a new low in topical enlightenment

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Issue #120 (October 19, 2011)

Snowy Range, Wyoming

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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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Issue #119 (October 12, 2011)

West of Centennial Ridge, Wyoming

Photo by Joe Carducci

Bonjour, tristesse
(Or, It Isn’t Easy Being Green)

by Carolyn Heinze

“I forget sometimes what laughter can do.”

– Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Remember when the Shah fell? Back in the day, back in Iran? (Don’t think he really fell per se, but he was in Iran, and…) Between then and 1994, the head honcho in Iran’s film censoring department was blind. Or almost blind. He was a theater censor as well. As told by Azar Nafisi: “…One of my playwright friends once described how he would sit in the theater wearing thick glasses that seemed to hide more than they revealed. An assistant who sat by him would explain the action on stage, and he would dictate the parts that needed to be cut…” He got promoted. (The head honcho censor guy – don’t know what happened to the assistant.) Landed a gig as the TV station’s big cheese. Luckily he wasn’t deaf, too, so script proposals could be submitted on tape. Audiotape. Don’t know if he specified TDK or Maxell.

All this from Reading Lolita in Tehran. Nafisi’s the one who wrote it. Wouldn’t recommend it for the beach, but you should check it out.

I wonder about Iran’s Human Resources Department. What is their recruiting strategy, anyway? First there’s the blind/not deaf/dumb censor guy…and then there’s their leader. Well, he’s not their real leader per se, but you know who I’m talking about. The guy who gets to stand at the podium and bellow and bluster and boom? That one. Who hired him? And was vacuousness a major part of the criteria? Along with bad hair?

And what about irony? And laughter? And a general good old-fashioned sense of humor? You know – all of those characteristics that recruiters call ‘people skills?’ What Best Practices Manager advised HR to abolish these? (I’ll bet it was someone with an MBA.) (Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but MBAs have all the great ideas.) (When they have ideas, that is.)

Because: I don’t know about you, but I don’t find Iranian films all that funny. At least the ones that I’ve seen. O.K., maybe not all Iranian films… Persepolis was plenty funny, and it was Iranian, or at least it was drawn and co-directed and co-written and co-filmed by an Iranian, and mainly-mostly took place in Iran, but…The Iranian co-writer and co-filmer and co-director and draw-er mainly-mostly does all of her filming and writing and drawing and directing in France. Say what you want about France, but here, you’re still allowed to laugh. Even if it’s largely frowned upon.

Au revoir sounds like it might’ve been filmed in France but it wasn’t. (It’s also called Good Bye.) And it’s just not that funny. It was filmed in Iran.

En gros, on the whole, for the most part, à la base, Au revoir/Good Bye is your basic Broads In Burqas/Chicks In Chadori/Vamps In Veils/Dames In Doilies kinda deal: A human rights lawyer (it’s a girl) gets booted out of the bar. Her husband – a journalist – is in hiding. She desires to ditch her doilies and duds and get the hell out of Dodge. There’s some other stuff, too – like this semi-ritualistic feeding of a turtle which I surmise was supposed to be semi-symbolic, but the symbolism was semi-lost on moi. (Except the part where the turtle gets away, but that wasn’t even semi-subtle.) Oh yeah, and she’s pregnant. (The ex-lawyer, not the turtle.) (Don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl.) (Can’t remember if there is an ultrasound scene, but I think she’s too early on.) (Come to think of it, couldn’t tell if the turtle was a boy or a girl.) And that’s pretty much that.

And it’s soooo not funny.

This from Mohammad Rasoulof (he’s the director) to Telerama (it’s an entertainment rag):

“Before, like a lot of Iranian filmmakers, I used metaphors to talk about our country; today, I show people’s lives. With realism. I don’t take any detours anymore. It’s too late. The confrontation is head-on. It’s a real duel…”

Well, O.K. La Fontaine may have related. Maybe. But Momo? Methinks La Fontaine also loved to laugh. Because realistically? With realism? Don’t people, in peoples’ lives, love to laugh, even confrontationally, even head-on? Especially confrontationally? Especially head-on? Isn’t that what the Sufis were about? At least partly? You know – the Sufis that were from Persia which is now Iran? Or has Iran’s HR department gotten so incompetent in its recruiting policies that Iranian people and Iranian citizens and Iranian artists have forgotten how?

It’s true, c’est vrai, you’ve gotta give him this: Au revoir/Good Bye was shot on the sly. (And not in that ‘Smile! You’re on Candid Camera kind of way, but more like that, ‘Jesus Christ, hide the fucking camera before we get arrested and tortured and killed!’ kind of way.) Heard the same thing about No One Knows About Persian Cats. (It came out a couple of years ago…was directed by Bahman Ghobodi.) (It’s the one about bands trying to make music in Tehran, while at the same time trying to get the hell out of Tehran.) (Not too funny, either…except the heavy metal head-banging part…heavy metal head-banging parts are always funny…) My point is: all this hiding and arresting and imprisoning and torturing doesn’t leave an artist – no matter how dueling, confrontational and head-on and head-banging they are – much room to move. Or much room to nurture their creativity. Or, I guess, much room to laugh. Or . . .

Of course, Rasoulof (Au revoir’s director) was arrested. Around the same time his buddy, Jafar Panaki (another Iranian cinéaste), was thrown in the slammer, too. (They were collaborating on a project on the Green Movement, and – surprise, surprise – Iran’s HR department and blind/deaf/dumb film censors and pretend leaders and real leaders didn’t see any humor in that.) There have been appeals, and a lot of hurry-up-and-wait, and it’s unclear whether either of them will be able to practice their art again, or even live in…ahem…“liberté.” While Rasoulof himself didn’t, his film did make it to Cannes – picked up the prize for Un certain regard. (He was granted leave to Paris in September to promote it when it came out in the cinemas, but as for his future in filmmaking, the jury’s still flummoxed.) Panaki’s film – aptly titled Ceci n’est pas un film (This Is Not A Film) – since he’s holed up and not really allowed to make any films right now – was also screened at Cannes. (There are several rumors about how the pair got their work to the festival, including stuffing USB keys into pastries to smuggle the films across the border…sure beats swallowing condoms, but just barely…)

So, fine: None of this is ferociously funny. And if I knew I was going to be tortured and imprisoned and arrested and banned, my giggle-fit count would be substantially slim, too. (Plus, I’m way too cute for jail.) But about all this seriousness and somberness and sulking and skulking and such? There’s something that still bothers me. . .

