Friday, February 25, 2011

A Stitch in Time-Provocative Textiles

coat of the agunah by andi aronovitz

At  the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, A Stitch in Jewish Time: Provocative Textiles explores how exceptional contemporary artists apply their skillful creativity to the ever evolving understanding of Jewish values. Individually addressing issues of memory and reflection, interpretations of history and ritual, and links between the past and present, they delve into aspects of the Holocaust, war, patriotism, celebration, prayer, feminism, and sexuality, frequently through the inclusion of Biblical texts and sometimes challenging traditional forms.A colorful, inspiring, and thoughtful exhibit. Through June 30. One West Fourth Street, near Broadway.

Details here

More on Hebrew Union College here

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The End of the Innocence: Working folks got it bad-- and that ain't good

With the budget crisis across the country serving as the tire iron with which many state and local governments are attempting to deliver the death blow to unions and collective bargaining, Mr. Ian Murphy, editor of the  Buffalo Beast has done a true public service by forcing the Evil One out from behind his mask of Union-Killer-as-Public-Do-Gooder by showing the kind of ass-kissing of Baal (aka The Riders of the Golden Calf) that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is really engaged in.

As Salon reports, Murphy, pretending to be billionaire industrialist and secretive conservative political activist David Koch, called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, currently in the midst of attempting to crush the public employees' unions. "Koch" got through to Walker (who hasn't been taking calls from the Democratic state Senate minority leader). He taped the call and put it online.

Recorded Link here

So Walker will happily take a call from a Koch brother. He says that he considered "planting some troublemakers" among the protesters. He is convinced that everyone is on his side. Like most people who only watch Fox, he has a skewed impression of the popularity of his union-crushing proposals. (His plan is, nationally, roundly unpopular. Except on Fox.)..
When "Koch" calls Mika Brzezinski "a real piece of ass," Walker does not respond by saying something awful, which is a bit of a disappointment.

Walker does reveal that he is planning to trick the Democrats into coming back into town for a "talk," despite his lack of interest in compromising anything. He will ask them to open a session in the Assembly, and then take a recess for this talk. At that point, the Senate Republicans would hold the vote on the bill while Walker distracts them Democrats with this entirely pointless discussion:

Walker: "They can recess it... the reason for that, we're verifying it this afternoon, legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they’re actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have quorum because it's turned out that way. So we’re double checking that.If you heard I was going to talk to them that’s the only reason why. We’d only do it if they came back to the capitol with all 14 of them. My sense is, hell. I'll talk. If they want to yell at me for an hour, I'm used to that. I can deal with that. But I'm not negotiating.

Walker also thinks that Reagan crushing the air-traffic controllers' union was "the first crack in the Berlin wall," because he's been stewing in the propaganda of conservative mythology for years.
And finally:
Koch: [Laughs] Well, I tell you what, Scott: once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.
Walker: All right, that would be outstanding.

More Details here

The bottom line -- everyone in America dreams of amassing wealth. As Charles Blow reported in "Empire at the End of Decadence" in the NY Times last weekend, the sad reality is that few of us will, much less maintain a comfortable lifestyle if we make a living from going to work, or if we require assistance from the government. However, those who possess great wealth, and those closest to it, in the financial industries, want to maintain a strangle hold on everyone else in this society. This is the effort of corporate America to destroy collective bargaining and the rights and benefits of not only unions, but everyone else who wishes to hold onto a  decent life for their families and themselves. Those in the public sectors are naive and have as much a need to fight for benefits and pensions for themselves and their families over corporate profits as those in the public sector do. We are at a precipice, with the pro-business/anti-working folks sector looking to push working folks and those in need over the edge, while most of us sit by watching American Idol and Fox News. They cheer on this effort, since it is preferable to identify with those who have a lot, instead of those who have a little because they work for a living. We are at a tipping point, at the edge, holding on, as working Americans are pushed over the side by the same corporate profit mongers who engineered the financial mess we are in now. They can only succeed if we let them.

More Details here

from Charles Blow's op ed piece:

Friday, February 18, 2011

BEAT NITE: Tonight's the Night -- An Eventide Gallery Stroll of Greater Bushwick

Jason Andrew + Norte Maar bring back the late night with the fifth installment of BEAT NITE: Bushwick Art Spaces Stay Open Late. What has become the signature party of all parties with art above all else, this bi-annual night is half art stroll, half bar crawl, where selected art spaces stay open late welcoming the public to see real art in real time, one night only, Friday, February 18, 6-10PM. The official after party will be held at The Bodega where DJ Scot Bowman will spin tunes and host Jason Andrew will take off his shirt at 11:30PM.

