Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Politics Behind the Killing of Osama Bin Ladin

Seymour Hersh in the London Review of Books on The Killing of Osama Bin Ladin
And the political jockeying, intrigue and dissimulation that accompanied it

A Slate interview with Mr Hersh on the LRB article

Friday, May 15, 2015

Museum Days: Reflections on An Institution on Eastern Parkway

A year or so ago I attended, with My Better Half, an evening workshop at the Brooklyn Museum for art educators, as her guest. It was held in the Museum's Beaux Arts Court.

As a special education/art teacher working with emotionally disabled and autistic kids in Bushwick, she seems to achieve an amazing instructional collaboration with her students, who for the most part have deep communication and developmental  issues,  yet they nevertheless continue to win recognition and awards for their art when submitted to student competitions. Given the daily challenge of her work, she is constantly on the search for opportunities to develop her own artistic practice as well as share strategies and experiences with other NYC teachers. Thus her attendance at this workshop, which I attended as a guest.

At one point, a gentleman appeared in the mix of Museum staff and visiting teachers. He was definitely low key and unprepossessing, in height, in appearance, in dress, and, as I recall, in his need of a shave.  He asked what the event was about, and I explained, and we chatted a bit. When he read my name tag, and I asked his, and I realized it was Arnold Lehman, Director of the Museum, I think I went on a verbal tear, expressing my lifelong love for the Museum, having walked here to visit and wander around since as far back as I can recall in my childhood.

I didn't mention that when I first met my wife, she was working at the Museum, as an assistant in one of the curatorial departments. Before we were "involved" we also happened to take a silk screen class together back in the old Brooklyn Museum Art School in the 1980s.  I was a novice, whereas she was working on more advanced projects. While we were dating, I remember renting a car to take a trip with her to the shore. I drove into the driveway in front of the old heavily fortified brick and iron entrance to the Museum to pick her up after work. I think she was a little embarrassed as the only car I was able to rent was a large red Eldorado - sort of like Damian Hirst's shark from the infamous 1999 Brooklyn Museum Sensations Show.

I did mention to Mr. Lehman how I felt that the Museum was so ingrained in my soul and that I was so accustomed to entering the edifice through that same brick and iron fortification since childhood, that now,  I was brought to tears of joy when I first entered the renovated, contemporary entrance.  In reflecting back on it now, those tears were filled with inspiration and happiness, mirth and awe, as the space had been transformed, all glass and joy, echoing, to me, at once, the Louvre, a prism,  the Apple Store, like a glass sculpture harmonizing the delicacy and mystery of the spheres, but also reflecting the delight brought by changes that sing a song that is at once of the sacred, the profane and everything in between.

Mr. Lehman's time at the Brooklyn Museum, while it may be remembered more for battling the small-minded aesthetics of a provincial Mayor, was clearly also one of great accomplishment given the very broad range of work that entered its collection, as reflected in the current show "Diverse Works: Director's Choice 1997-2015," a terrific show very much worth seeing and the changes in the Museum with regard to its embracing contemporary, modern and classic art and design, as well as the needs of the communities in Brooklyn it serves. I  was prompted to the above rumination by an interview with Mr. Lehman in the NY Observer. A must read if you are interested in museums and curatorial culture. But also an unexpected reminder that the Brooklyn Museum, while it will continue to move forward in dramatic and exciting directions with the selection of Creative Times' Ann Pasternak as the next Director, but at the same time it will be losing a brave and invaluable work of art, a treasure, with the retirement of Mr. Lehman.

The full interview in the NY Observer appears here  
--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summ-Summ-Summertime: Rooftop Films Schedule Released

It must be summer --- Rooftop Films releases another exciting schedule of outdoor movies. Tickets available online. 7 Chinese Brothers with Jason Schwartzman certainly piques my interest, along with The Wolfpack, Welcome to Leith, and many others, scheduled for various Brooklyn locations: Gowanus, Sunset Park and Metrotech Commons. Happy Summer. Details here

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sakura Matsuri on a Little Street

Reports from the Field indicate the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is jammed for its annual spring event but here in Flatbush, Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn, despite the cooler temperatures, we are having our own Sakura Matsuri with the bright pink explosion of soft color in front of our home in Fiske Terrace.
Photos by Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Friday, April 24, 2015

Loretta Lynch Confirmed as Attorney General

Despite the political foot dragging of the GOP, the confirmation of Loretta Lynch, Attorney General of the United States, the first woman of color to hold that post, represents another huge step in the long march toward equality and democratic values in this country. Although it should only be anecdote to her impressive record, the fact that this represents a significant step both in both racial and gender equality in the U.S., that the top law official in the U.S. Government is a woman of color, it is as significant as the election of President Obama. And with the hope that in her 18 months in office she can further address her goal of bringing police and minority communities together and fight human trafficking it is another very proud day to be an American.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

NYC Art: Light, Dark and Everything in Between

Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I at the Neue Galerie and featured at the heart of Simon Curtis's film Woman in Gold

Jean-Michel Basquiat's Tuxedo 1982 from Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks at the Brooklyn Museum

Monday, March 30, 2015

"When ev’rything I’m a-sayin’/You can say it just as good": One Too Many Mornings

'Love and Theft' and Art and Reinvention: Bob Dylan and the Band from "The Basement Tapes Raw" (Bootleg Series: Vol. 11)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Critical Knowledge: "What Isis Really Wants" in The Atlantic

Graeme Wood's article in the March 2015 issue of The Atlantic explores the complications and contradictions of the group waging their own 'Crusade' (what else can you call it?) in the Middle East, destroying, enslaving and murdering Muslims and non-Muslims alike, with medieval zeal. Their Islamic beliefs may not reflect those of the more assimilated, law-abiding followers of Islam, but make no mistake, writes Mr. Wood, "The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam."

"The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million." ...

Full article from The Atlantic here

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Solzhenitsyn, Putin and the New Old Russia

In an article in Politico, Peter Eltsov explores the improbably relationship between Russian leader and former KGB official Vladimir Putin and the late author/dissident/KGB target Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

"Indeed, it is one of history’s ironies that the No. 1 internal enemy of the Soviet Union has now become a spiritual guru to a former KGB officer who repeatedly voices nostalgia for Soviet times. For years before his death, the fiercely patriotic Solzhenitsyn suggested that post-Soviet Russia must include Ukraine. Solzhenitsyn did not see the Ukrainians as a separate nation: “All the talk of a separate Ukrainian people existing since something like the ninth century and possessing its own non-Russian language is recently invented falsehood,” he wrote in a 1990 essay, “Rebuilding Russia: Reflections and Tentative Proposals.”

Full article here

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Freedom Now, Freedom Forever: Cui Jian "Nothing to My Name"

Using the metaphor of a young guy talking to his girlfriend, who rejects him because he has nothing, Cui Jian, preeminent Chinese musician, in the 1980s, sang about a generation yearning for freedom.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968

Photos from the Ebenezer Baptist Church and Dr. King Historical National Memorial Site in Atlanta by Tony Napoli
While it seems the journey may never be complete, and like the great figures from the Bible he himself did not see the Promised Land, Dr. King moved mountains, and whether it was with his profound vision and humanism, or Divine Grace, he brought America forward, leading Presidents, and the American people, on our continuing journey toward equality and freedom.
--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thomas Merton: Writer, Mystic, Spiritual Seeker

What's the opposite of an encomium? Poet Thomas Merton explored this in "Hymn of Not Much Praise for New York City"; Merton, a Trappist monk who became an ordained priest, was a writer, mystic, and social activist and philosopher, who died in 1968. January 31 reflects the Centenary of his birth to expat New Zealander and American artists in France.

Thomas Merton

Other work by Merton at the Poetry Foundation website here

His The Seven Storey Mountain, first published in 1948, by Harcourt Brace, remains a classic spiritual autobiography of a modern seeker.

More writings about Merton here

--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Coda: Four Jewish Murdered Hostages in Paris Identified

P4:45 P.M. The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions has released the names of the four hostages killed at the kosher supermarket in eastern Paris on Friday: Yoav Hattab, 21, Philippe Braham, in his 40s, Yohan Cohen, 22, and Fran├žois-Michel Saada, reportedly in his 60s. According to reports, Hattab is the son Betto Hattab, the rabbi of La Grand Synagogue in Tunis. (Haaretz). 

Further reportage from Haaretz here Paris shooting updates

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo