a new low in topical enlightenment

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Issue #84 (February 9, 2011)

Lincolns, Meadow Glens School, Naperville, IL

Photo by Joe Carducci

Egypt, and Step on It!
Joe Carducci

It took someone named Crook to get down to some reality about what the President, or the US, or the West, or Anderson Cooper should do about Egypt. In his Financial Times column, "Stop carping at a wise wariness", Clive Crook summarizes the two opposing critical positions which demand either support for Mubarak-our-ally or the forces-of-change-in-the-street, then writes:

“On two things, though, most critics agree. The right course of action for the US was (and still is) apparent; and Mr Obama’s decisions, when he finally makes some, will drive the outcome. The last 10 days of fervid debate among US foreign policy experts have circled around these premises. Both are delusional. This thinking puts US choices at the centre of everything, so you might call it a distinctively American delusion. Surprisingly, this too would be a mistake. The same notions -- that the choices are clear, and that decisions in Washington will influence more than tangentially what happens in Cairo -- hold sway abroad as well. Many who would usually question the US instinct to take charge suddenly want it to….”

What he’s describing is something like courtiers and anti-courtiers colliding yet sparking darkness rather than light. I suspect that darkness is useful somehow in the day-to-day of the careers involved, and not just these TV Anchors, each of which deserves a minimum of ten punches to the head. Frank Rich’s Sunday New York Times column, "Wallflowers at the Revolution", infers we should be more involved except that we were famously too involved. This dissonance accounts for the strange passivity of this column’s meaninglessness. (Note to self: Check Rich’s past columns. Response to self: Do I have to?). Frank ain’t risking ten punches to the head so he’s upset at his TV again:

“We can’t get enough of revolution video — even if, some nights, Middle West blizzards take precedence over Middle East battles on the networks’ evening news. But more often than not we have little or no context for what we’re watching. That’s the legacy of years of self-censored, superficial, provincial and at times Islamophobic coverage of the Arab world in a large swath of American news media.”

David Remnick in the New Yorker prefers to fight the last war even though he lost it:

“In November, 2003, eight months after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began, George W. Bush seemed to break with years of realist orthodoxy, saying, ‘Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom and never even to have a choice in the matter?’ Meanwhile, Bush was pressing the Egyptians not so much to democratize their politics as to rent their torture chambers.”

Touché, I suppose…

Were there no Court and no King, history becomes everyones’ stories massed and there is no author. Who cares about that! Give us Tales of Great Men and their concubines. Our great journalists, analysts and academicians need a white whale to measure themselves against. They’ve lurched from Reagan to Bush to… Palin, all the while dreaming they are stopping incipient American fascism like they did with Nixon or Humphrey or somebody…, meanwhile Mubarak’s been in Cairo all this time, if that’s this story.

This lack of whale was the prime disadvantage the doctrine of Anarchism has always had in marketing itself. People might ask, How do you survive invasions by the Sovereign next door, or of his unhappy desperate millions?, but what they really didn’t get might’ve been, Who will we blame?, or Do I have to attend regular meetings? One doesn’t really get an endorphin kick from replacing the Tsar with merely a free people, and it can take a long time for a race-culture, even one as mixed as the Russians, to give up on grand world-historical religio-national missions. I grew up fascinated enough with the Boris Badenov Bolsheviks to figure out that what they really capitalized on was the people’s instinct for fealty -- too many begged to have history written in their blood. And the Mensheviks and Tolstoyans and others couldn’t manage to convincingly explain what-all the People might achieve for themselves were they to declare themselves as other than raw material for some genius. I stopped reading up on Anarchy in the mid-seventies after The Match! published an interesting piece by Bob Hertz who scolded fellow Anarchists for their idealistic expectation of harmony come freedom. From there it seemed clear to me that different cultures get as much freedom as they, in total, wish. And in that sense, Anarchy does rule, excepting where one distinct culture rules over another.

Americans tolerate more freedom but have nosed around giving more and more away for security -- plenty of countries have more security. America, meaning the United States, is the breakthrough model nevertheless, given the governing syndromes of the old worlds. Often around the world the average people are very interested in America, whereas elites with a franchise or concession to defend in a less free state are wary of its influence. The early Bolsheviks eyed America as a threat, though they understood that its capitalism, if not its revolution, had been necessary by their own theory. But the dynamism that followed it as it settled the west and processed millions of immigrants opting out of much more stable European and Asian lands, scrambled classes and that made Marxists nervous, even though the theory emphasizes the destruction capitalism will wreak on old time-honored feudal and folk ways. Once those are destroyed by capitalism then communism was to arrive. Lenin and Mao didn’t want to wait so they commenced their own destroying sans much creation. Still their ability to control vast nations impressed third world strongmen, whether ex-colonial administrators or ex-guerrillas.

Mubarak and his predecessor Sadat were military men, products of Nasser’s nationalism. Nasser took a lot of risks and mostly failed. Sadat cleaned up after him and was killed by an Islamist group for signing the peace with Israel. Mubarak cleaned up after him and was more colorless and oppressive. After decades of the good works of OPEC and the PLO, the Islamic world finally achieved the coveted Problem #1 status in the first world with the 9-11 attacks. If that wasn’t enough, attacks in London, Madrid, Bali, Moscow, and elsewhere bound the second world to the first; Russia and China even joined as cover for ongoing operations in Chechnya and Xinjiang. Al Qaeda, remember, had given up on attacking the regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, concluding that they were impregnable, backed as they were by America. This was a conclusion probably deduced under the influence of BBC kvetching. But as Crook also writes, “The US did not keep Mr Mubarak in power. Dictators in other Arab countries received less support, or no support, or actual US opposition: they lasted too.”

Post-colonial developments in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey each have changed in turn what has followed elsewhere. That Syria leveled the city of Hama to stop a Muslim Brotherhood revolt in 1982 and that its military is home now and not in Lebanon makes it harder for unrest to manifest. This week’s call for a demonstration failed in Damascus. That Turkey has opened its economy and gradually accommodated rule by an Islamic party also changes what seems possible for a Muslim nation.

Landon Thomas in the New York Times notes that Mubarak came to power in 1981 while Turkey was under rule by military,

“But while Mr. Mubarak, a military man himself, banked upon authoritarian rule, paying only lip service to democratic institutions and running rigged elections, the general behind the Turkish coup, Kenan Evren, moved to withdraw from politics. The constitution he imposed left the military considerable scope to meddle in political affairs, but it allowed civilian institutions to bloom. On the economic front Egypt maintained state control, with many restrictions on foreign trade and domestic competition. By contrast, Turkey, which hopes to join the European Union, has opened up its economy and unleashed a dynamic private sector. Today, with similarly sized populations of about 80 million, Turkey has an economy that is nearly four times the size of Egypt’s.”

