April 30, 2005

We're all thinking about religion these days, right, with Dr. Frist becoming pope and all that. Couple of good stories in the May 2005 Harper's on the subject of so-called Christians; excerpt below from Chris Hedges's 'Feeling the hate with the National Religious Broadcasters':

"I can't help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the `Christian fascists'.

He gave us the warning 25 years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct it's efforts at taking control of all major American institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the US into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. It's ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance ...

Then as now, Adams said, liberals failed to understand the power and allure of evil and when the radical Christians came, these people (liberals) would undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state. Adams had watched the German academics fall silent or conform. He knew how desperately people want to believe the comfortable lies told by totalitarian movements, how easily those lies lull moderates into passivity.

Adams told us to watch closely the Christian Right's persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral values not long after he took power in 1933, then he imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications. Then came raids on the places where homosexuals gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933, with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. Twelve thousand volumes from the institutes' library were tossed into a public bonfire. Homosexuals and lesbians, Adams said, would be the first deviants singled out by the Christian Right. We would be next."

Posted by dbrown at 01:42 PM
April 29, 2005
15 Minutes

"Gallup's April 18-21, 2005, national poll of 1,003 randomly selected Americans included this simple question: "If you could talk with President Bush for 15 minutes and give him advice about anything that's on your mind, what would you tell him?""

The Gallup story; the 1,000 raw answers (!); a selection:

If he was a man he would resign and apologize to the American people for lying and going to war in Iraq, which is costing us American lives. Male, age 90
Leave office. Female, age 53
To resign. Male, age 54
Resign. Stop fooling around with (swear word) taxes. Leave Social Security and everything alone.Male, age 79
Resign. Female, age 57
To quit. Female, age 34
Tell him to quit. Female, age 56
Get out of office as fast as he can. Male, age 36
To resign. Female, age 60
Advise him to resign and give up job to someone more qualified. Male, age 49
Go home and sit down. Female, age 67
Resign and go home. Female, age 80
Get out of office. Female, age 78
To get out of office. Female, age 76
Retire. Female, age 52
Go back to Texas. Male, age 48
Resign as president. More concerned about free elections in Iraq. Male, age 50
Quit. Male, age 48
Retire. Female, age 54
Go jump in the lake. Male, age 65
[via Froomkin]

Posted by dbrown at 12:01 AM
April 28, 2005
Chapter Two: I'd rather be a camgirl, than a cyborg

Theresa Senft, a recent NYU PhD, has a forthcoming book (umm, think it's simply the dissertation) titled "Camgirls: Webcams, Livejournals And The Personal As Political In The Age Of The Global Brand," summarized on her old-school echonyc homepage. Excerpt below; obviously of interest in these days of figuring out what this gusher of words, emotion, and pathos on the web adds up to. (Even given my allergy to academe and most things related to graduate education.)

"In time, I realized that my earlier theorization of camgirls as Laura Mulvey’s worst nightmare was off base. ... the camgirl sites I was visited allowed connections between past and present, as well as social possibilities hard to imagine in film, or even television. Camgirls and their viewers were, in a word, networked. After a few weeks of watching them, I came to the conclusion that camgirls might help feminists think through the question: what does it mean to speak of the personal as political in a network society?"

Posted by dbrown at 05:01 PM


Glynnis McDaris's photographs of tribute bands, featured in Vice and at the Bespoke Gallery in Chelsea.

Posted by dbrown at 03:17 PM

To add to a post that I deleted, Jacques Pépin recalls his 10 years at Howard Johnson's, in mourning the soon-to-close (we're told) Times Square Howard Johnson's.

Posted by dbrown at 11:26 AM

To add to the rephotography post of a few weeks ago, Milton Rogovin's famlial triptychs. Nice, careful work by a little-sung master, and also a counterpoint or counterweight to the socioeconomics of Nicholas Nixon's Brown Sisters typology.

Posted by dbrown at 10:38 AM
April 27, 2005
Five Things I Can't Live Without

1. Small Yellow Post-Its

via Kottke

Posted by dbrown at 02:47 PM
April 26, 2005
Beautiful Decay

Nary a word of English, so I'm not sure how to build it up, but this sprawling website, by a Japanese photographer, documents large-scale decay and abandonment in Japan, from an amusement park to a resort to a ryokan and etc. etc. The work is beautiful, the locations even better. Index here; not all links work, and only "Files" 1-3 are live.

