Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Coffee from the Heart

At Gran Caffe Gambrinus in Napoli, Italy, many customers enjoy their coffee with some sugar, but for some it is even sweeter when they add a caffe sospeso to their order-- a suspended coffee-- which the bartender saves and offers to another customer who is in need. Gaia Pianginini writes about this warm and charming custom in today's NY Times.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Modest Proposal: A Real “Vision Zero” for New York City in 2015

It would take an enormous amount of restraint, introspection and, yes, “vision” on the part of all parties, but the people and the government of New York City should establish a goal of not only the reduction to “zero” of the deaths of unarmed African American men at the hands of police, but also the reduction to “zero” of the shootings of African American children and adults in New York City as a result of illegal gun violence, armed hold ups, drive-by shootings, shootings at baby showers, etc.   It may seem an unrealistic proposal, but perhaps establishing a goal of zero in both realms --  among the police and the community --  would be an effective way to  begin to reduce killings of the innocent in our city.


And this isn’t simply an issue of “someone else’s problem.”  Maybe everyone needs to take responsibility for the elimination of violence in NYC. We all recognize it’s a tense, expensive and extremely fast-paced town to live in. Folks are under a lot of stress. So, it’s not only out-and-out crime or police violence, but road rage, discourtesy and rudeness in public places and on our increasingly crowded public transportation,  and generalized hostility and a tendency of folks to unleash their anger at the first opportunity and often least provocation. Unrealistic? Yes, but we have to begin somewhere.


As John Lennon (himself, of course, a victim of gun violence perpetrated by a white male) sang, “War is Over, If You Want It” – so is violence in New York City.

--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Sunday, December 14, 2014

David Lynch: The Unifying Field

Drawings, paintings, multimedia illustrations and early films reflecting the work of director David Lynch when he was a student at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts and lived in the city of brotherly love as a young artist, the city that served as the basis for his explosive, breakthrough film "Eraserhead"
The exhibit closes January 11, 2015 at PAFA
--Tony Napoli 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reasons to Be Cheerful: Seven Global Trends to Be Very, Very Thankful For

Washington Post wonkblog reports on seven global trends-- from child mortality to poverty to war-- that show that despite humanity's "issues" we are, as the dominant species of the Anthropocene slowly learning our lessons on a global level.

There's always hope have a little faith

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Isaac Asimov's Lost Essay on Creativity

A lost essay by the author and visionary Isaac Asimov was recently discovered by Arthur Obermayer, a scientist- friend of the author and was published in MIT's Technology Review. The article, which considers "How do people get ideas" shows Dr. Asimov's remarkable versatility both as a writer of non-fiction on every imaginable topic as well as of course his now classic science fiction novels and stories. Having grown up in the same neighborhood, Windsor Terrace, as Dr. Asimov, a generation or two later, I was fascinated by his prolific work and his breadth of interests and knowledge, and of course at his creative ability to imagine the future. As a kid in elementary school, I wrote him a letter, a fan letter, and received a neatly typed post card in return from the Great Man, no doubt typed on the same typewriter that he used to publish one of his books, stories, or essays.. "Once, many years ago, I lived in your neighborhood..there is no secret to writing and getting published, just keep writing." Amen.

For a look at Dr. Asimov's recent article, visit MIT Technology Review here
Isaac Asimov (illustration - MIT Technology Review)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"The Imitation Game": a graphic biography

The Imitation Game, the upcoming film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, with early Academy Award chatter, promises to make its subject, mathematician and computing visionary Alan Turing, if not a household name, then a deservedly more well known and major figure in the origins and development of modern computing. His role in the creation of electronic code breaking devices that neutralized the German Enigma machines which played a critical role in the Allies victory will help shed an heroic and even more complex light on this fascinating and still somewhat obscure figure. Andrew Hodges' scientific biography Alan Turing: The Enigma remains the gold standard, a deep and comprehensive read.

Recently, however, Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis have published online at a fascinating graphic biography , also called The Imitation Game, that provides a wonderful overview of Turing's life, visually engaging and technically expansive in exposing some of the math, science and ideas that makes the scientist's story so engrossing. Not available in print just yet but you can read it online here

Another generous and worthy telling of a major figure and contributor to the contemporary world whose personal life and orientation - and whose self awareness, well ahead of his time -- unfortunately led to his destruction.
 -Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Boardwalk Empire and Louis Malle's Atlantic City

As Boardwalk Empire rolls towards its conclusion, and wanting to add further depth and dimension before it's gone, you may want to revisit - or catch for the first time- Louis Malle's Atlantic City. A French -Canadian production with a largely Canadian cast, except for Burt Lancaster as an aged gangster who remembers the heyday of AC, and Susan Sarandon as a young woman trying to carve out a living in the new gambling and casino structure that began to rise in the 1980s. Of course the heyday that Lancaster's character Lou recalls reflect the days of Boardwalk Empire- Bugsy Siegal, Lucky Luciano, even Nucky Johnson, (who was the real Tammany-like figure that Nucky Thompson is based on who wielded power in the resort's earlier days) make cameo appearances inasmuch as they are referenced in John Guare's excellent script. 

Gangsters old style and new tangle with hippie drug dealers and the growing casino culture with a backdrop of a romantic collision between Lancaster's character  in one of his final films and Sarandon in one of her early breakout roles.The background to this tale shows the destruction of the old hotels when the vacation Mecca was out of fashion and crime ridden and the first corporate hotel casinos  - like Howard Hughes' Resorts International - first began to transform the town into the Vegas of the East. Of course now Atlantic City is undergoing another transition as the casinos close and its future is at best uncertain, a chapter that remains to be written. But if you want to enjoy a great coda to Boardwalk Empire, catch up with Louis Malle's Atlantic City. I caught it on Encore on Demand.
--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gilbert Sorrentino's Bay Ridge

Now that the wheels have all turned, the ratchets clicked and the jewels spun on and on into my next decade, I see that despite the fleeting sands through the hour glass there is always time for reflection and looking backward.

In this case, I came across a short story, "The Spindizzy Papers" that I had written in a continuing Ed class at the New School for Social Research ( now just the more branded and Californic sounding  "The New School"). Of course what made the class so memorable was that it had the very good fortune to be taught by novelist Gilbert Sorrentino who also in his long career as a writer and teacher of writing also worked at Stanford University among other ivory towers.

Sorrentino was very encouraging and generous in his praise of my manuscript but I am writing here not of my own personal forays down literary cul de sacs, but instead to share an article I found about the author's Brooklyn roots generally and the grist and source material that Brooklyn and Bay Ridge specifically provided in his writing. Other than a blissful summer journalism class as a high school student at Xaverian (although Bishop Ford remains my alma mater) I cede Bay Ridge to my sister and her family for whom many of these locations will reflect pride of place and familiar stomping grounds. I do remember the Bay Ridge of bars more than churches where many of my friends from Windsor Terrace and Park Slope played in bands in the 70s.
     Gilbert Sorrentino 1929-2006

For now, a short survey on the repossession of Gilbert Sorrentino as The Bard of Bay Ridge in recent publications:

A Guided Tour of Sorrentino's Brooklyn / 

An Electric Literature review of his Brooklyn oeuvre along with his childhood friend Hubert Selby, Jr., author of Last Exit to Brooklyn, a book, to put it mildly, that portrays a very pregentrified vision of the borough

Mr Sorrentino passed in 2006. His son Christopher, author of Trance and Sound on Sound, among other works, lives in NYC.

As always, for all writers everywhere, Speak, Memory!

--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Monday, September 8, 2014

"The First Quality of a Warrior": ISIS - Politics or Battle Porn?

Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker: "It’s hard to watch the video of Steven Sotloff’s last moments and not conclude something similar: the ostensible objective of securing an Islamic state is nowhere near as important as killing people. For the guys who signed up for ISIS—including, especially, the masked man with the English accent who wielded the knife—killing is the real point of being there. Last month, when ISIS forces overran a Syrian Army base in the city of Raqqa, they beheaded dozens of soldiers and displayed their trophies on bloody spikes. “Here are heads that have ripened, that were ready for the plucking,” an ISIS fighter said in narration. Two soldiers were crucified. This sounds less like a battle than like some kind of macabre party.

In a lesser-known aphorism from Clausewitz, he says, “Courage, above all things, is the first quality of a warrior.” The executioner in the Sotloff video, as in the video that captured the beheading of the journalist James Foley, is wearing a mask. Is it the mark of a warrior? Or is it the mark of a murderer who knows, deep in his soul, that he should be ashamed?"

Full article here

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A 'Plutocrat' speaks out against Income Inequality

Nick Hannauer writing in Politico: "No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when."

The writer, an investment capitalist, was banned at TED talks conference for speaking out on why " the rich don't create jobs. "

Monday, August 18, 2014

Kareem Abdul Jabbar: Race + Class Inequality = Apocalypse Now

Writing in Time magazine, columnist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes: "This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor. Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal. Ironically, this misperception is true even among the poor... And that’s how the status quo wants it..."

As Mr. Abdul-Jabbar indicates, Racism isn't dead, despite the milestone of the election of America's first African-American President. But the issue of racial discrimination and conflict is only heightened by the economics of racism. As Mr. Abdul-Jabbar points out, black on white racism does not substantially impact the economic well being of white Americans, but white on black racism certainly does.

The shooting of Michael Brown and other recent shootings of the other unarmed young black men by police should not be a viewed as an ugly news item to be shrugged off and forgotten til the next time. The chaos in Ferguson, Missouri is ugly, but represents the anger of one particular community forgotten, and generally represents the reminder that the USA in the 21st century has profound issues regarding racial and economic inequality that have yet to be addressed.

