Friday, December 30, 2022

Would You Rather End Up as "Trash" or "Junk?"

photo: Fruggo

Have you mistakenly consecrated someone to “trash” who is merely “junk?” Sometimes it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chafe—and there are all those notes from your old friend Joe who's stuck in Estonia and needs you to wire the cash. If you’re lucky that will simply go directly to "junk," before you even have to think about throwing it in the "trash." But there are all the e mails from candidates. They're always in trouble and there’s only 1 day left—which is usually true. Sirius FM’s attempt to improve your playlist is a candidate for "trash" along with those promotions from Jet Blue, Optimum and Spectrum who all are desperate to help you with your  "plans"—while you wait hopelessly to for that e mail which is not "trash" or "junk," the e mail that's gold and will make a radical difference in your life. And then there is the missive full of things you don’t want to hear about yourself. How did they even get your e mail address? Now they've come out of the closet to inform you the great harm you've done? What to do with these emails. Throw them into “junk” or simply press "delete," which means they will immediately go into “trash?”

read "Ultimate Rejection" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and listen to "Clean Up Woman" by Betty Wright

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Diasporic Dining: Chez Ivermectin

overflow of wastewater, photo: Susana Secretariat

For your first course you're served a broth spotted with slim reeds of Beyond Vegetable, a synthetic green that resembles industrial pollutant. Next comes the main dish, the Donner Party kebob, hunks of meat that resemble human flesh and would be considered a delicacy in any zoo. But the food is only half the story. The hyperactive servers with bulging eyes who look as if they are part of a low pressure system producing hurricane force winds are accompanied by the other diners, a unique mix of mid-island women with dyed blond hair who long ago gave up on those post pregnancy stomach tighteners. They are joined by men in double knit pants and white patent leather loafers, whose most salient defining characteristic is their blowed dried hairdo resembling that of a former president. These kinds of patrons travel in schools and exhibit belligerent demanding behaviors reminiscent of the insurrectionists who invaded the capital on January 6. It's always embarrassing to leave uneaten food (with all the hunger in the world) but what is really needed is a trough rather than a dumpster for these leftovers in which even pigs, would still be loathe to feed.

read "Diasporic Dining: Les Specialities de L'Etat Islamique" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen "Twenty-Five Miles" by Edwin Starr

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Is Beauty a Grecian Urn or a Blond?

tracing of engraving of Sosibios Vase by Keats

What is beauty? Is it a Grecian Urn? There's some controversy brewing about the show of Anna Weyant’s work at Gagosian. One reviewer compared her to both John Currin and Lisa Yuskavage, both to whom she was deemed to come up short.  “There is a weirdness about Currin and Yuskavage’s art that isn’t present here,” says Alex Greenberger in ARTnews. The point is that she's apparently just sophisticated enough. However, the real problem lies not in the beauty of the paintings but that of the artist. She's so beautiful your eyes are glued to her picture. Could it be that looking at her is the esthetic experience? What would happen were she to appear in real life? Would she stop you in your tracks? Would you be turned to stone or drown, like Narcissus, but in her rather than your own image? Does she create pileups on the LIE? In addition, how does a 27 year old artist of her caliber whose work is masterful, if derivative get a show at the hottest gallery in the world? The backstory is both predictable and boring. Larry Gagosian as you might expect is purportedly having an affair with her. Would she get into his gallery otherwise? Would a man fifty years older get into her, were he not such a powerful art world figure? What to do with this information. Why not say simply that an extraordinarily beautiful young woman with nice but not exceptional work got the attention of an aging gallerist. She must realize, if she has any feeling for him, that he will, from an actuarial point of view outlive her? And he has to accept the fact that she likes him for his  power and money as much as she does for his "self," if one can be extricated from the other. There's something horribly unfair about so many aspects of this story that it might be said to resemble life.

read "The End of Genius and the Rise of the Compassionate Artist" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Modern Love" by David Bowie

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Buddha Rejects

Dante's Inferno by William Blake

The Buddha is generally deemed to be a symbol of ultimate compassion. But does that magnanimity extend to all creatures? Do the arms of universal love open up for Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago? Those who believe in a Manichean universe of heaven and hell would condemn such tyrants to the infamous Ninth Circle of Dante’s Inferno where the condemned have their bottom half frozen into a lake. “Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven,” said Steve Bannon quoting Satan’s words from Milton’s Paradise Lost, in Errol Morris’s American Dharma. But where does Bannon go from here? If he is forced to step down, by the next in line to reign in hell, will he say “the election was rigged and stolen?” Do the extremes of human depravity elicited by a Putin who licenses the bombing of children’s hospital and mass rape engender an even more encompassing forgiveness or will the Buddha simply throw up his hands in helpless disgust saying, "Let them rise to the top of the food chain after having preyed on all the animals below, but I’m done.” Are there those who are so terrible that they're even refused  entry into Hell? Does the Buddha have a list of "deplorables" a la Hillary Clinton, who're rejected from his love?