One surprising detail in the coverage is that Egypt’s economy has been growing at 6%. This is better than one might assume from casual reading of pre-crisis middle-east reporting. The Mubarak regime must have been yielding some state control over the economy for this much growth to occur. But 6% is likely all the growth that can be allowed by the reigning insider groups and rentiers who cling to the state and can only lose out to new competitors. The easy use of new communications technology by the young demonstrators must really frighten these interests; they sense they could never compete with the ambition and skills on display.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “outside of agriculture, 70% of Egyptian workers work for the government,” and that according to an IMF report this “has inflated the graduates’ wage expectations, put a premium on diplomas over useful skills and diverted talented workers from what might have been more dynamic private-sector enterprises.” That reminds me of Chicago where some of my immigrant tenant-neighbors often dreamed of landing a job with the city -- better pay for less work, and once you’re on the inside you want nothing to change.

Just about any nation can decide it wants to grow at double digits, but more often stability is prized. After all, many of the most frustrated and ambitious Europeans left for America, followed by same from Asia, Latin America, and Africa, leaving greater concentrations of security-prizing populations behind. When the countries of eastern Europe were freed, Slovakia seemed uncertain. It looked like it might secede from Czechoslovakia to join Russia’s CIS club for homesick prison-nations. But they didn’t; they did secede and they wasted about a decade, but then simply decided after one election or another to begin to grow at or near double-digits. Were Egypt to decide to open up its economy now, even if done in a lame-duck Mubarak period, capital from the Gulf states and Turkey would certainly be invested. And more would come from high-growth China and India and Brazil, and from slow-growth Europe and Japan and America. It’s no mystery, but then Egypt, old unchanging Cairo, would become as a new place and its culture would change. Istanbul and Ankara are changed; Baghdad is changed; perhaps Tehran will be soon. Men, especially the older men of the these semi-feudal cultures, have something to lose but it sounds like Egyptians have reached a new consensus.

As for democracy and Islam, here’s Egyptian-American sociologist and Mubarak critic Saad Eddin Ibrahim’s sense of where this Egyptian regime fits in the recent history of the mid-east from his interview at Qantara.de:

“This so-called ‘Islamic exceptionalism’ theory is wrong because 75 per cent of Muslims are actually ruled by democratically elected governments (Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Albania ... not forgetting India with its 165 million Muslims)…. Egypt was a democracy for almost 100 years until the Nasser Revolution of 1952, which brought to an end the Egyptian and Arab liberal age. I argue that the cause of this end was the establishment of the state of Israel…. The defeated Arab armies returned home looking for a scapegoat for their defeat in the first Arab–Israeli war…. [O]nly three months after the signing of the armistice treaty with Israel, there was the first coup d'état in Syria, followed by those in Egypt and Iraq.”

The other important changes in the mid-east landscape are post(pre)-revolutionary Iran, and post-Saddam Iraq. Iran quickly and absurdly claimed the Arab street for an aftershock of its own revolution of 1979. That too started as a secular street revolt, but it was taken over in the eighties by the clerisy that has become its own defensive counterrevolution.

Reuel Gerecht writes in the New York Times about what relevance Iran and Iraq may have for Egypt:

“What we are likely to see in Egypt is not a repeat of Iran, where fundamentalists took undisputed power, but a repeat of Iraq, where Sunni religious parties did well initially but started to fade, divide and evolve as the powerful Sunni preference for laymen of no particular religious distinction comes to the foreground. Sunni Islam has no clerical hierarchy of the holy — it’s tailor-made for nasty arguments among men who dispute one another’s authority to know the righteous path. If the Brotherhood can be corralled by a democratic system, the global effect may not be insignificant.”

Gerecht anticipates the sadly unheroic reality of democracy-attained, however much heroism may be required at its start. Like Baghdad, Cairo was a first city, with its own urban culture that predates Islam and any other monotheism by millennia. It is a capitol and with everyone watching these events it seems the regime has already made the principle concession despite its early dirty tricks at the prison and in the street. But the hard-won post-cold war developmental consensus continues to play out and melt the last pre-modern national cultures. Oddly, there may be no Tiananmen-style massacre in Cairo because of China’s economic achievement since.

Last photo: Baghdad 2011

From the London Desk of Steve Beeho…

Christopher Hitchens at Slate.com, reluctantly concedes how Reagan's "simple-mindedness had a touch of genius to it":

“A bit more than 10 years later, I was having a drink with Timothy Garton Ash in the Glasnost Café, as the coffee shop of the Marriott Hotel in Washington had been renamed while it hosted the joint press conferences of the Reagan and Gorbachev summit. Outside, right-wing Republican nuts wearing Reagan masks were angrily flourishing umbrellas, in order to compare him to Neville Chamberlain in Munich. I said: ‘Well, we've lived to see it. The end of the goddam Cold War.’ Within a much shorter time, the Berlin Wall had gone, and I could verify from the people who had written Reagan's celebrated ‘tear down this wall’ speech that he had insisted on the insertion of these words over the objections of many ‘realists.’”


David Allen Green in the New Statesman on the latest spat between WikiLeaks and the Guardian.


Andrew Neill in the Spectator on the law of unintended consequences and how meritocracy in Britain has declined in the pursuit of greater educational equality:

“As one of the grammar-school generation, I grew up as part of a postwar meritocracy that steadily infiltrated the citadels of power. The public-school-educated still grabbed a disproportionate share of the top jobs. But we were in no doubt that future generations of plain folk would have even more opportunities than we had. It never dawned on us that by the start of the 21st century the meritocracy might come to a grinding halt.”


Paul Gorman has a fascinating blog to accompany Reasons to Be Cheerful, his great book on Barney Bubbles. The collection of Bubbles' wonderful 7" sleeves is just a taster.


An old school Peel Sessions engineer looks back unfondly on the punk era and awards the Pop Group the prize for the Worst Peel Session Ever.

Alcedo Semitorquata by James Fotopoulos

From the Wyoming Desk of Joe Carducci…

Ben Judah in Prospect, "Dragon meets Bear: Reshaping Central Asia".

