Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"A Flaw Was In My Indictment Found": Mark Knopfler and The Chieftains

A lovely air, based on a classic folk song, as wonderfully interpreted and hypnotically performed by Mark Knopfler and The Chieftains. Bet you can't listen just once...

"Lily of the West"
When first I came to Ireland some pleasure for to find

It's there I spied a damsel fair, 'twas pleasing to my mind
Her rosy cheeks and sparklin' eyes like arrows pierced my breast
And I call her lovely Molly O', the lily of the west

One day as I was walkin' down by a shady grove
I spied a lord of high degree conversing with my love
She sang her song delightfully while I was sore oppressed
Saying I've been a dupe [I bid adieu?] to Molly O', the lily of the west

Well, I stepped up with my rapier and my dagger in my hand
And I dragged him from my false love and boldly I bid him stand
But being mad with desperation I swore I'd pierce his breast
I was then deceived by Molly O', the lily of the west

A flaw was in my indictment found and that soon had me free
That beauty bright I did adore, the judge did her address
Now go, you faithless Molly O', the lily of the west

Now that I've gained my liberty a-rowin' I will go
I ramble through old Ireland and travel Scotland o'er
Though she thought to swear my life away she still disturbs my rest,
I still must style her, Molly O', the lily of the west.

--lyrics by Mark Knopfler based on the Traditional Song

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" Trailer Released

Wow, less than a decade old and having the feel of such a remarkable classic. Peter Jackson returns to the Lord of the Rings universe to bring The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to life. The film is slated for December 2012 release, so the producers have released these preliminary tidbits to tide fans over for the moment.

More on the film here and here including the director's video blog about this 3-D production here

The Guardian offers a nice interview with Elijah Wood here

Of course  for those who aren't LOTR fans, here is the infamous clip from Clerks 2 where Jeff Anderson 's character Randal Graves, does a very funny number  on the Trilogy that even a LOTR fan (well, at least one who is not in the movie) must admit is quite amusing. Here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Windswept Streets

Photo by Tony Napoli 2011
Since shortly after Thanksgiving, the encampment on Willoughby and Bridge Streets stood, right outside of St. Joseph's High School. A line of fragrant pine trees for sale for the holiday. A funky little van with a table out front, a wire and a row of trees, and at the corner, a hand painted poster advertising Windswept Farms, Fresh Trees, Vermont.  When I passed in the morning the trees were out there but the van was shut up tight. In the evening, the vendor, a middle-aged guy with longish grey hair would sit out at a small table, sometimes strumming a guitar, sometimes hawking jugs of natural maple syrup garnered from his farm. At first I wondered, would he really sell trees here on the edge of Metrotech? But I guess I was wrong. Little by little, the trees disappeared. Until today, there was one tree out there at 7:30 AM and when I passed it on my evening stroll to the train home, the tree, the van, the plastic sheeting he used to wrap the trees for his customers -- all and everything was gone. That is except for the hand painted poster advertising Windswept Farms that had been chained to a light pole at the corner. That remained, perhaps forgotten, perhaps an after thought, perhaps a version of  some home-spun marketing for this organic tree business, to be redone with new colors and new vision next year, in commemoration of the annual pilgrimage to the streets of New York in the short window of time before Christmas arrives.

--Anthony Napoli, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"I Am the Passenger"

Coda: ShakeShack Comes to Downtown Brooklyn Today

The new Shake Shack, a luxe fast food restaurant by Danny Meyers, opens its first Brooklyn outpost today at 11 AM at a ribbon cutting ceremony at its gleaming new store front at 409 Fulton Street (between Willoughby and Adams), just steps from Brooklyn borough hall. Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Marty Markowitz, and other business and civic luminaries will be present to cut the ribbon and chow down on burgers, hot dogs, shakes
and frozen treats.

It's as much about quality, upscale fast food as it is another marker of the continuing development and recognition that the Borough of Brooklyn is a complex, highly developed and unique community in its own right. When the City of Brooklyn merged with Manhattan in 1898, it seems as though the City of Brooklyn lost some panache, overshadowed by its more dominant partner across the river. We were the borough of the Honeymooners, at best a bedroom community to where the action really happened.

Now, especially in the past decade, the development of new hotels, the appearance of major corporate and financial operations at Metrotech,  the expansion of the Brooklyn Academy of Music into an artistic center,  the complete recreation of the mall at Albee Square into the new City Point Mall and  the new, already -opened Urban Space at the DeKalb City Market, are all harbingers of the continuing commercial development and cultural significance of the borough, both as part of New York City and as a  distinct and unique American destination.  The borough of Brooklyn, like the City and State of New York, and the entire US, require expanded employment opportunities, a more realistic social safety net within the context of a free economy, that addresses the needs of families, children, the elderly and the under- and unemployed.

At the same time, remarkably,  it is a wonderful message of the continuing economic vibrancy and potential of Brooklyn, when a simple thing like a New Burger Comes to Town.  Go figure.
--Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Monday, December 19, 2011

On the Other Hand...The Five Greatest Caroles Ever

While the late Hitch achieves a bit of post-mortem beatification, I wonder, around this time of year,  if he should have found himself belly up at the bar with a glass or three of his favorite whisky, ("accept no substitutes") and a group of carolers wandered in singing, if he might give it a smile or if he would frown and turn his back on, for example, Ding Dong Merrily...

WQXR had a lovely article today about the Five Greatest Caroles of All Time, based on surveys with choirmasters and musicians, and which it identifies as:

While not all versions above are created equal, I am providing this little survey of these tunes for your listening enjoyment. Excerpt: "In The Bleak Midwinter" is the world’s greatest Christmas carol, according to a poll by WQXR.org of leading choirmasters and choral experts from the US and the UK. The song came out on top, placing above well-known carols like “Silent Night,” “Ding Dong Merrily on High” and “Once in Royal David's City.”

Meanwhile, I invite you to take a look at WQXR's holiday-themed article about the Five Greatest Caroles Ever here

Not to be forgotten, the famous Monty Python sketch culminating in a rousing version of "Ding Dong Merrily on High."

-Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hitchens Is Dead: Long Live Christopher Hitchens

God Is Not Great, wrote Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011), and in doing so, along with his many other writings, political positions, and provocations throughout his life, showed himself to be a fearless contemporary philosophe,  journalist and inveterate hard partier. Mr. Hitchens swung from the Left as a writer for the Nation magazine to being an ardent supporter of the War in Iraq as well as his staunch support for the architects of that war in the Bush White House. He was a detractor of  religion and religious belief, organized religion, and Mother Theresa, for that matter.  Mr. Hitchens boldly charged forward then as he did after his dire prognosis, refusing to change his views or his rejection of the idea of a Supreme Being, particularly one as Gatekeeper of the Afterlife, as well as "Islamofascism" a temr that he denied creating but helped to popularize.