In my edition of Reading Lolita in Tehran, there’s an interview with Nafisi at the end of the book. She has a lot of interesting stuff to say, but this especially stuck: “…With imagination, the only thing that is sacred is the permission to be profane…”

In a country where artists and lawyers and journalists and farmers and anyone else are arbitrarily considered profane for breathing, isn’t humor a mighty weapon? A responsibility, even? A powerful way to stick it to The Man? And if you knew, no matter what, you’d be arbitrarily arrested and arbitrarily imprisoned and tortured and beaten and banned, wouldn’t you want the last laugh?

Death Panel My Ass
by Joe Carducci

I think it was back in the seventies, back amongst all the talk of self-actualizing and releasing your fantasies and earth shoes, that the idea of preventive care took hold of elite non-medical opinion about what came to be called health-care. Professional opinion then, I’m unsure about, and unfortunately I can’t ask my dad due to his Alzheimer’s. But I don’t think the AMA was selling out its members that early. It’s quite possible that doctors smelled additional revenue coming their way and kept quiet about it. But they certainly knew that preventive care does not cut costs, it increases them. It was fine with most folks how people behaved, as long as they paid the price for their own behavior and of the care they wanted.

People don’t drink and smoke the way they used to, but they’ve thought up other vices, and more importantly they expect to live forever. They mostly don’t pay doctors directly either anymore, hence this never-ending shell game. But suddenly it is now that preventive care has been thrown over by the Feds who’ve succeeded in making every health case their case. Gardiner Harris reported the story for the New York Times on Friday, “U.S. Panel Says No to Prostate Test for Healthy Men”:

“The draft recommendation, by the United States Preventive Services Task Force and due for official release next week, is based on the results of five well-controlled clinical trials and could substantially change the care given to men 50 and older. There are 44 million such men in the United States, and 33 million of them have already had a P.S.A. test -- sometimes without their knowledge -- during routine physicals.” (NYT)

Can you imagine the money we will save! Harris continues, “Recommendations of the task force often determine whether federal health programs like Medicare and private health plans envisioned under the health reform law pay fully for a test.” I don’t need to call my brother, also a doctor, to know that he would say, “No shit, Sherlock!”

The New York Times is of its own volition, of course, deeply invested in its “health reform law,” otherwise known as Obamacare -- son of Hillarycare. So it isn’t just Harris maintaining a straight face as they report this, it is every layer of editor up to very pinnacle of American germalism maintaining straight faces. But its poor Gardiner who’s got his name is on this jive. He forges forward, mentioning that “legislation already requires Medicare to pay for P.S.A. testing no matter what the task force recommends,” and then pauses to hack through several more brambles:

“[T]he recommendations will most likely be greeted with trepidation by the Obama administration, which has faced charges from Republicans that it supports rationing of health care services, which have been politically effective, regardless of the facts.” (NYT)

Regardless of the facts…. Hm, meaning like these very facts?! I guess he or his editors mean the facts that proved there were no death panels or rationing… per se. With the Times lending a hand I don’t see why the administration would have trepidation, and if they do maybe they can take something for it. The New York Times can be counted on to flood the zone with “the facts.”

Before quoting the chairman of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in Britain, Dr. Michael Rawlins, who is not getting tested any more for fear he’ll find out something statistically useless, get his prostate removed unnecessarily and lose the use of his schmeckel, Gardiner notes that this whole dealie already went down for women and their useless routine preventive mammograms:

“Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius announced that the government would continue to pay for the test for women in their 40s. On Thursday, the administration announced with great fanfare that as a result of the health reform law, more people with Medicare were getting free preventive services like mammograms.” (NYT)

Free preventive services… Hm, meaning these needless tests that do not save lives? All to prove “the facts” are true at any cost no matter how free?!

The same issue of the Times featured a sidebar, “What the Recommendations Mean for Men,” as well as a short editorial titled at first “Not Their Job,” then softened on-line, likely because its reluctance to cap malpractice liability for doctors can look rather… I don’t know, hostile?, when the vaunted Health Reform Law will limit what can be tested for, diagnosed, prescribed. Why not just stovepipe the liability to the federal government as well? Then that’ll be free, too. A perfect circle. Ouroboros. But the New York Times has wanted our courts to punish doctors going way back before they turned focus onto Wall Street. As they the unsigned put it: “This page is in favor of malpractice reform, if it is done right. The deficit-reduction committee’s narrow focus and hothouse atmosphere virtually guarantees a lop-sided, ignore-the-patient focus.” Thank goodness health-care is in the hands of journalists and lawyers.

Dated the same damn day online but probably in Saturday’s Times, our man on the health reform law beat Gardiner is already chronicling the “battle” that this report will trigger next week when it is released, and not a moment too soon! In “Panel’s Advice on Prostate Test Sets Up Battle” Harris offloads this all on, you guessed it, doctors:

“If the panel’s analysis of the science is correct, thousands of men were probably harmed by unnecessary tests and treatments during the delay. At the heart of its advice is the startling finding that thousands of doctors in the United States have been doing many of their patients more harm than good.” (NYT)

The bastards. If I read these articles correctly, they are also continuing to wantonly do more harm than good to women in their forties despite the health reform law’s panel’s recommendations!

Somewhat confusing in its overkill is the New York Times Magazine’s article, “Do I Have Cancer? Don’t Tell Me” by Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer, which though posted Saturday and published Sunday is actually put to bed Wednesday if I remember correctly. So why the headline on Friday? Why not Wednesday, or days earlier actually? The Mag notes an earlier Times Op-Ed by researcher Richard Ablin which calls P.S.A. screening “a public health disaster.” Sounds like the Times is beyond invested in the health reform law. These backbends of theirs may soon require chiropractic care. I’m sure that is free because whenever my dad heard somebody refer to chiropracty as a serious option he laughed.