“The sense that China is reshaping central Asia is affecting Russian strategy in the region. In 2001 Moscow and Beijing (along with smaller central Asian nations) formed the Shanghai Co-Operation Organization (SCO). Anxious about American ‘hyper-power’ after the invasion of Afghanistan, the organisation was founded to fight Islamic extremism, guarantee regime stability and check US influence—through an axis of convenience between the two post-Communist Brics. But Russia tends to like organizations it can dominate—not ones where it is dominated. In what it imagined would be a triumphant SCO Summit after its victory over Georgia in 2008, President Medvedev was annoyed to discover that China opposed the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as sovereign states. He was horrified that during the forum the central Asian leaders, whom Moscow saw as allies and clients, discreetly lined up behind Beijing to resist Russian pressure. As a result, the Kremlin increasingly views the SCO as moribund.”


Boris Nemtsov interviewed at Opendemocracy.net, "Who was Mister Putin?"

Mumin Shakirov: But didn’t the Kremlin actually manage to divide the opposition during the Strategy 31 demonstration? It certainly caused one activist, Lyudmilla Alexeyeva, to fall out with another, Eduard Limonov….

Boris Nemtsov: Now is not the right time to sort out personal relations. I was very disappointed to learn of the disagreement between Alexeyeva and Limonov. Solidarity has done everything it could to resolve this conflict within the Strategy 31 coalition. Those people who are trying to create a rift among the opposition, whether consciously or unconsciously, are helping Putin stay in power. It is better to say good-bye to people like that. If you are on the attack, or going on a reconnaissance mission, you have to do it with people you can trust. The current Solidarity is dependable, although the possibility of being orchestrated by the powers-that-be is always there. The Kremlin is ready for any kind of foul play. Let me give you a recent example. A day before the bomb attack at Domodedovo, Surkov and his protégé Vasily Yakimenko [leader of the pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi], decided to organise another provocation. They got bastard-activists from Nashi and Stal’ [a Nashi offshoot] to phone my former prison cellmates and offer them three thousand dollars each if they publicly declared in interviews that they raped me in the cells. The guys who shared my cell in the remand prison phoned me straight away and told me everything. They are kids with a criminal record and yet they did not fall for this even though they needed the money. Novaya Gazeta wrote about this provocation. And this shows that not everyone can be bought. Surkov is in charge of these pro-Kremlin organisations, and undoubtedly he has Putin’s approval for all these foul tricks. They are clearly panicking and stooping ever lower.”


Tomasz Sommer & Marek Chodakiewicz in World Affairs, "Average Joe: The Return of Stalin Apologists".

The Mystery of 1937, a work brought out in 2010 by the prestigious publishing house Eksmo as part of its ‘Classics of the Russian Thought’ series, is representative of this growing publishing trend. The book consists of three long essays by Yurii Zhukov, Vadim Kozhinov, and Yurii Mukhin, whose collaboration seems calculated to rehabilitate the old adage that any transformation of Russia requires a serious tyranny. But Kozhinov argues that the history of the Great Terror is a record of falsification: both Lenin and Stalin meant well and their only mistake was the lack of control over the secret police apparatus. Moreover, had other leaders, such as Mikhail Tomski or Nikolai Bukharin (who were shot for ‘right-wing deviationism’ in 1936 and 1938, respectively), seized power, the Great Terror would have been much more ruthless…. While defending Stalin’s innocence, Kozhinov also touches upon the so-called ‘Jewish problem’—from which he also exonerates the Soviet generalissimo. Stalin and his minions have nothing in common with the Black Hundred pogromist legacy of the end of the czar’s regime. On the contrary, they really respected Jews. ‘Why while discussing the phenomenon of ‘the year 1937’ are so many Jewish names always mentioned?’ Kozhinov asks. The explanation is obvious and entails the deployment of Marxist dialectics and social Darwinism. Jews poured into Russia in the wake of the 1917 revolution because the ban on Jewish migrations outside of the Pale of Settlement was abolished. There were officially only 6,400 Jews in Moscow in 1912 and 241,700 in 1933. Their ascent occurred further because members of the traditional Russian elite were exterminated. The Russian Jews replaced them through a ‘natural selection’ process because, on the average, they were better educated than the rest of Russian society. The Jews adapted better to the new circumstances in the Soviet Union, and their ‘overrepresentation’ in Stalin’s government and party institutions occurred ‘naturally,’ just as the Great Terror did later on.”


Valentina Pop at EUobserver.com, "Nato’s new headquarters to cost €1 billion."

“The initial price tag for the construction itself was at €650 million, but following the bidding procedure, the Belgian state who hosts the facility managed to lower it by 28 percent, to €460 million. On top of that come other expenses, such as demolition costs, site security, cabling, IT and audiovisual facilities, as well as personnel costs, leading to the total estimate of €1 billion. During a ground-breaking ceremony in December 2010, Mr Rasmussen had said the new mega-headquarters were needed to accommodate all the delegations and staff, currently hosted in a barrack-style compound that was provisionally offered to Nato by the Belgian state in 1967 when the alliance was kicked out of France.”


Joshua Kurlantzick in New Republic, "The Belligerents".

“Each year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its affiliated organizations hold hundreds of meetings, at which officials from countries across Asia come together to issue bland, verbose communiqués about everything from agriculture management to the handling of spiny dogfish and to listen to interchangeable speeches by government officials…. Attendees address each other as ‘your excellency’ and keep up constant streams of flattery. All of which made the events at last July’s ASEAN Regional Forum, held in Hanoi, rather unusual. On the sidelines of the meeting, several Southeast Asian nations, fearful of China’s growing power, had been pushing the United States to reassert a larger role in the region, particularly to mediate disputes in the contested South China Sea, which China claims almost in its entirety. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed these countries’ demands—declaring that freedom on the South China Sea was in America’s ‘national interest’—Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi lost his composure. According to several reports, he suddenly got up and exited the meeting. One hour later, he returned and launched into a 30-minute-long monologue. At one point, Yang mocked his hosts, the Vietnamese; at another, he declared, ‘China is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that’s just a fact.’ Yang stared down the foreign minister of Singapore, a country known in the region as one of America’s staunchest friends. The Singaporean foreign minister, a normally placid man named George Yeo, stared right back.”


Patrick Deneen in American Conservative, "Science of Tyranny".

“Defenders of the natural order from Henry David Thoreau to Aldo Leopold to Wendell Berry have argued against the role of modern science in the decimation of the natural world and in fostering an ethic of plunder. At the heart of this internal division is a disagreement over the nature of liberty, that permanent if contested American aspiration. According to the originators of the modern scientific project—especially Francis Bacon…—science would liberate humanity from the limits imposed by nature. Bacon said, ‘knowledge is power,’ and modern science is the means to that empowering knowledge. This Baconian confidence is given official sanction in Article 1 of the Constitution, requiring Congress to support ‘the progress of Science and useful Arts.’ The voices cautioning against America’s embrace of science invoke an ancient idea of liberty as self-government. In this tradition, slavery is seen not primarily as subordination to another—a condition in which one’s soul could be free—but rather as submission to one’s unrestrained appetite. These Cassandras warned that the scientific project would lead not to thoroughgoing freedom, but instead to a more profound bondage, including the prospect that we would cease to possess the inclination or ability to control the very creations of science itself…. What makes the Farewell Address so extraordinary is that Eisenhower acknowledges that liberty depends not only on America’s ability to develop appropriate scientific and technological responses to great international threats, but also on America’s capacity to govern the consequences of the scientific imperative itself. Eisenhower saw clearly that America’s resistance to the temptations of power was giving way to the demands of a permanent garrison state. The project of defending American liberty would require a massive expansion of government—particularly the executive—and the extensive influence of military players in the political process would increase the need for ‘secrecy and dispatch.’ But more, the dependence upon science would decisively tip the scale toward liberty conceived as the overcoming of nature, premised upon an unrelenting expansion of power.”


Stuart Ferguson in WSJ on The North American Journals of Prince Maximilian of Wied.

“The prince has already spent an exhilarating five weeks watching as various tribes, including the Blackfoot, arrive at Fort McKenzie to offer their furs in return for trade goods, especially whiskey. As each new group approaches the fort—chanting, firing rifles, carrying flags—cannons in the blockhouse return the salute, the echoes resounding over the river and across the prairie. Outside the fort, the Indians erect teepees with colorful banners atop their poles; horses, dogs and children run about in a happy confusion. We know about these scenes because Prince Maximilian—arriving in the U.S. just four months after another European aristocrat, Alexis de Tocqueville, had left—kept a journal of his journey, in which he recorded everything, from weather and the workings of the fur trade to riverbank fossils and the wildlife all around: bison, eagles, snakes, wolves and bighorn sheep. He made notes on the vocabularies of the Indian tribes (‘the short, abrupt sounds’ of the Gros Ventres des Prairies make their conversations ‘most strange and fantastic’) and their styles of face paint.”


John Bussey in WSJ, "U.S. Firms, China Are Locked In Major War Over Technology".

“China's bureaucrats have been rolling out an array of interlocking regulations and state spending aimed at making their country a global technology powerhouse by 2020.
The new initiatives—shaped by rising nationalism and a belief that foreign companies unfairly dominate key technologies—range from big investments in national industries to patent laws that favor Chinese companies and mandates that essentially require foreign companies to transfer technology to China if they hope to sell in that market. To hear U.S. business executives describe it, Beijing's mammoth new industrial policy is like the Borg in ‘Star Trek’—an enormous organic machine assimilating everything in its path, in this case the inventions of other nations. Notably, China's road map, which is enshrined in the ‘National Medium- and Long-Term Plan for the Development of Science and Technology (2006-2020),’ talks in those terms. China will build its dominance by ‘enhancing original innovation through co-innovation and re-innovation based on the assimilation of imported technologies.’”


Economist on Adam Segal’s book, Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge.

“Mr Segal offers two other broad reasons to think America’s economy will remain on top. While accepting that Asia will probably surpass America in absolute spending and sheer numbers of graduates, he remains sceptical about the foundations of Asian innovation. He points to troubling evidence that challenges the quality of the many patents, papers and engineering degrees seen in India and China. His second, and more striking, argument is that the challengers lack America’s resilient, open and risk-taking culture. America must shore up this defence, he insists, pointing to policies that will encourage immigration and early-stage investment in firms, and hasten ideas from universities to the marketplace. With such tweaks, America’s Schumpeterian approach will fare better than the brittle, top-down innovation policies seen in Asia.”


Economist: "Hu’s Coup".

“Almost lost amid the many transactions signed on January 21st to coincide with the visit of China’s President Hu Jintao to America was an agreement by ICBC to buy 80% of the Bank of East Asia’s small, almost profitless, retail-branch network in New York and California for $140m. If approved, the transaction would be significant because for the first time a Chinese mainland bank would have activities operating under America’s regulatory framework. But its importance goes beyond that. A tick in the box by American regulators, expected by the end of the year, would mean that they have endorsed the soundness of China’s government-controlled and politically directed banking system. That has been a barrier to Chinese banks expanding in America.

In recent years American supervisors have stopped short of granting full approval for Chinese firms, instead allowing them only to provide wholesale services to companies. Even then, in at least one case, supervisors have insisted that the permit be contingent on further improvements in the Chinese firm’s operating procedures. A licence for a retail operation must pass a higher threshold since local branches will be covered by America’s deposit-insurance umbrella.”


Clifford Coonan in Independent, "Mystery of the mummy’s Chinese travel ban".

“The mummy was recovered from China's Tarim Basin, in Xinjiang province. But her Caucasian features raised the prospect that the region's inhabitants were European settlers. It raises the question about who first settled in Xinjiang and for how long the oil-rich region has been part of China. The questions are important – most notably for the Chinese authorities who face an intermittent separatist movement of nationalist Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim people who number nine million in Xinjiang. The government-approved story of China's first contact with the West dates back to 200BC when China's emperor Wu Di wanted to establish an alliance with the West against the marauding Huns, then based in Mongolia. However, the discovery of the mummies suggests that Caucasians were settled in a part of China thousands of years before Wu Di: the notion that they arrived in Xinjiang before the first East Asians is truly explosive.”


Andrew Jacobs in NYT, "Macao Journal".