James L. tells me that the white buttons at the bottom of the page are forward and back.

(via themorningnews)

Posted by dbrown at 10:25 AM

I remember an episode of Battlestar Galactica, back in my computer camp days, where Starbuck (was that his name?) is watching whatever they called the monitor for space-transmissions, for some reason they think they're going to find something. He eventually leaves the room, dispirited, just a moment before a signal arrives of Americans landing on the Moon. The Eagle has Landed. He missed by just that much.

The various kinds of one-way broadcasting on the web -- see, e.g., the Maury Povich thing, and blog secret -- remind me of that, people sending out their message (though with more intention and hope than Neal Armstrong) and waiting for their own Starbuck to see it.

Which leads to Carol Flax's 1996 web project on adoption, and her project's page of readers' stories. It is a broadcasting system, too, though not about apologies or Maury Povich. (Though not far off.)


i an 12 and this is my story my mom is has a broken neck and my dad is going deff i hate my life is there any one that can help me :(

Dad its me I need you I was born in California and born Febuary secound but I'm not sure you knew that. You left me my two sisters and I. please come see me I am missing somthing and nothing else can fix the hole in my heart please.
Your daughter,

when i was a boy my parents beat me

Posted by dbrown at 12:27 AM
April 25, 2005
Two-line bio of the month

In the May Harper's: "Tessa Brown is a freshman at Princeton University. This is her first published story."

Posted by dbrown at 11:37 PM
Three thousand and five

Mistyped the date as 4/3005 tonight and was reminded of this nice tidbit from Microserfs, known far and wide for its tidbits:

"...sometimes you accidentally input an extra digit into the year: i.e., 19993 and you add 18,000 years on to now, and you realize that the year 19993 will one day exist and that time is a scary thing, indeed."

But searching for that text led me to an early, early blog, starts in September 1996, when the earth's curst was still molten and predating tilde carl, which for different reasons I revisted this weekend. Another form of time travel.

Who is going to write this history? Maybe it should be me. The weight of all those words, especially the ones like Carl's, will be crushing. Or maybe it is impossible, there is too much, only the NSA could do it.

Posted by dbrown at 10:51 PM
Pile Them High

Poems About War, part of Caterina Fake's blog.

by Carl Sandburg

PILE the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work?

    I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
    What place is this?
    Where are we now?

    I am the grass.
    Let me work.

Posted by dbrown at 06:10 PM
April 21, 2005
Repetition Repetition Repetition

A couple nights ago I met (re-met) someone who played a role in my life 22 years ago and then disappeared -- re-met so unexpectedly and so coincidentally that every coincidence-save-one pales. Just out of the blue, 22 years and 3000 miles later. It's a good story, which I will not tell here just yet.

For now, though, I will quote this juicy bit of The Moviegoer, a bit I think about at least once a week, about that gap between now and then and what it might say:

“A successful repetition. What is a repetition? A repetition is the re-enactment of past experience toward the end of isolating the time segment which has lapsed in order that it, the lapsed time, can be savored of itself and without the usual adulteration of events that clog time like peanuts in brittle. . . . How, then, tasted my own fourteen years since The Oxbow Incident? As usual it eluded me. There was this: a mockery about the old seats, their plywood split, their bottoms slashed, but enduring nevertheless as if they had waited to see what I had done with my fourteen years. There was this also: a secret sense of wonder about the enduring, about all the nights, the rainy summer nights at twelve and one and two o’clock when the seats endured alone in the empty theater. The enduring is something which must be accounted for. One cannot simply shrug it off.”

How did those 22 years taste? Oh that is a good question.

Posted by dbrown at 10:56 PM
Wounds of an Iraqi Child


What's Jon Haddock up to these days, you ask? Well, recently at least, he made this sculpture, "Wounds of an Iraqi Child Transferred to the American President."

Posted by dbrown at 10:39 PM
April 17, 2005
While we're talking about the end of the world

via boingboing via Noah, a nice slightly alternative view of the post-peak-oil world by Ran Prieur, whose crank-ness is at least as high as Kunstler, and whose voice is a welcome complement rather than argument:

"I suggest we're already in the fall of civilization.... [Another] lie is that lack of food will make people kill each other.... I can't explain it, why people will kill for ideas and then, when their life is at stake, will quietly starve.... [and then, a liner out of left field] My own wild speculation is that humans are already splitting into two "races" very much like Tolkien's elves and orcs...."

But what this all makes me think of (besides Lucifer's Hammer) is this Independent story today about the infrared-analysis that is opening up the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, with "new" works by Sophocles, Euripedes, Hesiod, et al. (Sophocles: "gobbling the whole, sharpening the flashing iron," I like that line.) The world has already ended a bunch of times. Take heart!

Posted by dbrown at 11:07 PM
April 14, 2005

At the science library this morning, the usual odd mixture of people is using the public internet/database computers. I walk past a 50s-ish dude using yahoomail, he's got a salt-n-pepper mustache, a faded denim shirt, and piano-key novelty socks on. He's typing: "Well for one thing I like your body (what little of it I've seen)..."

My kingdom for someone to install a keystroke monitor on the library's workstations.

Posted by dbrown at 01:45 PM
April 13, 2005
Where the Heart Is


I finally picked up a copy of Bachelard's The Poetics of Space, 10 years after it was recommended to me, and in those 10 years I never did figure out what to expect, and was a bit surprised to find that it was about the house, home, the idea of home:

"If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.... Now my aim is clear: I must show that the house is one of the greatest powers of integration for the thoughts, memories and dreams of mankind.... It is as though in this material paradise, the human being were bathed in nourishment, as though he were gratified with all the essential benefits."

At the Strand yesterday I found Duane Michals's new book, The House I Once Called a Home, a poetic-photographic (as per usual) meditation on the house he grew up in, which had been abandoned 10 years when he returned, and also his family ("Mother did not love my father. She loved another."). And then also it is a work of rephotography, of going home again, and taking pictures. It is a sad book, a sad house, the walls turning to ruined plaster, the backyard overgrown, the spirit gone. It is proof.

Posted by dbrown at 11:05 PM
April 12, 2005
F Train

Twenty second-graders crunch into the crowded F at Bway/Lafayette. Last one on is a wan little girl in a black dress. She looks at me, pauses, looks at her chaperone, says, "I'm going to throw up."

Posted by dbrown at 12:04 PM
April 11, 2005
Shop Talk Today

via /., the most exhilarating blast of pro-speak we've heard for weeks, since we stopped lurking (ha!) in the bass-fishing forums:

"The new device -- built from indium phosphide and indium gallium arsenide -- is designed with a compositionally graded collector, base and emitter to reduce transit time and improve current density. With their pseudomorphic heterojunction bipolar transistor, the researchers have demonstrated a speed of 604 gigahertz ... "Pseudomorphic grading of the material structure allows us to lower the bandgap in selected areas," said Milton Feng, the Holonyak Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a researcher at the Coordinated Science Laboratory at Illinois. "

Posted by dbrown at 06:35 PM
April 10, 2005
continuing on the theme of the end of the world

Kevin Drum chimes in with some other data points & links related to "peak oil," including blogs The Oil Drum and Land of Black Gold.

But also, I was walking up Clinton Street last night and found a stack of books, put out in the Brooklyn manner (though it turns out they were put out by a friend's boyfriend, also in a Brooklyn manner), including Wendell Berry's In the Presence of Fear, a collection of three essays including the title essay, first published online by Orion soon after September 11. Berry was writing in response to the attack but ranges far beyond, and as always out-poetries everyone.

"VI. The paramount doctrine of the economic and technological euphoria of recent decades has been that everything depends on innovation. It was understood as desirable, and even necessary, that we should go on and on from one technological innovation to the next, which would cause the economy to "grow" and make everything better and better. This of course implied at every point a hatred of the past, of all things inherited and free. All things superseded in our progress of innovations, whatever their value might have been, were discounted as of no value at all.

VII. We did not anticipate anything like what has now happened. We did not foresee that all our sequence of innovations might be at once overridden by a greater one: the invention of a new kind of war that would turn our previous innovations against us, discovering and exploiting the debits and the dangers that we had ignored. We never considered the possibility that we might be trapped in the webwork of communication and transport that was supposed to make us free."

