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Looked at one way, the jab was just another example of the profound dislike these two alt-weekly chieftains have developed for each other. The record has grown quite thick. Brugmann has denounced the “leering neoconism” that he sees at the heart of Lacey’s politics, which he derides as “frat-boy libertarian.” Lacey has called Brugmann a “bull-goose loony” and likened talking to him to engaging “a homeless paranoid in conversation about the contents of his shopping cart.” (That was from a more-than-4,000-word screed—Lacey’s word—that he published in 2005.) Brugmann has printed bumper stickers that say “Corporate Weeklies Still Suck,” and to this day hands them out to visitors. Lacey has noted that Brugmann, for all his independent talk, once had among the investors in his paper Donald Werby, a billionaire real-estate mogul who bankrolled the Church of Satan (“No, really,” Lacey wrote) and was indicted for paying off underage prostitutes with cocaine before dying in 2002. (“I missed the Bay Guardian‘s coverage of their investor’s indictment on child prostitution charges,” Lacey added.) This January, when the SF Weekly accused Brugmann of “celling out” his anticorporate principles by preparing to rent space on the roof of his paper’s building to some T-Mobile cellular towers, Brugmann retorted that the story’s reporter was simply “a Mike Lacey protégé.” The feud goes on and on, leading even Lacey’s and Brugmann’s respective underlings to detest each other. Not long ago, Van De Voorde, who works under Lacey, expressed the desire to strangle Brugmann’s number two, Redmond, with Redmond’s ponytail.

No mission to Mars has ever found complex carbon-based molecules, from which life as we know it is built. But sulphur is everywhere on Mars – it is more abundant there than on Earth – and it could contain one of the signatures of life. On Earth, the activity of some microbes converts one class of sulphur-containing compounds, the sulphates, into another, the sulphides. The microbes prefer to work with the lighter sulphur-32 isotope, so the sulphides they produce are relatively deficient in the heavier isotope, sulphur-34. Planetary scientists have long wondered whether we could use this pattern to discern signs of life on Mars. Now the prospects for this technique look better than ever.

My argument is simple: blocking ads can be devastating to the sites you love. I am not making an argument that blocking ads is a form of stealing, or is immoral, or unethical, or makes someone the son of the devil. It can result in people losing their jobs, it can result in less content on any given site, and it definitely can affect the quality of content. It can also put sites into a real advertising death spin. As ad revenues go down, many sites are lured into running advertising of a truly questionable nature. We’ve all seen it happen. I am very proud of the fact that we routinely talk to you guys in our feedback forum about the quality of our ads. I have proven over 12 years that we will fight on the behalf of readers whenever we can. Does that mean that there are the occasional intrusive ads, expanding this way and that? Yes, sometimes we have to accept those ads. But any of you reading this site for any significant period of time know that these are few and far between. We turn down offers every month for advertising like that out of respect for you guys. We simply ask that you return the favor and not block ads.

As trickled down to the undergraduate elements of the avant-garde at Yale College in the 1950s, questions about the uses of art (its place in society, its promise of a career) resolved into a “pandemonium” of words like those described by Stefan Zweig as a “collective, eager, competitive curiosity.” Usually I found myself on the wrong side of the critique, in some quarters regarded as an obsolete romantic, in others as a trivial bourgeois. Introduced to the modernist doctrines of alienation and despair, I took the notes but didn’t learn the lesson. The Bauhaus architecture I thought better suited for a barracks or a penitentiary; in the paintings of Mondrian and Kandinsky I could recognize little else except the surface of a decorative design. Nor in the works of Berg and Shostakovich could I identify the sound that from seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century composers I’d learned to recognize as music.

How new, then, is bloggery? Should we think of it as a by-product of the modern means of communication and a sign of a time when newspapers seem doomed to obsolescence? It makes the most of technical innovations—the possibility of constant contact with virtual communities by means of web sites and the premium placed on brevity by platforms such as Twitter with its limit of 140 characters per message. Yet blog-like messaging can be found in many times and places long before the Internet.

What’s the purpose of libraries — really? To be a community gathering place? To promote lifelong learning? To help users navigate the information flow? To store print documents for the historical record, as Nicholson Baker argues they should (and aren’t) in “Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper”?

Libraries can serve all these functions. But what they mean to us as physical spaces is changing, and the information-science vision has now been enshrined at Cambridge Main.

When they’re this good, short novels come close to perfection in a manner for which longer novels are simply not equipped. Big, sprawling novels are glorious precisely because they’re allowed to run riot. What’s The Bonfire of the Vanities if not wordiness made incarnate over 730 pages? (“Heh-heggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” — that’s on page one.) After 600 pages of Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, I’d have been happy for him to go on for 600 more. Yet with Joshua Ferris’s ingenious Then We Came to the End, I thought it was ingenious 100 pages in. Did he have to go on being ingenious for another 280?

