Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Crack It Up!

Have you seen the Golden Corral commercial? A diner carrying a plate comes to the table. He's bookended by a young girl who’s gotten just ham and an older woman with only a solitary piece of turkey on her plate. “With gravy” she adds thankfully. The first diner can’t believe his eyes. “It’s an all you can eat holiday buffet, a smorgasbord of all I want…did I sit at the wrong table?” But let’s say a Cultural Revolution occurs like the one in China where the intelligentsia was uprooted and sent to the countryside and diners who have quaffed down a big meal find they're able to apply a pea-sized amount of Lume to their butt cracks to avoid the smell from the consequent flatulence. The Lume advertisement pulls no punches getting right down to "business" like Digital Underground does in "the Burger King bathroom." But how are you even going to get to that holiday buffet if your car breaks down? That’s why you need CarShield, but listen as IceT chats with his old friend Ellis Williams aka Mr. Biggs. Says Mr. Biggs, “When I saw you represented Car Shield I knew CarShield was the real deal…” However, don’t take one step until you get Medicaid Part C or you’ve make sure you pay as little as $9.99 a month for life insurance so you don’t become like that neighbor who everyone thought was in good shape, but collapsed during the marathon.

read "Diasporic Dining: Fast Food Inc." by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "The Humpty Dance" by Digital Underground

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Nobel Prizes and Noble Gases

There are the noble gases like helium, neon and argon which are inert which means their molecules are not able to bond and form compounds or, metaphorically, relationships. Then there's nobility which has nothing to do with inertia unless you're talking about sitting ducks like the Romanovs. Finally you have the Nobel Prize which sounds like a reward based on lineage, when in actuality, it's a creature of the meritocracy.This year's Nobel in literature went to the French writer Annie Ernaux who recently looked back on the hot affair she had with a Russian diplomat in her youth. It was a relationship predicated on impossibility thus DOA and intrinsically inert--which may explain both its passion and ultimate doom.

read "Why Big German Words Like Vergangenbangenheit Carry Weight" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Sexmachine" by James Brown

Monday, November 28, 2022

Strange World

Don Hall's Strange World may be the first Oedipal environmental animation. The generations and struggles of a nuclear family are equated with the ages of a planet very much like earth. Within the family context Jaeger Clade (the voice of Dennis Quaid) is the explorer always looking for more while his son Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal) represents the nesting or agrarian impulse. In Candide, Voltaire famously says "we must cultivate our garden." Needless to say the plot is rife with tensions leading to a separation. Add to that, Jaeger's grandson Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) who turns out to be both mixed race and gay. The fact that Strange World is a classic children's oriented Disney product, featuring creatures with names like Spat, ironically facilitates the poetry. The modus operandi is the saving of Pando, the fuel which is the lifeblood of Avalonia, the world which is the product of this life force. The twist is that the "planet" is dying from the very thing that keeps is supposed to be keeping it alive. Read fossil fuels and insecticides. The movie, reminiscent of Journey to the Center of the Earth envisions its own subterranean continent that looks like a heart (replete with valves), but also functions as the unconscious, ultimately allowing the characters a uniquely inside/out view of their own lives.

read "Died Young" by Francis Levy, The Brooklyn Rail

and watch the trailer for the animation of Erotomania

Friday, November 25, 2022

Turkey a Postmortem

Is your Thanksgiving Day turkey the elephant in the room? Inflation has raised the price of turkey. If you had perchance been in the market for turkey or even reliable old turkey parts like breast thighs and wings before the current season you might have come away empty-handed. The mixture of the pandemic and the demand that is both the cause and symptom of inflation disrupted the supply chain. In Animal Farm the pig, Napoleon famously says, “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” Plainly turkeys are getting the short end of the stick. However, what would you rather be desired then dead or alive and totally alone? It’s one of the paradoxes of the market place that those creatures which are source of pleasure are always more in danger of being exploited.And that applies to humans too. If you’re wanted you’ll end up becoming someone’s meal. When you stop being of use, you’ll end up being sent out to pasture.

read "Diasporic Dining: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and you probably can't get enough of "Young Americans" by David Bowie

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Black Monday-Friday

wild turkey (Frank Schulenburg)

Amidst the horror of the Club Q killings was the heroic account of Richard Fierro, the Iraq Afghanistan vet who rushed the gunman. It was a tale of heroism shared with another club patron, but what’s also interesting is the demographic. Fierro had come with his wife and daughter to watch a drag show. Fierro has described in interviews how his combat training kicked in. The gunman Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was allowed to purchase his AR-15 despite the fact that he'd recently been in a stand-off with police in which he had threatened to use a bomb. In addition, he was born Nicholas Brink and asked a Texas court to change his name when he was 15, due to his father’s criminal past. After kicking Aldrich’s rifle away, he pistol- whipped the assailant with one of his weapons; The problem was the body armor. Fierro had to find “a crease,” which he succeeded in doing. His tale exuded an extraordinary mixture of vengeance and compassion. He choked up when he described to CNN how his family underwent the kind of combat experience (he might have had during one of his 4 tours) and which they shouldn’t have been forced to experience on a night out. Five people died including Fierro’s daughter’s boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance.  Before there was time to experience any gratitude for the bravery which saved so many lives, Americans woke up on the day before Thanksgiving to read about the killing of 6 patrons in Chesapeake by the manager of a Walmart.  

read "Pedestalization" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Young Americans" by David Bowie

Wednesday, November 23, 2022


In the current climate do you frequently wish that this or that demagogue were dead? Why won’t Putin simply topple over, like a bust of Stalin tumbling from its pedestal during Glasnost? Why can’t some spy infiltrate the kitchen at the Kremlin and give him some of his own medicine, ie the Novichok that felled Navalny? Wishing dismemberment, "extreme rendition"(waterboarding) or “termination with extreme prejudice” (the CIA name for assassination) is fast becoming the lingua franca of political discourse. “Off with their heads,” says Captain Hook. Remember the mythology about Lavoisier wagging his tongue after being guillotined? In South Africa and later Tunisia there were Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that set out to deal with the legacy of brutal regimes in  remarkably humane and enlightened ways. However, now dreams of vengeance supplant attempts to look at murder and genocide as a form of psychosis. “Macbeth hath murdered sleep.” The Russians have hired mercenaries, alumnae of the Syrian repression to bolster their flagging armies. Each human rights transgression rachets up the rage. Napalm, agent orange, germ warfare, mustard gas, drones, heat seeking missiles, tactical nuclear weapons--the imagination is more inventive in devising brutal means of annihilation than in conjuring forgiveness. 

read "An Incident of Defenestration" by Francis Levy, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

and listen to "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye

Tuesday, November 22, 2022


Temporary Elgin Room at British Museum by Archibald Archer (1819)

Who owns what is a sticky question. It comes up in reference to intellectual property, in specific, art. Rothko sells a painting for $2000 in his lifetime and the proceeds of a later sale amounting to millions totally elude the creator or his heirs. Imagine if Shakespeare's estate had renewed their copyrights? This gets even more complicated in the case of indigenous work. Will the English finally return the Elgin Marbles to Greece? Talk about decolonization, will the Vatican deacquisition its Anima Mundi Ethnological Museum, a collection of indigenous art? Ultimately no one owns anything. Those who think they're buying a “co-op” are delusional. They're really long-term renters since someone else will own it some day—by definition. Politics+property=war. The equation defines modernity, with civil wars in Yemen and Bosnia deriving not only from culture but provenance. Who was there first? You might have to go back to the Big Bang and before that an ether or vacuum, to answer that question.

read "Pet Buddha" by Francis Levy, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

and listen to China Girl" by David Bowie

Monday, November 21, 2022

Athens or Rome?

Will the Old or New Testament prevail when the Republicans take over the house? Will the ethos or culture of capital hill be an eye for an eye or turn the other cheek? In "Culture and Anarchy," Mathew Arnold differentiated between the Hellenic and Hebraic, "spontaneity of consciousness" versus "strictness of conscience." Athens and Rome the seats of the pagan or classical versus Christian culture will also infuse the debate. But in chess terms are the current tight margins of victory a recipe for endgame or stalemate? Of course, the Babylonian captivity in which the papacy was moved to Avignon, the age of Augustus and then Constantine all come into play. Not to mention the Napoleonic Code in which you’re guilty until proven innocent. The pressure cooker doesn’t just explode overnight. “History is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake” say Stephen Daedalus. Though it sometimes seems like the End of History a la Francis Fukuyama or Ideology (Daniel Bell), even the most cohesive of social contracts is comprised of competing agendas. One can only hope that a divisive society in which opposing sides adhere to Manicheans vision of good and evil like the one that exists in the United States today will at least be tempered by the synthesis of Hegelian dialectic.

 read "Lincoln" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Changes" by David Bowie

Friday, November 18, 2022

The Lost Age of Hype

Sam Cohn
Are you familiar with the personality type who’s always running for office? They live in a world hyperbole in which everything is a superlative. You never really know truth from afflatus. During the age of Leiber and Stoller, the Brill Building on Broadway was loaded with “producers” who would pipe forth. Even Phil Spector, who later was convicted of murder, might have exhibited this kind of bravado at the start, but how to separate the wheat from the chaff. One of the selling points of a commercial product, particularly a creative one, is that it’s the best and that behind its humble creator is a million dollar deal. Back in the 70s when Howard Cosell regularly sported his toupee on Sixth Avenue, everything was show biz. The CBS Building at 51 west 52nd Street, still known as Black Rock today, was full of sirens both from passing police cars and fire engines and also the kind Odysseus faced. There was something comforting about the age of hype where everything was ICM or CAA and a legendary agent named Sam Cohn purportedly chewed up contracts. Then you felt free to refer to Mario Puzo as your "dear friend" even if you only met him once at book release party on the Upper West Side. Now artists and inventors live in an age of “disenchantment” to use the word Max Weber coined for the triumph of the material over the transcendent. TV shows are the product of focus groups and movies are dreamt up by committees who envisage the marketing campaign before they even have a finished piece of work .

read "The Cosmists" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

Thursday, November 17, 2022


“All happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The famous Tolstoy quote might be applied to CNN newscasters. They’re all alike, except for John King whose words tumble out of his mouth like bullets from a Gatling gun--and Michael Smerconish who inhabits the 9AM Saturday slot and feigns humanity. If you’re a CNN viewer you’re definitely unhappy. Though you may share the anti-MAGA sentiment, you don’t like the Orwellian Newspeak in which most information is conveyed. The root of Esperanto is hope, but that of Newspeak is well simply... the need to put an accent on literally every prefix or suffix. The suffix accenting is suffocating. CNNs reporting on inflation may be stultifying, Siennese aka CNNease is a little like Jack Torrance’s “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Back in the days of Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings there was at least the feeling your anchor was alive and kicking. The local CBS ll’o’clock news does provide a respite in the form of the weatherman Lonnie Quinn, whose favorite line is, “back to you Kristine and Maurice.” Say no more. Does Berlitz teach a course for aspiring newscasters? What if everyone talked this way? It’s a little like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where all the pods have hollow eyes and intone the same monotonous dirge. Imagine coming home for dinner one night to find your partner turned into Wolf Blitzer, John Berman or Kate Bolduan or those party animals in the 6AM slot, Poppy Harlow, Don Lemon and Kaitlan Collins?

read "The Campus Un-American Activities Committee" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the trailer for Erotomania

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Mad Men (and Women)

Abrams Main Battle Tank at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

Have you seen the TV ads for, the site that touts Xiaflex, the only known medication for Peyronie’s disease? You may have noted that those who take the drug are also urged to exercise their penises. Explanation will be found on the insert. Then there’s Cyndi Lauper touting
 Cosentyx for psoriasis. Is this what happens to “Girls Who Just Want to Have Fun?” Ice-T has of course made a career out of his advertisements for Car Shield which are now set in the Barbershop of Ice Cube fame. But what about getting Annie Lennox of “Walking on Breaking Glass” fame to do commercials for the windows division of Anderson replacement?  Did you serve at Camp Lejeune from l953-87? Are you a victim of Mesotelioma? You may be eligible for the proceeds from a $35 billion dollar trust. Only you're unlikely to receive any money after your ambulance chaser gets paid.

read "Adulthood and Armageddon" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Walking on Broken Glass" by Annie Lennox

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The Novelist's Film

In Hong Sang-soo’s
 The Novelist’s Film, now playing at the Bunina famous novelist, Jun-hee (Lye Hye-young), visits another writer, the proprietor of a bookstore/teashop who declares “I don’t write anymore. I doubt if I will do it again” They are joined by another woman who has given up acting to study sign language with which she renders, “The day is still bright, but soon it grows dark." In another encounter the novelist describes herself as lacking in "charisma," employing the word in its English form. The fungibility of languages is an early subplot that foreshadows the promiscuous bartering of lives (a child peering into a shop window is a proto-voyeur). Jun-hee meets a director she hasn’t seen in years. Neither have read or seen each other’s most recent book or movie and vie for attention. All of the characters long for something they don't have and all attempt to get it in awkward encounters--in particular, the one between the novelist and a famous actress Gil-soo (Kim Min-hee) with whom she collaborates on the "novelist's film." 
There's a web of minutiae which make up what's essentially a palette of creative forms. With the exception of one scene, The Novelist's Film is shot in black and white. The movie is comprised almost entirely of slow pans in and out; the claustrophobic settings mirroring the isolation of these dreamers. The scale of The Novelist's Film is much smaller than either Ryusuke Hameguchi's Drive My Car or Bong Joon-ho's Parasite, two recent offerings from major Korean directors, but one can't help remarking on the self-reflexivity and concern with artistic process that characterizes the work of all three directors. The current renaissance of Korean cinema is  reminiscent of the great era of Japanese directors like Ozu, Mizoguchi and Kurosawa.

and read "Drive My Car" by Francis Levy, TheScreamingPope

and also read "Parasite" by Francis Levy, TheScreamingPope

Monday, November 14, 2022

Quantum Entanglements

Stephanie Burt, the poet and Harvard professor used to be Stephen Burt. So, it’s not surprising
 she's interested in the Multiverse ("The Never-Ending Story," The New Yorker, 11/7/22). In fact isn’t “transitioning” akin to entering an alternate or parallel universe where another form of the same self exists? It’s also a principle of quantum mechanics that a particle can be in two places at the same time. The “unreliable narrator” is a device used by many writers, but Jorge Luis Borges might be called the Ur “transitioning” narrator. Borges’ story within a story is to fiction what Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is to quantum mechanics. Burt quotes from one of the Argentinian writer’s most famous works, “The Garden of  Forking Paths” thusly: “This network of times which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all possibilities of time. We do not exist in the majority of these times; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, and not you; in others, both of us.” In the meanwhile, the question is, which pronoun to use?

read "Pet Buddha" by Francis Levy, Vol.1 Brooklyn

and watch the trailer for Erotomania

Friday, November 11, 2022

Setting the Timer

Hourglass (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The thing about time is that like distance it can be divided into infinitely smaller gradations. This phenomenon is most evident when you’re late for an appointment and waiting for a traffic light to change. A minute seems much longer than it would were you savoring the last few minutes before having to say goodbye to a friend or relative. Zeno’s paradox of course demonstrates the comparative elasticity of distance. Would that time were like the needle stuck in an old-fashioned vinyl record. The end of life presents a paradoxical problem that takes the form of boredom. Retirees tend to have lots of time on their hands even though they have relatively little time left to live. The biggest excitement is finally stepping off the High Dive. In the earlier stages of life, time flies, with life slipping through the fingers like a fish frantically struggling to free itself from one's grasp. The party seems to be ending before it started. You may remember a romantic night, made all the more precious by the subliminal awareness of how fleeting it would end up being.

read "Lamb Stewed" by Francis Levy, Dispatches From the Poetry Wars

and listen to "Time is On My Side" by The Rolling Stones

Thursday, November 10, 2022

The Spiritual Life of Voters

The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life by Emile Durkheim and The Spiritual Life of Children by Robert Coles might offer explanations for the surprising turn of the midterm elections. The result which are far closer than anyone expected discountenance the notion that an esoteric idea like democracy no longer has meaning for the electorate. The Democrats were chastised for the not sticking to the bread and butter issues, inflation and crime which comprised the Republican message. Can a concept like “due process” have any relevance with crime rising in streets and prices going up at the gas pump? One of the essential tenets of Democracy, central to the notion of "checks and balances," is that reason can tame appetite. Trump’s Polonius to Laertes style advice to Blake Masters  to say the election was “rigged and stolen," a direct attack on democracy itself, did not turn out to be the winning formula for the Republican senate hopeful. What Democracy has in common with the spiritual life is that it’s an idea that traffics in intangibles that are, like “inalienable rights,” sometimes counterintuitive. The results of the midterm elections vindicate the notion that “political man” cannot live by bread alone.

read "God Redux" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Police State" by Pussy Riot

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Rambunctiousness: A Philosophy

Kierkegaard titled his works Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death. He talked about "the esthetic," "the ethical" and "the religious" stages of existence. Can “rambunctiousness” be termed a philosophical condition? Is a philosophical tantrum the equivalent of anarchism or nihilism of say Turgenev's Bazarov? One thing is certain, this kind of often violent repudiation of the things other people hold dear ultimately produces a state of total anomie such as the one which eventually motivated the Unibomber, Ted Kaczynski.The resulting existential condition is one in which the practitioner succeeds in breaking the bonds which connect him or her to reality. Untethered from any moorings, the shaky vessel of rambunctiousness frees itself from all identification and empathy. Rambunctiousness is actually a form of pragmatism which brings results if you’re interested in burning bridges behind you.

read "Dr. Pangloss?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Shotgun"by Jr. Walker & The All Stars

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Diasporic Dining: Beyond Tongue

When will the people who brought you Beyond Burger and Beyond Sausage consider Beyond Tongue? Not to mouth off, but remember chocolate ants? The possibilities are endless. Beyond Corn Beef, Beyond Pastrami, Beyond Salami Beyond Brisket--Beyond Cold Cuts will likely become within the wheelhouse of vegans, for whom delis were once a no man’s land. Even fast food is beginning to go "beyond" as it broaches what was formerly beyond imagination. If you patronize Burger King you can now get the Impossible Whopper and with the once impossible dream of farmers breeding chicken parts slowly moving into the realm of possibility,  it shouldn’t be long before the Colonel and Popeyes feature their own synthetic versions of the bucket. But Beyond Tongue may well be the creme de la creme. If you have ever looked into a cow’s mouth, you know that the cat’s got its tongue, though that’s better than Beyond Pussy. "You don't want to go to the sausage factory" is an expression that's applies when people would rather not see what goes on behind the scenes.That's the thing about Beyond Tongue. No one's going to talk.

read "Diasporic Dining: The Impossible Whopper" by Francis Levy, TheScreamingPope

and listen to "Young Americans" by David Bowie

Monday, November 7, 2022

Jonathan Lethem's "Narrowing Valley"

Here’s a translation of Jonathan Lethem, “Narrowing Valley" which appeared in the 10/31 New Yorker. Says Lethem, "The story admits that it also depends for its existence on an occupation of the text of R.A. Lafferty's “'Narrow Valley,' a text that the story’s author  first encountered in the anthology ‘Other Dimensions,’ edited by Robert Silverberg in 1973.” The subject of the "story" is the etiology of a story of the same name and the Winnebago to which the imagination of the alter ego who wrote the story is compared. The author goes on to say "The present story ow acknowledges that by basing itself o a specific earlier science-fiction story it is also indebted, paradoxically, to another: 'The Nine Billion Names of God,' by Carter Scholz which was based on 'The Nine Billion Names of God,' by Arthur C. Clarke. The writer’s "influences” by the way are cited as Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, Laurence Sterne, and most significantly Jorge Luis Borges (in terms of its meta-fictive story within a story whose conatus takes on a life of its own). The Winnebago recalls Stephen King's Christine, about a car with a sense of agency resembling consciousness. “The past is huge, and real, but you are small. To reenter the valley of the past is, properly, to grow tiny, and to vanish.” Are these lines in themselves a metaphor for the “fiction,” as it were, going on “auto?” Naturally all of “Narrowing Valley” is being written on the lands of the indigenous native American tribe, the Tongva by a male white writer who is an "exemplar of the Exhausted Normative" a la R. Crumb's Whiteman and "Albert Brooks in 'Lost in America,' but will these lands be returned? The answer is plainly not as long as it remains in the pages of that bastion of colonization, The New Yorker. 

read "Transcendentalwasm" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "(I'm Just a) Love Machine" by The Miracles