Full article here

Monday, July 28, 2014

On American Freedom and American Responsibility

What our tired nation still owes the world: Robert Kagan's recent provocative - and important- recent article in the New Republic on "Why Superpowers Don't Fet to Retire" and how the fight to protect   Freedom and democracy in other parts of the world at the same time are important to ensure and protect the continuation of democracy at home in the US. A must read at a time when even former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright acknowledges 'the world is a mess."
Article here:

Sigmar Polke at MoMA: Art, Anti-Art, Art Squared, Art for Dummies, and An Artists' Artist (Take your pick)

From Sigmar Polke's massive, sprawling retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, "Alibis: 1963- 2010"
Site here: 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seeking Higher Ground

James Fallows in The Atlantic, in attempting to assess the real effectiveness of the Iron Dome missile system, perhaps unwittingly reveals why Israel continues to target Hamas missile sites in Gaza: Iron Dome is nowhere near 100% effective. Or at least not more effective than Hamas' strategy of apparently using civilians and civilian locations as shields. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), as an al-Jazeera commentator reported, at least attempts to warn civilians and avoid targeting civilians, although there is no denial that many innocents have been killed, as have many Israeli innocents been killed by suicide bombings in the past. Still, if the combatants or their supporters are brutally honest with themselves, (is there any other kind of honesty?), in a conflict of this nature, moral high ground is a relative thing, and, a difficult hill to climb. But for the moment, there is no end in sight, despite Israel's initial acceptance of an Egyptian-brokered cease fire. Hamas, it seems would rather sacrifice the last civilian victim to achieve its political ends, and, since clearly Israel can't rely solely on the Iron Dome to protect its citizens, it now appears ready to continue to attack targets in Gaza until the rocket barrage into Israel ceases. Nevertheless, the non-combatant, and innocent civilians, will continue to be victims.

"When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

VV: Bob Marley and "The White Album": How a Legend Became - Posthumously- an Household Name

From Chris Kornelis in the Village Voice: 'Robinson believed he could sell a million copies of the album, but to do it he would have to repackage not just a collection of songs but Marley himself. "My vision of Bob from a marketing point of view," Robinson says, "was to sell him to the white world." '

Full article on the late Bob Marley and the impact of the LEGEND album here

Friday, July 4, 2014


Suite: Judy Blue Eyes CSN at Woodstock

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Inequality Isn't Inevitable

"We are not embracing a politics of envy if we are reversing a politics of greed":Economist  Joseph E. Stiglitz on how politics - and not the magical
Hand of the Market- shape current economic imbalances. And how politics and democracy will be required to change them. For the wealthy to compare tax increases to the rise of the Nazis suggests things have gone way off track in the USA. Social Responsibility and not just Noblesse Oblige are required. Read The Great Divide in the NYT

Monday, June 23, 2014

Alan Turing: June 23, 1914 - June 7, 1954

Alan Mathison TuringOBEFRS (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was a British mathematician, logiciancryptanalyst, philosopher, computer scientist, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner. He was highly influential in the development ofcomputer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with theTuring machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer. Turing is widely considered as the "Father of Theoretical Computer Science andArtificial Intelligence.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

When Drones Fall....

Over 400 drones have crashed since 2001, many internationally at scenes of various US l'aventurra, but also in the US, according to Federal military records

"Quantam" Leap of Number of Refugees Worldwide: NY Times

The NY Times reports "We are not facing an increasing trend, we are really facing a quantum leap,” in the number of refugees worldwide,  the head of the UN refugee agency told reporters in Geneva, noting that close to 11 million people were newly displaced in 2013. Half the world’s population of displaced people are children, he added, the highest level in a decade.  NY Times reports that the number of people displaced by violent conflict hit the highest level since World War II at the end of 2013, the head of the United Nations refugee agency, António Guterres, said in a report released on Friday, warning that “peace is dangerously in deficit.”

"Pushed up dramatically by the war in Syria, the total number of people displaced by violence reached more than 51 million at the end of 2013, according to the agency’s “Global Trends” report for the year. This included 33.3 million people who fled violence but remained in their own country and 16.7 million refugees who fled to neighboring countries, it said.

Full article:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Freeway to Mars

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk wants to put humans on Mars and bring them back home to Earth within 10 - 12 years - that's decades BEFORE NASA's own projections. High tech and transportation all fit into Musk's pursuit of interplanetary travel. Space is indeed The Place. Article here

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Income Inequality: The Topic for Our Time

On Monday, more than 10,000 MoveOn members across the country gathered online to watch Senator Elizabeth Warren and acclaimed economist Thomas Piketty discuss income inequality. 

If you missed it or want to watch it again, check out the replay here—along with Sen. Warren and Dr. Piketty's shout-out to MoveOn members and Sen. Warren's special message at the end to MoveOn members.

