Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rooftop Films summer kickoff with 7 Chinese Brothers starring Jason Schwartzman

It must be summer --- Rooftop Films releases another exciting schedule of outdoor movies. Tickets available online.Tonight - Brooklyn premier of Bob Byington's  7 Chinese Brothers starring Jason Schwartzman .. Later this season The Wolfpack, Welcome to Leith, and many others, scheduled for various Brooklyn locations: Gowanus, Sunset Park and Metrotech Commons. Happy Summer. Details here

NYT: 'Havana' - A Biennial and a New Relationship- & Artistic Freedom?

Holland Cotter in the NY Times:  "If the 12th Havana Biennial has any theme, it is Havana itself. The kind of shop-window viewing favored by more conventional shows is discouraged; so is celebrity spotting."

DITHOB: Nevertheless the hope and opportunity of this new relationship has already been marred by the arrest last week of a Cuban artist for a public pro-democracy performance. Clearly this new relationship with the U.S. may remain  delicate but the support of free speech and artistic expression must remain an absolute condition. If the Administration and the Cuban governent have a vision and an agenda beyond investment and new market opportunities this is the perfect opportunity to express it, on behalf of performance artist Tania Bruguera.

Holland Cotter's report:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Politics Behind the Killing of Osama Bin Ladin

Seymour Hersh in the London Review of Books on The Killing of Osama Bin Ladin
And the political jockeying, intrigue and dissimulation that accompanied it

A Slate interview with Mr Hersh on the LRB article

Friday, May 15, 2015

Museum Days: Reflections on An Institution on Eastern Parkway

A year or so ago I attended, with My Better Half, an evening workshop at the Brooklyn Museum for art educators, as her guest. It was held in the Museum's Beaux Arts Court.

As a special education/art teacher working with emotionally disabled and autistic kids in Bushwick, she seems to achieve an amazing instructional collaboration with her students, who for the most part have deep communication and developmental  issues,  yet they nevertheless continue to win recognition and awards for their art when submitted to student competitions. Given the daily challenge of her work, she is constantly on the search for opportunities to develop her own artistic practice as well as share strategies and experiences with other NYC teachers. Thus her attendance at this workshop, which I attended as a guest.

At one point, a gentleman appeared in the mix of Museum staff and visiting teachers. He was definitely low key and unprepossessing, in height, in appearance, in dress, and, as I recall, in his need of a shave.  He asked what the event was about, and I explained, and we chatted a bit. When he read my name tag, and I asked his, and I realized it was Arnold Lehman, Director of the Museum, I think I went on a verbal tear, expressing my lifelong love for the Museum, having walked here to visit and wander around since as far back as I can recall in my childhood.

I didn't mention that when I first met my wife, she was working at the Museum, as an assistant in one of the curatorial departments. Before we were "involved" we also happened to take a silk screen class together back in the old Brooklyn Museum Art School in the 1980s.  I was a novice, whereas she was working on more advanced projects. While we were dating, I remember renting a car to take a trip with her to the shore. I drove into the driveway in front of the old heavily fortified brick and iron entrance to the Museum to pick her up after work. I think she was a little embarrassed as the only car I was able to rent was a large red Eldorado - sort of like Damian Hirst's shark from the infamous 1999 Brooklyn Museum Sensations Show.

I did mention to Mr. Lehman how I felt that the Museum was so ingrained in my soul and that I was so accustomed to entering the edifice through that same brick and iron fortification since childhood, that now,  I was brought to tears of joy when I first entered the renovated, contemporary entrance.  In reflecting back on it now, those tears were filled with inspiration and happiness, mirth and awe, as the space had been transformed, all glass and joy, echoing, to me, at once, the Louvre, a prism,  the Apple Store, like a glass sculpture harmonizing the delicacy and mystery of the spheres, but also reflecting the delight brought by changes that sing a song that is at once of the sacred, the profane and everything in between.

Mr. Lehman's time at the Brooklyn Museum, while it may be remembered more for battling the small-minded aesthetics of a provincial Mayor, was clearly also one of great accomplishment given the very broad range of work that entered its collection, as reflected in the current show "Diverse Works: Director's Choice 1997-2015," a terrific show very much worth seeing and the changes in the Museum with regard to its embracing contemporary, modern and classic art and design, as well as the needs of the communities in Brooklyn it serves. I  was prompted to the above rumination by an interview with Mr. Lehman in the NY Observer. A must read if you are interested in museums and curatorial culture. But also an unexpected reminder that the Brooklyn Museum, while it will continue to move forward in dramatic and exciting directions with the selection of Creative Times' Ann Pasternak as the next Director, but at the same time it will be losing a brave and invaluable work of art, a treasure, with the retirement of Mr. Lehman.

The full interview in the NY Observer appears here  
--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summ-Summ-Summertime: Rooftop Films Schedule Released

It must be summer --- Rooftop Films releases another exciting schedule of outdoor movies. Tickets available online. 7 Chinese Brothers with Jason Schwartzman certainly piques my interest, along with The Wolfpack, Welcome to Leith, and many others, scheduled for various Brooklyn locations: Gowanus, Sunset Park and Metrotech Commons. Happy Summer. Details 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