Friday, November 4, 2022

The Biggest Apple

Chisato Iwasaki 

The biggest apple ever, weighed 4lb 1oz. It was grown by Chisato Iwasaki in Hirosaki City during 2005. An apple of that size could definitely be mistaken for a pumpkin if it weren’t for the reddish hue.  This is the kind of problem Swift takes on  in Gulliver’s Travels. The Big Apple would just be just another piece of fruit in Brobdingnag but lethal if it fell on the head of a Lilliputians. Julia Child was an exceptionally tall celebrity chef who towered over her husband. Kenneth Galbraith, the economist, towered over his colleagues and Wilt Chamberlain, was 7'1."The Burj Khalifa in Dubai at 2717 feet is the tallest building in the world. The record for eating hotdogs is held by Joey Chestnut--66 hotdogs and buns in 12 minutes. Jeanne Calment of France who died in l997 lived to be 122 years old.

read "Sarcasm" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Mr. Big Stuff" by Jean Knight

Thursday, November 3, 2022

If These Apples Should Fall

In a TLS review of Cezanne by Achim Borchardt-Hume et al and T.J. Clark’s If These Apples Should Fall, attendant upon the Tate Modern show, Gabriel Josipovici remarks: “For the danger each time is that by communicating the incommunicable, you lose the sense of its incommunicability.” A still life is known as nature morte. But reading Josipovici’s essay one is reminded Cezanne’s famous apples are forbidden fruit. In describing Cezanne, Jossipovici invokes "the egotistical sublime,"  "the phrase Keats used of Wordsworth."  The essay is full of locutions that add to the mystery and in some way is an ambitious undertaking in and of itself recalling seminal works like Roger Fry's Cezanne A Study of His Development (1927). “It is not what the artist wants but what the work wants that in the end drives it to its conclusion,” comments Josipovici. And here is a quote from Merleau-Ponty’s “Le doute de Cezanne” which Josipovici draws upon in examining the phenomenological effect of Cezanne’s revolutionary work, “Nature itself is denuded of those attributes that prepare her for animistic communion: the landscape without wind, the water of Lake Annecy without movement, the objects frozen hesitant as though at the origin of the universe.”

read "Inventing Abstraction at MoMA" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the trailer for Erotomania

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

The Ethicist: One Man's Pleasure

Dear Ethicist:

I have a friend who’s a real humanist. In fact, he’s a card carrying member of the Humane Society and is all in when it comes to protesting the horrible conditions that go along with industrial pig and chicken production. He doesn’t find “Where’s the Beef?” funny even though you can often find him at Burger King where he's a big fan of The Impossible Whopper. Animal rights are his mantra, but human beings can can say one thing and do another. One man’s pleasure is another’s pain. Thus I'm always perplexed about what to do when I see him rolling his basset hound's ears up in a little ball. The animal whimpers, but my friend doesn't realize he's torturing his pet. I'm not the only one who's been disconcerted by the sight of my friend in front of a roaring fire at his country estate, drinking brandy from an oversized snifter with one hand, while pulling that poor animal’s ears (and naturally the legs of all those around him). What to do? If I tell him he will feel humiliated and aghast. If I remain silent, I'm complicit in animal abuse, which is a felony in most states. Am I no better than one of those hunters who shoot rhinoceros for taxidermic purposes? Should I even turn myself in, though my friend himself is so clueless that he doesn’t realize anything is wrong?


Name Withheld 



Hi, The real question goes back to why you're friends with this person in the first place. It’s fun to be around would-be aristocrats who have hounds which give chase to their quarry, but grow up. It’s 2022. This isn’t Tom Jones and even the most pretentious country gentleman is more likely to travel by Uber than horse.

read "The Ethicist: Warning Signs, TheScreamingPope

listen to "Dogg Pound" by Snoop Dogg


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

The Aristocracy of Boredom

The Romanovs (1913)

Is there a lot happening despite what you may be thinking or feeling? Boredom is a deceptive emotion since as unpleasant as it is, it’s a little the like the almost curative state of shock experience after an accident. The same applies to emptiness. There's comfort in feeling  one’s life is an empty place, with the imagination a desolate Hopper street corner. In fact, the unconscious is like an angry Jacobin mob.  There's so much potential danger lurking between the forces of eros and agape that without a "reverse endorphin rush," the dreamer might find themselves in another nightmare--standing naked in the middle of a highway with traffic threatening to expose their innermost "secrets and lies," right before they're turned to roadkill. The person who finds themselves wandering in no man’s land is like the last of the Romanovs blithely ignorant of the revolution at their doorsteps.

read "Diasporic Dining: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Make America Great Again" by Pussy Riot