It is very likely that nearly every one has been very nearly certain that something that is interesting is interesting them....

15 June 2003 — Sunday

§ Gregory Wilpert | "Collision in Venezuela" | New Left Review 21 | May-June 2003 | 101-116

The contest over oil profits is an obviously decisive factor in the fervent but so far unsuccessful rich-people's campaign to unseat Chávez, but Wilpert argues that a bundle of land reform initiatives launched late in the fall of 2001 actually brought on the "first employer-led lock-out of 10 December 2001" (110). Both the rural and urban plans (the latter extremely important in a country where 87% of people live in towns) involve privatizing publicly owned land, but Wilpert concludes his lucid account of the complex details involved by pointing out that "this is privatization whose social meaning is the very opposite of the neoliberal prescriptions of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which promote or impose the sale of large state-owned resources and utilities—water, telephone, electricity etcetera—to transnational corporations. Here it is the poor who benefit from the dismantling of nominal, unutilized appurtenances of the state—those who actually live or work on the land" (115). The next test of Chávez's power, as mentioned also in the NYT piece of 12 June, is likely to come in August when a recall referendum is scheduled to go to a popular vote.

§ Bangor Daily News | 14-15 June 2003

Front page coverage of the state legislature's passage of new governor John Baldacci's "Dirigo Health Plan," which will get insurance coverage to about 180,000 previously uninsured Mainers. An AP run-down on financial disclosures by Senators leads with the earth-shaking revelation that "the Senate is dominated by people far more affluent than nearly all those they represent."

§ New York Times | 15 June 2003

One of those "aren't the Republicans invincible" stories on the front page, this time focusing on the Bush-Cheney machine's fund-raising prowess. The director of the Campaign Management Institute in Washington is quoted late in the piece as seeing "the biggest financial mismatch since the 1972 contest between Richard M. Nixon, who was seeking a second term, and George S. McGovern of South Dakota" (1:20). David W. Chen turns in a solidly pro-landlord slanted story on NYC rent control, but he still manages to clearly prove that the 1994 repeal of controls in Boston and Cambridge has been a disaster for poor people who used to live there and now shack up "two or three area codes beyond the 617 exchange." (See also the Economist piece mentioned here on 9 June) Is it me or is the post-Raines NYT actually more boring to read?

14 June 2003 — Saturday

§ On screen — several episodes of Queer as Folk (the U.S. version, season two) on DVD

§ Tariq Ali | Editorial: "Re-colonizing Iraq" | New Left Review 21 | May-June 2003 | 5-19

Ali's brisk, historically-informed polemic opens with an invocation of the eight million people who demonstrated on 15 February against the prospect of the Iraq war and closes with a call for the return to spirit and organization of the "American Anti-Imperialist League" that first assembled in Chicago in 1899 and two years later had a half million members (among them William James, W.E.B. DuBois, William Dean Howells, and John Dewey). In between he manages a fairly comprehensive survey of international response to the invasion plans (only Turkey, Indonesia, and Malasia escape his division of global actors into one of two categories: "old mastiffs and new satellites"), from which he deduces that resistance to U.S. hegemony—which won't come from the EU, the UN, Russia, or China—will have to come from the Arab world ("if there is one area where the cliché that classical revolutions are a thing of the past is likely to be proved wrong, it is the Arab world" [17-18]) and from within the U.S. itself ("the history of the rise and fall of Empires teaches us that it is when their own citizens finally lose faith in the virtue of infinite war and permanent occupations that the system enters into retreat" [18]).

§ In the background — All Tomorrow's Parties 3.0 | VA | Curated by Autechre | ATPR4 CD

§ Economist | "Battle of the Beards: Communists v Clerics in Iraq" | 14 June 2003 | 42-43

"Are Communists coming to America's rescue? While Iraq's other secular parties cosy up to the clerics, the Workers' Communist Party of Iraq (WCP) is struggling to halt Iraq's slide into an Islamic state. It holds coming-out parties for Baghdad girls who shed the veil, and, with reports of women being mugged, it has opened a refuge on the top floor of a Tigris-side bank repossessed by the proletariat" (42).

§ Eric Hobsbawm | "America's Imperial Delusion" | Gaurdian | 14 June 2003

Extracts cobbled together —in fairly sloppy fashion—from the historian's longer article in the June English-language edition of Le Monde Diplomatique. Better to go straight to the original (if it's to be found).

