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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Beware of the "Devil Baby" on the Streets of New York

A promo for a forthcoming film called "Devil's Due" opening on January 17 featured a twisted and hilarious stunt by design and effects firm Thinkmodo: a robotic demon baby in a baby stroller, operated long distance, rolling around the streets of Manhattan, scaring the bajeebers out of passers by. It's freaky and frankly hilarious. Article here

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Getting to Know You: Mayor deBlasio Takes the Stage

I cannot speak for the pizza-with-fork thing, but Mayor deBlasio's humor, demonstrated at press conferences and  announcements, has proven disarming after 12 years of the stern no nonsense style of his predecessor who seemed uncomfortable with humor. Mayor BdB's self deprecating approach laced with simple humor leaning toward the somewhat silly and obvious is something I think many Dads do indeed relate to as a means of interacting and relating with our kids as they move into junior high and high school years. I think it is a means of establishing a normative relationship with children more commonly used by Dads rather than Moms as the kids enter the rebellious adolescent years. Since I think it's goal is to appear somewhat non-threatening and a way to maintain communications and a less authoritarian stance with kids when it is not necessary to be the stern authoritarian dad laying down the socializing law, it seems an intuitively logical approach for the Mayor to take as he explores various personae which he can express in governing. Whether the corny jokes, off the cuff and shamelessly delivered will last  is probably not in doubt, it is woven into the warp and woof  of who he is. As for the pizza with silverware thing, it does seem more of an affect that may disappear. I cannot believe that he would go into Smiling Pizza on 9th and 7th and gobble a slice with the ubiquitous flimsy NYC pizzeria knife and fork. Maybe dressed for work as he was at Goodfellas on Staten Island he didn't want to make a mess. But as Errol Louis said on NY1 last night, for a guy who is supposed to be NYC's new populist mayor, "What the hell was that ?"

Michael Howard Saul in the WSJ discusses the cringeworthy Dad style of humor with deBlasio aides and NYC comedians here

-Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bridge Over Troubled Water: Maddow's Alternate Theory of the Christie Bridgegate

Rachel Maddow brilliantly posits an extremely convincing alternate theory of why a NY Gov. Christie staffer caused traffic chaos in Fort Lee, NJ last September. It was a political issue but one that had nothing to do with Ft. Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich's failure to endorse the NJ governor in his reelection bid. It actually may have to do with the Governor's anger over his renomination of a NJ Supreme Court judge that the NJ State Senate Democrats were attempting to torpedo. Although the full facts aren't in, MSNBC's Maddow makes a very convincing case

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Poet and Revelator: John Berryman (1914-1972)

Reading a review of "A Trip to Echo Spring" by Olivia Laing, on writers and drinking, she mentioned John Berryman. This also resonated with the recent publication of Diving Into the Wreck, a new novel by Chang-rae Lee which also is a reminder of Adrienne Rich's powerful volume of poems of the same name. Thinking about how important and what a revelation of the personal, spiritual, and interior that poetry was, or seemed to be, in the 1970s, and how it feels to have been overtaken and overshadowed by the vast amount of information, knowledge and entertainment competing for our attention today. Of course there are still many poets at work, although poetry has taken on a preciousness, sometimes academic, sometimes folkloric, often highfalutin', poetry with a capital P, written with questionable talent or value. But again, in a new world where social media has created another enormous venue for creativity,expression, personal revelation, who knows where poetry can or cannot be found.

For now - remembering John Berryman who died by his own action on the banks of the Mississippi River this day in 1972.

More on John Berryman here

-- Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Dream Song 1 by John Berryman

Huffy Henry hid the day,
unappeasable Henry sulked.
I see his point,--a trying to put things over.
It was the thought that they thought
they could do it made Henry wicked & away.
But he should have come out and talked.

All the world like a woolen lover
once did seem on Henry's side.
Then came a departure.
Thereafter nothing fell out as it might or ought.
I don't see how Henry, pried
open for all the world to see, survived.

What he has now to say is a long
wonder the world can bear & be.
Once in a sycamore I was glad
all at the top, and I sang.
Hard on the land wears the strong sea
and empty grows every bed.

- See more at:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Brand New Day in NYC

The First Family taking the #4 train to the Inauguration. Photo by Rebecca Katz

"But Fiorello La Guardia — the man I consider to be the greatest Mayor this city has ever known — put it best. He said: “I, too, admire the ‘rugged individual,’ but no ‘rugged individual’ can survive in the midst of collective starvation.”

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