Monday, December 31, 2012

2013: The Future Is Unwritten

Impossible to predict. Plan for the worst. Hope for the best. Dream a little dream. Joy lies more often in the potential than in the real. Whatever midnight or tomorrow or the day or the months after bring, best wishes for the new year from Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn.

On the Brink

2013 looks like a year of tax increases no matter what- whether we go over the fiscal cliff or not.

What the impact may be on working stiffs and HENRY (high earner not rich yet) is spelled out in this article and graphic in the Atlantic magazine

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The 'Django' Debate Unchained: Seeking a Post-Tarantino Society?

Does 'Django''s pop sensibility expand and prompt awareness of the reality of slavery in the USA and its after effects encouraging thought and discussion. Or does it trivialize this critical subject by focusing on violence. Why did "Inglorious Basterds" dealing with Holocaust retribution against the Nazis receive more universally positive support than 'Django' has received. Besides Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey the most interesting slavery related film I have seen and written about here previously is Kevin Wilmott's C.S.A. which provides an alternative view of history as though the Confederacy had won the Civil War. Tarantino is another view perhaps disturbing perhaps not everyone's cup of tea but certainly a film for the 21st century that deserves to be seen and talked about by all Americans. The US is not a post-racial society despite the election and reelection of President Obama. Perhaps that is why the discussion needs to continue.
--Tony Napoli, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

A view against Django from the LA Times -- "'Django' an unsettling experience for many blacks",0,1771716.story

Friday, December 28, 2012

NPR: Is 'Django' the Blackest Film Ever?

Revenge fantasy. Empowerment. Black power. I was watching Sophie's Choice the other night and in the scenes at the camps there were thousands of prisoners guarded by armed but much smaller numbers of Nazis. Why didn't they throw themselves into the breach and fight at the railroad disembarkation points? Many would have been killed but could the guards be overpowered ?

A slave owner in Django Unchained asks the same question: why don't the slaves just rise up and kill their masters ?

Django is violent, historic, bizarre, comic and expressing that unique Quentin Tarantino pop perspective that riffs on culture, history, race, and values through a prism that makes viewers wince at the violence, laugh at the ignorant slave owners and crackers, and at the same time force viewers to think- which side are you on?
Tony Napoli for Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

NPR talks about Django, the reaction of some film makers, and whether Spike Lee, who is critical of director QuentinTarantino's work, could have made this movie. Transcript here

Monday, December 24, 2012

Reconstruction and Crisis in Haiti as Redevelopment Falters Following 2010 Earthquake

World attention focused on Haiti following the earthquake on January 10, 2010. However, nearly three years after the initial resolve to bring relief and even advancement in housing and infrastructure, results are sorely lacking. As the NY Times reports in an article by Deborah Sontag, "This represents a marked deflation of the lofty ambitions that followed the disaster, when the world aspired not only to repair Haiti but to remake it completely. The new pragmatism signals an acknowledgment that despite billions of dollars spent — and billions more allocated for Haiti but unspent — rebuilding has barely begun and 357,785 Haitians still languish in 496 tent camps.

“When you look at things, you say, ‘Hell, almost three years later, where is the reconstruction?’ ” said Michèle Pierre-Louis, a former prime minister of Haiti. “If you ask what went right and what went wrong, the answer is, most everything went wrong. There needs to be some accountability for all that money."

NY Times article here

DITHOB: The world moves on from crisis to crisis, at home and abroad, in Haiti as in the Rockaways, and for reasons based on the bootstrap individualism of advanced capitalism, or the history of poverty and colonialism on the west end of the island island of Hispaniola, the people wait and wait and wait...

Friday, December 21, 2012

When James Westerberg Came to Brooklyn: Iggy Pop in Bath Beach (Circa 1982)

..."An Italian-American roadie of Iggy’s suggested he move to Bensonhurst (“a Mafia neighborhood”) to get away from the temptations and high rents of Manhattan for a while, so he did. In a 2003 interview with MTV, in which he noted that very few people knew he’d lived there, his memories of Bath Beach gave a vivid and accurate picture of that area in the ‘80s:

"The intersection by my house had a Catholic Church, the police station, the pizzeria, and the corner where the dealers sold Quaaludes. I was recording an album [Zombie Birdhouse] for Chris Stein’s label, riding the subway out to sessions. Nobody in the neighborhood knew who I was. Then I played the Brooklyn Zoo that summer and all the hoodlums came up. This one guy, John, he was this handsome burglar. He was so impressed he said he’d steal me anything I’d like. I was like “No, thanks, that’s okay.”... from Dave Mandl's article in Flavorwire, full text here
Thanks, Neph!.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chuck Close On Art and Disabilities:“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up for work.”

Last spring, we saw Chuck Close up close at The Armory Show on the West Side. The crowds literally parted as Mr. Close, in his high tech wheel chair, made his way through the gallery, with his uber-tall, sexy accomplice, stunning in dress  and appearance.  Mr. Close, who experienced learning disabilities earlier and physical ones later in life, clearly knows a lot about overcoming adversity. The New York Times published an interesting article about Mr. Close's meetings with high school students from Bridgeport, Connecticut at the Pace Gallery in NYC, and discussing art, life, and how disabilities may serve as a catalyst for achievement, and, in his case, artmaking.

Full article from the NY Times here

Chuck Close and students from Bridgeport, CT at the Pace Gallery
Photo from the NY Times by Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mourning Notes

This morning, my sister, an elementary school teacher in a Catholic school, texted me that the prayer chanted by Rabbi Praver at the memorial service last night moved her heart and soul.

There is something about Judaism and its liturgy-- some understanding of suffering, sorrow, nostalgia -- perhaps a desire to be reunited with the Almighty-- that never ceases to humble and amaze ..

I don't know if anyone will ever understand what motivates a person to kill the innocent.

Tragically, in many parts of the world violent deaths of children are just other versions of the same insanity that people live with all the time in the US death happens to children in cities not on this scale but regularly where gun violence and mental illness by adults are visited upon children. When it is visited upon the enclaves of the comfortable then we really take notice.. Just don't know...
-Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

"This dark, horrible world": A Mother's Grief in Connecticut

"It was early Sunday, the first time that Veronique Pozner had seen the boy’s body since he was shot to death in his first-grade classroom two days before. A sheet covered his body up to his neck, and a social worker had urged Ms. Pozner not to remove it. She obliged, but began to wail, alternately telling her son to leave this “dark, horrible world,” and beseeching him to come back.".....
More from Cara Buckley's moving article in the NY Times here:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why Mass Murder?

