November 29, 2005

Standing on the corner, suitcase in my hand

ingenue, by michael sprouse, 2004

* Kansas parents group wants to outlaw 14 books. the group says:

"...for the record, the 14 books that over 500 patrons are petitioning the school board to replace with higher quality literature assignments follow. Please take the time to... find out what is REALLY in these books. If this is so 'good for the children,' it ought to be 'great for the parents' too [emphasis in original]:

--All the Pretty Horses

"McCarthy has a distracting writing style, using minimal punctuation (no quotation marks in dialogue, long run-on sentences and absence of apostrophes) and the general sense of gloom that pervades the book. There is a lot of Spanish dialogue throughout the book with no explanation for someone who does not speak that language.

"They also use stereotypical uneducated Texan and Mexican grammar and pervasively vulgar language throughout the book. It’s hard to understand what redeeming educational value the Blue Valley School District found in this book."

-- Animal Dreams
-- The Awakening
-- The Bean Trees
-- Beloved

"Beloved contains oral sex, incest, rape, pedophilia, graphic sex, extreme violence, sexual abuse, physical/emotional abuse, infanticide, and an extensive amount of profanity. The first two chapters contain five references to sex with cows in addition to other types of sex.

"The story randomly jumps between timeframes, characters, and levels of reality. The general timeframe is the 1870s. Beloved is the baby daughter of a slave, Sethe, who kills Beloved with a handsaw to help Beloved avoid the horrors of growing up in a white world. Beloved comes back as a teenage ghost and lives with Sethe, with her half-sister Denver, and with her mother's live-in lover Paul D. (Paul D is also Sethe's brother-in-law and hence Beloved's uncle). Beloved, the ghost, gets pregnant by Paul D and Paul D leaves the family. Beloved eventually turns on Sethe, taunting and torturing her. Denver turns to black neighbors for help who eventually rescue Sethe from Beloved. Beloved magically disappears."

-- Black Boy

"This book tells a harsh and forbidding story and makes one wonder just exactly what its relation to truth is. The title, 'A Record of Childhood and Youth,' makes one at first think that the story is autobiographical. It probably is, at least in part. But mainly it is probably intended to be fiction or fictionalized biography. At any rate the reader must regard it as creative writing rather than simply a record of life. The hero whom Wright draws, and maybe; it is himself, is in his childhood a loathsome brat, foul-mouthed and a drunkard."

-- Fallen Angels
-- The Hot Zone
-- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

"Perhaps the worst part of the book, as it relates to teens, are the last few chapters where Maya spends several pages contemplating whether or not she is a lesbian. To prove that she isn't, she seduces a neighborhood boy and becomes pregnant. The story ends with Maya reveling in the attention and acceptance she finally receives from her negligent mother as a single teen parent with a new baby."

-- Lords of Discipline
-- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
-- Song of Solomon
-- Stotan
-- This Boy’s Life

You ought to take their advice and click through and see why the rest should go.

* Paul Craig Roberts on the Bush administration. excerpt:

"What kind of a country have we become when we put a citizen on trial on the basis of a confession obtained under torture by a foreign government? Is the case against this student anything other than an attempt to enlist the sympathy factor for Bush in order to repair his standing in the polls?

"Americans need to understand that a police state has to produce results in order to justify its budget and its powers. It doesn't really care who it catches. Stalin's police state caught the wife of Stalin's foreign minister in one of its street sweeps.

"The Bush administration justifies torture and threatens to veto congressional attempts to restrain its use. The Bush administration justifies indefinite detention of American citizens without charges. It asserts the power of indefinite detention based on its subjective judgment about who is a threat. An American government that preaches 'freedom and democracy' to the world claims the powers of tyrants as its own.

"Americans need to wake up. The only danger to Americans in Iraq is the one Bush created by invading the country. The grave threat that Americans face is the Bush administration's police state mentality."

* From a recent interview of Patti Smith.

Q: MoMA must’ve been good for your film education, too.
PS: I really loved the New Wave: Godard, Bresson, Rivette. I liked Rossellini, but especially the French. You had to wait till they came to the all-night theaters or the MoMA festivals—it still amazes me that I can walk into a video place and get The Passion of Joan of Arc or these movies that were so rare . . . sometimes you had to wait ten years to see a movie like that!

Did anything inspire your look?

In the early sixties I went to thrift stores—it was possible to buy an Irish-tweed coat for 50 cents, or a Dior blouse. When I had more control, I liked the way nineteenth-century poets dressed. Even the cover of Horses reflects that: the black ribbon, the white shirt. I’m still pretty much wearing the same kinda clothes as when I was 20.

Do you remember any moments at CBGB that made you think, That’s what I want to do?

When I started performing a lot with Lenny Kaye and Richard Sohl, we had goals: to infuse new life into performing poetry—merging poetry with electric guitar, three chords—and to reembrace rock and roll. It drew us together and kept us informed, whether through Bob Dylan or Neil Young or the Who. In the early seventies, rock and roll was monopolized by record companies, marketing strategies, stadium rock. Tom Verlaine and Television were for me the most inspiring: They were not glamorous, they were human.

Any musical influences that might surprise us?

Maria Callas. From her I learned how to develop a narrative within a song, to tap into the emotional content. She’s a great teacher, even if one doesn’t have the range, the voice. And John Coltrane, for how to improvise—to explore and be responsible to the audience.

* Keep score at home with this state-by-state GOP scandal cheatsheet. [via]


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