13 June 2003 — Friday

§ The Wire 232 | June 2003

On location — John Mulvey reviews the three day "All Tomorrow's Parties" UK festival curated this year by Autechre (89). Marc Masters covers a Sonic Youth benefit for Stan Brakhage at the Anthology Film Archives (89). Mike Barnes on Wire's live performance of their 1977 debut record Pink Flag and their most recent cd Send at the Barbican in London (91). Brian Coley on Québec City and Montreal performances by Jackie O Motherfucker and Godspeed You! Black Emperor (92).

§ On screen — Bill Moyer's Now | PBS | 13 June 2003

Chilean writer Isabel Allende gives a memorable interview. For some reason, my memory settles on the fact that she and her mother exchange letters every day. • Very clearly constructed pieces on the Bush Admin's inability to tell the truth about the WMD issue and the FCC's recent corporate giveaways.

§ New York Times | 13 June 2003

Neil MacFarquhar's jumbled report on student riots in Tehran (A10) notes that "opposition-run foreign-language television stations" in Los Angeles played a significant role in putting people on the streets. Kenneth Chang on the hypothesis that a meteor strike 380 million years ago decimated sea life. "The extinction, while global in scale, was less severe than the half-dozen major extinctions in the earth's history" (A20). Diana Jean Schemo on the end of thirty-eight years of bipartisan support for Head Start (A25). Nicolas Kristof reminds the Bush admin that the pre-war WMD argument relied on what were known to be "third-rate forged documents" (A31). Krugman credits Tom DeLay with pioneering the "K-Street strategy," which "punishes lobbying firms that try to maintain good relations with both parties" (A31): "there's no point in getting mad at Mr. DeLay and his clique," Krugman concludes, "they are what they are. I do, however, get angry at moderates, liberals and traditional conservatives who avert their eyes, pretending that current disputes are just politics as usual. They aren't—what we're looking at here is a radical power play, which if it succeeds will transform our country."

§ Tom Lewis | "The End of Lula's Honeymoon" | International Socialist Review 29 | May-June 2003 | 7-8

Lewis argues that Brazil's new president—the first to rise from the ranks of the Worker's Party—is more like his neoliberal predecessor Fernando Henrique Cardoso than not (a position advanced and defended in greater detail by Perry Anderson in the London Review of Books a while ago). Outweighing the effects of a celebrated "Zero Hunger" program and a largely symbolic "participatory budget" for WSF host city Porto Alegre, according to Lewis, are key appointments of Bush admin (and IMF and WB) approved fiscal conservatives to positions in treasury, agriculture, and the central bank.

§ Stephen F. Hayes | "PBS's Pontificator: Whatever Happened to Bill Moyers's Promise to Disclose Conflicts of Interest" | Weekly Standard 8.38 | 9 June 2003 | 27-31

The host of PBS's Friday-night program Now controls a pot of money in his role as "head of the $75 million Florence and John Schumann Foundation" and a spin-off organization called the Florence Fund. The latter, which Hayes points out helped create, has "provided another voice to those who believe the Democratic National Committee, the Wilderness Society, and Peter Jennings are too conservative" (30). "Moyers is of course free to broadcast and fund whatever he wants. And journalism ethics classes can debate his practice of interviewing grantees. Much of what happens in Washington is a collaboration of likeminded people who work together to promote ideas and causes they believe in—in this, Moyers is no more sinister than those he targets on his show. All of that would be his own business were it not for the fact that his show, which is a collaborative effort with National Public Radio, takes taxpayer money" (31).

§ John Gittings | "Cracks Appear in Three Gorges dam" | Gaurdian | 13 June 2003

Thirty-nine billion cubic meters of water seek out with merciless accuracy the flaws engineered into a structure. Sort of like time bearing down on a poem.

§ Nitsuh Abebe | Rev. of Let's Get Ready to Crumble by The Russian Futurists | Pitchfork | 13 June 2003

An interesting name for Toronto's Matthew Adam Hart to record his "bedroom pop" under, even if (especially since?) he chooses a goofy painting of a mountain lion for the cover instead of an El Lissitzky or Malevich. Abebe says that if you can stand it at all, you'll most likely love it: "There's also the (wall of) sound, immersive to the point of drowsiness, which has reverb painting space around the synths' cold humming and icicle-pretty plucky or the occasional acoustic guitar: those early Magnetic Fields records never had quite this same cold room, fuzzy blanket effect."