Tuesday brought more detail to the New York Times health-care plan. The unsigned editorial declares it “absurd” that anyone would question this new “authoritative warning” as mere cost-savings rationing. Okay, I guess I trust them; their faith in science is so fervent. Gardiner’s piece notes a here-to-fore unsuspected expert panel’s parallel review of the P.S.A. recommendation that they knew would prompt outcry, though they did not know what the first study would show beforehand. This second study instantly confirming the first study as yet still unreleased though leaked (a little prostate joke there) to the Times last week. Presumably this report of the second study is also a leak, no wait it says it was published Friday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. I think that’s a typo and its really the Anals of Internal Medicine. I’ve seen that at the newsstand; they keep it under the counter. You have to ask for it. Also Tuesday was A.G. Sulzberger reporting from Kansas City, “States Adding Drug Test as Hurdle for Welfare.” Something tells me old Mr. Unsigned is going to call this “absurd” “rationing” of free money.

I heard this week that the President for the first time referred to the health reform law as “Obamacare.” Maybe the Times editors should get a look at those scripts of his, you know, as a courtesy or something.

In any case, step back to see what is really going on. The idealists who flunked private medicine anticipate getting the control they wanted. Now their harsh grading system is about to undergo incredible grade inflation as they begin to grade themselves and this thing of theirs.


Ira Stoll at Futureofcapitalism.com, "NY's Medicaid Boom":

"Jacob Gershman, my former colleague at the New York Sun, has a piece in the Wall Street Journal today about New York's 5 millionth Medicaid patient:

'Over the past decade, more than two million people were added to New York's Medicaid rolls, an increase of nearly 75%. In 2001, 15% of the population was on Medicaid. That percentage is now at 26%, about 10 points higher than the national average.... In recent years, the state eliminated resources tests, allowing most applicants to attest their family assets. It also stopped requiring face-to-face interviews, switching to mail-in applications. Last year, the state health department posted online tips explaining how people with too much income for Medicaid can still get into the system.'"


An Etiquette of Djimmitude
by Joe Carducci

It’s obviously dangerous that the multi-cultural reflex of the west complements so perfectly in relief Islam’s reflexive assertion of prerogative. The west’s reflex is what strong liberal institutions made of the Holocaust and the Civil Rights battle. Islam’s assertion is what a weak civilization makes of possessing the one true faith. But its also eerie in the way it rhymes with the lost history of the first Christendom. We are seeing the same “weak force” in action today that allowed the desert faith to subdue the wealthier civilizations that early Christians and earlier Jews had built within the great pagan capitols of Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus, and Constantinople. I didn’t feel deja vu until I saw Bat Ye’or on C-Span five years ago explaining that Muslim immigrants to European welfare states understood welfare payments as the international version of the jizya -- the tribute infidels pay in the form of a tax for the privilege of living within the ummah. The submission to this levy is taken as justification for it, and over the centuries has proved part of the ratchet of Islam which encourages conversion or flight.

Considering this within the context of the special obliviousness of the French, never mind the Swedes, it occurred to me as this slight older woman spoke that Europe might actually be doomed -- conquered finally by Islam’s powerful weakness, not a powerful army at the gates of Vienna but an invasion of refugees carrying not quite a faith, but an organizational meme.

In America in the late sixties and seventies the new generation of baby boomer social worker worked extra hard to relieve the indigent, the criminal or the merely lazy of any last molecule of the formerly proper shame of the petitioner for relief. They drilled into the needy to be, rather, demanding. It took a lot to relieve even notional Christians of humility, but for that sixties generation of idealistic social worker, that became their revolution when plan A didn’t pan out.

Ye’or spoke as an Egyptian Jew who’d emigrated to Britain. And one sees that the last such infidels are leaving the Arab world to its own devices as fast as they can manage. It seems they must be followed by an even larger Muslim emigration from a more purely Muslim ummah since Jews and Christians have often been skilled specialists in niches open to them that have helped these societies function. By then perhaps the EU’s doors, which were opened as part of an oil-peace struck the year after the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, will be closed. High-minded peace is not the natural state of Europe, after all, and the suprastate elite in Brussels seems increasingly occupied defending their own asserted prerogative against their own demos. But now there is still much interference being run for jihad by high-minded westerners.

Here’s how initial reports of the same story Sunday begin in four outlets, the American paper of record, the leading British wire service, the BBC’s website, and a specialty site that claims to be “promoting American interests” though is certainly preoccupied by concern for Israel too:

“Church Protests in Cairo Turn Deadly” in the New York Times:

“A demonstration by Christians angry about a recent attack on a church touched off a night of violent protests here against the military council now ruling Egypt, leaving 24 people dead and more than 200 wounded in the worst spasm of violence since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February. The sectarian protest appeared to catch fire because it was aimed squarely at the military council that has ruled Egypt since the revolution, at a moment when the military’s latest delay in turning over power has led to a spike in public distrust of its authority. When the clashes broke out, some Muslims ran into the streets to help defend the Christians against the police, while others said they had come out to help the army quell the protests in the name of stability, turning what started as a march about a church into a chaotic battle over military rule and Egypt’s future.”

“Egypt Christians mourn dead after clashes kill 25” from Reuters:

“Egyptian Christians mourned their dead and berated the army on Monday after at least 25 people were killed when troops crushed a protest about an attack on a church in the worst violence since the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Armored personnel carriers sped into the crowd late on Sunday to break up the demonstrators near the state television building. Videos posted on the internet showed mangled bodies. Activists said corpses had been crushed by the vehicles. Tension between Muslims and minority Coptic Christians has simmered for years but has worsened since the anti-Mubarak revolt, which has allowed the emergence of Salafist and other strict Islamist groups that the former president had repressed.

“Cairo clashes leave 24 dead after Coptic church protest” at BBC.com:

“Clashes broke out after a protest in Cairo against an attack on a church in Aswan province last week which Coptic Christians blame on Muslim radicals. Egyptian TV showed protesters clashing with security forces as army vehicles burned outside the state TV building. A curfew is in force. The cabinet is to hold an emergency meeting on Monday. Sectarian tensions have increased in recent months in Egypt. The Copts - who make up about 10% of the population - accuse the governing military council of being too lenient on the perpetrators of a string of anti-Christian attacks. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf appealed to Egyptians not to give in to sectarian strife. "What is taking place are not clashes between Muslims and Christians but attempts to provoke chaos and dissent," he said on his Facebook page. State TV has announce a curfew in some parts of Cairo from 02:00 to 07:00 local time. Thousands - mainly but not exclusively Christians - joined the initial march from the Shubra district of northern Cairo to the state TV building in Maspero Square where they intended to hold a sit-in.”

