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

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