12 June 2003 — Thursday

§ Kevin Killian | "Big Sir, Big Sur" | photos by Catherine Opie | Nest | Summer 2003 | 2-17

I didn't know about Nest until Vancouver-based poet and art critic Lisa Robertson visited Maine earlier this year and made her gig writing the magazine's "Decorator Horoscope" (under the heteronym "Swann") sound fascinating indeed. Now a copy arrives, courtesy of Kevin Killian, and I find that despite an aversion to the scalloped pages and the "New Decrepitude" theme, I admire not only KK's profile of David Whitney's Big Sur property (crammed with Mattia Bonetti designed furniture, rugs, ashtrays—I like best a simple walnut bench) but also the John Ashbery-Archie Rand collab on "Heavenly Days," an unexpected glimpse at The Crass in retirement, and a photo-essay on Cy Twombly, among other things.

§ William K. Tabb | "After Neoliberalism?" | Monthly Review 55.2 | 3 June 2003 | 25-33

Tabb's earnestly no-style analysis sees "next stage neoliberalism" as a scam that blames peripheral governments for the policy failures of core-dominated institutions like the World Bank and IMF. He's even less patient with a "Bush Doctrine" grounded in the idea that "the whole world is the battlefield" upon which the U.S. should preemptively and ever-more-belligerently fight to win. Tabb falls down on describing the alternatives, though he does think "a counter-hegemonic consciousness and a renewed mobilization of people" could result in a "dramatic challenge to class rule and Bush Bonapartism" (33).

§ New York Times | 12 June 2003

A "World Briefing" item on the banning of The Matrix Reloaded in Egypt. Censorship director Madkur Thabet says the film's violence threatens social peace, "but he praised its technical effects" (A10). The second op-ed voices concern about the "most sweeping reform of the Civil Service system in a generation" (A32). Neil A. Lewis reports on the Judiciary Committee hearing for William H. Pryor's nomination to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals: "Some Democrats said that Mr. Pryor's [homophobic, Christian fundamentalist] views are so unpalatable that they might not seek to block his confirmation with a filibuster, as they have with other nominees, but allow it to have a straight up or down vote in the Senate" (A25). That strategy would put Maine's "moderate" Senators Collins and Snowe to the test, along with Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter. Dean E. Murphy on the appointment of Robert Dynes, a UCSD physicist with strong ties to the Los Alamos Lab, to the position of UC System President (A18). Steven Weisman and James Dao on Congressional opposition to Bush's "rebuke" of Israel for the Tuesday attack on a Hamas leader (A12). Juan Forero on the attempt by anti-Chavez forces to sway working class inhabitants of Caracas's impoverished western neighborhoods to abandon the embattled Venezuelan president in an upcoming referendum that hopes to accomplish what "[o]ne failed coup and four national strikes" have so far failed to do: namely, depose him (A8).

§ David Anfam | "Telling Tales" | Rev. of Philip Guston traveling retrospective organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth | Artforum | May 2003 | 132+

Anfam thinks that Guston's nonfigurative work between 1950-1967 is marked by a kind of traumatically-induced repression of "recognizable objects and threats" that the prior and subsequent works don't suffer from: "If my perspective on the painter's canvases from the '50s is right, they amount to a hedonistic intermezzo between the work produced in the previous fraught decades and the ferocious endgame Guston resumed by unearthing his foundational themes in the 1960s" (138).

§ Economist | "The chancellor gets his way, so far" | 7 June 2003 | 43-44

Germany's Gerhard Schröder held on to his chancellorship last fall by chiming in with popular opposition to Bush's war on Iraq. Now, however, his task—like Raffarin's in France—is to enact what the Economist calls a "package of labour-market and welfare reforms" that is unpopular with everybody whose business isn't, well, business. As a result he's drifted quite a bit from the "speeches made in his reelection campaign" (43), though even this bout of advocating for "painful change" may not be enough to save him from a conservative defeat down the road a bit.

