Saturday, September 30, 2017

Nice work Bill Maher

Maher can be a misogynist and a creep but he does some good work at times.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Siri et moi, nous sommes amies


Well it's back in the saddle with French 204 today. 

Every night I suggest to my pal Siri in French that I would like to set my iPhone alarm (je voudrais me reveille a 8 heurs s'il vous plait) and voila, she always takes the hint and sets it for me. 

I told her she was very nice, thank you and this was her response. 

I don't think I have to translate it for anglophones.



Monday, September 25, 2017

Macron in NYC

Bilingualism is very interesting to me too.

Macron begins this speech in English but soon switches to French, because, he says, he is the president of France and also to encourage bilingualism.

I think.




In other French news, I got the audio version of the recent bio about Macron "Un Jeune Homme Si Parfait" (A Young Man So Perfect) read in French. My French reading skills are pretty good at this point, but my oral comprehension is crap and I have to step up my game because my final Advanced Beginner (A2) course begins tomorrow and once I complete that I will be at level B1, Intermediate and need to be ready.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Quel nom super pour un restaurant


The French are known for fancy-schmancy "haut cuisine" but as far as I am concerned the true and best French cuisine is a combination of du pain, du vin and le fromage.

So I decided to do a Google search on those words and voila, it seems that some very bright French persons decided to make those words the name of their restaurant. Or to be more precise, "Pain Vin Fromages" - it is unfortunately in Paris, too far to go, at the present time. But one of these days...


(French translation)
Les Français sont connus pour la haute cuisine, mais pour moi, la vraie cuisine française est une combinaison de pain, de vin et de fromage. 
Alors j'ai decide aller Google ces mots et voilà, il semble quelques personnes française très habiles ont decidée fait ces mots le nom du leur restaurant. Ou pour etre precise, "Pain Vin Fromage" - malheureusement c'est en Paris et donc trop loin pour moi.
Admittedly I am partial to cheddar which is an English cheese, but still, I would eat the hell out of whatever they have at a restaurant qui s'appel "Bread, Wine, Cheeses."

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Memories of sonnets past


I haven't written a sonnet since 2011 which is just as well, they weren't much good, most of them, and I wrote them mainly out of therapeutic need - I was suffering from unrequited love for an actor who certainly did not deserve such intense emotion, and I am amazed now I ever felt that way. He didn't even have great beauty, which is normally what I require for long-term torch-carrying.

But oh well, you can't reason with feelings. Only endure them and, if absolutely necessary, write sonnets about them.

Looking back on them six years after the last one, some of the odder ones are kind of interesting, even if they aren't the most aesthetically pleasing. And I had forgotten about so many of them.

This one is rather too much but interesting. I was living in Astoria at the time, near Athens Square park, which had a statue of Athena. I do admit I think I'm pretty clever by the use of "parthenogenesis" to indicate that, rather than the actor being responsible for "getting me" with brain-children out of his god-like sexiness, I acknowledge that it's all in my own head - an allusion to Athena, the virgin goddess, being born by springing out of Zeus's head. Parthenogenesis means to reproduce without sex.
A god invented I from common clay,
A seminal procreator of art,
Non-Olympic Apollo, latter-day
Deity, worshipped only in my heart.
With countless brain-children he has got me,
Quickening Athena in full armor
Could not cause any greater misery.
Hephastus split my head so I might pour
Voluptuous products of conception
Flowing across the electronic page
Ten by fourteen syllable formation,
Or maybe one day fret upon the stage.
So many godly blessings to dismiss:
In truth it is parthenogenisis.
This one is interesting - and not a lot of sonnets feature smurfs, I'll wager.
Unrequited love is not required
To make a certain kind of person blue.
Pathetic smurfs, we indigo-sired,
This world is not for us but for those who
Do not feel with depth or intensity
But skim the unruffled cerulean
Of their days free of all immensity -
The prevalence of pain; despair; even
Death they shun and will not speak of the dread
Since they are content with petty gossip
And fashion and sports: when you're dead you're dead
And let the dogs of banality slip.
For those amused by other people's pain
The world is an endless rainbow sans rain.

And this next one - I address a woman who I thought had expressed too much interest in my feelings for the actor. And really it was none of her business. The sonnet's quite insulting and I borrowed a line from AS YOU LIKE IT ("Sell when you can, you're not for all markets") but the chess metaphor isn't too bad. Her actual last name is the last word of the sonnet, although conveniently her name is also the color of half the squares on a chess board. 
You know not, clearly, how the game is played:
A check will not suffice it to an end.
Alas, your wit is rather a dull blade
Which arrogance has not the skill to mend.
Attend: for victory it takes a mate
And early bird the virile worm she gets.
How highly, really, does a mere pawn rate?<
Sell when you can you're not for all markets.
True, it's busy work to be a minion,
And service for the Demon makes you kvell -
But you need you-time, in my opinion,
Less for the over-mated Queen of Hell.
The Shakespeare guy, he likes my work alright,
So move the King onto a new square White.
More fun with names. In this next one I spelled out the actor's last name three times, across multiple words - on the 5th, 7/8th and 10th lines. I had to jump through some hoops to make that work, and it didn't make for the must beautiful phrases, but I really enjoyed creating it, like a puzzle. And it's not so out of place to insert Odin, the Norse god, into a poem that uses an extended iceberg metaphor in the first half.