“Egypt: Destroying Churches, One at a Time” at Middle East Forum:

“What clearer sign that Egypt is turning rabidly Islamist than the fact that hardly a few weeks go by without a church being destroyed, or without protesting Christians being attacked and slaughtered by the military? The latest chaos in Egypt -- where the military opened fire one unarmed Christians and repeatedly ran armored vehicles over them, killing dozens -- originates in Edfu, a onetime tourist destination renowned for its pharaonic antiquities, but now known as the latest region to see a church destroyed by a Muslim mob. The church attack is itself eye-opening as to the situation in Egypt.”


What strikes me is the BBC does a better job with breaking news here, and as a radio-oriented outlet their report may be the quickest and least mediated by the BBC’s investment in the Palestinian cause on day one. Reuters’ story seems more skillfully rendered for direct unfiltered news value. The New York Times though seems to have an editorial headlock on its correspondent from first filing. It can’t entirely be David Kirkpatrick’s automatic writing from Cairo that seeks to route a breaking story so peculiarly so to serve the Times’ position on Egypt’s military’s theoretical handover of power to civilian authority and the sacrifices Christians and Jews might be expected to make and deserve thereafter. Reuters may have filed later with its emphasis on mourning Christians rather than angry ones, but the Times also seeks to leaven the culpability of the military where the other reports describe the active running down of protestors by armored vehicles. By this Times’ standard Mayor Bloomberg and the New York State National Guard may have greater leeway than they imagine in dealing with Occupy Wall Street. The Middle East Forum has been posting detailed stories of these kind of anti-Christian incidents all along and so their telling is over-determined for news reporting, but better informed as to the origins and context of this explosion.

The BBC in particular is notably hostile to Israel. The New York Times is merely stupid about the peace process. Nicholas Kristof providing the most recent evidence of this in his column, “Is Israel Its Own Worst Enemy?”

The title itself is so absurd on the face of it as to be offensive. It’s an accusation right out of the Jews true worst enemies’ handbook. The Times never really admitted to themselves what the second intifada or the rocket attacks revealed about Palestinians. And so they never really accepted what the Likud-Labour unity government meant, especially given the sharp elbows of Israeli politics. From Manhattan, the Times, full of Christo-Hindu advice for the Jews -- turn the other cheek and suffer your karma -- may be trying to live down its Abe Rosenthal past or its coolness during the Holocaust, one can never tell with such opaque institutional pretensions. Maybe they’re trying to rate with BBC or EU opinion. Normally the farther from Washington the more trustworthy the Times’ reporting is. But Israel seems to them a domestic issue, and it wouldn’t be the first of those they are wrong on.

That there are still Christians in Egypt is something western opinion leaders have yet to get their heads around. They aren’t actually nimble thinkers, they are rather adopters of discrete ideas which may not add up to much more than a rock pile of attitudes, good for throwing at enemies. A second MEForum report by Raymond Ibrahim notes that the first BBC headline was “Egypt troops dead after Coptic church protest in Cairo”; this was changed. He continues,

“Even Fox News had its readers sympathizing with Egypt’s military, even as the latter was busy massacring Christian citizens: the report told of an Egyptian soldier ‘collapsing in tears’ as Christians ‘attacked’ a fellow soldier.” (MEForum.org)

Also on Tuesday David Kirkpatrick is allowed to do some backfilling and reframing even as he notes Egyptian officers and the minister of information doing same. Today the Coptics are one with “political liberals” and the Syrian revolt. Thank God for small favors. Still no detail on the origin of these crimes; the events at St. George Coptic Church are referred to as a “dispute.” You’ll have to check the Middle East Forum for that whether you approve of David Horowitz or not. And in a few more days Memri.org will have its translations of overheard Arab language reports and sermons and speeches posted. Those are always important. I saw the Reuters report on Saudi English-language news sites and that tells one nothing about the Saudi take.

The etiquette of equivalence aside, real existing Islam itself does not provide a true metaphysics for its followers who we see need one. Archeology, Science and History have had at Christianity and Judaism for centuries now; none is allowed to approach the Holy sites of Islam. That Jews and Christians remain such irritants shouldn’t disguise the fact that even within the ummah there is incredible violence, psychic as well as physical. But unlike most of Europe and half of America, the ummah will not lose faith and become confirmed atheists after Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens. They will change faiths. It isn’t just Christians who understand Christ’s story and its utility as a practical social matter. We in the west no longer live amidst our animals as they did in the Bible times, and as the rest of the world still does. We no longer feel the impulse to sacrifice an animal for a good harvest; science has taken care of that. But the story of Christ’s sacrifice served as the parable that turned the ancient world and its poverty culture upside down. It’s no accident that the Jesus of the Quran dies of old age.

It used to surprise me when bookshops would file their volumes of Marx and Trotsky in the Philosophy section. In a way Islam is to religion as Marxism is to philosophy. Each is a bitter repudiation of Christian ideals via a more literal, ultimately inhuman attempt to supersede them. They each wished to rescue some of that poverty culture might-makes-right profane prerogative for themselves if not anyone else. Think of all that black Americans got out of Christianity over the centuries in the new world, especially the Old Testament, and then ask why Elijah Poole and his followers chose Islam, or their naïve facsimile of it? (The orientalist blowback hall of mirrors called the Nation of Islam.) They chose Islam because they intuited that it would allow them to respond to racism with racism, to cultivate anger in a way that Christian ideals don’t allow. This was how the sons of slaves allied themselves with the source culture of slavery itself against the sons of their infected customers. When I was in Chicago in the years of Mayor Harold Washington, he cast out of his movement a number of black nationalist scholars whose careful study was determining that yea the Jews were behind slavery.

One wonders if the conversions to Christianity that often trigger the smallest, most brutal Middle East Forum stories are a bigger phenomenon than one would guess from the mainstream news outlets. Its likely what Muslims need, and my guess is their innermost fear is they understand this.


By Wednesday the New York Times, keeping pace right behind the military dictatorship in Egypt decides what happened was an outrage after all. David Kirkpatrick gets help from Heba Afify and they begin with a completely new tone and set of assumptions in their story, “A Top Egyptian Minister Quits in Protest Over Killings.” Perhaps they read Raymond Ibrahim’s pieces. In any case the Winston Smiths back in Manhattan have stirred to action:

“Egypt’s finance minister resigned Tuesday in protest over the killing of two dozen unarmed Coptic Christian protesters by the security forces, as reverberations from the outburst of violence two days ago continued to shake Egypt’s interim government.” (NYT)

Oh really, tell us about it.