“‘There are probably more Macanese living in California and Canada than Macao,’ said Miguel de Senna Fernandes, a lawyer and playwright whose father, something of a local cultural institution, chronicled the lives of ordinary Macanese in a series of novels. ‘Now that we are part of China, we are facing a very absorbing, overpowering force.’ Not that Mr. Fernandes is giving up. In addition to organizing social events through his group, the Macaenses Association, he has also emerged as the Don Quixote of Patuá, which is listed by Unesco as an endangered language. He helped publish a dictionary of Patuá expressions, and for the past 18 years he has staged an annual play that revives what local people call ‘doci papiaçam,’ or sweet speech, a stew of archaic Portuguese, Malay and Singhalese spiced with English, Dutch and Japanese, and more recently, a large helping of Cantonese. Mr. Fernandes, 50, traces his fascination with Patuá to his grandmother, who would slip into it when gossiping with friends during ‘chá gordo,’ or fat tea, a typically Macanese interpretation of English high tea whose overabundance of Malaysian noodles, codfish fritters and custard tarts explains the fat. ‘Drawn by their laughter, I would hide in the corner and later ask my grandmother about expressions I’d never heard before,’ he said. More often than not they were unsuitable for an 8-year-old’s ears but his grandmother would oblige with sanitized translations, followed by an admonishment to stick to studying proper Portuguese. ‘The old-timers considered Patuá broken or bad Portuguese,’ he said, ‘but since then I’ve been hooked.’”


People’s Daily: "Indian hegemony continues to harm relations with neighbors".

“Given the country's history, hegemony is a hundred-percent result of British colonialism. Dating back to the era of British India, the country covered a vast territory including present-day India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh as well as Nepal. India took it for granted that it could continue to rule the large area when Britain ended its colonialism in South Asia. A previous victim of colonialism and hegemony started to dream about developing its own hegemony. Obsessed with such mentality, India turned a blind eye to the concessions China had repeatedly made over the disputed border issues, and refused to drop the pretentious airs when dealing with neighbors like Pakistan.”


Jim Yardley in NYT, "Tibetan Lama Faces Scrutiny and Suspicion in India".

“Then only 14, Ogyen Trinley Dorje was one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most revered incarnate lamas, and his journey through the icy passes of the Himalayas was viewed as a major embarrassment for China. The youth arrived in India in early 2000 to a euphoric greeting from Tibetan exiles. India, though, was less certain about what to do with him. Intelligence agencies, suspicious of his loyalties and skeptical of his miraculous escape, interrogated him and tightly restricted his travel. He remains mostly confined to the mountainside monastery of a Tibetan sect different from his own. And that spurred an idea: He wanted his own monastery. Eventually, his aides struck a deal to buy land.
Now, the 17th Karmapa, as he is known, has seen his quest for a monastery unexpectedly set off a national furor, fanned by Indian media that have tapped into growing public anxiety about Chinese intentions on their disputed border.”


Mark Arax in NYT, "For a Hmong Hero, a Lavish Farewell".

“It was, in some respects, a state funeral for a people who, decades after landing in the United States as slash-and-burn farmers new to written language, could still see themselves as stateless. ‘I have been crying for weeks,’ said Youa Vang, a distant cousin of the general who buried her soldier husband almost 40 years ago in their Laotian mountain village. ‘I worry that the Americans will treat us differently now that our father is gone,’ she said. ‘Tell the Americans to still love us the same way.’ General Vang Pao died of pneumonia on Jan. 6, after celebrating Hmong New Year in Fresno. That it took a full month to stage the service spoke to its intricate pageantry and the general’s singular standing, but also to the rifts that simmer among the 18 Hmong clans over how to conduct their affairs in this land of exile. In the end, clan leaders decided, a three-day service would not be sufficient. The shamans would need double that time to guide the general’s outsize soul back to his birthplace, the highlands of Laos.”


Scott Baldauf in CSM, "Hunger and food security: Is Africa selling the farm?"

“By all rights, Africa could be a breadbasket for the world. Its fertile land, lengthy rivers, and farm labor tempt investors from around the globe. But the continent continues to import the bulk of its staple food items, including corn, wheat, and rice from richer countries. On paper, foreign investment in African agriculture should correct that trade imbalance and help Africa become food self-sufficient. With global food prices skyrocketing, the demand for biofuels increasing, and the amount of arable land static, Africa is well situated to capitalize on global demand. And with its vast rural populations living on less than $1 a day, it would seem hungry for such deals. So the continent's discontent with these deals takes many development experts by surprise. Almost any investment in a poor country generates jobs, tax revenues, and better skills for the future. But in today's Africa, investment in agriculture – even a $6 billion long-term deal like Daewoo's – is increasingly portrayed by the media and rights groups as ‘land-grabbing,’ neocolonialism, and even a threat to a country's ability to feed itself. And when many African countries are still unable to feed themselves, foreign investment can become the spark for revolution.”


Jeffrey Gettleman in NYT, "Fighting Congo’s Ills With Education and an Army of Women".

“The government, which has done little to address the problem, sent a high-level delegation to the opening of City of Joy. As the dignitaries arrived, hundreds of children lined the road, their toes squishing in the mud. Police officers patrolled with rusty rifles and ill-fitting helmets sitting crookedly on their heads. Pakistani peacekeepers stood in their jeeps, fingers on the trigger. Ms. Ensler came up with the idea for the center about three years ago after hearing from Congolese women that they wanted a safe place where they could learn skills. While some of the center’s alumnae will return to their villages, others will carry out the mission in other ways. ‘I don’t want to go back to my village and get raped again,’ said Jane Mukoninwa, who had been gang-raped twice and will be in the first class of leadership recruits. ‘I want to learn to read and write so I can stay in Bukavu.’ She added: ‘I’m angry. And if I can get some skills, I can be an advocate.’ On Saturday, the women gave Ms. Ensler a spirited send-off. They surprised her with a gift they bought, a wooden carving of a mother and child, and pressed around her, dancing.

They sang: ‘Why did you accept to carry us? We will never leave you to the end.’
Ms. Ensler wiped the tears from her eyes.”


Jerusalem Post: Erdogan: ‘Israel must not intervene in Egypt’s matters’.

“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that ‘Israel must under no circumstance interfere’ in what is happening in Egypt, Turkish daily Huriyyet reported. Speaking to a group of reporters at the opening of a ‘friendship bridge’ between Turkey and Syria, Erdogan said he had made this point to US President Barack Obama and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, adding that they should intervene to stop Israel should it be ‘inclined to meddle in Egypt in a last-ditch effort to try and turn the tide against the anti-Mubarak demonstrators,’ Huriyyet reported. The Turkish paper analyzed Erdogan's statement, saying that it indicates that Israel and Greece ‘are likely to cozy up to each other in an effort to give the appearance that they are standing together against Turkey.’”


Hernando de Soto in WSJ, "Egypt’s Economic Apartheid".

