It was fifteen years ago this month when the body of Christopher Johnson McCandless, a 24-year-old honors student from a well-to-do Virginia family, was discovered by moose hunters in an abandoned bus deep in the Alaskan wilderness. In the years since he died, McCandless’s life has become the stuff of legend, inspiring visitors from around the world to the site where he perished, a slew of pop songs, a magazine article by Jon Krakauer that he turned into a best-selling book, a documentary film, and now Sean Penn’s “Into The Wild” — a sweeping, rapturously shot visual poem about the nature of identity.
McCandless’s story goes like this. Upon graduation from Emory University in 1990, he gave his $24,000 in savings to charity, jumped into his old Datsun and, without telling a soul, hit the road. His destination was always Alaska, but in the two years prior he embarked on the ultimate hippie road trip: he abandoned his car in the Mojave Desert; burned all of his cash and identification; met and traveled with countless ‘tramps’; bought a canoe and paddled down the Colorado river into the Gulf of California; lived in communes in Nilan, California and one near the …
TomDispatch: Is a Jewish Glasnost Coming to America? Despite a Backlash, Many Jews Are Questioning IsraelSeptember 13, 2007 Tony Karon, senior editor at TIME Magazine, discusses how he first arrived at the comparison of Israeli behavior on the occupied West Bank to apartheid South Africa and then plunges into the changing attitudes of American Jews and the critical opening of the present moment.
Liam Rector’s efforts to revitalize poetry were two-fold: both writing and encouraging great verse. Not every artist wants to work on the apparatus of his art—the less glamorous side of sitting on committees, founding programs, judging contests—but Liam seemed comfortable in the role of officiator.
Every news outlet that I can think to check has published an obituary for Iraqi poet Nazik al-Malaika. While her significance in the Arab literary world is concrete, her poetry is little known in the United States. In fact, very few translations of her poems exist in English, making the outpouring of obits seem, to be callous, a day late and a dollar short.
As someone who’s always believed Ezra Pound’s claim that great poems must be written regardless of who writes them, I find it frustrating that the only poems I can find by al-Malaika are in an anthology (The Poetry of Arab Women, ed. Nathalie Handal). Certainly her story is remarkable—pioneering free verse in Iraqi poetry, studying at Princeton as the only female, fleeing to Kuwait and later Eqypt—but I want to read the poems. Not to play newspaper favorites, but the New York Times does excerpt two: “To Wash Disgrace” and “Lament of a Useless Woman.” In “To Wash Disgrace,” al-Malaika evokes the horror of an honor killing in this matter-of-fact way:
She left to wash the disgrace.
The brutal executioner returns
And meets people
“Disgrace!” He wipes his knife
“We’ve torn it apart.”
Reading at the kitchen table feels like homework, which is why I dislike the collected works of anyone who lived past thirty-five. If I can’t curl up with it, I don’t want it. Therefore I’m delighted that Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project is still available online, even if sparse compared to the three anthologies it has spawned: Poems to Read, America’s Favorite Poems, and An Invitation to Poetry. All poems contained in these collections (totaling 1,031 pages) and on the website were chosen by U. S. readers. If nothing else, the selections seem like a good barometer of what’s on our minds.
And what’s on our minds? Making do.
As a New York City resident, it’s easy to forget this very American idea of managing, of (as my mom always says) “doing the best you can.” Akin to “be all you can be” minus the expectations of heroism. There are too many Nobel Peace Prize winners and movie stars looking at Picassos with you at the Guggenheim. Too many friends founding magazines, opening music venues, writing novels. The local celebrity from my hometown in Tennessee was Strolling Jim.
Strolling Jim was a horse.
The dreams are more modest in …
Are you tired, yet, of the omnipotence of greenhouse gases? You can’t swing a dead polar bear without hitting a story in a newspaper or magazine about how GHG (the street name for this uncontrolled substance) is causing natural or political calamities.
We have to sober up from the past eight months when the environment and climate change became relevant again. It is time to discard the divisive rhetoric and move to solutions.
In just the past month we have been pelted with the following stories that have been attributed to GHG:
China and the United States don’t trust each other. Kansas was devastated by a huge tornado and flooding. France elected a guy who (hold on to your shorts) is pro-Israeli and likes the United States (query whether the Bush-Sarkozy love affair means it is p.c. or not p.c. to eat French Fries again) and wants to work with us on climate change. Georgia was hit with the worst fires in the State’s history. A rare spring Nor’easter caused Manville, New Jersey, to be under ten feet of water. Then there is the story that W’s grey matter was fried from actually believing CEI’s commercials …
When I first made the discovery that living poets existed, John Ashbery was the reigning rock star. My well-meaning mentors hurried me away from his work and put W. S. Merwin in my hands. Pound for pound, it was a fair trade: both Pulitzer Prize winners; both born in 1927 (along with Galway Kinnell and James Wright). And I saw their point. I didn’t really fit in with the NYU hipsters, with their worn copies of Lyn Hejinian’s My Life and opinions on when exactly poetry had died. (“Died?,” I would inquire with same tone I would at a later date ask, “See other people?”) My head was filled with The Lice not Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, all “bowing not knowing to what” not “sucking the sherbets, crooning the tunes, naming the names.” And it would take me several years to form an equal attachment to Ashbery, partly because of his unfair reputation for being “difficult.” He is not.
Unless you think poetry in general is difficult, in which case, I say (sincerely), you just haven’t met the right poet, yet.
Ashbery’s Wednesday reading at The Poetry Project in one key way solidified my view of him as …
It appears the Supreme Court is also drinking the Kool-aide with yesterday’s landmark decision Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency. In short, the Supreme Court decimated the primary legal argument supporting Dick & Company’s strategy for refusing to stem the tide of global warming here in the United States — greenhouse gas emissions do not constitute air pollution under the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court clearly and unequivocally stated that the EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., carbon dioxide).
The current administration derides the effect of the Court’s decision by mockingly stating that it will take the two years left of W’s term for the EPA to promulgate regulations effectuating the Court’s decision. But the victory is much greater than a set of regulations. It is a moral and legal boost for an environmental issue that should not be mired in partisan politics.
In my last column I referenced the power of imagery to the nascent environmental movement. But the environmental movement would not have made the tremendous strides in the 1970’s and 1980’s if it were not for the boost it received by landmark judicial decisions by another set …
Protest now—in a few years, you'll be too much of a prick to care. In a few years, you'll have your lawn and your job and whatever's on TV tonight—everything wil seem much more important. Protest now while you still have a shred of values—the real thing to protect.
The environmental movement arguably started with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, serialized in the New Yorker in June 1962. By the time she died in 1964 from breast cancer, Ms. Carson shook up the American public, not to mention the chemical industry, and began the long march toward government mandated controls on the release of toxins into the environment. Her contributions as a scientist and writer were recognized by Time Magazine when it named her as one of the Most Important People of the 20th Century. She predicted in Silent Spring that the continued indiscriminate use of pesticides would have an unintended collateral effect on other species, “On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of scores of bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh.” By evoking the image of a silent spring, Ms. Carson was the first “environmentalist” to use imagery to motivate public opinion. The next time the environmental movement effectively used imagery to influence public opinion was not until the second annual Earth Day in 1971 – when Keep America Beautiful aired a sixty second video of an actor …
Tony is no longer playing fetch. He clearly left the reservation (or at least the ranch) on the issue of global warming. It was bad enough that the British government published that holier-than-though-pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later report last November. Then he sent Sir Nicholas Stern, his chief economic advisor to the W’s alma mater last week to defend his thesis. My guess is that Tony is banking on the fact that Dick is preoccupied with feeding Scooter to the Big Man (by the way, did Ted Wells really belt out a couple of choruses of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out during his closing?) to pay attention to the fact that the British government is taking the position that we either tax carbon emissions as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions or face economic ruin.
The 700-page Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change makes the Inconvenient Truth look like a puff piece. The thesis underlying the Stern Review is that if global warming goes unchecked it will wreak global economic havoc on the scale of the world wars and the Great Depression. The lesson of the report is clear: endure some short term economic pain to bring greenhouse gasses under control to avoid …
I suspect that Cartoon Network was trying to “break through the noise.” They were trying to be rebellious, suit-wearing bad boys. I mean, we live in a world where advertising is everywhere. We also live in a world where freaks have moved away from such contained spaces as Coney Island to your TV.
A TRAIN WRECK
When I was maybe six or seven, my grandfather took me in his truck somewhere far out into the Carolina countryside to see a train wreck. I remember the chrome of the Amtrak cars all twisted up. A huge crane was being used to untangle the seemingly endless mess that threaded into the distance; that sleek and shiny thing was as broken as a used-up toy.
My grandfather and I licked ice cream cones as we looked on. Then, we went home, ate, and watched TV.
If my Grandfather were still alive, I suppose that he and I would have headed up to Boston with some ice cream because everyone …
Global warming rallies and unites scientists, diplomats, politicians, economists and lawyers from almost every country around the world. Except the United States. We spent six long years running in the opposite direction. Why?
It is almost too embarrassing to admit that the United States official position on climate change is (1) the science of global warming is not settled and more time is necessary to study the matter, (2) if there is evidence of global warming, it is not caused by man’s emission of greenhouse gasses, or (3) if man caused or contributed to global warming, the United States will not agree to any remedy that negatively impacts our economy. As an environmental lawyer, closely following this issue since Al Gore was its champion on the Senate floor in the late 1980s, I am out of excuses to tell my European friends why the United States continues to pretend the issue does not exist.
Lately, I resort to the last straw of a desperate man: humor. Oh, and it came easy with the freakish warm weather in New York City. Yes, harken back to last month when we could sit outside eating brunch and I could make you laugh about …
“I don’t fuck much with the past, but I fuck plenty with the future”—Patti Smith
Then you march, which means that you promenade toward the capitol, then around its back, ending up where you’d started in the first place.
Much of that Presidential power comes from proper use of words: “We have nothing to fear but ____ (finish the sentence).” “The buck stops ____” “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this ___.”