Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Open Casket 2

What blacks activists who try to block views of Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket", demanding the artist destroy it, don't understand is that this high-handed approach diminishes the appeal of what's right about Black Lives Matter, and that of the whole movement against racism.

It sows doubt.

Came across it in myself today when reading about protests of a police shooting of a black guy. For a second, a split second, I hesitated as I asked myself: are these protestors the same people who want to forbid me from seeing a painting, who think it should be destroyed?

If so. . .

I got over it. I know where I stand about police murders.

But to reiterate, the protestors who stand in front of Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket" don't have any idea of the damage they're doing.

Excellent arguments have been mounted against this act of would-be censorship but the one I haven't heard is the one I'm making here: it's a real turn-off, encouraging sympathizers, of whatever race, not to care, not to trust, to think twice, and maybe turn away.

Not from the painting. From the movement.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Frank Rich: Stay Angry, Liberal

Frank Rich no longer occupies the central outpost at the NY Times that was his during the Bush years — so, for example, Mel Gibson is no longer liable to threaten, "I want his intestines on a stick . . . I want to kill his dog" – but the pieces he writes for nymag are no less pointed. I, for one, look forward to them.

In his latest, he challenges what he sees as a disabling conceit among liberals as they contend with Trump's victory. If only, they winge, they had managed to cross the "empathy gap" and make nice to the white working class and rural poor, we would have avoided the calamity of Trump. But Rich thinks there's little reason to believe anything would have gotten through to the "Trumpentariat". 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Settler Movement Failing?

Fascinating piece showing that the attention the settler movement in Israel gets is vastly disproportionate to its actual success on the ground. For example, in 1981, the Likud "projected that by 2010, 1.3 million Jews would live alongside 1.8 million Arabs in the West Bank. In fact, among the close to three million West Bank Palestinians, just 405,158 Jewish settlers resided in 126 settlements in mid-2016, comprising 13.8 percent of the region's population. . . Not even the serious housing crisis within Israel serves to push more Jews into the heavily subsidized settlements." 

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Jimmy Breslin died on Saturday, 3/19/17, age 88. He represented some of the best features of print journalism in its heyday when he plied that trade for a variety of outlets — the NY Post before it became a Murdoch rag, the NY Daily News, among them.

Breslin was born, raised and bloodied in New York, and it's next to impossible to imagine him transplanted to another venue. He liked fights and the kind NYC offered — and by NYC I don't mean only the high rent districts of Manhattan, though he had access, but as much or more the places in Queens he knew well.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Joseph McCarthy/Donald Trump

The following is from Richard Hofstadter's "Anti-intellectualism in American Life":

"The McCarthyist fellow travelers who announced that they approved of the senator's goals even though they disapproved of his methods missed the point: to McCarthy's true believers what was really appealing about him were his methods, since his goals were always utterly nebulous. To them, his proliferating multiple accusations were a positive good, because they widened the net of suspicion and enabled it to catch many victims who were no longer, or had never been, Communists; his bullying was welcomed because it satisfied a craving for revenge and a desire to discredit the type of leadership the New Deal had made prominent. . . "

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Timothy Snyder: Emergency

Timothy Snyder is an historian best known for his "Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin" (2010), and for conversations with the late Tony Judt, collected in "Thinking the Twentieth Century" (2012).

The following are quotes from an interview with Snyder** in which he brings his vast knowledge of twentieth century authoritarian transformations to bear on conditions in the United States today. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Robert Pinsky Ralph Branca

Robert Pinsky has published a superb poem in the New Yorker,

About that poem, it could be you need a bit of baseball lore for it to click. Branca was the Dodger pitcher Bobby Thompson hit the homerun off in the '51 playoff to give the Giants the pennant.

That historic homerun:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Settlement Tomatoes, Hilltop Olives . . .

I know, we've got enough problems with Rumpus, so who has energy for his Israeli buddy, Netanyahu?

Author and Forward columnist Peter Beinart does. I like what he says about Israel's new law banning entry to:

any person "who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel" or any territory "under Israeli control," which includes settlements in the West Bank. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

On Fascism

Is Trump a fascist, or, more vaguely, fascistic? Let me suggest that we lay this one to rest. No doubt that he's fascist/fascistic.

He's mobilized extreme xenophobia and nativism, violence, racism, in the service of strongman rule and as against traditions of due process and civil liberties. Trump's managed to subvert the distinction between truth and lies, and not in any cool subtle postmodern way, either. No, history will show that Stump owes more to Joseph Goebbels than to Marcel Duchamp. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

What to Do about the Disappointed Trump Voter

Someone had to say this, and though Charley Pierce is hardly the only one to do so, it can't be denied that he puts it so very well:

A while back, I ran out of patience with the endless provision of cookies to the people who looked at the United States of America and decided that just what we needed was to have it run for a while by a Manhattan real-estate grifter and career public nuisance because he was going to bring jobs and money back to a bunch of states he very likely couldn't find on a map.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Art of Rivalry

Reading and being caught up in Sebastian Smee's, "The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art".


Art of Rivalry

Reading and being caught up in Sebastian Smee's, "The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art".


I'm with Bacon and Freud now, but the book will include Matisse/Picasso, Degas/Manet, de Kooning /Pollock.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Jerusalem Syndrome, a Show at the Met

I don't mean to tax people with heavy reading but since I do like to send material around that I find of interest I thought this more than qualified. To read or not to read: it's on you. In any case, it's Edward Rothstein's critique of "Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven," the much-touted show currently at the Metropolitan Museum.