Friday, June 29, 2012

Oh, Atlanta

Interior: Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta

Gravesite in the reflecting pool at the
Freedom Center at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Historic Site

 Exterior: Ebenezer Baptist Church
Dr. King's childhood home in the
Auburn Avenue section of Atlanta

The wagon that carried Dr. King's casket
following his assassination in 1968.

I was in Atlanta to attend the Society of Human Resources Managers (SHRM) annual conference earlier this week. Speakers included Dr. Condoleeza Rice (inspiring), Tom Brokaw (wry and optimistic), and Jim Collins (it's all about the people, folks), multiple presentations on all apects of HR, with terrific forays into innovation, social media, capped one evening by an outrageous  1.5 hour stand-up performance by Jerry Seinfeld before an audience of thousands in the HR biz.

I was especially taken by a brilliant, poignant, and visionary presentation by journliast Malcolm Gladwell , taken from his forthcoming book, on the Millennial generation's ushering in of a new social paradigm.

As SHRM's John Scorza reported: "People born in the 1980s and ’90s are at the forefront of a new social paradigm that will profoundly influence how things are done in the workplace and in the wider world, Gladwell said. The older generation generally views social movements and organizations in the context of a hierarchy. Hierarchies generally have a strong leader, a powerful and experienced organization, and a guiding ideology and strategy. Millennials have a different view. For them, it’s all about the network.
Journalist-author Malcolm Gladwell at SHRM 2012 in Atlanta
"Gladwell compared the civil rights movement to the Occupy movements to illustrate the differences between the generations...[to bring about change] Martin Luther King wanted to bring Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence to the United States.

"That movement had the components of a hierarchy: a strong leader, a disciplined organization and a guiding ideology. Compare that to the Occupy movements of the past year, which had no leader, no clear ideology or strategy, and a loosely organized and undisciplined organization.

“This could not be more different than the civil rights movement of 40 years ago,” Gladwell said. “That difference between the way social organization is done by this generation and … the previous generation is incredibly significant,” Gladwell suggested...

"In comparing hierarchies and networks, Gladwell maintained that one form is not better than the other. “We are not superior to them because the hierarchy is better than the network and they’re not superior to us because the network is superior to the hierarchy. They are simply two different forms with very different sets of strengths and weaknesses.”

"In some situations, the hierarchy works, in others the network is best. Many kids start college intending to study science, math and engineering, but the drop-out rates are very high. Why? Because the courses are too hard. To master these topics, kids need to learn from expert instructors, practice discipline and learn on their own. “The task is ill-suited for the paradigm that many kids today are bringing to school and the workplace...”

“The differences between Occupy and civil rights are symbols of the very powerful differences in the paradigms that each of those generations carry around in their pockets. What happened over the past 10 years is that we have seen a fundamental shift in the way people of different generations have chosen to see and interpret the world.

“We have to take this notion of a new generational paradigm seriously.”

Mr. Gladwell's movingly described analysis of the differences between the Civil Rights Movement and Occupy Wall Street, coming as it did in the city of Dr. King's birth,in which the Movement was rooted, provided a very moving experience, on the critical role of  HR, management and logistics in social movements as well as business enterprise.

More by Mr. Scorza on Mr. Gladwell's discussion at the SHRM conference here

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Andrew Sarris, 1928-2012

Andrew Sarris, influential film critic and writer has died. Mr. Sarris, who taught at Columbia University and was a wonderful writer about cinema with a deep knowledge of world film and insightful in his analysis and explication of the auteur in filmmaking.

More here

Mr. Sarris's writings for the NY Observer (through 2006) here

Kent Jones profile in Film Comment here

Michael Powell's profile in the NY Times here

I picked up this invaluable book at the 8th Street Bookstore when I was a
student at NYU in the early 1970s and have turned to it again and again
over the years both for his insights into film and his great earlier published writing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Live and Free Tonight: Philip Glass Ensemble

The River to River Festival in Lower Manhattan tonight continues the ongoing celebration of composer Philip Glass's 75th Birthday with a free concert in Rockefeller Park. The concert will open with the youth ensemble Face the Music which will perform Mr. Glass's classic "Glassworks" followed by the Philip Glass Ensemble performing a retrospective of his compositions.

Chuck Close's Phil (1969)
More on tonight's performance   here

More on Philip Glass here

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NASA's VOYAGER 1 Spacecraft Poised to Leave Solar System

Voyage 1: Boldly Going Where No Earth-launched Spacecraft Has Gone Before
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has encountered a new environment more than 11 billion miles from Earth, suggesting that the venerable probe is on the cusp of leaving the solar system.

The Voyager 1 probe has entered a region of space with a markedly higher flow of charged particles from beyond our solar system, researchers said. Mission scientists suspect this increased flow indicates that the spacecraft — currently 11.1 billion miles (17.8 billion kilometers) from its home planet — may be poised to cross the boundary into interstellar space.

"The laws of physics say that someday Voyager will become the first human-made object to enter interstellar space, but we still do not know exactly when that someday will be," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, in a statement.

"The latest data indicate that we are clearly in a new region where things are changing more quickly," Stone added. "It is very exciting. We are approaching the solar system's frontier."