“Today, when the streets are filled with so many Egyptians calling for change, it is worth noting some of the key facts uncovered by our investigation and reported in 2004:

• Egypt's underground economy was the nation's biggest employer. The legal private sector employed 6.8 million people and the public sector employed 5.9 million, while 9.6 million people worked in the extralegal sector.
• As far as real estate is concerned, 92% of Egyptians hold their property without normal legal title.
• We estimated the value of all these extralegal businesses and property, rural as well as urban, to be $248 billion—30 times greater than the market value of the companies registered on the Cairo Stock Exchange and 55 times greater than the value of foreign direct investment in Egypt since Napoleon invaded—including the financing of the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dam. (Those same extralegal assets would be worth more than $400 billion in today's dollars.)

The entrepreneurs who operate outside the legal system are held back. They do not have access to the business organizational forms (partnerships, joint stock companies, corporations, etc.) that would enable them to grow the way legal enterprises do…. To open a small bakery, our investigators found, would take more than 500 days. To get legal title to a vacant piece of land would take more than 10 years of dealing with red tape. To do business in Egypt, an aspiring poor entrepreneur would have to deal with 56 government agencies and repetitive government inspections. All this helps explain who so many ordinary Egyptians have been ‘smoldering’ for decades. Despite hard work and savings, they can do little to improve their lives.”


Economist - "Schumpeter: The crescent and the company".

“Angus Maddison has calculated that in the year 1000 the Middle East’s share of the world’s gross domestic product was larger than Europe’s—10% compared with 9%. By 1700 the Middle East’s share had fallen to just 2% and Europe’s had risen to 22%.
The standard explanations for this decline are all unsatisfactory. One is that the spirit of Islam is hostile to commerce. But if anything Islamic scripture is more pro-business than Christian texts. Muhammad was a merchant, and the Koran is full of praise for commerce. A second explanation is that Islam bans usury. But so do the Torah and the Bible. A third—popular in the Islamic world—is that Muslims were victims of Western imperialism. But why did a once-mighty civilisation succumb to the West?

In The Long Divergence Mr Kuran advances a more plausible reason. The Middle East fell behind the West because it failed to produce commercial institutions—most notably joint-stock companies—that were capable of mobilising large quantities of productive resources and enduring over time. Europeans inherited the idea of the corporation from Roman law. Using it as a base, they also experimented with ever more complicated partnerships. By 1470 the house of the Medicis had a permanent staff of 57 spread across eight European cities. The Islamic world failed to produce similar innovations. Under the prevailing ‘law of partnerships’, businesses could be dissolved at the whim of a single partner. The combination of generous inheritance laws and the practice of polygamy meant that wealth was dispersed among numerous claimants.”


Kimberley Strassel in WSJ, "Rumsfeld’s ‘Slice of History’".

“The memoir relates notable instances when this dynamic played out, but none with more consequence than the muddled plan for postwar Iraq. The Defense Department pushed early on ‘to do what we'd done in Afghanistan’—where a tribal loya jirga had quickly anointed Hamid Karzai as leader. ‘The goal was to move quickly to have an Iraqi face on the leadership in the country, as opposed to a foreign occupation.’ Mr. Rumsfeld's early takeaway from NSC meetings was that ‘the president agreed.’ Yet Colin Powell's State Department was adamantly opposed. It was suspicious of allowing Iraqi exiles to help govern, claiming they'd undermine ‘legitimacy.’ It also didn't believe a joint U.S.-Iraqi power-sharing agreement would work. These were clear, substantive policy differences, yet in Mr. Rumsfeld's telling, Ms. Rice allowed the impasse to drag on. The result was the long, damaging regency of Paul Bremer as the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority—which Mr. Rumsfeld believes helped inspire the initial Iraq insurgency.”


David Wessel in WSJ, "The Quest for a ‘Charter City’".

“For the past couple of years, economist Paul Romer has been hopscotching the globe looking for a country desperate enough to try his audacious notion: Start a new ‘charter city,’ an enclave free of old laws and practices, as William Penn did in Pennsylvania. (Think ‘charter school,’ a school free of union contracts and school bureaucracy.)
He thinks he's found the perfect place to build a city that could be as prosperous as Hong Kong or China's Shenzhen: Honduras.”


Mercopress.com: "Mujica calls on ruling coalition ‘not to kill the golden eggs hen’ of investment".

“The president’s message was directed to several parties in the catch all ruling coalition that stretches from conservative Christian democrats to the Communist party and his own former urban guerrillas now organized as a political movement, who are insistently claiming for a ‘re-distribution of wealth’ given the sustained growth of the Uruguayan economy. Mujica said that until 2005, the (Uruguayan) people number one demand was ‘jobs, the lack of jobs’, but that is no longer so. ‘Why? Because investment has multiplied and I believe all economists, from all different schools agree that the most efficient way to create jobs is through investments’.”


Matt Welch in Reason, "The C-Word".

“Since the original article was published, vaccination rates have tumbled in the U.K. and U.S., while measles rates have shot up. Certainly Wakefield and The Lancet shoulder some responsibility for the damage done to public health. But bad information does not spread and trigger action (or, in this case, inaction) without a willing audience. The vaccine/autism link has been debunked repeatedly since 1998—by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine, and the British National Health Service, among many others. Yet the myth persisted. Why? One reason is perfectly understandable: Reported incidence of autism was going up, and parents in this overprotective age were freaking out. Anti-vaccine sentiment also overlapped with the ideas of the all-natural wing of the counterculture. But a key precondition for believing and propagating the anti-vaccine myth was a fundamental distrust of corporations, especially the pharmaceutical variety. ‘The story of how government health agencies colluded with Big Pharma to hide the risks of [the MMR-style vaccine ingredient] thimerosal from the public is a chilling case study of institutional arrogance, power and greed,’ Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote in an influential, conspiratorial, and widely debunked article for Rolling Stone in 2005. ‘The evidence suggests our public-health authorities knowingly allowed the pharmaceutical industry to poison an entire generation of American children.’ You do not need to be an apologist for Big Pharma to observe that maybe it’s against the self-interest of an industry to deliberately poison its customers. So how does one arrive at such a monstrous conclusion?”


Tim Cavanaugh in Reason, "Farewell, My Lovely".

