Photo by Joe Carducci
Paul Nelson: First You Dream Then You Die
by Joe Carducci
“Dave Gahr and I were standing five feet from the stage in the photographers’ pit. It was just incredibly exciting. You could hear the boos sort of, but I’ve actually heard the tapes played back years and years later that’s very tame stuff. It wasn’t this volcanic thing that we all remembered. It was quite tame. But it changed me. I mean it completely changed my- to me it was something that I wanted to know more about. ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ is just a key song for me. And I just didn’t want to work with people who wanted to put that down.” (Paul Nelson, Jan. 24, 2000)
There’s a sudden bonanza of Paul Nelson material in the form of two books put together by Kevin Avery in the years since Paul’s death in 2006. Nelson was best known as one of Rolling Stone mag’s top music writers and editors in the late seventies, but he was also the A&R man at Mercury who signed the New York Dolls, and he was the editor of Sing Out! who quit when electricity came to Newport ’65. He also happened to be the inventor of rock criticism and the music fanzine in the form of The Little Sandy Review which he and his friend Jon Pankake plotted out at the end of the fifties.
Avery’s book, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson (Fantagraphics), is an admirably unorthodox construction that starts with a bracing 180-page biography of Paul followed by a 265 page collection of Nelson’s music writing, primarily that from the seventies focusing on the artists he was particularly drawn to. The second book, Conversations with Clint: Paul Nelson’s Lost Interviews with Clint Eastwood 1979 - 1983 (Continuum), are transcriptions edited by Avery of interviews that were to yield a cover story for Rolling Stone. The failure of Nelson to deliver this story begs the question that is the riddle of the man, What is a critic? It’s a very old issue. The Bible is the Creator’s story; Satan is the critic who doubts and attacks the Creator’s Revelation. We can be glad that Satan is more the model for deconstruction rather than run-of-the-mill criticism. Paul was looking to be a constructive critic of music and artists he enjoyed, but it was also important to him to “knock” offensive things. His early work in the Little Sandy Review (1960-64) was less ambitious but it was a better period for music than the period Avery’s compiled, primarily Rolling Stone features from 1974-1983. The LSR covered more rock and roll in the two issues Barry Hansen published after buying it for a dollar in 1964 after being their blues writer. (Vol. 3 No. 1 was published for 1966-67 by Gordon Wickham who paid a dollar for it as well.)
In terms of our world today it was Paul’s and Jon’s decision to write up some record reviews, type them in folded booklet format, print three hundred copies, staple and send out to record labels, and take to shops that was an act of World Historical importance. Nelson’s later literalist m.o. of deep listening and interviewing artists who maybe could sustain such investigation is dated somewhat in a way that his Little Sandy Review patter, or his signing of the transliterate New York Dolls are not. In a January 2000 interview with the late David Lightbourne (a musician who wrote for us, see his Little Sandy Review piece), Paul characteristically downplays any particular vision or genius, and whenever Dave mentions his favorite Little Sandy curt dismissals of some insult to American music Paul begs off his assumed authorship to emphasize the contributions of Pankake. They did not credit themselves individually because, he laughed, “We started meeting these people!” Their modest breakthrough publication got noticed quickly by record labels and they mixed with musicians at the University of Chicago Folk Festivals and the Newports. Paul also underlined the fly-by-night aspects of their run of issues from 1960 to 1964: “We didn’t want to say ‘June issue’ because it might not come out til October…. We were probably both more interested in movies. This just seemed like a ridiculously easy field to get into.” It was also a scheme to earn free records. (By the time Paul moved to NYC in 1963 he and the others were taking individual credits; three issues were overseen by Paul from NYC before Paul was hired to edit Sing Out!)
The LSR introduced the wise-ass fan voice that we have more than enough of now, but back in 1960 had probably not been heard or read since the twenties at Photoplay or in certain newspapers. The voice features good-humored, often over-the-top enthusiasm for what it likes and witty trashings of what offends it; and over both actions is a subtle tone that both acknowledges the absurdity of treating American folk and pop culture as worthy of treatment formerly reserved for high art and serious literature, and also justifies and demands such treatment. Hollywood had incorporated this attitude organically in its meld of the other arts during the silent era, and then at the end of the twenties Ben Hecht and others brought it to dialogue and acting from newspapers. But it didn’t last long. And then the Depression and WWII became a pretty formidable backstop back beyond which our era’s postwar popular culture was largely ignorant. Harry Smith’s Anthology was an early fifties backwards breakthrough to the forgotten commercial country and blues of only twenty years before. The recycling of twenties silent comedy and early thirties westerns for fifties children’s television programming was another massive breach past this WWII wall.
Paul Nelson was born in a small town in Minnesota in 1936 and though he was twenty when Elvis Presley and rock and roll made their entrance, he was not a rock and roller. Lightbourne was six years younger and was. (DL’s Elvis recollection-review of his first tour-date up North). These birthdates before the war’s end mean more than dates do once we’re safely into the baby boom and the rock and roll era. Dave was just another Chicago-area kid playing accordion except that he was extremely interested in radio and television and got wind of the early Elvis appearances on Jackie Gleason and Milton Berle shows because his stepfather had been a professional musician. Dave switched to guitar and then as rock and roll was tamed by the deaths and sell-outs and the ersatz teen idols in the late fifties he became a folkie. Paul had been first a movie fan; there was no television signal in his town. He told Dave he didn’t see television until he was 22. In terms of music Nelson had always been a folkie. By his own reckoning he went rock and roll when Dylan went electric. And when everyone around him at Sing Out! magazine rejected Dylan’s electric band set at Newport ’65, he quit the mag.
Paul knew Bob Dylan from his Minneapolis days. Dave understood Dylan as a fifties rock and roller whose folkie period was necessary for his musical education, but that it was his protest-singer phase that was a Hibbing songwriter’s tactical sell-out, not the “going electric”. These were loaded and misunderstood events for the younger, boomer generation the second generation through the rock and roll grinder, and one more pretentious and culturally distant from rock and roll for its college education. Lightbourne used his folkie period research to identify an earlier rock and roll in twenties delta blues and Memphis jug band recordings; he knew rock and roll as an acoustic folk music.
