Friday, April 28, 2023

Strange Interlude

Have you ever noticed someone behaving strangely? Either they’re brusque when you speak to them or they don’t want to speak to you at all. Chances are they're having problems at home or work that have nothing to do with you. Anecdotally it’s been surmised that only 1/10th of the cold shoulders a human being receives in their lifetime have to do with something they have done to deserve being snubbed. The only reason why 9/10s of people take the blame is that the notion of their  eliciting only indifference is even more painful. In fact, modern sociopathy has even coined a term for these types of events: "pre-snuptual bliss." So the next time your cell doesn't vibrate in your pocket, don't assume you're responsible. The person you're worrying about probably doesn't care.

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

and listen to "Respect" by Aretha Franklin

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Will Lucy Become a Conehead?

If human kind is around 3.2 million years from now, what will hominids look like? Lucy, the famous Australopithecus fossil, would not exactly “fit” in, if she were to roam her original habitat today. Her ancestors, despite their prehensility would find themselves in a similar predicament, if they traveled back in time. However, would these "space cadets" be that much taller than their forbears. If Lucy was 3.5 feet tall and one estimates an average height of 5’5” for women to 5’10” for men in another 3.2 million years hominid women would be about 7’5." It would be a stretch for a hominid male from the present age to reach up to embrace his counterpart 3.2 million years in the future for a slow dance or even just a peck on the cheek. Lucy had a small brain, estimated to be the size of a chimp, but since present day humans have a relatively large brain, one could assume that 3.2 million years hence, a male of the species will be about 7’10” with a brain so large that it would be a heavy weight to bear on such a gangly body. The psychological expression about carrying baggage would applying to your hominid in 3,202,023 AD or 6.4 million years from the Pliocene era. Hominids of the future will undoubtedly be beyond neurotic and self-conscious; they will be a race of belly button gazers simply because of the direction in which their skulls will be naturally pointed. Still the Lucy of the future or her male counterpart are both likely to be a chips off the old block, particularly because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

read "The Wormhole Society" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and listen to "Funky Broadway" by Wilson Pickett

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Deadhead Becomes Anonymous

Sonny Barger

Tucker Carlson is a deadhead literally and metaphorically. He's on his way fromTV to TV Dinner. Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He went back to where he came from, as his step-mother was the heir to Swanson’s. He’s also toast. Now he joins the Fox hall of fame which includes Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes. Will Carlson go to one of the even more MAGA networks like NewsMax or OAN? He hasn’t had a drink since 2002 which is laudable and significant, though he acts like a “dry drunk,” ie someone who has given up booze but not inebriation. To this point he spoke at the funeral of Hells Angels founder Sonny Barger. The old Tolstoy saw comes to mind. In this case it's "All happy television personalities are alike but all unhappy ones are unhappy in their own way."

read "MAGA and the Coronavirus" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star 

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Intellectual Thugs

Laura Kipnis (photo Will2037)

You may have grown up fearful of thugs. Bullies terrorized you in the schoolyard. Political bullies are ubiquitous in a divided nation with the Alt Right claiming more than its fair share. Margerie Taylor Greene famously stalked Parkland survivor David Hogg on the Capitol steps, but then there are intellectual thugs. “Thug” is usually a pejorative term, but in the context of political correctness, when freedom of speech is under fire, and the “thought police” ticket sentences that don’t pass muster, such "tough" guys are not afraid to cut to the chase. Remember the Salamander in Fahrenheit 451, the fire trucks that carried kerosene rather than water. You have to be streetwise to open the fire hydrants, when the latest generation of censors grow trigger happy and begin to ban the canon of Greek myths, whose Gods exercise droit de seigneur. An intellectual thug isn’t afraid to mince his or her words. The administration of the University of Chicago is one of the biggest and most dangerous intellectual thugs around since they won’t allow small groups of students to tell others what to do. Bill Maher, another intellectual thug, brandishes his bullshit barometer. Laura Kipnis, the author of  Unwanted AdvancesSexual Paranoia Comes to Campus is one of the most dangerous intellectual thugs in town, arguing in a New York Review of Books piece ("Kick Against the Pricks, December 21, 2017") that “There’s a built-in weirdness to possessing a sexuality, whatever your gender. It reminds us that we’re animals; it’s bendable into perverse configurations, which is maybe what we also like about it. We’re afflicted with bizarre amoral dreams on a nightly basis." Watch out for Kipnis! She's armed with ideas and dangerous!

