Archive for the Death category

April 6th, 2012

20 Years After:
Two Trips to Sarajevo
1993-94

Last year Minka Prolic, in whose home I stayed during wartime visits to Sarajevo, passed away.

Here then is some old journalism — Two Trips to Sarajevo — about private life in the city under siege, focused on Minka, her husband Hazim, their son Haris, and their extended family.

Comments about the stories and photos may be placed here below.

Many photos — enriched with comments from Sarajevans — may also be found on my Facebook page, in an album open to the public, whether Fbook members or no. Search there for William Ney, New York, N.Y., with education refs at CUNY Graduate School and St John’s College.

February 7th, 2011

Rooster kills man in a cockfight

Posted in Death by ed

A razor blade had been lashed to the cock’s foot as a weapon. The bird turned.

January 28th, 2011

Year of the Rat?

Yesterday as I stood waiting in the subway, a rat waddled up, politely sniffing, then climbed upon my bag, as if hoping for something to eat.

An omen?

An image of our society in dissolution?

Upon noticing his approach I’d begun to call Shoo, then did something of a St Vitus dance. Finally he respected my panic and scrammed, taking cover beneath a garbage storage bin.

Days before a rat was found making the rounds on a subway car.

Usually of course they’re shy of the Big Folk.

In The Plague, it’s the rats who play harbinger on both ends of the disaster.

They are the first to die in agony on the streets, filling the inwoners with wondrous dismay. And then their reappearance on the streets, going about their business, is the first sign that the pestilence itself is dying out.

So yes, If rats all over New York are suddenly behaving in a sociable manner, why, I wonder what it means.

Years ago, while living on the expanding eastern edge of Chinatown in Manhattan, I was walking home from Wall Street late at night and rats must have been busy at work because as I strode along I was thinking about the portentous rodents of THE PLAGUE …

And suddenly a rat scurried out across my path, directly beneath my foot as it fell — and screamed as his spine snapped with a crunch then bounced straight toward heaven a yard and fell dead.

Perhaps as we are told the Evil flee where none pursueth, but see here too the innocent, the poor fool, mind boggled, who in panic was just trying to get out of the way.

I still recall the crunch of his spine and his scream.

Needless to say I felt terrible, and wondered what it meant.

A friend says the Chinese view rats with great favor.

For it is said that when all the animals raced across the river, the rat with its genius won out — by riding upon the oxen’s back and then at the last moment leaping from its head to reach the bank first.

So it is that to be born in the Year of the Rat is deemed a blessing.

How good of the Chinese to honor the rat. And how interesting to hear that the rat won the race …

The whole Get A Job business always struck me as futile, a poor expense of spirit.

Friends suggest that my encounter with this favored creature yesterday means that I’ve been forgiven for crushing, in my distraction, his ancestor during the 80s on a greasy Chinatown street.

Well and good. But why as a race are they behaving so sociably?

Perhaps the season’s record snowfall — the lack of accessible garbage on the streets — has them desperate?

Or does their frank boldness bode some eruption to our state?

M

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January 24th, 2011

Everything will be alright

This Grasshopper’s got me all Zenned down, I love the guy.

January 24th, 2011

Dying of Cancer — the Film

Posted in Death, Movies, These United States by ed

A somber documentary. How to Die in Oregon.

The cancer business is a travesty in the US. We DO have Death Panels. They’re called Oncology Practice Groups.

Perhaps this is one reason the film is (by reports) so hard to watch.

January 21st, 2011

Pasternak’s granddaughter loathes the new translation of
Doctor Zhivago

asdfasd

January 19th, 2011

Patriot Act in Great Kills:
Joyous Jets fan snow coasts down Cleveland to eternity

Posted in Death, These United States by ed

Minutes after the Jets shocking victory over the Patriots, he ran out in a fit of joy and took a leap with a snow coaster that seconds later had him skidding into heavy traffic on Cleveland Avenue, and there he died.

The Times recall the man:

Mr. Larsen was best known for things big — indeed, he did everything big. Big decorations at Halloween and Christmas. Big Sunday afternoons with big groups of friends watching the big games.

He would mount a 12-foot inflated snowman, wearing a top hat and a Jets jersey, on his truck when tailgating at Jets games.

“He was just always having fun.”

January 16th, 2011

True Grit rides anew and leaves Stanley in the dust

The characters in the Coen brothers film are geared to work against both the Old Testament bleakness of the novel and the Waynesian joie de vivre of the first film.

Mattie in the film, at fourteen, is a relentless robotic harridan-to-be, expressing thru caricature the bleak worldview that Stanley Fish here extracts from the novel and offers as the spiritual key to the new film.

