Friday, June 2, 2023

A Manichean Conspiracy

The right and the left became allies in the attempt to quash the debt ceiling compromise? They have also become strange bedfellows when it comes to the issue of expression and in particular pornography where feminists have joined forces with fundamentalists. Of course the pendulum can swing both ways conservative women in Kansas where part of a coalition that voted for abortion rights —with the issue going back to property rights--the body being the piece of real estate in question. But is there a hope that Margery Taylor Greene and AOC will become friends and take CrossFit classes together? After all they both use three names. Anything is possible. Remember Darth Vader was once good. Shake Hands With the Devil (1959)

read "Towards a Radical Center" by Francis Levy, TheScreamingPope

and listen to "Tell It Like It Is" by Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt and Gregg Allman

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Mustard or Sauerkraut?

Mustard or sauerkraut sounds like Martin Buber’s Ich und Du. I and Thou. But human beings are always inadvertently finding themselves in a world of ethical decisions. Camus said that suicide was the only philosophical question that mattered. What if someone pointed a gun at you asking “to be or not to be?” The case of the hot dog is unique because you can have your cake and eat it too. Usually you have to shit or get off the pot—i.e. decide. Those who think there's a meaning and order to the universe will say that literally everything is a fait accompli. Man plans god laughs. If you have children you know. It’s hard to imagine a world without them though in reality from a scientific point of view chance played a big role in their conception, considering all the eggs and sperm cells on the roulette wheel of human existence. Les jeux sont faits intones the cosmic croupier. 

read "Neither Progress Nor Perfection" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Dance With Me" by Peter Brown and Betty Wright

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

On What Matters

You may not have read Laurie Colwin’s Happy All the Time. Certainly if you’re bipolar you’re likely to take such a title as a reprimand. What does it really mean to be happy? And OK but “all the time?” Come on! Colwin died young ironically but there’s been a rekindling of interest in her work which included cookbooks. Happiness has always been a question for philosophers despite the fact that Camus famously stated the only philosophical question that matters is suicide. The late Derek Parfit an Oxford consequentialist and author of books with titles like Reasons and Persons and On What Matters undoubtedly had something to say about "happiness" as would have utilitarians like Jeremy Bentham John stuart Mill and most recently Peter Singer who has dealt with this question from the utilitarian perspective. Singer is proactive in suggesting that people give up their material possessions for the good of others. That and not eating meat might be seen as his yellow brick road.

read "What is Happiness?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

Yo Yo Yo, listen to "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

On Being Waitlisted

Are you one of those people who’s annoyed being waitlisted at all the good cemeteries, where you get the kind of crowd you'd want to spend eternity with? Of course during the Pandemic when funeral homes were flooded and in violation of those red  "Maximum Occupancy Not to Exceed.." signs, it was understandable that you’d have to line yourself up or wait for your pager to flash when your plot was ready. But the world has gone through a sea change in a relatively short period of time. In this new era of human history, demand exceeds the supply for headstones, which are harder to find locate than an apartment in Park Slope. Of course if you're the kind of person who likes to paddle against the current and is adverse to trends you’re not going to play ball. You’ll simply head down to the local crematorium when it’s your time and then have your wife or partner toss your urn off the Brooklyn Bridge. However, if you're "dead set" on a plot, you're going to have to plot. Try Sotheby’s or another of the high end brokers. They can work wonders in satisfying your requirements when it comes to crypts, mausoleums or even a simple landscaped graves. You can die in peace, knowing there's life after death.

read "Obit." by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and once again listen to "Bang Bang" by Joe Cuba

Monday, May 29, 2023

Washington Crossing the Delaware

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Larry Rivers (1953)

There are the Pliocene and Pleistocene. Now we’re in the Cenozoic epoch which started 66 million years ago. It’s almost inconceivable that the roots of civilization as it’s known began only 5000 thousand years back, in Sumerian times--a grain of sand when you consider the Big Bang at 13.2 billion years. Of course, there was a lot to accomplish after the first Boson came into existence. It’s a long road from elementary sub atomic particles to the 46 chromosomes that humans possess in each of their cells. Another interesting figure. Australopithecus afarensis, the species to which Lucy, the famous fossil, belonged, roamed the earth 3.2 million years ago. It’s not even 300 years since Washington crossed the Delaware in 1776.

read "Is Your Self-Invention a Success" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Bang Bang" by Joe Cuba

Friday, May 26, 2023

Hard Driver

Have ever noticed how hard it is to retain certain kinds of information? The mnemonic centers of the brain seem to reject these the way the body does an organ transplant. If it’s an attitude like altruism you might say consciousness is pushing back simply because people are endemically selfish and self-serving. However, there are other kinds of data for which the forgetting is harder to understand. In traditional Japanese karate, Kata are the choreographed moves against an imagined opponent. These represent a mixture of beauty and aggression and can range from 16 movements up to 54 (Koryugojushiho) and beyond. If you don’t constantly practice Koryugojushiho, you will forget it. Language itself can similarly resist retention if not always used. Undoubtedly, you've met those who spoke perfect French after their junior year abroad but then complained they'd forgot everything by the time they returned to France as adults. Looking through your retrospectroscope, you may conclude this “momentary” form of memory is the purest and most spiritual, since it reinforces the notion of living in the now.

read "Is Your Self-Invention a Success? by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "What's Love Got To Do With It" by Tina Turner

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Hamlet by Joe Schmo


Hamlet is by Shakespeare, but it can be by anyone. The name isn’t copyrighted nor are the emotions. Gonsharov’s Oblamov is Hamlet as is obviously Heinrich Muller’s Hamletmachine. BTW Tolstoy once told Chekhov he was almost as bad as Shakespeare. To Be or Not To Be by Ernst Lubitsch (1942) is a madcap comedy with Carole Lombard and Jack Benny about a production of Hamlet going on in Nazi occupied Warsaw. In this version Hamlet is more about the actors than the play, an interesting take since the play within the play,The Murder of Gonzago is also essentially an in your face Hamlet. It wouldn’t be surprising if Hamlet didn’t raise his mug in the For Dummies series, but what would a Hamlet kit comprise? First of all you need a guy who's traumatized by some kind of knowledge of which he’s only partially aware. In the actual play Hamlet sees a ghost, but is also the ghost since his father’s name is Hamlet too. You need a love interest, one that can be created by a pre-Raphaelite artist like Millais. And you need a Fortinbras to arrive. With only these three characters you could have a nice chamber play or on the other hand if you were Cecille B. Demille you might imagine Hamlet with a cast of thousands, where Elsinore is like Times Square and 42nd on New Year’s Eve as the ball is about to drop.

read "Hamlet of A Stop At Willoughby" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Barbara" (1960) by The Temptations

also listen to "What's Love Got to Do With It" by Tina Turner