War All The Time

War All The Time

The truck bombing in Mogadishu and appalled everyone who heard about it. Indeed, the level of carnage was horrific. But far fewer people know what lies behind the misery of Somalia than heard of this fresh atrocity. More»

The Great Terrorist

The Great Terrorist

My boyhood neighbor, Loren Jones, was a man with an interesting story about Stalinist Russia.  He arrived there in 1937 as the first television engineer in the country, sent by his employer, the Radio Corporation of America. More»

Leaving the West

Leaving the West

Among Turkish media commentators and academics, we are observing an increasing tendency to question Erdoğan’s policy of reorienting Turkey away from the West towards positions and a vernacular that appeal to the “Islamic street.” More»

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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»

The Other Occupation

The Other Occupation

Israel’s killing of dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the fence surrounding Majdal Shams has again catapulted the 19,000 Druze and 2,000 Muslim Arabs of the Golan Heights to popular attention. Despite being as numerous as Israeli settlers, they lack equal rights and access to resources, as Arthur Neslen discovered in this feature, which was spiked by Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst. More»

The Road to Damascus

The Road to Damascus

The Gay Girl in Damascus blog has been outed.  Supposedly written by a Syrian-American lesbian named Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, the online personality came crashing down after her ‘cousin’ posted a dramatic story of her kidnapping by Syrian agents.  The alarm raised international attention and created a Facebook page where over 15,000 people demanded her freedom. More»

Amores Perros Revisited

Amores Perros Revisited

The bathroom was empty. The floor was clear. There was no sign of him underneath the sofa. He wasn’t on the balcony, either. Looking at the roof of the cafe below, I started to panic. Raster wasn’t the most agile of creatures. Had he lost his balance?

“Raster,” I yelled out. “Raster!” People started to look out their windows, wondering what I was going on about. I noticed a faint shadow on the cafe roof. I could hear a dog whimpering. A small black head pushed itself out from underneath a ledge. More»