§ Brian Kim Stefans | Rev. of Digital Art by Christiane Paul | Free Space Comix | 11 June 2003

11 June 2003 — Wednesday

§ Thomas Frank | "Get Rich or Get Out: Attempted Robbery with a Loaded Federal Budget" | Harpers | June 2003 | 33-42

The editor of the Baffler settles in with the 2,866 page Federal Budget for 2004. "One of the reasons the Bush people love tax cuts is that tax cuts defund government—but gradually and indirectly, allowing plenty of time for blame evasion later. Although it may not look like much now, this tax cut is a time bomb planted in the heart of activist government: as it grows, the whopping giveaway to the rich will compel massive cuts in government spending somewhere down the road. Imagine as all the deficit-reduction battles of the early nineties are fought all over again, only with much greater stakes. Imagine the look of dawning desperation on those politicians' faces as they begin to understand Bush's masterful fait accompli. Like the U.N. delegates Bush has similarly outmaneuvered, they will vote and speechify in vain. The public will laugh at their impotence. And then will come the moment of hard truth. On whom will death set his fateful hand? Who will be defunded?" (38).

§ Lindsay Waters | "Come Softly, Darling, Hear What I Say: Listening in a State of Distraction—A Tribute to the Work of Walter Benjamin, Elvis Presley, and Robert Christgau" | Boundary 2 30.1 | 2003 | 199-212

The topic deserved better than this: "The pop tune that comes back to us from earlier listening is a tune that has, as it were, dropped an anchor into our souls. That it has found a firm grip in us tells us not just about the work but about ourselves" (211). Some authentic personal history lies at the heart of this overgeneralized and undertheorized piece by the executive editor for the humanities at Harvard University Press, but the superabundance of strained simile ("What Elvis and his band are really like is a line of tanks entering a suburban Westchester County town") and high-handed claim-making ("No art theory is ever more advanced or sophisticated than the finest criticism of its day") make for a rather overwrought defense of what is in fact a sentiment rather than an argument—namely, that "Elvis stood for the right of us all to expose our most naked emotions to the world without ridicule" (209). Sentences by other people: "Takes a worried man to sing a worried song" (203); and, from Christgau: "I just try to make sure that music I like finds me" (210).

§ Ian Hunt | "Al Leslie: Not Suitable for Children" | Rev. of The Cedar Bar (2001) by Alfred Leslie | Art Monthly | February 2003 | 44

"Leslie began by rewriting a 1952 play in which he had recorded discussions by certain denizens of the Cedar Bar—Clement Greenberg, Willem de Kooning, John Myers, and Joan Mitchell among them. Songs were added, and an impromptu staged reading was held at a university. The soundtrack and, less frequently, video footage of the reading provide the structure. ¶ Were that all, it would be a cosy experience of overacting, in-jokes and gently revisionist group biography. But Leslie has considerably broadened the aesthetic and historical scope. He has taken the limitations of his theatrical piece very seriously in making it into a film: and that begins with his questions for an audience that knows the art legends of this period. I mean here the audience that went to see Ed Harris's Pollock in order to watch a story they believe somehow theirs becoming costume drama; to experience their own interest in the art of this time slowly losing the battle against biographical templates for understanding—that being a process that began early in Abstract Expressionism's own lifetime. The Cedar Bar's most wonderful innovation is its extensive use of reaction shots from historical audiences, before and after the notional moment of 1957. We observed, taped from award ceremonies we presume, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom and Nicole, Kelsey Grammer and numerous other bow-tied dignitaries laughing at all the jokes and responding to the play."

§ In the background — Aesop Rock | Labor Days | Def Jux 2001 DJX13

§ Thomas L. Friedman | "Read My Lips" | New York Times (11 June 2003): A29

Friedman's idea of a "winning" concept for deposing Bush in 2004? Neoliberalism! "You win the presidency by connecting with the American people's gut insecurities and aspirations. You win with a concept. The concept I'd argue for is 'neoliberalism.' More Americans today are natural neolibs, than neocons. Neoliberals believe in a muscular foreign policy and a credible defense budget, but also a prudent fiscal policy that balances taxes, deficit reduction and government services."

§ Michael Gibbs | "Who Controls New Media?" | Rev. of Dark Fiber: Tracking Critical Internet Culture by Geert Lovink and The New Media Book edited by Dan Harries | Art Monthly | February 2003 | 45

"Dark Fiber is the name given to unused fibre-optic cable which has been laid in the ground but is not yet connected to any services." Tom Frank (see above) mentions in passing that "only 5 percent of all fiber-optic lines worldwide are currently in use" (42).

