"The hard-on is no laughing matter," Stanley announced to the chorus seated with black spectacles uniformly worn on their pablum-stuffed faces. Later, staring across the table into their eyes he barked with a smirk, "Yes, I will be her Philip Roth; her Arthur Miller..." This time, the garishly dressed waiter appeared astonished, almost dropping the gin and tonic he was bringing Larissa. It would've been fine with him, as she was onto her fifth one and giggling like a stoned teenager, dragging on further what seemed like an endless night of service.
The absurdity of the situation, or really Larissa's laughter and smile, tickled Stanley to no end. His own smile was uncontrollable and his joy palpable to all around him, as it had been for the past six months. (This is why, he suspected, they hated him.) He leaned back and thought... Had it actually been that long since he stumbled into the gallery, late night, after a long day of heat and frustration, anxiety and pain? The choice he made that evening some might call kismet, but he never believed in such things. Regardless, had he gone home as was the plan, the painting, the dancing, and this night — and all the nights leading up to it — would've never happened, and his life would be that of someone else.
Stanley drifted back from his thoughts to see what appeared to be sunshine across the table, filling the room with a sense of purpose and possibility. He rubbed his eyes, looked at the chorus, and then Larissa; dear sweet Larissa. His long held and unfounded fear was suddenly gone, and he knew what he to do. Why put off the end, when the end is actually a new beginning?
He put down his fork, tossed his napkin to the floor, pushed himself out of his chair, and began the last walk of his life.
"Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party — however numerous they may be — is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of 'justice' but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when 'freedom' becomes a special privilege."
Prisoners Exercising (aka Prisoners' Round) by Vincent Van Gogh, 1890
Words by Rosa Luxemburg from The Russian Revolution: The Problem of Dictatorship, 1918
"Let no one build walls to divide us. Walls of hatred nor walls of stone. Come greet the dawn and stand beside us, we'll live together or we'll die alone. In our world poisoned by exploitation, those who have taken now they must give. And end the vanity of nations, we've got but one Earth on which to live.”
74 years ago today the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began. 750 Jewish urban warriors fought back and were able to hold their ground for nearly a month against Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining population to the Treblinka death-camp.
"The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd — The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul's consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are."
"When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."
"We were a fad for some, some we offended with our fame. But we set you free, you envious insulters. Let them hiss, that we are without talent, Sold out and hypocrites, It makes no difference. We are legendary, Spat upon, but immortal!"
"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief."
Words by Franz Kafka from a letter to a Oskar Pollack, 1904
Woodcut by Frans Masereel from The Passion Of Man, 1918
"Of all the early breakthrough rock'n'roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers."
Words by Cub Koda from the All Music Guide To Rock
American Pastoral is undoubtably one of the greatest American novels of all-time, and to say this 2016 film does the book an injustice would be an understatement of epic proportions. A horrendous adaptation with terrible casting, acting, and pacing. In a final slap to the face to Philip Roth, they even truncate one of his most brilliant quotes in the voiceover at the end.
"We generally give to our ideas about the unknown the color of our notions about what we do know: If we call death a sleep it's because it has the appearance of sleep; if we call death a new life, it's because it seems different from life. We build our beliefs and hopes out of these small misunderstandings with reality and live off husks of bread we call cakes, the way poor children play at being happy. But that's how all life is; at least that's how the particular way of life generally known as civilization is. Civilization consists in giving an innapropriate name to something and then dreaming what results from that. And in fact the false name and the true dream do create a new reality. The object really does become other, because we have made it so. We manufacture realities. We use the raw materials we always used but the form lent it by art effectively prevents it from remaining the same. A table made out of pinewood is a pinetree but it is also a table. We sit down at the table not at the pinetree."
"I've seen a sparrow get high, and waste his time in the sky. He thinks it's easy to fly. He's just a little bit freer than I."
Terry Callier's music is the first that I can recall me and my pops truly bonding on; I remember him bringing home the Fire On Ice LP when I was a kid, and us listening to it together, entranced. This was the pre-internet days when it was beyond difficult to find out anything about the man and his discography, which it turned out was extensive and stunning. Flash forward to 1998 when Callier played his first New York City show in 25 years: to say it was a magical evening would be an understatement. When Callier performed "Ordinary Joe" there was barely a dry eye in the house, and to this day, every time I spin the 45 I can conjure up that night perfectly.
There are certain songs that no matter how many plays, one never tires of; the ones that reach deep inside your chest and either crush or massage. "Ordinary Joe" is one of those songs.
"When I was very young, I admired hardened criminals locked behind prison doors; I visited inns and taverns they frequented; with their eyes, I saw the blue sky and the blossoming work of the fields; I tracked their scent through cities. They were more powerful than saints, more prudent than explorers — and they, they alone, were witnesses to glory and reason!"