read "Shame" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Mr. Pitiful"by The Commitments

Monday, December 26, 2022

The Unbelievable Weight of Massive Talent

Many Americans brought up on a diet of James Dean, Marlon Brando and more recently Nicholas Cage, Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise, regard actors as larger than life figures whose roles are extensions of their personalities."The method," by which actors delve into their own psychologies to create their parts, derived from The Actors Studio and before that Stanislavski and the Moscow Art Theater, reflects only a minute evolution of a profession that began around 450 BC--the era when Sophocles was first trying to cast Oedipus. In fact, from the earliest days of the theater most actors were possessed with a tabula rasa, a labile sense of self in which character could be molded. Remember the two masks, tragedy and comedy, which symbolize theater. It was the performer's task to fit his personality to the role rather than the role to the personality as became the case in American theater and film. Lawrence Olivier is a classic actor who played everything from Henry the Fifth to Dr. Christain Szell the Nazi war criminal who was a dentist, in Marathon Man. George Clooney or Julia Roberts may play themelves in the succession of movies they’ve done together, but Olivier is totally transformed in every part he plays. You recognize Brando as Kurz in Apocalypse Now,  as Vito Corleone in The Godfather, as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront. The Unbearable Weight of Enormous Talent, a parody of the cult of personality, is a homage to Nicholas Cage. However, Oliver is totally transformed as Archie Rice in The Entertainer,. Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and Maxim de Winter in Rebecca. It was undoubtedly enormously exciting to find a "method" until it wasn't and you grew tired of seeing Marlon Brando playing himself one more time--however unforgettable Stanley Kowalski's cry of "Hey Stella" was in A Streetcar Named Desire.

read "The Icarus Complex" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Mister Pitiful" by Otis Redding

Friday, December 23, 2022

Judging a Book By Its Cover

Do you really want to see The Collaboration, a play about Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol (shades of Rimbaud and Verlaine?). The former is highly overrated and the latter just plain bad. “Here’s mud in your eye!” goes the old salutation. Andy Warhol's repetitive Campbell’s
 soup cans epitomize his value-free existence, if nothing else. Or what about a nostalgic film about how Steven Spielberg was first drawn to the camera as a kid? Not to underrate a talented director, but does everyone’s story need to be told? All art is autobiography and all autobiography art. Still, a book about Joseph Roth like the recently published biography, Endless Flight, by Kieron Pim may turn out to be far more interesting than Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip, which achieved a certain degree of notoriety when its author was #MeTooed. "Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy its own way," said Tolstoy. Philip Roth drew the ire of Claire Bloom who was one of his wives, but compared to Joseph Roth, an alcoholic, who was forced to flee his native Austria by the Nazis, he had it good. The important thing in judging films, plays and books in the coming year is to make sure not to see or read them. The same can be said about people.You may take an immediate dislike to someone and then do backflips to understand and enjoy them, but in the end you're likely to find that your early intimations were totally on the mark in judging x to be a schmuck. Actually taking a look at someone or thing can cloud your vision. Uninformed snap judgements are much maligned, but look you’ve made your bed. Now you have to sleep in it.

"The Rise of the Crypto-Relic" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "I'm the One Who Love Forgot" by The Manhattans

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Trump and Newton's Third Law

Does Hamlet’s “How all occasions do inform against me” apply to Trump? The DOJ, the Fulton County prosecutor and the January 6 Committee have all leveled numerous charges about illegal conduct with regard to the 2020 elections. And then there are Trump’s tax returns and the sensitive documents secreted away at Mar-A-Lago. Trump is the first former president to be charged criminally. Newton’s Third Law states, “every action produces an equal and opposite reaction." Are all these probes adding oil to the fire? In classic horror film there's a creature who refuses to die and whose venomous attacks are fueled by all those who attempt to annihilate him or her. In fact, spears, arrows, axe-handles, exfoliants only stoke the flames. Under this theory a popular uprising, perhaps even worse than January 6th waits in the wings. The reality is Trump’s chief strategy is delay. The idea would be to hold everything off until the election. Trump gets reelected and the DOJ, FBI and a host of other government agencies are disbanded, resulting in the dropping of all charges. There's always a Darth Vader or Dark Force in a Manichean universe. That’s what makes for an epic film series like Star Wars, but that’s entertainment. 2024 will be for real.

read "Trumpty Dumpty's Great Fall" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Two Concepts of Liberty

photo of Mike Tyson (Glenn Francis Toglenn)

Twitter originally banned Donald Trump for crying fire in a crowded theater. Literally it was for claiming the 2020 election was “stolen and rigged”—speech which was inflammatory and which was responsible for the January 6th insurrection. Recently Musk, a fervent libertarian, reinstated Trump while banning CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, along with other reporters critical of his policies.  O’Sullivan was exercising his first amendment right, while Trump was inflaming an angry mob. Equating the two is a false equivalent. The only clear right is that of the owner of a social media site to to do whatever he or she likes. Liberty is not an absolute commodity. In his seminal essay, “Two Concepts of Liberty” where he deals with “negative” and “positive liberty,” Isaiah Berlin outlined this distinction. Libertarianism has become like one of those raging California fires which flare up in times of drought and literally burn the oxygen out of the air. Musk would benefit from the more nuanced notion of freedom than averred by Mike Tyson when he said, “everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.”

read "The Final Solution: Apres Coup" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Changes" by David Bowie

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Will Cold Fusion Lead to Fission?

map (International Criminal Tribunal For the Former Yugoslavia)

Imagine a world where cold fusion becomes the source of energy. Would the greenhouse effect vanish? Would a democracy like the United States no longer be obliged to forge alliances with feudal and repressive petroleum producing states like Saudi Arabia? What would happen when fossil fuels no longer created wealth? Would Abu Dhabi's steel and glass towers became empty hulks? Would a new kind of isolationism prevail when the dream of Imperial Russia was no longer fueled by petrodollars? With unlimited access to cheap fuel literally every man woman and child would be born with a silver spoon in their mouths. What would be left to fight over? The answer to this last is obviously boundaries. But what would they be? If there is a death instinct, as Freud argued, then something will have to feed it. Independence can lead to war as well as peace, as the balkanization of the former Yugoslavia illustrates.

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

and listen to "Try a Little Tenderness" by The Commitments

Monday, December 19, 2022

Orson Welles' The Trial

Kafka’s The Trial is notoriously conceived or misconceived as a critique of bureaucracy. Orson Welles' film version (1962), currently in revival at Film Forum, is like a haunting bad dream whose fragments one futilely attempts to remember, in the hope they will hold the key to one’s condition, as they dissolve out of reach forever. The film is filled with tunnels and staircases and perhaps, not surprisingly, there are parts which recall the famous sequence in  Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949) in which Harry Lime (played by Welles) escapes into the sewers of Vienna. In this version Welles, who sleeps most the day in a Rococo bed, is the advocate for Joseph K (Anthony Perkins) and a feckless character named Bloch (Akim Tamiroff). But from the start K’s world is a distortion. He inhabits a low ceiled room. His neighbor, Jeanne Moreau is a succubus, who has returned from a long night of reveling other men. K makes a Freudian slip calling his phonograph a "pornograph' and one of the cops who have come to arrest him employs the non-existent but suggestive word "ovular." One recurrent theme is that the accused are attractive to women who both care for and mother these shame-filled creatures. Romy Schneider plays a similar role, as does Elsa Martinelli. K’s office is a proliferation of desks, right out of Rene Clair’s A Nous La Liberte, inundated with nameless workers. There's talk of guilt and innocence and naturally K’s "case." However, it’s obvious that this world is a metaphor for the mind, with its endless files and super computer (how antedated this image is in the age of Moore’s law and increasingly tiny microprocessors) representing memory and it’s courtroom drama, conscience. But this is no normal court. Rather than just 12, it presents a seemingly endless proliferation of jurors who also turn into opera patrons. There's an artist on hand, named Tintoretti, whose studio is infested by giggling maggot-like little girls whose eyes appear through slats. So you have a libido and unconscious represented by sex, a superego constantly threatening punishment and a flagging ego forever trying to prevent itself from splitting into pieces. The advocate has agreed to see K because he's still in the hopeful stage and in one of the most powerful scenes K is pictured walking away from an imposing church after being interrogated by a priest. The movie begins with a narration of Kafka's famed "Before the Law" parable from The Trial, illustrated with pinscreen art by Alexandre Alexeleff and Claire Parker and ends almost tendentiously with an explosion as metaphor for extinction. Yet all the elements which might have seemed outdated including the black and white cinematography and the gargoyle-like figures out of 50s sci-fi, all fall into place, to render the verdict.

Read "Pornosophy: Full Stop At the Intersection of Sexuality and Ambition" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the trailer of Erotomania

Friday, December 16, 2022


photo: Francis Levy

Sartre famously wrote The Portrait of the Antisemite, "If the Jew did not exist, the anti-semite would invent him," is one well-known quote from the essay. The question of otherness is a subject Martin Buber dealt with in Ich und Du. In this regard, some of the most powerful moments of Tom Stoppard's Leopoldstadt occur in the beginning 1899, 1900 and 1924 sections of the play where Jewish characters attempt to wrestle with their identities in a world where non-Jews view them as the Other. The play's title refers to the Jewish neighborhood of Vienna. Even those who have converted to Catholicism plainly still define themselves as Jews. The seder that occurs during this early section is enormously effective precisely because it introduces a world that’s familiar and foreign at the same time. There's a hilarious scene at a bris in which the cutting off of the tip of a cigar is equated with the work of the mohel. The effect of the comic ambivalence is to throw the noumenal question out at the audience, particularly those who are Jews. In this sense, the much touted denouement is melodramatic and almost disingenuous. These first scenes comprise a rich tapestry that includes the citing of major figures like Gustav Mahler, Arthur Schnitzler, the author of La Ronde and Sigmund Freud. An ersatz Klimt portrait of Gretl (Faye Castelow) the wife of Hermann Metz (David Krumholtz) hangs in the industrialist's well-appointed apartment; it's a mirror of a flourishing Jewish community in which art and entrepreneurship were symbiotically aligned. However, the anagnorisis in which Leo, the Stoppard figure finds out the truth of his background seems a little like or This Is Your Life. It's hard to believe the character portrayed in the l955 section, with all his education and intelligence, could be so blind; it  feels like the deposition of an uncooperative witness--the playwright's youthful anglophone self. Leopoldstadt presents a vast cast of characters who travel through a momentous swath of history that includes Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938.  At times the stage resembles a Robert Wilson tableau vivant. Though the playwright grew up in Czechoslovakia rather than Austria, could it be The Life and Times of Tom Stoppard?

read "Knausgaard or Kierkegaard" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

prelude to "Tristan and Isolde" by Wagner

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Call Forwarding

"Modern Love" (Francis Levy and Joseph Silver)

People often take the disappointment they feel in life out on each other. Instead of facing their own failings, they hate in the other the shortcomings they fail to recognize in themselves. One classic psychodynamic way of getting out of depression is anger. If you’ve ever known a chronic fighting couple, you begin to realize, they're often suffering from flareups of their own self-hatred. It’s the classic caricature of the person trying to fight their way out of a paper bag. In the annals of The New Yorker, there are undoubtedly cartoons based upon this perverse form of projection which is a little like call forwarding. In its most extreme form, of course, it leads to separation or divorce with a similar dynamic occurring all over again when the unhappy person tries to find a way to avoid pointing the finger at themselves.

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

and listen "Want Ads" by Honey Cone

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

The Casting Couch

Edwin Booth as Hamlet

You may have seen the Renewal by Anderson. commercial on CNN. A balding spokesman for the windows division of Renewal by Anderson is touting the virtues of a company that takes charge of all the stages of your window job (where other suppliers send you to someone who deals with the frame or pane, which is a pain, when there’s a problem). But many actors get into commercials not only for the cash but because these function as a kind of audition. The aging couple in the Mesoothelioma commercial are the perfect example. The man could easily be cast as Willy Loman with his female counterpart as Linda, the wife. But wouldn’t the guy in Windows by Anderson be the perfect Horatio, the counselor to the troubled young prince, whose problem may actually have been window replacement (if you look at windows as a metaphor for seeing the world.)? Get it? Get it? "Nudge-Nudge Wink-Wink Say no more," Monty Python used to say. And if the bald-headed spokesman for Windows by Anderson is Horatio, is the other fellow he's advising, Hamlet? Maybe the play within a play should be called The Windows Division of Renewal by Hamlet. What a great title for a Broadway show! It’s long and awkward and theater goers who don’t watch CNN won’t get the joke, but…”

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

and watch the trailer for Erotomania

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Pornosophy: Sex or Love?

