Israel in Germany

Israel in Germany

It can be lonely to be a critic of Israel in Germany. Across the political spectrum most German media and all major political parties adhere to a strict consensus in defense of Israel. Even on the left, where Israel’s worst transgressions may inspire an occasional scolding, any position that questions Israel’s “right to exist“ on any grounds whatsoever is anathema. More»

With No Room for the Dead, Graves Go Up for Rent in Damascus

With No Room for the Dead, Graves Go Up for Rent in Damascus

In Damascus, war profiteers are leveraging the scarcity of burial spots in the capital to rent out graves as one would apartments, charging as much as $1,000 per year for a plot of land. More»

One Dead in Charlottesville

One Dead in Charlottesville

The statistics are in. One anti-racist protester, Heather Heyer, 32, is dead. One member of the International Socialist Organization is injured, as are two members of the Democratic Socialists of America. And so are at least a dozen more. More»

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Crime Series

Crime Series

Germans pay € 215.76 in annual licensing fees to watch TV. This advertisement, affixed to the side of a building in Berlin’s Neukölln district, discourages viewers from not paying their fees, by casting them as participants in a crime series.

The Titless Sky

The Titless Sky

It was the 19th Annual San Francisco Dyke March. Dolores Park, otherwise known as “hipster hill,” was completely packed. I was guilty of going, not out of solidarity or allegiance, but because a friend had asked me to come along with her. As for how I feel about gays, I feel nothing. True tolerance is when you detach yourself from the narrative entirely, judgeless.

The rally was a spectacle. The once green park now the color of flesh, bodies everywhere, most of them hosting some substance, illegal or not, dancing to the faint pulse of a PA system. More»

Willkommen in Deutschland!

Willkommen in Deutschland!

“Your papers, please,” she said rather stiffly. Judging from her pronunciation, I could tell she didn’t speak English very well. I placed my passport on the counter. “Ein Jude!” she exclaimed, as she inspected the Menorah-inscribed cover. More»

The Gathering Darkness

The Gathering Darkness

Bruno Schulz was a genius. He invented his own language and sensibility.  His narrative style and its fantastic voice create a complex reality, much like the piled-high small shops he describes.  Schulz has been mislabeled ‘the Polish Kafka,’ a mistake because Franz Kafka had a far more specific social vision that addressed relations between citizen and state.  For Schulz, the subjects were self, family, neighbors and the cityscape surrounding them all. His best-known work, The Street of Crocodiles, repeatedly articulates a sense of foreboding. More»

In From the Cold?

In From the Cold?

The muse of that isolated winter is gone, replaced by a muse that’s on the run, loose in a wide world. Bon Iver, the band that had its phoenix-like beginning with the muted and hushed For Emma, Forever Ago, is now fully awakened. His recuperation complete, Justin Vernon is free to explore, reaching for a host of new sounds to adorn the band’s second record, Bon Iver. More»

Multiplex Singularity

Multiplex Singularity

The other day, a friend of mine asked me to share what media I’d been taking in lately. Even though it was a logical request, I was reluctant to respond. Instead of keeping tabs on new releases, I’ve been spending my limited time and money indulging in familiar pleasures: Haruki Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase, Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run, and just about everything to do with J.R.R. Tolkien. More»

Goodbye to All That

Goodbye to All That

Last week, Jerry Haber, aka The Magnes Zionist, offered his critique of the “Liberal Zionist Vision of the Two State Solution.” I strongly recommend you read his article and consider his points, because they are the very ones that have forced most advocates of a two-state solution to avoid those pesky details where the devil always hides. More»

Shopping Mall Wedding

Shopping Mall Wedding

Television is inextricably linked with public space. Everywhere you go, you’re never not in front of a screen. Whether it’s at a restaurant or a bar, on passenger jets, or waiting for a train, the experience is the same. Watching the Royal Wedding. Westfield Mall, London. April 29th, 2011.

 

Democracy Without Leadership

Democracy Without Leadership

Imagine a state about the size of Maryland. Give it slightly more people than Michigan. Divide it into three federal regions. Spice it up with three official languages (make sure these don’t coincide with the regions’ borders). Ensure it is run by variable coalitions of 10 political parties operating through 7 parliaments. Chop it into 10 provinces and, for good measure, 589 local councils. Mix well and let stew for a few decades. What do you get? Welcome to Belgium. More»

Public Enemy in Arabic

Public Enemy in Arabic

“Two great tastes, one great flavor,” joked my boss, as we overheard the strains of a booty jam sampling a piece of 1950s Arab orchestral music. Sitting in his car on the way to a recording session, we turned the volume up. Nodding his head in approval at the mix of squishy beats and vintage strings, he declared, “It’s so fucking obvious! Byrne and Eno were doing this twenty years ago.” Well, not exactly. But he was close. More»

Cultivated Listening

Cultivated Listening

I wasn’t going to write about the debut album from Cults. The very idea of the band annoyed me. I’m tired of male-female duos like the The White Stripes, Fiery Furnaces, and Mates of State. I’m tired of records that sound like they’re being played over an AM radio. And I’m especially tired of bands from Brooklyn, which actually make me long for the days when Seattle was all the rage. More»

Speakers, Cornered

Speakers, Cornered

My wife and I were at a burger joint the other day, waiting for our order. A garrulous fellow with an English accent, upon seeing my San Francisco Giants cap, began regaling me with tales of his life as a fan of the English football club Chelsea. Actually, he said “I love football, and I love Chelsea,” and proceeded to explain why he put the sport first and the favored club second. I understood his argument in the abstract, but for me, when we are talking Giants, baseball comes second. There is nothing abstract about it. More»