A map of the various galleries and venues appears here 

For more information, contact Jason Andrew; details here

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Other Side of the Rim

Jerry Brown drops California State minimum wage lawsuit here

Wisconsin lawmakers boycott vote that would strip State employees of collective bargaining rights here.

Back in the George W. Bush era, the surging real state and stock markets made it appear that we had moved beyond the simple truths of working for a living. Capital accumulation, investment and speculation ruled.   And with that, along with the increasing move toward privatization, as public funds were shifted out of the private sector, it did in fact seem as though we were at a point where the diminution of the balance between the public and private sectors in the US had shifted in a not so subtle way. It appeared to some that this was a harbinger of late capitalism, as the excesses of speculation caused economic disruptions and inequities for those who labored for a living.

Looking through a Marxist/materialist lens, it seemed as though things were again swinging right --pretty far right actually -- and that it would ultimately swing back to achieve balance. With the election of 44, it did in fact seem as though it was swinging in that direction. However, despite all of the tea party ballyhoo, it does not appear that the current president is in fact opposed to the continued growth and expansion of the current pro-financial institution/anti-worker model. Where this is going is anyone's guess, although one might think that this is a further push toward the extreme, into a region of advanced, late, coming to the edge of the rim, capitalism. 

Sadly, one has to fear that the ideological fear of a more regulated, managed economy (like some of those successful countries have) which makes the future of the economy a subject that is beyond any real discussion, just a further movement toward the brink.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Are You Experienced?

David Brooks' column yesterday discusses "Tyler Cowen’s e-book, “The Great Stagnation,” has become the most debated nonfiction book so far this year. Cowen’s core point is that up until sometime around 1974, the American economy was able to experience awesome growth by harvesting low-hanging fruit. There was cheap land to be exploited. There was the tremendous increase in education levels during the postwar world. There were technological revolutions occasioned by the spread of electricity, plastics and the car.

But that low-hanging fruit is exhausted, Cowen continues, and since 1974, the United States has experienced slower growth, slower increases in median income, slower job creation, slower productivity gains, slower life-expectancy improvements and slower rates of technological change."

He contrasts the difference between a man born in the early 20th century, whose experience is more materialist and oriented toward wealth creation and his grandson's, born toward the end of that century whose "wealth" is more in experience.

It's a complex issue. Many of the wealthiest modern corporations (for example, Facebook, the paradigm of the early 21st century business, perhaps) employ a relatively modest workforce. However, even Facebook's most prominent founder, while he may be a genius, also is the product of a relatively affluent background which enabled him to spend a lot of leisure (at Harvard and elsewhere) where, apparently with more concern for the process than the bottom line, almost in spite of himself, he managed to create a remarkable invention and business model. So, just when one thinks Mr. Brooks, the proto-Conserviberal, is coming up with something constructive, he once again is blaming the individual, whether it is the worker or college student or young adult for not achieving more without acknowledging that those who are ostensibly the Grownups at the Wheel of the Political Economy (in Washington,DC and on Wall Street)  have made many long-term decisions that have helped to push the economy off of a cliff and given many young people -- as employment has continued to wane since 2008-- fewer choices other than to hang out in coffee bars with their laptops working for little or no pay.

"The kleptocracy" as one commenter, Ralf from Minneapolis, writes has vastly shifted wealth distribution to the super-rich. "Or maybe the great stagnation has to do with the kleptocracy that we've allowed to form under our noses. The richest 1% of Americans are financiers and banksters who no longer produce anything of value, they just skim the cream and serve the watery remainder to the 95% who have stood still as America's aggregate numbers looked good.

"Now, with Citizens United bolstering the ability of the Koch cabal, the Chamber of Commerce and a few other oligarchical overloads to buy up the coming generation of politicians more easily than the ones they already own, David, your cute stories of fictional guys like Sam are a sop and a diversion. Corporations have run amok in our country, and now hedge funds are the evil last act of unregulated and unregulatable capitalism.

"I do not long for socialism (or worse), but I fear that American-style capitalism has completely lost its moral anchor, and things will have to get a lot worse than stagnant before a critical mass of voters mobilize to shake things up but good."

Something about the American social contract has shifted and many folks, through no fault of their own are holding on by their fingertips,  the poor, the working people, old and young alike, while the super-rich play divide and conquer. Our focus is on Egypt, but we have more than sufficient cause for alarm right at home.

The Brooks column on the Experience Economy here  and be certain to read many of the fascinating comments in reply posted by readers here

Monday, February 14, 2011

Where the Wild Things Are: Mad Maksim Lets the Wild Rumpus Begin

Apparently the skateboarder, grafitti-scrawler, druggie and alleged murderer rampager, Maksim Gelman, had quite a weekend for himself.  DITHOB heard the helicopters on Friday night hovering overhead and knew something was up.

So it was no surprise and with a lot of trepidation that we learned that NYPD was pursuing him with great alarm and that his killing and maiming spree had touched down near Avenue H and I, near the Avenue H subway stop that is closest to us. We took a walk a Saturday morning to the deli under the tracks with the pooch and sure enough there were signs of the NYPD investigation on East 15 and Ave H, a short block that leadsto a footbridge over the Long Island freight train railroad tracks. We were concerned for our family's and everyone's safety who use that stop.

After four killings as well as a sideshow of slashings, stabbings and hit and runs, the police captured him on the subway in Manhattan when he tried to get into the motorman's compartment on a No. 3 train, where a couple of cops were scanning the tracks looking for him. From Friday night when we heard the helicopters after evidently the abandoned car had been found, we wondered -- he couldn't still be around, could he? And now the NY Post reports (and the NY Times provides photos here )that he had a little hideaway under the elms in the ditch where the LIRR freight lines are. It appears to have been part drug-shack with some bizarre elements highlighting his fantasy love obsession with one of his victims.

The NY Post also reports on Mr. Joseph Lozito, the heroic straphanger from suburban Philly who works at Avery Fisher and who was wounded in the struggle as he and cops took down Mad Max. To the end, the alleged killer indicated he was "set up." When Commissioner Ray Kelly states as he did in a news conference that he had never seen anything quite like this criminal rampage, and that he was concerned for the safety of all citizens until he was caught, this was clearly Serious Business. After the week of news from Egypt, it also was a measure of the gravity of the situation that this could push its way into the news cycle.  New York, New York..

The End

Friday, February 11, 2011

Don't Stand in the Doorways, Don't Block Up the Halls

Before the weekend, here in the American grind, where the shards of empire and dreams tinkle to the ground like shattered crystalline snowflakes, please consider the hope and uplift offered by philosophe/political analyst manque Slavoj Zizek. IN an article in the UK Guardian, Mr Zizek dissects all of the fears of the "liberal" democracies and shows why what has occurred in Egypt is beyond a miracle--at once more ephemeral and tangible than that. It is nothing less than the wind of revolutionary freedom blowing through the world.He shows why the protestors could not seek any recognition from the government,since after thirty long years of oppression and corruption, Mubarak et al had no legitimacy. The western(including mr obama's) calls for a "gradualist"change based on fears of Islamism, was also specious, flying in the face of the revolutionary zeitgeist and the decades of support that the us provided despite MubarakKs tyranny. He also offers hope that the new Egypt will not be antisemitic, since only despair breeds that. Now that we are at a time when the us faces despair and regression of its own, where the american dream for many is replaced by the social contract, perhaps this is not an ill wind as the american people face the need to forge a new social contract--and a new dream--for our own nation. Zizek article here;

Egypt and a new social order -- and social media

Although the military is in the mix (at least hopefully only) until elections are held, the fact that the Egyptian people have been able to achieve a peaceful, non-violent revolution, coupled with the role that Egypt plays as a model for many countries of the middle east, is a huge, huge step. If the Egyptian people can in fact preserve freedom and keep sharia in its place, this could be a huge moment, not just for Egypt but for all of the countries of Al Jazeera ("the island" -- the Arabian peninsula) fact, a really huge moment, not unlike the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The world will congratulate the Egyptian people and watch hopefully for the future. And G-d bless Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone of Twitter, and this amazing new world of computers, social media and communications..let freedom ring.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Egypt at the Brink - the birth of a new order ?

  • Al Jazeera-English live stream here . Al Jazeera is translated as "the Island" (aka, "The Arabian Peninsula." More on Al Jazeera here
  • Is President Hosni Mubarak in fact planning to step down? here 
  • U.K. Guardian: Egypt state TV issues a flash denying that Mubarak will resign here 
  • An unnamed source claims -- "not a coup, a consensus."
  • Egypt's army torture protestors -- an unusual turn as it is usually  Egyptian State security that detains and tortures here 
"The military has claimed to be neutral, merely keeping anti-Mubarak protesters and loyalists apart. But human rights campaigners say this is clearly no longer the case, accusing the army of involvement in both disappearances and torture – abuses Egyptians have for years associated with the notorious state security intelligence (SSI) but not the army.

"The Guardian has spoken to detainees who say they have suffered extensive beatings and other abuses at the hands of the military in what appears to be an organised campaign of intimidation. Human rights groups have documented the use of electric shocks on some of those held by the army.

"Egyptian human rights groups say families are desperately searching for missing relatives who have disappeared into army custody. Some of the detainees have been held inside the renowned Museum of Egyptian Antiquities on the edge of Tahrir Square. Those released have given graphic accounts of physical abuse by soldiers who accused them of acting for foreign powers, including Hamas and Israel."
  • 28 hours in the dark heart of the State security detention/torture apparatus here 
  • Hosni, the "Justin Timberlake of Egypt" makes a pro-Mubarak speech before the protestors and is booed, attacked and reduced to tears here 
  • "The US and its allies need to realize that the Egypt they have been dealing with is a figment of its imagination" as the uprising has revealed the "real Egypt" here
Clearly, the birth of a new order, hopefully not a case of "beware of what you wish for?" Whether this will represent an improvement remains to be seen. The protestors have unleashed the forces of change and, arguably, democracy. But whether the state institutions and military uphold the changes in a productive, democratic and --for the Egyptian people -- progressive manner remains to be seen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jules Gabriel Verne - February 8, 1828 – March 24, 1905

Celebrating the 183rd anniversary of the birth of the author Jules Verne on February 8, Google has posted a wonderful, interactive logo that is fun to operate here (2/8/11 only).

Jules Gabriel Verne (February 8, 1828 – March 24, 1905) was a French author from Brittany who pioneered the science-fiction genre. He is best known for novels such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Verne wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before air travel and practical submarines were invented, and before practical means of space travel had been devised. He is the third most translated individual author in the world, according to Index Translationum. Some of his books have been made into films. Verne, along with Hugo Gernsback and H. G. Wells, is often popularly referred to as the "Father of Science Fiction".

He struggled early on, despite the visionary and adventurous themes of his work. Verne's situation improved when he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, one of the most important French publishers of the 19th century, who also published Victor Hugo, Georges Sand, and Erckmann-Chatrian, among others. They formed an excellent writer-publisher team until Hetzel's death. Hetzel helped improve Verne's writings, which until then had been repeatedly rejected by other publishers. Hetzel read a draft of Verne's story about the balloon exploration of Africa, which had been rejected by other publishers for being "too scientific". With Hetzel's help, Verne rewrote the story, which was published in 1863 in book form as Cinq semaines en balloon (Five Weeks in a Balloon). Acting on Hetzel's advice, Verne added comical accents to his novels, changed sad endings into happy ones, and toned down various political messages.

Interestingly, his publisherHetzel substantially influenced the writings of Verne, who was so happy to finally find a willing publisher that he agreed to almost all changes that Hetzel suggested. Hetzel rejected at least one novel, (Paris in the 20th Century), and asked Verne to significantly change his other drafts. One of the most important changes Hetzel enforced on Verne was the adoption of optimism in his novels. Verne was in fact not an enthusiast of technological and human progress, as can be seen in his works created before he met Hetzel and after Hetzel's death. Hetzel's demand for optimistic texts proved correct. For example, Mysterious Island originally ended with the survivors returning to mainland forever nostalgic about the island. Hetzel decided that the heroes should live happily, so in the revised draft, they use their fortunes to build a replica of the island. Many translations are like this. Also, in order not to offend France's then-ally, Russia, the origin and past of the famous Captain Nemo were changed from those of a Polish refugee avenging the partitions of Poland and the death of his family in the January Uprising repressions to those of an Indian prince fighting the British Empire after the Sikh War.

More on Verne here

Read works by Jules Verne at Project Gutenberg here

Steampunk as an outgrowth of Jules Verne and the Victorian era here

Monday, February 7, 2011

American Dreams and Dreamers

A very nice article by Richard S. Chang, that is kind of a variation on an old Cowboy theme of a Man and His Horse. Massimiliano Nanni, one of the owners of Saraghina, a pizzeria-ristorante in Bed Stuy, tools around in a 1965 Econoline pickup. 

“All my life, I dreamed about such a truck,” he said. “My wife said, ‘O.K., you can buy it.’ You know, the wife makes all the decisions.”

A warm and amusing article about American dreams and dreamers, Brooklyn business, the working life, and oh, yes, our quintessential American relationship with the automobile.