Does sex have anything to do with love or love with sex? The Kama Sutra is a manual of positions. Is love conversely devoid of sex? At the least it’s extraneous to the experience. The person you have powerful feelings for may not be the one with whom you feel comfortable experimenting. For instance, will someone who loves you also feel comfortable placing you in shackles? In this age of sexual permissiveness, love and sex exist in a schizoid ether, in which one becomes a different person in each respective modality. Is sex the pleasure and love the agony. Love is work, but sex is play. You may not want to include something as serious as passion into your play, unless of  course you’re performing a medieval passion play reenacting Christ's suffering. Love is usually considered exclusive while sex can more easily be enjoyed with many partners a la Schnizler’s Traumnovelle, which was the inspiration for Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut and which features a scene in a sex club). Dominique Strauss-Kahn had many lovers some of whom he purportedly cavorted around with at a Parisian swingers club called Les Chandelles, but was he capable of love? Ask his former wife the heiress and television producer, Anne Sinclair?

read "Pornosophy: Sexcession" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Modern Love" by David Bowie

Monday, December 12, 2022

Anatomy of a Kiss

The kiss of death is actually a paraphilia. If you check out the pantheon of compulsive sexuality, it actually falls into the category of suffocation, but, of course, a kiss that takes one’s breath away is the quintessence of romantic love. You can also smother someone with affection, but when it becomes too intense you’ll notice that their eyeballs start to go up into their heads. However, what's the purpose of the kiss? Is it an expression of love, or merely a narcissistic act of attention giving that’s veiled attention getting. One thing is certain, there's no form of sexual intimacy that's greater than the kiss. The anus and the vagina, two other popular orifices, are no competition for the mouth which is the most public, vulnerable and gullible of all human assets. “From your lips to God’s ears” is the expression.

read "Pornosophy: Is F*ucking Losing Its Meaning" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Kiss On My List" by Hall and Oates

Friday, December 9, 2022

Dirty Hands

Compulsive people maintain the delusion they will be satisfied when they get what they think they want. That’s why they perennially chase the high, or the feeling that comes when you hit the bull’s eye. In terms of brain chemistry, a certain level of serotonin creates a euphoria that can only be maintained with continuous infusions of sex, success or oxycontin. So-called normal people are not offended by meaninglessness and boredom and tend not to expect more than what they already have. In fact, many people want what they have; they’re only fear is that they will lose it. Alcoholism has been defined as a low-level spiritual search. Thus, apart brain waves, the question of God is unavoidable. Was the boy not able to stop washing his hands simply because he couldn’t get them clean? Les Main Sales is the title of the Sartre play.

read "Ultimate Rejection" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and listen to "Sympathy For the Devil by The Rolling Stones

Thursday, December 8, 2022


Roman Agora Built in Athens (photo: Robert Freeman)

You think someone is bad if they withhold what you want. Writers and artists who tend to confuse their selves with the work they’re trying to hawk are most prone to make these kinds of moral judgements. For them it's not a product that's being rejected, rather an iteration of one's being. They feel themselves elevated by the esteem of the all giving earth mother only to be annihilated and condemned to wander an underworld of unending darkness. In fact, the buyers in the market of sensibility have different styles of dealing with the sometimes unwanted attention they're receiving. It’s like the old days before #MeToo when women still got whistled at on the street by hardhats. A man or woman valued for their appearance may wish more attention were paid to their minds. Similarly most artists want to get their paintings into Gagosian, Zwirner or whatever gallery is the flavor du jour. Years ago it was Castelli. While there are maestros who are humane, many are like the woman wearing the short skirt who feels in danger of being raped. How to deal with all this angry talent? Kindliness may be looked at as an invitation while dismissiveness may be treated as a human rights abuse. There are different styles of desiring and being desired and that in short accounts for the Agora.

read "What's It Like to Be a Fly?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to Beethoven Symphony No. 5

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The Dark Net

Much of what's threatening lies in the realm of the unseen. For instance, both QAnon and the Deep State that Democrats and Retrumplicans alternately rail against are like Ellison’s Invisible or Dostoevsky’s Underground Man. The notion of a base itself is imperceptible since it is by definition so labile. A portion of the lumpenproletariat, for instance, were once rust belt workers who supported Obama. This nebulous entity which surfaces at MAGA rallies sometimes even eludes a demographic--and then are the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys who, at one time, existed under the radar of   right wing politics. The dark net, where child pornography and sex trafficking exist, are like the unconscious. There's also the dark force and Satan if you're inclined toward the Manichean and monolithic. The Seventh Seal should be reshot against a contemporary backdrop, The Queen’s Gambit meets coronavirus with Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor played by the star of The Apprentice. “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven” were the Miltonic lines appropriated by Steve Bannon is Errol Morris’s deceptively benign American Dharma. The Matrix is populated by shining glass towers of reality TV. Beneath ground is dark matter.

