+ There’s a certain poetic justice in Trump’s bizarre spasm of losing lawsuits (W 2 – L 32) that merely prolong his agony and force him to relive his defeat over and over again through the gray days of November. But kick me if I don’t see his refusal to concede as a “dangerous precedent” or “threat to democracy.” After all, Gore conceded, unconceded and then conceded again before “all the legal votes” had been counted. And Hillary immediately conceded (probably prematurely, though six months too late for me), then spent the next four years claiming she’d been cheated.
+ Many Democrats complained for years that 2004 election was stolen by Bush-friendly Diebold voting machines in Ohio. And Greg Palast wrote a recent book on how Trump was going to steal the 2020 election using the same techniques Trump now shrieks in his Tweets and legal filings were used against him.
+ Trump’s right, the electoral system is rigged, but not for the reasons he alleges. The system isn’t rigged to pick winners, but losers. The system is geared to preserve a certain class of political actors and keep out any rebellious interlopers. This doesn’t happen through the programing of voting machines or the stuffing of mail-in bailouts, through ballot harvesting or graveyard voters. The real rigging of the system is entirely (or almost entirely) legal: through PACs, dark money, gerrymandering, voter disenfranchisement, onerous ballot status requirements, the electoral college, extreme constraints on third and independent parties. Still, if Trump can bring further discredit to the current electoral system in his final weeks in office, it will be his greatest contribution to American political life next to withdrawing from Afghanistan and aborting the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership.
+ Trump is following the Gore 2000 legal playbook by asking for a partial recount in Wisconsin’s two most urban counties, Milwaukee and Dane, hoping to disqualify thousands of black voters. Bad news for Trump: the Supreme Court struck down this targeted approach in Bush v. Gore. Good news for Trump, the Court said its ruling should not be held as a precedent. Bad news for Trump: Trump’s appointee to the Court, Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a recent opinion Bush v. Gore should hold as precedent. Good news for Trump: Brett may have been drunk when he wrote it. Squi was in town for the weekend….
+ I played tenor sax on Kind of Blue!
+ One of Trump’s new lawyers, Sydney Powell, just blamed Hugo Chavez for Trump’s loss. Somehow Chavez, who has been dead for seven years, helped rig an election from beyond the grave. Powell is the lawyer that Cynthia McKinney praised Trump for hiring. You can see her point, I guess, if it’s to demonstrate the enduring power of the Bolivaran Revolution…
+ “It was created so Hugo Chavez would never lose another election, and he did not after that software was created,” Powell said. “He won every single election and then they exported it to Argentina and other countries in South America, and then they brought it here.”
+ Now that’s open source software you can believe in!
+ If you haven’t gotten your check from George Soros, clearly you didn’t vote often enough…
+ Historically, most failed coups end with the plotters in dungeons, exile, against walls or on gibbets. This one will probably end with more fist bumps from Kamala Harris ….
"We will not be intimidated…We are going to clean this mess up now. President Trump won by a landslide. We are going to prove it. And we are going to reclaim the United States of America for the people who vote for freedom."—Sidney Powell pic.twitter.com/8KCEOGuL7w
— GOP (@GOP) November 19, 2020
+ Powell: “the massive influence of Communist money” elected Biden.
+ Communists stock portfolios and mutual funds must have been performing pretty damn well during the pandemic…
+ Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis: “Your question is fundamentally flawed, when you’re asking, ‘where’s the evidence?’ You clearly don’t understand the legal process.”
+ Sidney Powell: “The entire election, frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump.”
Sidney Powell: "The entire election, frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump" pic.twitter.com/gA6aFVhvdt
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) November 19, 2020
+ Voting is for chumps!
+ Either the Just for Men dye-job is running or we now have empirical proof that Rudy’s got shit for brains and he’s leaking…
+ $20,000 a day buys you this… From U.S. district court in Williamsport, Pa., one of the Trump campaign’s last legal battlegrounds, where Giuliani told the judge that Trump’s election observers had been “denied the opportunity to have an unobstructed observation and ensure opacity.”
