Monday, October 31, 2016

A Real Brooklyn Ghost Story

A true story first posted here in 2007.
Back in the day, well, sometime in the 1980s, when Reagan was as far-out and far-right a reaction to the Jimmy Carter years that the human mind could contemplate, you could still afford to rent your own apartment in Park Slope even though you were neither the employee nor scion of a hedge fund. Anyway, I lived on 7th street between 5th and 6th avenues. It wasn't a fancy hipster neighborhood, and as hard as it is to believe, we were were young once too and were probably the hippest things happening, but there was El Faro and Polly-O and Save on Fifth, and I was just leaving a public affairs and marketing writing job at local hospital (then known as the Park Slope Body Shop), and taking up freelancing for a number of film, engineering and trade mags, so I guess essentially life was good. I was living in the first floor of a brownstone; the owners, an older Italian American couple and their grown sons, lived in the upper floors. The husband of the couple grew his tomatoes and enjoyed his occasional chianti which reminded me alot of my maternal grandfather who had passed away shortly before I moved to this new place.

One day, after I was living in the building for a year or so, the elderly husband himself passed away rather suddenly. My girl friend at the time, the Art Director's Daughter, and I had spoken to the sons earlier in the day. It was the first night of the wake, the family left in the early afternoon and informed us that they would not be returning until much later in the evening. We were planning to pay our respects the following night. Anyway, at around 7:00 PM it started.

Footsteps. Nothing but footsteps, loud and clear, walking the length of the brownstone apartment above. A constant pacing that started near the front door, walked to the opposite end of the house, turned and walked back to the door. Slowly, methodically, but unmistakably. At first, I believe the radio was on, I could hear this strange pacing (they had no dogs or pets of any kind) only intermittently, until it finally made its way into our consciousness as the Art Director's Daughter and I made dinner. I turned off the radio. Then, when it was very quiet, a chill went up and down my spine as I listened to the mysterious, relentless pacing.Finally, I went upstairs to knock on the door, but of course no one answered. I could not see or hear anyone (or anything) through the door. Since it was clear no one was ransacking their apartment, there was nothing much else to be done. But when I returned downstairs, there it was again. We turned on some music. The Art Director's Daughter (who was a Red Diaper Baby) was a big fan of the Weavers and Pete Seeger, so we cranked up some of that beneficent, positive vibe, good time hammer and sickle music, and had another glass of wine.

I guess between the clomping, and the wine, and the Weavers, we distracted ourselves until it either stopped or we took less and less notice of it. A few hours later, when the family returned from the first night of the wake, we decided to throw caution to the wind and mention the strange noises, just in case someone had in fact broken in through a window.

The older son looked at us quizzically but went upstairs first to look around before his mom got out of the car. Nope. Everything was as it should be. "Maybe it was a sound from next door through the walls" he offered good naturedly. We apologized for bothering him, but he said, no, don't worry about it, I am glad that you let me know.

But, just as brownstone walls are thick, and floors in old houses can creak when you walk on them, I was sure that the old man had returned for a final visit, and was looking to see where his wife had hidden the chianti.

--Anthony Napoli --- Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Emotional Resonances of 9/11, Before and Beyond

Spiritual, prophetic and emotional as ever.. Bob Dylan's "Cold Irons Bound" from Masked and Anonymous...

"Waist deep in the I don't even exist...20 miles out of town and cold irons bound..."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pollock and Krasner at The Springs

Jackson Pollock - Lee Krasner Home/Studio and Study Center Historic Site, Springs, NY

Many Rivers to Cross Before Healing Can Take Place

From The Dallas Morning News: Truths for any city:

"This city, our city, has been tested before. Now we face a new test.

More than 50 years ago, madness struck like a lightning bolt and cut down our nation's president, leaving shadows that lingered for generations. We rebounded, but slowly. We eventually remade our city into one all but unrecognizable to anyone alive in 1963.

Thursday night, another kind of lightning flashed across our horizon and plunged our city into a new kind of grief — and brought fear back to the place we call home.

The shocking slaying of five police officers, and the shooting of seven others, plus two civilians, has left this city stunned.

We've asked, all of us, why us? Why this city? Why these officers? Why now?

And we are surely not alone in asking, as our hearts break, what kind of country are we creating where such violence has become so frequent?

A country where thousands of North Texans are driven to our downtown streets to peacefully protest police violence. Where a man could grow so bitter with rage that he gunned down a dozen police officers he'd probably never seen before.