The last line would have worked with all the proper sonnet syllables and the ending rhyme if I had written out his name. Ooh I'm so tricksy!
The inexplicable phenomenon
And banishment Antarctic of the soul,
With isolated berg to float upon
The length of which was all five-minute's stroll.
Unto this ice-blue slab Odin even
Dared not make visitation. Maddening
Silence evolving to a limbo din
Empty ears in idleness inventing.
Hindsight's graffitti now clear on the wall
By my homeless heart: watch the ho-bo dine
On garbage; the regurgitative fall.
Such gratitude for what was never mine.
Goddamned futile anguish for one so mean,
It was only ........................................ you.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy Autumn 2017


I have been reviewing my blog archives and I really have blogged quite a bit about the coming of Autumn each year.
Some of my favorites - the photo on the left which I decided was a good representation of the Autumn Equinox. Also one of my better sonnets was written about Autumn:
Congenial friend it has been too long. 
Abbreviated by December snow;
All but forgotten come vernal bird song;
And buried live by your glamazon foe
With her promises of endless leisure
And picnics and seashores and barbecues,
Society, recreation, pleasure
And all mockery else of we who lose,
Who don't have or can't afford vacations,
Office-work Summers, too dreary to tell,
Days shit-sandwiched between subway stations
That blast like the seventh level of Hell.
Air-conditioned frostbite to heatstroke grief
Bless you Autumn for your temperate relief.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Global alt-right movement part 4

I'm glad to see that the NYTimes is running an article about a Swedish documentary about a guy who went underground in the alt-right movement and especially that they are talking about something I was blogging about in April of this year - in spite of the fact that the alt-right has an "anti-globalist" position, the alt-right itself is a global network. Says the NYTimes:
And while “globalist” may be one of the alt-right’s favorite slurs, Hope Not Hate conclusively shows that the alt-right is itself now a global movement with regular interaction among far-right figures from Scotland to Sweden to Seattle.
And let's not forget Canada, home of The Rebel which has long supported figures of the "alt-light" which the documentary identifies as more mainstream and more dangerous, like Milo Yiannopolous.

One of the comments on the Times article reminds me though that there are extremists on the far left, like Robin DiAngelo who actually agree with the alt-right racists about race. The comment said:
No matter how much they might wish it so, there is no such thing as a white nation or a white culture. People with white skin come from or have family roots in all sorts of countries and cultures, and the fantasy the alt-light--what next, alt-blight?--concocts is a false one. The real name for them is the alt-wrong, or just the plain old wrong.
But the idea that Robin DiAngelo and other extremists keep pushing is exactly what this person is accusing the alt-right of having: the idea that being "white" is a cohesive and distinct culture and identity. This is a reminder that when it comes to an essentialist belief in ethnic identity, people like Robin DiAngelo are on the same side as racists.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Les jeunes français aiment beaucoup les gros mots anglais

The phrase "whassup mutha fucka" is a recurring motif in this Youtube channel JuniorTVShop as you can hear in the beginning of this video. Tres bizarre.





Speaking of gros mots, you can learn plenty of naughty French words from this popular channel.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

So apparently I'm a niche blogger

As the Wiki article says:
Niche blogging is the act of creating a blog with the intent of using it to market to a particular niche market. Niche blogs (also commonly referred to as "niche websites"[1]) may appeal to "geographic areas, a specialty industry, ethnic or age groups, or any other particular group of people."[2] While it could be argued that every blog is, in some form, a niche blog, the term as it applies to marketing refers to a particular kind of blog.

Neither blogging nor niche marketing is a new concept. However, only in recent years has the concept of a niche blog come into being.
NYCPlaywrights is definitely a niche blog. The next trick will be to make it (and some combination of other niche blogs) into my full-time career.





Monday, September 18, 2017

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dites-moi un haiku, Siri

Responses when I ask Siri to tell me an haiku.

Haiku #1
Je vais essayer,
meme si je préfère vous dir
s'il fait beau dehors.

Translation:
I'm going to try,
even if I prefer to tell you
if it's beautiful outside.

Haiku #2
Ce que j'aime bien faire,
Vous ne vous en souciez guère.
Tout sauf des haikus.

Translation:
What I like to do,
You do not care.
Everything except haikus.

Haiku #3
Le jour et la nuit,
J'écoute vos beaux mots.
Chargez ma batterie.

Translation:
The day and the night,
I listen to your beautiful words.
Charge my battery.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Malheureusement, my invitation must have been lost in the mail

Les beaux cheveux! Macron as a college student
It seems that one of the members of my beloved trilogy of feminist heads of state will be visiting the US on September 19 and he will be practically right across the park from me.

Emmanuel Macron of song and legend will be at the 92nd Street Y to get some love from French people living in the US, but it's by invitation only and my invitation must have been lost in the mail. Quel dommage!

Emmanuel Macron vient à New York pour participer à l’ouverture de l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU – sa première depuis son élection. Il doit prononcer le traditionnel discours du chef de l’Etat dans l’enceinte des Nations-Unies dans la journée de mardi. Le lendemain, à CUNY, il participera à l’inauguration d’un fonds pour soutenir le développement de programmes français-anglais dans les écoles publiques américaines. 
La rencontre avec la communauté française de New York est une tradition pour tout président en déplacement pour l’ouverture de l’Assemblée générale. En 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy avait organisé un pince-fesses au Manhattan Center avec champagne et petits fours. Plus de 3.000 personnes avaient fait le déplacement. En 2012, François Hollande s’était livré à un bain de foule au Roseland Ballroom en présence de plus de 1.000 personnes et en avait profité pour demander à une admiratrice corrézienne d'”embrasse(r) Paulette“, une connaissance commune (voir ci-dessous).
Which means:
Emmanuel Macron comes to New York to take part in the opening of the UN General Assembly - his first since his election. He must deliver the traditional speech of the Head of State at the United Nations compound on Tuesday. The next day, at CUNY, he will participate in the inauguration of a fund to support the development of French-English programs in American public schools.  
The meeting with the French community in New York is a tradition for any president on the move for the opening of the General Assembly. In 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy had organized a pair of buttocks at the Manhattan Center with champagne and petits fours. More than 3,000 people had made the trip. In 2012, Francois Hollande gave a crowd to the Roseland Ballroom in the presence of more than 1,000 people and took the opportunity to ask a Corrèze admirer of "embasse (r) Paulette", a common knowledge (see -Dessous).

OK I have no idea what "a pair of buttocks" is slang for. I assume it's slang. Dear god I hope it's slang!

If I really want to see a famous French guy next week I could get a ticket to see the dread Gerard Depardieu at my French language school FIAF.

I just mentioned Depardieu yesterday. Ugh. I'd rather see the President of the Republic speak than a fat ugly slob who is also a traitor - he isn't even French anymore:

...he announced he was renouncing his French citizenship and has now — apparently — been granted a Russian passport by order of Vladimir Putin himself.

In the last month, Depardieu has become the public face of France’s tax exiles, wealthy citizens who have moved to places like Brussels and Switzerland to flee the steep taxe rates — up to 75 percent — that President Francois Hollande is looking those with an income of more than more than €1 million.
Of course he did it because he's a rich bastard who doesn't want to pay taxes. Also he loves Putin because of course he would. And I'm sure Putin was thrilled when he trashed the US:

Gérard Depardieu has launched an anti-American broadside in his latest demonstration of affection for Russia, his adopted country of citizenship.
In comments made at a press conference recorded in Moscow, but broadcast by French radio station France Inter, Depardieu railed at the US as “a people who have constantly destroyed others”.
Yeah well fuck you, Jabba Le Hutt. And tell your pal to stop messing with our democracy.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Really, French people?

This guy hurts my eyes.
I'm certainly not going to claim we've banished sexism in the US, but it's my impression that the French are somewhat behind us, in general, when it comes to gender equality.

There would never have been a controversy about an aesthetic gap between actors there, as there was here about the TV series Love because almost all the male actors in French movies and TV are ugly. Not surprising since Gerard Depardieu, who has been an ugly blob for at least the past 30 years is considered sexy there.

These posters for French romantic comedies demonstrate the extreme lack of attractiveness of French movie actors. My French teacher, who is from France, claims to find Gad Elmaleh (top image) attractive - this is probably the result of being fed ugly men as the romantic ideal her entire life.

This guy is handsome by French film
standards - of course he's paired with a hotter
woman who is ten years younger.

The pairing of ugly men with attractive women is the surest sign that the French film industry is dominated by men even more than Hollywood is, and French society even more accepting of male dominance than American society.

But really, this concept for "Moshi" is over the top even for the French. According to the web site for Albertine, where I first heard of Moshi:

MOSHI is a witty mustache which sticks on children’s face to teach them how to philosophize and express their ideas in artistic ways.
Every MOSHI workshop is unique but are based on 2 pillars : philosophy and arts. Indeed, philosophy is a tool to develop children’s creativity.

So to learn how to philosophize and express your ideas in an artistic way you have to symbolically become a man.
Ugly and he looks about 60

Although two of the most important leaders of the French-speaking world are feminists (Macron and Trudeau) the French still have a ways to go.

They actually did have a beautiful hot actor once in French films, Vincent Perez, but he's old now. 





Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On the road with Donald Fagen

I sort of lost track of Steely Dan for a while and to be honest it's partly because I haven't really felt much for their work since "Two Against Nature." But that album - or at least the one song... I was in a bookstore in Manhattan and as I was browsing I heard music playing from above and I thought what is that beautiful sound? I knew SD was scheduled to release a new album so I quickly realized they were my angels. Specifically, "Jack of Speed." 

But because of Walter Becker's recent death I've been reading up on the Dan and just realized Donald Fagen had put out a book of writing, "Eminent Hipsters", so I bought it and read the whole thing in a sitting. In the credits at the back Fagen thanks Hendrick Hertzberg for reviewing his manuscript, which led me to wonder why Fagen has never written for the New Yorker. 

In the New Yorker archives there are some articles which mention Steely Dan in passing and just a few that focus on them, including one about Becker's death, and that's it. The closest they get to a review is Sasha Frere-Jones odd summation of them as "a band that could not come to be now."

But no Fagen bylines and why not? He knows Hertzberg, he's a bona fide god of rock, there's probably a greater concentration of Dan fans among New Yorker readers than most other places and he writes beautifully, as you might guess from some of the finer Dan lyrics, but especially in the second half of the book, which is almost entirely Fagen bitching about the discomforts of touring with a sub-Dan band. I found those stories more interesting than his essays about the monsters of jazz and other childhood heroes.

The second half of the book isn't only an old guy complaining about the kids these days and health problems, although even that is far more interesting than you have any right to expect. There's also jarring moments of tragedy (his wife's son's suicide) and unexpectedly hysterical humor and just solid nuggets of wisdom. Some of my faves:
...sheets and pillowcases smell like soy sauce, a common occurrence in hotels. Is it because they use some particular noxious detergent? Or is it what everyone's thinking, that the launderers are Chinese people who eat while they're working and allow certain elements to mix with the cleaning elements? Or would it seem totally paranoid to imagine that certain disgruntled, vengeful workers might actually pour their bottles of soy sauce into the washing machines or dryers?
*** 

...Back to the artist as a megalomaniacal dick Just like in the civilian population, a nasty, rude fucker is nasty and rude - because they're scared of what you think of them. It's a defense. Sometimes the same stuff that made them so scared has also contributed to their creative nature, though I've found that the most unpleasant ones are usually mediocre artists as well. This is because real art - I'm generalizing here - requires a certain amount of empathy.

Of course, an artist has to maintain control. This means making sure conditions are right, which includes being unsentimental about tossing people who aren't doing their job or who reveal themselves to be psychos or whatever. But even firing folks can be done with kindness...
***  
...Probably right-wingers, too, the victims of an epidemic mental illness that a British study has proven to be the result of having an inordinately large amygdala, a part of the primitive brain that causes them to be fearful way past the point of delusion, which explains why their philosophy, their syntax and their manner of thought don't seem to be reality based. That's why, when you hear a Republican speak, it's like listening to somebody recount a particularly boring dream.
***  
When everything's working right (while performing in concert), you become transfixed by the notes and the chords and the beautiful spaces in between. In the center of it, with the drums and the bass and guitar all around you, the earth falls away and it's just you and your crew creating this forward motion, this undeniable, magical stuff that can move ten thousand people to snap free of life's miseries and get up and dance and scream and feel just fine.


So it's five years since Fagen wrote the book and he just lost his long-time collaborator and friend and must be going through a lousy time. I hope he's OK. 

And also I hope that the New Yorker will ask him to write pieces now and then. And give him one of those nifty headshot cartoon icons like Hertzberg has.



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Satie et Valadon

J'ai trouve le dessine de Valadon par Satie

J'ai l'intention d'écrire une pièce du theatre, quand j'ai le temps, et je l'appellerai BONJOUR BIQUI BONJOUR comme la chanson par Satie.

(Can't read this because it's in French? Use the handy language widget on the right-hand side of this blog. But please note, since the blog is in English by default, the widget does not offer English unless you select another language first, then English appears at the top of the language list - which is normally in alphabetical order.) 

Pendant longtemps, j'ai aimais Satie et Valadon, j'ai écrit des articles de blog sur les deux ici. Ce sera un bon défi d'écrire en français et cela peut m'aider à apprendre le français. Et ils ont l'histoire d'amour, c'est très intéressant, mais un peu court en fait. Mais le drame sera taille complet.

Mais je répondrais à la croyance Satie n'avait pas d'amour physique, sauf avec Valadon. Je n'y crois pas. Ce n'est pas possible parce que, dans le monde de Montmartre, tant de femmes qu'il connaissait étaient des prostituées, et il était très normal pour les hommes à cette époque d'utiliser les femmes pauvres de cette façon. Et je ne pense pas qu'il soit différent du tout. Il a eu un amour folle pour Valadon, mais cela n'indique pas une vie sans sexe. En France? Je ne pense pas.

Mais ce n'est pas une chose important pour le drame, c'est ne voit que le cours de la relation.

Ils ont dessiné des portraits les uns des autres, mais je n'ai pas trouvé le dessin de Valadon par Satie. Mais je vais continuer à regarder. 

Apparemment, un musical de l'époque de Montmartret appelé «Mon Paris» a été produit à partir du Longwarf Theatre, mais je ne pense pas qu'il mentionne Satie. Au lieu de cela, il se concentre sur les relations de Valadon avec Toulouse-Lautrec. Heureusement pour moi.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The future is now baby - skies to mergatroyd!


You can now translate my blog into other languages because why the hell not - the future is now baby.

Apparently the name of this site in French is Cieux a Mergatroyd which is literally "skies to mergatroyd" when I ran it back through Google translate's main web site. 

In other French news, I had to explain to my French teacher, who was born in Paris, who, exactly Pepe  Le Pew is. Which was as embarrassing as you probably guessed it was. How would you explain: "The only Warner Brothers character who is French talks like Maurice Chevalier, and is an inter-species serial sexual assaulter - a literal pussy-grabber - who is too dim, or maybe too deranged by uncontrollable lust to tell the difference between a female skunk and a black female cat with a painted white stripe down her back."

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Starra is a star

My friend Starra stars in the video I made to promote the NYCPlaywrights web site. It took me so loooong to finish this thing. And creating the background music alone took me days - much more time than it should have. Oh well, at least it's DONE.


Friday, September 08, 2017

Brilliant work by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I criticized Coates for wanting to stop the production of a TV show based on his suspicions, but when Coates is good he is great.

This essay in The Atlantic is a stellar piece of writing and provides a perfect assessment of the election and a perfect summing-up of where we are now, a month on from Trump's defense of neo-Nazis and the KKK.

So many great passages in his piece, "The First White President"

His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built. But long before birtherism, Trump had made his worldview clear. He fought to keep blacks out of his buildings, according to the U.S. government; called for the death penalty for the eventually exonerated Central Park Five; and railed against “lazy” black employees. “Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” Trump was once quoted as saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” After his cabal of conspiracy theorists forced Barack Obama to present his birth certificate, Trump demanded the president’s college grades (offering $5 million in exchange for them), insisting that Obama was not intelligent enough to have gone to an Ivy League school, and that his acclaimed memoir, Dreams From My Father, had been ghostwritten by a white man, Bill Ayers.
And
To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies. The repercussions are striking: Trump is the first president to have served in no public capacity before ascending to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first president to have publicly affirmed that his daughter is a “piece of ass.” The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible.

He smacks down Anthony Bourdain, very nicely:
“The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes,” charged the celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, “is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now.”
That black people, who have lived for centuries under such derision and condescension, have not yet been driven into the arms of Trump does not trouble these theoreticians. After all, in this analysis, Trump’s racism and the racism of his supporters are incidental to his rise. Indeed, the alleged glee with which liberals call out Trump’s bigotry is assigned even more power than the bigotry itself. Ostensibly assaulted by campus protests, battered by arguments about intersectionality, and oppressed by new bathroom rights, a blameless white working class did the only thing any reasonable polity might: elect an orcish reality-television star who insists on taking his intelligence briefings in picture-book form.

And Sanders and Nicholas Kristof, also well-deserving:
One can, to some extent, understand politicians’ embracing a self-serving identity politics. Candidates for high office, such as Sanders, have to cobble together a coalition. The white working class is seen, understandably, as a large cache of potential votes, and capturing these votes requires eliding uncomfortable truths. But journalists have no such excuse. Again and again in the past year, Nicholas Kristof could be found pleading with his fellow liberals not to dismiss his old comrades in the white working class as bigots—even when their bigotry was evidenced in his own reporting. A visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma, finds Kristof wondering why Trump voters support a president who threatens to cut the programs they depend on. But the problem, according to Kristof ’s interviewees, isn’t Trump’s attack on benefits so much as an attack on their benefits. “There’s a lot of wasteful spending, so cut other places,” one man tells Kristof. When Kristof pushes his subjects to identify that wasteful spending, a fascinating target is revealed: “Obama phones,” the products of a fevered conspiracy theory that turned a long-standing government program into a scheme through which the then-president gave away free cellphones to undeserving blacks. Kristof doesn’t shift his analysis based on this comment and, aside from a one-sentence fact-check tucked between parentheses, continues on as though it were never said. 
Observing a Trump supporter in the act of deploying racism does not much perturb Kristof. That is because his defenses of the innate goodness of Trump voters and of the innate goodness of the white working class are in fact defenses of neither. On the contrary, the white working class functions rhetorically not as a real community of people so much as a tool to quiet the demands of those who want a more inclusive America.
And this passage which I think makes the strongest case against the idea that a vote for Trump was about economics:
But racism occupies a mostly passive place in Packer’s essay. There’s no attempt to understand why black and brown workers, victimized by the same new economy and cosmopolitan elite that Packer lambastes, did not join the Trump revolution. Like Kristof, Packer is gentle with his subjects. When a woman “exploded” and told Packer, “I want to eat what I want to eat, and for them to tell me I can’t eat French fries or Coca-Cola—no way,” he sees this as a rebellion against “the moral superiority of elites.” In fact, this elite conspiracy dates back to 1894, when the government first began advising Americans on their diets. As recently as 2002, President George W. Bush launched the HealthierUS initiative, urging Americans to exercise and eat healthy food. But Packer never allows himself to wonder whether the explosion he witnessed had anything to do with the fact that similar advice now came from the country’s first black first lady. Packer concludes that Obama was leaving the country “more divided and angrier than most Americans can remember,” a statement that is likely true only because most Americans identify as white.
And most deserving of all, he calls out Larry Summers:
Packer dismisses the Democratic Party as a coalition of “rising professionals and diversity.” The dismissal is derived from, of all people, Lawrence Summers, the former Harvard president and White House economist, who last year labeled the Democratic Party “a coalition of the cosmopolitan élite and diversity.” The inference is that the party has forgotten how to speak on hard economic issues and prefers discussing presumably softer cultural issues such as “diversity.” It’s worth unpacking what, precisely, falls under this rubric of “diversity”—resistance to the monstrous incarceration of legions of black men, resistance to the destruction of health providers for poor women, resistance to the effort to deport parents, resistance to a policing whose sole legitimacy is rooted in brute force, resistance to a theory of education that preaches “no excuses” to black and brown children, even as excuses are proffered for mendacious corporate executives “too big to jail.” That this suite of concerns, taken together, can be dismissed by both an elite economist like Summers and a brilliant journalist like Packer as “diversity” simply reveals the safe space they enjoy. Because of their identity.
Towards the end he sums up the horror of the Trump presidency perfectly
And so the most powerful country in the world has handed over all its affairs—the prosperity of its entire economy; the security of its 300 million citizens; the purity of its water, the viability of its air, the safety of its food; the future of its vast system of education; the soundness of its national highways, airways, and railways; the apocalyptic potential of its nuclear arsenal—to a carnival barker who introduced the phrase grab ’em by the pussy into the national lexicon. It is as if the white tribe united in demonstration to say, “If a black man can be president, then any white man—no matter how fallen—can be president.”

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Good night, sweet Prince. I wish you were still eating that sandwich.


Earl Rich died 20 years ago in a motorcycle crash. I've written about Earl several other times on this blog.

He used to joke about being a Republican but we both despised Newt Gingrich. Who is still here, while Earl is gone. 

I wonder what Earl would say if he was told that Donald Trump - who of course was famous even 20 years ago - had become president.

His family had a memorial service for Earl, and I was late arriving thanks to one of Earl's friends giving me the wrong time. So by the time I showed up, the church was packed and it was SRO and the service was winding down. I stood in the back as various people shared their memories of Earl. And the last person who shared memories before the end of the service was a woman named Lisa who had been been a supervisor to both of us when I worked at the company where I met Earl, PTS. And I knew Earl despised her, so I couldn't let that stand, with her being the last one to remember him aloud. So I walked down the church aisle and handed the minister an email that Earl had written to me a year and a half earlier. The minister read it to the gathered mourners:

"I like that phrase "reality sandwich". I think I understand where your coming from. 
Everyone has to take a bite of that sandwich once in a while. Although the sandwich may taste like shit, it's sometimes necessary medicine for those who are stuck with eating it (sorta like cough syrup).
And it doesn't ALWAYS taste bad. In fact, sometimes it can taste downright good. Many of us take those good moments for granted. We both have to take the good with the bad, just like everyone else. But at least we're eating the sandwich!
 