§ Richard Porton | "The Politics of American Cinephilia: From the Popular Front to the Age of Video" | Cineaste 27.4 | Fall 2002 | 4-10

An interesting if somewhat overstretched review essay on the trouble that maintaining "dual loyalties to cinema and radicalism" has gotten people into over the years. "Trilling loathed intellectual bad faith, and no passage in [his friend Robert] Warshow's work is more indicative of a determination to avoid this transgression than his frequently quoted statement: 'A Man watches a movie, and the critic must acknowledge that he is that man.' Resisting the urge to sneer at movies was an unusual maneuver for a Forties intellectual and this simple pronouncement arguably laid the groundwork for contemporary cultural theory's embrace of previously derided Hollywood genres such as the Western and the gangster film" (6).

§ Constance Baudry | "'Matrix' futur sujet du bac philo?" | Le Monde | 10 June 2003 | link

A short, somewhat bemused account of U.S. philosophy professors who've spoken or written about the Matrix. "Pourquoi une telle démarche explicative? Enseigner la philosophie autrement? Tenter de faire le lien entre la génération Matrix du jeu vidéo et du virtuel, et les philosophes des siècles passés? Ou, plus prosaïquement, participer au lancement commercial du film, comme pourrait le suggérer la publication sur le site officiel de Matrix de nombre de ces réflexions?"

10 June 2003 — Tuesday

§ Geoffrey O'Brien | "Present Imperfect" | Rev. of The Man Without a Past (2002) by Aki Kaurismäki | Artforum (May 2003): 31

The second account I've read today of someone being savagely beaten up, then left to take it from there (Chris Ott's Radiohead review, below, comes bizarrely close to praising the people who kicked the shit out of Thom Yorke in 2000). This time, though, it's a plot device that permits Kaurismäki to "begin from zero, aesthetically and in every other way, in a shantytown by an industrialized river, in a world constructed out of debris, fed by evangelical soup kitchens, and entertained by accordion-playing fringe-dwellers, a world where as a matter of course every bucket has a hole in it."

§ The Nation (23 June 2003): columns

• Patricia J. Williams tries to condense the madness of the moment into a single image: high school kids getting to the prom in an H2 Hummerzine. I don't find it convincing, though I do like the frenzied pessimism of the piece's pivot paragraph: "I do feel as though we have entered some kind of alternate universe, some game concocted in a cyberwarzone. It's as though the Bush Administration is using [Robert] Kaplan and [Samuel] Huntington as templates rather than cautionary tales. It's as though they've set out to map The Coming Chaos into being—throwing out the rules of diplomatic engagement, launching 'preemptive' war, turning ally against ally, magically transforming the federal surplus into a multitrillion dollar deficit, consolidating the major media outlets into a singular right-wing bullhorn of rage, degrading the environment and upgrading the secret police. What remains of government funding is earmarked for technology that will map every wiggle in our walk, every giggle in our talk, every twiddle in our DNA" (9).

• Jonathan Schell on peace & justice movement strategies for the run-up to the GOP convention in NYC next August. His proposal: a "boisterous and diverse...working demonstration" on the model of the WSF to be held this coming November. "A choice of this November would still leave time to organize it and would position it to pour energy into the election campaigns about to begin. If a working demonstration is the place for a movement to be fully itself, then elections are the place for compromises—even, it may be, for the choice of lesser evils" (24).

• Naomi Klein imagines Paul Bremer on the model of "a hacker who cripples corporate websites then sells himself as a network security specialist," seeing it as likely that "in a few months Bremer may well be selling terrorism insurance to the very companies he welcomed into Iraq" (10). She's referring to the fact that Bremer, before being named to officiate over the looting of Iraq, was hustling for post-9/11 angst monies via his "Crisis Consulting Practice" (10)—a job to which he'll likely return when his present gig ends.

§ Ron Silliman discusses Michael Cross's in felt treeling, a 12-card poetic sequence distributed in envelopes by Soft Press in Oakland | Silliman's Blog (10 June 2003)

§ Chris Ott | Rev. of Hail to the Thief by Radiohead | Pitchfork

9 June 2003 — Monday

§ Craig Dworkin | "Unheard Music" | link

Free Space Comix: the Blog pointed me to Dworkin's brilliantly-conceived suppressed-grin survey of seventeen recordings of "silence." (More accurately, fifteen recordings, one unrealized idea of John Cage's, and one rumor about "the Japanese onkyo school of minimal gesture"). Among the artful descriptions of sounds and non-sounds alike, the following account of what remains once the "Language Removal Service" has passed through a discourse: "air whistling in buccal cavities, the pool and drain of saliva and phlegm, the glottal pops and deglutinations that punctuate the inframince spaces between even the most rapid speech."