One of my favorite stories about this acoustic-electric disconnect occurred in a location even more remote to rock and roll than the Northern Midwest and Northeast. It is recounted in Robert Palmer’s book, Deep Blues. Muddy Waters was invited to London in 1958 on Bill Broonzy’s recommendation, so he brought his amp and Otis Spann with him, but the London blues scene then was thinking trad-jazz and skiffle which were their cockeyed ideas of Dixieland and Jug-band music. They got an early look-listen at contemporary Chicago blues. They were polite in their disappointment. Then four years later, 1962, you can imagine the now electric blues scene in London is picking up steam and Muddy is invited over again. This time aiming to please he comes alone with just his acoustic guitar. Again, the Brits are very polite about their disappointment. Regarding influences on Dylan, certainly the debut albums by the Holy Modal Rounders (psychedelic old-timey recorded in 1963, released in 1964 on Prestige), Koerner Ray & Glover (acoustic blues from Mpls, produced by Nelson in 1963 for Elektra), Michael Hurley (the bent balladeer’s “First Songs” recorded for Folkways in 1964), and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (white-led Chicago blues band together in 1963, first album 1965 on Elektra) were what inspired him or forced him to move beyond his initial models; members of the Butterfield band and Barry Goldberg, another white Chicago blues player who’d played with Mike Bloomfield accompanied Dylan at Newport 1965. Young white players who were not from Memphis were beginning to go off the rails of model popular entertainment. It was in the air: Kerouac’s On the Road, ABC’s “The Fugitive,” Paul’s The Little Sandy Review. Jac Holzman credited the LSR’s attitude with changing what he was looking to release on Elektra Records.
What’s impressive about Avery’s biographic half of the book is that he’s produced both an intimate personal bio and a comprehensive professional bio as well. He’s talked to virtually everyone who Nelson inspired or mentored in rock criticism starting in the latter half of the sixties and into the Rolling Stone years. These knuckleheads are a who’s who of American rock criticism, God help us. Most were of the baby boom but seemed to have had their rock and roll baptisms in the Thames. Whatever memories they didn’t have of humid, mossy southern rock and roll meant the best music was often wasted on them; they had preferences for style, lyrics and accents. In their birthdate-determined uni-mind it seemed Dylan went electric because of the Beatles perhaps that was Jan Wenner’s contribution to musicological assumption-jumping. The album (or the ten inch) was the preferred format in the folk scene and albums began to define the more pretentious collegiate experience of rock music by 1965. There was great rock and roll made in this period, here naturally, and now in Britain as well, but a kind of class-based misunderstanding of the object of music writers’ alleged expertise was developing and it going to be a problem. Before we knew it, the working class, non-Southern rock and roll of 1958 through 1963 by Eddie Cochran, Richie Valens, Johnny and the Hurricanes, Dick Dale and the Del-tones, the Wailers, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Beach Boys, etc., was forgotten and no matter the amount of R&B in their sets the British Invasion given credit for introducing white Americans to black music. It was write there in black and white in the Rolling Stone magazine.
Nelson himself was increasingly serious in his criticism. He understood that he could over-focus on lyrics of his favorite songs and artists but he generally remembered to step back and assess the playing and sound of the recordings. He would obsess over Jackson Browne lyrics as if Jackson was the lead in a detective novel. Then Paul became the continental op; he would fly out to L.A. or some stop on tour and get to know him or others on a friendship-level to write his Rolling Stone features. All very lit-focused, though he steered clear of the more common problem his trainees indulged in the socio-political grading of lyrics and general righteousness. He’d already launched the first fanzine to fight that approach in the old pinko folk movement. But as lyric-focused as Paul could be he also heard the music in the mess the New York Dolls were making and he worked hard to sign them to Mercury, right after signing Mike Seeger! In R&TPN I had ripped Rolling Stone in general for Nelson’s review of the first Ramones album. Now I see that Paul used film analogies in every music review and also that no other writer at the mag had the stature to get that positive and prominent review past Wenner. (It isn’t in Avery’s collection.)
Nelson arrived at Mercury from editing Circus magazine:
“I was freelancing a lot, mostly for Rolling Stone. But my main job was editing Circus and writing about two-thirds of every issue: most of the articles, all of the record reviews, and even some of the letters section, wherein such literary notables as Nick Adams, Jake Barnes, Frederic Henry, Dick Diver, and Lew Archer often wrote to tell Gerry Rothberg, the publisher of Circus and my all-time favorite music-business employer, what was what.” (Everything Is an Afterthought)
He explains he took the Mercury job when he got writer’s block from all that writing. When I came upon Paul’s description of his writer’s block in the book I at first thought he might be referring to his fiction writing on the side, but it seems he actually froze up writing Circus jive. Paul tried his hand at mysteries and then screenplays while writing for his living. I don’t believe that is doable until after one has mastered fiction. I mostly avoided magazine writing because I could feel it a threat to my ability in fiction, even after I was out of the record business. Even after my rock book attracted offers. At this age I can dash these things off quickly but I’m no reporter and not the perfectionist young Nelson was. But it is sobering to consider the shadow cast over everything he did write by Paul’s failure with fiction. Is criticism a real writerly profession that one can devote one’s life to? It would seem not judging by rock criticism.
For me Paul’s strongest music writing in this collection is his 1975 post-Mercury after-the-facts narrative of his involvement with the New York Dolls for the Village Voice. He summarizes:
“The dreams of so many good people died with the New York Dolls…. I think those kids from sweet Ioway were wrong, or rather perhaps that they never really had a chance to encounter the group on any significant level: on the radio or as part of a major tour. Instead, the band’s philosophy of instant stardom and limited, headliner-only bookings proved to be the stuff of dreams. Even a cult favorite must eventually face the nation as a whole, but the Dolls never played by the rules of the game. Neither did the Velvet Underground, and their contributions will last. At times, when I am feeling particularly perverse, I can’t blame either of them.” (Everything Is an Afterthought)
There’s a lot in that paragraph intimating the desertification of American rock and roll to come, or rather to the banishment of rock bands from labels, press, radio, stages, and retail for nearly fifteen years. As someone involved in the forced building of a parallel industry of our own labels, press, radio, stages and retail, it’s interesting to see the inside of the Dolls’ adventure through Nelson’s eyes; the failure of the band was, like that of The Stooges, an early warning shot from a handful of formerly hip culture apparats who were beginning to exert control over rock culture through media. In that period, and later, only Lester Bangs, Richard Meltzer, and Metal Mike Saunders would prove they could be trusted with the music as critics. New writers would pick up on their approach, though they would write mostly for fanzines styled unknowingly on the LSR model or short-lived start-ups hoping to be a post-boom generation’s Rolling Stone.
Nelson’s forty-page essay on his five years (1970-75) at Mercury, “Out of the Past,” is another of the book’s highlights. Previously unpublished and apparently written in the mid-1990s, it is a classic portrait of the kind of record label dysfunction that was indulged in a period when the fecund American musical cornucopia could overwhelm any cabal of mountebanks in its path. Mercury, still then a Chicago hq’ed large independent was capable of selling a lot of records but Paul describes the operation as “Two rock & rollers in New York against twenty bookkeepers in Chicago.” His notes from just before a big A&R meeting at headquarters include this description of a preliminary get-together:
“[A] bunch of us got into a discussion with (label prez Irwin) Steinberg about the record business in general and Mercury in specific, and it became very apparent that Mercury would never be more than a second-rate label, at best. Steinberg’s new theory seems to be that R&B, country music, and classical music are both safe and long-lasting, and that rock & roll is just too crazy to bank on.” (Everything Is an Afterthought)
Nelson mentions his own “snobbish” indifference to Mercury artists Sir Lord Baltimore and Uriah Heep in the piece and elsewhere Jay Cocks (then Time mag’s critic) said Paul startled him by telling him he didn’t “get” black music. Cocks also says, “Paul was one who deserves the word critic; the rest of us were reviewers.” I imagine that critic Paul had a higher standard to meet before he felt he had “gotten” black music than the more reflexive reviewers who couldn’t believe they didn’t get it.
Avery seems to have interviewed all of those reviewers and Paul was a mentor or editor somewhere or other to most of them. In Avery’s hands his life becomes a Rorschach test for how they feel about their own compromises as the paying gig of rock critic followed rock music itself out the door courtesy Lee Abrams, Jan Wenner, and others who preferred to bank on media than its formerly crazy content. To a qualmsless entertainment pr specialist like Anthony DeCurtis it seems a simple matter what Paul should have done. Its interesting to hear from virtually every one of those guys. While they clambered into the nearest paying gig (management, production, fake books, tv, pr…), Paul preferred to focus on his screenplay and indulge his deferred interest in movies by working at Evergreen Video in Greenwich Village. In a footnote to a Rolling Stone piece on Rod Stewart presented in the book as a more complete version assembled from the published version, various drafts and a book edit, Avery inserts a personal aside from Paul that sounds like its from the raw taped interviews:
“I’ve debated time after time whether, Jesus Christ, get a regular job and settle down, or should I keep going this crazy way, being broke all the time and have a good time? I finally decided I should keep going this way, being broke all the time and having a good time.” (Everything Is an Afterthought)
He’s telling this to Rod Stewart! Michael Azerrad asked Paul to write up something on the bluegrass he was listening to for emusic.com, but he passed on the chance. Charles Young tells Kevin, “Paul wanted to keep bluegrass pure for himself. He wanted to be able to listen to it without any of the fuckery of rock journalism messing up this music that he loved.” Surprising tributes to Paul come in recollections from many of his seventies rockstar quasi-friends. Some knew him well from that period when even stars were expected to be real in public.
I met Paul a couple times in the early aughts as Lightbourne was interviewing him. We had gotten Dave into a studio finally to record the music he’d been working on since the fifties and booked a Monday at the Lakeside Lounge so Paul could check it out on his night off. It was Dave’s Laramie trio with Shaun Kelley and John Martz, The Stop & Listen Boys, with Trip Henderson sitting in on harmonica. Halfway through the set Paul leaned over and said, “What a repertoire!” (It was all delta blues, Memphis jug, or original.) Dave had known and played with Mike Bloomfield, Steve Weber, Fritz Richmond, Michael Hurley, Maria Muldaur, and others through the years, but I think being able to play his set for the co-founder of the Little Sandy Review was one of his highlights as a performer.
Back at Jane Stokes’ pad (also a contributor; see index) I had mostly talked films with Paul. He talked about his western screenplay like it was something just about done and he seemed to think he could get Clint Eastwood to read it when it was ready. It was depressing to learn from Avery’s book that there really was nothing so discrete as a screenplay, but more a huge stack of unconnected scenes or settings. Screenplays are really the only thing I’ve been interested in writing since back in high school when I’d pass time thinking up sight-gags like it was still the twenties. I would never have gotten involved with music had Hollywood circa 1976 made more sense to me. I treated the music business as temporary and as a place to learn how art works in the world of business. Because of Abrams, Wenner, et. al., and how the damage they did backed up the entire major label system, it was mighty small business. I felt the rock music lifers of my era had been sold a bill of goods by their musical inspirations and then, unsigned and unprogrammed, left to take rock and roll back to the porch like a folk form before radio and records, unwritten out of rock and roll history. For me, I was never going to stay in my record business, but before I turned back to screenwriting I was determined to in turn write those apparats and failed critics out of the rock and roll present and future. I didn’t master the screenplay until they stopped using them. The entire movie industry runs on a fear that yields a Brownian motion of insecurity that must work itself off on everything submitted to it; they don’t need anything masterful for it must be disassembled to its atoms anyway. Masterful can only depress the intelligent among them. I gave Paul a copy of my western script hoping he’d give me a copy of his. He didn’t and I hope mine didn’t depress him.
When friends want to chop me down to size they often insist I am just another rock critic, no better than all those guys I reamed in R&TPN. Paul was one of those deeper critics who so loved certain work by certain artists that he obsessed about jumping the fence and becoming the creator Satan’s compulsion. Lionel Trilling was a high culture version of this. He wrote fiction enough to realize his limitations and stopped, but he had options in the world of scholarly publishing that Paul did not. Paul had an ass-wipe like Wenner, or friends not much more solvent than he. My vague sense of Paul’s actual living situation, which I got from Lightbourne, was that he was trading off a more comfortable life by his determination to stay in Manhattan. I’ve moved all over west of Chicago, and not many knew this country more thoroughly than Dave, so we’d just shake our heads over what some folks will put up with. In their conversation on Lightbourne’s tapes Dave explores their common small town Midwestern origins and mentions how much he liked living in Laramie. He’d been dug deep into the Portland music-drug scene when I convinced him to leave it for his own good and my benefit. (My piece on Dave and Portland.) I could offer him free rent until he found his footing, an album deal of sorts, and Jane helped him with some emergency dentistry -- emergency because she didn’t want to be seen with him anymore. (Like Paul, Dave drank Coca-Cola as others drink coffee or alcohol.) Paul received similar help but Manhattan doesn’t allow for free rent.