Drawing by James Fotopoulos

From the Wyoming Desk of Joe Carducci…

Ian Johnson in Middle East Quarterly, "Europe’s Underestimated Islamists".

“The process of decolonization was creating dozens of newly independent states, many of them Muslim. Western intelligence agencies were eager to use covert propaganda to influence these countries for broader, strategic purposes, such as the battle against communism. West Germany was home to several hundred Muslims (estimates vary with the upper limit around 2,000) who had served in the Wehrmacht and the Nazi SS. They had been former Red Army soldiers who had been captured by the Germans and changed sides, either for fear of death in the horrific German prisoner-of-war camps or because of their belief in the Nazis' promise to liberate their Soviet-ruled homelands. After the war, most were repatriated but some managed to stay on, congregating for various reasons in Munich. Many of these began working for von Mende, who had spent the war years in the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, coordinating Muslim and other Soviet minorities. After the war, he set up a series of quasi-free intelligence operations that have remained unstudied to date, eventually settling on the name ‘Research Service East Europe’… Von Mende tried to rally the Muslims who stayed behind -- many of them his old Ostministerium colleagues -- in order to achieve West German foreign policy aims, including the long-term recovery of lost German territories east of the Oder-Neisse border. One of his methods for winning over the Muslims was to promise them a mosque in Munich. Ramadan stepped into this complex situation in 1958.”


Monika Carbe at Qantara.de, "50th Anniversary German-Turkish Recruitment Agreement - The Long Road to Almanya".

“That autumn, people were generally aware that a decision had been taken in Germany's then capital Bonn to bring foreign workers into the country. The labour recruitment agreement with Rome had been signed in late 1955, Italians were in evidence now and again in front of factories or at train stations, and since 1960 also Greek and Spanish workers, but who understood their language? ‘You go train station – there!’ The arrival of Turkish guest workers in Germany was not generally welcomed by the local population, but instead was accompanied by xenophobia and animosity And so it was that in the mid-1960s, hardly anyone paid much attention to the Turks who travelled to Munich and Stuttgart, Rüsselsheim and Cologne, Duisburg, Hamburg, Kiel or Berlin, unless they lived close to a plant run by a company such as Opel, Ford, Daimler-Benz or Siemens, or passed the guest workers' accommodation every day. The era of forced labour was finally over, and the term ‘Fremdarbeiter’ or ‘foreign workers’ was soon declared taboo in Germany. So the ‘guest workers’ lived mostly in barracks, sometimes in temporarily converted assembly halls which would otherwise have hosted shooting club events, or in former refugee camps that used to accommodate people from the SOZ, or Soviet Occupation Zone; it was viewed as sacrilege to talk of 'East Germany', an entity few were ready to recognise.”


Jason DeParle in NYT, "For Domestic Workers, Vast Global Labor Pool Challenges Treaty’s Aims".

“When the international labor group turned to domestic workers in 2010, Persian Gulf states, speaking as a bloc, called for nonbinding recommendations. In a reversal this year, they supported a binding treaty. What is more, they strengthened it, with calls for stronger language on contract rights, overtime pay and access to courts during employer conflicts. ‘It really made an impression,’ said Ellene Sana of the Center for Migrant Advocacy in Manila. ‘When you think of abuses, you think of the gulf -- yet here they are, standing up for domestic workers.’ Pressure from the Arab Spring, Ms. Sana said, may help explain the change…. After an Indonesian woman, Sumiati binti Salan Mustapa, was hospitalized in Medina last year with broken bones and a mutilated face, the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, condemned her ‘extraordinary torture.’ But the conviction of her employer was overturned. On June 18, two days after the Geneva vote, Saudi Arabia beheaded an Indonesian named Ruyati binti Sapubi. Mr. Yudhoyono denounced Saudi ‘norms and manners,’ and the Saudis stopped admitting new Indonesian maids. They had already placed a similar ban on the Philippines, after several Philippine lawmakers visited in January and wrote they were ‘shocked into speechlessness by the tales of rape and abuse.’ Saudi recruiters then described plans to hire thousands of Bangladeshis at wages of $170 a month, less than half what the Philippine government demanded.”


Franck Salameh in Middle East Quarterly, "Does Anyone Speak Arabic?".

“The abstruseness of Arabic and the stunted achievements of those monolingual Arabophones constrained to acquire modern knowledge by way of Modern Standard Arabic have been indicted in the United Nations' Arab Human Development reports -- a series of reports written by Arabs and for the benefit of Arabs -- since the year 2002. To wit, the 2003 report noted that the Arabic language is struggling to meet the challenges of modern times

‘[and] is facing [a] severe … and real crisis in theorization, grammar, vocabulary, usage, documentation, creativity, and criticism … The most apparent aspect of this crisis is the growing neglect of the functional aspects of [Arabic] language use. Arabic language skills in everyday life have deteriorated, and Arabic … has in effect ceased to be a spoken language. It is only the language of reading and writing; the formal language of intellectuals and academics, often used to display knowledge in lectures … [It] is not the language of cordial, spontaneous expression, emotions, daily encounters, and ordinary communication. It is not a vehicle for discovering one's inner self or outer surroundings.’

And so, concluded the report, the only Arabophone countries that were able to circumvent this crisis of knowledge were those like Lebanon and Egypt, which had actively promoted a polyglot tradition, deliberately protected the teaching of foreign languages, and instated math and science curricula in languages other than Arabic.”


Carolyn Heinze at Runninginheels.co.uk, "Catch Him If You Can (Or, Where's Momo?)"

"Vogue Paris. The September issue. It’s all there. Whaaat? Wait. I dated a spy, remember. So en dehors of my exclusive access to an excessive number of excessively reliable sources, I’m exclusively-superbly super-smart – excessively – about spying. The CIA and FBI and MI5 and UN and NATO?  And every other acronymed association who is seeking anyone (acronymed or otherwise) who is AWOL or MIA? They’ve got it all wrong. Moi–I’d take a different tack. Based on the excessive data I’ve received, exclusively, from my exclusive informants, I’d turn to Vogue. Vogue Paris – the September issue. Especially if I was finding a fashionista! Especially if it was fall. Especially if the fashionista to be found was a fallen Momo. Especially that."


MercoPress: "How the Argentine military tried to save a collapsing regime, planned the Malvinas invasion war".

“For some time in 1981 there were insistent rumours about a coup but then President General Roberto Viola did not say a word. He spent most of his time smoking three packages of True cigarettes per day plus abundant rounds of whisky with fellow officers. Even a former military de facto president Juan Carlos Onganía stated that the (military government) Process ‘was exhausted and the Military Junta is trying to elude responsibility of all of Argentina’s disasters.’”


Alexei Barrionuevo in NYT, "A Child of War Discovers ‘Dad’ Is Parents’ Killer".

“The abduction of an estimated 500 babies was one of the most traumatic chapters of the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. The frantic effort by mothers and grandmothers to locate their missing children has never let up. It was the one issue that civilian presidents elected after 1983 did not excuse the military for, even as amnesty was granted for other ‘dirty war’ crimes. ‘Even the many Argentines who considered the amnesty a necessary evil were unwilling to forgive the military for this,’ said José Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch. In Latin America, the baby thefts were largely unique to Argentina’s dictatorship, Mr. Vivanco said. There was no such effort in neighboring Chile’s 17-year dictatorship. One notable difference was the role of the Catholic Church. In Argentina the church largely supported the military government, while in Chile it confronted the government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet and sought to expose its human rights crimes, Mr. Vivanco said.”


John Rathbone in FT, "Chile: Wealth brings changing priorities".

“Furthermore, the surge in public protests has led some to wonder if the country might be on the brink of a ‘Chilean spring’ and if its much-vaunted free market economic model is bust. ‘The Chilean model is not broken, but it does need adjustment,’ Mr Pinera says. ‘That’s only natural. When you are poor, you worry about food and shelter. As you grow richer, other things become more important: the quality of education, health, the environment.’ In many ways, Mr Pinera is right -- and the critics of Chile’s democratic free-market model are wrong. Even a quick glance at the figures shows that the living standards are much improved. Despite a devastating earthquake in early 2010, the economy grew by more than 5 per cent last year, and more than 8 per cent in the first half of 2011. Unemployment is near record lows, and real wages are rising.”


Nicholas Kulish in NYT, "Slovaks Love and Hate Euro; Bailout May Lie in Between".

“Once among the most enthusiastic new members of the European Union, and an early adopter of the euro in Eastern Europe, Slovakia is proud of its strong growth and eager to leave behind its reputation as the ‘other half’ of Czechoslovakia. But it has also become a stark example of the love-hate relationship that many residents of the Continent have begun to feel toward a united Europe. Adopting the euro required hard sacrifices here that stand in sharp contrast to reports of overspending and mismanagement in Greece. The worries about the union’s future are all too real in smaller, poorer countries like Slovakia, which has about 5.5 million people, and is being asked to contribute $10 billion in debt guarantees to a $590 billion euro zone stability fund.”


Floyd Norris in NYT, "Escape Route For Greece, With Perils".

“If Greece were to follow the example set by Argentina nearly a decade ago, it would simply convert its debts from euros into its old currency, the drachma, at the old exchange rate of 340.75 drachmas to one euro. It could also convert euro currency in the country at the same rate. So if you owned one million euros in Greek bonds, they would be converted to bonds with a face value of 340.75 million drachmas. With a printing press available, Greece could meet those obligations. Of course the drachma would soon be worth a lot less -- perhaps 1,000 to the euro. So bondholders would have lost two-thirds of face value. Greece might do O.K., but for reasons we will see, the move could be devastating to the rest of Europe. In 2002, Argentina’s currency, the peso, was officially tied to the dollar at a one-to-one parity. There was a ‘currency board’ that was supposed to assure the tie could never be broken, and it had worked for a decade. But Argentine inflation had outpaced that of the United States, and the peso was seriously overvalued. In early 2002, a new Argentine government ended the peg and did much more. It defaulted, and it required its citizens to do the same.”


Daniel Pipes in National Review, "Cyprus on the World Stage".

“Cyprus was hardly the only territory rife with ethnic tensions that London eventually abandoned in frustration -- think of India, Iraq, Palestine, and Sudan -- but it was the only one where it retained a permanent role for itself and brought in patron states, namely Turkey and Greece, as guarantors of the newly independent state. This mischievous arrangement heightened tensions between both the island’s two communities, and their patron states. Those tensions boiled over in 1974, when Athens attempted to annex the whole of Cyprus and Ankara responded by invading the island, seizing the northern 37 percent of the island’s territory. Greek annexation fizzled but the invasion led to the establishment of a nominal ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (TRNC), which is maintained today by some 40,000 troops from the Republic of Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of settlers have since emigrated from Turkey, fundamentally altering the island’s demography.”


Charles Clover in FT, "Moscow Notebook: Distilled frenzy".

“Eurasianism was originally a movement of White Russian émigrés, fleeing the Bolshevik revolution, in the cities of interwar Europe. The heirs of Russia’s ‘silver age’ and symbolist movement, they took to heart the poetry of Alexander Blok, who wrote of Russia’s Mongol ancestry: ‘Yes, we are Asians, with slanted and greedy eyes!’ They theorized that the territory of the former Russian empire formed a natural geopolitical and cultural unit that was destined to remain whole. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the literature enjoyed a renaissance.”


John Mackintosh in FT, "The Short View".

“Before Watergate revealed to Americans that Richard Nixon was a liar and a cheat, the US president had already made clear to the rest of the world his willingness to break the rules. In 1971, in clear breach of world trade commitments, he imposed a 10 per cent import ‘surcharge’ to force others to let the dollar devalue. It worked, with some foreign policy friction. Now some US politicians are trying to repeat the feat, with the Senate poised to vote on the inclusion of currency manipulation in calculating trade penalties. The bill is aimed squarely at China.”


Keith Bradsher in NYT, "200 Chinese Subsidies Violate Rules, U.S. Says".

“Ron Kirk, the United States trade representative, said in a statement on Thursday that many of the subsidies had been identified in a yearlong American inquiry into how the Chinese government helped bankroll the rapid growth of its clean energy industries. In solar and wind power, in particular, American companies have had trouble keeping up with Chinese competitors…. Whether or not any of those subsidies violate international trade rules, the American trade office says China is already out of bounds by not having reported them to the W.T.O. The W.T.O. requires member countries to disclose details of their subsidies every two years. But China has disclosed its subsidies only once since it joined the W.T.O. in 2001. The goal of requiring the reports was to help other countries study the subsidies and determine whether any of them violated trade rules that prohibit using government money either to help companies buy market share in other countries or to discourage imports.”