“[O.C. Supervisor James] Moorlach alludes to a striking feature of the current pension reform movement: It is a revolt led by the supporters of big government. At every level, Californians want assertive government. Republican farmers demand cheap water and more than $2 billion a year in subsidies. Unionized TV and movie productions command incentives such as $500 million in tax credits. In popular referenda during the last five years, California voters have voted themselves nearly $100 billion in bonded debt. The acceptable question is no longer whether to spend but what to spend it on. This is why the most aggressive lobbying for pension reform is coming not from fiscal conservatives but from progressives, who see the logarithmic cascade of pension liability as a threat to public parks, environmental programs, and rail transit.”


Kevin Mattson in Dissent, "Cult Stud Mugged".

“Today, the idea that science is an elitist practice that excludes what ordinary citizens want to believe is no longer the domain of the populist academic Left. Like so many of the populist tendencies in cultural debate, it has become a hallmark of the Right. The same year the Sokal hoax occurred, the Discovery Institute was founded in Seattle, a think tank devoted to promoting an updated version of creationism called ‘intelligent design.’ Discovery Institute scholars began to crank out papers echoing one of the better-known refrains from the academic culture wars, urging educators to follow an open-minded course of ‘teaching the controversy.’ Teachers don’t need to endorse creationist curricula, the Institute’s argument goes; instead, they can teach intelligent design as just another paradigm like evolution—itself a master narrative requiring interrogation. Phillip Johnson, the chief intellectual guru behind the Discovery Institute, admitted his politics were rightward but claimed his ideas were ‘dead-bang mainstream’ in ‘academia these days.’ The same dynamic lurks behind the Right’s climate-change denialism—right down to the think-tank front groups. In other words, the postmodern Left of the nineties provided fertile ground for the anti-intellectual backlash of the following decade.”


Adam Curtis at BBC.co.uk, "Rupert Murdoch - A Portrait of Satan".

“Following the principle that you should know your enemy, the BBC has assiduously recorded the relentless rise of Rupert Murdoch and his assault on the old ‘decadent’ elites of Britain. And I thought it would be interesting to put up some of the high points. It is also a good way to examine how far his populist rhetoric is genuine, and how far its is a smokescreen to disguise the interests of another elite. As a balanced member of the BBC - I leave it to you to decide. Murdoch first appears in the BBC archive in a short fragment without commentary shot in 1968. It shows him ambling into the City of London on his way to see Sir Humphrey Mynors who was head of the City Takeover Panel Murdoch was going to ask Sir Humphrey for permission to take over the News of the World. Then he is interviewed afterwards.”


Laramie Boomerang: "Snow Train Assemblage at Depot".

“Barring a white-out blizzard, four pieces of railroad equipment will be moved from various places around Laramie to Railroad Heritage Park, located just south of the historic Laramie Railroad Depot on First and Kearney on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Wasatch Railroad Contractors, the firm hired for this project, subcontracted with Black Hills Trucking, from Casper, to handle the moves. Black Hills Trucking will leave Casper at 5 a.m. Monday with three trucks and two cranes, arriving at the engine between 9 and 10 a.m. The engine and tender are currently in LaBonte Park. Between 11 a.m. and noon, the cranes will move into position, one on each side of the 190,000-lb Union Pacific 535 steam engine, and lift it. Then a trailer will be backed under the engine and the engine will be lowered. The truck, trailer and engine will move forward onto Sixth and park while the tender is placed on a second trailer. Between 1 and 2 p.m., the two trucks will head south on Sixth for Railroad Heritage Park, escorted by the Laramie Police Department. The move will take about 45 minutes.”


Alien Boy: the Death and Life of James Chasse is a feature-length documentary film that:

* Examines the events of Sept. 17, 2006; 
* Explores the impact and meaning of James Chasse’s death; 
* Asks questions about how we as a society treat those with mental illness.

The film takes a deep look at Chasse’s life, uncovering his suburban childhood, participation in Portland’s early punk rock scene, the teenage onset of his schizophrenia, the peeling away of friendships and opportunities as his illness progressed into his adulthood, and his ability to carve out an independent existence despite his mental illness.


Freeman House at Arthurmag.com, "One hundred years from now in a northern California valley."

“Contact between whites and natives didn’t happen here in my part of North America until 150 years ago, which makes it easier to think like this. You can still see enough of the earlier patterns in the landscape to be able to guess at what it looked like then. Once contact did happen, however, it proceeded with unrelenting fury. Within a seven year period ending in 1862, the 10,000-year-old culture that had been so wonderfully adapted to this little tuck in the Coast Range was reduced to a few broken individuals hanging on locally and a handful more isolated from the source of their identity, bereft of home on the reservation a hundred miles away. Life was pleasant for the whites, in a rough sort of way. For a hundred years or so, pleasant enough so that even now some cowboys look back on that time as the very peak of existence.”


New issue of Perfectsoundforever.com edited by Robert Christgau.

“This second issue of Perfect Sound Forever constructed from student papers draws on a somewhat smaller pool than the first -- two years instead of four and no Princeton ringers. All the pieces here were written by students in my Artists and Audiences course at NYU's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music over the past two years. Artists and Audiences is required for sophomores in the major. Though it has ‘a strong writing component,’ it's basically an introduction to pop history and aesthetics. So these students are pretty young and don't conceive themselves as writers…. Because all of them regard music as their vocation, their strictly musical insights tend to be especially sharp -sharper than the run of rock criticism on the web or elsewhere.”


Ethan Mordden in WSJ on Donald Bogle’s book, Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters.

“Barking and snapping as she goes, Waters collected enemies as if it were a hobby. She came up tough and trusted no one, especially whites, producers and Lena Horne. Mr. Bogle quotes the aesthete Carl Van Vechten, who told her: ‘Ethel, you never ask for anything, and you never thank anyone for anything.’ Waters never made the required statements on the racial politics that overwhelmed the last years of her life. An interviewer wanted to know how Waters would feel if some restaurant refused to serve her because she was black—the pain, the dishonor. ‘Land, no honey!’ she replied. ‘I can't stand white cooking!’ Waters didn't believe in a responsibility to lead, a stance that confused a public that paradoxically expects both arrogance and humility from its stars. Waters had neither. At times her behavior—spatting with colleagues over imaginary insults, resenting director John Ford on the movie Pinky (1949) so intensely that he quit the film—suggests one of those gifted disasters who live in a kind of genius panic, unsure of their talent. On the contrary: her talent was the only thing Waters was sure of. She was among the few show-business figures— Fred Astaire, Katharine Hepburn and Cole Porter also come to mind—who made the big time bigger through the sheer uniqueness of what they did. During the tryout of ‘As Thousands Cheer,’ one of its co-authors, Moss Hart, asked Waters if she minded following Marilyn Miller and Clifton Webb in a gala song-and-dance number that might well stop the show. ‘Hell, no, Mr. Hart,’ Waters replied. ‘I like working on a hot stage!’”