Dr Thomas Piketty and US Senator Elizabeth Warren 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Reverie: "Taking a Chance on Love"

Ethel Waters and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, "Taking a Chance on Love" from Cabin in the Sky.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Crooner's Delight: New from Bob Dylan - Full Moon and Empty Arms

From Spirits in the Night, a forthcoming album by Bob Dylan, a performance of a Frank Sinatra tune.

A nice article on Dylan, his love for the voice, music and moods of Frank and other giants of American popular music, and a little detective work on what seems to be our own musical giant's next forthcoming album, appears in UNCUT UK here

-Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Piketty Factor: "Capital in the 21st Century" - The right book for the "Right" Time?

Economist Thomas Piketty's book, "Capital in the 21st Century" is already causing a stir in media, political and economic circles for its analysis on the negative impact of extreme capital accumulation on growth. In essence, he posits that, for the many, inheritance will matter more, much more, than individual merit and hard work. That is, the increase in wealth in capital will prove inversely proportional to the increase in employment and related growth needed for the expansion of the overall economy, not only for the expansion of those at the very highest levels. The Paris School of Economics professor's book is dense, theoretical and scholarly, but references a great deal of data and research. It provides a more academic foundation to the more anecdotal and intuitive sense that, while things are proceeding very, Very, VERY, VERY well for some, for many others, things are not going well at all in the present, and the prospects for the future, especially for succeeding generations, either the young or those on fixed incomes or facing retirement, are not looking promising at all. Since the last decades of the 20th century, and into the 21st, the hegemony of the Right-based ideology of an anti-government free market corporate society, as we move into this era of advanced capitalism, denied the importance of equality and true opportunity for all segments of society in favor of a trickle down theory. Following the 2008 economic collapse, despite the marginal increases in financial regulation, the resurgent stock market was accompanied by sluggish employment. Where economic growth occurred, it was for those who already held a lot of wealth. For those who did not hold capital, specifically for salaried employees and wage workers, growth has languished, or worse.

Whether he is "on the money" or not, a fresh view is needed and that may be what "Capital in the 21st Century" can provide. The book, and much of the writing surrounding the debate of his book and ideas, will no doubt become required reading in New York's City Hall, where Mayor Bill deBlasio has made the issue of inequality a central issue in his recent election campaign and, hopefully, his administration. It also needs to be discussed in the White House where President Obama has recently cited the issue as well.
--Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

What follows is Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn's Piketty Primer:

Thomas Piketty's Book "Capital in the 21st Century" (Harvard University Press) - excerpt here
Excerpt of the excerpt: "In a way, we are in the same position at the beginning of the twenty-first century as our forebears were in the early nineteenth century: we are witnessing impressive changes in economies around the world, and it is very difficult to know how extensive they will turn out to be or what the global distribution of wealth, both within and between countries, will look like several decades from now. The economists of the nineteenth century deserve immense credit for placing the distributional question at the heart of economic analysis and for seeking to study long-term trends. Their answers were not always satisfactory, but at least they were asking the right questions. There is no fundamental reason why we should believe that growth is automatically balanced. It is long since past the time when we should have put the question of inequality back at the center of economic analysis and begun asking questions first raised in the nineteenth century. For far too long, economists have neglected the distribution of wealth, partly because of [economist] Kuznets’s optimistic conclusions [about the inevitable historical decline of inequality, but which was not based on empirical research] and partly because of the profession’s undue enthusiasm for simplistic mathematical models based on so-called representative agents. If the question of inequality is again to become central, we must begin by gathering as extensive as possible a set of historical data for the purpose of understanding past and present trends. For it is by patiently establishing facts and patterns and then comparing different countries that we can hope to identify the mechanisms at work and gain a clearer idea of the future."

Stephen Erlanger in the NY Times: Taking on Adam Smith (and Karl Marx) here
Excerpt: "The last part of the book presents Mr. Piketty’s policy ideas. He favors a progressive global tax on real wealth (minus debt), with the proceeds not handed to inefficient governments but redistributed to those with less capital. “We just want a way to share the tax burden that is fair and practical,” he said.

"Net wealth is a better indicator of ability to pay than income alone, he said. “All I’m proposing is to reduce the property tax on half or three-quarters of the population who have very little wealth,” he said."

John Cassidy in the The New Yorker Inequality by the Numbers: Thomas Piketty's Inequality Story in Six Charts here

John Cassidy in the New Yorker: Is Surging Inequality Endemic to Capitalism? here

Moyers and Company - Perspectives on Piketty here
National Review: Technology will save us. Dean Baker: Provides valuable insights. American Prospect: deTocqueville 2.0. More.

Pascal-Emanuel Gobry in Forbes: The Conservative Case for Thomas Piketty here
Excerpt: "But on his proposals on inequality, I think this quote aptly sums up his project–which happens to be one I share: ”my point is not at all to destroy wealth. My point is to increase wealth mobility and to increase access to wealth.”

Time Magazine on Why Thomas Piketty is Freaking Out the Super-Wealthy here
Excerpt here:

"Piketty’s 15 years of painstaking data collection—he poured over centuries worth of tax records in places like France, the U.S., Germany, Japan and the U.K—provides clear proof that in lieu of major events like World Wars or government interventions like the New Deal, the rich take a greater and greater share of the world’s economic pie. That’s because the gains on capital (meaning, investments) outpace those on GDP. Result: people with lots of investments take a bigger chunk of the world’s wealth, relative to everyone else, with every passing year. The only time that really changes is when the rich lose a bundle (as they often do in times of global conflict) or growth gets jump started via rebuilding (as it sometimes does after wars).
This is particularly true in times of slow growth like what we’ve seen over the last few years. I’ve written any number of columns and blogs about how quantitative easing has buoyed the stock market, but not really provided the kind of kick that we needed to boost wage growth in the real economy, because it mostly benefits people who hold stocks–that’s the wealthiest 25 % of us. Meanwhile, consumption and wage growth remain stagnant. And as Piketty’s book makes so uncomfortably clear, it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. No wonder I saw an advertisement for a storage company on the subway the other day that read, “The French aristocracy didn’t see it coming, either.”

"That’s one of Piketty’s biggest messages–inequality will slowly but surely undermine the population’s faith in the system. He doesn’t believe, as Marx did, that capitalism would simply burn itself out over time. In fact, he says that the more perfect and advanced markets become (at least, in economic terms), the better they work and the more fully they serve the rich. But he does believe that rising inequality leads to a less perfect union, and a likelihood of major social unrest that mirrors the sort that his native France went through in the late 1700s. Indeed, the subsequent detailed collection of wealth data in the form of elaborate income and tax records made France a particularly rich data collection ground for his book. (Bureaucracy is good for something!)

"My feeling about this book is similar to that of New York Times’ columnist Paul Krugman. It’s going to be remembered as the economic tome of our era. Basically, Piketty has finally put to death, with data, the fallacies of trickle down economics and the Laffer curve, as well as the increasingly fantastical notion that we can all just bootstrap our way to the Forbes 400 list. It’s telling and important that Piketty credits his work to the fact that he didn’t forge his economic career in the States, as so many top thinkers do, because he was put off by the profession’s obsession with unrealistic mathematical models, which blossomed in the 1980s to the exclusion of almost all other ideas and disciplines, and the false ideologies that they were used to justify. “The truth is that economics should ever have sought to divorce itself from the other social sciences and can only advance in conjunction with them,” he argues.
Indeed, had more top economists followed the lead of other social scientists and ditched their black box models in favor of spending time in the field—meaning on Main Street, where trickle down theory hasn’t ever really worked—they might have come to the same conclusions that Piketty has. We can only hope that the politicians crafting today’s economic programs will take this book to heart>"

Piketty: "Income Equality "Completely Useless" here
Excerpt: "If you'd like to live in Downton Abbey, the good news is that our economy has entered a second Gilded Age of opulence and elegance.

The bad news is that you'll likely end up among the vast majority stuck sweating in the kitchen.

In a new book, Thomas Piketty, the French economist who helped popularize the notion of a privileged 1 percent, sounds a grim warning: The U.S. economy has begun to decay into the aristocratic Europe of the 19th century. Hard work will matter less, inherited wealth more. The fortunes of the few will unsettle the foundations of democracy.

The research Piketty showcases in his book, "Capital in the 21st Century," has set the economics field ablaze. Supporters cite his work as proof that the wealth gap must be narrowed. Critics dismiss him as a left-wing ideologue."

Paul Krugman in the NY Times on "The Piketty Panic" -- unable to refute, the right resorts to name calling. Column here
Excerpt: "The really striking thing about the debate so far is that the right seems unable to mount any kind of substantive counterattack to Mr. Piketty’s thesis. Instead, the response has been all about name-calling — in particular, claims that Mr. Piketty is a Marxist, and so is anyone who considers inequality of income and wealth an important issue."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Love for Sale: John Tuturro's Fading Gigalo

John Tuturro's Fading Gigalo, somewhat ill-named but surprisingly rich in nuance for what sounded like a run of the mill sex farce.. Woody Allen had a very substantial if familiar role and the presence of the satmars at the center of a love story was surprising and interesting in a warm improbable tale. Sharon Stone and Sofia Vegaris were the names necessary to propel that aspect of the gigalo subplot but it was Vanessa Paradis who was the essential and conflicted love interest and Liev Shreiber as a Satmar shomrim who , along with a subdued but very affecting Tuturro, drove the tale with their touching and satisfying performances. Somehow it all worked throughout. 
 A grown up New York (and Brooklyn) indie fairy tale that is well worth seeing.