Article here

Thursday, February 3, 2011

CODA: From Pages Read to Minutes Spent

A few months back I wrote about missing a Gary Shteyngart reading which morphed into a discussion of   e-books, author readings and book signings. Publishing Perspectives includes an interesting article about how e-books have changed the nature of the reading experience through the evolution of a key milestone: pages read have now been overtaken by the measure of minutes spent reading.

Todd Sattersten offers the following observations: "Amazon launched Kindle Singles last week. These original works of 10,000 to 30,000 words are designed to fill the space between an essay and book. At the same time, TED, the popular conference organization, launched TED Books as a publishing imprint using the Singles program. Director Chris Anderson stated what he sees as the problem: “Busy people can be daunted at the prospect of having to read a 300- or 400-page book.” Amazon VP Russ Grandinetti suggesting a more elegant reason for this experimental evolution: “Our goal with Singles is to allow compelling ideas to be expressed at their natural length.”

"What Amazon and TED clearly believe is that e-books are going to remove the fear publishers have of needing to deliver specific minimum page count. The variety of screen dimensions across an ever growing number of reading devices and the ability for readers to adjust font size in this new e-world makes the page infinitely variable in size and measuring page count pointless. Each electronic “container” now dictates the form the book will take, much like pouring same amount of water into a champagne flute and saucepan create very different results. So what do we use instead?

"I wonder if the daunting “400 page problem” that Anderson suggests leads us to a better solution. Maybe minutes and seconds is the best measure of book length in the digital world. Music and movies, which migrated to digital formats years ago, consistently provide the duration of the piece and there are already signs of this standard being associated with the written word."

In the earlier piece, DITHOB ruminated on what will become of book signings as an integral part of author readings. Let's take this thought further -- Will digital formats make page counts irrelevant?  Is the best way to quantify reading is through a unit of time ? Will Printed Matter remain a luxury item, like vinyl records?  In our increasingly anti-leisure society, what is the future of "books" as opposed to "literature" and "writing" ? Clearly publishing as a business/industry is making this critical, evolutionary leap. But what will it mean, if "the medium is the message," to readers ?

Full article by Todd Sattersten  here

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bastardi! (i.e., Meteorologist Joe Bastardi) Predicts Next 3 of 5 Winters WIll Be Even Colder

AccuWeather.Com reports that "This winter is on track to become the coldest for the nation as a whole since the 1980s or possibly even the late 1910s. According to Chief Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi, three or four out of the next five winters could be just as cold, if not colder. He is worried that next winter, for example, will be colder than this one."

"Bastardi adds that with the U.S. in the middle of one of its worst recessions in its history and the price of oil in question, he is extremely concerned about the prospect for more persistent cold weather in the coming years putting increased financial hardship on Americans."

"Cold is a lot worse than warm," Bastardi said, "and that's why your energy bill goes up during the winter time: because of the fact that it takes a lot to heat a house."

"While there are many different factors that are playing into Bastardi's forecast, one of the primary drivers is La Niña and the trends that have been observed in winters that follow the onset of a La Niña."

Details here

Winter Wonderland, continued -- Clear Your Snow and Ice -- or Else

It was a total ice skate into the office today. There was no safe footing, everything covered with a shiny glaze. I scraped a quarter inch of thick ice off of the van so that My Better Half could make it to her school (which is primarily auto accessible). I actually had to hold onto the van's roof rack with one hand, scraping with the other, so that I didn't slide down the driveway or into a bank of ice and snow. Somehow she made it to her school only to report low student attendance. Our two high school daughters made it to Murrow (2 falls) and into Manhattan (Millennium HS, no slippage, although she was going to Carnegie Hall to read a poem in a special international student program today; haven't heard from her).

The Daily News reports that it is put up or shut up time, vis a vis, this Winter's Bounty. Sidewalks need to be shoveled, with ice and snow cleared, or the City will issue a summons. Details here In some cases, the ice is on a continual state of flux, freezing and melting, freezing and melting, so that the sidewalk has a perpectual glaze. But some folks haven't bothered to clean anything since the December storm-- that includes street corners, walkable paths, fire hydrants, etc.--and while the city can be annoying with its rules and regs at times, you have to admit, in this respect, they are right, and the careless property owners are wrong. Things are tough enough out there. Folks need to shovel, and not just a "groove" in the snow. Please clear a walkable path and keep it clear. Thank you!

Here is something to listen to while contemplating the above

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
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