Wyn Davis of Media Art Studio, Hermosa Beach, and Total Access Studio, Redondo Beach interviewed in the new Razorcake on Spot, Greg Ginn, Hüsker Dü, Saint Vitus, Sublime, No Doubt, Guns n’ Roses, Dokken, KRLA-AM, KMET-FM…

Ryan: Were you recording bands before punk or did the movement provide the impetus needed?

Wyn: As unhip as it sounds, my consciousness of punk rock was totally given to me by the kids in the Hermosa Beach scene. While I was working at recording my own brand of ’70s crap, Black Flag and the Descendents were sort of coalescing at The Church in Hermosa. Media Art was located right next to The Church.

Ryan: Media Art was where Black Flag recorded their Nervous Breakdown EP, correct?

Wyn: That’s right. Spot worked on it. Spot was employed at Media Art. He really made me aware of punk rock and introduced me to the guys at SST…. I didn’t really plug into the British scene or anything. I didn’t follow the Sex Pistols in 1977. I only started paying attention to punk rock when it started happening right in front of me. The guys in punk rock were pretty fucking crazy. They were living life like it was going to end tomorrow.”


Carlo Prosperi on discovering SST releases in 1980s West Germany and Italy:

“I should've written this a couple of months ago, when Saint Vitus was to play here in Milan, Italy until the show was cancelled at last minute. Too bad, I would have really liked to attend my first ever Vitus gig a few days after Armando Acosta's passing, but this city has been dead to music for a while now (I hardly manage to see a couple of good gigs a year, the last one being a solo show from Bob Mould last winter) so I decided I would take a couple of minutes to write down a story I've been wanting to relate for a while now, the story of how I got my first ever SST record so many years ago.

I became familiar with punk rock and the SST bands when I was like twenty (circa 1988), after coming to Milan to attend university and stumbling onto a mag piece about fIREHOSE which of course mentioned the Minutemen. After buying "Buzz or howl" I quickly became addicted to Hüsker Dü, Meat Puppets, Saccharine Trust as well. Then came the first edition of R&TPN, which helped me understand WHY I loved the bands that I loved.

But it was after a long time that I discovered that I had bought my first SST record much earlier, in my mid-teens, when I was a small-town metal fan and the scene was embracing the speed-thrash metal subgenre. At the time I was basically into Iron Maiden, Metallica and Motörhead (in strictly reverse order of importance!) while of course being aware of AC/DC, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin (Black Sabbath I was only vaguely familiar with; The cult of BS came later, curiously enough just like Black Flag came later among SST bands - I assume this was because the two Blacks inspire such awe that I was intimidated by them).

Anyway, when I was like 16, our school took us on a trip to Munich, Germany. I was wandering by myself when I stumbled into a decrepit record store. Walking down the steps to the basement I found a wealth of records like I'd never seen, so I spent some time inspecting each and every bin. Like most "scenesters", I was prone to bandwagoning, so I ill-advisedly used to buy a lot of rubbish at the time (Anthrax, Slayer, you name it). I was also green and often had no clue, so when I found this record by a band called Overkill I thought I was holding a rarity in my hands, something the NY (fake) band had recorded with some other line-up or something....

Fact is I bought that record and, back home, started listening to it a lot. I sorted out that this had to be an entirely different band and decided I liked this one much better than the NY one until, many years later, I became aware it was an SST record and had your name on it. This always puts a smile on my face when I think of it at the time, a few of my friends were in short-lived, homage metal bands. I gave a cassette of "Triumph of the Will" to a drummer friend (I had seen his band live maybe a couple of times and he had given me their demos) and told him: "Hey, check this out. you should play more like these guys". I remember he gave it a listen but didn't like it. No wonder he now has a pretty family and plays golf as a hobby... hope I haven't wasted your time too bad. Take care. --Carlo”


Minutemen / Saccharine Trust split single release.

1. 9:30 May 2
2. Clocks
3. Prelude
4. Disillusioned Fool
5. Hearts And Barbarians
6. A Christmas Cry


Trust #146 is out. German fanzine with features on Saint Vitus, Hallogallo 2010, Shellac.


The Stash Dauber’s Leslie West / Vagrants rundown.


Obituaries of the Week

LeRoy Grannis (1917 - 2011)

“Grannis was born Aug. 12, 1917, at his parents' home less than a block from the Hermosa Beach surf. In second grade, he earned a nickname that stuck: ‘Granny.’

Morning swims with his father at age 5 gave way to surfing by the time Grannis was 14. He carved his first surfboard out of a 6-foot slab of pine. In 1931, he got on a board for the first time. ‘There were probably only 200 or so surfers in California then, and everyone knew each other,’ Grannis told The Times in 2005. ‘There was none of this provincialism. There were more than enough waves for everyone.’ In 1936, he became a member of the nascent Palos Verdes Surf Club, the first significant group of its type. Weekly meetings were held in a spare room in Ball's dental office. A courtship with Grannis' future wife, Katie, began with a tandem surf ride in 1938, and they married a year later. At 23, he was a day laborer for Standard Oil in El Segundo and worked his way up to boilermaker. By pulling night shifts, he found time to surf, and in the 1930s and '40s was one of the state's top wave riders, the surfing encyclopedia said. World War II scattered his surfing crowd as almost everyone joined the service. He enlisted in the Army Air Forces, trained as a pilot and became a flight instructor. Within weeks of the war's end in 1945, Grannis was walking along the beach in Malibu when he saw a dozen surfers and pronounced the place ‘ruined.’”

Grannis photoessay

Maria Schneider (1952 - 2011)

“‘Marlon said to me: 'Maria, don't worry, it's just a movie.' But during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn't real, I was crying real tears. I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Brando and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn't console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.’ In his review of the film when it was released in the United States in 1973, The Times' Charles Champlin wrote that Schneider ‘is a triumph of casting — petulant, self-indulgent, and convincingly terrified as someone who has gotten in beyond her depth.’”

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• The New Vulgate
• Joe Carducci, Chris Collins, James Fotopoulos, Mike Vann Gray, David Lightbourne
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1 comment:

  1. Joe, is the fourth photograph in the Egypt piece from Cairo, or Baghdad?