Monday, March 30, 2009
Ed Driscoll » “2009: A Book Banning Odyssey”:
"On February 10th, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) went into effect, impacting thrift stores throughout the nation, as this February news report from an Omaha TV station highlights. CPSIA was originally passed to reduce and ideally eliminate lead paint in toys, but it’s had sweeping repercussions. Used clothes have been removed from shelves for fear of lead in zippers, and even motorbike sales have been curtailed–apparently the writers of CPSIA were worried that teenagers would eat their bikes’ handlebars, or something. And sales of these various products have plummeted, during a time when the nation needs all the help it can get re-strengthening its economy
But perhaps the most worrisome aspect of CPSIA is that it’s led to books being banned. Lead in printers’ inks wasn’t outlawed until 1985; so books published in 1984 or earlier have had to be removed from used book sellers’ shelves, and even some libraries. And don’t think booksellers haven’t noticed the ominous sound of that cut-off date:
See also Walter Olson's recent City Journal article, titled ‘The New Book Banning.’ It contrasts the Brave New World nanny state feel of CPSIA with earlier warnings that our history and culture might eventually start to shrink, such as George Orwell’s 1984, and naturally enough, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
(Via Silliman's Blog.)
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Frank (Francis Russell) O'Hara
27 Mar 1926 Baltimore MD - 28 Jul 1966 Fire Island NY
Suddenly a body appears in my smoke
while someone's heavily describing Greece,
that famous monotonous line feels white
against the tensile gloom of life
and I seem intimate with what I merely touch.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
In honor of my father's birthday - March 24th - and at the request of my cousin Karin and Don's sister (her mother) Meg, I'm reposting the story of his nautical funeral:
"Wednesday is officially waffle day in Sweden, but all because of sloppy language. March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation, when according to the New Testament the Archangel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary she would bear the Christ child. The date is exactly nine months before Christmas. The Swedish words for "Our Lady" are similar to the word for "waffle" and somehow the two got mixed up in popular usage. The day is also greeted here as the start of spring"
ps. Today was sunny and (relatively) warm. The snow's gone!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Worst blizzard since I've lived in Sweden! This morning I was awakened by the horrendous winds sucking what I'd thought was a latched window open and smashing it against the outside wall! I can barely see out and it's been going on for hours - feels a little like the frozen end-of-the-world! From the internet I gather the same storm is pummeling most of Northern Europe. The temperature is just under zero and, ironically, tomorrow's forecast is "partly sunny and warm."
Monday, March 23, 2009
Via AlterNet | Obama Has to Get on Top of This or Else We'll Get on Top of Him
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
House Industries has produced a number of fonts based on the typographic work of my former employer, Alexander Girard, provoking reminiscence. The Girards lived only a couple of blocks up Canyon Road from my family in the mid-20th Century. I went to school with their daughter Sansi ('de Sans Souci') and, through her, met Sandro and Susan who offered me a job in his workshop (never called a "studio," per Mrs. Girard - that would be affectation!). It was certainly one of the most interesting and stylish jobs I ever had, through which I met and worked several days with Charles and Ray Eames. But I was young and thought things would be even better if I (and my new wife) moved to New York. That's another story.
For all his international reputation, Santa Fe considers Girard to be a local pillar of community fame, and not without reason. St. John's College in Santa Fe, in it's infancy (where Sansi and I studied the 'Great Books') was designed by him and another local pillar, John Gaw Meem. Girard's style was stamped on the Compound Restaurant in its heyday, and the wing housing his collection of artifacts and folk toys now dominates the Museum of International Folk Art, much as his presence did in my youth. Bright colors and whimsical modernism became the hallmark of those years in Santa Fe, so different from the current hollow Santa Fe Style, which I call "Santa Barbarism".
see also: máXimo, Architonic, and the exhibition at SFMOMA
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
1) God doesn’t exist, and never did. Belief in a Heavenly Father arose out of primitive ignorance and associated superstition. To think that an omnipotent old fellow with a white beard sits on a golden throne in the sky is wildly ridiculous. The only thing crazier is to believe said deity created us, governs our affairs, and deserves our blind obedience. Help stamp out witch-hunts and suicide bombings. Relegate God to the same dustbin of mythology where all ghosts, holy or otherwise, rightfully belong.
2) We don’t have souls and don’t go anywhere but into the ground to be eaten by worms when we die. Let’s bravely acknowledge that fact.
3) Quit contending that global warming isn’t real. Except for discredited, charlatan ‘scientists’ of the kind who promote Intelligent Design, the overwhelming majority of truly qualified experts agree that manmade greenhouse gases are dangerously heating the planet. Conservatives can’t bring themselves to admit that ‘liberals’ and United Nations types could ever be correct about anything, so they nay-say, sit on their hands, and would allow their grandchildren (and ours) to ultimately perish, fearfully gasping for precious breath.