read "More Pricks Than Kicks" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

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

Monday, April 24, 2023

The Flying Wallendas of CNN

Bernard Shaw (photo: Ann Thomas)

News anchors once had a gravitas. Huntley and Brinkley Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor, Dan Rather—Edward R. Morrow famously smoking. You saw  less of them but it was a little like Samizdat. Scarcity increased value. The 7 o’clock news was a clarion call. Now not only do you have the inundation and repetition of the 24 hour news cycle, but lately, at least, a carnival-like atmosphere has replaced the simple desk behind which the anchor sat. CNN's recent changed format is like "Six Newcasters in Search of a Story." As Kate Bolduan enters stage left one is reminded of James Tyrone's "Enter Ophelia: the mad scene" from Long Day's Journey. In addition you have the feeling the teleprompter rather than the messenger is responsible for the message. Sure there's been legendary reporting at CNN by Bernard Shaw and others, but with the new set design, the network recently unveiled news, which was always entertainment, has evolved--literally--into a three ring circus. The early morning slot with Poppy Harlow, Don Lemon and Caitlin Collins seems to be competing with celebrity shows like Oprah or sometimes even "Weekend Update" on SNL. News has always been entertainment, but now these "light" rather than "left" new virtuosos display a glitter that’s pure show biz. 

read "The Final Solution: All in the Family" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Car Wash" by Rose Royce

Friday, April 21, 2023

Dear Ethicist: What's Appropriate Behavior If the World is Coming to An End?

Dear Ethicist: What if everyone knew it was their last day on earth and there would be no consequences for any action? Is it a no brainer that most people would behave like there was no tomorrow-literally.  Can you be moral when there’s no future? Or are there people who would still act appropriately, obeying the Ten Commandments and especially the one that states “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife?” Is it unrealistic to maintain the notion that two people would not act on long simmering desires? Am I going to spring out of bed and go for blow even if it means eating the whole Subway Series of heroes they have been advertising and risk getting a stomach ache? Even if it isn’t until llPM that I get it on with my neighbor's wife, won't my neighbor still feel the pain of rejection for an hour? Won't this give me pause? Is morality best viewed as an universal concept that should be applied when even when your boat is capsizing? Or do you have to choose your battles, even when you know the end is nigh?

read "Pornosophy: The Pleasure Principle" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Love Machine" by The Miracles

Thursday, April 20, 2023

How Large Was the Fox Dominion Settlement?

photo: George HH

How much is 787. 5 million dollars? For instance, Fox’s net worth is calculated at 16.44 billion as of April 18th.  My Pillow makes 300 million a year. Dominion ,which is privately held, approximately 17.5 million. The GNP of the US is 23. 39 trillion, while for El Salvador its 59.46 billion. China is 26.06 trillion, Russia, 4.678 trillion. Tesla’s gross profit for 2022 was 20.853 billion. Kepler 452-B is 1402 light years from earth. That’s 1402x186,000x365x60x60. 1.408 billion is the population of India. The population of Europe (as of 2018) is 764.4 million which is close to that Dominion settlement figure. So if every member of the EU contributed a dollar, they’d be able to pony up enough to pay Dominion. 232.9 billion is the figure for the project NYS budget in 2023 while project budget of NYC is 104 billion. The Dallas Cowboys, valued at 5.7 billion, is the most expensive sports team in the world. Bernard Arnault of LVMF is the richest man in the world with assets of approximately 226 billion. The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, is 2717 feet. Human Brain supercomputer has a million microprocessors—which doesn’t seem much compared to the Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase who as the highest paid banker earned 28,313,787. Mars is 155 million miles away.