read "The Real Thing" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Cover Patrol

Do you often find that you can’t find your blankets? Chubb should offer insurance against sleep threatening shoulder exposure. But with alarm systems like Ring offering protection from prowlers and Ron DeSantis providing election police, it’s time for a uniformed Cover Patrol. Sensors will be installed. For a fixed monthly fee you will be guaranteed full alarm service that will make sure your covers are on the bed where they should be, e.g. around your legs and feet. Once word gets around, Netflix is likely to come forth with a series. Remember Broderick Crawford who played the grizzled cop on Highway Patrol in between appearing as a gangster in Fellini’s Il Bidone (1955). Cover Patrol would have its own fleet of squad cars and uniformed officers, who'd show up with their lights flashing and sirens wailing the minute a rambunctious comforter rolls onto the floor, thereby failing to live up to its name.

read "The Findings" by Francis Levy, Evergreen Review

and listen to "Cool Jerk" by The Capitols

Monday, December 5, 2022


 Bill de Blasio and family

It's significant that the reaffirmation of Obergefell in Congress has been a bipartisan effort. Crossing the aisle or lines in general is a tenuous proposition in this age of politicized sexuality. Can one be gay without having to adopt the designation LGBTQ? Can one be AC/DC?  Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, who identified as gay putatively got into trouble with her lesbian friends when she fell for the future mayor. One can understand how a minority which has suffered from prejudice would band together and even insist on solidarity. Isn’t that the principle of unionization that’s currently being tested by Amazon employees? Still love and even perversion is sacrosanct. Privacy like free speech is an inalienable right that should not be given or taken away by a majority-whoever "they" may be. 

read "Limbo" by Francis Levy, Evergreen Review

and listen to "You Make My Dreams" by Hall and Oates

Friday, December 2, 2022

Past Participle

Generally speaking, idealization is an attribute of pastness. Thus, a nostalgic corona may surround inchoate adolescent romance—which lacks the existential weight of the more protracted relationships occurring in maturity. That which hasn’t come into being has an unfair advantage over reality since it allows the imagination to fill in the empty spaces. But there's something else. "The past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past,” is the famous Faulkner quote. “The past is another country,” said L.P. Hartley, the author of The Go-Between, eventually a Joseph Losey film, with script by Pinter. “They do things differently there.” Love in the Western World is the title of the famous Denis De Rougement tome, but what occurs over millennia is the result of the evolution of sensibility.You remember the highly charged moment of passion, but besides the main dish, there are all the fixings. The lovers in A Man and A Woman, the blockbuster foreign film of l966 would seem like Martians to a couple negotiating their "inner children" today

read "The First Law of Emotional Thermodynamics: Longing is Directly Proportional to Self-Hatred" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)"by Sylvester

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Almost All in the Family

Freedom of speech is sacred. Needless to say it's one of the key elements of democracy. George Carlin gave his “Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television Monologue” comprised of “shit,” “piss,” “fuck,” “cunt,” “cucksucker” and “motherfucker.” Carlin pushed the limits in his own time. If he were alive today, he would undoubtedly have been #MeTooed. Like Roe Wade, the freedoms won by comedians like Carlin, Dick Gregory and Lenny Bruce now are under attack by the thought police. But so-called "free speech" does propose problems that might not have been foreseen by the likes of Henry Miller, Hubert Selby, or Charles Bukowski. Elon Musk is currently defying the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes decision about “crying fire.” Trump has been reinstated, along with numerous banned for their hate speech. Can one believe in free speech and still address the question of limits? When Archie Bunker referred to his wife Edith as a “dingbat,” he was plainly not being lionized for the freedom of insult. Still proliferating certain words gives them a currency. Archie was a sexist, but he was also Carroll O’Connor. If Carroll O’Connor is allowed  to call his leading lady a "dingbat" then a Pandora’s Box of possibilities opens up. You call someone a “dingbat” time after time, even in jest, and you begin to think, it's OK--or even true.

read "The Absence of Presence" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "7 Words You Can't Say on TV" by George Carlin