culture

Did the French Invent Everything? (Or Do They Just Think They Did?)

It was at a flea market in Paris that I saw the odd-looking machine. Resembling a toy computer, or maybe the offspring of an accordion mating with an electric typewriter, the curious object was offered at 60 euros, or about 59 dollars. I recognized it immediately, as most Parisians would, as a technical emissary from the city’s futurist past: a .

Systems and Structures

It becomes banal and repetitive to note we are in a state of crisis. Postindustrial civilization lurches inexorably from one crisis to the next, without resolving the previous crises. When were we ever not in a crisis? When I look back at my life, I recall an endless series of geopolitical emergencies — wars, diseases, environmental disasters, pollution, recession, cancer clusters, civil unrest, homelessness, gang wars, stagnation, terrorism, and so on.  

Happy Birthday to the Beeb

On November 14, 1922, a 40-year-old cherubic-looking man with a receding hairline intoned into what looked like a wooden beehive on a rickety tripod. It was what was awkwardly called a “meat-safe” microphone and Arthur Burrows was reading the first news bulletin for the newly created British Broadcasting Company, a scrappy operation that employed a total of four people.

There’s No Accounting for Taste

I’m currently visiting Paris, a celebrated gastronomic paradise, and my favorite restaurant is a Chinese dive on the rue Saint-Jacques frequented by noisy students from the Sorbonne around the corner. There you can get a three-course set menu for under 10 euros. I have relatives who wouldn’t set foot in a place like this, but it’s my kind of place, what my children call a “daddy café.” (“Mommy cafés” tend to be a lot fancier and probably pass more food inspections.)  

Why Psychedelic Capitalism Sucks

Opinion

  Last week, The New York Times , “With Promise of Legalization, Psychedelic Companies Joust Over Future Profits.” The subtitle: “Cash-rich start-ups are filing scores of patent claims on hallucinogens like magic mushrooms. Researchers and patient advocates worry high prices will make the therapies unaffordable.”  

Letter From London: A Visit to Cecil Court

Whenever I’m short of cash (a not infrequent occasion), I open another box of my dwindling collection of first editions, pinch out a few volumes, take a tube to the West End, and head to Cecil Court.   This pedestrian passageway linking Charing Cross Road with St. Martin’s Lane lies in the middle of the theater district and is a warren of antiquarian bookshops, coin shops, antique dealers, and small emporiums of magic and theatrical ephemera.  

Was 2012 the Best Year in Britain?

Ten years ago the United Kingdom hosted the Olympic games in London. There was a general pride in this endeavor, though its planning had led to some ridiculous decisions, such as closing off various red-painted lanes on motorways, including the M4 connecting the city with Heathrow airport, for weeks preceding the games (before even the first athletes had arrived). This lent a slight Kafkaesque tinge to the venture.

Catching Up With the Lionesses in Paris

Foreigners are often baffled by American sports. American football looks to many like a more strategic, body-armored version of rugby, and the whole idea of a “World Series” for baseball is considered absurd when hardly any other countries play it. Everyone had been waiting for Americans to wake up to the beauty of football, a sport they can’t even seem to get the name of right, when the US women’s “soccer” team seized the spotlight, qualified for the World Cup, and won the tournament in 1991, 1999, 2015, and 2019.

The Inviting Currency of Paris

Everyone talks about April in Paris (Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sang about it; Count Basie played it). But to me October is the month to be in the City of Light. The tourists are gone, the weather still holds, and the city invites with its gentle breezes and leaf-strewn streets.    Especially this year, when the dollar is king — 96 cents to the euro at the last count.

The Man Who Would Not Be King

On New Year&;s Day 1892 Prince Albert Victor was the shy, awkward heir presumptive to the English throne, much loved and about to be married. Two weeks later he was dead. There was mourning throughout the land, but decades later he was all but forgotten, except for one thing: people started believing he’d had a secret alter ego — as Jack the Ripper.

Positively Final Appearance: Visiting the Queen Lying in State

It’s inaccurate to say the British love queues, but they’re good at them. The police had laid out a route that covered over 10 miles, including a long, three-hour zig-zag at the end on the grounds of the Houses of Parliament which people were calling “the serpent.” By Saturday the wait time to see the queen lying in state was said to be over 20 hours. When I joined the end of the line on Friday morning at 6 a.m. it stretched as far as the HMS Belfast, a warship that saw service in World War II and is now docked near London Bridge.

The Mood in London

On Sunday, three days after the queen’s passing, I ventured into the West End of London to assess the mood of the city. It was the first decent weather for weeks, with St. James’s Park and the Mall packed with crowds not seen since the Platinum Jubilee back in June. My first reaction, with the streets closed off to vehicular traffic and the only sound the chattering of people and the padding of their footfall, was almost of a city emerging from a catastrophe.

