Gallery 12 (with instructions)
the ride with this blog is worth the fall
I asked my dad to write something about William F. Buckley, who he greatly admired. Though my dad was in his 20s throughout most of the 1960s, to say he was not a flower child would be an extreme understatement. Temperamentally conservative and very intelligent, his political views and my respect for them -- though I hardly agree with all of them -- are part of the reason my friends in New York have to tolerate my deviations from the local orthodoxy. Anyway, here's what Dad generously wrote back when I asked him for a contribution:My most vivid recollection of Buckley goes back to circa ’59-’60. there was a political discussion show on each Sunday night hosted by David Susskind, who would assemble pundits to debate the topics of the day. (It was called Open End; later it became The David Susskind Show.) The cold war was the dominant focus, with other subjects breaking into the usual liberal-conservative debates. As you know, I came down on the latter side and was generally disappointed in the caliber of spokespeople that Susskind rounded up to make the conservative case.
Q: Who in your — or perhaps Buckley’s estimation should you know it — carries on his legacy of intellectual conservatism? If you had to nominate someone to ascend to the lectern of Buckley, who would it be? —Japhy Grant
A: Frankly, there is no one. He was an American original. He had no true predecessor and no plausible heir.
Q: Do you find yourself sympathetic to the ideas of Buckley now that you are writing about him? Have you been sympathetic to his ideas in the past? —Sam
A: I was and remain sympathetic with some of his ideas but skeptical about others. No one was better at pointing up the contradictions of liberal orthodoxy — the unstated assumptions, the reflexive equation of liberalism with virtue.
Q: William F. Buckley famously admitted to having smoked pot at least once on his boat outside U.S. territorial waters. Did he continue to smoke it after trying it? What if anything did he say about the subject? —Rich Turyn
A: If so, only seldom. But Buckley was much piqued by the counter-culture. He recently told me an amusing anecdote on this general subject. In the 1970s, Buckley and one of his mentors, the political thinker James Burnham, decided they would indulge in some current vices by smoking pot and then watching the sex-drenched film “I am Curious — Yellow.” The pot was procured by Bill’s chauffeur. It was a good plan — or seemed so, except they made the mistake of drinking alcohol first. This blunted the effects of the pot, and they both fell asleep during the film.
...there are two ways in which the idea of evolution has been misused. One is the optimistic way, which says it's all getting better and better, and we should go along with it -- that evolution is a sort of escalator which can take us anywhere. This was Lamarck's and Herbert Spencer's view -- it was not Darwin's, but people think that Darwin proved it. He did not. But if we believe this, it produces a belief in progress, which means that whatever we do is better than whatever there was before, and we only want more of it. But the idea that growth -- for instance, economic growth -- is natural and required, is a mythical idea. This can't be right, because things do not grow indefinitely in nature; they grow until they're big enough.She believes that the savage competition in nature has been overemphasized as a metaphor for other areas of life, in lieu of, say, emphasizing the cooperation that was necessary among cells to make organisms in the first place.
I should explain that my father was a parson and I was brought up in an Anglican background. I always thought this stuff was all right, but I could never get any impression of God being there. I think it is very puzzling that some do and some don't have this kind of experience, and I'm prepared to believe that the world is big enough for both. I mean, it seems to me if there is anything out there, it's much too big for us to be able to think about it clearly. But I think God obviously is a terribly important human concept and human experience, and it is ludicrous to try to amputate it as if it was some kind of tumor. The visions of the imagination are a crucial and real part of human life, and what is operating there is real.
Paranoid to the end, Hopper demanded Feinstein's exposed stock, saying, "I don't trust you -- gimme all your film, I want it in my room!" Feinstein started throwing the film cans at him, whereupon Dennis jumped him, kicked and pummeled him. They went flying through a door into the room shared by Basil and Black. According to Dennis, Peter was in bed with both women. The two men paused for a second to contemplate this spectacle, and then Feinstein heaved a television set at Dennis. (Says Black, "I was never in bed with Peter Fonda, believe me.")
Rewind is good fun during scenes of re-filming, when it both sends up the originals and gets across an affection for old-fashioned movie thrills. But everywhere else, it feels like a step backward for Gondry. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep weren’t commercial blockbusters, but they felt like strong statements of artistic intent. By contrast, Rewind seems undeniably, almost purposefully minor, most charming when it’s least ambitious.
George Bush made the connection between religious beliefs and the Iraq war explicit, with his childlike claim that freedom was God's gift to humanity and that he was delivering that gift himself by invading Iraq. I need not rehearse here how Bush's invocation of the divine gift of freedom overlooks the Bible, the persistence throughout history of hierarchical societies that have little use for personal autonomy, and the unique, centuries-long struggle in the West to create the institutions of limited government that underwrite our Western idea of freedom. Suffice it to say, the predictable outcome of the Iraq invasion did not convince me that religious belief was a particularly trustworthy ground for political action.
