Trump on My Mind

A man w/ orange-tinged skin, side-combed dyed yellow hair and a mouth that looks like the “o”-shaped mouths in cartoons, has taken up near-permanent residence in my mind. I go to bed thinking of him and he pops into my head — the surreal and terrifying reality of him — first thing in the morning.

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Our America: Lessons from the McCarthy Era

Koude-oorlog

Late in the afternoon of January 13, 1954, less than a year after my marriage to Anne Halley, with a two-month-old son at home in our apartment, I was sitting in my half of an office in Folwell Hall, a teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota, when the phone rang. It was a reporter from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, an African American named Carl Rowen who was to go on to renown and a modicum of fame in later years. He informed me that I had been “named” as a Communist by a woman from Minneapolis—a former Communist at twenty-three, testifying before a U.S. Senate committee.

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Juan Gelman

When Argentine poet Juan Gelman died in January, 2014—he left behind twenty books of poetry. He is best known for work rooted in the Argentine political repression of the 70s, when military forces brought a reign of terror to Buenos Aires. In 1976, Gelman’s son, Marcelo, and daughter-in-law, Claudia, pregnant with the poet’s grandchild were “disappeared.”

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Adventures in Marketing: Week 45

Since I began self-publishing, my primary marketing effort, which doubles, in my mind as a public art performance, consists of sitting in a café each morning with my wares beside a sign, personally drawn and lettered by S. Clay Wilson of the Checkered Demon commanding “Buy Bob’s Books!”

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Travel Guide (Part One)

bruce-corvette

This essay links real trips in Bruce Springsteen’s memoir, Born to Run, to fictive rambles in Russell Banks’ Book of Jamaica, Michael Ventura’s Night Time, Losing Time, and Richard Meltzer’s The Night (Alone). It also takes in recordings, such as Springsteen’s (out of the archives though still under the radar) live CD Hammersmith Odeon, London ’75, that soundtrack passages in Born to Run. But foundational things first: the book of Bruce comes out of Jack’s so this tour starts with…

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Michel Foucault is My Favorite Skinhead

Do you remember when we used to go and dance at those punk rock shows/it feels so…long ago/do you remember that night when that skinhead threatened me with my life/ you should have realized right then…that something…something went quite right/we were just teenagers, looking for a scene/based upon simplistic notions of equality/oh ain’t it a fucker when you discover fuck when you discover that it’s all based upon slightly altered versions of the same old crap. —The Casual Terrorist

Nine Theses/Nine Lives

1.  When did the Enlightenment die?   2. What I really mean is, When did the Enlightenment die for the left?  3. (And I don’t mean the so-called “White Jacobin” left, the left of white terror, which takes as a pseudo-Leninist occasion the alt-right mainstreaming of Foucault and the Thule Society to declare themselves the sole bearers of the torch of the Sokal Affair: though naturally there’s always a bridge, a hallucinogenic path, between fascism and the Enlightenment, and that bridge could be called John Locke or Jorge Luis Borges, Vilfredo Pareto or Peter Thiel’s hemophilia).  

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Deep France

Un village français, a French television serial, was first broadcast on France 3 in 2009; the channel began showing the serial’s seventh and final season in October of 2016, and at the end of its run sixty-six episodes had been broadcast.  Around the time it first appeared a Francophone friend recommended it as startlingly good TV, but warned that subtitled versions other than one season with French subtitles had proved impossible to locate.  The belated appearance of a version subtitled in English is a very welcome gift.  Along with the policier Engrenages, which stars several of the same actors, Un village français made even malevolent foreigners concede that French TV, under de Gaulle sometimes pilloried as a medium specializing in documentaries about beehives, had no reason to fear comparison to any televisual culture in the world.

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Greening King

The author of the following post is C.E.O. of BlocPower—a black enterprise that cultivates green energy projects in under-served communities. (BlocPower is a business that’s shaped by a social commitment: “at every point in our value chain we seek out and hire underemployed workers from vulnerable communities.”) 

One of my favorite sermons by Dr. King is called “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart.” It starts: “A French philosopher once said that ‘No man is so strong unless he bears within his character antitheses strongly marked’…

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Putin vs. King Remembered in Time

The music video above, in which an African emigre duo who call themselves A.M.G. extol Putin, seems to soundtrack Nathan Osborne’s musings on the link between contemporary rap and Trumpery.  But there are (always) countervailing trends in the hip hop nation as you’ll see if you try videos in the body of this text by Big K.R.I.T.—a rapper from the Dirty South. He makes conscious music for our mess age: “I don’t rap, I spit hymns.” K.R.I.T. stands for King Remembered In Time.  (A.M.G.’s initials, OTOH, are associated with the Mercedes logo.)

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Trump tha Don

Kyrie Eleison

Donald Trump is the greatest Rapper of all time. He’s the G.O.A.T. precisely because he doesn’t even have to rap. “Well, how then is he a rapper? It says here in Webster’s…” I don’t mean to be a tease. And please don’t assume I’m suggesting that he’s a rapper chiefly due to his misogyny or his nasty language. But, to move forward, let’s go back a bit…

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Identity Fraud

After 9/11, I wrote a piece called “Risk of Contamination” for Brendan Lemon, who was then the editor of Out Magazine. In the essay I compared the way fear of the female body as a contaminating agent of maleness operated in both western and eastern philosophies and practices. I said a crisis in the concept of masculinity in both the east and the west was endangering the world, and I said this crisis in the concept of masculinity linked geo-political factions that otherwise saw themselves as enemies.

I feel a need to review these ideas.

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