka Shimizu and Yuko Araki) -- will be featured.

None of the special guests planned for the Feb. 16 show, which sold out in two hours, are advertised for the warm up show, but according to her blog, "who knows?" Those Feb. 16 guests include Bette Midler, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Jim Keltner, Thurston Moore and the Scissor Sisters.

Tickets for this show range from $19.90-$65 and can be purchased online at or by calling 718-636-4100.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

DANG IT: Possible Heavy Snow Forecast for NYC: Friday and Saturday

More details here at Accu-Weather

The Thrill is Gone- Obama Girl: "Crush has Faded"

Among some voters, the initial sense of "Think I'm in Love But It Makes Me Kind of Nervous to Say So" about candidate Barack Obama gave way to "The Thrill is Gone" as the administration's saving of the American economic and banking system gives way to continued confusion and malaise about unemployment, Wars, and the faltering health care reform plan. But nowhere is the statement that the "bloom off of the rose" more pronounced than for "Obama Girl" whose internet viral video helped propel the laid back, scholarly candidate's image to something more youthful, sexy and fun.

But now, Emily Miller at Politics Daily, reports that Amber Lee Etinger, aka Obama Girl, not only expressed her disappointment with the President's "broken promises" but did so deep in the heart of the enemy's camp -- on Fox's Sean Hannity show.

From Politics Daily: "Obama Girl" has learned, real life (or in her case, real/imaginary political life) intruded on the fantasy. "If I had this crush on him the same way as I did in the beginning, I'd be the fool. You know, it's like a relationship. When you get into a relationship with somebody they're all great and perfect, they say all the right things," she said on Fox. "And then once you're in the relationship it's like, OK, they're not that perfect."

All you need is love? Maybe so, but, then again, a cooperative G.O.P. and a win in Massachusetts last month wouldn't have hurt either.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The View from Gobbler's Knob...and The Island of Staten Island

"Philluch," as he might be known in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, aka Punxsutawney Phil prognosticates ....From Pennsylvania, the prediction is: Six more weeks of wintry mix..

Mayor Mike shares a nibble-free moment with Staten Island Chuck, who offers an alternative forecast...

On Staten Island, on the other hand, the call is for....early spring

Monday, February 1, 2010


les tres riches heures du duc de berry mars February: A typical winter's day. Some peasants warm themselves by the fire, another peasant chops wood, and still another goes to market.

February was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 in the old Roman calendar. January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period. They were added by Numa Pompilius about 700 BCE. February remained the last month of the calendar year until the time of the decemvirs (c. 450 BCE), when it became the second month. At certain intervals February was truncated to 23 or 24 days and a 27-day intercalary month, Intercalaris, was inserted immediately after February to realign the year with the seasons. Under the reforms that instituted the Julian calendar, Intercalaris was abolished, leap years occurred regularly every fourth year (after a few years of confusion), and in leap years February gained a 29th day. Thereafter, it remained the second month of the calendar year, meaning the order that months are displayed (January, February, March, …, December) within a year-at-a-glance calendar. Even during the Middle Ages, when the numbered Anno Domini year began on March 25 or December 25, February continued to be the second month whenever all twelve months were displayed in order. The Gregorian calendar reforms made slight changes to the system for determining which years were leap years and thus contained a 29-day February.

Historical names for February include the Anglo-Saxon terms Solmonath (mud month) and Kale-monath (named for cabbage) as well as Charlemagne's designation Hornung. In Finnish, the month is called helmikuu, meaning "month of the pearl"; when snow melts on tree branches, it forms droplets, and as these freeze again, they are like pearls of ice. In Ukrainian, the month is called лютий meaning the month of ice or hard frost.

More on February

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