Conjuring Political, Cinematic, Cultural, and Athletic Arcana since 1999


"He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


The Middle Ground, Richard White

Recently Processed
Slave Counterpoint, Phillip Morgan
Content of the Form, Hayden White
The Machiavellian Moment, J.G. Pocock
From British Peasants to Colonial American Farmers, Allan Kulikoff


Zoolander (8.5/10)

Visions Past
The Others (7/10)
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2/10)
Planet of the Apes
Jurassic Park III (6.5/10)


Love and Theft, Bob Dylan

Vespertine, Bjork

9/28/01 - Memo to America: This new war should NOT be like the War on Drugs.

Leaders from the Left and Right scrutinize the President's anti-terrorism initiative for civil liberties violations.

Shopping Spree? The Knicks have until Monday to use their injury exemption for Luc Longley. Top candidates include Marc Jackson of Golden State and Chris Gatling of All-Over-The-League. In related news, Eisley wants some PT.

The Coens have some fun pushing their new film, The Man Who Wasn't There.

Officer down...A WTC rescue dog gets shot for doing its job.

Walter Cronkite talks war coverage and slams Jerry Falwell.

Everyone's mentioned it, everyone's right: The Onion is on-point like a fax machine this week. Brilliant stuff.

Hey, High Industrial is back! I've been out of the weblog loop for way too long.

In the wake of the attacks, has Alan Greenspan gone lefty?

According to NYC transit officials, rebuilding the 1-9 subway under the ruins of the WTC might take years.

A collection of WTC-related cartoons (Via Q.)

The NYT examines the post-WTC chilling effect on dissent. And the current poster boy for free speech: Bill Maher. Straight from the mouth of Ari Fleischer, Americans "need to watch what they say, watch what they do." Hmmmm. It's a bit reminiscent of the ole "limits to freedom" remark Dubya made about Little wonder DC journalists say of Fleischer that he's the only White House spokesperson in history whose briefings result in a net loss of information.

It gets worse. According to Medley and Medianews, the "watch what you say" comment was edited out of the official White House transcript.

Speaking of M. Fleischer, The White House drops their earlier claim that Air Force One was a target on 9-11.

Will The Matrix: Reloaded (still a horrible name...Matrix 2.0?) feature a dance number?

If you're hankering for the next Soderbergh, the Ocean's 11 preview site is fun for five minutes or so.

WOIFM redesigns.

MJ starts a trend. Now it's Sam Bowie's turn.

9/26/01 - No more amateur pictures of the WTC ruins? Hmmm...I'll seriously doubt that's enforceable.

In Southern towns near Fort Bragg, members of Delta Force quietly disappear.

Architects and city planners debate what's next for Ground Zero. In the meantime, a group known as Creative Time looks to fill the hole in the sky with Towers of Light. I'm all for it.

On the eve of this new war, James Carroll ventures into the Crusading mind.

Nat Hentoff considers what the war on terrorism means for civil liberties. Are we headed for around-the-clock CCTV?

Maureen Dowd scrutinizes the recent yuppie penchant for gas masks, a New York fad that'll no doubt be exacerbated by this horror story from the Globe.

Fear and Loathing in America: Hunter S. Thompson offers his take on terror over the past two weeks.

Stephen Jay Gould contemplates kindness.

In non-WTC news, he's back, and for the rest of the league, it's payback time. I must admit, I look forward to watching Latrell Sprewell eat MJ alive on opening night.

In related news, so long Luc. Can the Knicks get an injury exemption up in here?

Luke Skywalker turns 50.

Enterprise, the new Star Trek show, premieres tonight. It doesn't have to be very good to be better than Voyager.

From the Atlantic, Studs Terkel interviews on death and dying.

9/24/01 - New Fellowship of the Ring trailer. Go now.

I need to be in the Garden Oct. 31st. Wizards. Knicks. MJ. Gotham. I need them. More than ever. Cheer all year. Never forget. In the wake of 9-11, David Aldridge wants basketball back (and MJ to play point.) In related news, the Sportsguy formerly known as Boston Sportsguy examines MJ's comeback - it's the best take I've read so far.

The cast of Scooby Doo including CGI Scooby, just in case you can't find a better way to spend $10 these days.

Sunday morning a few friends and I ventured down to Ground Zero, or at least as close as authorities let people, which was about a block away. Along with the melancholy and pacifism of Union Square on Friday night (see below), it's something I'll never forget. Strange smells still linger heavily in the air in Lower Manhattan, and dust still coats everything. Pieces of paper and various other assorted debris are stuck in the anti-pigeon spikes all over the top ledges of the Trinity Church. The sun beats down from the spot in the sky where the World Trade Center once stood. And all that remains of the Two Towers is a blackened and charred four-story husk (that oddly enough still reads Borders Books and Music), just enough to remind you that once a huge building (or two) stood here. A very somber and eerie experience, and hopefully not in a shape-of-things-to-come kinda way.

Since more than half of my traffic these days are looking for some variation of "ghost+faces+in+smoke+at+wtc," here's what y'all are looking for. I'd say it's a reach.

9/22/01 - Visited Union Square last night and witnessed the WTC memorial vigil firsthand. Most striking, other than the thousands upon thousands of candles, was the pacific nature of it all. There are absolutely no calls for justice or retribution, just hundreds of homemade signs asking in various ways to give peace a chance. The tone there is completely unlike either the vengeful flagwaving we've seen on television or the self-flagellating relativism permeating Columbia right now. (along the lines of: If we only understood Osama Bin Laden, this wouldn't have happened.) At any rate if you live in New York and you haven't been down there yet, it's definitely worth an evening visit - you won't forget it.

As the war on terrorism heats up, the attack on civil liberties begins.

Don't call it a comeback, he's been here for years. It's looking more and more like MJ will return to the NBA next season.

Fallows and Lewis talk tech in the pages of the Atlantic (parts 2 and 3.)

Surprise, surprise. Athenian soccer fans show no class during a moment of silence for the WTC victims.

9/21/01 - I sit in one of the dives on 52nd St., uncertain and afraid, as the clever hopes expire of a low dishonest decade. September 1, 1939, by W.H. Auden (with commentary by Slate's Eric McHenry.)

By all accounts, President Bush gets well-deserved high marks for his speech last night. He definitely performed far beyond my (admittedly low) expectations with his gravitas and composure. But, the elephant in the room right now is, what does this all mean for civil liberties? (Speaking of which, interest in biometrics takes off.)

I must confess, the sad, satiric fate of Sam Lowry still dwells heavily on my thoughts these days.

Broadcasters prepare to minimize war metaphors during weekend football.

Governor Tom Ridge becomes Terrorism Czar. A solid choice.

Despite some alternate theories out there, the Flight 77 hijackers seem to have been clearly headed toward the Pentagon.

In more WTC-related matters:

Mark Bowden, writer of Black Hawk Down, offers his take on how this new war will be conducted.

Michael Kinsley of Slate ponders what it means if "everything has changed."

John Miller of ABC News interviews Osama Bin Laden (Via Now This.)

Moriarty reprints Jon Stewart's take on 9.11 (scroll down.)

Timothy Noah scrutinizes the meaning of Infinite Justice.

Jacob Weisberg examines how US-Israeli relations should be affected by the coming conflict.

On a completely unrelated note, my friend Danny's company announces their most recent success: a surgical operation performed over 4000 miles away.

Spiderman and the Green Goblin, courtesy of AICN.

The Matrix, Revisited.

Also courtesy of AICN and The One Ring, Gandalf the White at Helm's Deep. I must admit, I'm fascinated to see how 9.11 alters audience reaction to Fellowship. If ever Americans were hungry for an epic and martial good vs. evil parable...Related: Tolkien sarcasm (Via Lots of Co.)

The Orphanage of Cast-Off Mascots, including Cudahy Curly (the Quisling Pig), Mr. Coffee Nerves, and Undead Lard-Can Man.

Due to a presentation on pre-Revolutionary Colonial agriculture due this week, I've been quite busy. Sorry about the lack of updates.

9/14/01 - Cellphone coverage is still really spotty (Other than DC for some reason, I've had trouble calling out of Manhattan), and of course the alteration to the Lower Manhattan skyline is still jarring, but otherwise life is slowly returning to a semblance of normality here in NYC. The electrical fire smell made it uptown on Wednesday, but since then there's been no atmospheric fallout from the tragedy north of 30th St. or so.

Tuesday night brought extraordinarily disconcerting Brazil-tinged nightmares of terrified people, vengeful ghosts, falling buildings, and an unnatural, unspeakable void. Last night, I had a dream I was picking over the rubble. So subconsciously, I suppose, I've started dealing with what happened, even if I still feel that I'm in a bit of a daze.

There's plenty of weblogs out there - Now This, Medley, Genehack, to take just three examples - that are doing a superlative job of following the ups and down of the tragedy and its aftermath, so I'll leave it to them.

One thought, though. When they construct the new and improved Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan (my hope is that they break ground before I finish my PhD work here, in 5-7 years), I do think they might want to consider naming some important portion of the complex after Mayor Giuliani. For all his many considerable faults, Rudy's unquestionably been the most dynamic and imposing New York mayor since LaGuardia even before the Tuesday air strikes. And since Tuesday, he's been in exemplary Churchillian form, handling the crisis with amazing aplomb and just the right mix of sorrow, openness, and determination. (As an aside, Ken Jackson, quoted at length in the above article, happens to be one of my professors this term.) In short, Giuliani has made Dubya's stream-of-unconsciousness mumblemouth routine seem positively cringeworthy. Not that Goreson Welles would have been much better.

Also, It's been very heartening to see the rest of the world show their support during the past few days - I thought the Star-Spangled Banner during the Changing of the Guard in London was particularly moving.

Dubya going to Omaha? No comment at this time.

As for what's next, we have the following:

On one side, "I say to our enemies, we are coming," says Sen. John McCain. "God may show you mercy. We will not."

On the other, "Any enemy of the Muslims will be punished by God," says Imam Mohammed Muslim Haqqani during Friday prayers at a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul. "The United States and Israel are enemies of Islam."

I'm definitely of the "they put one-a-yours in the hospital, you put one-a-theirs in the morgue" school of retaliation. This is not Vietnam, this is not the Gulf War - Our homeland has been attacked, our civilians have been murdered, and we are well within our rights to respond with devastating force in Afghanistan.

But this is a new type of war against a very old type of enemy. Carpet-bombing Afghanistan may only result in the slaughter of countless innocents, while the guilty parties just stay holed up somewhere. And I fear that every head cut off the hydra of fundamentalist zealotry will only result in thirty or forty new ones sprouting. This is not a political war - it's a religious and cultural one, and all the usual rules are out the window. For that reason, I hope we choose our actions very carefully, and that we don't start something we can't finish solely to appease the burgeoning anger and resentment of the American people.

9/11/01 -

Twin Towers down.
Pentagon hit.
At least 4 commercial flights crashed.

On Sept. 11, 2001, a date that will live in infamy, an era ended for the United States.

Many condolences to all the victims of these attacks, and their families.
New York City and Washington DC residents: blood banks are low! Give blood if you can. (Links via Steve)

Uptown, the only indication of what's happened today are traffic jams, dour faces, faraway sirens, and billowing smoke in the distance. In fact, from here it looks eerily like the cloud plume emanating from Kilauea, the active volcano on Hawaii.

This is unbelievable. The explosion of the Challenger has now been replaced as the defining media moment of our generation. My only consolations at this moment are that (a) the DC hijackers went for the Pentagon instead of the United States Capitol and (b) that the aforementioned hijackers fell short of hitting the Pentagon directly. Losing the Capitol and the World Trade Center in the same day would be an even more horrifying blow.

But, as Kris of Breaching the Web noted (via Lyn/Medley), "One thing to keep in mind -- the goal of terrorism is to create chaos, undermine political authorities, and make the populace fear going about their daily activities. F*ck them. I'm not changing anything about my habits." Ditto. The worst thing we could do right now is lapse into a knee-jerk police state hysteria. Be safe, but keep your chin up...otherwise, the terrorists have won.