And speaking of alcohol, Everything Is an Afterthought provides the original uncut version of an amazing piece on Warren Zevon. I never cared about Zevon because he’s a piano playing singer-songwriter and the bands on the albums aren’t playing well together. But the Nelson m.o. meshed with Zevon’s messed-up alcoholism as he crashed through one hair-raising false-ending after another. It’s more a portrait of Zevon’s self-excavation by an intimate than it is rock criticism. Charles Young suggests “they” might have rationalized running it at length by treating it like a Hunter Thompson special. But Jan tells Avery:
“He was really writing for his own purpose. And I suppose at the end of him writing that perfect piece that he wanted to write about Warren that got it all and explained all where Warren stood in the West Coast literature of the dispossessed or whatever the fuck that in his mind that was so perfectly clear it should be published as is. It takes that kind of ego and that kind of thought, which Paul had, to think of something that vain.” (Everything Is an Afterthought)
Jan preferred the sane probity of Hunter’s digressions. Paul is quoted elsewhere telling Bruce Hornsby (!): “Actually, I quit Rolling Stone because it was just getting too much to deal with Jann, who was like a coke maniac, an alcoholic…. He was really out of control.” (Jan changed the spelling and pronunciation of his first name after touring Gstaad.) When Wenner came out of the closet in 1995 I thought, “Man I wish I’d known that!” How can anyone make any sense out of the doings at Rolling Stone or Wenner Media or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame without knowing that? And I guess nobody did.
The books about the magazine by Robert Sam Anson and Robert Draper are clear that he needed his wife’s money to keep the magazine afloat (could she still be company vice president?!), just as he needed record industry help at other moments. And what, he’s in the closet all through that?! Daydreaming of, which is it, John or Paul? He leaves San Francisco in 1978?! He opens the door for Spin magazine by dropping the musical ball and even lets Spin make coverage of Aids research its one major non-music subject?! If it wasn’t for the Experience Music Project he’d even have a choke-hold on the History of Rock and Roll. Craziness…
By the time The Ramones set a template for the Reformation, Jan was like a debauched Pope of the dark ages using the mag to work Hollywood and Washington. RS left SF just as its punk scene coalesced; it moved to NYC right after its punk bands had broken up or left for the perpetual touring necessary for lack of media oxygen. Had the mag stayed in Frisco it would have been impossible to ignore the Mabuhay with its distinctive cabaret presentation of bands by Dirk Dirksen, or the radicals presenting bands at the Club for the Deaf, or eventually Bill Graham himself, or bands like The Sleepers, The Avengers, Dead Kennedys…. There might’ve been an organic relationship as the old rock halls of the sixties scene were resurrected as venues for the punks. And the rise of Silicon Valley might have given Wenner a more radical entrée into the corridors of power than glad-handing sell-out. Plus Castro Street was right around the corner.
The other Paul Nelson book by Kevin Avery, Conversations with Clint, is made up of the interviews Paul did with Eastwood for what would have been a 1980 Rolling Stone cover story hung on the release of Escape from Alcatraz (1979) . The interviews continued as Paul worked his m.o. at a level he’d never reached before. But he kept postponing the piece so that it couldn’t hang on Bronco Billy, or Any Which Way You Can, Firefox, Honkytonk Man, or Sudden Impact (1983). Eastwood’s productivity must have truly floored Paul. Clint was laying groundwork to be a winner in a system where the stakes are higher and the odds longer than any in the music world, and not less so for his having to find his footing as the movie studios began to implode from the time he signed as a contract player in 1954 at Universal. Nelson was simpatico with Eastwood or he wouldn’t have gotten so much out of Clint; these are great interviews.
Eastwood does route the interviews and he eventually gets impatient with Paul and it becomes clear that he was counting on a Rolling Stone cover story to be a resetting of his place in the firmament of elite opinion after having been written out of it by Pauline Kael over Dirty Harry (1971) and other films. She was on a roll since having championed and rescued Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and even tried briefly to work in late seventies Hollywood. Kael seemed fine with Sam Peckinpah’s brand of “fascism,” or at least she’d go on at length respectfully belaboring his artistry, spoon-feeding his aestheticized peckerwood violence to New Yorker tea-sippers. Kael’s treatment of Eastwood and Siegel was derisive, even though Sam was another of Siegel’s students, apprenticing on four Siegel features; he’s dialogue director and plays the meter reader in Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).
Marshall Fine in his bio, Bloody Sam, tells of Rudy Wurlitzer, screenwriter on Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), introducing Bob Dylan to Peckinpah when he needed a title song; Sam didn’t know Dylan’s music so he sat him down with an acoustic and had him play the two songs he’d already written having read Wurlitzer’s script. Peckinpah left the room, tears in his eyes muttering, “That son of a bitch. That cocksucker.” Dylan hired, arrived on the first day’s shoot to find that the name on his chair read: “Bob Dillon”; the prop man had stumbled unknowingly onto the secret homonymic truth of Zimmerman’s reference.
Nelson may have been one of the first to understand what Eastwood was accomplishing working through his own production company, and that Don Siegel was more important to this process than Sergio Leone. Paul was conversant with detective fiction and he understood genre filmmaking. I was watching Eastwood’s films, and once back in Chicago I was reading Dave Kehr on these films and he too was hip to Pink Cadillac, The Rookie, et. al. The golden age of foreign film had, much like the British Invasion, lured elite opinion away from American traditions too déclassé for comfort. Insanity…
Eastwood liked Nelson but Paul was hitting that wall of his limitations and probably fretting about just what it was he wanted and might dare to seek. Just last week saw the obit for Fritz Manes, a name from many an Eastwood film credit. Manes was a friend of Eastwood’s since junior high, the obit said, but Clint cut him loose over leaving behind bad feelings with the U.S. military after receiving production assistance for Heartbreak Ridge (1986). Eastwood expected to go back to the military someday and they play for keeps too. Paul might’ve turned in even an imperfect Eastwood piece (there’s a two page beginning of it in the other book), moved to Los Angeles and faked screenplays like everyone else out there. But he was apparently too idealistic about the Artist and his Work. All his known writing is criticism of others’ creations. To create himself would require a loss of belief in an ideal of Art. He likely knew even the best films are fifty per cent accident and the viewer has to make the leap, go with it, put it together…. It’s not likely even the greats of the 19th century novel operated much differently. Avery’s book tells us Paul had left a wife and son back in Minnesota long ago, and Paul told Lightbourne, “My father was kind of interesting before he married my mother, she kind of tamed him.” Nelson appeared to some as haunted as he walked alone through Manhattan in later years, from his illegal sublet on the upper east side to the video store in the Village and back. I didn’t really know him, but I know how such elements would read in a screenplay because I know my Cornell Woolrich. But would the damned thing get made?