--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Anti-Semitism Amidst the Chaos in Ukraine

A flier distributed outside of a synagogue in East Ukraine ordered Jews to register and provide proof of property ownership; local officials deny responsibility.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ai Weiwei: According to What? Comes to Brooklyn Museum

Springtime at the Brooklyn Museum is an event in itself with the opening of the first major New York area retrospective if the work of artist Ai Weiwei. Major retrospectives have been shown at the Tate Modern in the UK, at Corcoran in D.C. In the US, and at Mori Art Museum In Tokyo and now he's in NYC. A great exhibition including the major rebar work which a curator indicated is expanded from the piece shown in DC. Also S.A.C.R.E.D., dioramas recounting the artist's arrest and incarceration, which appeared in the VeniceBiennial. 

The museum is the focal point of an amazing amount of first amendment energy as well with Witness: Art and CivilRights  in the Sixties, another powerful collection of art and photos highlighting the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Rounding out this energetic season is "Submerged Motherlands" by artist Swoon (Caledonia Dance Curry) addressing climate change. Swoon engages with climate change in the installation as a response to the catastrophic Hurricane Sandy that struck the Atlantic Coast in 2012, and Doggerland, a landmass that once connected Great Britain and Europe and that was destroyed by a tsunami 8,000 years ago.A towering tree and post apocalyptic sea craft dominate this fascinating exhibit.

A trio of "must see" exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum.
--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Reconstructing the Universe": Italian Futurism's Paradoxes and New Ideas

"Boxes of love is preserved" is a collection of short stories by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti , originally published in 1927 by the "Art publishing Faun" of Rome . The book, with cover and friezes by Carlo Petrucci and illustrations by Ivo Pannaggi . It's cover seems to lead to the 
Commercial styling and ironies of pop art
especially by Andy Warhol later in the 20th century.
‘Before the Parachute Opens (Prima che si apra il paracadute)’, by Tullio Crali

Italian Futurism: 1909-1944 Reconstructing the Universe at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum gives an exhaustive multimedia look at the roots, development and context of this uniquely creative - and politically unsettled- art movement of early 20th century Italy. Founded by F.T. Marinetti and resulting from the meeting of the Italian avant garde with theFrench  cubists, the movement theorized, proselytized, fabricated, and generally explored the cultural and existential possibilities of the new century, declaring independence from the past and -doldier becoming intertwined with Mussolini and the Fascist movement. 
As an example of the Futurist fascination with action  and danger, Marinetti's "Zang Tumb Tumb" a book recalling the October 1912 battle of Adrianopolis (Turkey) in which he participated as a Futurist-soldier uses "words in freedom" to create a sort of typographic tone poem that exhibits the Futurist  love  of "vitalistic dynamism"--- and war. 

The exhibit explores the ideas, ideology and paradoxes of the movement that formerly ended with the death of its founder,Marinetti, in 1944.  An interesting, richly detailed and in-depth exhibit. Through September 1.

--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Flatbush Spring: Snow Fields and Japanese Cherry Tree Buds

Photos from Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"They Quit Before They Started Their Search" - Wicked Gravity by the Jim Carroll Band

My high school alma mater, Bishop Ford, Brooklyn, NY is closing. A sigh and a deep breath and the news prompts memory and a plunge back into the music of the Jim Carroll Band. Carroll, in his music, poetry, and novel "The Basketball Diaries" explored the bohemia outside of his white ethnic Catholic upbringing, a constant struggle for alternative, literary and artistic Catholic youth. Carroll's fame was more fleeting but his cultural collisions still have resonance, and, fortunately for him, he managed to survive his rebellion and brushes with art and vision.

RIP Bishop Ford HS 2014. (Carroll died in 2009)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Coda to the Coda: The Federal Government and The Ranchers

Alright then:

UPDATE: Sheriff Announces Bureau of Land Management Will Cease Operation against rancher Clive Bundy over grazing land dispute. 

Checkout the tone of this item from
Info Wars on the conflict. Despite the withdrawal of federal authorities this conflict is likely  over yet.

Coda: Sacred and Profane: Religious freedom and the Waco Disaster

Reflections on reading James Tabor's  and Eugene Gallagher's Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America asks the question why Waco became demonized as a later version of Jonestown when the authors present evidence, including testimony of surviving and former members, that suggests there was no overt "brainwashing" or coercion. The authors further discuss the demonization and intolerance in American society and media toward non-traditional religious groups, pointing out that America itself was colonized by many off shoot-groups seeking religious freedom.

However the authors striving for its own objective and evidentiary review takes its own profound leap of faith when they observe that the focus on the group's possession of an extensive firearms cache is inextricably -- and unfairly to the authors- linked to its unorthodox beliefs. While suspicion of illegal activities may say something about the perpetrators, they write, it should not cast an unfavorable light on the entire group or their beliefs. Controversy surrounds whether some of the weapons held were illegally altered. The cult label also is held to scrutiny as an unfair characterization. 

There are many, many religious groups that function outside of the mainstream. In NYC alone small churches quasi-or un-affiliated abound. There are many Orthodox Jewish groups that exist completely separate from - yet interact with - their surrounding community. I think the isolation of American millennial groups, and their rejection of established laws and societal values, will continue to exist. However I think it will always remain the possession of weapons which bring the groups into direct conflict - from the view point of a power relationship -- with the Secular authorities and will be the key factor and challenge that leads government forces to neutralize and eliminate what is viewed as an armed threat to its authority. 