Read "A War of the Worlds" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Every Little Bit Hurts" by Brenda Holloway

Wednesday, April 19, 2023


"The Tower of Babel" by Peter Bruegel the Elder

Two’s company, three’s a crowd. However, if you’re literally non-binary, you may question why relationships = “couple.” Cultural anthropologists have long recognized that living arrangements can be radically different, depending on the society whose mores you’re studying. Deconstruction in philosophy essentially argues that all thinking and meaning is a product of a particular culture. The Tower of Babel myth from Genesis tells a similar story. But what if you're a horny bastard who doesn’t abide by the idea that you can look at the menu, but not order. Here's a harmless way to create your own threesome. Set up a Zoom meeting with your partner, but make sure you go on it from an added device like a cell phone. Et bien voila 2 of u + 1 of them=3.

read "Sperm Count: Should You Give Viagra to Children?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang

Tuesday, April 18, 2023


The pronoun is under attack. A once fungible piece of grammar has fallen into the equivalent of the 38th parallel. Pronouns are a DMZ aka an undefined area where you don’t want to be caught with your pants down. But why not mix metaphors with false equivalents? "She" has become "they" as has "He" with all the singular pronouns in between occupying an as yet untitled episode of The Twilight Zone devoted to Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. Remember the aliens who write a seeming manifesto of peace, To Serve Man, which turns out to be a cookbook? Gender Fluidity is a nice term that's reminiscent of the French Revolution when all the months of the year were renamed, but when you throw everything but the kitchen sink into the toilet of politicized sexuality, you may end up with a clogged drain.

"Diasporic Dining: Letting People Know What They're Worth," HuffPost

and listen to "Tommy" by The Who

Monday, April 17, 2023

Will Donald Trump Find a Suitable Husband?

Between all the gangs protecting their turfs in prisons, there will undoubtedly be competition to find Donald Trump a husband. The question is not whether he’s guilty, rather what kind of facility he will be remanded too. There's the maximum security one in Clinton, but Trump has renounced his New York residency. Moreover, he will inevitably be convicted by orchestrating January 6th or for election interference in by the state of Georgia. Ostensibly since the Grand Jury comes out of Fulton Country, he might be spending time in one of that state’s penitentiary. It’s important to note that a penitentiary is, by definition, a place where criminals think about what they’ve done and pay penance to society. Trump will easily find a husband, but what about a hairdresser who will tend to his signature used car salesman coiffure? The only question is whether any of these suitors will sign a prenup? 

read "The Final Solution: Was Hitler a New York Liberal At Heart?" HuffPost

and listen to "When Something is Wrong With My Baby" by Sam&Dave

Friday, April 14, 2023

Steve Bannon Has Sent You An eCard

Jacquie Lawson "Sweet Tooth Fairy"

You’ve undoubtedly been the recipient of a Jacquie Lawson ecard on a birthday or holiday. Some of these are NOT no brainers. You have to open them and if an invitation is involved navigate to the right place. However, Jacquie Lawson cards are limited. Most of them are salutations of a positive nature. What about using a Jacquie Lawson clone for your next broadsheet or tirade? “Just push the button” and out spews hate speech. Imagine an ecard devised for people who're nihilists. Better yet, someone you have a grudge against opens his computer and “pushes the button to get the message” which is “fuck you!” You might even have music, say a song like The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah.” Another mom and pop operation could create a line of slanderous on-line cards. You might open one to find out your  your trusted employee has their hand in the till. You know those AR-15’s that everyone wants to ban. One day you may open a card to find a gun pointed right at your face. This might even be accompanied by the sound of ordnance.

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

and listen to "Rock the Casbah" by The Clash

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Going Dutch

Syndics of the Drapers Guild by Rembrandt

Mercantilism runs contrary to feudalism, to the extent that market forces take the place of entitlements. The Netherlands, a liberal society less ruled by aristocratic doit de seigneur, eventually turned into a major trading economy. Ironically, commerce in turn led to imperialism and consequent repression. In order for the Dutch East India Company to expand, native populations needed to be subdued, with sometimes brutal efficacity. Every culture has its own schizoid tendency, its own contrarieties. The tolerance which may exist at home usually doesn't extend to the indigenous populations over which imperialist societies raise their flag. Yet how do these generalities express themselves in the collective unconscious of a population? What, if anything defines national character? Amsterdam is a city of canals all bordered by charming townhouses. You walk down streets, one more charming than the next in search of illumination. Yet, remember the Provos and squatters? The country has had its flirtation with anarchism, but the dissident elements are like a child that’s allowed to cry itself to sleep. Underneath it all, the society flourishes because it knows its own limits and is ready to clamp down on those who would turn freedom into chaos.

read "Amsterdam Journal: Conatus" by Francis Levy, TheScreaming Pope

and listen to "Juicy" by Notorious B.I.G.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Haarlem: Otherworldly

