1. "Neil Young Is Angry About War and Wants Everyone to Know It" (on line title: "Neil Young's 'Living With War' Shows He Doesn't Like It") by Jon Pareles:
The songs on "Living With War" are straightforward and single-minded, setting aside the allusive, enigmatic quality of Mr. Young's rock classics. "These are all ideas we've heard before," he said. "There's nothing new in there. I just connected the dots."...The tip of the landslide... the tip of the tidal wave... damn... if only I could think of another metaphor...
"We are the silent majority now, and we haven't done a damn thing," Mr. Young said. "We've stood by and watched this happen. But there's more of us than there is of them, and we have to do something. When people start talking and see they can get away with it, it's going to happen everywhere. It's going to be a landslide, it's going to be a tidal wave. This is just the tip of it."
Those "allusive, enigmatic" lyrics of long ago are far out of reach.
Blue, blue windows behind the stars/Yellow moon on the rise/Big birds flying across the sky/Throwing shadows on our eyes....
Oh, Neil... There are politics and there is art. I'll always love the Neil Young of the distant past.
The chains are locked and tied across the door/Baby, sing with me somehow...
2. "New York City as Film Set: From Mean Streets to Clean Streets," by John Clark:
David Thomson, author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, said: "There's been a sea change. I can remember well into the 70's films where there is the terrific sense of New York as being this adventurous place. Certainly if you go back to the 30's and think of a film like 'My Man Godfrey,' New York is a great, dangerous playground. Those films really had a sense of how jazzy and exciting it was to be in New York. I can't think of the last film I've seen that had that feeling."How ironic that the gentrifiers make the city too beautiful to serve as the backdrop for the art they love, when they love art because it is beautiful.
Paul Mazursky, the Brooklyn-born director of New York films like "Next Stop, Greenwich Village" (1976) and "An Unmarried Woman" (1978), echoed this view: "I'm trying to think of the last good New York movie." (He's still thinking.)
He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Beneath his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat. I love this. New York was his town, and it always would be...
3. "An Adjective for Cakes, but Not for Bill Gates," by Geoffrey Nunberg. I want to blog about this based on the title alone, and I have no idea what the article is about. Oh, it's about the word "rich." Ha, ha:
Asked in 2003 if he felt rich, Bill Gates would say only, "At this point I'm clearly not by some definition middle class."One of my sons, when he was little, used to often ask me, "Are we rich?" There's a feeling we have about what it would be like to be rich. And it always seems as though we'd have to make at least twice as much as we do to have that feeling. Later, if you make that much money, you'll think you need twice that to feel rich. But if you look at yourself from the perspective of the vast majority of people in the world, shouldn't you be ashamed to say you're not rich? So how do you answer the child who asks "Are we rich?"
Unlike "prosperous" or "affluent," "rich" implies a society divided into separate estates, a legacy of the word's origin in the Indo-European name for a tribal king.
People may disagree on exactly how much money it takes to be rich, but that only confirms that it's an absolute threshold, and that those who have crossed it are delivered from the cares that afflict the rest of us. (Nobody who wins the lottery cries "I'm affluent!")
4. "Films of Infamy," by David Thomson.
... I can imagine a film other than "Munich" or "United 93," a greater film, a film about different kinds of courage. In this film, the courage of the passengers would be shown and honored, but there would be an equal effort to show the courage of the terrorists (without calling them simply "evil" or "insane")....Well, films have shown the perspective of criminals and villains quite often. These characters, if the film is any good, have their motivations, grievances, and, of course, they are bold and daring enough to carry out their evil actions. But how can you think anyone should make such a movie about the enemy before the war is over? Filmmakers aren't cowards for declining to make a show of their own courage like that.
The really difficult film to make or offer in America will be the one that says no, the world did not alter its nature on 9/11, even if the worst politicians used that event to switch their reality. But on 9/11, we faced the first need to ask ourselves how other people evil, alien, insane could be so brave. The history of terrorism and it includes the independence of this country is that in the end you have to understand the grievance of the aggrieved, whether you agree with it or not. That film has still to come.
5. "Outgrowing Jane Jacobs and Her New York," Nikolai Ouroussoff.
The threats facing the contemporary city are not what they were when she first formed her ideas, now nearly 50 years ago. The activists of Ms. Jacobs's generation may have saved SoHo from Mr. Moses' bulldozers, but they could not stop it from becoming an open-air mall.Jacobs as a method, not a conclusion. Subtly and modestly stated.
The old buildings are still there, the streets are once again paved in cobblestone, but the rich mix of manufacturers, artists and gallery owners has been replaced by homogenous crowds of lemming-like shoppers. Nothing is produced there any more. It is a corner of the city that is nearly as soulless, in its way, as the superblocks that Ms. Jacobs so reviled....
The lesson we should take from Ms. Jacobs was her ability to look at the city with her eyes wide open, without rigid prejudices. Maybe we should see where that lesson leads next.
Now it's time to do a podcast and then settle in for a strong dose of television. I have not watched enough TV in the last four days. It's time.