Labels: Five Songs
Since we're only sixteen for one short year of our lives it's easy to forget what the experience was truly like, but having spent the better part of the past seven years with them, I know of sixteen-year-old girls. And not just in a classroom; I've logged plenty of hours with them in their natural state. I've wandered through myriad cities with them, stayed in hotels with them, endured day-long bus trips and airplane flights with them, played games, watched movies, gone shopping and gossiped with them, and counseled them on every imaginable aspect of their drama-filled lives. I know them. And not just for one year - I see sixteen-year-olds every year. They may forget what they were like, but on my end there's a revolving door of them to serve as a constant reminder.
From where I stand, rather than creating a truly believable protagonist, Diablo Cody created the sixteen-year-old girl we all wish we could have been - one who is sharp, composed, rational, witty, independent and in control. But you know what? That's not real. At least, not to be all these things at such a young, awkward age. In the character of Juno, Cody created the girl we all wished we could have been; however, this girl is, unfortunately, a fantasy, and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't get past that.
“It is time to get real,” she said in a speech at Hunter College in Manhattan. “To get real about how we actually win this election and get real about the challenges facing America. It’s time we moved from good words to good works, from sound bites to sound solutions.”Let me ask you: What is more of a sound bite than Clinton's last sentence? This is the problem for her. Everyone uses sound bites. It's a matter of whose work better. That's being answered pretty overwhelmingly at the moment. And all of her nonsense about being more prepared to lead is sounding more hollow every day as she can't even campaign strongly enough to win her own party's nomination. All she has left to differentiate herself are the two arguments that hold up least to scrutiny: That she's more experienced, and a better leader.
And there I am between them, sturdy, youthful, prospering, virile (fossilized and immobilized between them as though between bookends, without knowing how I got there, without knowing how I will ever get out), saddled already with the grinding responsibility of making them, and others, happy, when it has been all I can do from my beginning to hold my own head up straight enough to look existence squarely in the eye without making guileful wisecracks about it or sobbing out loud for help. Who put me here? How will I ever get out? Will I ever be somebody lucky? What decided to sort me into precisely this slot? (What the fuck makes anyone think I am in control, that I can be any different from what I am? I can’t even control my reveries. Virginia’s tit is as meaningful to me now as my mother’s whole life and death. Both of them are dead. The rest of us are on the way. I can almost hear my wife, or my second wife, if I ever have one, or somebody else, saying:
“Won’t you wheel Mr. Slocum out of the shade into the sunlight now? I think he looks a little cold.”
A vacuum cleaner that works well is more important to me than the atom bomb, and it makes not the slightest difference to anyone I know that the earth revolves around the sun instead of vice versa, or the moon around the earth, although the measured ebb and flow of the tides may be of some interest to mariners and clam diggers, but who cares about them? Green is more important to me than God. So, for that matter, is Kagle and the man who handles my dry cleaning, and a transistor radio that is playing too loud is a larger catastrophe to me than the next Mexican earthquake. “Someday” -- it must have crossed my mother’s mind at least once, after my denial and rejection of her, since she was only human -- “this will happen to you.” Although she was too generous to me ever to say so. But I know it must have crossed her mind.)
"You're in it, too, you sausage-maker! You, too, claim that she 'vas shtealing,' you vile Prussian chicken-leg in a crinoline!"
Q: Do you realize that listening to Explosions in the Sky, the band that does most of "Friday Night Lights" music, can make any normal experience epic? I walked my dog [while] wearing headphones and listening to them, and by the end of the walk, I felt as if I had experienced something truly life-altering. I am currently trying to apply the "Explosions Theory" to many other aspects of my life, such as showering, vacuuming and doing laundry.
-- Owen, Cleveland
SG: Couldn't agree more. I wish there was a way to pump that music into every bathroom in my house. I'm also amazed none of the presidential candidates has used Explosions in the Sky for their campaign. You could show me a 30-second ad of John McCain trying to pass out a kidney stone to that music and I'd probably want to vote for him afterward.
In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of "suttee"—the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:
"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
I always liked "O My God" by The Police, but that is definitely not a spiritual uplifter. A perfect example of Sting hubris, though. He is lonely in his life, and demands to God that He fill Sting's life with meaning by bringing him a good piece of tail.When I posted a list of my favorite things from 2005, Dezmond responded with:
Ha Ha!! You have now opened the door! I was awaiting some sort of Best of 2005 posting, so then I could give you my own purely objective best of lists for the year as well.Following that he posted three separate comments totaling 1,700 words.