Posted by dbrown at 08:23 PM
April 08, 2005
"[We] have no idea what kind of convulsion we are heading into"

James Howard ("Jim") Kunstler makes a great prophet. His first book, The Geography of Nowhere, was formative for me and probably thousands of other urbanists and new urbanists, a jeremiad against the evils of suburban development, the idiocy of policy, and an at times personal and at times smart exploration of what sprawl means. (For a more personal vision, don't miss D.J. Waldie's Holy Land.)

Kunstler has trained his attention on a bigger tragedy, the impending end of civilization as we know it: "The Long Emergency," beginning right now, give or take, as we tumble over the moment of peak oil production and begin to slide. The book's not out yet, but an excerpt is in Rolling Stone.

As a Romantic, the idea of the end of the world, of Big Things Going On, is always seductive. Still, as he did back in the mid-1990s, Kunstler makes a particularly good doomsayer.

"Is America prepared to contest for this oil in an Asian land war with the Chinese army? I doubt it. ... Suburbia will come to be regarded as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. It has a tragic destiny. The psychology of previous investment suggests that we will defend our drive-in utopia long after it has become a terrible liability. Before long, the suburbs will fail us in practical terms. We made the ongoing development of housing subdivisions, highway strips, fried-food shacks and shopping malls the basis of our economy, and when we have to stop making more of those things, the bottom will fall out."

(Other data points: Mike Whitney at Counterpunch; Jane Jacobs's Dark Age Ahead. But as a grain of salt remember all that "Coming Ice Age" bullshit of the early 1980s, and the Population Growth crap of the 1970s. The more the merrier! I like it cold!)

Posted by dbrown at 09:45 PM
April 07, 2005
Eustace Fucking Tilly

This week the NY Observer epatéed the bourgeoisie by pulling back the curtain on the New Yorker, publishing its own version of the complete masthead (pdf). As more than one ny media volk noted, Spy did the same thing, back even before I graduated high school. (Can't find an online version.) (of Spy, not high school.)

But the first question wasn't who did this first, it's who's left from 1987 (1986?). Herewith, the veterans who make both: Jane Kramer, Ian Frazier (non-contiguous service), John McPhee, Lillian Ross, Susan Sheehan, Mark Singer, Calvin Tomkins, John Updike, Alec Wilkinson, Peter Canby, Martin Baron, Mary Hawthorne (in '87 a "collator"), Lee Lorenz, Roger Angell, John Bennett, Alice Quinn, Bruce Diones, Jack Ziegler, Gahan Wilson, Robert Weber, Mike Twohy, Mick Stevens, Robert Mankoff, J.J. Sempe, Donald Reilly, Michael Maslin, Leo Cullum, Michael Crawford, Tom Cheney, Roz Chast, George Booth, Charles Barsotti.

Spy staff now TNY staff: Tad Friend, Susan Morrison

Honorable mention to Ben McGrath, whose father was on the '87 masthead

apologies if I missed anyone, Spy had such small type. (that's a joke, kinda)

Posted by dbrown at 10:29 PM
Mediums, Messages

John Dvorak (of all people) makes a perfect point about the new photography: "the camera itself has essentially become the film." Where you used to carefully (or not so carefully) select from Ekta- or Koda-, Fujifilm for kids' pictures, what have you, now you just have your one sensor. Having switched from a Minolta to a Canon last year, I can say that he's right, at times it is night and day (especially at night). I wonder what kind of odd sensor-nostalgia/fetishism (or obsolete-sensor hacks) we will see in a year, or five. Not to mention the CCD vs. CMOS wars of 2007.

And, later, mourning, prematurely, the presentation and the cult of the negative, first waxed paper, then glass, then celluloid, then more complicated plastic.

Posted by dbrown at 04:03 PM
April 06, 2005
thinner than the paper on which it is printed

via Evan's contribution to this particular plane, what Thoreau's blog would have looked like, day by day. He called it a journal.

from 4/1/60: "This occurred to me last night, but I was so surprised by the fact which I have just endeavored to report that I have entirely forgotten what the particular observation was."

from 3/28/53: "Why is the pollen of flowers commonly yellow?"

Posted by dbrown at 06:48 PM