Nevertheless as Malcolm Gladwell observed in his recent New Yorker essay, and as James Tabor showed as he attempted to work with the Davidian Group and the federal authorities in resolving  the standoff at the time, it is essential for the government to have a more comprehensive and objective view and understanding of the religious and even anti-government groups before acting. Clearly as we see in the current issue over grazing rights in Nevada cults are not always limited to religion and must be understood in their extremism or unorthodoxy before blood - especially that of innocents - is shed.

--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Friday, April 4, 2014

Remembering Uncle Rocco

A kind and generous heart and loving father and grandfather. Retired FDNY and WW2 US Navy veteran. Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sacred and Profane: Violence, Vision and the Waco Disaster

More than 2 decades after the stand off at the Waco Branch Davidian compound which led to what appears to have been the avoidable deaths of 74 including 25 children, it remains a subject that continues to resurface as secular mainstream American society continues to attempt to come to terms - or not- with outlying religious groups. In this week's New Yorker Malcolm Gladwell looks at the (mis-) understandings on the part of US federal ATF and FBI officials that contributed to the failure of negotiations to end the standoff and resulted in further violence and death.

Mr Gladwell's article here 

More Details from the James Tabor blog on religion and religious freedom here

--Anthony Napoli

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When Gravity Fails: Inflation and the Birth of the Universe

Alan Guth was one of the first physicists to hypothesize the existence of inflation, which explains how the universe expanded so uniformly and so quickly in the instant after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. Now the evidence may be in.

Front page NY Times story here

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Symbol and Substance: The Semiotics of Governing in NYC

It seems both the City at large, the administration and the media are in a state of flux as the BdB mayoralty moves from the transition to the Real Thing.The gaseous promissory emanations of the end of campaign/early post inaugural moments rise and fall, seeking to move to the solid state and avoid bloviating into a noxious and bilious cloud of disappointment. But that is not unique; it is true of any new administration, at any level and in any place in American politics.

Here in NYC, that scene on the steps of city hall was amusing and a little lame all around -- the reporters who are dogging him squeezing in for a mayoral selfie.. clearly Bloomberg was so inaccessible because of his personal wealth and the powerful political and media minions around to shield him .. Giuliani had his prosecutor's personality and "i dont care/you are the idiot" arrogance..

The fact is BdB "don't got" either of those approaches and he is just going to have to weather these early storms and battles of his administration until hopefully for him  a solid more effective "mayoral" style emerges in his dealing with and image in the media..of course if he has legislative wins and policy successes then the media will know that his admin's seeming "life in a blender" alternately affable/chaotic style is the BdB brand for his way of getting things done. Hopefully that is not overly optimistic.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The 2014 Armory Show: Visual Feasts and Cultural Landscapes

Under Heaven 20121020, Xu Zhen, 2012. FOCUS: China

Flowers, Andy Warhol, 1970. Sims Reed Gallery

Capri Batteries Joseph Beuys 1985 Galerie Thomas

The Armory Show, New York’s leading fair for contemporary and modern art, hosting over 200 leading galleries from 29 countries, opens today. Despite the frigid March temperatures, the Armory Show, which for the first time this year the fair coincides with the opening of the Whitney Biennial, once again serves as an exciting visual and cultural "Spring" and further establishes March in New York as a must-see moment in its annual arts calendar and a cornerstone of the American art market. For the 2014 edition The Armory Show has devoted Armory Focus, the specially curated section of Pier 94 to the contemporary cultural landscape in China, presenting an exciting selection of galleries from the Mainland and Hong Kong. The fair will also launch the inaugural edition of Armory Presents, dedicated to dual and single artist presentations exhibited by galleries under ten years old. The Armory Show–Modern has established a formal Selection Committee of leading dealers and will present its first ever curated exhibition, featuring seminal drawings by female artists of the twentieth century.

Armory Focus: China, the fair’s specially curated section will explore artists working in Chinese contemporary art today. Curated by Philip Tinari, it showcases a selection of 17 established and emerging galleries, providing access to a wide array of contemporary practice in China. Xu Zhen, whose Under Heaven is pictured above, is one such artist worknig in a variety of media nd disciplines, from installation, photography, video to performance and painting. More here and here and here The Armory Focus: China is a fine example of The Armory Show's exploration of new areas, perspectives, sensibilities and forms of contemporary art today.

New York City is Art. Art is New York City. And The Armory Show is New York's annual home to visual feasts and international cultural landscapes of the contemporary art scene and the world of modern art collectors and exhibitors.