  • Chloe Schama reviewing a book about book advertising:

Advertising has always been the tawdry sister of literary narrative, requiring the same building blocks (words, image, conflict, change), and pursuing the same ends (draw you in, keep your attention). This similarity has additional ramifications. The commercial world often provides shelter for those who cannot cut it as master prose stylists, or have not yet made it in the literary world. The ad agency depicted in Joshua Ferris’s novel Then We Came to the End is home to many bitter copywriters who abjectly store photocopied novels in the top drawers of their desks. In the television series “Mad Men,” the young accounts man Ken Cosgrove is the envy of his colleagues when he publishes a short story in The Atlantic.

  • Todd Gitlin reviewing a book about paranoia in the 70s

But dread was only part of what drove the ’70s world to distraction. Blind, flaming rage was its indispensable complement. The Strangelovian Cold War, Vietnam, and race-based hysteria rhymed. Rulers were mad as hell and they weren’t going to take it anymore. Even paranoids had real animus, as Delmore Schwartz didn’t say. Thwarted, twisted, rancid hatred was the world’s currency. In the absence of the furies, screeching, unreasoning fear, if left to itself, would have driven the likes of Nixon and Mao to cringing in their respective corners whimpering for help. It was the malign alignment of fear and antagonism that was so virulent. Either some mysterious synchronicity was at work, as Jungians (and Arthur Koestler) thought, or the process was infectious. Wheen resists theorizing. I vote for the latter.

Writers of fiction are told to “listen” to how people speak in order to create realistic dialogue but, like all our perceptions, our hearing is unreliable. We unconsciously filter out the crap in people’s speech to refine sense and meaning. What we’re left with is a type of distilled speech far removed from the realism of what we hear and, crucially, we rarely notice this until we see it with our own eyes, while reading a transcript of what someone said.

Curiously, this mutability is O’s biggest problem. “It can mean so many things to different people,” says Michael Johnson of johnsonbanks, one of the UK’s leading design agencies, “that I rarely use it in my artwork. It’s also a very self-contained, static shape, so it is quite limiting. It’s what is adjacent to the O that signifies its meaning; Think of O2; it’s the 2 that tells you the story.”

Jaunt over to a dive bar or a martini bar or tiki bar and slip those lines into casual conversation. I’m willing to bet people will notice, and not because they know the poem. They’ll notice because it’s art. The wheel barrow, rain, and chickens are all unremarkable things, and the vocabulary is plain enough, but the speaker’s meditative stance announces that we’re in a moment that defies normal experience. What is “so much” referring to anyway? Why focus on these things and not other stuff in the yard? After you’re done at the bar, stop off at the library and check out the amount of scholarship that attempts to make sense of this poem–what it means, what it doesn’t mean. A lot of attention has been paid to understanding something so accessible.

With all the talk of the liars, however, I want to know more about the people who tell the truth. Not the writers of extraordinary memoirs — the Primo Levis, the Michael Greenbergs, the Calvin Trillins, the Lucy Grealys — but the mid-list authors who now believe that writing a memoir is just another step in establishing a writing career. They’re willing to serve up little bits of themselves, taking something unusual that happened to them and constructing a narrative out of it, handing it over to the world to examine and poke and judge. And the world does judge. When Julie Myerson released The Lost Child, her memoir about her son’s addiction to skunk, I wonder if she was at all prepared for the mess she was about to step into. She was dragged in front of cameras to be chastised as a bad mother on live television, she was called filthy names and accused of being a famewhore, of being willing to sacrifice her son’s future by using his name and calling him a violent addict in exchange for a spot on the bestseller list. Whether you are telling the truth, or spinning fraud, once a memoirist becomes a target, all civility seems to be denied.

Like I said, we knew we weren’t going to get by on our athletic prowess alone. So, as a surefire way to impress the casting director, we came to the audition with a little something extra: a song.

That’s right. For some reason, we thought, “hey, if we can’t climb monkey bars blindfolded, we’ll sing our way into the show!” It was just like Lucy scheming to get a spot in Ricky’s show, only a lot less funny. Here now, published for the first time anywhere, is the song.

[Sung to the tune of “New York, New York”]

Start spreading the slime

We’re ready to-daaaay

We want to be contestants on

Fam’ly Double Daaaaare

Our tennis shoes

Are longing to stray

We’ll run that obstacle course

In the fastest waaaay

But don’t let the glamour fool you. Ebony has a tough side, too. She didn’t always wear flouncy ruffles and Yves St. Laurent shoes. When she had to, she’d pull on a pair of sturdy boots and hit the freedom trail, singing “We Shall Overcome.’’ During the civil rights movement, Ebony and its petite sister publication Jet, the pocket-sized weekly, marched along every step of the way. Moneta Sleet Jr., the first black man to win a Pulitzer Prize for feature photography, worked for Ebony. He won the award for a photograph of Martin Luther King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, at the slain civil rights leader’s funeral in 1968.

Written by menachemkaiser

19 March at 10:25

Posted in rants

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