Watercolor by Hallie Cohen

Most New Yorkers don’t realize Haarlem (with the added "a") is a tourist destination one half hour from Amsterdam. It’s known for its narrow medieval streets which reek of charm, but there’s one site that’s transcendent not just because it’s a church. If carnival barkers cried God, the Cathedral of Saint Bavo would be the first thing to come up on their radar. When he was ten, Mozart played the church's presupposing Christian Muller organ whose piping reaches to the top of the vaulted ceiling.There's a pulpit dating from 1434 with banisters composed of brass snakes, symbolizing evil departing the earth. But the most otherworldly element which catches you unawares as you approach is the outsized and majestic steeple towering over the ancient town like an alien spaceship.Though old and earthbound it's the kind of apparition one encounters in science fiction when a stranger arrives from a strange land.

read "God Redux" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

View of Delft

Vermeer’s “View of Delft” (1659-61), currently on display at Rijksmuseum's sold out exhibit, is a secret shared by the painter and the viewer. The figures on the shore who should be enjoying "the view" are obviously preoccupied. Vermeer has intentionally made them small in comparison to the prepossessing structure. Great art is like the theory of eternal return. It exists in parallel universes. Over the infinity of time, a painting of Delftians or others staring admiringly at the town would inevitably arise. Vermeer was interested in the inward gaze (and the vastness of interiority in general) such as in “Lady With a Pearl Earring.” The inward and outward in tandem is exemplified by “Lady Writing a Letter.” The outward gaze, on its own, is demonstrated by “Officer With Laughing Lady” in which the light flowing through an open window and a map of the world both highlight the external world. These days there's a lot of talk about the male gaze and the countervailing objectivization of men in the female version. But Vermeer’s gaze is an ars poetica, a credo which celebrates the artist's act of seeing. Some facts. Vermeer, who died in a day and half at 42, had 15 children of which only 11 survived. Only 36 of his approximately 60 paintings are extant. 28 are represented in the current show.

read "A Taxonomy of The Goldfinch" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Misty Roses" by Tim Hardin

Monday, April 10, 2023

Endgame at The Irish Repertory Theatre

Joe Grifasi and Patrice Johnson Chevannes

If writing a play were like Open Table then both Waiting For Godot and Endgame would require a reservation for four. For the Endgame foursome Hamm, Clov, Nell and Nagg the time is “ever.” You could also look at the Endgame as a version of the "Seven Ages of Man" with life being not a stage, but stage directions. “Put me right in the center,” Hamm orders. Clov’s “I have to kill the rat or it will die” is the kind of conundrum that passes for traditional blocking. A virtuosity edging close to hysteria is the tone. John Douglas Thompson's Hamm is preaching to the choir, but he’s s also talking to himself as are Clov (Bill Irwin) and Nagg (Joe Grifasi) who, in one scene, is a father hilariously mumbling the “Our Father.” The expression of enlightenment on his face which quickly disintegrates recalls Buster Keaton’s deadpan in Beckett’s only cinematic work Film. If you’ve ever thought people on cellphones look like they're talking to themselves, you’ll may understand Ciaran O’Reilly’s direction, which is to commit Beckett’s characters to the asylum of themselves. The brilliant soliloquies isolate one character from the other--which is the point. “Mine was always that,” Clov quips when asked if he believes "in the life to come." The Irish Rep's production is a parodic liturgy turned into a brilliant eulogy. "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness," says Nell (Patrice Johnson Chevannes). The run has been extended and the last four performances  will be streamed. Check the Irish Repertory site for details.

read "Buried Alive" by Francis Levy, TheScreamingPope

and watch the trailer for the animation of Erotomania

Friday, April 7, 2023

Trump No Trump

Fuller Brush Salesman (New England Historical Society)

You can’t even write the man's name without feeling not only exasperation, but a deadening boredom and tedium. It’s like the same jack in the box. In his recent speech there was a denial of the obvious intent of the infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and an assertion that presidents can instantaneously declassify any documents they want. One lie followed the next. Is that The Art of the Deal? The thing about salesmen is they have to be unrelenting and unquestioning advocates of their product. This is particularly true if you're selling snake oil. The pitch is what is all important. There are ways and ways to say an election is "rigged and stolen." Some pitchers could never get away with it. Fuller Brushes were once epitomized the lot of the door to door salesman items and there were undoubtedly famous purveyors who broke all the records. What is terrifying about Trump is that his speech is an incantation that lulls you into a state of narcotic state of belief--until you wake yourself up to remember both the messenger and the message. 

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

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

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Diasporic Dining: The New Ice Age

Super K Panda Fortune Cookie 

Life has changed right before our eyes. Instead of being hit by a comet and entering into a new Ice Age, a whole new generation of dinosaurs, the Trumposaurus Rex, the Putinosaurus and the Kim Jong unosarus are hopefully being rendered extinct. Back in the 60s New Age meant lighting incense and reading Khalil Gibran's The Prophet. “Rigged and stolen” and “fake news” are now the shibboleths of the “base." There's always a downside. Unfortunately the baby is thrown out with the bath water. Chinese food is one of the game changers. You’re challenged to find the old Cantonese specialties. Along with all the Neanderthals, the little bags of crunchy noodles and fortune cookies have almost vanished from the face if the earth.

read "Diasporic Dining: Combination Plate" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Passover As an Inside Job

Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law by Rembrandt (1659)

With all the division in Israel and the world, it may be refreshing to resort to some belly button gazing. Why not take an interior view and look at the Moses story as an intrapsychic paradigm of the mind? In this view, Pharoah represents repression, with Moses being the therapist who leads the person or patient (rather than people) to freedom. The forty years wandering in the desert then becomes the existential question of what to do with possibility and the promised land the attainment of wishes and desires.

read "Slavery vs. Freedom: A Cost Analysis" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Don't Know Much About History" by Sam Cooke

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Happiness For Dummies

Have you ever tried to resist an anesthetic? Let’s say it’s that wonderful moment in the five-year cycle in which you’re due for a colonoscopy. Your administered propofol. It’s like being hit by a 2x4 minus the pain. One moment you’re here and the next you’re out. Hypnotism is another matter. One way to avoid falling under the spell is simply to look somewhere else. What about happiness? Apart from opioids which literally deal with physical pain, is there a happy trance into which one can be placed, that doesn’t involve mood changing drugs--which create those highs that need to be “refreshed." Does happiness derive from developing a Panglossian view of the world? In other words, is it illusory? Pangloss famously mimics Leibnitz when he says “all’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds”—the sharp irony deriving from the fact that Candide was written in the shadow of the famous Lisbon earthquake of 1755 which leveled the city. Many people don’t cotton to entertainment which is dark say like Bergman’s Through A Glass Darkly. What is it they want out of art? The Power of Positive Thinking is piece of schlock psychology written by a snake oil salesman named Norman Vincent Peale. Still if you're a depressive there will undoubtedly be pressure from significant others to cheer up and put a skip in your step. Don’t cave in! If you hold to the dispiriting notion there’s no meaning in everything and that your death is no more significant than that of an ant (which is the truth), then stick to your guns and cry out to the impassive stars, "what does it all mean?"

read "Dr. Pangloss" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" by Marvin Gaye

Monday, April 3, 2023

Please Respond to This Survey About My Performance in Bed

In general, how did you find me as a sexual partner? Good? Come si, come ca? Or Bad? Was I attentive to your needs? Yes unusually. No selfish, but your zeal got me off anyway. Let’s just say it was "just a night." Would you recommend me to other partners? Would you tell others to steer clear? Or say try me out? What’s the worst that can happen? Run away? Run far away and never turn back? How was I the morning after? Did I make you feel that we had embarked on a voyage of discovery? Or did I make you feel like a whore who was used? Slam bam thank you madam or sir. How would you rate my powers of seduction? Once you had decided to go to bed with me on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the foreplay? Tongue refers to a language, a type of food and is also something that's used in the act of French kissing. When you left my apartment or I left yours, did I give the feeling I was going to call you again? Or was it apparent that I looked at the relationship as a one day stand? Did you see yourself one day saying, "I want to end the relationship?" Was it also obvious that now that I had gotten my rocks off, I had no intention of calling you for another date? Do you think that meeting me has been a positive addition to your life?  Or was it a traumatic experience that you will talk about in therapy for many years ahead? After you have answered these survey questions, will you be able to participate in a brief survey about the survey?

read "Sperm Count: What Turns You On?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Modern Love" by David Bowie