November 27, 2011
Okay, I completely realize very few readers of this blog will recognize the name or be particularly moved by the man’s passing. True, there are huge issues of injustice to be addressed everywhere and at once. But just for a moment, I want to mark the passing of an artist, Sergio Scaglietti, who died November 20th, at 91.
If you don’t recognize the name, Scaglietti created the bodywork for most of the cars produced by Ferrari, including some of the great icons of the marque, the 250 Testarossa
and the 250 GTO
You probably have to be a gearhead like me to be willing to elevate Scaglietti’s creations to art, but with modern automobiles generally resembling either refrigerators or military assault vehicles (the latter, I think, is deliberate, all the more to reinforce the macho fantasies of the owners), I miss a time when someone would create something beautiful, even stirring, out of sheet metal.
Here’s the NYT obit, if you’d care to know more about the man – Sergio Scaglietti.
November 26, 2011
On November 26th, 1942, Warner Brothers released what would become one of the most popular and admired motion pictures ever, Casablanca. What is essentially a pedestrian tearjerker of a plot is elevated to art by perhaps the wittiest, most memorable script in film history and measured, mature acting, including a beautiful sense of timing across the cast. This is my favorite movie of all.
Think of all the elements of this movie that have become common currency in our culture, including several lines given to Claude Rains, as Capt. Renault: “I am shocked! Shocked!” and “`Round up the usual suspects.” Can anyone hear the first few bars of As Time Goes By and not think of Rick and Ilsa?
One of my favorite bits in the film is the coda to that first line. After Capt. Renault informs Rick he is shutting the club down because he has discovered gambling going on, the croupier, played by Marcel Dalio, comes up and hands Renault his share of the evening’s take, for which Renault, with a straight face, not missing a beat, thanks him (please excuse the silly header someone put on).
There are tons of sources of information about Casablanca, including Wikipedia, of course – Casablanca entry – but while it’s great to read about it, just do yourself a favor and go buy a copy.
Here’s looking at you, kid.
November 25, 2011
I loved this band. In my late-night disc jockey days in the early/mid 80s, I played their music a lot, and seeing them live in a local club in Montpelier was ecstasy. Energy, melodies, and imagistic lyrics.
There isn’t much in the way of good video available, but here’s a home-brew vid of them performing one of their best, Shopping for a Dog:
November 25, 2011
David Frum (coiner of the phrase “the Axis of Evil,” which helped send us into tragedy in the Middle East) has joined the ranks of conservative apostates, at least as far as the current state of the Right is concerned, declaring the current Republican leadership completely out-to-lunch (paid for by corporate lobbyists, no doubt) in terms of providing coherent national policy and true leadership.
In this commentary in New York magazine, Frum, while reminding readers of his solid conservative credentials, observes that the Right has constructed a separate reality for itself, one that leads to really stupid, and even dangerous, policy decisions, summarizing:
This past summer, the GOP nearly forced America to the verge of default just to score a point in a budget debate. In the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, Republican politicians demand massive budget cuts and shrug off the concerns of the unemployed. In the face of evidence of dwindling upward mobility and long-stagnating middle-class wages, my party’s economic ideas sometimes seem to have shrunk to just one: more tax cuts for the very highest earners. When I entered Republican politics, during an earlier period of malaise, in the late seventies and early eighties, the movement got most of the big questions—crime, inflation, the Cold War—right. This time, the party is getting the big questions disastrously wrong.
This doesn’t mean Frum has become a born-again progressive (like me, after shrugging off the mantle of my Republican heritage decades ago), but he is sounding his alarm not only for his party, but for the country, as well.
November 22, 2011
I was sitting in Mr. McPhail’s social studies class, just after lunch when the principal came on the intercom.
There was worse to come, but despite all that has happened since, and all we have learned, John F. Kennedy’s assassination still has the power to sadden me deeply. The early 60s were a moment of optimism, despite the fact that nuclear annihilation was never more than minutes away. After Kennedy’s death, there was always a certain heaviness around our shoulders.
November 21, 2011
Michael Lewis, writing in Vanity Fair has a lengthy piece on how California became governmentally dysfunctional. It’s an absorbing piece, but one sentence early on really grabbe me; because it sums up our current national economic crisis – The people who had power in the society, and were charged with saving it from itself, had instead bled the society to death.