Thursday, October 31, 2013

Behold the Man: Zizek on Ideology

He hates the celebrity that is imposed upon him -- summed up in labels like "the rock star philosopher" and "Elvis of cultural theory" --- but like a high speed car crash you can't watch but can't look away. When I saw Slavoj Zizek at the CUNY Grad Center last year he is an electrifying mass of brilliant- on -his -feet social and political critique delivered in a haze of tics and lisps. Now Zizek has starred in his second film with director Sophie Fiennes in which he analyzes and discusses ideology through the interpretation of popular film. It opens Friday in NYC and other locations. See the trailer below. Dilettantes Like Me interested in Cultural theory and critique- -ya gotta love the guy.

NYC Mayoral Race: Getting Down to the Wire

WHAT WOULD LHOTA DO? Running things, it ain't easy (especially when it comes to campaigns) NY TIMES article here Bill deBlasio: Blending Politics, Idealism..and more Politics NY TIMES article here

Friday, October 25, 2013

The National Insecurity State

Germany and Brazil approach the United Nations to restrain U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance of communications by foreign leaders and governments. If, as Edward Snowden stated in a statement yesterday, "Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no Internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA's hands" how can it be plausible, if the capability exists that we can track this staggering volume of information, that we would not be tracking this information among other countries, allies as well as enemies? Where rational security efforts begin, and potentially authoritarian surveillance ends, is a debate that will continue as long as the capability exists and the concern for anti-terror and security concerns continues. Snowden states "Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They're wrong." The American government, responsible for the security of its people, would of course beg to differ. The question raised of course is it is clearly not racial profiling if you are gathering everything out there into as wide a net as possible and then sifting it into smaller pails for subsequent study. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer? Still this is not a new issue. Only the technology has changed and the willingness of new generations to surrender privacy. Full article on Edward Snowden and US Senator Diane Feinstein on this issue here Full article from Foreign Policy here

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"The Book of Lamentations"-5

A review of a "new dystopian novel in the classic mode takes the form of a dictionary of madness" masquerading as a review of the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The review, like the book it reviews, dark, brilliant, surreal, and so, so human. 

Vincent van Gogh Corridor in the Asylum (1889) 

 The review in the New Inquiry appears here
--Anthony Napoli

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's Our Information: Electronic Frontier Foundation is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum who are opposed to the current expansion of mass surveillance in the U.S. by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence organizations. This video harnesses the voices of celebrities, activists, legal experts, and other prominent figures in speaking out against mass surveillance by the NSA. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a nonprofit civil liberties law and advocacy center that has been fighting the NSA's unconstitutional spying for years. Learn more at

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

'A Cartoon Long Forsaken by the Public Eye': Richard Hell and the Voidoids

Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Blank Generation, 1976. from the album Blank Generation, fronted by Hell, the Voidoids at this time included the late legendary guitarist Richard Quine, Ivan Julian and Marc Bell. "weeee-oooooh!"

Never forget the inspiration. Brilliant music, rebel style:
"I came back to England determined. I had these images I came back with, it was like Marco Polo or Walter Raleigh. I brought back the image of this distressed, strange thing called Richard Hell. And this phrase, 'the blank generation'. [...] Richard Hell was a definite, 100 percent inspiration, and, in fact, I remember telling the Sex Pistols, 'Write a song like Blank Generation, but write your own bloody version,' and their own version was 'Pretty Vacant'."
--Malcolm McLaren in an interview in Please Kill Me, the Uncensored Oral History of Punk, Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, Grove Press (1996), p. 199.

Richard Hell live at the Club Chitta Kawasaki Japan

Richard Hell Official Site including writings, news, etc. here Richard Hell, a fellow Libra, turned 64 on October 2.

More here

Nice Wall Street Journal interview with Mr. Hell about his East Village tenement rent controlled apartment with comments on life and why he left performing

He will be reading from his work
later this fall at the Guggenheim Museum event curated and accompanying the retrospective of the work by Christopher Wool.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Banksy or Not Banksy?

A peculiar image pops up on a lamppost 
Near Kings Highway in Brooklyn
Translation: "and what?

Photo by Tony Napoli

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Fed Chief Janet Yellen - Of Brooklyn (Not the Manor) Born and Ready for Business (and Employment Growth)