9/7/01 - Is Secretary Rumsfeld on the way out?

Caught the repeat of the MTV Video Music Awards last night. I must be getting old...what a horrible train wreck of a show. Was it always that awful? U2 and Tim Robbins/Susan Sarandon - not to mention the aging trio of Loder, Norris, and Columbus - looked mortified to be there, as well they should. Some of the performances weren't bad, I suppose, but lordy. I would have turned it off much earlier in the night had it not been for the promised new Fellowship teaser. In a pop culture world gone wrong, at least the Lord of the Rings films still look butter.

Hmmm....perhaps if the Bushies had done this across the board, poor Pete Domenici wouldn't have to stick his neck out like that.

Murmurs posts mp3s of the recent REM unplugged show.

Andrew Sullivan finally gives up the TRB column at the Gore Republic. Alas, he's replaced by Peter Beinart, who's only lefty in comparison to Sullivan. What the hell happened to the New Republic?

Bob Dylan surveys the "science-fiction world where Disney and Disney's science-fiction have won" in autobiographical form. Hope it makes more sense than Tarantula.

Finalizing class schedule...I'll post reading lists when I get a chance.

9/4/01 - Well, after I ran into Fred randomly in the East Village not once but twice last night (and I'm so far out of the scene that I hadn't even realized he'd moved to NYC), I knew that karmically it must be time to update the blog.

Loving the first week back in the city. Everyone in my US History program (all seven of us) seems very interesting and cool, as does a solid bunch of the Europeanists. I'm definitely the old guy in the bunch - some of these cats are 22 and fresh out of school - but the change is definitely refreshing. Berkeley's pretty well acclimated at this point now too.. He had a rough couple of days at first, but his mood definitely improved once we hit the ultra-swanky dog park at 105th and Riverside, only a mile or so away.

Apparently Al Gore cum Orson Welles is "unsure" about another Presidential run. Let me help you with this dilemma there, bud. Short answer, no. Long answer, hell no.

Congratulations and best wishes to Steve and Lyn. Here's to many happy decades.

I know I should've told you this last week, but alas. Sci-Fi has started showing Farscape from the beginning Monday through Thursday at 8pm. For sci-fi people (Buffy fans, that means you too), I can't recommend it enough...It's got a really great Blake's 7 flava to it.

Love and Theft comes out next week (not today, as I earlier posted - check out the great poker-influenced commercial here.) Dylan's also coming through MSG this fall, but at my current level of graduate student poverty I might have to let this one go by. Which really sucks, since at this point I think ole Bob is a national treasure that should be enjoyed as much as possible while he's still performing. If he's coming to your town, go see him.

Sox implode. That's too bad. I definitely see them as the Knicks of baseball. Speaking of which, did I mention I'll be getting all the Knickerbocker games on cable this year as a perk of living on 122nd and Amsterdam? Booyah.

R.I.P. Pauline Kael 1920-2001. Apparently George Lucas named the bad guy in Willow after her, which only lowers him yet again in my estimation. I didn't always agree with her take, but she had a great way for slicing through pretension.

Bad day for the Beasties: Grand Royal closes its doors.

Speaking of Lucas the Hutt, Mark Hamill dogs Ewan MacGregor for schooling the new Episode 2 title. Attack of the Clones? Ugh. It's a good thing I was on vacation when I found out.

Andrew Sullivan defends Condit. Interesting, although perhaps a little too contrarian for its own sake.

As I noted earlier, Hawaii was wonderful too. Below is a smattering of pics from my time on the islands. The other people you see are my siblings.

8/28/01 -

"'Is something wrong?' she said.
Of course there is.
'You're still alive,' she said."

Berk and I have landed in Harlem as of late last night, after three weeks in a dreary, backwater kennel and beautiful, sun-drenched Hawaii respectively. Update to follow in the very near future, once unpacking, registration, and various other tasks have been accomplished. See ya soon...

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