GIULIANI: “I’m not sure what ‘opacity’ means. It probably means you can see.”
JUDGE BRANN: “It means you can’t.”
GIULIANI: Big words, Your Honor.”
+ Having to prove the allegations would totally defeat the point of making them…
+ Honestly, I didn’t think Rudy could top his performance in Borat the Second. Then came the Four Seasons Total Landscaping episode. Now this…Giuliani is a living (one assumes he’s alive and not simply decomposing) contradiction of Fitzgerald’s maxim there are no second acts in American lives.
+ What if your electoral coup was quashed by the plotters getting infected with the very virus you claimed was disappearing?
+ The US isn’t a democracy and never has been. Give Trump credit for providing an object lesson in why that’s not the case…
+ By kneeling during the national anthem, Colin Kaepernick traitorously desecrated the flag of a nation that soldiers fought and died for in order to protect the right of Electors to overturn the will of the voters.
+ Maggie Haberman just got a huge book contract based on her unique ability to re-cycle this same paragraph in different contexts for the past 5 years and have millions of people still believe it…
+ It’s a little amusing that people are so anxious about Biden’s transition team not getting briefings from their counterparts in the Trump administration. When have capitalism and imperialism ever needed a briefing (or even briefing book) on how things are going?
+ Democrats: the party that eats its young, then, ever health conscious, worries that this act of political cannibalism will raise their cholesterol level…
+ I’ve seen more and more of these types of pieces percolating up from the foreign policy elites saying arguing Biden needs to tap a “big thinker” like Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski. But what was Zbig thinking big about? Escalating the war in Vietnam, arming a global network of anti-Soviet jihadis, and, according to Rick Perlstein’s Reaganland, arguing that the leaders of the student antiwar movement should be “physically liquidated” or “expelled from the country.”
+ Most of the glass ceilings broken by Michelle Flournoy, the leading candidate to become Defense Secretary under Biden, will be from above, by drone and cruise missile…
+ Tariq Ali: “Am getting fed-up reading posts that Biden is appointing or thinking of appointing rogues [warmongers, corporate backers] to his administration. Everybody knew he would be the same as Clinton or Obama. So please don’t feel betrayed. All that’s been betrayed is your illusions.”
+ Is anyone asking for this rapprochement, outside of weapons makers and the bond market?
President-elect Joe Biden: "We can bring Democrats and Republicans together." pic.twitter.com/VaAXHS4TGE
— The Hill (@thehill) November 17, 2020
+ Biden: “Unions are going to have increased power.” So sayeth the guy who just appointed the Uber lobbyist to his transition team…
+ This week Biden named Dana Remus as his White House counsel. Remus previously served as a clerk for Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito, last seen giving a rabid harangue against liberalism at a gathering of the Federalist Society. Biden’s not even trying to placate progressives.
+ Just down the hall in the West Wing from Remus, you’ll soon find Steve Ricchetti, who Biden named as “counselor to the president.” Ricchetti is a K-Street corporate lobbyist for the regular folk at AT&T, Eli Lilly & Co. and the American Bankers Association…
+ Biden’s much more likely to prosecute someone for not wearing a mask in public, than to go after criminal wrongdoing by Trump and his cohort…
+ The old Willie Horton-style scare ads seem to be losing their punch. So, the new Willie Horton will the old pre-Willie Horton bugaboo… Karl Marx. And his “specter” will be invoked most ruthlessly against Democrats in the next two years by other Democrats. (Some will recall it was Al Gore’s smear machine who first dredged up Willie Horton.)
+ Jesse Lehrich: “I’m sure dead people did vote –– early voting began on Sept. 18 and 50,000 Americans have died from coronavirus since then.”
+ Not only did dead people vote, at least one of them, a Republican in North Dakota, got elected to office.
