Cultural Hodge Podge

14 Jul

In case anyone cares what I think about a small buffet of topics, here:


The newest issue of the Baffler has hit my mailbox. one of the new issue’s features, Thomas Frank’s “Dead End on Shakin’ Street”is available on line.

If you are familiar with the term “must reading’, it applies to the Baffler

David Simon, renowned for creating the Wire, the best 5 season series in the history of the world has a web presence entitled, The Audacity of Despair takes on the Drug War. On which he eloquently and sensibly shines a super-trooper. I especially liked this:

…We can’t even keep drugs out of our vast prison complex, much less a junior high school; if we can’t win the drug war inside a maximum-security prison, where in society do we expect to emerge victorious?

It was pleasant to discover that something excellent was hiding in plain sight from me. In case satirist Louis CK has escaped your attention(as he had mine) there is an substantial archive of his Fx shows accessible. Here is a, uh, provocative segment with the great Melissa Leo

A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La PAVA

I am not exactly sure what I am reading in Sergio De La Pava’s singular novel The Naked Singularity (The University of Chicago Press)but I haven’t been able to put it down.Here’s the author’s synopsis:

A novel where in Casi, a young NYC public defender and son of Colombian immigrants, will suffer his first loss at trial then seek to reduce the sting of that defeat by using inside information to meticulously plan and execute a heist of illicit millions. Where said actions will not only come to the attention of a persistent police detective but also unleash a menacing giant bent on violent revenge; two pursuers Casi must then outrace while navigating a world expanded by theoretical physics to encompass the rise and fall of boxer Wilfred Benitez, Alabama’s death row, psych experiments involving Ralph Kramden, and enough comedic energy to power the stars.

And you can read an excerpt here

I have great difficulty processing the immensity of the failure of a gaggle of Penn State officials to do the obviously right thing. The banality of the notion of the banality of evil come to mind —which is to say these were not monsters (excepting Sandusky) and their callousness toward the victims and the displaced loyalty displayed toward their beloved alma mater is consciousness boggling. Lauren Kelley at Alternet zeroes in on three important considerations in reviewing the Penn State Sex Abuse Report.

I spent Friday afternoon watching the first 4 episodes of the new Aaron Sorkin HBO seriesThe Newsroom On a visceral level, I found the show appealing and watchable and the only element of discord was the sappy main theme by Thomas Newman (which sounde like sappy Aaron Copland). The casting was excellent, the dialogue crisp and smart and the soliloquies stirring and aspirational. On a minor note— its fun to watch Sam Waterson playing for laughs. Having a fictitious news organization take on the BP oil spill, the Arizona anti Mexican bill, the shooting of Congresswoman Gifford and rabid American jingoism strikes me as a worthy project and though the restoration of news reporting to the nightly news is clearly a quixotic notion, adding the Newsroom to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert madcap reportage may suggest to some outlying news venue that what is old may once again be new.

Anyway, I saw some very unkind reactions on Facebook from a number of media elitists before I was able to screen The Newroom. I am glad that didn’t put me off from watching and I look forward to watching the series play itself out and reading intelligent exegesis and commentary that it engenders.

Currently reading The Baffler Issue # 20

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