Now that Janet Yellen is in line for selection as the next Chairperson of the Federal Reserve, with Larry Summers seemingly off-stage in the shadows, it is interesting to first note, as reported by the Office of Councilman Vincent J. Gentile, that she is, first and foremost, a Brooklyn native: Councilman Gentile: “I commend President Obama on his selection of Dr. Janet Yellen to be the first woman to head the Federal Reserve in its 100-year history,” Councilman Vincent J. Gentile said. “She has played a major role in the Fed's efforts to keep interest rates near record lows to support the economy and will take over at a pivotal time for our country. And of course, most importantly, she is from Bay Ridge and a fellow Fort Hamilton High School alum – so we know she'll do a great job! We wish you the best of luck, Dr. Yellen, as you lead the American central bank and work to lift economic growth. Congratulations!” Of equal and further note to her NYC-borouvian pedigree, as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph observed about Ms. Yellen: "No Fed chief in history has been better qualified. She is a glaring contrast to Alan Greenspan, a political speech writer for Richard Nixon, who never earned a real PhD (it was honorary) or penned an economic paper of depth. "She has pedigree. Her husband is Nobel laureate George Akerlof, the scourge of efficient markets theory. She co-authored "Market for Lemons", the paper that won the prize. "Currently vice-chairman of the Fed, she was a junior governor from 1994 to 1997 under Greenspan, and then president of the San Francisco Fed from 2004 to 2010. She was head of Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1997 to 1999, when she handled the Asian crisis. You could hardly find a safer pair of hands. "Note that she confronted Greenspan head-on in 1996, pushing for pre-emptive rate rises to choke inflation and wean the economy of cheap credit. She was entirely right to do so. That was the moment when the Fed began to make a series of fatal errors, becoming addicted to ever lower real interest rates. Nobody called her a dove then. "She was on the other side a decade later during those crucial months before the subprime housing crash, quick to sense the danger of a chain reaction through the shadow banking system. Ben Bernanke and the FOMC majority scoffed at worries that the subprime debacle was the tip of an iceberg." ..."The Fed will be looser for longer. The FOMC will continue to print money until the US economy creates enough jobs to reignite wage pressures and inflation, regardless of asset bubbles, or collateral damage along the way." Read Evan-Pritchard's comments in full here And as Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman observed, it would be spite not to appoint Janet Yellen. "First, he says President Obama must now pick Janet Yellen — in his opinion, she is simply the best candidate: "... it’s really, really hard to see how Obama can justify not picking Janet Yellen at this point. Nobody else is as qualified; any other choice would look like spite." Here Read more:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Down to Basics: Alexi Murdoch 'All My Days'

Alexi Murdoch performs 'All My Days.' Studio Q. Monday reflections.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Passing of General Giap: Vietnamerica - "Omnipotent gods have burned their hands"

Soundtrack to reflections on the Passing of General Giap: The Stranglers, "Vietnamerica" 1980

General Vo Nguyen Giap, while not as iconic as Ho Chi Minh, was a familiar figure to advocates both for and against the United States' long intervention in Viet Nam. A relentless and charismatic North Vietnamese general whose campaigns drove both France and the United States out of Vietnam, he died on Friday in Hanoi. He was believed to be 102. 

 As Joseph Gregory reported in the New York Times:"The death was reported by several Vietnamese news organizations, including the respected Tuoi Tre Online, which said he had died in an army hospital. "General Giap was among the last survivors of a generation of Communist revolutionaries who in the decades after World War II freed Vietnam of colonial rule and fought a superpower to a stalemate. In his later years, he was a living reminder of a war that was mostly old history to the Vietnamese, many of whom were born after it had ended. "But he had not faded away. He was regarded as an elder statesman whose hard-line views had softened with the cessation of the war that unified Vietnam. He supported economic reform and closer relations with the United States while publicly warning of the spread of Chinese influence and the environmental costs of industrialization. 

 "To his American adversaries, however, from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, he was perhaps second only to his mentor, Ho Chi Minh, as the face of a tenacious, implacable enemy. And to historians, his willingness to sustain staggering losses against superior American firepower was a large reason the war dragged on as long as it did, costing more than 2.5 million lives — 58,000 of them American — sapping the United States Treasury and Washington’s political will to fight, and bitterly dividing the country in an argument about America’s role in the world that still echoes today.

 "A teacher and journalist with no formal military training, Vo Nguyen Giap (pronounced vo nwin ZHAP) joined a ragtag Communist insurgency in the 1940s and built it into a highly disciplined force that ended an empire and united a nation. "

 Mr. Gregory's complete article in the NY Times  appears here 

As Mr. Giap told the journalist Stanley Karnow in 1990, “We wanted to show the Americans that we were not exhausted, that we could attack their arsenals, communications, elite units, even their headquarters, the brains behind the war.” 

 He added, “We wanted to project the war into the homes of America’s families, because we knew that most of them had nothing against us.”

 DITHOB: General Giap's willingness to sacrifice countless lives, his own people and his adversaries -- reportedly 2.5 million Vietnamese and 58,000 Americans died in the conflict -- in pursuit of independence for his country, suggested a cultural and political divide that it would be difficult for a developed, democratic nation to sustain. But still, we seem to try.

 As the U.S. debates the value, meaning, and obligations of our continuing interventions around the world, we can only reflect upon the impact of what at the time appeared to be a watershed conflict in American history upon General Giap's nation and ours. Where it's gone, what it has meant for Viet Nam and the U.S. and what lessons, if any, if ever are to be learned, particularly as we approach the 40th anniversary of the end of this conflict. Saigon fell on April 30, 1975. 

And just as today the U.S. weighs a total withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, as reported in the NY Times. 

--Anthony Napoli

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Squeeze- 'Behind the Chalet': Pulling Mussels (from a shell)

Great song from Squeeze's "Argy Bargy" what a band. Argy Bargy: ar·gy-bar·gy (ärg-bärg) n. pl. ar·gy-bar·gies Chiefly British Slang A lively or disputatious discussion. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [Scots, reduplication of argie, argument, from argue.]

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