Fixing to go on hiatus for the next few weeks and missing y’all already. In the meantime I leave you with some recent things for print. First, some thoughts on topics I might have blogged on:
The heart and soul of The New Yorker apparently is NOT fired. Stanley Ledbetter, the erudite, urbane receptionist/gallery curator/philosopher-king of the mag has escaped the Newhouse axe, but, I read, will not be out front anymore. So great is our print crisis that Condé Nast has hired an outside efficiency expert (yes, like in the old sitcoms) to tell them whom they can do without. 13 other firings so far and, god save us, more are promised. If Stanley is there, I will still believe in green shoots. http://gawker.com/5330534/conde-nast-eliminates-whimsy-budget-updated
The other day I caught the restored and expanded print of All Quiet on the Western Front at the Film Forum. It is a sight to behold. Perhaps the greatest anti-war statement ever made on film. If the war wasn’t the war to end all wars, this film could have been the thing to do it. Alas, the world doesn’t work that way. Thinking about that war now, as the last British Tommy, Harry Patch passes we are reminded of the horror of that war and the dreadful pointless bloodshed that raised the curtain on the 20th Century. The war left Harry ferociously anti-war. From the Times today,” His message was not the traditional story of valor and patriotism under fire. Rather, he took as his themes the futility of war and the common humanity of soldiers who meet as enemies on the battlefield.
“It was a gospel expressed in the simple language of a man who was a 19-year-old private when he was struck by the burst of a German shell over the British trenches in September 1917 and sent home to recover from his wounds. Working as a plumber in Wells until his retirement, he lived to the age of 111 before he died on July 25, when he was listed by Britain’s Defense Ministry as the last survivor among the millions of British soldiers who fought in the trenches on the Western Front. The last French and German veterans of the trenches died earlier this decade.
“In his last years, he became a national celebrity, memorialized in a poem written by Andrew Motion, then the poet laureate, and in a song fashioned from Mr. Patch’s own words about the fighting in the trenches that was recorded by the pop group Radiohead (“I’ve seen devils coming up from the ground/I’ve seen hell upon this earth.”) He met it all with the same modesty, saying that it was not he who should be honored but the men who fell at the battlefront, “the ones who didn’t come home.” Here’s that piece:
The boy in All Quiet who returns to the old classroom and tells the truth to the kids, I see now, could have been Harry:
We in the States still have one survivor left: Frank Buckles.
While we can, I want to salute our last doughboy. And as Harry said, all of the souls sacrificed, even the Germans. He had German soldier pallbearers, by the way.
If you’re going after someone in American politics you either use stats for the NewsHour / NY Times crowd, or see how low below the belt you can go, alá Rush / Drudge. Over in the UK they use a kind of hybrid, all done with a very sharp and quick scalpel. Soon the pol walks quietly away in pieces. Check out this calmly ferocious piece on Gordon Brown by Howard Jacobson in TNR. http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=07dd9c62-9009-4ed1-9c72-ab0a75716a19
My piece somehow now fits in with Friedman’s Joker and that idiotic Obama collage. Not sure how.
I did a totem pole some weeks ago and it snowballed into a spring/summer project. Here are some recent ones:
On the Mexican Drug Wars for The American Prospect.
On the recent economic news from California. For The Nation.
The Pakistani Nuke Totem.
So that’s it for a while. I promise a full report on the flip. Till then stay well and cool everyone. And keep making noise.