Of course that bite of sandwich can get stuck in your throat if you don't chew thoroughly; thats when it can make you blue. I'm a pretty fast eater and I'm always looking for something to act as a chaser (an admittedly BAD habit). In fact, I had a pretty-damned big chunk of that sandwich stuck in my throat this morning, and I was feeling somewhat discolored. And without any serious pharmaceuticals. But then a pretty cool thing happened. 
I had taken a double-dosage of some cold remedy that's been sitting in our medicine cabinet for quite some time (I do have a cold). I went out for a drive. The sun was out, the snow was everywhere, and Pluto was in the passenger seat. I had a mild buzz going (much to my surprise) either from the medicine, or from my cold. WWDB's Sunday With Sinatra show was churning out some of Franks greatest stuff. The next thing you know - lifes problems seemed kinda distant. Its like for some weird instant you can tune into life. It always seems to happen in different places, at different times, and for different reasons. But its still pretty cool when it does happen. So no matter how fucked over things can get, good moments can still happen. The fact that they don't last, and the fact that there ARE bad moments, are what make the good times worth living for. If those perfect moments lasted, we would all take them for granted. Like that poem by that guy, I think its called "Nothing Gold Can Stay" but I'm not sure. 
Hey, I never claimed to much of a spiritual guy. Thats why I like republicans. 
Well, Monday morning is right around the corner so I have some serious relaxing to take care of. I hope you saved some of that work for me. 
Piece, 
Earl

I was really glad I did that. Earl got the last word at his own funeral.

Someone reworked his old web site - I assume his widow Michelle - moving it from a sub-folder on Voicenet to his very own domain, earlrich.com. But the content is quite different - Earl's original "CUBE" contained his resume and links to computer-related sites and photos of his friends surfing. I don't think the picture there now of the guy with a surfboard is him, I think that's a stock photo. The web site doesn't have any photos of Earl which is a damn shame, he was such a beautiful man. Although photography barely did justice to his beauty.

The site's home page is named 9/7/97 which is the date he died. 

Here is his obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer. He would have been 32 in another month. 

I told him not to get a motorcycle. They are too dangerous. *sigh*

I feel like Earl should be more famous. I am in touch now with only three people who knew him, two former PTS co-workers who are Facebook friends (and I barely ever talk to them there) and my friend Rosemary - Earl helped us become friends - who lives in Austria.

Earl was so beautiful and so beloved and he made such a big impact on my life in the brief time I knew him - only three years. But he inserted himself into my life in a few other ways besides the email. In the summer of 1995 he took a vacation in Key West, where my ex-husband was living at the time and he actually found my ex-husband there and spoke to him a little. My ex-husband was easy to find then he would ride around town on a three-wheeler with his young son in a side-car. 

Then there was the time he pretended to be interested in my sister Eileen (which I never actually believed as Earl was married.)  He sang the song "Come On Eileen" at me and so I think of him - that and several songs by the Beach Boys - whenever I hear it. And he came to my desk at the office and picked up the phone and actually called Eileen to complete the charade. She took it pretty well when I explained it was Earl's bizarre idea of a joke.

Earl lent me one of his old surfboards which I used to try to surf although never got the hang of it. But that was a lovely gesture on his part.

Earl Rich c. 1995 by Nancy McClernan
We communicated via email more than I've communicated with almost anybody I've ever known  - and certainly more than I've ever communicated with anybody else by email. I still have a big binder of print-outs of many of our back-and-forth emails. Most of them are just silly and as I review them now I see that I wrote more often to him, and at much greater length each time than vice-versa but he would occasionally confide in me with some fairly personal stuff, especially about the aforementioned Lisa our supervisor, who was basically sexually harassing him. 

One time when I drew Earl's portrait - see image on the right - which Earl sat for quite willingly and which was certainly not erotic in any way. Lisa told HR I was harassing Earl, the shameless hypocrite that she was.

Lisa was a pretty unattractive woman (one of our co-workers referred to her as "a troll") and in any case Earl was married and she was his supervisor so it was just wrong on many levels and it was quite upsetting to Earl although he tried to be cool about it as you can see here:

BETWEEN YOU AND ME: I've been getting AOL mail from Lisa. Have you? She's asked me twice what my hidden talents are, and I told her they were listed to the repetitive re-booting of my PC. I hope I didn't sound too cold. I try to keep my responses to her E-Mail down to two or three lines, if possible. And I desperately avoid anything the tray even com minutely near to resembling a semblance of being flirtatious. Her last E-Mail was definitely hinting at something (or am I being paranoid)? I haven't thought of a way to answer it yet. I hope she never becomes our official manager. Don't get me wrong, I know she'd be good at it, but as it is I sometimes fee like I have to tiptoe around her. Like this picture thing. If it was anybody else, I'd just say "Hey what're you doing with my picture? Why didn't you ask me for one?" But I can't say that to her. It kind of irks me. Not that you gave them to her, or even that she has them, but rather that she has them and I'm not supposed to know about it. She could've asked me for them, but I guess that would've been strange too. I can't believe how fucking strange the whole situation is. Oh well, we've all been in weird situations before. I just wonder how it'll pan out. 
*** 
Lisa's been saying some interesting things to Patrick also, between you and I. He handles it very well, that well-balanced Spartacus that he is. But her sexual comments don't bother me that much. It's more like her quest for power, her domineering nature. And you're not the only person she sends bad vibes to. She seems to have it in for certain others, but interestingly enough, they are mostly women. I can be uncomfortable around a group costing entirely of women but then again I'd rather not be hanging out with 12 guys. I think everybody is the most comfortable in mixed company. I doubt that I'm the only one who feels this way. I know that if I'm with a bunch of guys and no women are around, the guys may have a tendency to say things and act a certain way. Once a woman is present, a noticeable change (in a lot of cases, but now all) can be seen. Wouldn't it suck to be the person responsible for changing a group's behavior? I'm just a paranoid nutcase: I fit right in here at PTS (Paranoid Towers of Schizophrenia). 
*** 
I didn't let Patrick know how I felt about Lisa because they are pretty tight. They have tea together twice a day, and they walk in the park a lot. (sometimes I go with them, but L's been irritating me so I've been getting out of it as of late) Do you think he'll tell her?? I hope not, or else things are gonna get nasty. Yesterday (thurs) Patrick came into our office, looked at me, and asked "How's Earl doing today?" and before I could say anything Lisa said "He's a little better than yesterday, but we'll see" or something long those lines and I just snapped and said, "keep your nose out of it". But then I felt so bad, because she seemed to take it kinda hard, so I took your advice and spoke with her. I basically smoothed things over - I think these things move in cycles. Although I don't like the way she enjoys talking about other people, the way in which she manipulates ted, and her quest for power (yesterday she was actually getting loud with someone on the phone - I tried not to listen, but couldn't help it - She was going off about how somebody on her Worship Committee didn't get her approval to do something), I do think she's intelligent, and I'm gonna have to live with her for a while. She loves it at PTS, and I'm staying until something better comes along. So I'm going to make myself get along with her - it's not always that hard, sometimes we get along OK without either of us trying. No big deal, until the next explosion. But what's the deal with a worship committee? Why do people need to be told about how to worship? OKOkokok. For now, everything is back to peachy keen, and its gonna stay that way, if I can help it.
Now that you've listened to me spill my guts for the last few days, hows things on your end?