4) Nationalism sucks. Belief that one’s own country is better or more important than all others has generated massively destructive jingoism and xenophobia through the ages. Combined with religion, it’s been the chief cause of war for bloody centuries. Join me in pledging to never take up arms against anyone on bogus pretexts — or to imagine them inferior, ‘evil,’ etc. — just because they live beyond the ocean, look strange, and have unfamiliar customs.
5) Let’s jettison monopoly capitalism, which is so parasitically harmful that it makes a starving vampire bat seem benign. If we the people took over the economy, democratically controlling it for public profit and common gain, we’d never get robbed at the gas pump again, pay an arm and a leg for medical care or prescription drugs, lose our homes to usurious mortgage thieves, or get sent off to die in meddling neocons’ criminal invasions abroad. Fire the boss! Become a fair-minded owner of America, along with your fellow workers and neighbors!
6) Stop bashing immigrants. Each of our own arriving ethnic groups was accused by existing nativists of stealing jobs, being a societal drain, having criminal and otherwise unsavory tendencies, or spreading disease, just as mostly Hispanic immigrants are condemned today. Such successive discrimination plainly benefited divide-and-conquer corporate profiteers. It was only when ethnicities, races, and genders united — understanding that an injury to one is an injury to all — that the overall U.S. working class made decisive advances and acquired a mutually better living standard.
7) Admit that nothing worthwhile comes from conservatism. It’s abject selfishness masquerading as a valid ideology. Its sole purpose is to perpetuate minority privilege attained through illegitimate power wielded against consequently suffering masses. Conservatives will never utter the word ‘justice,’ for it’s a shattering indictment of their consistently exploitative role in human affairs. Everything good has been fiercely resisted by the political Right: abolishing slavery and child labor, gaining women’s suffrage, struggling to achieve racial equality, raising the minimum wage, implementing progressive taxation, establishing health and safety standards in the workplace and the community at large, just to name a few.
8) Accept that, while abortion isn’t pretty, it’s often necessary. Furthermore, only each female in each specific, unique circumstance has the right to determine what constitutes a legitimate abortion need. No male, or male-dominated institution, should interfere in this most personal and difficult choice. Before guys say one word about the supposed impropriety of terminating an unacceptable pregnancy, they should produce ironclad guarantees about controlling their reckless libidos and keeping their penises in their pants, if that’s where they’re told they should remain.
9) Repeat after me: ‘Better gay than grumpy.’ The only problem with homosexuality is that some straights, insecure about their own orientation, get uptight over it. Most animal species engage in same-sex contact on a minority basis. Therefore it isn’t ‘unnatural,’ just different, and entirely involuntary, like being left-handed rather than right. Besides, aren’t the last six words of the Pledge of Allegiance ‘with liberty and justice for all’? Quit being hypocrites and get aboard the freedom train!
10) To nurture the collective human spirit, which is quite different than a religious ‘soul,’ think less about what you can personally acquire, in a material sense. Instead, join struggles for shared prosperity. Know that the greatest reward is giving a deprived child reason to laugh. Honor and guard our earthly home. Lie down beside a blade of grass and contemplate its simple magnificence. Then, when relentless age takes its final toll, buy the farm with a contented smile. You lived well. You did the right thing.
Feed those worms and help make that grass grow!"
by Dennis Rahkonen / March 12th, 2009
Rates of HIV in people who are 50 years old or older is 'surprisingly high, and the risk factors are totally unexplored,' reports the World Health Organization (WHO) in a new study. There has been little work to date exploring HIV risk among older people (including the potential impact of erectile dysfunction drug use), but the international WHO study did find that older people were less likely to practice safer sex than people under 50. This is especially concerning because studies have found that HIV disease may progress faster in older people, partly due to their age and partly because many doctors don't even think to test an older person for HIV, the WHO report says.
(Via The Body.)
Thursday, March 12, 2009
It's a tradition! Every year in the last week of February, all Swedish bookstores and book departments have a big blowout sale. It gives one something to look forward to in these bleakest of months. Actually, a lot of the inventory is what, in American bookstores, would be called "bargain stock:" short-runs, overstock and reprints produced for reduced sale. But there is a festival anticipation to the event; everyone rushing in on the first days to grab the best deals. Otherwise Swedish books tend to be rather expensive, although there has been a recent overall price-drop. And, of course, this being bi-lingual Sweden, there are always a few Engelska titles. Recently, I suspect, the whole affair has become rather formulaic, unlike the mid Twentieth Century when books and records were heavily taxed. In the end, it's just another excuse for Swedes to celebrate, which they love to do.
AFTER THE GYRATORY
"Like entering a game, a layout, something flat and mazed, arbitrarily but fractally constructed from beautifully detailed but somehow unreal buildings, its code perhaps reshuffled since the last time he’d been here. The pixels that comprised it were familiar, but it remained only provisionally mapped, a protean territory, a box of tricks, possibly benign. This last owing, he suspected, to his having relatively little history here, prior to Basel."
Question: At what point does prose become poetry?