In July 1985 Eastwood finally appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with story by Tim Cahill. And Clint eventually found his Boswell in Newsweek’s Richard Schickel. But somehow I don’t think Pauline Kael blanched as she might have. Kevin couldn’t get either Dylan or Eastwood to throw him an interview, a memory, or even a blurb. Satan won’t shut up, but the Creator is silent, speaking only through His works.
(Illustrations: Little Sandy Review #1 cover; Everything Is an Afterthought - Fantagraphics Books; LSR #1 pgs. 2 and 3; LSR #1 pg. 22; LSR #17 pgs. 2 and 3, with Lightbourne underlining; LSR #27 pgs. 2 and 3; LSR #30 first pages of Nelson’s 9-page Newport 64 report; Sing Out! Nov. 65; Jackson Browne and Paul Nelson 1971 or 72 photo by Bud Scoppa, courtesy Fantagraphics; Conversations With Clint - Continuum Books)
Drawing by James Fotopoulos
From the Wyoming Desk of Joe Carducci…
Nathan Heller in NYer, "The doings and undoings of Pauline Kael".
“Kael published her first movie review in 1953, when she was thirty-three. The editor of a small film magazine, City Lights, had been eavesdropping on a conversation about movies she was having in a Berkeley coffee shop. He offered her a chance to review Charlie Chaplin’s new vehicle, Limelight. Kael had by then worked a string of increasingly odd jobs -- at one point, she ran a laundry -- while trying to raise the daughter she had conceived with an experimental filmmaker who dumped her immediately afterward. By the time the first assignment came, she was keen for any break at all. She happened to hate Chaplin, too, and the piece she wrote tore into the comedian for taking up the mantle of a comic ‘artist’ rather than claiming his roots as a slapstick clown. It was a complaint Kael went on to make in many different hues, about a range of upward-reaching entertainers, and that stance helped to define her as an advocate of mainstream pleasures over the pipe-chewing pretense of ‘cinema.’ What people rarely point out is the view from the other side of the fence. A standard that attacks Chaplin for his pretensions doesn’t just champion the mainstream. It also guards a certain idea of ‘art’ from popular encroachment.”
Dan Levitin in WSJ on Mark Changizi’s book, Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man.
“‘Harnessed’ maintains that language instead comes from imitating three basic ‘solid-object physical events,’ the ‘hits, slides and rings’ of one thing coming into contact with another. Mr. Changizi illustrates his message with charts and graphs and even a readout that shows how the sound measurements for a book striking a table directly or hitting a ‘wrinkly paper’ on a table resemble the measurements for the sound of the author saying the word ‘bee’ and the word ‘pee.’ ‘Voiced plosives,’ we're told, ‘are like rigid, elastic hits, and unvoiced plosives like nonrigid, inelastic hits.’ This may be interesting for readers who put great faith in extrapolating from coincidence, but others interested in science may be tempted to utter a few choice plosives of their own. To bolster his claim that speech sounds like colliding objects, he writes: ‘Human speech does not sound human.’ Yet this is starkly contradicted by a seminal study in 2000, in which Pascal Belin found that a region of the brain (the upper bank of the superior temporal sulcus) responds selectively to sounds made by humans, such as speech, laughs, cries and sighs, but not to environmental sounds or the sounds of nature. The sounds of ‘humanness’ are specifically encoded in the brain.”
Michael Barone in WSJ on Colin Woodard’s book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.
“The Yankees wanted to ban liquor, give rights to women and abolish slavery; the plantation grandees wanted to extend slavery west and made feints at Caribbean acquisitions as well. Neither of these outlooks was entirely shared by the Jacksonians of what Mr. Woodard dubs Greater Appalachia. These were fighting men (and women) determined to run the Indians out of their hill country and keep their relatively few slaves. Under the leadership and tutelage of Andrew Jackson and his protégé, James K. Polk, they propelled the nation to acquire Texas and California, which provoked the political crisis over the extension of slavery in the 1850s. When the all-Northern, Yankee-dominated Republican Party won the election of 1860, the Deep South grandees rebelled. The Jacksonians split, and much of slave-holding but anti-aristocratic Greater Appalachia stayed with the Union. The residents of what Mr. Woodard calls the Midlands -- the westward extension to the Midwest of the Quaker-dominated Delaware River colonists that Mr. Fisher described -- gave crucial votes to Lincoln and stayed with the Union as well. I think Mr. Woodard errs in not defining a separate Germano-Scandinavian America in the Dakotas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, whose isolationist and dovish proclivities made the region the center of opposition to U.S. participation in World War I and (before Pearl Harbor) World War II and a center of opposition to the Vietnam War.”
Brendan O’Neill at Spiked-online.com, "Beware Malthusians posing as progressives".
“Of course, with yawn-inducing predictability, the old guard of the population scaremongering lobby is out in force in the run-up to 31 October, the day when the UN predicts that humanity will number seven billion. Those rather fusty adherents to the Malthusian outlook – as first posited by Thomas Malthus in his Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) – may have adopted PC-sounding lingo in recent years, using phrases like ‘climate change’ in place of ‘apocalypse’, but they’re still motored by a misanthropic view of speedily breeding human beings as the authors of society’s downfall. Population Matters (PM), formerly the Optimum Population Trust, is marking 31 October by sticking ads all over the London Underground – ‘in an environment that itself highlights the problem of overpopulation: the overcrowded transport system’.”
Roderick Parkes at EUobserver.com, "You’re doomed! Again".
“Of course, politicians dislike the suggestion that they use disaster as political capital. But if they deny being apocalyptic in their handling of these challenges, they are actually blocking out a large part of their shared heritage. European culture is rooted in the politics of disaster and salvation. Rewind 500 years and there was a widespread mood in Europe of resignation and fatalism. Greek philosophy had proved persuasive in its claim that a golden age had passed, that the world was decaying, and that to try to alter the situation would be to tempt fate. This thinking was increasingly opposed by a strain of radical Protestantism which leaked into politics through events such as the English Civil War. The secular notions of apocalypse and salvation that emerged spawned the modern idea of progress. Self-improvement, it was now argued, would permit humanity to stave off disaster. The battle between sceptics and progressives has been running ever since. But it has retained a distinctly old-testament flavour. Just as biblical salvation could not come without terror and calamity, so it seems political progress today cannot be achieved without fear and crisis.”
Suzanne Daley in NYT, "Bureaucracy in Greece Defies Efforts to Cut It".
“The work force in Greece’s Parliament is so bloated, according to a local press investigation, that some employees do not even bother to come to work because there are not enough places for all of them to sit. But as Europe looks for any sign of hope that Greece is on the road to reform, there are growing concerns about its ability -- and willingness -- to trim its payroll, a crucial element in bringing expenses under control enough to win continued international financing. This week, the government’s resolve will be tested once again. Greece’s two major umbrella unions have called for a rare 48-hour general strike, and several critical austerity measures are coming up for votes in Parliament, including one that would cut 30,000 public-sector jobs.”
Martin Wolf in FT on Arvind Subramaniam’s book, Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance.
“The thesis raises beg questions. First, is economic power correctly measured? I think not. In particular, a vast trade, relative to GDP, particularly one that includes heavy dependence on imports of raw materials, is a source of vulnerability as much as of strength. Similarly, being a creditor makes a country dependent on foreign demand. The predominant factors are economic size and technological level. Yet, while China may soon surpass the US in economic size, it is likely to lag behind on technology for a long time. Second, how far might China soon match the range of assets possessed by the US? The answer is: it cannot.”
David Pilling in FT, "Why Americans should learn to love the renminbi".
“Incomes are narrowing. In 1990, at purchasing power parity, gross domestic product per capita in China was $800 against $23,000 in the US, a differential of 29. By last year that had shrunk to 6.2, according to figures from Royal Bank of Scotland. By 2015 it is expected to narrow to 4.3. This convergence should not surprise us. Poorer countries are correcting the huge divergence in incomes that occurred at the start of the industrial revolution when western economies made unprecedented strides in productivity. That was an aberration, albeit one that lasted nearly 200 years.”
Christopher Caldwell in FT, "Décroissance: how the French counter capitalism".
“The currents that make up décroissance have been around a while. It shares a pantheon of heroes with the 1960s counterculture: the Christian social thinker Jacques Ellul, the anti-industrial German philosopher Gunther Anders and, above all, the Romanian-American utopian theorist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen. Entropia, the quarterly review of décroissance thinking, traces the movement’s roots back to the early 19th-century British loom-smashers known as Luddites. ‘What is urgent,’ Philippe Aries, a theorist of the movement, told the website Rue89 recently, ‘is a reconstitution of the anti-productivity left’.”
Ross Douthat in NYT, "Democracy’s Collateral Damage".
A recent Vatican estimate suggests that 100,000 Copts may have fled the country since Mubarak’s fall. If Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood consolidates political power, that figure could grow exponentially. This is a familiar story in the Middle East, where any sort of popular sovereignty has tended to unleash the furies and drive minorities into exile. From Lebanon to North Africa, the Arab world’s Christian enclaves have been shrinking steadily since decolonization. More than half of Iraq’s 1.5 million Christians have fled the country since the American invasion toppled Saddam Hussein. More important, though, this is a familiar story for the modern world as a whole -- a case of what National Review’s John Derbyshire calls ‘modernity versus diversity.’ For all the bright talk about multicultural mosaics, the age of globalization has also been an age of unprecedented religious and racial sorting -- sometimes by choice, more often at gunpoint. Indeed, the causes of democracy and international peace have often been intimately tied to ethnic cleansing: both have gained ground not in spite of mass migrations and mass murders, but because of them.”
Tani Adams at Opendemocracy.net, "Chronic violence: the new normal in Latin America".
“Long term exposure to violence produces fundamental changes in the ways that people understand their lives and govern themselves. Pentecostal beliefs, for example, increasingly prevail in both Catholic and Protestant churches, where dramatic personal conversion, biblical literalism and the experiences of speaking in tongues and divine healing provide answers and solutions not available elsewhere. In Honduras and elsewhere in Central America, such churches are a recognized safe haven for gang members seeking to leave their organizations. However, while the stiff rules of evangelical churches provide a kind of social containment otherwise unavailable, they can also provoke more conflict with those ‘outside’ the flock. On the other hand, the heavy Catholic spiritualism of gangs and drug traffickers, focusing often on cults to the all forgiving Virgin Mary, are well documented among the armed factions of Mexico and Colombia. In the communities we studied in Guatemala, many people expressed a clear sense of divine justice, but virtually no one mentioned justice in the same breath as the state.”
Bernard Simon & Sylvia Pfeifer in FT, "Oil shifts country’s centre of gravity".
“The oil sands, located across an area the size of Florida, have put Canada on the map as an energy superpower, drawing in tens of billions of dollars in investment, and positioning it as an important long-term supplier to the US as well as Asian economies, especially China. More than that, the oil and gas sector is shifting Canada’s centre of economic and political gravity westward from the industrial heartland of southern Ontario and Quebec.”
Andrew Kramer in NYT, "Hurting at Home, U.S. Ranchers Find Markets in Russia for Their Beef, on the Hoof".
“The same bulls that Mr. Stevenson could sell back home for $4,000 a head can fetch about $8,000 in cattle-deprived Russia, he said. Those prices are why, with a Russian partner, he has opened a breeding ranch south of Moscow, called Stevenson-Sputnik, which he seeded by importing 1,400 pregnant cows from Montana. ‘You want to see odd looks, go bowling through a Russian village on a horse with a hat on, and listen to the hooting and hollering and watch them point with their pitchforks,’ the Stetson-wearing Mr. Stevenson said of life in Russian cattle land. Another legacy of ranching, Soviet-style, was to raise dual-purpose beef and dairy cattle, which is not as efficient as raising pure beef breeds. Many Russian collective farms still have such animals, and Stevenson-Sputnik’s aim is to sell Angus stud bulls to bred with dual-purpose cows, with the goal of skewing the progeny toward all-beef over several generations.”
Matthew Kaminski in WSJ, "The Rise and Fall of Yulia Tymoshenko".
“Her name first came up in 1996, when a recently formed company, United Energy Systems (UES), suddenly gained control over a tenth, a fifth -- one could only guess -- of the economy. That July, I scheduled an appointment with UES's chief, named Tymoshenko, about whom very little was known. At a hotel in downtown Kiev, men with machine guns stood guard outside her suite. I expected the usual post-Soviet mogul, either slick or troglodyte, or both, and obviously a man. But what I found was a young woman (just 35) with long, frizzy dirty blondish hair and provincial manners and clothes.
This was her first interview with a reporter. She spoke softly in Russian, her only strong language then, and sketched out her background in vague outline. She started as an economist at a factory that built SS-18s and ICBMs in her hometown of Dnipropetrovsk. In late perestroika days, she got into business with her father-in-law, pirating films for VCR rentals and then transporting gasoline. Ms. Tymoshenko blushed when asked about her relationship with the sitting prime minister, Pavlo Lazarenko, also from Dnipropetrovsk. A political in was and is the key to success in business in Russia or Ukraine.”
Richard McGregor in FT, "Clinton walks tightrope to forge new role in Asia-Pacific".
“The Marxist-trained writers in the Chinese state media habitually blast the US as hegemonic. But Beijing’s own aggressive behaviour has allowed the US to act in a decidedly non-hegemonic fashion in Asia. Hanoi and Manila have their own self-interested reason for wooing the US, to hedge against China. But if Mrs Clinton’s assertion of US interest in the South China Seas has helped them negotiate from a position of greater strength with Beijing, that is good all around.”
Ben Bland & Jamil Anderlini in FT, "Tensions flare over oil in South China Sea".
“In a joint statement issued on Saturday at the conclusion of a high-profile visit to China by Nguyen Phu Trong, the head of Vietnam’s ruling Communist party, Beijing and Hanoi said they would ‘actively boost co-operation’ as well as speed up negotiations to find a peaceful settlement to their long-running dispute. But Beijing also publicly castigated Hanoi and New Delhi for an agreement in which India’s state-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corp will work with its counterpart, Petrovietnam, to develop oil and gas assets in parts of the South China Seas that Vietnam claims. A front-page editorial published in an important official Chinese newspaper warned that ‘India’s energy strategy is slipping into an extremely dangerous whirlpool’, and, Reuters reported, said that India should ‘turn around at the soonest opportunity and leave the South China Seas.’”
Haseenah Koyakutty at YaleGlobal, "Laos’ Spanking New Road to Nowhere".
“The Laotians and the Chinese are said to be haggling over conditions in the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year with China Road and Bridge Corporation. According to representatives linked to these projects, the Chinese have asked to resettle large numbers of Chinese laborers involved in the Mekong bridgeworks into Laos. The influx of Chinese nationals into Laos is a source of growing tensions for Sino-Lao ties despite 50 years of relations, a milestone crossed this year. The labor issue has now come to a head over the Mekong bridge. Vanheung explains that the missing bridge, estimated to cost $35 million, could be ready by 2015 when the Chinese disburse a soft loan. He did not discuss the so-called extraordinary Chinese demands of worker resettlement or reports of Chinese plans to build a casino and entertainment complex in the Oudamxay area for resettled Chinese residents and tourists who are increasingly fanning south for budget travel.”
Lingling Wei in WSJ, "China Cracks Down On Informal Lending".
“In a directive marked ‘extra urgent,’ according to people who have seen the document, the China Banking Regulatory Commission banned banks from moving loans off their books by repackaging them into investment products -- an increasingly popular practice among banks trying to get around Beijing's lending controls aimed at bringing down inflation. An official at the CBRC confirmed the release of the order, which was issued on Sept. 30 and became effective immediately. He declined to comment further. The move comes amid a surge in ‘shadow finance’ in China, a term encompassing all kinds of credit created outside formal bank-lending channels, including loans arranged by banks but not recorded in their balance sheets. The informal credit boom has led to concerns about a potential increase in bad debt in the country's vast banking sector, adding to worries over Beijing's long-touted ability to manage its overall economy.”
Chris Patten in FT on Ezra Vogel’s book, "Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China".
“Moreover, Deng’s rule in the south-west of China, including his native Sichuan from 1949-52, gets just a page and a half. It was sufficiently brutal to earn Mao’s approval. Larger landlords were attacked and killed. One day we will presumably learn more about Deng’s methods at this time; they were plainly not for the squeamish. Deng’s role as Mao’s enforcer during the ‘anti-rightist campaign’ of the 1950s is hardly mentioned. Half a million intellectuals were shipped to labour camps. His careful avoidance of personal trouble during the disastrous Great Leap Forward of 1958-61, which led to 45m or more deaths (he broke a leg playing billiards and used a sick note as an excuse for missing difficult meetings) was not heroic. Almost 10m of his fellow Sichuanese starved to death.”
Jamil Anderlini in FT, "A workshop on the wane".
“Slowing global demand for cheap Chinese exports, rising production costs and unsustainable levels of debt have combined to crush some of the country’s most savvy entrepreneurs. In one tragic case, the owner of a Wenzhou shoe factory who owed more than Rmb400m ($63m) committed suicide three weeks ago. More than 90 other bosses have run away, according to state media. Trade fluctuations in China, the world’s leading exporter, are often seen as indicators of the health of the global economy -- and for some bearish investors, Wenzhou’s problems are a sign that a hard landing is imminent for the nation.”
Christian Oliver in FT, "Private farmers break ranks in North Korea".
“Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s dictator, unsuccessfully tried to rein in the free market shortly after Mrs Choi fled. The jangmadang suddenly ground to a halt for weeks in December 2009 when he attempted a bold currency reform, lopping two zeros off each banknote. Any savings over Won100,000 were seized and defector groups say rare public protests erupted. Defectors argue Mr Kim wanted to hobble a class of traders who threatened the political status quo. Pyongyang can keep tabs on licensed merchant elites working in arms exports and quasi-military trading companies shipping ginseng and mushrooms, but smaller free marketeers are harder to control. Officials at South Korea’s central bank, which monitors the North Korean currency, observe that Mr Kim failed to snuff out nascent capitalists with his currency reform.”
Andrew Roberts in WSJ on Frank McLynn’s book, The Burma Campaign.
“Twelve thousand Americans fought in it against the Japanese, compared with 72,000 Chinese and 600,000 from the British Commonwealth (overwhelmingly Indians). Yet Frank McLynn, in The Burma Campaign, argues that the effort was one largely inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt's desperation to keep China in the war; that it was a campaign in which many important decisions were made by American generals, such as Joseph ‘Vinegar Joe’ Stilwell and Claire Lee Chennault; and that, because the fighting ended up killing 144,000 Japanese soldiers, it had a significant impact on U.S. success in the Pacific.”
Marc Levinson in WSJ on Robert Neuwirth’s book, Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy.
“Step outside your beachfront resort in Cancun and you can't miss it. Usually foreign visitors treat the participants in this unofficial economy with either pity or distrust: pity because they assume that System D workers are on the verge of starvation, distrust because familiar guideposts -- regulations, licenses, credentials -- are lacking. Often neither prejudice is correct. Mr. Neuwirth introduces us to a woman named Jandira who for a decade has peddled coffee and homemade cakes to the unlicensed vendors at São Paulo's early-morning wholesale market for pirated movies. Her street-corner business, she proudly tells him, has enabled her to buy two cars and a house and to pay her children's fees at private school. Another of Mr. Neuwirth's sources, Chinese handbag designer Ethan Zhang, prefers to stay illegal. For him it's a matter of costs and benefits: ‘If I want to get a license, then I will need a bank account and an office in an office building.’ These are not people who lack the skills to survive through legal employment; they just see no good reason to join the legal economy.”