One theory here

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Merry Quentin: Anticipating 'Django Unchained' for the Holidays

Happy Holidays...We at DITHOB have been drooling in anticipation for Mr. Tarantino's next flick for some time [see link here]. And now, as it nears release on Christmas Day --- Wow, what an exciting, glorious, funny, disturbing, and uber-Tarantino masterpiece 'Django Unchained" appears to be. A mess of current stars from in and out of the Tarantino multiverse (Jamie Foxx, Christoph Walz,  Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, et al)  and stars from the 60s, 70s and 80s  and beyond (Don Johnson! James Remar! Russ Tamblyn! Tom Stroud! Robert Carradine! Tom Wopat!) promise that this will be   good for a hoot and a holler. While Drudge Report has been focusing on ol' QT's fondness for the N-word (a topic of films DITHOB has reviewed in other contexts - see link here), this promises to be an abolitionist's delight. After Inglorious Basterds, you can't deny that Mr. Tarantino is no revanchist, as far as continuing to see who the Good Guys and Bad Guys are throughout history. While diversity and immigration remains the bete noire (ahem) of the Tea Party and others cleving to rightward political extremes here in the US, just as anti-Semitism rears its head throughout the world, Tarantino takes a lot of joy in exacting further punishment and vengence -- total annihilation in fact -- on the Evil That Men Have Done --and Continue to Do.  DJango Unchained, for this unabashed liberal, looks like a good one for sure...

See the Hollywood Reporter review, wrap up and extras here
-Anthony Napoli

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dave Brubeck, 1920-2012

Dave Brubeck, jazz musician and composer, experimenter in time, died yesterday at his home in Connecticut. He would have been 92 today.

The NY Times obit by Ben Ratliffe here

The wiki bio here

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Egypt Approaching Failed State Status? Mob Rule Threatens the Safety of Women

"It is not a country of law, not a state of law anymore. It has given men a chance to harass women without being accused," said Afaf Marie, director of the Egyptian Association for Community Participation and Enhancement, an NGO.

Some activists fear that women's rights will suffer under the rule of President Mohammed Morsi, who is an Islamist.

Government inaction has allowed the problem to spiral out of control, Heba Morayef, director of Human Rights Watch for the Middle East and North Africa, told NBC News. Police no longer inspire fear as they did before the revolution. In addition, locals say it appears there are fewer police on the increasingly lawless streets -- and often none in Tahrir Square.

"The state is failing to respond,” she said. "Men don’t have to worry about being caught.”

Full article here

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Civil War Christmas at the NY Theater Workshop

Paula Vogel, Pulitzer Prize winner (How I Learned to Drive), has created a colorful, extremely earnest musical about the Civil War that strives to meld history, dramedy and historical and roots music into a sort of new holiday classic.

Despite its exceptionally talented and
equally earnest cast, the play, so hopeful and promising, fails its cast and its audience with what is essentially a dishwater weak pop treatment of a critical era in American history that deserves better- better writing, better story and simply more depth and drama. Yes, in the Obama era we have Spielberg's Close Encounters with Abe Lincoln, Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter, but do we really need Abe Lincoln as Matthew Broderick mugging and singing about the End of the Civil War and the old south. There are some sincere and moving numbers. Sumaya Bouhbsl, K. Todd Freeman Chrus Henry, Rachel Spencer Hewitt, man tawny Hopper, Amber Iman, Jonathan-David, Karen Kandel, Sean Alan Krill, Alice Ripley and Bob Stilman give admirable and powerful performances on role and perhaps against all odds. Colorful and imaginative with bright staging, but the longed for drama, darkness and vision despite the performers best efforts seems wrestled to the ground by the play's uneven mix of real history and historical fiction. Never quite escaping the pull to Earth of the pedantic, A Civil War Christmas for this hopeful viewer never quite comes together and achieves escape velocity into a transporting theater experience.
-Anthony Napoli Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are: Staten Island Edition

View more videos at:

A few years ago when I was working on Staten Island, my colleagues teased me about a deer running in the parking lot. By now, due to urban development and sprawl, deer on the Island are fairly common place. But wild horses and zebra?  As Chuck Berry sang, it just goes to show, you never can tell.
-Tony, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Got Color-Glass Condensate?: Tales from the Large Hadron Collider

Is the Large Hadron Collider in CERN producing new types of matter, perhaps emerging from a post-Big Bang reminiscent Soup? Researchers speculate on ethereal, celestial  technologies. Article from Physics.Org here

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving -- and Peace!

It's a day for family and food, swing and standard tubes in the air, turkey of course,and Persian rice with truffles and piseli, quinoa with beans and onion, tempeh with mushrooms and okra and green beans, salad with autumnal roast veges, candied yams, roasted taters, corn bread, corn pudding , biscuits, broccoli soup with potatoes...

Hearing from our oldest daughter, potentially peaceful in Tel Aviv, rockets fall, turkey there among Espats and aliyot .. Wondering what tomorrow would bring...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

And For Now -- A Cessation in the Hostilities. How Long? Who Knows.

Washington Post Reports that the Egyptian government announced Wednesday night that Israel and Palestinian leaders in the Gaza strip have agreed to halt hostilities after eight days of Israeli bombardment of the enclave and hundreds of rocket strikes inside Israel. (However, the cease fire falls short of the long-term aggreement both sides were apparently hoping for.)

Standing alongside Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who engaged in intensive shuttle diplomacy aimed at ending the conflict, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr told a news conference that the cease-fire would begin at 9 p.m. local time (2 p.m. in Washington).

Full story here

COLOR RED Phone App provides early warning on attacks by incoming rocket; details here

Twitter "Tweets" between Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas here

A Pre-Thanksgiving Soliloquy

For Danielle and Rami in Tel Aviv Right Now

The Rolling Stones, 1969, on The David Frost Show, perform You Can't Always Get What You Want

The song was recorded at Olympic Studios in London on November 16 and 17, 1968. 

Bon anniversaire also to Nanette Workman (aka Nanette Newman), one of the background singers on the track, a great Brooklyn-born, now Canada and formerly Mississippi based chanteuse who celebrated a birthday on November 20, who recently returned to rock with a powerful blues and roots album, Just Gettin' Started.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

When Tigers Fight It Is The Grass that Suffers

Gaza operation enters day 5

How would a cease fire pan out?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Andy Warhol Museum's Eric Shiner to Curate 'Focus' at the Centenniel Armory Show

Exciting news in the Art World. The 2013 Armory Show, which this year will commemorate the centenniel of the original Armory Show in 1913, which was a groundbreaking exhibition credited with bringing Modernism to the United States, has invited Eric Shiner, Director of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, to curate Armory Focus: USA, presenting a broad snapshot of the country’s contemporary cultural practice.

Armory Focus, the curated section of The Armory Show, highlights the gallery and artistic landscape of a chosen geographic region.