More here

Friday, June 15, 2012

Art and Anti-Art: Cave Paintings Created 40,800 Years Ago

New tests show that crude Spanish cave paintings of a red sphere and handprints are the oldest in the world, so ancient they may not have been by modern man.

Some scientists say they might have even been made by the much-maligned Neanderthals, but others disagree.

Testing the coating of paintings in 11 Spanish caves, researchers found that one is at least 40,800 years old, which is at least 15,000 years older than previously thought. That makes them older than the more famous French cave paintings by thousands of years.

Scientists dated the Spanish cave paintings by measuring the decay of uranium atoms, instead of traditional carbon-dating, according to a report released Thursday by the journal Science. The paintings were first discovered in the 1870s.

The oldest of the paintings is a red sphere from a cave called El Castillo. About 25 outlined handprints in another cave are at least 37,300 years old. Slightly younger paintings include horses.

More here

Friday, June 8, 2012

WEEKEND: The Scene @ Brooklyn's DeKalb Market

Lots going at the junction of Willoughby Street and Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Food + Shopping + Music
More here

Thursday, June 7, 2012

John Cale: Strange Times in Casablanca

I saw "Honi Soit" the 1981 album by John Cale, performed live at a club in Manhattan. Cale was wearing a black jumpsuit and dark glasses, clutching the mike and singing accompanied by a powerful, explosive performance by his band. Andy Warhol suggested the album should be called "John and Yoko", and provided the cover art, in black and white, but against Warhol's wishes Cale colorized it. The musicians on this album are listed as the crew of fighter airplane, with Cale as the flight surgeon.

Personnel :John Cale: guitar, keyboards, viola, lead vocals ("flight surgeon")
John Gatchell: trumpet

Jim Goodwin: keyboards, synthesizer, background vocals ("gunner")
Peter Muny: bass, background vocals ("wing and prop")
Robert Medici: drums, background vocals ("navigator")
Sturgis Nikides: guitar, background vocals ("hellcat")
Bomberettes (members of the Mo-dettes): background vocals on "Fighter Pilot"

The album's title is an abbreviation of the phrase "Honi soit qui mal y pense" (French: "shame upon him who thinks evil of it"), the motto of the British Order of the Garter. The spelling of the word "Honi" is old French, it would nowadays be spelt "Honni".

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Coda to the Coda of the Transit of Venus 2012

String theory: The vibration of the dimensions lead DITHOB here: Prologue to Space is the Place, an 82 minute film starring Sun Ra and his Arkestra, made in 1972 and released in 1974. It was produced by Jim Newman, directed by John Coney, written by Sun Ra, Joshua Smith and features Sun Ra and his Arkestra. A soundtrack for the film was released on Evidence Records. An edited DVD was issued in 2003, following a VHS that was previously available.

Trailer here  and info here and background here Sound track available here

CODA: Transit of Venus 2012

New York City's weather continues to remain unsettled, so the fabled Transit of Venus occurred behind a curtain of clouds. For a real view, check out NASA's Ultra- High Definition Solar Astronomy imaging:

Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena.They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. The periodicity is a reflection of the fact that the orbital periods of Earth and Venus are close to 8:13 and 243:395 commensurabilities.

Yesterday's transit of Venus on 5 and 6 June 2012, was the last Venus transit this century; the prior transit took place on 8 June 2004. The previous pair of transits were in December 1874 and December 1882. After 2012, the next transits of Venus will be in December 2117 and December 2125.

More here

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Transit of Venus 2012

On June 5 - 6, 2012, a very notable celestial event takes place that is so rare that it will not be seen again by anyone now living. On June 8, 2004 Venus crossed the face of the Sun for the first time since the 19th century. This spectacle will be repeated again this June for the last time until 2117. Numerous science and other organizations have some special plans for this rare event, which will be seen by most of the world's population.

The entire transit will be visible from the western Pacific Ocean, northwesternmost North America, northeastern Asia, Japan, the Philippines, eastern Australia, New Zealand, and high Arctic locations including northernmost Scandinavia, and Greenland. In North America, the Caribbean, and northwestern South America, the beginning of the transit will be visible on 5 June until sunset. From sunrise on 6 June, the end of the transit will be visible from South Asia, the Middle East, east Africa and most of Europe. It will not be visible from most of South America or western Africa.

Transit of Venus 2004.
2012's Transit of Venus will be the last until the 22nd century.

CAUTION: Safe viewing of the Transit of Venus: The sun, a very bright star, is of course very dangerous to human vision. There are safe ways to view the transit directly and interdirectly. See information here

Ten facts about the The Transit of Venus here

Astronomers Without Borders: One People One Sky free ToV apps here

See a live NASA webcast here

Shirley Hazzard's novel, Transit of Venus here

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blue Monday: Bagel on the Tracks

Early Morning Newkirk Plaza
Photo by Anthony Napoli 2012

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Going Down

Tornado warnings in D.C. Here in Brooklyn, nothing profound, no connectivity. Nothing wired or networked, cabled or wireless. Only a lovely Friday morning at the end of the holiday week, morphing into some grey breezes.  Rain always behind the forecasts, as though to make up for a  snowless winter. Dreaming of the terrace over Via del Gambero, a sunny December day near the Mediterranean (“middle of the world”)..a strange, millennial urban paradise, listening to Bob Dylan’s Absolutely Sweet Marie on the other side of the world.

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