Gideon Rachman in FT, "Don’t be blind to Erdogan’s flaws".
“According to the International Press Institute, there are now considerably more journalists in prison in Turkey than in China. In Istanbul recently I watched a rally by journalists who were supporting their imprisoned colleagues. This is not something that would be tolerated in Beijing. But there is no doubt, talking to Turkish journalists, that they are now operating in a climate of fear.”
Boualem Sansal interview at Signandsight.com, "Algeria: Cry for life".
“The former National Liberation Front (FLN), which led the country to independence and still governs it today, knows the country very well. It knows exactly where the regional differences lie and with this knowledge it can maintain its grip on power. Then there's the fact that the real power in Algeria has remained invisible since the War of Independence against France. The FLN operated underground without major, well-known leaders. This is still the case today. In Algeria, a group of powerful leaders makes the decisions in the background. In a modern state, it is basically indispensable that people know who the decision-makers are, that they are visible. The modern Algerian state is just a facade, and that facade still conceals this collective, this clandestine group.”
Steven Plaut in Middle East Quarterly, "Israel’s Tenured Extremists".
“Most of Israel's anti-Israel academics hold tenured faculty positions at the country's tax-funded public universities. They include people who justify and celebrate Arab terrorism and who help initiate campaigns of boycott and economic divestment directed against their own country in time of war. Today, many of the leaders of the so-called boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel are Israeli academics. The phenomenon is near pandemic at the four main Israeli liberal arts universities: Tel Aviv University (TAU), the Hebrew University, the University of Haifa, and Ben-Gurion University. At the two scientific-engineering institutions, the Technion and the Weizmann Institute, there are small numbers of faculty involved in such political activity but they are a minor presence, and this is also true of the religious university, Bar-Ilan. Israeli colleges are less generously funded by the government than universities and so are more dependent on competing for student tuition. This may explain why extremist faculty are more unusual there than in universities, though Sapir College in the Negev may be an exception.”
John Harwood at NYtimes.com, "Daley Struggles to Please Both Wall Street and Left".
“Nine months into his tenure as White House chief of staff, Mr. Daley feels the chill from former Wall Street colleagues who now see President Obama’s administration as a hostile force. At the same time, he eyes the swelling Occupy Wall Street protests against the industry that made him rich. Those demonstrations could give his party a counterweight to the Tea Party right -- but also underscore Mr. Obama’s inability to invigorate the economy. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard when the president tapped Mr. Daley to help adjust to the Republican resurgence in the 2010 elections. He is the son and brother of two legendary mayors of Chicago, the party’s giant Midwestern redoubt.”
Douglas Belkin in WSJ, "Chicago Mayor Trashes Politics of Waste Removal".
“While corporate America, as well as other cities, have spent years getting leaner, much of Chicago‘s $6 billion municipal machinery seems frozen in time…. ‘The current system based on ward boundaries, is no longer sustainable,’ Mr. Emanuel said. ‘Chicago spends approximately $100 more per ton to collect garbage than L.A. and Boston. Now, I have a lot of pride in Chicago. But even I don’t think our garbage is more valuable than theirs.’”
Gretchen Morgenson in NYT, "Fannie And Freddie, Still the Socialites".
“Today, Fannie and Freddie are about the only games in mortgage town. Yes, banks make loans, but more often than not they hand them off to one of the two. So it’s a mystery why Fannie and Freddie needed to help foot the bill for the gathering. Freddie’s companions in the platinum sponsor list make for interesting reading. One was the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, which has repeatedly foreclosed on troubled homeowners and made a hash of the nation’s real estate records. Another was Lender Processing Services of Florida, which made robo-signing a household word. MERS and Lender Processing Services are at the center of the foreclosure crisis. Why would Freddie keep such company? Perhaps more disturbing is that Fannie and Freddie sent an army of their own to Chicago: 87 people in all. According to a list of registrants, that’s more than hailed from the Mortgage Bankers Association (60 people), Bank of America (58), Wells Fargo (54) and JPMorgan Chase (24). Only Lender Processing Services had more -- 91 -- than Fannie and Freddie. (Perhaps they robo-signed their registrations.)”
WSJ: "The Solyndra Economy".
“As it happens, we're getting a look at what this world of political investment entails thanks to Administration emails released last week by House Democrats on the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and the White House. Democrats say the emails reveal a ‘vigorous internal debate’ about the Solyndra deal and dispel accusations of crony capitalism. Bloomberg News The opposite is closer to reality. Solyndra received federal help in 2009 and never turned a profit. In March 2010, PriceWaterhouseCoopers raised questions about the company's solvency. The next month, a White House Office of Management and Budget staffer worried that the Department of Energy ‘has one loan to monitor and they seem completely oblivious.’ Another said it was ‘terrifying’ to consider that some of DOE's next projects would make Solyndra look ‘better.’”
William Neuman in NYT, "Farmers Facing Loss of Subsidy May Get New One".
“Lawmakers’ reluctance to simply eliminate a subsidy without adding another in its place demonstrates how difficult it is for Washington to trim the federal largess that flows to any powerful interest group. Indeed, the $5 billion program that lawmakers are willing to throw under the tractor, known as the direct payment program, was created in 1996 as a way to wean farmers off all such supports -- and instead was made permanent a few years later. The new subsidy is being championed by Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, and Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota.”
Lance Pugmire in LAT, "Q&A: Lakers great Jerry West reveals strained relationships".
Q: “You write that coach Phil Jackson ‘absolutely had no respect’ for you, and that as your ‘incredible feeling for the Lakers began to wane’ in the late 1990s, in hindsight, you ‘would have left shortly after [Jackson] arrived,’ in 1999. Why was that relationship so bad?
A: I told Jerry Buss to hire him. The only thing I cared about was winning, but you want a relationship with your coach. There was no relationship. You felt, 'This is not the way we've operated, and we've won without him.' You can't win without great players. As good as Phil is, he might improve a team with bad players, but he wasn't going to win. I felt underappreciated by leadership, and leadership is ownership. As we left the Forum to Staples Center, I'd say, 'What am I doing here? What am I doing to myself?' Destructive feelings, a different drama every day. Leaving was the biggest relief of my life. They had just won a championship, and would win two more. It was time for me to go.”
Thanks to Jay Babcock, Mike Safran.
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