Notes from the Armory Show: "As American artists, galleries, and institutions continue to grapple with and re-position modes of self-reflection, Armory Focus: USA will examine the forefront of artistic practice—the core of our inherited legacy stretching back to the 1913 Armory Show—by showcasing contemporary responses to integral questions of artistic production in the United States. In recognition of our country’s extraordinarily diverse cultural output, [The Armory Show] will offer a select group of galleries from across America the opportunity to present their unique programming, providing a forum for an ever-expanding national conversation at the fair.

Mr Shiner notes, “I am most excited to curate the 2013 Armory Show Focus section and to gauge the pulse of contemporary art production in America today. A celebration of the first Armory Show in 1913—an event that ushered in the avant-garde to this country—next year’s fair will stand as a testament to the fact that the avant-garde took root here and prospered, just as it will highlight the very best artists and artworks available today. Although it will certainly be challenging to give a barometer of what contemporary art from America has become, I hope to put together a witty and far-sweeping Focus section that makes visitors stop and think about America, art, and ultimately their place within it.”

Michael Hall, Creative Director of The Armory Show, says, “We are delighted to announce the appointment of Eric Shiner, whose curatorial insights will craft an exceptional take on the visual culture flourishing in our own back yard. At the helm of a cutting-edge institution in the heart of America, Eric was the perfect choice to lead this section, defining the new avant-garde of the early twenty-first century.”

Noah Horowitz, Executive Director of The Armory Show, states, “America has always been a country defined by its attraction to the frontier, and a century after the original Armory Show gave American artists license to break conclusively with the past, that frontier is increasingly being explored through art that addresses the most complex issues of our time, from the pervasive influence of technology on modern life to the atomizing force of globalization. In Armory Focus: USA, we are proud to survey this artistic vanguard through the lens of our distinguished curator, Eric Shiner.”

Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn is an enthusiastic fan of both The Armory Show and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, which, for the art world in general, and New York City and Pittsburgh, respectively, are the Really Big Shows, and the only games in their home towns.

The 2013 Armory Show will be coming to New York City on March 7-10, 2013, Piers 92 & 94
Twelfth Avenue at 55th Street. For more information visit here

-Anthony Napoli, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Monday, November 12, 2012

Start Me Up: Rolling Stones Play Barclay Center

The Rolling Stones 50 th anniversary mini tour will have a stop off on December 8 in Brooklyn after all..I guess the number's finally worked out.. Is there more of a story to this ?
Details here

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rehearsing for the Apocalypse

Waiting on a Gas Line. Reflecting on An unrecognizable, perhaps unimaginable, New York City following The Storm. Hundreds of houses burned out in Breezy Point in one of the largest fires in our city's history but now just one painful facet of the hurricane.Thousands of families displaced, homes flooded. Thousands of people still without basic services, electricity, in the region. The scope of the economic impact on the area hard to predict. But it can't be simple to resolve. Drivers in NYC searching aimlessly and often fruitlessly for fuel. Long lines like a failed planned economy. Schools disrupted. Brooklyn Battery Tunnel still flooded and closed. LIRR disruptions.Trying to pretend the return to normal is just a couple of days away but recognizing that for some, there will never be a return to a pre-storm stasis. Folks comparing this to 9/11, which was filled with its own tragedies and fears. But coming on the heels of the recent election, it appears that among the battles fought and won will be a new reality and acceptance that climate change may in fact be well upon us. This was further bolstered by a recent report on our warming planet. Whether it is too late to reverse it and it is now time to erect sea barriers and move further from humankind's original home, at the shore. But for now the days ahead and our ability to rebound and fully cover will no doubt frustrate -- and disclose.
--Anthony Napoli, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn
See climate report link here

Thursday, November 8, 2012

...and the Beginning of a New Era: Odd and Even Gas Rationing in NYC

New York City is imposing odd and even day gas rationing in NYC beginning Friday, November 9, at 6 AM.  License plates ending in an even number may only fill up on even numbered days, and plates ending in an odd number may fill up only on odd numbered days.

The Mayor reported that due to power outages and related distribution issues, at present only 25% of the fuel stations in NYC are opened and providing fuel. Details from the NY Times City Room here

Has it really come to this? Apparently it has...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

End of an Era, To Be Sure

R.I.P. - The Old, the first Presidential Election in New York City without the old lever voting machine...

Those New Yorkers who grew up on the experience, know, there was just somethign about the mechanical voting machines. They were massive. Like voting on a huge soda vending machine.

The New system using coded sheets and scanners seems like low tech under the guise of high tech, since, while the numbers can be more effectively crunched on the other end, I guess, it relies on Joe Shmo the voter to perform the manual data entry which may have contributed to some of the delay. Plus one poll worker observed that, maybe duye to the heavy number of voters in NYC, the system was down intermittently. 

But in the old machines, you did your gentle little click and then went on your way...and somehow that sense of “massiveness” translated into the voting process….can’t explain it, like the little lever click that combines with the heavy interior gears and everything and somehow is translated into the body politick of the American scene.
The New

--Anthony Napoli

The 45th President of the United States of America

Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech as he wins reelection as the 45th President of the United States of America.

"Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation’s first lady.


"Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you’re growing up to become two strong, smart beautiful young women, just like your mom."

OBAMA: "And I’m so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now one dog’s probably enough."

Full Transcript of his acceptance speech here

Full transcript of Mr. Romney's concession speech here


Barack Hussein Obama reelected to a second term as the 45th President of the United States of America.

Lots of challenges ahead.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election 2012: Chaos? Even for Mayor Mike?

Even Mogul Mayors can have problems at the polls. Election worker can't find Mayor Michael Bloomberg's name on the voter registration list.

Election 2012: The Optics Are Optimistic

Nate Silver, Sabermetric and Political Expert, King of All Stats, sees combined poll results giving President Obama a lead. But it ain't over til it's over. Details here

Election Day 2012

Hard to believe it is Election Day in the United Staters of America, in general and New York City, in particular.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Election Day will seem like an afterthought to many in the New York City metropolitan area, but this of course is a year of many important races. Hopefully, those who can vote, will.

The New York City Board of Elections, which continues to take many hits, to its credit, has a comprehensive website loaded with information and resources for voters (those who can access it.)

Find your local polling place and see your sample local ballot here

Information on polling sites relocated due to the storm here

From the Board of Elections: The polls are open from 6 A.M. to 9 P.M. BoE Phone Bank is 866 VOTE NYC, the Phone Bank is open on Election Day from 5 A.M. to 9 P.M.

El Día de Elecciones es el 6 de noviembre de 2012. Los centros de votación estarán abiertos de 6 AM a 9 PM. Nuestro número de servicio (Phone Bank) 866-VOTE-NYC estará funcionando el Día de Elecciones de 5 AM a 9 PM.

2012年11月6日是選舉日。所有投票處從早上6:00開放至晚上9:00。選舉局熱線為866 VOTE NYC(866-868-3692)。熱線從選舉日早上5:00開放至晚上9:00。

2012년 11월6일 선거일, 투표소는 오전 6시부터 오후 9시까지 개장합니다. 전화 교환국은 866 - VOTE - NYC이며, 선거날은 오전 5시 부터 오후 9시 까지 근무합니다.