What a sweet and sensitive man. And of course he never did get out of there. He died on the weekend, on his way to enjoy surfing at the Jersey shore.

He would be 51 years old now. I wish he was still eating that sandwich.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Gavin McInnes proclaims his plan to go "mainstream"

After embarrassing the normally shameless Ezra Levant, racist and misogynist Gavin McInnes wants you to know he's leaving Taki's magazine and going mainstream. But more importantly he reminds you that his real focus is not as much on being racist as being misogynist.
I’m rebooting my whole deal and going mainstream. I’ll announce the platform in about a month but it’s going to include TV, radio, the internet, and books. The deal is an exclusive, which means no more The Gavin McInnes Show on Compound Media, no more video commentary on Rebel Media, and no more column here. That doesn’t mean I’ll be any less prolific. I’m still determined to free us all from big government, but I also want to focus on the family. America needs more dads. The left’s obsession with shattering the family and the patriarchy all comes back to daddy issues, and I’m going to reverse that trend. When I first met my wife, I said I had no interest in kids. She convinced me otherwise and my only regret is it all didn’t happen sooner. I want to share that bliss. I want more young men proposing. I want less spinsters. The patriarchy isn’t a fun idea you oughtta try out; it’s the very foundation of our country. The left, along with their deep hatred for Judeo-Christian values, are determined to end the dad.
McInnes pushing the idea that patriarchy is the foundation of our "Judeo-Christian" country is odd considering how often Islamophobes point to Islam as being hostile to and controlling of women. 

I wonder exactly how McInnes thinks he'll go mainstream in his fight to reverse the trend of fewer marriages. Maybe he and his followers will participate in mass weddings a la the Unification Church in order to reduce the number of "spinsters."

Monday, September 04, 2017

The Dan Syndrome

I first posted this 8 years ago but in honor of Walter Becker I'll run it again.  The term "alloy" used in the Mojo article is so perfect for Steely Dan.

I love Steely Dan - have for years. Great music, subversive, literary, non-standard lyrics. And I also love the impact they have on music critics. There is something about writing about SD that makes music critics wax eloquent.
I first noticed this in an article in the British rock magazine Mojo in 1995, which you can conveniently read on Steely Dan's own web site:
Once upon a time, they were the odd couple in rock. They wrote songs that featured knuckle-knotting chords and brain-twisting lyrics. They welded jazz and rock into an alloy so smooth and shiny it was impossible to tell where the one ended and the other began. They gave up on live performance a decade before it became commonplace. They sneered at the world from a position of bohemian priority so rarefied it was hard to tell exactly where it was situated. They routinely ran rings around interviews. They haven't changed.
I was reminded of the Dan-critic synergy because this week, Mike Powell, the Village Voice's music critic has full-blown Dan Syndrome:

The band metes out some free breadsticks and doggy paddles through a couple of songs. Some are so ferociously anticipated by the crowd that it doesn't really matter when the band plays them like clinicians. But most of Friday and Saturday's sets reveal muscles in the music that I never heard on record. "Black Friday" and "Kid Charlemagne" drive the fans to fits, and rightfully, and how. But the real revelation, to me at least, were the slowest, darkest ones: "Haitian Divorce," "The Royal Scam," the unhurried nightmare of "Third World Man" - songs that crawl through apocalyptic visions, each downbeat a crush followed by jets of fume. Live, they pulled weight more reminiscent of heavy metal than cocktail rocks.

On Wednesday, the band cancelled and rescheduled a show in which they'd been scheduled to play the entirety of 1980's Gaucho. In lieu of the concert, I visited my dad, the man partially responsible for my obsession with pop music. Waiting for the rain to calm down, he tossed his umbrella back and forth between hands. "Steely Dan, yeah." He looked out at traffic with the screwed-up face of someone who just saw mouse innards smeared on the sidewalk. "I never 'got' Steely Dan. 'You've been telling me you were a genius since you were 17,' " he continued, quoting "Reelin' in the Years." "It's what I like to call 'feel-bad' music. I only ever really liked 'Don't Take Me Alive.' The image of this guy locked in a room with a bunch of dynamite - that always seemed very Steely Dan to me."

After the performance of Aja on Saturday night, a young man in the row ahead of me shouts for "Don't Take Me Alive." He shouts for it after every song, louder each time. (Fagen finally responds to the hail of requests by saying, " 'Ribbity-bibbity-boppity-boo.' That's what it sounds like to me up here.") Finally, Becker plays a fractured, detached guitar figure. The young man rises, victorious, his fists in the air. An older man next to him, presumably his father, points to him, smiling, proud. Then Fagen sings the song, about a guy locked in a room with a bunch of dynamite. I know what you mean about feel-bad music, but Dad, the crowd likes it.