Mattie’s been trained as a bookkeepper and, we find, knows nothing about life and justice on the great frontier. Most comico-tragically, she badgers the tumbleweeds of the prairie with threats or promises of treatment by her lawyer. Finally poor Ned shuts her up, for us all, by responding that what he needs is a “good JUDGE” — yearning, it seems, for the Good News god and His mercy as deadly accidents set in train by Mattie’s thirst for revenge snake about his neck like a noose.

Cogburn steadily provides the antidote of worldly experience to Mattie’s booklearning and naive rationalism. Eg, he instructs and insists that Ned Chaney hung in Texas for shooting a senator is as good as Arkansas for shooting Mattie’s pa — and that the financial benefits of the former settle the case. Let’s be reasonable.

The only bit of this Cogburn we see in Mattie is when she goes a bit soft on LaBoeuf, who, at the extreme from her take-no-prisoners egomania, espouses the chivalrous naivete of the Cavalier society that settled Texas. Cogburn, in between, does his best to moderate the romance, but Mattie’s headstrong stone-hearted quest for vengeance must leave Quixote in the dust. “Ever stalwart,” he sadly affirms, too late to be heard, as she rides into the sunset in search of her devil.

A quarter century thence, at film’s end, we see that Mattie’s blindered pursuit of her ideal brought her to a barren life. She is, at 40, an echo of Miss Gulch — from The Wizard of the Oz — an irredeemable witch peculiar to the frontier who demonstrates no more curiosity or compassion for things human than she did at fourteen. She strides through the colorful marvels of a city and a circus without a sidelong glance, and her very last line is an imperious insult — “Keep your seat, trash!” — to an old man who failed to rise in her bristling presence.

The film’s coda, then, cements the notion (which sprouted for me about halfway thru) that the last thing one must do with this story is respect the barbaric worldview of its motor-mouthed bookkeeping upstart protagonist.

Naturally, then, one looks elsewhere — to Jeff Bridge’s Cogburn, who shares the joy of John Wayne’s but whose every decision is shot through by social psychology, and who recognizes a good deal of himself in all the bad guys: “I know him!” he keeps moaning to Mattie as the hapless of the earth wander into his crosshairs.

In short: The last thing I see in this Cogburn is the amoral gunslinging paraclete that Stanley Fish is at such pains to paint.

Affinities between the Old Testament and the amoral Predeterminism of certain Christian schools are oft remarked. And it’s a familiar turn in American letters to use the Old Testament to gloss the New World.

Alfred Kazin was a master of this, and his essays on Lincoln — whom he finds caught between the South’s fundamental sin and the relentless paracletes of Abolition — are among the assessments of the American character that I treasure.

But Mr Fish, falling short of Kazin, offers an impoverished reading of the new film, whether out of doctrine (his distinctive nihilism) or innocently, as it were, I don’t know. What seems clear is that the Coen brothers set out to Deconstruct the novel’s heroine, as a spiritually barren witch — and it’s odd that Perfesser Fish of all people would not notice.

By film’s end I even wonder if she was telling the truth about her devil Ned Chaney.

However that may be, it’s odd to find her, twenty-five years later, venerating Cogburn’s memory and yet so unchanged, so blindly made of stone after all these years. T’would seem that authentic veneration might have tenderized her hide a hair. Perhaps we are to sense that subterranean guilt, for having dragged Cogburn and the rest into her hell, is the real reason she transports his grave to the barren hilltop where her parents lie.

In any case, I mourn for this Cogburn as he tries to rest in peace with Mattie Gulch’s blank stare and recitations from the Bible falling upon his bones.

January 9th, 2011

Tombstone
Arizona

Admiral Mike Mullen, the Pentagon boss, whom I admire, is worried about the declining character of the armed forces:

“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves in the last decade; some of it’s been pretty unpleasant stuff,” Admiral Mullen said in an interview. “I want us to understand what we’ve seen, to a depth that we can ensure that our moral compass stays true, our ethical compass stays true.”

Mullen’s worries bear relation to the mass assassinations yesterday in Tucson, in that across the past decade the society has being trained to accept perpetual war as a way of life.

Our kids, our soldiers, growing up, are trained to envision life as a video game. And Obama’s Secretary of Education spent most of the past decade turning five Public Schools in Chicago into military academies.

The Spectre of the Gun haunts the society’s blood, born as we were coeval with Industrialism, with no time, as in Europe, to prepare for that onslaught, in a protracted war for control of the continent against nature and its natives.

Armies destroy countries — often their own.

Japan and Bismarck’s Germany — reduced to cinders by 1945, having provoked with their martial successes and crimes the remainder of the industrialized world into alliance.

The Russian empire in its Soviet phase — an elephantine Military-Industrial Complex riding the backs of an impoverished and well policed working class, an inverted pyramid, an unstable equillibrium nevertheless held in place for several generations by secret police, radio and television.

For people like Gore Vidal, whom I admire, it’s a given: the American empire was born in 1898 with our adventurism contra Spain in the Philipines and the Caribbean. We then built a huge permanent army to help win the world wars. That work done, the monster turned upon Dr Frankenstein. The republic’s cancer exhibited itself in 1963. We’ve been watching it die all our lives. The installation of Bush-Cheney, in retrospect, seems the end. The full-page tombstone in the New York Times.

However one might parse our history, no Western society could withstand in perpetuity the things we’ve done here and abroad for the reasons we’ve done them since October 2000. Mullen seems to sense this, and indeed, almost to be saying as much out loud.

And the eloquent Sheriff Dudnick of Pima County yesterday echoed him:

“This has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in and I think its time we do the soul-searching,” he said. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately, Arizona has become the capital. We have become the mecca of prejudice and bigotry.”

January 8th, 2011

Abraham Bolden, Secret Service agent of JFK’s day

Hero Mark Lane will have a documentary this year featuring hero Abraham Bolden, former Secret Service agent and author of THE ECHO FROM DEALEY PLAZA, who was imprisoned for trying to publicize the story of the attempted assassination of JFK in Chicago in early November 1963.

Here’s the two of them speaking.

And here — perhaps more informative — is Mr Bolden with Thom Hartmann (three clips total there on youtube).

And here’s a panel with James Douglass, author of the excellent JFK AND THE UNSPEAKABLE – Why He Died and Why It Matters (2008), with Oliver Stone and Lisa Pease (latter whom has dropped here a few times in the past …) Five clips total.

January 4th, 2011

?? Russians say Wheeler assassinated re US chemical weapon disaster in Arkansas ?

Ed Note: See comments below to follow this strange story as it evolves — or more likely disappears in a cloud of web nonsense and, perhaps, professional disinformation.

JOHN WHEELER was the leader of the Vietnam Vets Memorial movement, among other things.

Career Air Force with sensitive assignments.

Showed up murdered in a dumpster the other day.

Meanwhile thousands of birds have been dropping dead out of the sky in Arkansas.

Now Inteltrends publishes a report that claims to have seen a Russian intel report saying that Wheeler was killed, by the Americans, because he

threatened to expose a U.S. Military test of poison gas that killed hundreds of thousands of animals in Arkansas this past week.

November 28th, 2010

Seven Beauties

Posted in Death, Goodbye to All That, Movies by ed

For files and dark nights:

Lina Wertmuller’s masterpiece with Giancarlo Giannini.

The entire film — in Italian with English subtitles (the only way to see it — don’t ever watch the dubbed English version, it’s a horrible, destructive scandal) — is on YouTube in twelve clips or so.

Porca miseria — what life does to you !

November 22nd, 2010

JFK dead 47 years

Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig is a good way to begin to remember.

November 22nd, 2010

Chalmers Johnson dies

Alas.

The author of Blowback in 2000, The Sorrows of Empire in 2004, and Nemesis in 2007 — all about the death march of American militarism.

And, just this past August, Dismantling the Empire, a collection of half hopeful essays about how the worst might yet be averted.

Here’s a good and comprehensive chat, from 2007 or so it seems:

Speaking Freely – Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony from Ice Goldberg on Vimeo.

October 24th, 2010

TV news bimbo offs
Murdoch of Cyprus

Posted in Death by ed

Ah Europe.

“These are like scenes from an ancient tragedy,” said President Demetris Christofias, the Greek-Cypriot leader …

It’s uncanny.

M

September 10th, 2010

Counsel
from Nissim Ezekiel

M

COUNSEL
For Shri Hariji, Who Said It

Whether you believe or not
Think as if you do
Stop the blind effort

Ask yourself what you need
Success as the moment
Is not in your interest

Turn to silence, nothingness
Where you are
Is where you have to be

Know, you are not wise
This is difficult
Grasp your folly

And you grasp yourself
What you have eaten
Is merely unripe fruit

So, now, learn to fast
Do without, be absent
Keep the eyes closed

Keep the mind steady
What you will see
You will also understand

No visions, except in darkness
Listen to the voice
That is not your own

Then move again
Without remorse or guilt
Love is more concerned

About your fate
Than you have ever been
That is why you have survived

Express your gratitude
By giving what you have to give
You may get nothing in return

And bear your restlessness with grace

M

M

Nizzim Ezekiel
Latter-Day Psalms, 1982

M

Nissim died in 2004. Here are two brief memorials.

M

M

August 22nd, 2010

June 28th, 2010

Obama’s new Space policy:
Shades of JFK

The administration’s newly announced Space policy, looking mostly to undo Bush-Cheney unilateral militarism and return to the norms of Reagan, Bush pere and Clinton, modest as it seems, echoes a bit ominously.