§ New York Times (9 June 2003)

A tepid piece by Jennifer 8. Lee on how Clear Channel failed to advance its market-domination campaign in the pre-FCC ruling lobbying period: "the real power of lobbying is in preventing issues from becoming an open debate, and by the time Clear Channel had assembled its Washington team, the debate had long become public. The best its team could do was limit the damage" (C7). John Pareles on the rain-drenched Field Day Festival (B1).

§ Economist | "Nobody Loves an Occupier" | 7 June 2003: 39

"And while American spends $1billion a week maintaining its 150,000 men in Iraq, the country's 25m citizens survive on something like $10 a head" (39).

§ Fredric Jameson interviewed by Noel King | "'Going to the Movies in the Morning': Fredric Jameson on Film" | Critical Quarterly 45 1-2 (Spring and Summer 2003): 185-202

On early film experiences: "[W]hen I was allowed to go to the movies by myself there was a movie theatre in Haddon Heights which had three separate shows a week (often double-features). So I reckon I saw more or less every film made in Hollywood between 1944 and 1950 when I went away to college. That would be my filmic 'primitive accumulation'" (185). On post-socialist film making: "[W]hen you have to work against censorship your mind is concentrated in ways that it isn't if you can say anything you want" (187). On the present: "We're in a process of historical change that has its positive and negative sides and it's very hard to sort these things out. One can't go back to the past and regret that older culture, but we should at least remember what it was and what these changes mean, because, once again, students grow up imagining this is the way it's always been, thinking there's never been such a thing as independent film or small bookstores or independent publishers — like New Directions and similar companies on whom, after all, practically the whole canon of modern literature was founded. Without them we would never have had Ezra Pound or the other modernist writers" (194).

§ Drew Gardner's reading notes on True News by Craig Watson | Overlap (9 June 2003)

Watson "explores feedback loops of ignorance, not through a celebration of word/reference disconnection, but through a quiet indictment of systematically self-perpetuating veneers which operate at the service of seriously out-of-balance competitive mental and social ecosystems."

§ Glenn Gamboa | "Field Day Makes a Strong Debut" | New York Newsday (8 June 2003)

Radiohead does a 110-minute set. Beck cracks his rib dancing backstage before his set and has to cancel.

§ Alexander Cockburn | "We're Shocked, Shocked!" | Nation (23 June 2003): 8

With the FCC ruling of 2 June "things got slightly worse," but the real damage was done "forty, fifty, maybe seventy years ago."

§ Chris Ott | Rev. of A Promise by Xiu Xiu (27 February 2003) | Pitchfork

§ Economist| "The Great Manhattan Rip-Off: Housing in New York City" | 7 June 2003: 25-26

The Economist feels about "closed" (i.e. regulated) markets the way my cat feels about closed doors: none should be permitted, ever. Here four columns go to clawing at the NYC rent control system, which is due for a vote on renewal in Albany this June 15th.

8 June 2003 — Sunday

§ Elizabeth Drew | "The Neocons in Power" | New York Review of Books (12 June 2003): 20-22

Drew contributes little that is new to the burgeoning genre of neocon studies, but she does pull together what has already been said into a fairly tight three page profile of the "cohesive, determined, ideologically driven, and clever" men behind Iraq War II.

§ New York Times (8 June 2003)

John Pareles on Radiohead's Hail to the Thief an AP story on Dean Esserman, the post-Cianci chief of police in Providence ("this department owes a lot of apologies") Adam Liptak on Ashcroft's Palmer-raid redux ("'One of the things this [Justice Department] report reveals,' Professor Cole said, 'is that Ashcroft was shooting in the dark and virtually every one of his shots missed") an AP obit for wrestler Freddie Blassie ("the nastier he was in the ring, the more popular he became to fans"). A handy graphic profiling seven men and women (aged 47-58) who are being talked about for the anticipated Supreme Court vacancy.

§ Anthony Arnove | "Cautionary Tales: Documentaries on the UN Sanctions and War with Iraq" | Cineaste 28.2 (Spring 2003): 21-23

7 June 2003 — Saturday

§ Karen Volkman | "Green, Prickly Humanity" | Rev. of Collected Works by Lorine Niedecker | Boston Review 27.6 (Dec. 2002 / Jan. 2003): 46-48

"Among poets, the appearance of this volume, and the recent selected poems of Rae Armantrout and Fanny Howe, may point to a curious, circuitous winding of a subtle minimalist tradition, Dickinsonian slantness tensed in spare speech" (48).

§ August Kleinzahler | "This Condensery" | Rev. of Collected Works by Lorine Niedecker, Collected Studies in the Use of English by Kenneth Cox, and New Goose by Lorine Niedecker | London Review of Books 25.11 (5 June 2003): 26-28

"Niedecker's work emphasises proportion, line, simplicity. The spaces between words and lines, usually emphasised in the typography, lineation and enjambments, function for Niedecker as a reminder of the silence from which the poems emerged, by which they were pervaded, and to which they returned. Despite their distinct musical effects, the poems were designed for the page, not to be read aloud." (26).

6 June 2003 — Friday

§ Paul Krugman | "Duped and Betrayed" | New York Times (6 June 2003): A31

Senator Zell Miller is among those who get burned by the new tax cut bill.

§ Howell Raines resigns as editor of the New York Times | Gaurdian

5 June 2003 — Thursday

§ Anthony Lane | "The Fighter: Reading Robert Lowell" | New Yorker (9 June 2003): 80+

Lane enlists his champagne-headache prose style in the struggle to redeem Lowell's poems from his rotten (and prone to red-baiting: ask Agnes Smedley) personality and—still more difficult a task—the New Yorker reader's basic indifference to poetry.

§ New York Times (5 June 2003) | Stephen Labaton on the Senate's attempt to restore the F.C.C. media market rules recently struck down by Michael Powell ("lawmakers today were discussing the possibility of using a rare parliamentary maneuver that would permit them to overturn the commission's decision by simple majority in both houses of Congress and without requiring the approval of President Bush, whose aides have praised the commission's decision" (A10). Safire on DARPA's "LifeLog" initiative Adam Clymer on a "private bipartisan" commission's recommendation that an amendment to the Constitution be made that would permit temporary appointments to the House of Representatives in the event of "a catastrophe or terrorist attack" (A21). Katherine Q. Seelye on the "American Majority Institute," a new group headed by former Clinton chief-of-staff John Podesta Ian Austen on the durability of magnetic tape as a data storage medium Carl Hulse on Master of the Senate historian Robert A. Caro's objections to recent calls for altering the Senate's filibuster rule (A32).

§ Willem van Weelden | Rev. of Immemory (cd-rom) by Chris Marker | Mediamatic

4 June 2003 — Wednesday

§ Drew Gardner on the stifling effects of "negative framing" and unprocessed competitive drives in discussions about poetry. | Overlap (3 June 2003)

§ Amy Taubin | Rev. of Beau Travail by Claire Denis | Film Comment 36.3 (May/June 2000): 22+

"In Beau Travail, [Melville's] Claggart becomes Galoup, Billy becomes Sentain, and the ship's captain, whose approval and attention is their sweetest reward, becomes Bruno Forestier, in honor of the central character in Godard's 1960 film Le Petit soldat. Played by Michel Subor, Godard's Bruno is a deserter from the French army in Algeria who's blackmailed by right wing French terrorists and forced to assassinate a pro-Algerian politician. Denis, who wanted to work with Subor ever since she saw Le Petit soldat, laid claim to the actor and the character at once: 'I imagined that since Bruno had to go into hiding at the end of Le Petit soldat, he might have joined the Legion,' she explains" (23).

§ Kent Jones | "The Dance of the Unknown Soldier" | Film Comment 36.3 (May/June 2000): 26+

Beau Travail presents "the universe of men silently faced towards one another and away from life. It's somewhat touching, somewhat pathetic, and wholly mysterious, this state of communal solitude" (27).

§ Wayne Miller | "History, Lyricism, and 'Avant-Gardism' beyond the First-Book Poets" | American Book Review 24.4 (May/June 2003): 1+

3 June 2003 — Tuesday

§ Beau Travail | Dir. by Claire Denis (1999); dir. of photography Agnes Godard.