নির্বাচনের দিন হচ্ছে ৬ই নভেম্বর, ২০১২। ভোটকেন্দ্রগুলো ভোট গ্রহনের জন্য সকাল ৬টা থেকে রাত ৯টা পর্যন্ত খোলা থাকবে। নির্বাচনের দিন আমাদের ফোন ব্যাংক সকাল ৫টা থেকে রাত ৯টা পর্যন্ত খোলা থাকবে, আমাদের ফোন ব্যাংকের নম্বর হচ্ছে 866 VOTE NYC ( 866-868-3692 )।

Monday, November 5, 2012

New York New York: Life Lines

Like yours, my heart goes out to the folks who were struck by so much hardship and loss from the storm.

I thought this was a very telling quote from today's NY Times:

"The offices of The Jewish Daily Forward occupy the eighth floor. Samuel Norich, the publisher, said he was allowed    into
the building for about a half-hour on Friday to retrieve servers and hard drives. He said that there were water marks on the lobby’s white marble walls that reached two to three feet above the floor line. Building management, he said, told him that some eight million gallons had been pumped out of the basement.

“We had prepared for an emergency,” Mr. Norich said. “The emergency we had prepared for was an act of terrorism, not this.”

Given the very large number of people seeking to volunteer and make donations of supplies, and now that the government and NGO organizations are on-site and in action, dispensing emergency and corporate donations, volunteers are being turned away, and recommendations made that financial contributions be made instead to suitable organizations. Details here

The following agencies are among those accepting contributions to assist people affected by Hurricane Sandy:

N.Y. Times area services update here


Despite the tragedies faced by those impacted first hand by the storm, the rest of us are fortunate that the inconveniences experienced by some, of no power, no phones, no cable, no internet, and for most in the region, no gas, are worrysome but hopefully beginning to abate.

After the fairly long hike from Fiske Terrace to alternative subway options, it was really convenient having the Q back up and running. Early this morning, it was a smooth, fast ride.

We were conserving fuel and doing errands on foot for the last couple of days. The lines at filling stations were of course overwhelming. Since I am a subway commuter, I was more than willing to leave the car until the gas situation resolved itself, hopefully in a few days. However, My Better Half, who works in Bushwick/East New York, once again proved remarkably resourceful in overcoming gas line adversity and strategically getting a fill up so that she could make it to work at her school. A projected two-hour bus ride plus walk, with limited ability to shlep supplies for her students, wasn't going to cut it. Early this morning, she checked out to narrow available fuel options and then made a few phone calls to stations to assess the status, and then headed out for a roughly one hour wait to get fuel and head to work with her students.

Hopefully in the days ahead, just as the critical needs of many thousands of survivors of the storm hit the hardest, for food, shelter and other resources, will be met, so too the other disruptions, power outages, phone problems, gas shortages, etc. also will begin to ease, and NY-ers not immediately and seriously impacted will return to some sense of non-crisis, so that the focus can remain on assisting those who are most in need.

-Anthony Napoli, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

NY TIMES: Post-Storm Service Update

N.Y. Times area services update here

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Q Train Running in Brooklyn; Partial Service Restored

The Q train is running in Brooklyn northbound between Kings Highway and Atlantic Avenue; Southbound between Jay Street/Metrotech and Kings Highway

Other details here

We south central Brooklyn residents - especially Fiske Terrace Flatbush love our Q (and hopefully soon B) train!

Update on Donations and Volunteering

Our friends at Ditmas Park Patch compiled an excellent list of information and opportunities to help:

Don't forget to Like the Ditmas Park Patch on Facebook.

On the Upcoming: It's All in the Numbers, says Silver

Nate Silver, Five Thirty Eight's statistician and pollster at the New York Times, calling the election for President Obama, based on a preponderance of polling data from critical electoral college states. But since an election is still an horse race and Silver is striving to be statistically objective he has discussed the remote circumstances where those numbers could go wrong -- but still sees the reelection of the incumbent President statistically more than likely and probably a done deal. Details here:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Vlacke Bosh Chronicles: Post-Storm Sociability

The most amazing quality of New York is its fantastic resiliency. Friday night after work at Sycamore on Cortelyou Road.

Post-Storm New York: Ways to Help

Despite the emerging efforts of FEMA and Red Cross, many opportunities to help still exist.

A comprehensive rundown of Volunteer opportunities and ways to help from our colleagues at the Ditmas Park Patch:

The World Keeps Turning

Sundown following a 90 degree beach day in Yaffo near Tel Aviv, Israel. November 3, 2012

Photo by Danielle Moghadam

Thursday, November 1, 2012

CODA: Storm Giving You Gas? Just Wait.

Fuel analysts blame distribution issues that are by-products of Hurricane Sandy -- including power outages that prevent transport of fuel from storage facilities to trucks to local stations -- and not actual fuel shortages as among the principal reasons for lines at the pump and empty stations throughout the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. It could result in a temporary price spike at the fuel pump and take several days, possibly a week, to stabilize.  

More details here .

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

CODA: Storm Fatalities in Ditmas Park

Emergency Service and Medical Examiners staff at site of fatalities of two local residents killed last night during Hurricane Sandy by a falling tree while walking their dog on Ditmas Avenue and East 18 - East 19th Streets. The dog was taken in by a neighbor.

Details on the young couple are now available-- Jessie Streich-Kest and Jacob Vogelman. Ms Steich Kest was a teacher at Bushwick HS for Social Justice and Mr Vogelman was a graduate student at Brooklyn College. Sincere condolences to their familes. Link here

Photos  by Tony Napoli Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Storm Coda: Trees Down Across Q/B Train Tracks at Avenue H

Huge tree fell across tracks in both directions near the Avenue H Stop

Photos by Tony Napoli

Local tragedy: www.ditmas reported about two local residents and their dog who were killed when they were struck by a falling tree at Ditmas Ave and E 18 th and E 19 th streets

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm Surge NYC: 1960

West and Cortlandt Streets, near World Trade Center area during Hurricane Donna 1960. The current storm surge is projected to be higher.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New York City Waits for Sandy

New York slated for hard hit

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Wainy Wednesday in New Yawk: "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"

It's Positively 'Brooklyn Bucolic' at Flatbush's Landmark Subway Station

Photo by Tony Napoli
The Landmarked Avenue H Subway Station Gets a Touch of the Down Home with Architect/ Designer/Artist Ed Kopel's "Brooklyn Bucolic" winner of the 2007 Arts in Transit Award from the NYC Transit Authority. Of course, since "postmodernism" has become the new reality, the chairs, "ironically" (ouch) are rendered in Bronze and don't actually rock. But they are a pleasure to the eye, adding a further touch of country-ish charm to the quaint Avenue H subway house.

Artisans at Work: Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry
that rendered designer Ed Kopel's vision

From the Foundry's website: "Brooklyn Bucolic, Kopel’s installation, is inspired by the unique element of the station house’s front façade: it’s wraparound porch. Seven fixed and brightly patinated bronze Shaker style rocking chairs in varying sizes able to accommodate children and adults, scatter the north and east side of the house. Each original rocking chair, slightly different than the next, were hand carved in maple by JP Parnas Woodworking out of Massachusetts. Molds were made of every chairs’ element, followed by waxes, and eventually they were cast in bronze. The subtle bend of the chairs’ profiles up to the detail of the wood texture and lattice woven seats translated beautifully into metal."

Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn asked Mr. Kopel a question about this work and his thoughts on design:

Q: As an architect who is also an artist, is utility important in design?

Mr. Kopel responded: For me, there is no architecture without utility. But how does one define utility or, for that matter, function? Is something considered useful if it provokes a thought or a mood or is just pleasing to look at? I think so but I also think that good design is approachable, understandable, and directly applicable to our everyday lives. So called "paper architecture" may be useful in the academy and may be great design but is not, in my mind, architecture.

More on the foundry that rendered the work here and the designer, architect Ed Kopel here and the New York City Transit Authority's Arts for Transit and Urban Design website here

SIDEBAR: Additional Reading and Background on the Avenue H Station:

Avenue H is a local station on the BMT Brighton Line of the New York City Subway. Located at Avenue H between East 15th and East 16th Streets on the border of Midwood and Flatbush, Brooklyn, it is served by the Q train at all times. Among the many pleasures of our family's move from Fort Greene and Clinton Hill in the late 1990s to Fiske Terrace is the wonderfully pronto, el rapido, subway service that we enjoy, ensuring relatively quick access to the rest of Brooklyn and Manhattan via the Q or B.

The Avenue H station was opened around 1900 as Fiske Terrace, a two-track surface station serving the new planned community of Fiske Terrace in Midwood, Brooklyn. The station house, also known as the headhouse, through which the station is entered, is a landmarked wood frame structure built in 1905 as a real estate office of the T.B. Ackerson Company to sell homes in the new community. It was converted to railroad use in 1907, at the same time that the station was renamed "Avenue H." The campuses of Brooklyn College and Midwood High School are nearby.

In 2003, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced plans to demolish the structure, citing its wood construction as a fire hazard. The community intervened, emphasizing the building's historic importance, architectural significance, connecting to the adjacent community and the fact that several other wooden station houses on the subway system had been given landmark status earlier.

The Old, Pre-Renovation Avenue H Station

On June 29, 2004, the station house was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. This allows renovations inside, but preserves the major structure and exterior. The contract to "restore the landmark station control house" as well as rehabilitation of the platforms and other stations structures was advertised for bids by the MTA for January 2007.

In designating it for Landmark Status, the Commission indicated: "The Avenue H station on the BMT line [...] is the city’s only shingled wooden cottage turned transit station house. Often compared to a country train stop, it originally served as a real estate sales office for developer Thomas Benton Ackerson to sell property in the adjacent neighborhood of Fiske Terrace, an early twentieth century example of planned suburban development. The structure, with a hipped and flared roof and wraparound porch, evokes in miniature the area’s Colonial Revival and Queen Anne houses. After nearly a century of commuter traffic, the Avenue H station remains in service and retains much historic fabric, from a corbelled chimney to peeled log porch columns. It is one of a very small number of wood-frame station houses surviving in the modern subway system, the only station adapted from a structure built for another function, and the only surviving station from Brooklyn’s once-extensive network of surface train lines, which had originally attracted Ackerson and numerous other developers to the area.

--Tony Napoli for Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Future is Unwritten: City & State's 40 Under 40 Rising Stars

Photo by Tony Napoli

Political journal City & State hosted a reception for its list of 40 under 40 Rising Stars last night at Sprig, a restaurant in the Lipstick Building in midtown.   The event reflected the young and energetic group of winners which included a great  mix of up-and-coming players in NYC politics, government, media, and business.

As twilight falls on the Mike Bloomberg mayoralty, and with the continuing evolution of Andrew Cuomo's governance of the Empire State, and the complex political dynamic in the media and on the campaign trail as President Obama seeks to stretch "44" into "45" despite a stubbornly intransigent economic recovery and global upheaval and conflict, it is clear and reassuring that, in New York City at least, the Next generation of talented and dedicated movers and shakers are already taking the stage. 

(Coda/Cautionary Note: the Lipstick Building is the former home of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. Inhabiting the 17th -19th floors, the multi-billion dollar ponzi scheme was "financially engineered" from the 17th floor, which reportedly had no more than 24 employees.)

--Anthony Napoli

Monday, October 15, 2012

CODA: Paint It (in the) Black - Stones Choose Newark Over Barclay Center

The Rolling Stones will celebrate their 50th anniversary in the New York area but it will be at the Prudential Center in Newark not at the new Brooklyn Barclay's Center reports Gothamist .. while the bottom line is no doubt a factor in the decision, it will be interesting to hear the rationale since there was a flurry of hype and hooplah in anticipation of the decision ever since the tour was first announced late this summer. Whether there have been intensive, ongoing negotiations or whether this was in the bag all along remains to be seen.  For the record,  Prudential reports 17,500 capacity for end-field style concert seating; Barclay 19,000. So, somewhere in the numbers, Prudential appears to have come up with the better deal.

Looks like they'll be no Junior's cheesecake for you, Sir Mick.  Nevertheless, DITHOB is still merrily grooving on the Stone's new, terrific single, "Doom and Gloom"....

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Doom and Gloom": New Rolling Stones' Single

Lyric video above. Now available for download on iTunes. Despite early word in late August, and a renewed buzz over the last couple of days, still no news on the Barclay Center performance in Brooklyn, U.S.A., before the end of the year. Watch the skies!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Rolling Stones @ 50 -- and Brooklyn's new Barclay Center?

The Rolling Stones have announced they are touring for their 50th Anniversary as the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World. And, is it possible, a show at Brooklyn's new Barclay Center is in the mix? Discussions continue. Details here but doesn't appear to be on the Barclay official roster of amazing events just yet here

Friday, October 5, 2012

"The Wheel of Fortune Keeps Turning Around": The Rolling Stones

The hand of fate is on me now

It pick me up and knock me down
I'm on the run, I'm prison bound

The hand of fate is heavy now
I killed a man, I'm highway bound
The wheel of fortune keeps turning round
Turning round, turning round
I should have known it was a one horse town

My sweet girl was once his wife
He had papers the judge had signed
The wind blew hard, it was stormy night
He shot me once, but I shot him twice

The hand of fate is on me now
It pick me up and it kicked me right down
Kicked me right down
Kicked me right down

I had to save her life
Yeah, I gunned him twice
Yeah, and I watched him die, watch out boy
Yeah, I watched him die

He was a barroom man, the violent kind
He had no love for that gal of mine
Then one day in a drinking bout
He swore he'd throw me right of town
The hand of fate is on me now
I shot that man I put him underground
I put him underground
Yes I did

I'm on the run, I hear the hounds
My luck is up, my chips are down
So goodbye baby, so long now
Wish me luck, I'm going to need it child
The hand of fate is on me now
Yeah it's too late
Too late baby, too late now
The hand of fate is on me now
The hand of fate is heavy now
It pick you up and knock you down
copyright M.Jagger/K.Richards

Note: Mick Taylor had left the band, and The Rolling Stones were auditioning lead guitarists while recording Black And Blue. American session man Wayne Perkins played on this and almost got the job, but Ron Wood beat him out.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Human Geography: The Late Dr. Neil Smith and The Politics of Place

Bill Roberts, a founding member of the ISO, and Hector Agredano, a doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center, remember the life of a determined activist:

October 2, 2012

NEIL SMITH, the renowned scholar, beloved teacher and devoted activist, died on September 29 at the age of 58.

Neil is best known for his academic work. He was a professor of anthropology and geography at City University of New York. In particular, his writings on the patterns of social development in cities--drawing on history, economics, political and social theory, and ecological studies--are among the most prominent left-wing views on the subject.

But Neil will also be remembered as a committed socialist and activist. He came to the U.S. from his native Scotland in early 1977 to complete his graduate studies with David Harvey at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He wasted no time becoming an activist on campus, helping to establish the Graduate Representative Organization.

In 1978, Neil joined the International Socialist Organization (ISO), then only newly formed, and helped to build a campus chapter at John Hopkins of a dozen committed socialists. Neil became a frequent contributor to Socialist Worker, then a monthly newspaper. One memorable article of his in 1981, titled "It's Right to Rebel," put the London urban riots of that summer in the context of the severe economic recession and the hopelessness it produced.

As Kathy Ogren, a fellow student at the time and now a recognized scholar in her own right, remembered, Neil was "a great popularizer of Marxist ideas...and a good listener to a person's evolving political consciousness. He could help one sort out the connections between personal and structural questions and conditions."

Though Neil left the ISO in 1984, his comrades and students remember the humor and fearlessness he brought to his political organizing. "Neil was one of the most creative thinkers I've ever met," Ogren said. "He saw connections, applied his prodigious energy to researching an answer, and then found innovative ways to write or speak about what he had learned."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

AS A scholar, Neil's intellect was evident from early in his academic career. In 1979, he wrote an influential article titled "Toward a Theory of Gentrification: A Back to the City Movement by Capital, not People." More than scholarly research, this was a political intervention in the field of urban geography at a time when questions on urban decay and ghettoization were riddled with inconsistent theories and contradictory research.

His most important theoretical contribution to the understanding of the geography of capitalism is outlined in Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space. Here, Neil laid out a coherent explanation for the unevenness and distortion of economic development, specifically in urban areas, because of investment and disinvestment in the built environment by capital markets.

Inspired by insights from Lenin and Trotsky, Neil's thesis is based on the contradictions of capitalism outlined by Karl Marx in Capital. However, in applying these ideas, he helped to anchor disparate theories from disciplines that often remain separated in the academy.

Neil would expand on these theories to develop analyses on the commodification of nature under capitalism, politics in the study of geography, and U.S. imperialism. One of his most celebrated books, American Empire: Roosevelt's Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization--for which he received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography for 2002--traces American military interventionism through the age of globalization. The book would prove prophetic when, one year later, the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq.

Upon his arrival at the City University of New York's Graduate Center, Smith's scholarship and sharp politics attracted a crowd of activists, intellectuals and radicals of all stripes to his courses. From seasoned anti-gentrification activists of Washington, D.C., to peasant organizers from Costa Rica, and the curious from everywhere in between, they all found a seat at the table. His classes were lively with dissension and debate, and it was alright to be political; in fact, it was encouraged.

During the last years of his life, one of Neil's main concerns was that radicals and revolutionaries were losing hope. He was frustrated that it was easier for radicals to imagine an environmental apocalypse than a triumphant revolutionary movement against capitalism. During class and in meetings, he would raise the concern that one of the victims of the ruling class offensive had been the utopian imagination of the left.

This was one of the most inspiring things about Neil--he never gave up hope. And when the Occupy movement burst on the scene last fall, he welcomed it with open arms. Class discussion would turn into strategy debates--he encouraged students to participate, and would hold class at the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park or cancel them to allow us to participate in major demonstrations.

Neil leaves a lasting legacy of scholarship and dedication to geography and to Marxism. As a socialist, he always placed himself in the revolutionary tradition--he spent his last years trying to raise revolution to the agenda in people's imagination and political frontiers. He left us too soon and will be sorely missed by friends, colleagues, students and loved ones.

Neil Smith, ¡presente!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Published by the International Socialist Organization.

Material on this Web site is licensed by, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd 3.0) [1] license, except for articles that are republished with permission. Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and [1]

The late Dr. Smith's home page, including some of his papers, appear here

CUNY Graduate Center Anthrolopology  Department here

CUNY Graduate Center's Center for Place, Culture and Politics here

Monday, October 1, 2012

Radio Free New York: Bob Fass

Radio Unnameable, a documentary about broadcast visionary Bob Fass's half-century spanning tenure as host of the late night show of the same name, is winding up its run at Film Forum. How an artist, such an original talent, could be working as a volunteer at WBAI at 79 years of age, is a mystery. I mean, if Garrison Keillor could turn a radio show into a public event, why Mr. Fass couldn't be recruited, at the very least, for an adjunct position at a university, or general manager of a college radio station seems a mystery... C'mon, how has my beloved NYU (WSUC, 1976), somehow managed to drop the ball on this local NYC broadcast gem? The film combines wonderful documentary footage of NYC in the early 60s onward, combined with a social history of WBAI and the unique reach and impact of Fass's show as an altenratively poetic and interactive media venue for the American counterculture. It's an absorbing and occasionally moving film, a bit slow in dealing with the internecine warfare at the station, but remarkable in its coverage of how one man could bring this FM radio medium in a completely new direction in a relaitvely short amount of time. The NY Times article today offered some additional archival material from the show, which was archived and digitzed as part of the film here. At 79 years of age, Bob Fass is a significant figure of historical interest in the history of American media; he has devoted his life to radio. Bloomberg, Bill Gates, somebody give this man a Grant (or a pension)!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Joe Strummer: If You're Out There Getting the Honey, You Don't Go Killin' All the Bees