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
"Nights of Cabiria was the last film in which Fellini tried to make sense of an increasingly fragmented, chaotic Italian society. In (Giulietta) Masina's brilliant incarnation of the simple-minded, doomed prostitute — a character the director called the "fallen sister" of La Strada's celebrated Gelsomina — he found an ideal vehicle for attacking the Church, the class system, movie star culture, and all the other forces destroying the lives of ordinary people. With his next film, La Dolce Vita, his neorealist voice would become quieter; in a few years, it would vanish entirely as Fellini drifted deeper into a private fantasy world."
(Gary Morris Bright Lights Film Journal)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
To quote from the Vimeo page:
What if you watch a film and whenever you pause it, you face a painting? This idea inspired Reza Dolatabadi to make Khoda. Over 6000 paintings were painstakingly produced during two years to create a five minutes film that would meet high personal standards. Khoda is a psychological thriller; a student project which was seen as a ‘mission impossible’ by many people but eventually proved possible!
Director and art director: Reza Dolatabadi
Written by Reza Dolatabadi & Mark Szalos Farkas
Animation by Adam Thomson
Music by Hamed Mafakheri
But that's only the beginning... you really should check out his website - such a wonderful eye and great visual imagination.
Monday, March 9, 2009
One day it seems fascinating: all those people and all those little messages zipping back and forth. And then the next day it seems like a complete and utter waste-of-time, and annoying to boot. Maybe what I need is a "twitter-mate!"
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Rick Dillingham was probably the most talented and amusing person I've ever known. He was one of those people who make you feel that the world is a wide-open, wonderful place and anything is possible. I can count the few times I spent in his company - they weren't nearly enough, but each one was memorable. He was eight years my junior, but he seemed older and wiser - well, that wouldn't have been too difficult, but you know what I mean - he was also one of the sexiest men I've met. It was the sensuousness of a potter coupled with an infectious sense-of-humor and worldliness. Thirty years on, I still miss him and measure my responses against "what Rick would have thought."
Born in Lake Forest, Illinois in 1952, he studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, and received his B.F.A. from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, in 1974. In 1979 he completed his M.F.A. at California's Claremont Graduate School. He received Visual Artists Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1977 and 1982. Apart from his work as an artist, Dillingham was interested in a broad range of activities. He was a dealer in historic American Indian pottery and curated a number of exhibitions. Dillingham’s pottery reflected his knowledge of , and interest in, American prehistoric Indian pottery. He became intrigued by the notion of the vessel as an assembly of shards when he was restoring posts at the Museum of New Mexico, Laboratory of Anthropology, in Santa Fe. He created what Garth Clark calls “a symphony of shards” breaking the pots into pieces and carefully reassembling them and painting the individual pieces with color, pattern or gilding them with gold leaf. Rick died in Santa Fe in 1994 at the age of 42.
Ricks' reassembled pots are extraordinary. In this case, photographs really cannot do them justice. Each one seems to be a whole cosmos contained within itself. More than anything, they leave one with the memory of an intensity and depth of color rarely seen. One longs to touch them, but for the fact that, because of their (re)construction, they vibrate with the fragility of a Ming vase.
Friday, March 6, 2009
It seems we've stood and talked like this before
We looked at each other in the same way then,
But I can't remember where or when.
The clothes you're wearing are the clothes you wore.
The smile you are smiling you were smiling then,
But I can't remember where or when.
Some things that happend for the first time,
Seem to be happening again.
Amd so it seems that we have met before
and laughed before
and loved before,
But who knows where or when.
Where or When from Babes In Arms Lyrics by Lorenz Hart, music by Richard Rodgers was first performed in 1937 by Ray Heatherton and Mitzi Green. That same year, Hal Kemp recorded a popular version. It also appeared in the movie of the same title two years later.
There is an introductory verse:
Sometimes you think you've lived before
All that you live today
Things you do come back to you
As though they knew the way
Oh, the tricks your mind can play!
From Morning Edition, December 23, 2003 - In 1941, Benny Goodman set out to record Where or When with a 21-year-old Peggy Lee. The Rodgers and Hart ballad came out during the Christmas season, at a time when America was at war. Music journalist Ashley Kahn reflects on the recording's enduring poignancy.
Real Media or Windows Player
(Via NPR.) Image of Rogers & Hart from Wikipedia.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
If you only have a passing acquaintance with John Cheever and would like to know more, this: The First Suburbanite
The First Suburbanite, Before John Updike and Richard Yates, There Was John Cheever. By CHARLES McGRATH, New York Times, February 27, 2009, is a well-written review of the biography soon to be/or just published by Alfred Knopf. There is also a teaser for Blake Bailey's biography at Vice Magazine, Vol. 15, No. 5
Perhaps you're not as interested in him as I am - that's understandable - but I really think he's one of the most important American authors of the Twentieth Century, all too often neglected for complex reasons of perceived lack of profundity, coupled with residual homophobia. But I think no one since Chekhov has found as much poignant beauty in the ordinary, or plumbed such depths of human complexity.
(Via Band of Thebes.)