Melville's "Billy Budd" transposed to the rocky, salt-flatted North African coast of Djibouti, where the French Foreign Legion maintains a lithe, hyper-masculine, fastidious, and awkwardly pointless presence.

2 June 2003 — Monday

§ The Matrix | Dir. by Andy and Larry Wachowski (1999)

§ An unsigned review of Susan Howe's The Midnight in the Publishers Weekly for 19 May 2003 likens Howe's project to my favorite recent film:

"Like Agnes Varda in her film The Gleaners and I, Howe demonstrates that the artist's unpredictable path to knowledge, generous in its digressions and attentions to the obscure, is revealing, suspenseful and necessary."

§ Drew Gardner's reading notes for Elizabeth Robinson's Pure Descent (2001) | Overlap (1 June 2003)

"The fissures and shuffling multiple connotations grow inconspicuously, though with a certain amount of stability, like plant growth. Pastoral then in the sense of an affinity with plant life but operating on the level of thought. Plants can break up concrete, right?"

§ John Palattella | "When Poetry Was the Rage" | Rev. of All Poets Welcome by Daniel Kane and Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O'Hara: A Memoir by Joe LeSueur | The Nation 276.23 (16 June 2003): 34+

Palattella approves Kane's topic but accuses him of drowning "interesting aspects" of the Lower East Side poetry scene in "academic hyperbole" and mistaking "a bunch of cliques" for a genuine "community." He's happier with the "keen sense of the ephemeral," the "dislike of didacticism," and the "alluring mix of vulnerability and charm" (36) in LeSeuer's digressive portrait of Frank O'Hara.

§ Bill Werde. "Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Waiting for the Fever to Break" | New Music Monthly 112 (May 2003): 31+

The cover article for a magazine I don't often read. Typically lame writing about the pseudo-tribulations of a presently much-hyped band.

1 June 2003 — Sunday

§ John Olson | Rev. of The Removes by Andrew Joron | Facture 2 (2001): 241-42

A short, excited review praising Joron's first book as a "theatre of boundless figuration" where paronomasia and alliteration "remove impurities of dead abstraction."

§ Chris Marker interviewed by Samuel Douhaire and Annick Rivoire | Originally published 5 March 2003 in Libération | Translated by Dave Kehr | Film Comment 39.3 (May/June 2003): 38+

"Then there is the role of the shutter. Out of the two hours you spend in a movie theater, you spend one of them in the dark" (39). "The exponential growth of stupidity and vulgarity is something that everyone has noticed, but it's not just a vague sense of disgust—it's a concrete quantifiable fact...and a crime against humanity" (40).

§ Stuart Klawans | "Medium Cool" | Rev. of The Matrix Reloaded by Andy and Larry Wachowski | The Nation (9 June 2003): 43-45

"The truly cool are few, but multitudes flock to a winner—as you may learn from Mr. Bush, another leading marketer of simulated liberation" (45).

§ Meghan O'Rourke | "She's So Heavy" | Rev. of Blue Hour by Carolyn Forché | The Nation (9 June 2003): 36-43

The reviewer prefers the Forché of The Country Between Us (1981) to the abstracted, post-witness poet of Blue Hour. "The versifying here is elegant; the tone tempered, respectable, clever—but forgettable. Philosophical and abstract poems don't make good use of the remarkable talent Forché has for metaphor and clarity, for speaking to rather than around something" (42).

§ New York Times (1 June 2003)

David Sanger on Bush's tour of Auschwitz ("he spoke briefly to reporters, but seemed unable to describe his emotions in any detail") Sheryl Gay Stolberg on "Vocal Gay Republicans Upsetting Conservatives" ("Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, estimates that a million people who identify themselves as gay voted for Mr. Bush in 2000") David Firestone on the impact the 2003 tax cut will have on "low-income taxpayers" ("the new study found five million taxpayers in the lowest tax bracket who get no benefit from the law, and 2.5 million single parents with children who also pay taxes but get nothing") • Front page story on the arrest of white right-wing terrorist Eric Robert Rudolph ("There was so much hubbub it almost felt as if Osama Bin Laden had been hiding here, in this land of red-roofed barns and boiled peanuts") Geoffrey Nunberg on the politicization of grammar In the Magazine, James Traub gets his blood boiling about "bien pensant" leftists who think they see parallels between Weimar 1933 and the present.

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