To begin, it seems intended to put NASA out of the spaceship business.

M

NASA in 1963 was a deeply Cowboy institution. And when the president that year signed National Security Action Memo No 271 — headed “Cooperation with the Soviet Union on Outer Space Matters” — the reaction from the national security apparat was pale.

The same day Kennedy signed a less well known memo headed “Classification review of all UFO intelligence files affecting National Security” which referenced NSAM 271 and directed the CIA, which had recently taken over the UFO beat from the Air Force, to begin declassifying UFO files with an eye toward partnered investigation with the Soviet Union.

Jim Marrs, author of worthwhile books on both JFK and UFOs, reports:

In this memo Kennedy stated, “I have initiated [blacked out] and have instructed [then NASA Administrator] James Webb to develop a program with the Soviet Union in joint space and lunar exploration. It would be very helpful if you would have the high threat cases reviewed with the purpose of identification of bona fide as opposed to classified CIA and USAF sources. It is important that we make a clear distinction between the knowns and unknowns in the event the Soviets try to mistake our extended cooperation as a cover for intelligence gathering of their defense and space programs.”

Kennedy then asked for all files on “Unknowns” to be turned over to the NASA authorities and an interim report be forwarded to the White House no later than February 1, 1964.

Kennedy signed the two memos on November 12 and ten days later was dead.

M

Werner von Braun and his President

M

After running in 1960 as a Colder Warrior than Nixon, then nearly getting sunk by conniving brass and spooks at the Bay of Pigs some 70 days after taking office, after being embarrassed and outfoxed by Khruschev in Vienna then outlasting him at the psy ops battle of West Berlin, and after defusing the Cuban missile crisis by outfoxing his own warmongering brass while brokering a back-channel compromise with the Reds …

After all that, Kennedy during his last summer confirmed his fundamental turn with a commencement address at American University. For a few months it was rather in the news:

“Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique, among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other.

“And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least twenty million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including nearly two-thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland — a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.

“Today, should total war ever break out again — no matter how — our two countries would become the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first twenty-four hours.

Kennedy then voiced clear comprehension of what Eisenhower had been struggling with since making his truce in Korea with Peking and then had spoken of with quiet thunder in his farewell address days before Kennedy took office.

“And even in the cold war [Kennedy said in '63], which brings burdens and dangers to so many countries, including this nation’s closest allies — our two countries bear the heaviest burdens.

“For we are both devoting to weapons massive sums of money that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other, and new weapons beget counterweapons.

“In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. …

“So, let us not be blind to our differences — but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

The speech, written by young brain-truster Ted Sorenson, had opened more abstractly, contesting the notion that war was the inevitable condition of modern states, taking clear cue here from FDR’s speech at Chicago in 1937.

Kennedy then broke some surprising news, announcing that the US would henceforth refrain, unilaterally, from testing nukes in the atmosphere, and that talks had been set in Moscow “looking toward early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty.”

He then concluded:

“Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude toward peace and freedom here at home. The quality and spirit of our own society must justify and support our efforts abroad. … ‘When a man’s ways please the Lord,” the Scriptures tell us, “he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.’

“And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights — the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation — the right to breathe air as nature provided it — the right of future generations to a healthy existence?

“The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war ….”

M

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It’s only against JFK in June 1963, and Eisenhower in 1961, and FDR in 1937, that one can fully appreciate the depths to which we’ve been pulled by the Bush-Cheney doctrine and practice of preemptive war. Indeed, the contrasting lines of argument are so strong that Vladimir Putin at Munich in 2007 reminded the world of FDR at Chicago, in long, loyal paraphrases, while trying to organize the international community in opposition to the American warmongering.

It bears repeating that the Baby Bush Doctrine was promulgated for the most part by the American Likud Lobbyists gathered under the umbrella of The Project for the New American Century in DC.

And lo. Unilateral and exclusive military exploitation of space is high on the agenda of the manifesto published by the group in 2000, two months before the failed election. Half a dozen leading PNAC “Vulcans” were then advising baby Bush’s campaign and months later two dozen would take command of his War Room.

And so it’s only natural to wonder what today’s Apparat thinks of Obama’s announcement about peacefully sharing the last frontier.

June 26th, 2010

Falling branch kills baby at Central Park Zoo

Posted in Death, New York City by ed

Brings to mind the Japanese tourist beheaded by a snapping cable on the Brooklyn Bridge footpath some years ago.

June 10th, 2010

Geneticists dead or missing
from 9/11 thru 2005

Posted for files: An old story most people never heard about.

Don Wiley was the bigshot DNA sequencer at Harvard whose disappearance made people start to wonder if somebody hadn’t made a list, and in the chaos post 9/11 begun to work thru it.

In defense of Mother Nature, as it were.