+ Finally, American pragmatism reasserts itself…voters are happier about a Trump loss than the Biden win.
+ According to Robert Kuttner, Bruce Reed, former executive director of the Bowles-Simpson Austerity Commission and longtime DLC leader, is being promoted to head the powerful Office of Management and Budget in a Biden White House. Reed oversaw the Clinton administration’s criminal justice policy, and worked closely with Biden to pass “tough-on-crime” legislation including the 1994 Crime Bill.
+ This is exactly where Biden’s desperate search for bipartisan deals will inevitably lead……”Around 2010, when the recovery hadn’t been complete for most people, there was this push to…worry about the deficit and cut spending,” Lara Merling said. “In the years that followed, there were spending cuts across the federal government.”
+ This is who they are when they think the cameras aren’t looking. Of course, Kamala’s hip. DiFi would have just hugged Graham, the man who made urgent calls trying to get black votes in Georgia thrown out…
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris returns to the Senate floor to cast a vote today.
Here, Harris can be seen extending her fist to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for a bump. pic.twitter.com/3Mtaaykjpl
— The Recount (@therecount) November 17, 2020
+ .Does Tutar have a brother? Perhaps he could arrange an interview with Graham?
+ In the election of 1960, JFK carried Georgia by a higher plurality than he did Massachusetts…
Georgia: JFK won with 62.54%
Massachusetts: JFK won with 60.22%
+ Doing a DeBlasio: Closing schools but not gyms, bars and restaurants….
+ Just another day at the NYT, reducing BLM to the same level as QAnon….
+ Shortly after Trump nominated Bill Barr to run the Justice Department, agents investigating Barr’s client, Caterpillar, were told to discontinue their probes.
+ COVID-19 deaths…
South Korea (pop. 51.6 million): 501
South Dakota (pop. 885 thousand): 741
+ Trust in sources of information about the pandemic, among Republicans who watch Fox News:
World Health Organization: 9%
State/local governments: 10%
State/local health agencies: 15%
Donald Trump: 58%
+ Retailers that halted hazard pay for essential workers, as the pandemic soared to new levels of lethality:
Walmart – $15,600,000,000 (2020 profits)
Amazon – $14,100,000,000 (2020 profits)
Kroger – $2,000,000,000 (2020 profits)
Dollar General – $1,400,000,000 (2020 profits)
Albertsons – $870,000,000 (2020 profits)
Source: Public Citizen.
+ Capitalism is an ongoing criminal enterprise.
+ This may come as a shock to MAGAland but it appears that the US has mostly lost in Trump’s trade war with the rest of the world with the US’s trade deficits with mostly increasing over the course of Trump’s term.
+ 240 inmates and 18 staffers inside Fort Dix in Burlington County, NJ have tested positive for COVID-19, the second worst outbreak in the federal prison system. One prisoner with COVID-19 said the only medical care he’s received is a mandatory temperature check, where everyone is forced to line up and wait.
+ Texas, which now leads the nation in COVID cases, spent just $17 per person on public health in 2019, less than all but 10 other states….
+ West Virginia, which took 42 days to tally it’s first 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, is now averaging 1,000 new cases every 36 hours.
+ The 900 staff members of the Mayo Clinic recently diagnosed with COVID-19 equals over one-third of the 2,981 Mayo employees diagnosed since the start of the outbreak. When you add in staff who are now quarantined or taken offline in order to care for relatives, the clinic is currently experiencing a stable shortage of 1,500 staff systemwide…
+ Homo Toxicus … Research indicates that PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances), industrial chemicals that saturate the bodies of many Americans, may reduce the effectiveness of COVID vaccines.
+ $2: the hourly rate prisoners in El Paso are being paid to move bodies of COVID-19 victims.
+ For years, this man was operating on people’s brains. Now he’s numbing them…
+ Lawyers in Bill Barr’s Department of Justice are arguing in federal appeals court that the administration can murder American citizens without judicial review, if state secrets are involved. Of course, this follows and expands Obama’s precedent of droning US citizens without judicial review.
+ There’s something pathological about the way Obama absolves himself of responsibility for the human carnage inflicted by his drone warfare program, where he feels compelled to claim, ludicrously, that he was trying to save those he killed: “They were dangerous, these young men, often deliberately and casually cruel. I wanted somehow to save them… And yet the world they were a part of, and the machinery I commanded, more often had me killing them instead.”
+ Obama’s confession of his conservative instincts is hardly breaking news from the man who picked Joe Lieberman to be his mentor in the senate and said he wanted to be a “transformative” president like Reagan: “What is true is that temperamentally I am sympathetic to a certain strain of conservatism in the sense that I’m not just a materialist…”
+ In his new memoir, Obama smears Lula as “having the scruples of a Tammany Hall boss.” It becomes clearer and clearer that Obama loathes anyone to his left, which means about two-thirds of the planet. No question he would have invited Bolsonaro to the White House and probably tried to hit him up for a smoke behind a shrub outside of Michelle’s view in the Rose Garden…
+ Anyone who still has U2 on their playlist is capable of droning a wedding party and blaming the victims for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
+ Recently released portions of the CIA IG’s report on death of detainee Gul Rahman further implicates torture-shrink Bruce Jessen in Rahman’s death, after advising ongoing “environmental deprivations” (eg. cold exposure), in a brutal attempt to force his cooperation during interrogations at a CIA black site near Kabul known as the Salt Pit. Rahman died of hypothermia while chained to a concrete wall in CIA custody.
+ Coalition of the Willing Executioners..In a new report, the Australian government finds that its soldiers committed 39 extrajudicial executions of civilians in Afghanistan. The report remains silent on the all of the other killings by its troops during this illegal war.
+ It’s hard to imagine even the most rabid Miami Cubans, who are after all the ones sending the remittances, support Trump’s mean-spirited new policy to restrict remittances to Cuba from their family members in the states…
+ In one of her first acts as a sitting justice on the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett voted for the execution of a black man held in a federal prison in Texas. Neil Gorsuch’s first vote as a Supreme was also on a death penalty case. Casting a vote for an execution has become a kind of initiation ritual for new members of the Supreme Court.
+ 2,378: the number of times Portland police used force during the first month of the BLM protests.
+ The NYPD has reduced or totally rejected recommendations for stern disciplinary action of officers in about 71 percent of 6,900 serious misconduct charges.
+ Between May and September, judges okayed requests by federal prosecutors to hold 62 defendants in jail until trial. Nearly half of these jailed defendants are Black. Many of them have been held in COVID-contaminated jails for months.
+ Update from the Dept. of Pre-Crime: The Pasco Sheriff’s Office in Florida keeps a secret list of kids it thinks could “fall into a life of crime” based on factors like whether they’ve been abused or gotten a D or an F in school, according to the agency’s internal intelligence manual.
+ Bernie, Bernie, Bernie: Let’s rephrase, because nobody I know who’s running for office talks about ‘defunding the police’; what we talk about is making police officers accountable and other reforms.” (Sanders, Sunday, on CNN’s State of the Union.)
+ Apparently Canada seized the UP on Trump’s watch and Hannity didn’t even raise the alarm!
+ The freedom-lovin’ goons who allegedly plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer had fallback plan to takeover the Michigan capitol building with 200 combatants, who would stage a week-long series of televised executions of public officials, a plan which isn’t even a credible scenario for a Steven Seagal movie.
+ 7 in 10 Americans disagree with the statement that “immigrants are invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background, “, while 67% of Republicans who watch Fox News think that’s true. (Wait till they start polling the OANN viewers.) Source: PRRI.
+ Speaking of OANN, let’s take a look at their big board, where it appears that a bunch of new states have been called for Trump, including Nevada, Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Keep your eye on Colorado, it may flip to Trump by tomorrow…
+ OANN’s startling reassessment of the the electoral results, awarding Trump 410 electoral votes, was based on its reports of the the U.S. Army conducting a raid in Germany to seize servers with election-related info revealing Trump as the true winner of the election. The reports were, sadly for the upstart network, spurious in every respect.
+ They used to call Maria Bartiromo the “Money Honey,” for fawning interviews with the vilest of Wall Street predators. Now she’s more like a less intelligent Diana Mitford, willing to take a twirl with any Oswald Moseley or Josef Goebbels left of the dance floor, while the rest of the fascist party flees for the exits…
+ Top this Biden! Billionaire gains since the election of billionaire (alleged) Donald Trump:
Bezos: $189 billion (+$121b)
Musk: $90 billion (+$79b)
Ballmer: $73 billion (+$44b)
Zuckerberg: $96 billion (+$44b)
Gates: $117 billion (+$35b)
+ Biden started out pledging to cancel $50,000 in student across the board. That’s already down to $10,000 for the “economically distressed.” Pathetic: “The provision calls for the federal government to pay off up to $10,000 in private, nonfederal student loans for “economically distressed” borrowers.”
+ Tyson Foods, a serial offender, deserves the corporate death penalty: “Plant manager Tom Hart organized a cash-buy-in, winner-take-all, betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many plant employees would test positive for COVID-19.”
+ Using U.S. military geolocation data being made public for the first time, the U.K.-based watchdog group Airwars has pinpointed locations for hundreds of strikes on supposed ISIS targets in Syria that resulted in more than 1,400 civilian deaths.
+ The Kenosha shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, told the Washington Post that he used his stimulus check money to give to his friend Dominick Black in order to purchase the AR-15 rifle used in the August 25th shootings that killed Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum and injured Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse was not old enough to purchase the gun himself. Does this mean the NRA put its lobbying might behind the next stimulus bill?
+ Women in Mexico serve longer prison sentences than men, five years more on average…
+ Trump disappoints again. It’s a drawdown, not a withdrawal. According to CNN:
“US military commanders are anticipating that a formal order will be given by President Trump as soon as this week to begin a further withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq before Trump leaves office on January 20th. The Pentagon has issued a notice on to commanders known as a ‘warning order’ to begin planning to drawdown US troops to 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and 2,500 in Iraq by Jan 15, the officials said. Currently there are approximately 4,500 US troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 troops in Iraq.”
+ What it takes to get Mitch to stand up to Trump…any talk of leaving Afghanistan.
+ Etymologists at the OED scramble to redefine “hasty” in reference to Trump’s plans to reduce troops levels in Afghanistan….
+ How many days after he’s inaugurated will it take Biden to reinsert all the troops (and more) in Afghanistan that Trump draws down? Even NATO’s supremo is now threatening Trump over this modest adjustment of US forces.
+ Drawdown from Afghanistan, bomb Iran sounds like a very Trump thing to do….
+ 70 years later, General Robert Abrams, the US commander of forces in Korea, says it’s “premature” to even discuss an end to the war, withdrawal of US forces and the transfer of security operations to South Korea. They’ll be saying this about Afghanistan 50 years from now, if they don’t get all of the troops out before Jan 20.
+ A group of GOP Senators, led by the perpetually frothing Tom Cotton, are urging Trump to mark West Bank goods as “Made in Israel“…
+ So it’s the Pompeo Doctrine, now, eh? Reporters traveling with Secretary Pompeo were just given this readout of his trip to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank:
“The Secretary’s visit highlights U.S. government support of Israeli businesses in the West Bank to operate free from international sanctions as part of the Pompeo Doctrine.”
+ Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, the latest holier-than-thou populist who went to Stanford and Yale, attacked Claire McCaskill having “drifted way from Missouri” in 2018 and cited her DC condo as evidence. But now Hawley is using his sister’s address in Missouri, as he spends most of his personal time in Northern Virginia.
+ White House press secretary ignited howls of derision in the elite press corps this week when she described COVID guidelines for Thanksgiving “Orwellian.” I support anything that further diminishes the status of the MI-5 informer, George Orwell. Go, Kayleigh, go…
+ According to a survey instigated by Bernie Sanders, Walmart and McDonalds employ the most workers on food stamps and Medicaid. In the nine states that responded about SNAP benefits — Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington — Walmart was found to have employed about 14,500 workers receiving the benefit, followed by McDonald’s with 8,780. In the six states that reported Medicaid enrollees, Walmart also topped the list, with 10,350 employees, followed by McDonald’s with 4,600.
+ Biden’s first climate appointment, Cedric Richmond, is one of the Democratic Party’s top recipients of fossil fuel industry money, raking in $340,000 in the last 10 years. Richmond has repeatedly voted with Republicans against Democratic environmental legislation and for bills to help oil and gas companies.
+ Before it smashed into Nicaragua, Iota became the first Greek alphabet Atlantic named storm to reach Category 5 intensity on record. Iota’s central pressure of 917 mb is lower than Hurricane Katrina’s central pressure (920 mb) during its strongest Gulf Coast landfall at Buras, LA. Lower pressure equals a stronger storm.
+ California’s Mountainview Fire, in Mono County, has grown to 28,879 acres in less than 24 hours as a result of extreme winds and low humidity. This has to be one of the largest wildfires ever (behind the Camp Fire) to start in the month of November in Northern California.
+ We’re casually watching the most precious things the planet has to offer disappear before our eyes, including hundreds of 500-to-1000 year old giant sequoias killed by the climate-fueled Castle Fire in the Sierras this summer…
+ According to research published this week the journal Global Environmental Change, 1% of people cause half of global aviation emissions and nearly all of those business trips weren’t necessary. The study defined elite frequent fliers as people who fly at least three long-haul flights per year, or one short flight per month.
+ Chevron has set aside less money for plugging oil wells ($3 million), than it spent lobbying California politicians and regulators in 2019 ($5.9 million).
+ More than 50,000 ships emit as much carbon dioxide as Germany — the world’s sixth largest polluter — and the shipping industry remains immune from any regulatory restrictions on its pollution and carbon emissions.
+ ‘Carbon Capture’ technology (boondoggle) is the equivalent of trying to design a tougher helmet that lets you survive playing Russian Roulette. The obvious 100% effective solution is to not shoot yourself in the head in the first place. (H/T, Manuel Garcia, Jr.)
+ Some of us have been making the argument for more than a decade that wolves should be the primary force controlling an outbreak of a deadly brain disease afflicting elk herds in the West. But wildlife agencies are funded by hunting fees and would rather practice “wildlife management” by shotgun and rifle, even though wolves do it better….
+ California’s recycling rate fell 9% during the months since the pandemic hit, meaning the state won’t meet its goal of 75% recycling in 2020.
+ The Washington Post speculated this week that Trump’s blizzard of last minute environmental rule and regulatory changes will make it hard for Biden to implement his green agenda. Actually, it makes things easy for Biden. He can explain his inevitable failure to fulfill his campaign pledges on the environment by saying that Trump tied his hands…
+ My work day is usually longer than the late Ursula K. Le Guin’s daily routine, but I don’t get nearly as much done as she did…
+ If you’ve watched the excellent Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, you might have noticed the brief discussion on the Freudian nature of chess, which the screenwriters almost certainly picked up from Cockburn’s great little book on chess (a game he detested), Idle Passion: Chess and the Dance of Death.
+ For the past month or so, my head has been firmly lodged in 19th century Russia, perhaps because I can’t help feeling that as a nation we’re on an imperial retreat into the frigid heart of a unforgiving winter. I started by reading Zamoyski’s 1812: Napoleon’s Fatal March on Moscow, which rivals Barbara Tuchman’s Guns of August as an account of the gruesome folly of wars between imperial powers. Not sated, I spent the next few weeks re-reading Aylmer and Louise Maude’s fluid translation of War and Peace, followed by watching Sergei Bondarchuk’s meticulously restored film of the novel, now available on HBO-Max.
+ Prince Andrei (definitely no wimp) in Bondarchuk’s film, masked against a typhus outbreak, as the Russian army retreats from Smolensk…
+ Still not ready to leave Russia, I watched Natalya Bondarchuk’s (Sergei’s daughter) 2006 film The Last Duel, which focuses on the investigation into the conspiracy around Alexander Pushkin’s death.
+ Pushkin, on his deathbed, after being gutshot by a French officer named d’Anthès serving in the court of the Tsar, who had made advances (perhaps even welcome ones) on his wife, Natalia, proclaims: “I’ve been in 21 duels before this one and none drew blood!”
+ The last act of Bondarchuk’s intriguing little film features a brief appearance by Mikhail Lermontov, who vows to avenge Pushkin’s death, an impetuous act which angers the Tsar, who himself had designs on Pushkin’s wife, and eventually gets him exiled to the Caucasus, which becomes the setting of Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time, one of the high points of Russian literature. Lermontov himself was later shot in the heart and killed in a duel at the age of 26, after informing his opponent that he intended to fire his own shot harmlessly in the air.
+ Frustrated by not being able to find a movie version of Lermontov’s novel, I stumbled across the book’s fleeting presence in two of Ingmar Bergman’s best films, his grossly underrated The Silence and Persona. In The Silence, a 10-year old boy, played starkly by Jörgen Lindström, is shown reading the novel in his room, in a Central European city on the brink of a military invasion, as his mother and her older female friend act out an enigmatic sequence of a psycho-sexual encounters around him. Bergman’s next film, Persona, opens with a dreamlike montage featuring a crucifixion, the sacrifice of a sheep and human bodies in a morgue, one of which is that of a boy, also played by Lindström, who suddenly sits up on the trolley, puts on a pair of glasses and beings to read the same copy of the novel, as if the call of Lermontov’s prose had the power to raise the dead. What does it really mean? You tell me…
+ From Greil Marcus’ recent portrait of Robert Johnson in the New York Review of Books:
… the music that could produce the shock that runs from Son House in 1931 to Bob Dylan when he first heard King of the Delta Blues Singers in 1961 (“From the first note the vibrations from the loudspeaker made my hair stand up. The stabbing sounds from the guitar could almost break a window…. I immediately differentiated between him and anyone else I had ever heard”), a shock that could seize up anyone discovering Johnson a hundred years from now. And there is no sense of what actually happens in the song at that moment when, emerging from the verses as if from sleep, Johnson’s voice rises, and then seems to rise again into an uncanny falsetto as a line comes out of nowhere and in the same moment returns to it, leaving the singer stranded, as if no one will ever hear him: “Oh babe”—and then slowly, each word standing alone—“my life don’t feel the same.”
Rudy, You Been Drinking Brew for Breakfast…?
What I’m reading this week…
The Cheyenne Story: an Interpretation of Courage
I’m Gonna Say It Now: the Writings of Phil Ochs
Phil Ochs (edited by David Cohen)
A Promised Land
What I’m listening to this week…
A Love Supreme & Meditations: a Salvo Inspired by John Coltrane
A Love Supreme Electric (
Susan Alcorn Quintet
The Approaching Danger
“At the approach of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal power in the human soul: one very reasonably tells a man to consider the nature of the danger and the means of escaping it; the other, still more reasonably, says that it is too depressing and painful to think of the danger, since it is not in man’s power to foresee everything and avert the general course of events, and it is therefore better to disregard what is painful till it comes, and to think about what is pleasant. In solitude a man generally listens to the first voice, but in society to the second.” (Tolstoy, War and Peace)