Like so many classic horror films from the era, Night of the Living Dead was a back-up plan. When Romero couldn't get funding for Whine of the Fawn, a "Bergmanesque" coming-of-age film set in the Dark Ages, he tried something more commercial. "We didn't know anyone who had any horses, so a Western was out," says the producer Russ Streiner. "And we didn't live by the water, so we couldn't do a beach movie. That left horror."Given that we're talking about horror films, it's appropriate that the entertainment is mingled with a sense of brutality, as in this passage about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre:
"It looked like someone stole a camera and started killing people," says (Wes) Craven, who saw it in a grimy Times Square theater. "It had a wild, feral energy that I had never seen before, with none of the cultural Band-Aids that soften things. It wasn't nice, not nice at all. I was scared shitless."The piece isn't available online, so I strongly recommend you pick up the magazine when it hits your area (I think it's out a little early in New York). It's the Hollywood Issue, so you have to get through, without exaggeration, about 200 pages of ads before the magazine properly begins, but it's worth it.
If it looked like a snuff film, that was partly because the actors were genuinely miserable. They worked 16-hour days in the boiling heat of central Texas in July and August and spent much of the time covered in fake blood (Karo corn syrup) and real bruises. "Let me put it to you gently," says Edwin Neal, a Vietnam veteran who played Leatherface's maniacal brother. "I moved troops through the jungles of Vietnam, and it wasn't as bad as making this film."
In short, consumers and patients may be in for a Pandora’s box of exasperating, drawn out public debates over suicide risk, if not lurid court cases — with little chance of a clear, satisfying resolution.
The reason is simple: Suicide is an intimate, often impulsive decision that has defied scientific understanding, just as it has confounded easy explanation throughout history, or in literature.
Researchers can count the bodies, all right, and they have confirmed what people already suspected about suicide, that it is associated with depression, alcoholism, and other habits or disorders that leave people miserable.
But the act itself is so rare — 1 in 10,000 — that a series of drug trials cannot pick up enough cases to allow for adequate analysis.
Back in October 2007, Clinton was beating Obama in Maine by a hilarious 47 to 10 margin, but it seems he's carried the state today, once again by a large margin. My understanding, though, is that this doesn't really count because it's a small state, much as Utah doesn't count because there aren't many Democrats there, DC doesn't count because there are too many black people, Washington doesn't count because it's a caucus, Illinois doesn't count because Obama represents it in the Senate even though Hillary was born there, Hawaii won't count because Obama was born there. I'm not sure why Delaware and Connecticut don't count, but they definitely don't.I'm not going to count out my former home state of Texas for the Illinois senator just yet, either, because I had a conversation yesterday with a friend there who said several Republican friends of his were thinking of voting for Obama in their primary. They'll likely vote for McCain in the fall, but they like Obama so much more than Clinton that they feel motivated. They could stomach losing the White House to Obama (in fact, my friend says a part of him is rooting for him). If Obama can sweep Tuesday's primaries, which is expected, I like how this shapes up. Either a continued barnburner -- or, with a comeback win for Obama in any one or more of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas, a serious blow to Clinton's chances, pardon the expression.
Realistically, Clinton seems to have difficulty winning anywhere she can't mobilize racial polarization in her favor. Obama has, of course, deployed polarization to his benefit in a number of states (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana most notably) but he's also dominated the states with very few black voters.
UPDATE: I forgot about Missouri. Obama's win in Missouri, of course, doesn't count because the state was called too late.
From the backseats of freezing cars and vans you're hustled into overheated coffee shops and those packed school gymnasiums with the stink rising to the rafters and then the oppressive hush of corporate meeting rooms ... You open your mouth and you release the same cloud of words you recited yesterday and the day before. And in the Q&A, when you stop to listen, you hear the same questions and complaints from yesterday, the same mewling and blame-shifting, all imploring you to do the impossible and through some undefined action make the lives of these unhappy citizens somehow edifying, uplifting, and worth living. And you always promise you will do that; you have no choice but to tell this kind of lie.This applies even to candidates who I think do their best to rise above, like Obama. So I'll end this long preface by saying that I'm not particularly interested in defending campaign tactics, though I'd rather my candidate press a vaguely motivational button too often than engage in a series of dishonest smears of her opponent.
"What do you think?" Razumikhin shouted, raising his voice even more. "You think it's because they're lying? Nonsense! I like it when people lie! Lying is man's only privilege over all other organisms. If you lie -- you get to the truth! Lying is what makes me a man. Not one truth has ever been reached without first lying fourteen times or so, maybe a hundred and fourteen, and that's honorable in its way; well, but we can't even lie with our own minds! Lie to me, but in your own way, and I'll kiss you for it. Lying in one's own way is almost better than telling the truth in someone else's way; in the first case you're a man, and in the second -- no better than a bird! The truth won't go away, but life can be nailed shut; there are examples. Well, so where are we all now? With regard to science, development, thought, invention, ideals, aspirations, liberalism, reason, experience, and everything, everything, everything, we're all, without exception, still sitting in the first grade! We like getting by on other people's reason -- we've acquired a taste for it! Right? Am I right?" Razumikhin shouted, shaking and squeezing both ladies' hands. "Am I right?"
(Thompson's views) might have earned another candidate a reputation for "straight talk"--maybe even the title of "maverick." But Thompson was more subversive than that; he was an existential maverick, and his campaign was an implicit rebuke to the system in its entirety. He was a man out of his time. With its reduced metabolism and procedural modesty, his campaign still might have served as an illustration of what politics once was like and--if we have the audacity to hope--might be again. After all, by the standards of a century ago, Thompson was a whirligig.I recommend the whole thing.
Political campaigns have always been boisterous affairs, but candidates themselves rarely took center stage till well into the 20th century. The first presidential candidate even to make an appearance on his own behalf was William Henry Harrison in 1840. When he showed up in Columbus, Ohio, to give a speech extolling his (exceedingly thin) record, the political world was scandalized. An opposition paper, the Democratic Globe, counted his uses of the pronoun "I"--there were 81 of them in his text--and pronounced the speech "a prodigy of garrulous egotism." The Cleveland Adviser, a nonpartisan paper, asked: "When was there ever before such a spectacle as a candidate for the Presidency, traversing the country advocating his own claims for that high and responsible station? Never!"
"The precedent thus set by Harrison," concluded the Adviser's editorialist, "appears to us a bad one."
I got out some of my stress by shouting a pizza delivery cyclist off the sidewalk, and then by shouting at a motorist making a left-hand turn who almost took out a whole swath of pedestrians. As soon as my feet hit the base of the 59th Street Bridge, it started to rain, and I tucked my ipod into the torso strap of my sports bra, under my arm, having already lost one ipod to water damage from a rainy run. By the time I trotted off the bridge and my foot touched the sidewalk in Queens Plaza, the rain had stopped, making it seem like I’d passed through some sort of cleansing passage as I moved from one borough to another, from one island to another.
They’re all decent people who treat other human beings with respect, even people that don’t deserve it, which is the big demarcation point, I think, in human behavior. If you treat people with respect who don’t deserve it, it’s a mark of high civilization. Because you never know who’s only temporarily deserving of bad behavior, so you try to treat everybody with a morality that makes you a good person, not whether or not they deserve to be treated well. And I feel, really, much more comfortable with those people.Right after this heartfelt speech, he shouts at someone -- it's possible that it's a baby -- to shut the f*** up. It's a hilarious moment that I wouldn't have spoiled if there weren't a dozen others just as funny.
Regrets are like children; you don’t really know if you want to have them until it’s too late to do anything about it.The restaurant's fate has changed since the movie was made, but that's actually part of the movie, so I'll be quiet about it. For now, just a clip. It's not one of the best (not by a long shot), but it's OK and, more importantly, it's the only one on YouTube:
If you find yourself drawn to the Clinton candidacy, you likely believe that politics is politics, that partisanship isn’t transmutable, that Republicans are for the most part irredeemable. You suspect that talk of transcendence amounts to humming “Kumbaya” past the graveyard. ... If you find yourself swept up in Obamamania, on the other hand, you regard this assessment as sad, defeatist, as a kind of capitulation. You’re perfectly aware that politics is often a dirty business. But you believe it could be a bit cleaner, a bit nobler, a bit more sustaining. You think that paradigm shifts can happen, that the system can be rebooted. Most of all, an attraction to Obama indicates you are, on some level, a romantic. You never had your JFK, your MLK, and you desperately crave one: What you want is to fall in love.There’s certainly something to this. It’s true that I’m more romantic than some of my friends who are still leaning toward (or at least willing to consider) Hillary. But I also think this clever summary doesn’t do enough rigorous thinking about the key difference upon which Heilemann bases his piece -- the difference between the candidates' "worldviews."
(Obama) believes that, as he often says, “we can disagree without being disagreeable.” He’s convinced that unity is attainable through the right kind of leadership: his.I hope we can agree that describing Clinton’s outlook as “more skeptical” is an understatement. This is the woman who called imminent mudslinging against a fellow Democrat “the fun part,” and who, after losing Iowa, was talking most loudly about the fact that she can “survive the Republican attack machine.”
Clinton doesn’t say so quite this bluntly, but she manifestly considers Obama’s outlook woefully naïve. Her view of the culture of Washington is darker, and of transforming it, more skeptical. And while she prefers to speak of achieving change through hard work—to paint herself as the candidate of perspiration as opposed to inspiration—at bottom she conceives of politics as an endless series of skirmishes.
Giuliani concedes. The bit of the speech I saw was classy. Like most New Yorkers, I kind of think he's a maniac, but I was touched.