Thursday, December 18, 2014

Does Too Long A Sacrifice Really Make A Stone Of The Heart?

Religious bigots in Pakistan killed at least 148 people at a school in Peshawar, of whom 132 were children. 

Even in a violent 'failed state' such as Pakistan, the attack, by a branch of the Taliban, has horrified the country… 

…and united Pakistanis in grief,

…who have used the victims' Facebook pages to…

focus their grief. 

These are photos of some of the victims. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Bright Amidst Darkness

Habibi Deli Grocery, Woodside, Queens. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire… a still small voice.

The Irony

The irony, in a room this messy, in a house where cats crap wherever they want to, and where the state of the kitchen sink made me retch — of the slender, yellow vacuum cleaner.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Go To He'll

An Unsubtle Time Square Stutter. 

Are They Carrots Or Fish?

Friday, November 21, 2014

More Glorious Munson

I hurried through Bryant Park subway station the other day, but screeched to a halt when I saw art by Portia Munson, whom I first mentioned two years ago. 

Munson makes huge symmetries of flowers, arranged in circles which are beautiful explosions of color. Viewed from a distance or close up, they are striking and vivid, especially now that winter grips the city once more. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

He Croaked!

Crime scene: West 50th Street near Seventh Avenue.
Notes: sometimes the headlines practically write themselves! 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

And He's Gay

James Randi first entered my consciousness when I was devouring books in Dungannistan library, aged 13 or 14. I knew that he was a magician, but a peculiar kind of magician, one whose work kind of went in the opposite direction from spectacular mystification. Randi is a debunker, a de-mystifier, who has made his name by poking holes in the 'magic' tricks of others, exposing those who claim supernatural powers or psychic abilities as practioners of deceit.

Randi's severely rational, scientifically skeptical cast of mind appealed to me as a school boy. Today, the NYTimes magazine profiles Randi, and reveals something I had not known: Randi is openly gay.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Darien, Connecticut

Of course, the Darien mentioned in the poem by John Keats, below, is not the same as the one in Connecticut. Keats' Darien is Darien Province in Panama. Locals in Conn. pronounce their hometown, 'dairy-ANN', or so I was told. 

The other Darien, the only other one that I have ever heard of: I suppose that ever since Keats wrote this sonnet, people have been pointing out that Velazquez, not Cortes, was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean: 

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific — and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Friday, October 17, 2014

In Which Zach And I Find Ed Koch's Grave, And a Mysterious Wooden LampPost

Ed Koch's grave: north-west corner, 153rd and Amsterdam Avenue. 

As we're leaving the graveyard, we see a mysterious wooden lamp post. 

Wooden all the way up to the light fitting. 

And with a socket near the base... 

...that charged Zach's phone! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Lost In The Wash

Something has been omated in Bushwick! See also here

Monday, October 06, 2014

Read To Your Children

This endearing little story comes from the French Genevan-born philosopher of liberty and democracy, Jean-Jaques Rousseau, one of the best-known figures of the 18th century Enlightenment:

Every night, after supper, we read some part of a small collection of romances [i.e., adventure stories], which had been my mother's. My father's design was only to improve me in reading, and he thought these entertaining works were calculated to give me a fondness for it; but we soon found ourselves so interested in the adventures they contained, that we alternately read whole nights together and could not bear to give over until at the conclusion of a volume. Sometimes, in the morning, on hearing the swallows at our window, my father, quite ashamed of this weakness, would cry, "Come, come, let us go to bed; I am more a child than thou art.

— Rousseau, Confessions, Book 1.

Rousseau is of course the author of The Social Contract, and its famous opening line, which I think is one of the greatest opening lines of all time:   

"L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers."

("Man is born free, and is everywhere in chains"). It's sometimes translated "… but is everywhere in chains", however, there is in the use of 'and', a greater sense of astonishment at the statement as it unfolds itself: "Man is born free, and (yet) is everywhere in chains!" It has set in motion the acceptance of its own logic, so that immediately, the reading mind asks: 'how can this be?' 

There could hardly be a statement more diametrically opposed to the one I heard so frequently as a child, from Psalm 51, verse 5: 

"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me".