For information on tickets, visit The Armory Show website here

Top of the World

Time Magazine's dramatic cover photo of the top of the new 1 World Trade Center/td>

Saturday, March 1, 2014

"The Less I Say About It The Better"

St Vincent and David Byrne perform This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) live 2013
Two very courageous artists at work

Banks at HRA: The deBlasio Administration Selects its Leadership
Like Johnny Caspar the mob boss says in millers crossing "running things, kid, it ain't easy"... Managing and leading is the challenge it will be interesting to see how well Steve Banks does at HR A or if he would have better served on the outside keeping the city's policy In Line and helping to shape it.. One can only hope this is a sincere move, an experiment, on the administration's part and not a cynical effort to coopt potential critics
--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

The "Mirror Man": Art Spiegelman Retrospective

The Jewish Museum's presentation of Co-Mix: An Art Spiegelman Retrospective presents an exceptionally detailed summary of the life and work to date of the artist best known for his groundbreaking graphic novel, Maus.
The exhibit presents work from his high school days through the present with exhaustive coverage of Maus and remarkable ephemera including the typescript letter used by the Nazi's to document the arrest and deportation of his parents to Auschwitz as well as a stuffed mouse that served as a reference tool for the author. 
From The New Yorker: Maurice Sendak and Art Spiegelman discuss literature and childhood.

The exhibit is decidedly small scale, the largest works are those that are the basis for his famous New Yorker covers. If you have followed Mr Spiegelman's work much of this will already be familiar. But the opportunity to observe many of the original sketches and finished drawings, to admire his creativity and the vision that  brought about the Pulitzer Prize winning Maus, and the personal history behind it all, is something not to be missed.
Through March 23.
--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart ofBrooklyn 

My Roman Ruminations: "The Persian Drunkard Follows Me"

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ai WeiWei Art Destroyed by Protester at Miami Museum

Part of a work by artist Ai Weiwei was destroyed at the Perez Museum in Miami  by a Miami-based artist as a protest against what was termed the lack of representation of local artists in Miami Museums. Ai Weiwei's work has itself featured the repurposing and sometimes destruction of Chinese antiquities.
Full story here

"Colored Vases" by Ai Weiwei

Monday, February 17, 2014

Whistle blowing, Big Data and the Left

Slavoj Zizek on Snowden, Julian Assange, the N. S.A., cloud computing, the Leftist imagination and whistle blowing link here from The Guardian

Steve Fuller on Zizek on Snowden, the N. S.A., cloud computing, the Leftist imagination, and SZ's "fetishism of BIg Data" link here

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

'Thistle and the Drone': US Dials Down Dronefare to Explore Peace Talks with Taliban

In Akbar Ahmed's 2013 volume The Thistle and the Drone, the American University scholar explores the deep cultural divides that exist between traditional tribal peoples throughout the world, but especially in Muslim inhabited regions, and the globalized technocratic cultures that are impacting the world of traditional tribal peoples - the thorny thistle of the title. 
Perhaps evincing access to  Prof. Amed's interesting book, subtitled 'How. America's War on Terror became a Global War on Tribal Islam',  the US military has dialed back drone attacks as the Pakistani government attempts to wage peace with the Taliban, story here

More on Dr Ahmed's book and work here's

Monday, February 3, 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

The "Dalton" Gang vs. C.S.A.

DITHOB has discussed the troubling, visionary statement of what might have been had the Confederate States of America succeded and defeated the United States of America in the Civil War:
Kevin Wilmott's brilliant "alternative history"and faux documentary film, produced by Spike Lee, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America.

In the NY Times, an article about the showing of the film by the Dalton School which resulted in confusion and apologies to Parents in what clearly is a misunderstanding of the tone and scope of the film. Far from a satire, CSA looks at race in America in unflinching and painful terms, through the lens of alternative history, and compels viewers to consider how far we have come and how far we have to go in coming to mutual understanding and acceptance of a multicultural Ameruca. That the Dalton incident would occur the same week that business media discusses the release of the next Cheerios commercial during the Super Bowl, which features a biracial cast, and on the same day the NYT reports on Mayor deBlasio's intent to settle stop and frisk cases and address the policy, only serves to underscore Mr Wilmott's epigraph to CSA: he quotes George Bernard Shaw -"if you are going to tell people the truth, better make them laugh. Otherwise they will kill you."
--Anthony Napoli, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Grimm and Grimmer: "Explosio, Ergo Sum"

DC police investigating possible charges against Rep. Grimm for threatening bodily harm on federal property

Thinking About the Reunion Up There

In memory of my dad and Uncle Joe. "Fugue for Tinhorns" aka "Horse Right Here" from Guys and Dolls 1955. Up there: Sisters and Brothers all together again.
-Anthony Napoli, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Unrest in the Ukraine

Eastern Orthodox clergy separate anti-government protestors from government forces in Kiev in Ukraine. AP's Sergei Grit's remarkable photo, positively medieval in its imagery, looks like it could be an outtake from Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev ( Only the bloody aftermath, as police violently broke up what was described as a peaceful
Protest, showed that this was Real Life, not Art. Story in the NY Times which published this front page photo on the protest and aftermath here

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