Here in Dallas, we have not found answers that satisfy. Perhaps there are none.

Dallas is a proud city. Although it is not a new city, it still feels unfinished, like a young adult still holding out for a late growth spurt.

That sense of continuous change makes sense to us because we live in a place of new beginnings, of immigrants, and of job seekers. A place of friendly greetings and big ambitions, where the next new opportunity seems just around the corner.

But there is another truth about Dallas. We live together, but we do not often understand one another. This is because of class, sometimes geography and often race.

We are not unique in this. Americans are living beside one another without understanding one another all over the country.

But in Dallas, rigid boundaries seem more pronounced. Few Dallasites in the north venture south across the river that divides our city nearly in half. This chasm has made it easier to avoid uncomfortable truths, to make nice, to paper over fundamental inequities.

Thursday night's events have summoned us, unbidden, to examine the consequences of knowing so little about life on the other side of these boundaries. Across America, our countrymen and women will be watching what we do in the weeks and months ahead.

Where to begin?

It's time to put aside, for now, pronouncements about what is right and who is wrong. To push past the politics of race and anger and to put the presidential election out of our hearing for a brief moment.

We must learn to listen and feel what it is like to live in Dallas, across divides. We need to understand that it's not the same for a black teenager in South Dallas to walk home late on a Friday and see a police cruiser roll by as it is for somebody else in another part of town.

We need to understand the challenges implicit in donning a police uniform in this vast and conflicted city. The bravery and sacrifice — and the fear.

There will be time later for anger and for justice — anger whose purpose is served in justice. But for now we need to learn to understand each other, to really hear one another, to learn from each other."

Full editorial here:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Yeah, It is Amazing-- Hamilton

Beyond all expectations-- groundbreaking

Richard Rodgers Theatre
 - New York
 - Wed, Jun 29, 2016

Having rec'd tix for my birthday last fall wondered if the long wait, the continued media excitement and listening to the cast album since its release would dampen our enthusiasm. I am elated to report that it didn't ...while Hamilton fits right into the context of Broadway theater, the amazing cast, energy of the production, artful design overall and of course the fantastic collision of history, drama, even rom-com, and all of this marvelous music from all eras of the American experience bring tears to the eyes and joy to the heart. A friend suggested I sell our orchestra tix and go on vacation instead. Well, we didn't and I couldn't be happier. Thank you Everyone involved with Hamilton. As a Schuyler sister says- "I'm about to change your life!" Hyperbole, yeah. But that could sum up the excitement of this wonderful play.
Favorite moment: Too many to mention but I guess "Helpless", "What'd I Miss" and "In the Room" loom really large. Loved it all

Saturday, June 4, 2016


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Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Mazuma is the Message: Can Hillary Win the Nomination with Big/Super PAC Money? Can Bernie Get Elected Without It?

The tone of the fundraising emails of the two Democratic campaigns is noticeably and dramatically different. After raking it in from big donors and the Super Pac, the Hillary team seems to be trying to turn the ship to a new course so that they can now demonstrate that they receive lots and lots of smaller Bernie-style individual donations.

Consequently, while the Sanders ' dunning emails remain passionate and transparent in the need for money, the fundamental messaging of the campaign continues to punch through loudly and clearly. It's a necessary tool, the contributions of his supporters almost a given at this point, but not the primary point.  Or at least so far. But the tone of the Hillary camp, especially emails under the signature of Robby Mook, are more hectoring, sweaty, desperate. One email even seemed to lay responsibility for the New Hampshire defeat on her supporters, for not doing enough financially, asking donors to ask themselves "could I have chipped in more?" The messaging is getting lost in the American hustle for OPM. It may not even be the money, as much as to compete for the number of small donations.

I do understand and respect the fact that campaign financing is currently structured toward big donors. The Hillary camp clearly sees that not utilizing Wall Street, Super Pac and other Big donors potentially places any candidates (except self funding billionaires) at a distinct disadvantage if they renounce the current campaign finance tools available.

Whether Bernie could even continue to wage a full primary season and major Presidential campaign should he be the nominee without accepting big donations remains to be seen. But for now the tone and focus on mazuma of the Clinton team seems to be hapless at best and self defeating at worst. The nickel and diming seems to clash with her well publicized big pay days speaking with banks and Wall Streeters. As a result, If the Clinton team do not want to end up like the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Sea they should reevaluate their strategy and messaging before the campaign gets blown completely off course.

--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo