May 2012

Is Chris Hayes Too Thoughtful for the Mediated Public Square?

May 30, 2012

. You don’t have to think of Chris Hayes as the anti-Limbaugh. (That’s most of us.) Consider him the anti Chris Matthews, his stable mate at MSNBC. Matthews drew a lot of attention the other day for his interview of Newt Gingrich, during which he did play, yes, a form of hardball, asking tough questions [...]

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Hemingway & Gellhorn’s Follies d’Amour

May 29, 2012

. Do you do politics, but live for art? Do art, but live for politics? Don’t tell me. Share it with your confessor. Or your bartender. We saw the Kennedy Center & Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim‘s Follies, minus Bernadette Peters, at the Ahmanson on Sunday. Theater tickets were still costing more than an ounce [...]

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A Lonely Grave

May 28, 2012


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The Daily Beast Begins to Bottom Feed

May 27, 2012

. The Daily Beast provides some thoughtful journalism and opinion, but increasingly it and its editor, Tina Brown, offer sensational nonsense. Newsweek isn’t making money yet – better draw more eyeballs. So we get the crudely philistine “The 13 Most Useless Majors, From Philosophy to Journalism” or the sucker punch at controversy of Newsweek’s “The First Gay President,” [...]

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Eating Poetry (XXXV) – Gay Chaps At The Bar

May 26, 2012

. The earlier meaning of the word, and so poignant here. From her first collection of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville, 1945 – originally published in Poetry, November 1944 –  and its closing sequence of twelve off-rhyme sonnets. Gay Chaps At The Bar by Gwendolyn Brooks …and guys I knew in the States, young officers, return from [...]

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Framing Obama

May 25, 2012

I frame, you frame, everybody frame frames. It just helps to know it’s going on. There is an education in itself in noting how the variant definitions of the word “frame” – the verbal form, for instance – bleed into one another, from one to the next: 2. a : plan, contrive <framed a new [...]

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Politicians, Faith, and Reason

May 24, 2012

Invariably in American politics, the faith of political candidates will be scrutinized. Because of protestant strains in the nation’s colonial origins and its long-time demographic majority, the scrutiny has always been heightened for the non-Protestant. In the evangelical age, for the Protestant, the scrutiny has taken the form less of a necessary demystification – and [...]

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What’s Left of the Jewish Left?

May 22, 2012

. Adam Kirsch reports in Tablet on the recent YIVO conference “Jews and the Left,” held at the Center for Jewish History in New York. Among the presenters was England’s Norm Geras, of Normblog, who spoke on “Alibi Anti-Semitism,” an essential consideration of how much political rhetoric critical of Israel, particularly the anti-Zionist variety, is [...]

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Said the Sad Red Earth

May 21, 2012

. I’ve been lying low, collecting evidence… Brought to mind by recent events for David W. Blight And Allison Scharfstein in their Op-Ed at the New York Times, the little known proposal by Martin Luther King, Jr. to President Kennedy in May 1962 to issue another Emancipation Proclamation, to end segregation. Kennedy took it under advisement and [...]

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A Year with Death

May 17, 2012

. Once upon a culture long ago or far away, mourning was a state both ritually displayed and visibly endured over protracted time. Widows might literally or effectively sacrifice their lives, though this was manifestation of something other than grief. Black or some other mourning color might be worn for life, maybe for a few [...]

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A Prayer for the Dead

May 16, 2012

. The poet Stewart Kestenbaum, who lives in Maine, lost his brother Howard in the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. A Prayer for the Dead The light snow started late last night and continued all night long while I slept and could hear it occasionally enter my sleep, where I dreamed my brother was [...]

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Boycotting Rush, or Citizens United

May 14, 2012

. It isn’t that you boycott.  It’s what you boycott. And why. As the ends don’t justify the means (most people would agree), ends don’t illegitimize the means either. Reasons matter. Aims matter. We can pursue good ends through bad means, and for bad reasons. We can likewise use a good – or at least [...]

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A Geology of Birds

May 13, 2012

. My parents were fortunate enough to live long lives, my mother, Helen, until 88, my father even longer. For the last eleven years of my mother’s life, after some decades of their wandering and separation, the three children had come together again in the same city. The birds had flocked together once more. Mother [...]

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How We Lived On It (50) – The Daughters

May 12, 2012

. Music: Tim Story, “The Daughers,” from Shadowplay. Art: Elizabeth Colomba    Related articles Being In and Out of Time ( How We Lived On It (49) – The First Hippie ( Jazz Is: 38 – “Nature Boy” ( Eating Poetry (XXXIV) – Time Is the Fire (

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Jazz Is: 39 – Blue Rondo à la Turk

May 11, 2012

. Giving Los Angeles (or West Coast) cool jazz a whole new meaning. These guys simply take wing. The Dave Brubeck Quartet on ”The Lively Ones” television show, first broadcast July 25, 1962. Related articles Forgotten Gems From The Dave Brubeck Quartet ( My music playlist for today (May 6, 2012 edition) ( Take Five by [...]

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United We Fall

May 10, 2012

. The question is who we are to each other. It’s at the beginning and end of every political argument, regardless of whether anyone raises it. Are we lone figures passing on a cold tundra, or do we pause to stand, and even stay, in fellowship? And what will break it? Every other consideration is [...]

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Being In and Out of Time

May 9, 2012

. Losing yourself in the moment. Living in the moment. Living by losing yourself in the moment. Being in time. Some good writing from Tim Kreider. When I’m balanced on two thin wheels at 30 miles an hour, gauging distance, adjusting course, making hundreds of unconscious calculations every second, that idiot chatterbox in my head [...]

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New Communism, Old Totalitarianism

May 8, 2012

. Alan Johnson has a bracing roundup in the May-June issue of World Affairs of the latest in communist theorizing. Entitled The New Communism: Resurrecting the Utopian Delusion, it begins so: A specter is haunting the academy—the specter of “new communism.” A worldview recently the source of immense suffering and misery, and responsible for more deaths than [...]

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The Arguments against Israel: Indigeneity

May 7, 2012

. Outside of war, no modern state has ever been subject to such an attack on its legitimacy and existence as has the state of Israel. Indeed, the concerted transnational political challenge to Israeli legitimacy – given the longstanding open-ended conditions of military and other violent conflict against Israel – may be truly conceived, to [...]

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How We Lived On It (49) – The First Hippie

May 5, 2012

. “When I was young, I dreamed of a boy searching for God. Now I am old, and I dream of God searching for a boy.” The focus of yesterday’s Jazz Is, the vocal standard “Nature Boy,” was written by eden ahbez. This is not like saying written by Johnny Mercer or  Jimmy Van Heusen. ahbez [...]

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Jazz Is: 38 – “Nature Boy”

May 4, 2012

. For a marvelous contrast, sample both of the versions below of eden ahbez‘s famous jazz ballad, “Nature Boy.” The first is a classic, serenely tasteful rendition by Nat King Cole, who first performed and recorded the song. The second, longer performance is the stunningly inventive rendition arranged by Ross Burford and Connaitre Miller for Howard University’s Jazz [...]

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