CoEvolution: Your iPad is Like An Arthropod

Via Big THink: "Learning guru John Seely Brown finds an intriguing analogy between the disruptive technology of today and what evolutionary biologists have observed in the fossil record during a period over 500 million years ago. The Cambrian period was like evolution on steroids. After a period of long evolutionary stasis, a warming climate created marine habitats that gave birth to new complex life forms. Among the great evolutionary innovations of this period were animals with external skeletons, or arthropods.
To follow Brown's analogy, if anthropologists many years from now are to look at our current "Cambrian explosion" they will see that in the early 21st century human biology did not change so much. Instead, humans have co-evolved with technology, acquiring increasingly sophisticated tools in a short period of time." More here

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Early Roman Kings: Dylan Unleashed

The video from the Cinemax series "Strike Back" has been out for a little while, but we have been really grooving of late to the Bob Dylan TEMPEST album, especially "Early Roman Kings" a heavy blues riff, lyrically adventurous, as always : All the early roman kings in their sharkskin suits bowties and buttons hightop boots drivin' the spikes in raisin' the rails nailin' the coffins in top hats and tails fly away over fly away flap your wings fly by night like the early roman kings all the early roman kings in the early early morn comin' down the mountain distributing the corn speeding through the forest racin' down the track you try to get away they drag you back tomorrow is ? we'll see what it brings everybodys talkin' about the early roman kings there's peddlers and theres meddlers they buy and they sell they'll destroy your city they'll destroy you as well their lecherous and trechurous hell-bent for leather each of 'em bigger than all them put together sluggers and muggers wearin' fancy gold rings all the women goin' crazy for the early roman kings i can dress up your wounds with a blood clotted rag i ain't afraid to make love ? if you see me comin' and your standin' there wave your hankerchief in the air i ain't dead yet my bell still rings i keep my fingers crossed like the early roman kings i can strip you of life strip you of breath ship you down to the house of death one day you will ask for me they'll be no one else that you'll wanna see bring down my fiddle tune up my strings i'm gonna break it wide open like the early roman kings i was up on black mountain the day detroit fell they killed 'em all off and they sent 'em to hell ding dong daddy you're comin' up short gonna put you on trial in a sicilian court i had my fun i had my flings gonna shake 'em on down like the early roman king -Bob Dylan 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shabab Libya: Libyan Militia Linked to Embassy Inferno

Shabab Libya, publication of the Libyan Youth Movement, reports "Suspicion in last week’s attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans has focused on members of a hardcore Islamist militia known for its sympathies to al-Qaeda, its fierce animosity to the United States and its intimidation of other Muslims who don’t conform to its harsh ideology."

"That doesn’t mean Libyan authorities will move against Ansar al-Shariah soon. The group is among the most powerful of the many, heavily armed militias that the government relies on to keep security in Benghazi."

"In fact, it guards one of Benghazi’s main hospitals."
Libya’s militias are a legacy of last year’s bloody civil war that led to the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Colonel Moammar Gadhafi – and their continued power underscores the weakness of the country’s new political leadership nearly a year after the war ended.

"With a range of ideologies, the militias arose from local groups that took up arms and battled Col. Gadhafi’s forces. Across the country, they still resist integration into the armed forces and remain in many places the sole forces keeping a fragile sense of order."

"Ansar al-Shariah, which denies it was part of the attack, is not the biggest of Benghazi’s militias. But it is viewed as the most disciplined and feared, with links to other militant groups in Benghazi and eastern Libya. They are also the most forceful in demanding that the new Libya be ruled by a strident and intolerant interpretation of Islam and shariah law not far removed from al-Qaeda’s."

More here

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

US Embassies Attacked; US Foreign Service and US Military Personnel Killed; Libyan Chaos Ensues

Insurgent attack on US Embassy in Libya resultsi n death of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens,as well as other Foreign Service and US Military personnel. While the military personnel were shot, the Ambassador evidently suffocated from smoke inhalation, but reports including photos indicate that his dead body was carried through the streets by Muslims protesting a film about the prophet Mohammed.

Graphic photos here

Details on the US response, beyond rhetoric, unclear at this moment. More on the attack on US Embassies in Egypt and Libya here

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Living Room Candidate

The Museum of the Moving Image's "The Living Room Candidate" TV campaigns in the 20th century and beyond.

The Priority of Memory on September 11

This morning, everyone agreed, the sky over New York City was crisp and clear, like it was on The Day. I was up early, and at sunrise, Venus, the Crescent Moon, and Jupiter, were in a wonderful alignment in the sky. I put up Old Glory, unfurled in a Flatbush that has seen so much before, then put on my tie, and headed for the office. The Q train was filled, crowded with workers and students. I was proud, as some of the international students noted who stayed with us during our daughter's recent wedding, that New York City remains so incredibly, remarkably, miraculously diverse. All of us, working folks, students, New Yorkers, headed on our way to varied points throughout the 5 boroughs to do our New York thing, and hopefuilly return home this evening. Today, at the office, the morning included, as it always has and no doubt will among those who were there and remember, a sharing of a few stories and memories. The tales of Brooklyn on that day remain varied and extraordinarily person personal, as for everyone.

We've told the story here, before. This year, we will let the memories establish their own priorities as we see what the future brings.

September Concert: Top Jazz Artists Perform Tonight at Ashford and Simpson's Sugar Bar on the upper west side. Details here

Friday, September 7, 2012

Noonan on the Democrats

Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal on the DNC:

"Bill Clinton is The Master. That is stipulated. Almost everyone in the media was over the moon about his speech. It was a shrewd and superb moment of political generosity, his hauling into town to make the case, but it was a hack speech. It was the speech of a highly gifted apparatchik. All great partisan speeches include some hard and uncomfortable truths, but Mr. Clinton offered none. He knows better than so much of what he said. In real life he makes insightful statements on the debt, the deficit and the real threat they pose. He knows more about the need for and impediments to public-school reform than half the reformers do. He knows exactly why both parties can't reach agreement in Washington, and what each has done wrong along the way. But Wednesday night he stuck to fluid fictions and clever cases. It was smaller than Bill Clinton is.

Still, he gave the president one great political gift: He put Medicaid on the table. He put it right there next to the pepper shaker and said Look at that! People talk Medicare and Social Security, but, as Mr. Clinton noted, more than half of Medicaid is spent on nursing-home care for seniors and on those with disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism. Will it be cut?

Here's what I'm seeing the past 10 years. The baby boomers have been supporting their grown children and their aged parents. They are stressed, stretched and largely uncomplaining, because they know that as boomers—shallow, selfish—they're the only generation not allowed to complain. And just as well, as complaints are the only area of national life where we have a surplus. But they are spiritually and financially holding the country together, and they're coming to terms with the fact that it's going to be that way for a good long time. They're going to take a keen interest in where Medicaid goes.