Waiting for the Miracle

When you’ve fallen on the highway And you’re lying in the rain, And they ask you how you’re doing Of course you’ll say you can’t complain If you’re squeezed for information, That’s when you’ve got to play it dumb You just say you’re out there waiting For the miracle, for the miracle to come &; Leonard Cohen  

Two Rivals Return to the Field to Play the Game of Sports Politics

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) knows firsthand the injustices college athletes can face on a daily basis.    During his four years at Stanford University, where he received a scholarship to play football, he that the NCAA exploited college athletes for financial gain and endangered their health and safety.   

The Protean Self

In a time of deep partisan division, it’s easy to forget what the dispute is really about. The American psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton offers an intriguing answer to that question in , a book that hit the New York Times best-seller list back in 1993 and is even more relevant to the situation we face today than it was then.   

His Cup Is Full

Stan Mack’s Real Life Funnies, with real life dialogue, were a staple of the Village Voice in its heyday. Now he’s back with his unique take on the 21st century.   While you’re here enjoying Stan Mack’s latest cartoon, please take a moment and read articles on related topics: 

Hawaiian Saving Hawaiian

HAWAIIAN SAVING HAWAIIAN   Poetry and melody ring in every Hawaiian word. E komo mai means welcome. Ike loa expresses love of knowledge, growth, and expansion.   One of Hawaiian expert William Wilson’s favorite words is paʻē, meaning, he explains, “sound moving softly through the air and reaching one’s ears.”  

Ukraine on the Line: Phone Calls During Wartime

On the morning of February 24, in a Ukrainian suburb 50 miles south of Kyiv, an in-demand nail artist named Katya awakes to booming airstrikes pummeling the region. Outside her kitchen window she sees a misty red sky. Katya’s 9-year-old has slept through the blasts, but her 15-year-old is startled out of bed. She’s now waiting for her teacher to begin class online — not because of the pandemic, but because the government instructed residents to stay home as the Russian army massed at Ukraine’s borders.   

Ukraine Protests: We Were, We Are, and We Will Be

Some of those gathered in Times Square the evening of March 2 appeared to have wandered there from Ash Wednesday services, bearing on their foreheads the Lenten symbol of hope in the face of despair. Despite the ashen reality of Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, protesters and bystanders alike joyously chanted, sang and made speeches.    

Black Journalist and Civil Rights Activist Remembered on Presidents Day

She received threatening phone calls at all hours. Strangers threw rocks through her windows. And the Ku Klux Klan burned crosses on the front lawn of her Little Rock, AR, home. 

An Insure Thing

Stan Mack’s Real Life Funnies, with real life dialogue, were a staple of the Village Voice in its heyday. Now he’s back with his unique take on the 21st century.   While you’re here enjoying Stan Mack’s latest cartoon, please take a moment and read articles on related topics: 

You Don’t Know What Love Is — Valentine’s Day 2022

“Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams.”   Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov   Willa Bickham’s first husband was Jesus of Nazareth. She had just turned 20, having entered a Roman Catholic convent near her suburban Chicago home five years earlier. It was the pre-Beatles 1960s, and she wore her cousin’s wedding dress in a ceremony (all but vanished today) where novitiates become “brides of Christ” upon taking their final vows.  

What’s a Mother to Do?

Stan Mack’s Real Life Funnies, with real life dialogue, were a staple of the Village Voice in its heyday. Now he’s back with his unique take on the 21st century.   While you’re here enjoying Stan Mack’s latest cartoon, please take a moment and read articles on related topics: 

Hope Springs

Stan Mack’s Real Life Funnies, with real life dialogue, were a staple of the Village Voice in its heyday. Now he’s back with his unique take on the 21st century.   While you’re here enjoying Stan Mack’s latest cartoon, please take a moment and read articles on related topics: 

Parents Struggle to Find Clothing for Children With Disabilities

Emily Medrano struggles to find clothes for her 23-month-old son, Aaron, who suffers from a rare intestinal malformation that causes him to vomit often and soil his clothes. But a quick change of clothes is difficult without undoing a catheter that enters through a vein to allow nutrients and medicine to reach his heart.

Art, Identity, and Invisibility in Texas

The title of Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel, The Invisible Man, referred to the refusal of many white Americans to acknowledge the Black Americans among us. Deborah Roberts’s current, “I’m,” at the Jones Contemporary Arts Center in Austin, TX, takes Ellison’s insight substantially further.  

Spotify’s Success May Be the Real Day the Music Dies

Reading Time: 8 minutesWhile musicians struggle to survive the pandemic, Swedish billionaire Daniel Ek is going after artists who dare to criticize his Spotify streaming empire for paying them pennies.