Unfortunately I couldn't find a good live version of Third World Man on youtube, although Powell had me jonesing seriously to hear it live, but I did find a good "Don't Take Me Alive"



Lyrics:

Agents of the law
Luckless pedestrian
I know you're out there
With rage in your eyes and your megaphones
Saying all is forgiven
Mad dog surrender

How can I answer
A man of my mind can do anything

I'm a bookkeeper's son
I don't want to shoot no one
Well I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive
Got a case of dynamite
I could hold out here all night
Yes I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive

Can you hear the evil crowd
The lies and the laughter
I hear my inside
The mechanized hum of another world
Where no sun is shining
No red light flashing

Here in this darkness
I know what I've done
I know all at once who I am

Sunday, September 03, 2017

RIP Walter Becker

Donald Fagen in Rolling Stone:
Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967. We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm.
We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues.
Walter had a very rough childhood - I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. 



Son you better be ready for love
On this glory day
This is your chance to believe
What I've got to say
Keep your eyes on the sky
Put a dollar in the kitty
Don't the moon look pretty

Tonight when I chase the dragon
The water will change to cherry wine
And the silver will turn to gold
Time out of mind

I am holding the mystical sphere
It's direct from Lhasa
Where people are rolling in the snow
Far from the world we know

Children we have it right here
It's the light in my eyes
It's perfection and grace
It's the smile on my face

Tonight when I chase the dragon
The water will change to cherry wine
And the silver will turn to gold
Time out of mind
 
Children we have it right here
It's the light in my eyes
It's perfection and grace
It's the smile on my face

Tonight when I chase the dragon
The water will change to cherry wine
And the silver will turn to gold
Time out of mind

Saturday, September 02, 2017

10 years ago: Maddow vs. Carlson

Maddow takes Bowtie apart.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Cassatt/Morisot vs. Renoir

The Met is not at all phased by Renoir-hating, obviously, since
they included this Renoir in a membership outreach email.
There doesn't seem to be much going on with the Renoir Sucks at Painting crew outside of their Instagram.

But their Instagram presents evidence connecting Renoir to white supremacists as in these hate mails from the Nazi web site Stormfront and Donald Trump's apartment.

Speaking of Nazis, it turns out Renoir was a bit of an anti-Semite as recorded by Julie Manet the daughter of another impressionist painter Berthe Morisot who was married to the brother of another impressionist Edouard Manet:
 ...Julie quotes Renoir as saying, “[The Jews] come to France to earn money, but if there is any fighting to be done they hide behind a tree… There are a lot of them in the army, because the Jew likes to walk about wearing a uniform”. During the same discussion, Julie notes that Renoir also “let fly on the subject of Pissarro, ‘a Jew’, whose sons are natives of no country and who do their military service nowhere”. Renoir goes on, “It’s tenacious the Jewish race. Pissarro’s wife isn’t one, yet all the children are, even more so than their father.”[15]
On another occasion, Julie quotes Renoir talking about how he “naturally” refused to sign a petition which the Jews and anarchists were signing for a reconsideration of the Dreyfus trial. During another interminable discussion, a “very worked up” Renoir observes that  “the peculiarity of the Jews is to cause disintegration”. On a later occasion he derides Gustave Moreau’s painting as “art for Jews”[16]. 
Renoir's comments about Jews sound exactly like contemporary bigots talking about Muslims.

All the other artists mentioned in this post are better than Renoir, but with the possible exception of Manet, Renoir is the most famous.

The Stormfront comments are idiotic and wrong-headed as Nazi comments will be. The one quoted by the anti-Renoir brigade says: "Renoir created beautiful works of art depicting happy, healthy White people enjoying life. That's why the anti-whites despise him..."

Of course this is blatantly false. Nobody is complaining about the art of Mary Cassatt or Berthe Morisot, who both painted the same exact subjects as Renoir. And yet Renoir is much more famous and revered than either of them. Max Geller, the leading anti-Renoir guy makes a good point:
“I think what’s important to understand is that Renoir actually does suck at painting, and there are plenty of female artists who never get hung in fine art museums because they’re dominated by males,” Geller said. “And if you’re going to dominate, territorially speaking, your walls with white male artists, I think you should make certain that they are good artists.”
And not only did Cassatt and Morisot paint the same kind of subjects as Renoir, sometimes they painted exactly the same subject.

Here are two pastel drawings of a woman in red with her dark hair up in a bun, breastfeeding.  The first is Renoir, the second is Cassatt. You can't get a clearer demonstration of the superior skills of Cassatt with the composition, choice of color, use of paint and draftsmanship. You can't compare the faces since Cassatt's woman  is turned away, but it's unlikely hers has the visage of a slow cow as Renoir's does.

  




And here are two paintings with similar compositions and (almost) the exact same subjects. The first is Berthe Morisot and her daughter Julie Morisot by Renoir and the second is a painting by Morisot of her daughter Julie and Morisot's sister-in-law, who would be around the same age as Morisot.

What a difference - Renoir's is flat in composition and color and lighting, while Morisot's piece has depth and subtlety. Renoir doesn't even attempt a background, content to make it his usual wash.
And you can see that Renoir, as he did with painter Suzanne Valadon when she was young, put Julie Manet through the Renoir-alizer and turned a thoughtful young woman into another generic smiling pretty girl-cow.

Well at least Julie got her revenged by recounting Renoir's anti-Semitism for the world.

Clearly Morisot and Cassatt handled the "white people having fun" every bit as much as Renoir, except they did it much much better. Which is why nobody is saying they suck at painting. But since Renoir had a penis he was and continues to be given much greater respect than either of these two female Impressionists.