Romney-Ryan take note: this will arrive as an issue."

FUll article here

"Tore Up" on a Friday: Jerry Garcia Band

The Hank Ballard classic performed by the Jerry Garcia Band in 1993. "Tell me what did I do/to make you go away"....At around 6:55 JG unleashes a short burst of what it's all about...Melvin Seals gives an awesome tutorial on the blues piano..a great, late, Jerry Garcia Band performance...

Friday, August 31, 2012

Love and Celebration at the Heart of the Diaspora

Painting: Japanese Ochiba Fallen Leaves by Yayoi Kusama, currently subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC.

Flatbush Waltz, the processional theme played at the wedding of my daughter
last night. Twas like a Dream.....

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Dusquesne Whistle": From Bob Dylan's Forthcoming "Tempest" provides a preview of a swinging track from Bob Dylan's upcoming album, co-penned by Robert Hunter. Link here

The album, his 35th, will be released on September 10 in the U.K., and September 11 in the U.S. (Spetember 11 was also the release date of "Love and Theft."

Rolling Stone reported that the fourteen-minute long title track "Tempest" is about the RMS Titanic and includes references to the James Cameron film Titanic (1997). The song "Roll on John" is a tribute to John Lennon, which includes references to some of his songs including The Beatles' "Come Together" and "A Day in the Life."

The album's title initially spurred rumors that it would be Dylan's final album, based on its similarity to the title of Shakespeare's final play. Dylan later dispelled the rumor: "Shakespeare's last play was called The Tempest. It wasn't called just plain "Tempest". The name of my record is just plain Tempest. It's two different titles."

Another clip of a tune, Scarlet Town, was debuted on the new Cinemax series, Strike Back, in addition to a previous cut, Early Roman Kings:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Nets

Well known for her use of dense patterns of polka dots and nets, as well as her intense, large-scale environments, Yayoi Kusama works in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance, and immersive installation. Born in Japan in 1929, Kusama came to the United States in 1957 and quickly found herself at the epicenter of the New York avant-garde. After achieving fame through groundbreaking exhibitions and art “happenings,” she returned to her native country in 1973 and is now one of Japan’s most prominent contemporary artists. This retrospective features works spanning Kusama’s career.(Whitney)

An inspiring career-spanning retrospective of a key figure to the avant-garde art movements of the 1960s who continues to produce creative and provocate work, while living for decades in a residence for individuals with psychiatric problems. She reappeared from relative obscurity in the 1990s and continues to create work of extraordinary power.

Yayoi Kusama: An Encounter with a Flowering Season (2009)

Yayoi Kusama: Late Night Chat is Filled With Dreams (2009)

While Kusama's Fireflies on Water installation is probably considered as the highlight of this show (with limited, ticketed admission separate from the retrospective exhibition), I was very moved by the final room of the show, containing wall upon wall of her later and recent paintings, that themselves create a stunning,colorful and image-rich art environment that itself should not be missed.

Her autobiography, Infinity Nets, was recenelty published

Friday, August 17, 2012

Russian Punk Rockers Sentenced to 2 Years for "Hooliganism" and anti-Putin Protest

Well, no matter how things change, they still stay the same. As the documentary Never Sorry: Ai Weiwei shows in vivid detail, despite the economic expansion in the People's Republic, freedom of speech and criticism of governmental institutions remains a no-no. And now from our Free Market Goombahs in the East,  a Russian court has sentenced the three young women of the punk band Pussy Riot to 2 years in prison. Since they've already been in stir for 5 months, for the crime of hooliganism (which definitely sounds like something from the Soviet, pre-Glasnost, legal canon). Basically the girls terrorized and Eastern Orthodox Church service by running to the alter dressed in colorful ski masks and skirts. Just Pussy Riot, ; no indication they were carrying Kalashnikov, Glocks or any other weapons. After the grueling trial in which they were imprisoned, silence of the lambs, or Manson (that's Charles, not Marilyn) -style in a glass cube (wow, really? sounds like a scene from Rollerball or something), the girls (excuse me, women) were sentenced to the full two years and as you can see from the video below,  giggled and smirked as the sentences were read.

Although Western musicians have spoken out on their behalf, the judge was harsh in her ruling and the band evidently doesn't enjoy wide support among the Russian population, although sadly, the stiff sentence does.

Mr. Putin indicated that while he did not look kindly on their behavior, he hoped their sentence would not be too severe. There's no indication whether, having made their point, good ol' Vlad, the Russian government and the courts will be able to see their way to commute the sentence to time served.

More on Pussy Riot as fashion statement from DITHOB's fave, T Magazine here

And the report from Reuters on this very unfortunate sentencing here

Monday, August 13, 2012

On the Dunes

Background track here by Donald Fagen (minimize and listen)

Photos by Tony Napoli 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Tempest" A'-comin': Preview of New Bob Dylan Track

Bob Dylan's "Early Roman Kings" from his forthcoming album, Tempest, due out September 11, previewed on a forthcoming episode of the new Cinemax Channel series, Strike Back. More here

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Never Sorry: Ai Weiwei"

Ai Weiwei is China's most famous international artist, and an extremely outspoken advocate for freedom of speech and government responsibility and reform. Against a backdrop of strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system, Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. In response, Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention.

Alison Klayman's fascinating documentary, AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY, records the artist's experiences in his native country,  while telling his story as the son of a poet who was punished duirng the Cultural Revolution (as a child, the artist lived in a labor detention camp with his family), and who lived in New York City in the 1980s, returning home, to make art and advocate for freedom. The film views the artist as he makes art, blogs, confronts secret police, interacts with his family, and ultimately is arrested and held in secret detention (and later released) all in detailed close-up. This is the  intimate, inside story of a "dissident for the digital age" who truly blurs the boundaries of art and politics. Director Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a complex  view of a  society at once seeking to move its economy forward dramatically, while its government appears to remain in a reactive mode with regard to democratization and social and political freedoms. Emerging amidst this conflict, bringing this dichotomy into stark relief, is the artist Ai Weiwei and the film portrays his story in a highly personal and honest way. The film concludes with the artist's return from detention by the authorities. He is still in protracted legal battles regarding the government's charges against him of "Economic crimes."  Although initially reluctant to speak out after his release, he continues to speak out and challenge the Chinese government's status quo. The ending of this story clearly has not yet been written and likely will continue to unfold for quite some time to come. A must see documentary.

In NYC at the IFC Theater.
More on the film here

Work Song for a Monday Morning

Johnny Cash - "In Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home"

NASA Rover lands on The Red Planet This Morning, 1:31 am in NYC watch it live

Touchdown is expected at 1:17 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) on Aug. 6, but radio signals confirming the event will take 13.8 minutes to cover the 154 million miles between Earth and Mars, arriving around 1:31 a.m. "Earth-received time."

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo