Archive for May, 2009

Das Randy Dandy; Da Durnan HisSelf

May 29, 2009

Of the lyric poet Sappho, who hailed from Lesbos in the time of Solon, Harry E. Barnes writes:

Though only a few of her poems are extant we get from them an impression of the purest lyric ecstasy. It is as though her words were “tipped with fire.” We have here the clearest and simplest communication of personal passion in language of exquisite simplicity and grace, with a poignancy and an insight never excelled. One or two examples must convey a suggestion of this simple beauty. A girl who failed to get married is compared to an apple that ripens out of reach—“Like an apple that ripens on the tip of the bough, yes on the very tip—for the gatherers had forgotten it; no they had not forgotten it but they were unable to reach it.”


Da Durnan, rapt & transported by the scent of an rose;

poolside, American Embassy in Cairo, c. 1846


Reality Fatigue

May 28, 2009

From The New Yorker (again…not cool, I realize…):

Finally, as Obama said, “there remains the question of detainees at Guantánamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. And I have to be honest here—this is the toughest single issue that we will face.” This group, “who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted,” might be held in preventive detention, perhaps forever. It’s a sobering thought, that Obama could consider approving this kind of long-term detention, and it remains to be seen how much evidence would be required to justify such an extraordinary step and how many cases it would involve…In any case, it’s hard to imagine any President agreeing to release people who, as Obama put it, “in effect, remain at war with the United States.”

Doesn’t need to be said again, but still:

Yes, it is hard to imagine any President releasing prisoners who are at war with the United States. But why do we care about the United States if the rule of law is applied randomly or to complement political moods? What exactly is worth protecting (besides all of our stuff) in a nation with no legal or theoretical skeleton?
I’ll answer my own question: The sun rising/setting over the Grand Canyon, the towering majesty of the Redwood; Pollack’s manic manifestations of the modern human psyche, Coltrane’s quest for musical union with the Divine; the taut prose of Raymond Carver, and the excitement of televised professional football. Let’s not forget the quiet, God-like smile that curves the corners of your firstborn, wrapped in swaddling clothes as she is, cradled in warmth and light.

Queen Christina

May 27, 2009

Toto Wampage

May 21, 2009

From The New Yorker:

Cast of characters:

Margaret Mitchell, author of the thousand-page blockbuster novel “Gone With the Wind.”
David O. Selznick, the legendary, manic producer of “Gone With the Wind.”
Victor Fleming, a vigorous and resourceful man who was then directing “The Wizard of Oz” — few considered him an artist.
Sidney Howard
, East Coast playwright and screenwriter.
Ben Hecht, the greatest and most cynical of Hollywood screenwriters.

The story:

When summoned by Selznick, Fleming hadn’t read Mitchell’s novel, but he took a look at the screenplay and immediately told the producer, “Your fucking script is no fucking good.”

*    *    *

Hecht agreed to work on the script as long as he didn’t have to read the book. Selznick told him the plot, but he couldn’t make any sense of it, so Selznick retrieved Howard’s version, and, as Hecht listened, Selznick and Fleming read it aloud, Selznick taking the role of Scarlett, Fleming reading Rhett.

In this manner, the three men worked eighteen or twenty hours a day, sustained by Dexedrine, peanuts, and bananas, a combination that Selznick believed would stimulate the creative process. On the fourth day, according to Hecht, a blood vessel burst in Fleming’s eye. On the fifth, Selznick, eating a banana, swooned, and had to be revived by a doctor.

Athletica (only two months until the article on Marto’s new bistro)

May 21, 2009

In addition to namechecking Lululemon the NYT’s article on some ex-junkie no-nonsense yoga guru to the stars has this choice 1990s post-modern fiction nonsense:

“Come on people, let’s get started,” he said in a New York accent, as if leading a conference call.

Then he cranked up “Misty Mountain Hop” by Led Zeppelin and led the students through a warm-up of sun salutations. Soon he had them stretching into a difficult split pose.

“Didn’t you see the torture memos this week?” called out Jane Harman, a 63-year-old devoted student in the front row, who also happens to be the United States Representative for the South Bay region of Los Angeles County.

The teacher responded, “That’s why I’m doing this.”

“I can’t feel my face”

May 13, 2009

The NYT review of Reynolds Price’s “Arden Spirits,” an memoir of his student daze in 1950s Oxford, includes the below paragraph with a metaphorical punchline of dubious acceptability:

Mr. Price was hardly on the sexual sidelines while at Oxford, however. While traveling in Italy with a friend, he began loitering in the Borghese Gardens in Rome at night, where the “wooded throughways and bushes also converted, almost instantly at sundown, into the central pick-up spot for whores of all gender.” He takes a lover who, Mr. Price imagines, carried “a whiff of genetic memory of the passage of Attila and his Huns through medieval Europe.” Now there, you think, was some face-melting sex.

What Immortal Hand or Eye?

May 7, 2009