Thant Myint-U in NYT, "In Myanmar, Seize the Moment".

“And although Myanmar’s aging autocrat, Gen. Than Shwe, retired, the constitutional leadership that replaced his junta included many of the same former generals. Few expected more than minor reforms. But U Thein Sein, the new president and himself a former general, surprised everyone. In his inaugural address to Parliament, he spoke forcefully of combating poverty, fighting corruption, ending the country’s multiple armed conflicts, and working for political reconciliation. By June, state pensions for nearly a million people, most of them very poor, were increased by as much as a thousandfold, taxes were reduced, and trade cartels were dismantled. The government redrafted banking and foreign investment rules and began revising its foreign exchange rate policy -- all of this in consultation with businessmen and academics. That alone was a huge step, because army rulers had long shunned any civilian advice. Then, on July 19, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who was released from house arrest last November, was invited to the annual Martyrs’ Day ceremony. The holiday memorializes the 1947 assassination of her father, who is considered the architect of the country’s independence. Thousands of her supporters were permitted to hold their first lawful march in years and several independent newspapers came to life.”


Neal Ascherson in London Review of Books on T.M. Devine’s book, To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland’s Global Diaspora.

“It’s a cliché that the Scots ‘punched above their weight’ in the empire, and it’s misleading. They seldom competed directly with the English or Irish, but established distinct and almost exclusively Scottish fiefdoms: the fur trade, the tobacco trade, the jute industry, the opium business in China, the ‘hedge-banking’ outfits in Australia, the executive levels of the East India Company. Later in the 19th century, in the second phase of industrialisation, the Clyde basin achieved something approaching world domination in shipbuilding, locomotive and bridge construction and other branches of heavy engineering. Overseas enterprise was a pattern of near monopolies from Scotland’s regions. The Hudson’s Bay Company was staffed by Orcadians; its Canadian rival, the North West Company, was run by Highlanders; the sugar plantations of Jamaica were packed with younger sons of Argyllshire lairds; the great trading houses of South-East Asia were mostly family businesses from Aberdeen and north-east Scotland; the outflow of foreign investment was cornered by Edinburgh solicitors.”


John Gray in Prospect, "Delusions of peace".

“For him, none is as important as the adoption of a particular view of the world: ‘The reason so many violent institutions succumbed within so short a span of time was that the arguments that slew them belong to a coherent philosophy that emerged during the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment. The ideas of thinkers like Hobbes, Spinoza, Descartes, Locke, David Hume, Mary Astell, Kant, Beccaria, Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton and John Stuart Mill coalesced into a worldview that we can call Enlightenment humanism.’ (The italics are Pinker’s.) Yet these are highly disparate thinkers, and it is far from clear that any coherent philosophy could have ‘coalesced’ from their often incompatible ideas. The difficulty would be magnified if Pinker included Marx, Bakunin and Lenin, who undeniably belong within the extended family of intellectual movements that comprised the Enlightenment, but are left off the list. Like other latter-day partisans of ‘Enlightenment values,’ Pinker prefers to ignore the fact that many Enlightenment thinkers have been doctrinally anti-liberal, while quite a few have favoured the large-scale use of political violence, from the Jacobins who insisted on the necessity of terror during the French revolution, to Engels who welcomed a world war in which the Slavs -- ‘aborigines in the heart of Europe’ -- would be wiped out.”


Max Boot in WSJ on Lewis Sorley’s book, Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam.

“Why did Westmoreland bungle so badly? It was not, as the most extreme antiwar protesters would have it, because he was a war criminal or psychopath. Mr. Sorley shows that Westmoreland was well-intentioned and conscientious, but also dense, arrogant, vain, humorless and not too honest. Is that too harsh a judgment? You won't think so if you read all the damning assessments compiled by Mr. Sorley from the late general's associates. Air Force Gen. Robert Beckel thought that ‘he seemed rather stupid. He didn't seem to grasp things or follow the proceedings very well.’ Or Army Gen. Charles Simmons: ‘General Westmoreland was intellectually very shallow and made no effort to study, read, or learn. He would just not read anything. His performance was appalling.’

Those comments were made by officers who worked closely with Westmoreland during his years as Army chief of staff -- 1968 to 1972 -- a time when ‘briefers were dismayed to find that Westmoreland would occupy himself during one-on-one deskside briefings by signing photographs of himself, one after another, while they made their presentations.’ But the warnings signs had been apparent long before. In 1964, when Westmoreland was first being considered for an assignment in Vietnam, one general privately warned that ‘it would be a grave mistake to appoint him’: ‘He is spit and polish.... This is a counterinsurgency war, and he would have no idea how to deal with it.’ Westmoreland's appointment was further validation of the Peter Principle -- that eventually every employee is promoted beyond his level of competence. ‘Westy’ was a good division commander who had compiled an impressive record in World War II and Korea.”


Gertrude Himmelfarb in New Criterion, "Lionel Trilling & the critical imagination".

“For conservative ideas, rather than mere impulses, Trilling had turned to the English, to that impeccable liberal John Stuart Mill, who urged his fellow liberals to become acquainted with the ‘powerful conservative mind’ of Coleridge as a corrective to the ‘weaknesses and complacencies’ of liberalism. Although Mill himself disagreed with Coleridge’s politics and metaphysics, he valued them because they recalled liberals to the ‘variousness and possibility’ that was an ‘intellectual and political necessity,’ and to the ‘inevitable intimate, it not always obvious, connection between literature and politics.’

It was this Coleridgean vision of literature and politics that Trilling, by way of Mill, was passing on to his own countrymen. The function of the literary critic, his preface concluded, was to remind the liberal that ‘literature is the human activity that takes the fullest and most precise account of variousness, possibility, complexity, and difficulty.’ (In an early essay, referred to in the preface but somehow not included in the volume, Trilling had made the even bolder suggestion that liberals take T. S. Eliot seriously, not only as a poet but as the author of ‘The Idea of a Christian Society,’ which was even more antithetical to the liberal than Coleridge’s thought.) ‘Variousness, possibility, complexity, and difficulty’ -- and, elsewhere, subtlety, ambiguity, contingency, paradox, irony -- the words echo throughout all of Trilling’s work. They are his signature, so to speak, the defining characteristics of the true literary imagination, in contrast to the simplistic liberal imagination.”


Tim Black at Spiked-online.com, "The global culture war over Amanda Knox".

“The willingness of too many in Italy to believe in the demonisation of Knox was matched on the other side of the Atlantic by the opposite reaction: a sheer incredulity at the demonisation of Knox. In the words of Knox’s hometown newspaper the Seattle Times, ‘the case against former University of Washington student Amanda Knox was always just too far-fetched’. And what this incredulity quickly translated into, especially after Knox’s conviction in December 2009, was an incredulity towards the judgement of Italy itself, a judgement embodied in the Italian judicial system, from judges to jurors. If liberal American culture – its moral laxity, its looseness, its loucheness – was on trial in prosecutor Mignini’s demonisation of Knox, so Italian culture – its medievalism, its misogyny, all festering in Italy’s pre-rational recesses – was dragged into the light of the Knox supporters equally prejudiced purview. Accordingly, the judgement of an Italian court, peopled as it was by the culturally superstitious and the misogynistic, could not be trusted.”


The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design presents "ANOTHER ROMANCE OF CELLULOID: MORE OLD FILMS ABOUT FILM"

• Saturday, October 22, 8pm

Moore College of Art & Design

20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia


THE HOLLYWOOD KID (1924, Dir: Roy Del Ruth & Del Lord) - This frenzied silent comedy packed more stars and celebrities into its running time than usual -- that's because its minimal plot concerns the making of a slapstick film at the real-life studios of Mack Sennett. With Charles Murray, Vernon Dent, Andy Clyde, Ben Turpin, Marie Prevost, Billy Bevan, Teddy the Dog and many more!

MGM STUDIO TOUR (1925) - A grand tour of the grandest of Hollywood studios, seen at the peak moment of the silent era. We see different creative and technical departments, directors like John Ford, Victor Seastrom and Tod Browning, and countless stars, from a young Joan Crawford to Zasu Pitts.

THE VOICE OF HOLLYWOOD #3 (1930) - This was one of the earlier series of short films to capitalize on the public's fascination with seeing movie stars having fun off the set, and depicts TWO ancient periods of show-biz history by setting their banter in the format of a fictitious radio program. This episode features Reginald Denny, Bobby Vernon, Anita Page, bandleader Paul Whiteman, female impersonator Julian Eltinge, and more.

Plus much, much more.”


ArtForum special: "Art in L.A.".

“If over the years Angelenos have gotten used to those swimmingly crossbred spaces, the continual transformations and unmoorings of Los Angeles have nonetheless outpaced us. Indeed, it is the city’s constantly changing tectonics that we hope to explore here -- not to definitively locate LA and its culture, but to get lost in its characteristically abrupt stirrings and mixed spaces.”


Archie Patterson at Rocksbackpages.com, "The Stooges 2010 - Raw Power Live…".

“‘It was like a high fashion freak show happening’, with The Whisky teetering on the brink of chaos. Iggy, the band, and audience, all caught up in the heat of the moment.

After the show, I met up with ‘Metal Mike’ Saunders who asked if I wanted to visit the bands dressing room upstairs. Ushered into the inner sanctum we spent 15 minutes sitting on a bare floor talking with Ron while Iggy prowled the room in his leather cheetah jacket with two of LA’s finest young rock she creatures from the Hollywood Hills, one on each arm. It was an interesting postscript to a gonzo LA glam rock experience. In early 1974, I saw the band again at Bimbo’s 365 Club, up in SF. Gone was the platinum hair and make-up. The band was also trying out new material, Head On, Cock in My Pocket, I Gotta A Right, as well as some others later to emerge, officially on KILL CITY, or later boots.”


Chris Ziegler in O.C. Weekly, "Flamin’ Groovies".

“His mom's water broke while she was at the circus, says Flamin' Groovies guitarist-songwriter Cyril Jordan, and that's when he must've first heard the roar of the crowd, he says -- which might be why he spent pretty much his entire life in one of the greatest rock & roll bands in the USA. Before he could even play, he'd sneak into shows at San Francisco's Cow Palace and watch the 1962 Beach Boys wobble through a live set with Brian Wilson on bass, Dennis Wilson on drums and terrifying Wilson father Murry popping out his glass eye to scare the girls up front. By 1965, he and Groovies front man Roy Loney started rehearsing; by 1966, they were a band, and he wouldn't retire till 1995 -- but only temporarily!”


Howard Reich in CT, "Chicago’s Alligator Records celebrates its 40th" at "
Evanston SPACE"
, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

“The performances will give listeners a chance to reflect on Alligator's enormous contribution to the music, and it will provide Iglauer an opportunity to take stock of where his label has been – and where it's going. ‘I'm shocked to say that Alligator is still making a profit,’ says Iglauer. ‘2009 was a very painful year for us, but 2010 we ended up in the black, and that includes paying out close to $500,000 in royalties.… I describe our royalties process now as taking a stack of pennies, cutting them into the smallest amount of pieces possible and pushing them around the table with tweezers. We'll get royalty checks for $50 (for various uses of Alligator tracks) and divide them among hundreds of artists.’ When an Alligator cut gets streamed on the digital music service Spotify, for instance, Alligator receives .0029 of a cent, says Iglauer.”


Obituary of the Week

Ramiz Alia(1925 - 2011)

“Mr. Alia had carried out many of the crackdowns, purges and executions ordered by Mr. Hoxha -- resorting even to the Stalinist horrors of burying enemies alive -- over decades of repression and Albanian isolation from the outside world. But when he succeeded to the presidency, he responded to widespread discontent by introducing limited economic reforms, easing restrictions on religion and civil liberties, and cautiously seeking ties with Western Europe and the Balkan states. Nevertheless, his government began to crumble in 1989 and 1990 during the wider collapse of Soviet and Eastern European Communism. Mr. Alia managed to cling to power for two more years by granting amnesty to political prisoners, allowing multiparty elections and promising other democratic reforms -- a complete about-face from his years as the provost of repression, censorship and internal controls. But it was too little, too late. Albania, then Europe’s most backward and impoverished country, continued to lurch from crisis to crisis with a dying economy, violent protests and masses of citizens fleeing abroad. Albania’s Communist government, the last in Europe, disintegrated in 1991, and Mr. Alia resigned as head of a coalition government in 1992. He was soon arrested.”


Thanks to Andy Schwartz, Jay Babcock, Steve Beeho.

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