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Showing posts from January, 2010

Howard Zinn

During the State of the Union address, I caught the AP story of Howard Zinn's passing (see In the article, the "plug" for A People's History of America within the film Good Will Hunting is mentioned. I often find a way to bring this up in various classes, mainly because my hunch is a whole bunch of students would have seen and enjoyed the movie. Anyway, Matt Damon tells his therapist (Robin Williams) that he has read "the wrong books," and implies that A People's History would be one of the right ones. "It'll knock your socks off," is how Damon puts it... or something like that.

I gave my father a hardcover copy of A People's History somewhat late in his life, and then it was returned to me when he passed on. I remember that it became another way in which we didn't quite connect although I believe we both appreciated the effort here. He expressed some dissatisfaction with t…

2666 and the triangle offense???

I suspect some of you remember Phil Jackson's first year with the Lakers when Kobe Bryant received Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle while Shaq got stuck with Nietzsche's version of the Superman (Thus Spake or Spoke, you decide). This time around, it looks like a few players got lucky with Walter Mosley novels while Ron Artest will be quizzed on Thus Spake Phil and Pau Gasol earned Roberto Bolano's thousand pager, 2666. I guess Phil knows Pau has time to read on the exercise bike as he paces himself to full hamstring strength.

Here's the full roster of Phil's reads at The New Yorker.

And, yes, I know I'm the last person who should be questioning anyone else's injuries and recoveries. Oy.

iain levison with french subtitles

Here's a nifty clip of Iain Levison discussing struggling in America: He reminds us that since 1980, Congress voted against raising the minimum wage 15 times while raising its own pay 5 times. (I'm sure many of you have experienced something similar within your own workplace.) If you prefer your dose of American reality in novel form, check out his How To Rob An Armored Car or Dog Eats Dog at Iain continues to live what he writes and is working outdoors this winter. Nice guy and good writer. For USK's own interview, click:

jon lee anderson is in haiti

I'm trying hard to save money and remain a lapsed New Yorker subscriber, but Jon Lee Anderson sure doesn't make it easy. I'd say his international reporting from the past ten years has been my favorite of all the stuff I've read; as you may know, he has written from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war-torn countries. Well, at least this text-messaged interview is online:

To me, he communicates a humanity that overcomes any sense one could get of "professional gawking" from the war correspondent; also, he must have endured numerous dangerous moments along his journey to completed stories, and I don't recall ever getting a sense of machismo, false bravado, or any other dislikeable traits that end in "o." With my own occasional tendency to brag--about the goofiest things imaginable, like frisbee throws and fiction translations, he reminds me of what a…


So what else is new?

I heard about the tragedy in Haiti last night and after the usual lament for the already so poor and disenfranchised islanders, my disorganized, tired mind thought about Samuel Dalembert (the much maligned Haitian-Canadian center for the Philly 76ers) before I thought about my singer-writer friend Cassendre Xavier, who had been kind enough to show me her cover art for a recent book she is completing. If you follow this blog, you might recall USK's interview with her in March, 2009.

Anyway, it seems to be more of the same, the poor getting dumped on in the worst ways imaginable while the rest of us try to save or protect or build upon our own little lot in life. Roberto Bolano's "Maurico (The Eye) Silva" is on my mind when I think about the futility of the situation, but I think about Voltaire's Candide and its "philosopher" Pangloss too.

Many Haitians live in the larger Philadelphia region, and I was fortunate enough to know a marri…

when a blogger falls in the forest...

...I'm guessing he scrapes his knee, moans about his lower back, checks his hand-held computer for signs of disrepair, and laments that no one hears him except the forest gnomes.

In other words, the semester has begun, and I may have very limited opportunity to lose my two cents in the woods.