Monday, February 22, 2010


Someone found Manno Charlemagne - hunted man, former mayor of Port-au-Prince, orphic ghost, a real voice. I heard his voice once, 15 years ago, and his name went on the fridge door - the only name there - to not forget.

Some songs here. Listen to Lafimen, Gran Rivye, Yo gen Pouvwa Yo Gen Lajan, Dokte Zizizen, Vese San - and while this may be a leap, this is the deal: The United States is governed by suits who got their Subprime Alt-A Credentials either from TV, or from our Matchbox Professoriat, Purveyors of Negative Amortized Horseshit in all Media, sans taste, history, or sense. The people feed hungrily on their steaming piles, and are not fed. Might have something to do with why this man is where he is today.

For Haiti, see Klein and recently passim. And Roger, passim.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

A peaceful item

A book that might interest folks who read this blog - you, you, you (maybe), you, and yes, over there, you - is coming out shortly. The paper artifact arrives March 9, but the unpaper version, for almost a dollar less than the low low low pre-pub price, will be available via the Kindle, and the free Kindle for PC, on March 2.

The author, Peter D'Epiro, is a longtime friend whose previous books include Sprezzatura, a marvelous survey of Italians of genius written with Mary Desmond Pinkowish, and What are the Seven Wonders of the World?, also with Mary. I and a few others had a couple of pieces in these books. He also has a monograph on Ezra Pound's Malatesta Cantos.

With The Book of Firsts, Peter D'Epiro expands his scope to cover twenty centuries and a fair portion of the globe, yet the book never seems diffuse. Each of his essays stays true to its subject, exploring its opportunities with originality, humor, barbed intelligence, extraordinary erudition, and grace. Several others participated in this project -- I enjoyed doing several pieces ranging from Iceland's Althing to the first moment of the Internet, and benefited from working with Pete, who's also a terrific editor.

As I read through the entire collection of 150 "firsts," I kept learning things. And kept finding essays that I wish I'd had available to me when I was a student -- short evocations of historical moments -- of the sort teachers of history, literature, art, and science wish they had to supplement their surveys.

That being said, I urge the happy few to check out The Book of Firsts -- it's hard to beat the price/signal/noise ratio. In fact, it's a relatively tranquil object -- no tweets, no pop-up ads, no asshats in boxes, interstitial or embedded, screaming for your attention. If you do get it, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Incorporation of the food you eat

Good talk here by Eric Holt Gimenez of Food First, entitled Food Sovereignty.

Alternative Radio often has talks of unusual lucidity and vision. And it's free to any station that will have it. I hear it on WMNF, our heroic shoestring budget independent station, never on any NPR affiliate.

As with the NYT 's Bartlebean "Amy Goodman? Who She?" syndrome, we can afford to be informed, and we prefer not to.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Despotism of Consumption

Montesquieu made an important distinction between commerce ‘ordinarily founded on luxury’ and commerce ‘more often founded on economy’. If the latter rested on ‘the practices of gaining little…. and of being compensated only by gaining continually’, the former sought ‘to procure for the nation engaging in it all that serves its arrogance, its delights, its fancies’. Moreover if Montesquieu associated ‘economical commerce’ with ‘government by the many’, he associated commerce of luxury with ‘government by one alone’. The concern, in short, was that the activity of commerce would so isolate people from one another, would so lead them to be preoccupied with their own private affairs, that a new kind of despotism would emerge. Jeremy Jennings, Despotism after Liberalism.

photo via

prompted by a remark by Kia about business books, over at Gifthub.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where are these guys when you need them?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Which half?

Friday, February 05, 2010

"It matters who runs our media companies"

Al Franken suggests that Comcast's Brian Roberts is less than totally forthright.

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