 In an interview Mr. Hitchens said: 'Do I think our civilisation is superior? Yes, I do. Do I think it's worth fighting for? Most certainly.'

"The search for nirvana, like the search for utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle." – Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays, 2004

"[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction." – Slate, October 2003

"The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more." – The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer, 2007

"Where would you like to live? In a state of conflict or a conflicted state?" – Hitch-22

Other quotes here

 Full NY Times article here

The Guardian obit here

Hitchens: From 9/11 to the Arab Spring (September 2011) article here

As Physicist and Fellow Atheist Richard Dawkins observed in tribute, Mr. Hitchens was a "valiant fighter against all tyrants including God."

--Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Crash on the Levee: Howard Fishman and Band

Howard Fishman and Band perform this Basement Tapes classic from Bob Dylan and The Band at Housing Works in NYC in 2008

"2025, If.." : Buckminster Fuller in 1975 and the Whole Earth

Among many other factors gleaned during the pre- and post-Internet years, my education continued and my thinking was enhanced by the work of Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth project. The Whole Earth Catalog in its various forms, CoEvolution Quarterly, Whole Earth Review, and its off-shoots and projects, combined what ostensibly was potentially most intellectual and thoughtful, less  rigidly ideological, and creative and pragmatic about the arc that extended from the Beats and Bohemians to the 1960s and the New Age of the 1970s and beyond that emerged and is so intertwined with information, technology, nature and sheer creativity. While I have continued my own critique -- as, for instance, technologist-philosopher Jaron Lanier has, who was heralded in the pages of the Whole Earth media over the years but who (in his recent book, You Are Not A Gadget)  has now challenged Mr. Brand's assertion that "information wants to be free" -- nevertheless, I still find the contents and structure of the Whole Earth project and ongoing source of inspiration and provocation.

Buckminster Fuller, himself a technologist-philosopher, his ideas and his writings, appeared many times in the Whole Earth's pages. Here is an excerpt of an article written in late 1974, where Fuller contemplates a world half a century in his future and what it might take humankind to get there:

"As of the closing of 1974, muscle and power are in complete dominance over world affairs. The world pays two pugilists three million dollars to pummel one anothers' brain boxes for a dozen minutes in front of the T.V. cameras. The winner is officially adulated by the United States Congress. He's a good human being so that's great but no T.V. shows are celebrating far greater metaphysical battle heros and heroines in their silent commitment to love, truth and everyday self sacrifice for others.

"For the last two decades the world powers have been spending 200 billion annually for armaments and only negligible amounts to assuage poverty. The most powerfully armed control the world's wealth. Power and muscle clearly continue in the world's saddle.

"Whether human beings will be on our planet in the 21st century depends on whether mind has reversed this condition and has come into complete control over muscle and physical power in general and as a consequence of which the world will at last be operational by humans for all humans. "

"Humans will be alive aboard our planet Earth in the 21st century only if the struggle for existence has been completely disposed of by providing abundant life support and accomodation for all humans. Only under these conditions can all humans function as the competent local-universe problem solvers. That is what humans were invented for. Only if Abraham Lincoln's "right" has come into complete ascendancy over "might" will humanity remain alive on board our planet in the 21st century and if so will be here for untold milleniums to come. Humanity is now going through its final examination as to whether it can qualify for its universe function and thereby qualify for continuance on board the planet."

View electronic edition of the Spring 1975 issue of Coevolution Quarterly where the article appeared here

Friday, December 9, 2011

Two Heavy Hitters on the Current Crisis: Roberto Saviano and Nouriel Roubini

Dang! Wish I caught this last night at NYU - Nouriel Roubini and Roberto Saviano (author of Gomorrah about organized crime in Italy),  on Italy and the U.S.: Two Perspectives on the Crisis.  Moderated by Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Chair, NYU Department of Italian Studies.

C'mon, NYU, let's get a youtube or some reportage out on this important and no doubt extremely informative event!

Saviano is a journalist best known for Gomorrah (Mondadori, 2006), which exposed the economic and financial dealings of the Neapolitan Camorra. His latest book is Vieni via con me (Feltrinelli, 2011), which draws on his 2010 television show with Fabio Fazio. During the fall semester 2011, Saviano was in residence at the Department of Italian Studies, teaching a graduate seminar on the Mafia as the Vivian G. Prins Global Scholar Fellow funded by Scholars at Risk, with additional support from the Scholar Rescue Fund of the Institute of International Education. In October 2011, he won the PEN/Pinter Writer of Courage Award. Mr. Saviano's official site here

Roubini is the co-founder and chairman of Roubini Global Economics and Professor of Economics at New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business. He has been the senior economist for international affairs on the White House Council of Economic Advisors and senior advisor to the undersecretary for international affairs at the U.S. Treasury Department. He is an expert on global financial crises, and his latest book is Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance (Penguin Press, 2010).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Merry and Bright: SHAKEN NOT STIRRED

The "Before I Die" wall has been removed and in its place a gleaming glass and stainless steel exterior that promises to be a beacon of high quality, high end comfort food in the downtown Brooklyn area -- Shake Shack is scheduled to open this month at the nexus of Brooklyn's Fulton Street shopping district and historic Brooklyn Heights. The Shack's bright exterior combined with cheerful holiday lighting to greet shoppers and after work crowds last evening.

Photos by Tony Napoli - Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Watching the River Flow

How will Historians of the Future view the civilization of current humankind today ? Lawrence Summers, former President of Harvard, former Treasury Secretary and the guy who gave the Winklevii such a tough time in "The Social Network" looks at the tea leaves, and says its a safe bet that Trump Tower won't be remembered but protests, people and philosophies certainly will. From "The Floating University," the Big Think series speculates on the why and the wherefore of the past, present and the future here

Runnin' On Empty: US Presidential Politics

Maybe the GOP will serve as President Obama's re-election committee. National Review editor comments on the current popularity of Newt Gingrich as GOP frontrunner for President. Rannesh Ponnorru assesses the field here

Also, an interesting transcript of a conversation between Mr. Gingrich and ultra-conservative commentator Glenn Beck here

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Eurozone - Coming and Going

Italy unveils radical austerity measures – “Italy can do without me (Mario Monti) but not without Europe” here

For Turkey, the allure of the tie/link to Europe is fading here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Project Safe Surrender in Brooklyn This Friday and Saturday

Brooklyn clergy will be partnering with the Brooklyn District Attorneys’ Office, New York State Office of Court Administration, the Legal Aid Society and the NYC Police Department to implement Project Safe Surrender on December 2 and 3, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Project Safe Surrender (PSS) is a pilot community program that helps individuals resolve summons/warrants. An added benefit of this program is that it also helps individuals re-enter society by connecting them with vital social assistance in the areas of health, housing, employment, employment training and education.

