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").

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