This program was inspired by a successful United States Marshall’s initiative in 2006 called “Fugitive Safe Surrender” in which 14 cities participated and over 40,000 people surrendered voluntarily.

Brooklyn New York borrowed from the “Fugitive Safe Surrender” initiative and created their own program strictly for residents of Brooklyn called “Project Safe Surrender”. Brooklyn clergy, partnering with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the New York State Office of Court Administration, the Legal Aid Society and the New York City Police Department offer the opportunity for individuals with warrants/summons to turn themselves in to clergy and law enforcement and to have their warrants/summons lifted and their cases adjudicated in a safe environment. This is not a pardon; but rather a solution that is favorable. NOTE: Felonies, DMV AND MTA Summonses cannot be cleared through Project Safe Surrender at this time.

On December 2 and 3, 2011 Project Safe Surrender will open its doors at Mt. Sion Baptist Church for people who have open warrants/summons for the following charges:

· Unlawful possession of Alcohol under age 21
· Consumption of Alcohol in Public
· Aggressive Solicitation
· Unlawful possession of handcuffs
· Littering
· Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk
· Making unreasonable noise
· Animal nuisance
· Failure to have a dog license
· Unleashed dog
· Spitting
· Trespassing
· Disorderly conduct
· Loitering
· Unlawfully in a park after hours
· Failure to comply with posted signs in park
· Marijuana possession New!
· Smoking marijuana New!

For further information, please visit the Project Safe Surrender website here 

DECEMBER 2 AND 3, 2011 FROM 9:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M. at Mt. Sion Baptist Church, 365 Ralph Avenue (corner of Pacific Street),  Brooklyn, NY 11233,  (718) 771-7777

It's December...

December is the 12th and last month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars and one of seven months with the length of 31 days. December starts on the same day as September every year and ends on the same day as April every year.

In Latin, decem means "ten". December was also the tenth month in the Roman calendar until a month less winter period was divided between January and February.

December's [flower] is the narcissus or holly. December's birthstones are turquoise, lapis lazuli, zircon, topaz (blue), or tanzanite.

December is the month with the shortest daylight hours of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest daylight hours of the year in the Southern Hemisphere.

December in the Northern Hemisphere is the seasonal equivalent to June in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa.

In the Northern hemisphere, the beginning of the meteorological winter is 1 December. In the Southern hemisphere, the beginning of the meteorological summer is 1 December

The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry or simply the Très Riches Heures
 (The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry) is a richly decorated book of hours
(containing prayers to be said by the lay faithful at each of
the canonical hours of the day) commissioned by John, Duke of Berry,
around 1410. It is probably the most important illuminated manuscript
of the 15th century, "le roi des manuscrits enluminés"
("the king of illuminated manuscripts").

Monday, November 28, 2011

Perfect Weather in Brooklyn for...the Brooklyn Borough Hall Christmas Tree??

It'sa mild and sunny 66 degrees Fahrenheit in Brooklyn Heights, but the work crews
are preparing to raise the Brooklyn Borough Hall 2011 Christmas Tree. Given last year's
winter shellacking , to use the vernacular, I am not even thinking about listening to "Winter Wonderland" this year. Promise. As they say, "Watch out what you wish for!"

-Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

In Dreams

Hope you had an enjoyable weekend..Thanksgiving here in Brooklyn was very nice with our gang, as we were fortunate to host famiglia...lots of work, but so enjoyable and, thankfully, relaxed, heimisch, laid back…

Now, approaching the end of the year, a sense of disquiet, uncertainty, and wonder...maybe it’s the weather, so calm and mild in NYC as December approaches..the weather a metaphor perhaps as the warmth lulls us into a kind of seasonlessness....

The end of another strange year, as though worldwide tran$ition$ are happening just out of reach, not just those who gain wealth and those who struggle, but deeper, more subtle but powerful changes that we aren’t quite aware of, extra-structures and infra-structures rising and falling, as we try to personally gain control over our own houses in motion, while the world shops, protests, luxuriates and suffers...Amidst this barely controlled chaos, with a sense of the many anarchies, large and small, abroad and here at home in the US, is it truly as it seems, a polity and economy adrift, with a sense of leaderlessness, a game of pretend as we struggle to maintain some endless Status Quo acted out in the Floating World, while the truth somehow remains ever elusive...so we are reduced to trying to examine and explore our own What's Next only in dreams...

--TN, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Historian Will Not Be Silenced by Congressman at Hearing

Douglas Brinkley, historian, educator, and author, giving testimony before the Congressional Natural Resources Committee will not be silenced by an arrogant Congressman. Brinkley had corrected the Congressman Young for confusing his name and the university where he teaches. Young bristled: "You shut up and sit there!" Mr. Brinkley: "You don't own me. I pay your salary. I'm in the private sector... You work for the taxpayers."

Link here

More background on the Exchange here

Pie R Squared: Preparing for Thanksgiving

Photos by Tony Napoli 2011

Woke up this morning and realized our daughter had been in her mid-night baker mode;
house was filled with the delectable aroma of apple pies baked for our family Thanksgiving fete
tomorrow and to bring to a holiday party at her high school in lower Manhattan today.
Both of our younger daughters (who are, you will pardon the expression, twins, and
who attend different NYC high schools) had tests and quizzes today. Go figure. 

Whether you are a USA visitor to Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn or from another country,
 I wanted to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU for visiting my website now
and throughout the year. Thanksgiving is a traditional day of thanks
in the US, rooted in the commingling of European and Native American culture
and (relative) cooperation at the time of the European colonization 
of the American continent by the Pilgrims in the 17th century.
More here

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

FLUXUS: Art as Provocation

NYU's Grey Art Gallery, in a few short weeks, will be nearing the end of its exhibition of "Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life." The show at 100 Washington Square East, runs through December 3rd.  Comprising an international network of artists, composers, and designers that developed in the 1960s, Fluxus resists categorization as an art movement, collective, or group. It also defies traditional geographical, chronological, and medium-based approaches. Rather, Fluxus participants embrace a “do-it-yourself” approach to art and creativity, fashioning their activities from the casual and prosaic aspects of daily life, which has the effect of blurring the boundaries between art and life. George Maciunas, Fluxus’s Lithuanian-born instigator, envisioned art as social process. He and other Fluxus artists created works that celebrate collaboration, the ephemeral, and the everyday—often inflected with a touch of playful anarchy. Aiming to circumvent both conventional aesthetics and the commercial art world, they urged both their colleagues and the public to approach life with a Fluxus attitude.

Yoko Ono's Lighting Piece

In keeping with this spirit, the exhibit at NYU's Grey Gallery encourages viewers actively to interpret and respond to the works on view, and to explore art’s relationships with essential themes of human existence. Follow the provided map to locate the fourteen sections framed as questions, for example, “What Am I?,” “Happiness?,” “Health?,” “Freedom?,” “Danger?.” Featuring over a hundred objects, documents, videos, and ephemera, the show also foregrounds two Fluxus innovations: event scores and art-as-games-in-a-box, many of which were gathered into Fluxkits and sold at intentionally low prices via mail order or at artist-run stores. The events were even more accessible. Sometimes consisting of just one word—such as George Brecht’s “Exit,” in the section “Death?”—Fluxus events could be performed by anyone, anywhere, at any time.  

Nam June Paik's Nothingness (from Zen for TV 1963/78)

The exhibit features work by one of the best known Fluxus artists, Yoko Ono, as well as Nam June Paik, George Maciunas and Ben Vautier, among many others.  Intended as "provocations to 'high'” culture and the increasing commodification of art, Fluxus works were meant to be picked up and handled, not simply looked at. Exhibiting Fluxus today highlights yet another question: How can we maintain the defiant and playful spirit in which these objects were made, while at the same time safeguarding and preserving them for future audiences?

NYU "Fluxus" exhibition website here

--Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Monday, November 21, 2011

Think Things Are Bad Now ? Just Wait: Climate Reports

FATAL FUTURES? - Alexis Rockman's Manifest Destiny

A new report suggests that global warming will open up the floodgates to infrastructure and economic chaos in NYC here 

International Energy Agency suggests the world has a mere five years before irreversible climate damage occurs here

Richard Muller, a scientist funded by the notoriously Conservative Koch Brothers, states that global warming is real, here  

--Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

I Know, I Know...

...Call me Johnny-Come-lately but sometimes I can't get this song out of my head...Brian Jonestown Massacre's original "Straight Up and Down" which was re-done by Dominick Hauser as the theme for "Boardwalk Empire"

Monday Morning Going Down

Monday roundup:

NYC Controller John Liu - New York City's first Asian-American citywide elected official may be under fire for shoddy fundraising practices in his political campaign operation but don't count him out yet -- John Liu is "a bad ass"  reports City Hall News here

NYC Mayor  announces 'Loan wolf terrorist' arrest - part alert and part distraction from NYPD's recent miserable showing with beatings of OWS demonstrators, ticket quashing scams, etc?  NYC's crimefighting team under long-time Commissioner Ray Kelly is great - -make that awesome-- with intel/counterterrorism, but maybe not so great lately on the nuts and bolts of local policing. Reading between the lines, AP here and NY Mag's Chris Smith here

Breitbart reports that MSNBC's Dem pundit Chris Matthews rhetorically asks President Obama what he intends to do with a second term -- "I hear stories you wouldn't believe" -- doesn't talk to Congress; over-reliance on "virtual campaigning" not enough one-on-one meetings, gatherings - "I'm sick of those emails"... here

Dem pollsters Caddell and Shoen - President should abandon campaign, turn party over to Hillary, here

Egypt sees worst clashes since Mubarak; 35 protesters dead following clashes with military, here

Secretive North Korea opens up to cell phone here

U.S. Congress's Supercommittee -- Super failure here

GOP Strategist - 'GOP campaign will go on and on and on and on..." here

GOP's David Frum on "The GOPs Gone Mad-- gee, taht's too bad' here

When did liberals become So Unreasonable? here

--Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Friday, November 18, 2011

OWS: November 18 & Beyond

Zuccotti Park, November 17, 2011
 Photo - Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

To go to a parent teachers conference at our daughter's public high school, of all things, we ventured into a lower Manhattan that had been converted into a sort of police state. Certainly friendlier than the real thing, I guess, as long as you weren't an OWS protestor, but a police state nevertheless. Even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I don't recall  quite such a sense of lock down, from Chambers Street to the Battery. The bars and restaurants along Wiliams and Stone Street weren't full, but you had a sense that for Wall Street, it was business as usual. Maybe the heart of America' s economic engine thrives under certain kinds of adversity, though perhaps not all. Maybe that's why there was a sense that Wall Street, the beating heart of our Hamiltonian Democracy, is protected at all costs by the State. While cops in the past weeks have maced women (and even, recklessly, their fellow cops for that matter), and arrested and in some cases beaten lots of protestors  (and City Councilman and reporters), the folks pulling the levers-- in some cases, arguably themselves criminals for economic malfeasance--remain virtually invisible, aloof, behind the curtain, untouchable in their Fortresses of Solitude.

Clearly Zuccotti Park is more of a plaza than a bucolic redoubt. Consequently, during the OWS occupation, it had no doubt been transformed into an unsightly, smelly, gross, and downright nasty campground.  Anyone willing to remain there if they had somewhere better to stay, would have been devoted to the cause indeed. At the same time, that is why it is so interesting that the criticisms of the protestors by some in the government, by the Right, and some in the media, have been so inconsistent: They are homeless loonies; they are slumming ideological trust funders; they are college students whose parents pay their tuitions and let them live in the basement. None of which appear to be reasons why someone should not protest against economic inequality and greed. At the same time, the above criticisms are usually levied by those with jobs, with the critics excoriating the OWS crowd and proclaiming "they should just get a job." Those of us blessed with jobs at the moment, most of whom can look forward to decades and decades more of work with little additional economic incentive other than sheer survival and just keeping afloat (if we are fortunate) may have a right to have been a bit peeved at any inconvenience the OWS's Day of Action posed. But at the same time, anyone being honest with him or herself can't help but acknowledge that in your heart, you know they are right.

Also interesting to note how Commissioner Kelly and the Mayor have sullied the reputation New York's Finest by forcing them into the role of Goon. We passed a mob of cops in riot gear on lower Broadway, some of them looking so young that it appeared as though they had just ripped open the box containing their official-issue-NYPD-riot-helmet like it was a present under the Christmas tree. They knew they weren't fighting trained terrorists. Just a bunch of kids, seniors and unemployed salarymen. No surprise then, the violence. I am sure November 17 was a Rite of Passage for many of the young cops; the opportunity to unleash their aggression in acts of unchecked and often anonymous violence against unarmed protestors as a sign to the White Shirts and Higher Ups that  they were willing to do anything in their desire to Move On Up in the organization.  The Mayor rushed to the hospital to visit the cop who had a hand laceration as a result of a thrown bottle, while, on NY1, Deputy Mayors Wolfson and Halloway stone-walled host Erroll Lewis who dared to question the arrests of reporters and the exclusion of the media from the Battle of Zuccotti Park. (see NY Press Club Letter below)

The trope is that the kids who supported President Obama the first time around have abandoned him to apathy. Perhaps, but I wonder if many of those who were most fired up are now in the ranks of OWS around the country. Could that account in part for 44's lackluster support?  There is an absence of leadership, political or economic. The sectors of society, private, non-profit, public, executive, legislative and judicial are all jumbled up and confused.

The Mayor, who is no doubt by now quite sick of his dollar-a-year-hobby as head of the largest, most wonderful city in the world, fearing the worst, may have been sincere in his desire to maintain order in the City at all costs.

However, for many New Yorkers struggling under the weight of an economic disaster not of their making, the worst has already happened and there is no sign of it abating any time soon.
--Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn
NY PRESS CLUB Letter to the Mayor and Police Commissioner

Dear Mr. Mayor and Police Commissioner Kelly:

On Tuesday morning, November 15th, as police officers acted to remove Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, several reporters protested that they were the victims of harassment and that their rights under the First Amendment were violated.
A few were arrested or detained.
The actions of some police officers were not consistent with the long-established relationship between the NYPD and the press.
The brash manner in which officers ordered reporters off the streets and then made them back off until the actions of the police were almost invisible is outrageous.
We want the department to investigate the incidents involved in this crackdown on Zuccotti Park and we want assurances it won't happen again.
Gabe Pressman
President, New York Press Club Foundation
Chairman, Freedom of the Press Committee
Glenn Schuck
President, The New York Press Club

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CODA: November 17

Heading down to the Wall Street area later this afternoon to attend Parent Teachers conference for one of our daughters....

HIDE/SEEK: From DC to the Brooklyn Museum

What the National Portrait Gallery couldn't show, the Brooklyn Museum sure can -- David Wojnarowicz's film, which was removed from the exhibit in Washington last year will round out the exhibit HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture which opens tomorrow and runs through February 12, 2012.

As previously noted here, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn's author was acquainted with the late Mr. Wojnarowicz back in the late 70s and early 80s as fellow employees at the old Bookmasters chain in Manhattan.  I also was fortunate to maintain a correspondence with DW during his stay in Paris and after. David, born in NJ, was, at one point, a Brooklyn resident.

Although David's work, "A Fire in My Belly" will certainly obtain a lot of attention, I am looking forward to seeing this full exhibit with its focus on "the underdocumented role that sexual identity has played in the making of modern art, and highlights the contributions of gay and lesbian artists to American art."

A previous link to the film appeared here.

--Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday Revery: From "The Nice Age" to "Wild Palms"

Yellow Magic Orchestra 1980, The Nice Age.

Ryuichi Sakamoto is one of our main men here at Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn. Another unforgettable piece by Mr. Sakamoto is "Harry to Hospital,  a remarkable "trance opera" work featured in the 1993 ABC-TV mini-series "Wild Palms" screenplay by Bruce Wagner.

The mesmerizing Harry to Hospital here

More on Wild Palms here

-Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

NYC, America and the World: Occupado

The NY Times reports on the Shrinking Middle as Income Inequality Grows here

NY Times: London Occupiers Warily Watch NYC here

Italy banks on its technocrats to find a way out here

Thursday, November 17, promises to be a bit chaotic in New York City as Occupy Wall Street, though dislodged from its encampment at Zuccotti Park, and now free to return on a Per Diem basis, plans a Day of National and International Action, on a variety of fronts, such as student strikes throughout Europe and rallies promised throughout the day at locations around NYC, including --arggh-- "Occupy the Subways."  Details here

 Image Source: R Black & Occupy Wall Street

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

CODA: Occupy Tribeca?

Working Families Party reports that OWS protestors are taking over a park at 6th avenue and Canal Street. Occupy Tribeca? Are you talkin' to me?

Mayor "Temporarily' Evicts OWS from Zuccotti Park; Park Will Be Reopened to Protestors and the Public ASAP, says Mayor at 8 AM Press Conference

NYC police and sanitation teams descended on Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan early this morning, rousting Occupy Wall Street protestors from tents under the orders of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The evicted tenants were told they would be permitted to return, but without tents, generators, tarps, sleeping bags, etc. "

"Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest, but rather to break laws, and in some cases, to harm others," he said. "The majority of protesters have been peaceful and responsible. But an unfortunate minority have not been – and as the number of protesters has grown, this has created an intolerable situation."

He said protesters will be welcome to use the park to protest but won't be able to have tents, sleeping bags or tarps.

In his press conference, the Mayor said it was his intent to immediately reopen the park, but it would remain closed until a court restraining order enjoining the city in this matter was resolved. The park would be reopened for protestors and the public to enjoy. "They will now need to occupy the park with the force of their arguments" the Mayor said.

"Until matter is heard on date set forth, respondencne/defendents (NYC) are prohibited from evicting ..protestors; enforcing "rules" Text of Restraining order here

Transcript of Mayor's Statement here

City of New York official site  here

Monday, November 14, 2011

'Information doesn't deserve to be free': Jaron Lanier from You Are Not a Gadget

"Information of the kind that purportedly wants to be free is nothing but a shadow of our own minds, and wants nothing on its own. It will not suffer if it doesn’t get what it wants.
But if you want to make the transition from the old religion, where you hope God will give you an afterlife, to the new religion, where you hope to become immortal by getting uploaded into a computer, then you have to believe information is real and alive. So for you, it will be important to redesign human institutions like art, the economy, and the law to reinforce the perception that information is alive. You demand that the rest of us live in your new conception of a state religion. You need us to deify information to reinforce your faith."

-Jaron Lanier - You Are Not A Gadget - Random House 2010

Monday Night Movies: Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

One of the most intelligently written films to feature the brilliant stop action animation of the legendary Ray Harryhausen, 1963's Jason and the Argonauts remains and entertaining and compelling work of imaginative history and visual mythology. See 4:04 for Jason's (Todd Armstrong) encounter with the god Hermes and his side trip to Mount Olympus with his protector, the goddess Hera (of UK tv's The Avengers,   Bond-girl Honor Blackman)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

'Whenever I Find Myself Growing Grim About the Mouth'

Last night I was thinking about the Carl Sagan quote: "We are star stuff contemplating star stuff."

Today, maybe it is the intermittent clouds and shpritz, but it is more like:

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

More on Herman Melville's towering 19th century masterpiece of American literature here 
Read more here

Monday, November 7, 2011

Before I Die Wall: Still Going Strong at the Shake Shack on Fulton Street

Photo by TN/Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

A construction wall surrounding the future home of the Brooklyn outpost of Danny Meyer's "Shake Shack" on Fulton and Adams Street in downtown Brooklyn is still attracting dreamers, philosophers and wags who post to the Before I Die Wall.

The wall, an idea of one of the construction site's supervisors, is based on Candy Chang's Before I  Die Wall in  New Orleans. Each day, the wall is covered by chalk graffiti on the theme, only to be merrily washed away by the construction crews each morning, leaving room for the next day's dreamers and philosophers. I've been passing the wall regularly on my walk from the DeKalb Station to my office on Court Street, and it is literally covered with chalk musings each morning. As I pass it on the way home in the evening, there are (mostly young) folks writing away. The wall will probably remain up until the Shake Shack opens later this year.

Comments I've noticed ranged from "See Paris," "Marry my girlfriend, have a family and a big house," "Become a movie star," "Get a job--any job!" "Live life to the fullest"--- to one of my favorites:  "Write on a wall what I want to do Before I Die!" 

If it was a contest, I'd say we might have a winner..

-Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Friday, November 4, 2011

Countdown to....

Elizabeth Warren and the Heckler here

Robert Reich talks about reviving the American economy here

Robert Reich: "The two worlds are on a collision course: Americans who are losing their jobs or their pay and can’t pay their bills are growing increasingly desperate. Washington insiders, deficit hawks, regressive Republicans, diffident Democrats, well-coiffed lobbyists, and the lobbyists’ wealthy patrons on Wall Street and in corporate suites haven’t a clue or couldn’t care less.I can’t tell you when the collision will occur but I’d guess 2012. Will 2012 go down in history like other years that shook the foundations of the world’s political economy – 1968 and 1989?...Here, as elsewhere, the people are rising."

Or is it just too late for revival? WS, OWS, DC and the Next Steps for Addressing the Ravages of the Late Stages of Advanced Capitalism here

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Occupied With Wall Street: Congress Considers Tax on Stock Transactions

Well, the question of Occupy Wall Street having an impact may be answered. Although it may not have precisely come from the Human Microphone, the protests as Zuccotti Park and Occupy Everywhere may have broken through to the mainstream: Lawmakers are discussing legislation to introduce a tax on financial market transactions, similar to what has been introduced in Europe. This idea was discussed in an article on OWS by Matt Taibbi. "The lawmakers have the backing of union groups and associations that fought for tighter regulations in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The AFL-CIO and National Nurses United, a professional association and union for nurses, have scheduled a rally in front of the Treasury Department on Nov. 3 in support of the fee. Americans for Financial Reform, an umbrella group of unions, civil rights lawyers and consumer advocates, is circulating petitions in support of the measure. Obama administration officials support efforts to assess fees on financial firms that pose a risk to the larger economy; however, they oppose levying fees on ordinary investors."

Off course Wall Street declares that this will result in the ruination of the stock market. Why is it that anything that smacks of regulation is the death knell for the economy at large to the bankers and brokers. But when toxic derivative take the market down, the Wall Street world plays "inside baseball."

As Will Emerson, Paul Bettany's character observes in Margin Call: "Jesus, Seth. Listen, if you really wanna do this with your life you have to believe you're necessary and you are. People wanna live like this in their cars and big fuckin' houses they can't even pay for, then you're necessary. The only reason that they all get to continue living like kings is cause we got our fingers on the scales in their favor. I take my hand off and then the whole world gets really fuckin' fair really fuckin' quickly and nobody actually wants that. They say they do but they don't. They want what we have to give them but they also wanna, you know, play innocent and pretend they have know idea where it came from. Well, thats more hypocrisy than I'm willing to swallow, so fuck em. Fuck normal people. You know, the funny thing is, tomorrow if all of this goes tits up they're gonna crucify us for being too reckless but if we're wrong, and everything gets back on track? Well then, the same people are gonna laugh till they piss their pants cause we're gonna all look like the biggest pussies God ever let through the door." The film has no heroes or villains per se, only a strong dose of reality for everyone.

Bloomberg News on the financial transaction tax here

Matt Taibbi's post here

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dia De Los Muertos

Mexico celebrates a yearly tradition called Day of the Dead during the last days of October and the first days of November. Due to the duration of this festivity and the way people get involved it has been called "The Cult of Death." Mexico celebrates a yearly tradition called Day of the Dead during the last days of October and the first days of November. Due to the duration of this festivity and the way people get involved it has been called "The Cult of Death."

More here and here

Speaking of The Dead, Tomorrow in San Francisco
the annual Day of the Dead celebration in Garfield Park, coordinated by the Marigold Project

Monday, October 31, 2011

REDUX: A Real Brooklyn Ghost Story

I have posted this before, the first time in the first year of Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn. Since it is my first and only experience with The Great Beyond, I thought I would post it again for Halloween....

Back in the day, well, sometime in the 1980s, when Reagan was as far-out and far-right a reaction to the Jimmy Carter years that the human mind could contemplate, you could still afford to rent your own apartment in Park Slope even though you were neither the employee nor scion of a hedge fund. Anyway, I lived on 7th street between 5th and 6th avenues. It wasn't a fancy hipster neighborhood, and as hard as it is to believe, we were were young once too and were probably the hippest things happening, but there was El Faro and Polly-O and Save on Fifth, and I was just leaving a public affairs and marketing writing job at local hospital (then known as the Park Slope Body Shop), and taking up freelancing for a number of film, engineering and trade mags, so I guess essentially life was good. I was living in the first floor of a brownstone; the owners, an older Italian American couple and their grown sons, lived in the upper floors. The husband of the couple grew his tomatoes and enjoyed his occasional chianti which reminded me alot of my maternal grandfather who had passed away shortly before I moved to this new place.

One day, after I was living in the building for a year or so, the elderly husband himself passed away rather suddenly. My girl friend at the time, the Art Director's Daughter, and I had spoken to the sons earlier in the day. It was the first night of the wake, the family left in the early afternoon and informed us that they would not be returning until much later in the evening. We were planning to pay our respects the following night. Anyway, at around 7:00 PM it started.

Footsteps. Nothing but footsteps, loud and clear, walking the length of the brownstone apartment above. A constant pacing that started near the front door, walked to the opposite end of the house, turned and walked back to the door. Slowly, methodically, but unmistakably. At first, I believe the radio was on, I could hear this strange pacing (they had no dogs or pets of any kind) only intermittently, until it finally made its way into our consciousness as the Art Director's Daughter and I made dinner. I turned off the radio. Then, when it was very quiet, a chill went up and down my spine as I listened to the mysterious, relentless pacing.Finally, I went upstairs to knock on the door, but of course no one answered. I could not see or hear anyone (or anything) through the door. Since it was clear no one was ransacking their apartment, there was nothing much else to be done. But when I returned downstairs, there it was again. We turned on some music. The Art Director's Daughter (who was a Red Diaper Baby) was a big fan of the Weavers and Pete Seeger, so we cranked up some of that beneficent, positive vibe, good time hammer and sickle music, and had another glass of wine.

I guess between the clomping, and the wine, and the Weavers, we distracted ourselves until it either stopped or we took less and less notice of it. A few hours later, when the family returned from the first night of the wake, we decided to throw caution to the wind and mention the strange noises, just in case someone had in fact broken in through a window.

The older son looked at us quizzically but went upstairs first to look around before his mom got out of the car. Nope. Everything was as it should be. "Maybe it was a sound from next door through the walls" he offered good naturedly. We apologized for bothering him, but he said, no, don't worry about it, I am glad that you let me know.

But, just as brownstone walls are thick, and floors in old houses can creak when you walk on them, I was sure that the old man had returned for a final visit, and was looking to see where his wife had hidden the chianti.

--Tony Napoli --- Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn


World population clocks - estimate that we will pass 7 billion at some point today here

7 Billion Actions - Making the world a better place for all 7 billion of us here

NY Times: Mathematical biologist Joel Cohen on the humanity and the human population growth imperative here

7 Billion mark may also represent a shift in world population patterns - shrinking not expanding here

Could continued population growth spell a turn to a "Soylent Green" future ? Here

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday On My Mind: And Now A Word from the Art World and Its Discontents

"For some years now, Mr. Bourriad wrote in a 1997 essay that has since become famous or infamous, depending on your perpsective, there has been an upsurge of convivial, user-friendly artistic projects, festive, collective and participatory, exploring the varied potential in the relationship to the other." The curator dubbed this relational aesthetics. From The Fall of Relational Aesthetics here

Extracts from Nicolas Bourriaud's Relational Esthetics (Dijon: les Presses du réel, 2002) as pdf

The anti-financial industry Occupy Wall Street protests that have become a media sensation in New York City over the past few weeks have spawned an art-world offspring.

Begun early this morning, @OccupyArtWorld is agitating for change in the cultural landscape through a Twitter account and an active hashtag. The provocateur has already inspired some online debate in the art bloggerati.“Behind every famous artist is a millionaire investing in a collection and influencing the direction of art with money,” the account writes. “Gallerinas could make more working the streets. Art dealers should pay them more. Harsh but true.”

The as-yet anonymous art-world protester kicked it off with an anti-commercialist manifesto:

Tired of the 1% controlling the direction of art. Museum exhibits based on Investment of wealthy. Reviews based on ad sales. #occupyartworld

The 1% controls art culture by investment. They have robbed art from the people. #occupyartworld #occupywallstreet

More here from Artinfo


Nor'easter forecast for Saturday details here

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupied With Wall Street as the Dow Hits 12,000: From Uprising to Catalytic Institution

Occupy Wall Street has gone from a shot in the dark promoted by a Canadian anti-corporate website, AdSense, to a First Amendment Protest, to a mash up of a Rebel Encampment and Hooverville.  But clearly, in its second month, the message of Occupy Wall Street, about the future of "casino capitalism" and the indelible message of the 1% holding the reins and lording over the 99%. will not be denied. It's the hardship the broken economy is causing, not the deficit, that is the real issue.

Although NY's mainstream media, especially the Murdochian NY Post, struggle to take it down by first focusing on free "gourmet meals" served to OWSers, and now on the influx of homeless folks (including ex-habitues of Rikers Island) which has elicited complaints from OWS's volunteer kitchen staff, even sympathetic observers, like Justin Elliot in Salon are beginning, in the 2nd month, to speculate about direction and possible futures.

Aside from the political, ideological and activist assessments, (and as I post this as the stock market breaks 12,000), I wonder -- while there apparently are many folks volunteering in different capacities at Zuccotti Park, isn't it time that OWS creates a model by establishing itself in the form of a more progressive, cooperative format where folks have to do something to get something ? That is, is hanging out with occasional protests and intermittent figthting with the cops really a sustainable life style? If OWS isn't calling for utopia, can't everyone be expected to do something, besides protesting, to earn their keep? Either in the park or outside? For that matter with all of the resources coming in, can OWS serve those in the community who are currently underserved, and not currently residing in Zuccotti? The hungry, the elderly? For that matter, while Zuccotti is a base, can't folks fan out over the City, to find other ways to help? Bringing food to and volunteering in food pantries and soup kitchens around the city?  Helping out at senior centers, etc? Just a thought. While understanding the principle role of OWS is to keep the excesses of our current form of Extreme Capitalism and the 99% - 1% message fresh, as the population grows might it also not be interesting to see what ideas and experiments OWS can take, as a social model,  as it explores New Directions in political economy?

--Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Last Weekend Update: Bruce Springsteen Performed 25 Song Benefit at Asbury Park's Stone Pony

So cool -- NJ.com reports that last Saturday night Bruce Springsteen, backed by a band which included E Streeters' Roy Bittan on keyboards and Max Weinberg on drums as well as Bobby Bandiera, played 25 songs over two hours and 35 minutes. There was a four-piece horn section. Also joining in for a few songs was J.T. Bowen, the lead singer for Clarence Clemons' Red Bank Rockers from the 1980s. Bowen had played with Springsteen at the Wonder Bar on July 17.

In his great coverage,  NJ.com's Stan Goldstein reports that Bruce's playlist included Darlington County, Because the Night
(Great guitar playing by Bruce), Waiting on a Sunny Day (Bruce came out and jumped on the back bar by the bathrooms), Fourth of July Asbury Park (Sandy), Pink Cadillac, 10th Avenue Freeze-Out, Soul Man (with J.T. Bowen - One of the highlights of the show), Dancing in the Dark, Glory Days, Born To Run, Rosalita, Havin'' A Party (with J.T. Bowen), Twist and Shout, and lots more, closign with a solo acoustic Thunder Road.

The show, which was a benefit for Boston College, where The Boss's son Evan is a student, attracted its share of celebs, including Gov. Chris Christie, actor Tim Robbins, and NBC News Anchor/30 Rock Supporting Actor/NJ Native Brian Williams. Check out the full article here


Monday, October 24, 2011

Coda: Coney Island Retains Its Funkadelic Soul -- For Another Season

It was a brisk and lovely weekend at the Coney Island Boardwalk. Breezy and chilly in spots, lovely in the sunlight. Part wood, part cobblestones, part concrete, the Brooklyn's own Boardwalk Empire continues its march forward, as, happily, Ruby's Bar and Grill and Paul's Daughter remain part of the Coney Island landscape for another year.

It was a busy, post-beach season Sunday as we walked the streets, the Boardwalk and the Pier.  We saw a film being shot on a side street; strolling families, couples, and dogs taking in the sun; the Original Kings of Coney Island Boardwalk Music doing there thing; many rides and venues were entertaining families, including Luna Park; Denos; the Wonder Wheel; and of course Nathan's; a homeless-looking guy entertaining the crowd to disco music a little further down; jet skiers racing along the shore; and finally, a bride and groom walking along the shoreline as the wedding photographer took photos; the bride's lovely gown swirled about by the waves as they gently lapped up on the beach.
Just another ordinary day in an extraordinary place, Coney Island, NY, USA

For Halloween related activities, including the 10/29 Halloween Childrens Parade
and the 10/31 Luna Park Halloween (Adult) Extravaganza coming up next weekend,
as well as other events, vendors, restaurants, businesses and activities see here and here

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday Morning: Gettin' On...

Jovanotti - Serenata Rap 1994

More on Jovanotti (aka Lorenzo Cherubini) here

Serenata Rap lyrics here

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupied With Wall Street: Notes on a Popular Uprising

Leave it to the Wall Street Journal: What percentage are you ?

While evidently not a resident of or embedded in Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park, Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi who was the subject of an Andrew Breitbart attack (based on allegedly leaked/stolen emails) claiming he is directing OWS policy, may be  emerging as the journalist with his fingers on the pulse of the political-economic zeitgeist that has catalyzed this popular uprising. In his blog, he suggests that key to this movement is its not getting boxed in by either the Democrats (as “their movement”) or the GOP (“OccupyWS is a Dem movement”) – he’s argued that the longer they can channel this popular discontent – but not, I would offer, the boiling rage of anger and hostility of the Tea Party that seems more claustrophobic and exclusive rather than inclusive– the more possibility they will have to influence policy. As soon as OWS gets locked into the traditional political discourse with identified leaders, etc.,  it runs the risk of getting caught in the same merry-go-round as Life in the Slowlane of the Beltway and Ye Old Campaign Trail and it will just go off the rails like the rest of Washington-centric politics. But as Taibbi's continuing analysis and the OWS's willingness to continue to hang in there and stir the pot demonstrate, clearly, sooner or later, something’s gotta give…

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi on hit the bankers where it hurts here http://www.rollingstone.com/?redirurl=/politics/news/my-advice-to-the-occupy-wall-street-protesters-20111012

Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz on the 1% and everything else here "The 1% may have the best [of everything] but their fate is bound up by how the other 99% live."

From the Brooklyn Rail review of Matt Taibbi's 2010 "Griftopia:Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America"
"The grift in America always starts out with a little hum on the airwaves, some kind of dryly impersonal appeal broadcast over the skies from a high tower, an offer to sell something—help, advice, a new way of life, a friend at a time of need, the girl of your dreams. This is the way the ordinary American participates in this democracy: he buys. Most of us don’t vote more than once every four years, but we buy stuff every day. And every one of those choices registers somewhere, high up above, in the brain of the American Leviathan."...

"Looking back now, what I experienced in the wake of the Goldman piece was a lesson in a subtle truth about class politics in this country. Which is this: you can pick on the rich in an ironic, Arrested Development sort of way, you can muss Donald Trump’s hair, you can even talk abstractly about class economics using clinical terms like “income disparity.” But in our media, you’re not allowed to just kick the rich in the balls and use class-warfare language."

Full review of Taibbi's book here

NY TIMES: In Private, Wall Street Bankers Dismiss Occupy Wall Street as Unsophisticated
But, going global, they can no longer ignore it.  "But when they speak privately, it is often a different story. “Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” said one top hedge fund manager. “It’s not a middle-class uprising,” adds another veteran bank executive. “It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this.”
Citigroup’s chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit, even said he would be happy to talk with the protesters any time they wanted to drop by. Mr. Pandit, onstage Wednesday at a Fortune magazine conference, said that the protesters’ “sentiments were completely understandable.” 

“I would also corroborate that trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S., and that it’s Wall Street’s job to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust,” Mr. Pandit said. The protesters should hold Citi and others “accountable for practicing responsible finance,” he said, “and keep asking us about how we’re doing.”

Full article here

NY Times: Paul Krugman: Losing Their Immunity 
"And what about the current situation? Wall Street pay has rebounded even as ordinary workers continue to suffer from high unemployment and falling real wages. Yet it’s harder than ever to see what, if anything, financiers are doing to earn that money. Why, then, does Wall Street expect anyone to take its whining seriously? That money manager claiming that finance is the only thing America does well also complained that New York’s two Democratic senators aren’t on his side, declaring that “They need to understand who their constituency is.” Actually, they surely know very well who their constituency is — and even in New York, 16 out of 17 workers are employed by nonfinancial industries."

"But he wasn’t really talking about voters, of course. He was talking about the one thing Wall Street still has plenty of thanks to those bailouts, despite its total loss of credibility: money."

"Money talks in American politics, and what the financial industry’s money has been saying lately is that it will punish any politician who dares to criticize that industry’s behavior, no matter how gently — as evidenced by the way Wall Street money has now abandoned President Obama in favor of Mitt Romney. And this explains the industry’s shock over recent events."

"You see, until a few weeks ago it seemed as if Wall Street had effectively bribed and bullied our political system into forgetting about that whole drawing lavish paychecks while destroying the world economy thing. Then, all of a sudden, some people insisted on bringing the subject up again."

Full link here

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Zizek at Zuccotti Park: Don't Be Afraid to Dream

There is a danger. Don’t fall in love with yourselves. We have a nice time here. But remember, carnivals come cheap. What matters is the day after, when we will have to return to normal lives. Will there be any changes then? I don’t want you to remember these days, you know, like “Oh. we were young and it was beautiful.” Remember that our basic message is “We are allowed to think about alternatives.” If the rule is broken, we do not live in the best possible world. But there is a long road ahead. There are truly difficult questions that confront us. We know what we do not want. But what do we want? What social organization can replace capitalism? What type of new leaders do we want?
Full transcript from Impose magazine here
Dream but don't dream it's over--as Zizek observes, there is hard work ahead to forge a New World...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Future Tense

New York's Finest and Occupy Wall Street Protesters clash here 

Pat Buchanan views the end of American Exceptionalism as he predicts sunset on the American Empire..sadly,given the tone and anger in the chapter listings, one imagines that the only solutions the book could offer would involve truncheons, building walls, shackles,  action "by any means necessary" against those who fail to adhere to Church dogma (mostly Catholic, although Protestants are equally weak/culpable in his view) and worship, and of course invective, hatred, epithet and anger. Drudgereport's summary here

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