Archive for the Death category

March 19th, 2010

Birthday greeting from Arabia
via Orson Welles and
the other Richard Burton

Friend and poet Michael Gushue reports this alleged lost scene from the Citizen Kane script:

Kane stands with his butler/factotum, Raymond in the family tomb. His only son, Charles Foster Kane II, is dead at the age of 31. The year is 1938, and workmen are setting a slab on the grave.

After they leave, Kane looks at the simple inscriptions on the crypts of his father, mother and son.

Above the blank space reserved for him, is an inscription on an ornate, ancient wall imported from Persia.

Kane translates for Raymond (bored and couldn’t care less):

The drunkenness of youth
Has passed like a fever
And yet I saw many things
Seeing my glory in the days of my glory

I thought my power eternal
And the days of my life
Fixed surely in the years
But a whisper came to me
From Him who dies not

I called my tributary kings together
And those who were proud rulers under me
I opened the boxes of my treasure to them, saying
“Take hills of gold, mountains of silver
And give me one more day upon the earth”

But they stood silent
Looking upon the ground
So that I died
And Death came to sit upon my throne

O sons of men
You see a stranger upon the road
You call to him and he does not stop
He is your life
Walking towards time
Hurrying to meet the kings of India and China

O sons of men
You are caught in the web of the world
And the spider
Nothing waits behind it

Where are the men with towering hopes?
They have changed places with owls
Owls who lived in tombs
And now inhabit a palace

We live in affluence
And are blind to where we are

Our concerns and feuds
Fill our time every day

You must ask yourself
What is the worth?

March 16th, 2010

Third novel: Dying Days

It has begun.

What the Dice Man has joined may none put asunder.

If your brakes don’t work, smile as you go under.


What’s he building in there?

This is actually a conversion of a screenplay, the antepenultimate, my fifth, from 2005, into a novel. Thought about doing it before. Now it seems to have gone and …

Oh brother.

The opening paragraph seems to be:

In June 2004, after five Medecins Sans Frontieres were found murdered in the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan, Aaron called, for the first time since coming to New York with Maya. Long out of touch had been the pattern of a friendship born and first aborted in Texas, then again at Duke, before settling down to disjointed maturity during years of criss-crossing work overseas. Since the rebirth of History the routine had been that to meet for coffee one went to Baghdad or Bosnia or Berlin.

That, or perhaps:

He would miss his turn.

And so on to the end.

If we shall suppose that writing lengthy bits that no one shall ever read is one of those offenses which, in the providence of Dog, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both Yea and Ney this terrible task as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living Dog always ascribe to Him?

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of lore may speedily pass away.

Yet, if Dog wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the pen man’s sore head and hands and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the quill shall be paid by another drawn by the horde, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the lord are true and righteous altogether.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as Dog gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

March 11th, 2010

Camus 50 years gone

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


President Sarkozy of France proposes to move the body from Lourmain, the little town where Camus tried to live and work in peace during his last decade, in the south, to the Pantheon in Paris. The notion seems to have caused a nasty stir.

January 14th, 2010

The destruction of Jerusalem

Posted in Death, Reading by ed

He weeps over Jerusalem.

And yet the city was still standing in its glory, and the temple still held its head high, higher than any structure in the world.

And Christ Himself says, “If thou hadst known in this thy day the things which are for thy good!” But to this he adds, “Now they are hid from thine eyes.” In God’s eternal counsel its destruction is determined, and salvation is hid from the eyes of its inhabitants.

Was the generation then living more wicked than the foregoing generations to which it owed its life?

Was the whole nation corrupt, was there none righteous in Jerusalem, not a single one who could check God’s wrath?

No, its destruction was determined. In vain the besieged city looked in anguish for a way out, the army of the enemy crushed it in its mighty embrace, and no one escaped, and heaven remained shut and sent forth no angel except the angel of death which brandished its sword over the city.

Is this the jealousy of God, that He visits the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation, in such a way that He does not punish the fathers but the children?

What answer should we make? Should we say:

“There have elapsed now nearly two thousand years since those days. Such a horror the world never saw before and never again will see. We thank God that we live in peace and security, that the scream of anguish from those days reaches us only very faintly. We will hope and believe that our days and those of our children may pass in quietness, unaffected by the storms of existence. We do not feel strong enough to reflect upon such things, but we are ready to thank God that we are not subject to such trials.”

Can anything be imagined more cowardly and more disconsolate than such talk?

Is then the inexplicable explained by saying that it has occurred only once in the world?

Or is not this the inexplicable, that it did occur?

And has not this fact, the fact that it did occur, the power to make everything inexplicable, even the most explicable events?

If once it occurred in the world that man’s lot was essentially different from what it ordinarily is, what assurance is there that this will not recur?

What assurance that this is not the true thing, and what ordinarily occurs is the untrue?

Or is the true proved to be such by the fact that it most often occurs?

And does not that really often occur which those ages witnessed?

Is it not what we all of us in so many ways have experienced, that what occurs on a great scale is experienced also in a minor degree?

“Think ye,” said Christ, “that those Galileans whose blood Pilate commanded to be shed were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered these things?” It was a providential dispensation, you will say, not a punishment.

But the destruction of Jerusalem was a punishment, and it fell with equal severity upon the innocent and the guilty …

EITHER/OR – The Ultimatum

January 11th, 2010

The more things change …

Alfred Hitchcock presents …

… a fine elderly unemployed couple, about to be bounced out of their home, try to work things out.

… the trauma of losing your job.

November 30th, 2009

Fletcher Prouty’s Introduction to the Assassination Business

Most of Colonel Prouty’s writings are archived by heroic Len Osanic at — but not this one: an article from Gallery magazine and 1975, chatting about the “assassination business.”

Shop talk done, the author then wanders back to the watershed — both his and the Republic’s — of November 1963, when first President Diem of Vietnam and then President Kennedy of the U.S.A. were dispatched.

One bothers to post Prouty’s piece now in support of Roger Craig’s moving last testament — for Prouty’s piece focuses on the technique of suiciding targets in places, like Washington D.C., where moblike drive-by blasts wouldn’t do.

Craig was deemed to have died — months after filming his testament — by a suicidal rifle blast to the chest.

But that was then, surely. Not now …

Well. The Prouty piece emphasizes his conviction that the fix was in at the Secret Service in Dallas.

And one can’t help but note the odd event at the White House last week, when the Secret Service allowed — for no reason yet public — an oddball couple sans invitation to enter the White House grounds, then the building and then the East Room, where a State Dinner was in progress, and shake hands with the President.

Is it merely funny that this happened just days before Obama’s long-awated All Things Considered speech in which his decision as to the future of the National Security Apparat’s venture in Pakghanistan will be revealed?

Might a little slip in security just be a way to remind the young Prez who’s got his back, and why?

Read Prouty here — then place comments below.

November 17th, 2009

Richard Burton
speaks to the epigone



Four half-hour chats — from 1980 with Dick Cavett.

A fine heart and mind. And interesting times.

He talks remarkably of his father, a coal miner. And of alcohol and his saving-grace wife, Susan.

The four clips, linked here, are from the NY Times site, where Cavett has a column:

Part One. Wales. His father the coal miner.

Part Two. Growing up poor & orphaned but happy. Stumbling into acting & catching the bug. Laurence Olivier. John Gielgud.

Part Three. Garbo. His journals. Writers. Bogart & Bacall & John Huston. Spencer Tracy. Hubris. Elizabeth Taylor. His own films. The Bogey stories are fun.

Part Four. Demon Rum. His wife Susan. A taste of Camelot.

And throughout: the slings and arrows of acting and life and other arts, from one who learned most of what he knows out of school.

Bravo, PBS. And Mr Cavett, who fields a number of short-hoppers with thoughtful aplomb. Noticed him about town some months ago, looking spry.


Camelot on Broadway, with Julie Andrews, 1960-61


Alan Jay Lerner and director Moss Hart adapted Camelot from T.H. White’s rejuvenation of the King Arthur legend, The Once and Future King. Frederick Loewe came grudgingly aboard to write the music.

Burton and Julie Andrews were the original headliners, the latter as Guineviere, fresh from her smash in My Fair Lady, also by Lerner and Loewe. Robert Goulet got his first break as lovelorn Lancelot. Broadway’s advance-sales records were broken.

The show had been five hours plus in out-of-town trials, with Loewe and Hart seriously ill and Lerner suffering marriage trauma. The latter in later years was keen to credit Burton’s “faith and geniality” for holding the production together.

It opened on Broadway in early December 1960. Senator Kennedy had defeated Vice President Nixon four weeks earlier.

Twenty years later, it’s between performances of a Camelot revival at Lincoln Center that Burton sits with Cavett. Exhausting exercise, at age 55.

Weeks later Burton had radical back surgery. The pain or a certain constriction can be seen in his eyes.


Night of the Iguana, with Sue Lyon, 1964


Talking at frank length about alcohol, Burton credits his wife Susan with likely saving his life.

Four years later he was dead. At 59.

I remember my mother grieving a bit, not for having lost a star, but something closer to the bone, bearing on early deaths of her oldest brother and father, the latter whom, like Burton, died in his 50s of a brain hemorrage.


With Liz Taylor

Life in bloom.

He met Elizabeth Taylor in 1963, while filming Cleopatra, at the time the most expensive film in history.




They were married twice, from March 1964 to July 1976, taking sixteen months off in June 1974.

Was it Nixon’s resignation …?




It’s generally thought that they acted out private life, with encouragement from Mike Nicholls, as Leonard and Virginia Woolf.


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966






Six years after the last divorce, he speaks of Taylor as a good friend.

And argues she was a great screen actress, underrated because of beauty, but due for rediscovery and immortality.




Asking about his diaries, Cavett suggests that Burton is in essence a writer.

The actor allows he’s had ten or so extracts from his journals published — but merely in places that pay well. Ladies Home Journal. Cosmopolitan.

Then offers that he admires writers above all other “craftsmen,” and prefers their company, among artistic types, finding painters “inarticulate” and actors wont to tell stories rather than converse.

Throughout, comments about acting and the business focus on scripts and mention authors.

Post mortem, a book was carved out of his journals, and published to rave reviews.

Seems the thinking man’s world found itself shocked to find he was not a gigolo.


Boom! 1968


He speaks of his father, Richard Jenkins, as a genius coal miner. The stories are laced with alcohol and affection.

But elsewhere he spoke of the man’s violence. And when the father died in 1957, his namesake son, 32 and famous, did not attend the funeral.

His mother had died when he was two, giving birth to her thirteenth child at age 44. He says he has no memories.

At some point the state made master Richard Jenkins a ward of Philip Burton, one of his schoolteachers and a scholar of the theater. The lad’s passion for rugby was channeled elsewhere.

“I would rather have played for Wales at Cardiff Arms Park than Hamlet at the Old Vic,” the actor later said. (So reports biographer Melvyn Bragg.)

It’s curious that he speaks at such length about his father with Cavett, yet so briefly — but with honor — of Philip Burton, whom he reports alive and well and living in Key West.


The Longest Day


The photo at the very top here is also from The Longest Day, where Burton stands out — in a huge top-drawer Hollywood ensemble, and among the work-hard-play-hard Yank soldiery — as a quiet, hard-drinking RAF pilot on the verge of losing his nerve.

One imagines he cherished the role, having served in the RAF for three years during the war.




He came home intending to return to Oxford, but found the town so crowded at that moment with veterans that his chances to make the rugby squad were deemed poor.

So, instead, with Philip Burton’s aid and comfort, he answered an ad for an acting job …




His last film was magnificent: Michael Radford’s 1984, shot in the spring of Orwell’s year.

John Hurt was an obvious and indeed perfect Winston.

Less than obvious was Burton as O’Brien, the Ministry of Truth officer who watches then arrests Winston, methodically interrogates and breaks him, then washes his brain. A fierce minimalist perfect performance.

He died months later. August 5.

The 1984 now seems a bookend to The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, from John le Carre’s breakthrough book. Another great minimalist characterization in an important film about secret police.


The cold spy, with celestial Claire Bloom. 1965



I hadn’t realized, knowing only his post 50s films, that Burton’s roots were so wide and deep in the English theater

More than once he tells Cavett that he doesn’t watch movies at all, work aside, and suspects only ten or twelve of his 60 or so are worth preserving from fire.




His Hamlet here, in New York, in 1964 was much remarked upon.

There’s a filmed rehearsal run-through available on CD, which became the basis, two summers ago, of a revival extravaganza on a big screen in Central Park (if memory serves) and then the Public Theater.




I missed it. But do have the CD, which is always a bit disappointing, because the actor is indeed running through the text.

Watching the erstwhile rising rugby star run, however, one can imagine the fearsome athletic power he brought to the role. An Achilles of a Hamlet.

Able to snap Claudius’s neck with a hand.




Burton speaks highly of Gielgud, who directed him in Hamlet but also later remarked that Burton was, indeed, too rough for the role. Meaning, perhaps, nothing more, or less, than that he was a Welshman.

Toward the end of their chat, Cavett notes that his (Cavett’s) wife had performed with Burton years before in Munich.

The actor responds with a taste of Hamlet’s second soliloquoy in German.




The passing of Paul Newman a year ago left me feeling similarly bereaved.

Is it only in context — contrasted with the luminaries and prospects of our day — that Burton seems so remarkable here, chatting with an urbane fellow traveler of the cosmopolis, as Reagan’s presidency, which just a few months before had seemed as always a ludicrous long-shot, so lugubriously dawned?


February 8, 1966



Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment
That was known as Camelot

The Camelot company did an original cast album in 1961. Burton refers to the lovely royalties with a smile, and replies to Cavett’s request for a piece of his quality by noting that viewers may yet buy the record.

The music had caught on inside the Kennedy White House. Mr Richard Burton had been invited to dinner.

And after the state murder, Camelot inspired Jackie to compare her husband’s administration to the court of young Arthur, who after innocently pulling a sword from a stone had found himself king, and gone on, legend goes, to do noble things.


February 6, 1968: Bobby, Liz, Richard and Ethel.
Four months later a dream fully died.


JFK, incoming, was not much like Arthur: His progress to the White House was long planned and well contrived, and he’d been working in town, in Congress, for twelve years already, and had been raised in a family that traded at the highest levels.

Nevertheless, his odyssey once arrived at the big house was indeed that of an Arthurian ingenue, quick on his feet, able to sniff rats, and change course, intent on nobler things.




Burton was banned from the BBC for speaking of Churchill as a mass-murderer and quasi-fascistic racist in his conduct of the war.

He spoke of himself as a socialist, life long, and his pride in honest labor is the steady note in the tales he tells Cavett of his father, and the sisters who raised him, and his six brothers all of whom went to the mines.

Yet to avoid the King’s tax man, the escape artist resided in Switzerland, from the 50s onward.

And is buried there, in Celigny, on the shores of icy majestic Lake Geneva.



November 1st, 2009

Fortune Cookie

Something to chew on came my way at lunch circa 2006:

Time is Precious. But Truth is More Precious than Time.


Wow. Alas.

The Man’s too much …

Aw hell

October 16th, 2009

Finally done:
A Good Day in Hell

Posted in Death, Movies, Writing by ed


I began this darn script on August 18, 2006. Day 22 !!!

Tonight, after many developments, drafts, distractions, derailments and deaths, including baby steps toward a low-budget production and Wall Street blowing its brains out …

Tonight it seems perfected: properly abandoned.

On Day 1,184. Good dog almighty …

The prior six scripts received no more than four months of attention. But this, the trouble and time of a novel.

A toast is in order. Let’s see …

Well, modest — but tasty: the superbly bitter Rye Pale Ale that Michelob has put out to compete with all the artsy crafty beers.

Tomorrow back to business.

And, in the evening, perhaps, a bit of wild Decompression.

October 12th, 2009

Radovan Karadzic on trial

Ed Note: See comments across time to follow the progress.

Radovan Karadzic, political leader of the Bosnian Serbs in the early 90s, will go on trial next week.

A Guardian piece looks forward to that — and back to Srebrenica. Very much worth reading.

See here for a primer on War Crime law, such as it is.

And see here for a reminder of what all the shooting was about.


September 30th, 2009

Handy Death Clock

Posted in Death by ed

Tick, tick, tick

The Grim Reaper is indeed grim, he smokes and he likes nacho chili dogs.

Round and round she goes …

Yow. October 2016.

And here I was worrying about my retirement account — this thing’s great!

September 26th, 2009

Dylan’s poem for Woody Guthrie

Posted in Death, Music, Reading by ed

Dylan’s first (only?) reading of this lovely thing is on the first Bootleg Series CD (where every track’s a winner).

But I’ve never seen the poem in print before. Came to my attention by way of this gent.

Worth filing away for rainy days.

April 4th, 2009

Coney Island not dead yet

Posted in Death, New York City by ed

The cruelest month:  Coney Island starts up for summer despite the death of Astroland, the prime kiddie amusement park.


“The thing is, we ain’t closed,” said Jimmy Carchiolo, an old salt with a pigskin voice who has run a dart game behind the Wonder Wheel for 43 years.

“Astroland went under, but everybody figures it’s the same. Astroland’s three acres. People don’t know how Coney Island works.”


Ever since the first carousel was installed on Surf Avenue in 1876, Coney Island has been a jumble of competing institutions, an amusement park cooperative of sorts. Today, there is the Cyclone, Nathan’s, the Wonder Wheel, KeySpan Park (where the Brooklyn Cyclones play), the New York Aquarium, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow and the Coney Island Museum.

The separate parts exist together, squabbling and sharing like a family, and giving off a tribal fractured energy, a mirror of New York’s.

“People think amusement parks are Disney World, where you pay one price and enter at the gate,” said Aaron Beebe, the director of the museum. “But Coney Island isn’t like that. It isn’t homogenized. It has lots of moving parts.”  …

“It always feels like New York is on the edge of losing its soul,” he said, “and Coney Island represents that. Coney dying — it’s kind of like a stand-in for everything else.”



March 28th, 2009

Dem Builderburgers ain’t so bad,
heck, I seen worse

An American in Ireland, Richard Moore, worries often aloud about the world in articulate, informed style — at the moment about the Bilderbergers. Just now I dashed off a reply email that without trying hard encapsulates a view of the world (if not a Worldview):

The Bldbrgers are good and useful to consider. They don’t Run the World but they give insight into some of the people involved in the high level struggles to operate and endure the world.

They express a more European point of view than, eg, the Davos gatherings, which are more technocratic and global and American influenced. This European view is caught in our time in the middle, and I tend to sympathize with it.

I mean — the world today is dividing in a new way:

1. Russia and China, among the major powers, are still nation-states. Their owner-operators are still wed to their Nations (ie People). These powers can be read fairly easily as to what their interests are and how they are likely to behave to protect and forward them.

2. The US since the advent of the bomb has been ceasing to be a nation-state (if indeed it was ever a good idea to consider it as such).

(The bomb brought pressure to control events globally and to do so without major-power war; this pressure has been bending the minds of the people who run the National Security Apparat since the end of the war 1945. This is one big reason why the Apparat has grown so strong in Washington while the Congress has almost ceased to exist as a policy making body and the White House careers back and forth, with presidential heads more often than not winding up on platters.)

The owner-operators of the US began to reassert themselves behind Reagan’s smile and broad shoulders, having gone to school on the lessons of Vietnam (an educated working class is not a good idea, reliable pensions are not a good idea, fairly free and balanced mass media are not a good idea) and having realized that the technological revolution meant (re capital) that Globalization was the ticket.

To be extremely brief then: The US since the war has been morphing from something like a nation-state to a thing bestride the globe with two primary interests: to float the National Security Apparat (chiefly the Pentagon but also the mature so-called intelligence agencies) and to float the large globalizing corporations. Responsibility of the owner-operators for and to the Nation (ie People) has become almost neglible.

(Even the most Progressive voices among the American owner-operators are corporate-centric, as if someday Google may just blast off into space, Silent Running with Hughie, Dewey and Louie … )

3. Europe occupies too a rather new and strange space — having undertaken the Euro Union. But the traditional bonds between the component ruling classes and Nations (Peoples) — born of millenia of strife and tight geography — are still rather strong.

The Bilderbergers convey this uneasy place in the middle — between the brute classico Russian and Chinese nation-states and the global military-industrial enterprise based in the U.S.

Europe: Trying to “compete” with the run-amok North American colossus, while trying (as always) to survive the “Asian Hordes,” while trying to maintain the distinctly European take on the Individual-in-Society.

For my money, Europe’s approach to Modernity (the technological civilization that in the West succeeded Christendom) is superior to the American, the Russian and the Chinese. European societies seem to me superior.

So then — even though my own feet are rooted in the Working Class, I don’t find the Bilderbergers as alarming as some. (And I have always valued the reports from the chamber that Mr Estulin has been channeling for some time now.)

Rather, I find the entire careering planet alarming. Chiefly the unbridled advance of science these past two centuries, which has created monstrous wealth, technological processes and weapons that have left us and the earth at the mercy of forces I think NO one or one body of people has a chance to control, let alone govern. Everything put together sooner or later falls apart, as Paul Simon noted circa Watergate.

My view of Europe’s “superiority” doesn’t mean, of course, that if one had to bet on the Last Man Standing he should bet on the European Union. Indeed, many have been writing that the current financial crisis may ruin it.

Would Europe survive the Union’s disintegration? In some fashion, surely. Might that seismic de-centralizing move actually, despite costs, show us something of the way out of Modernity’s disaster? Too much to hope for, I suppose.

March 19th, 2009

Birthday Twitter:
Cut the Idle Shit

Posted in Death, Reading, Writing by ed


IT OCCURS to me to mark if not celebrate my birthday with Twittering reports from the frontlines of life across this March 19.

Also: to add a sub-category — Writing — to the Conversation database under Arts & Private Life.

Why didn’t I think of that before?

Because I never write about writing here, it would seem.

Right, then. Well, at the moment:

Going thru paper markup. Best readings are on paper, not screen — as this afternoon, sitting in the 58 degree sunshine on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, overlooking the tail end of the East River and the harbor, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street melting, melting …

What can ever be more stately and admirable to me than mast-hemmed Manhattan, river and sunset and scallop-edged waves …?

The current screenplay, set in Brooklyn, stars Walt Whitman: The heroine, a fifty-year old black woman, shares his surname, his spirit, and perhaps his blood. 

This darn script is dear to my heart, being about facing death, which a number of close people have done in recent years. No one ever wins. The story is about not losing.

“Great, great … Sounds like an art film. Black and white? Great, great …”



I’ve never worked on a script longer than four months before.  But this one, the seventh, since … August 2006. Many drafts, each greater spiritually, and now materially, by the latter which I mean the deadly page count, now less than 130, which puts it in the realm of things sendable to strangers in the movie biz.

All the other scripts: Political stories.  Character-driven low-key thrillers, one might say.  Graham Greene stuff, one might dare.

Was told re these stories in 2003 — when my fine Old School agent, so proudly acquired with much time and labor, threw up his hands and retired to Paris in response to the invasion of Iraq …

I was then told to stop writing novels, and write screenplays again instead, the novel being dead.

Now it seems they all say nobody anywhere reads an unsolicited screenplay — so write it as a (crummy) book first.

To their credit, they don’t say “novel.” As if to acknowledge in tacit passing, hey, it’s not like we sell novels. We sell books. To movie producers.

When asked in the 80s to name America’s important writers, Gore Vidal replied that it was no longer possible for a writer to be important.

This may have something to do with why I rarely read American novelists my age or younger.  Rarely can I bear to.  (I do mean the real novelists, not the schlock-meisters.)  No, I find even our writers of their generation pretty intolerable and at best tolerably interesting.

Television’s to blame, of course, not only for writers’ lack of facility and style and gravitas, but also for a kind of sophisticated naivete that has made high-brow literature, once again, an art of Consent. 

I was born roughly on the cusp, in 1958.  TV was thin in the 60s, esp early on. And almost all of it was made for adults. 

Today the Tube baby talks. And teaches infants and children how to be people. Shallow Consenting chatterboxes. Who go on to produce the crudest blockbusters. The Alienist. The Lovely Bones.

When Klatuu came to visit, he didn’t sit with a great novelist to talk turkey about the fate of mankind. He sat with a technologist. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on our writers. That they’re no longer competent intellectuals. No longer interesting. No longer capable of speaking with Klatuu. Nobody is. And so he talks with the generals.

But all that aside, I think I don’t read neighboring novelists because novels are about worlds.  This is why they’re so important and thrilling when one is young. They introduce us to the worlds. 

But by 50 one has met the world one shares with neighboring writers.  Knows its irritating little habits. Very hard at that point for a neighbor to interest one in his bemused account of growing up in an artistic family on the Upper West Side.

So one flees to the foreign writers, whose worlds are still largely unknown, even if one has been travelling and reading there for decades. 

And one flees to the past.  The wealth of novels in English from prior centuries is …

Yes.  My greatest treasure.




Before this past Thanksgiving the Brooklyn script was 160 pages. A sperm whale beached. Didn’t matter, however, since the sworn intent was to produce it myself.  Late 2006. Before Wall Street, where I tend to make my living, blew itself to bits.

So now the page count does matter. Cutting back to the 120s, oi … Wasn’t easy.

One would think it’d be easy to simply sit at computer and type one’s own pen-to-paper comments into Movie Magic Screenwriter.  But no …

This wine actually helps — by dulling sensibilities that otherwise would revolt and insist on thinking better about this next comment upon a sentence that has already been retouched a hundred times …

Amid the thickly marked pages, in the third of the heroine’s four scenes with her Death & Dying shrink, a particularly tricky comment repeats four times. And thrice with a Bang:

“Cut the Idle Shit!”

A familiar sort of comment. Not easy to deal with.  Would prefer something specific and editorial per se.

And what’s with the caps? Who is this ass?




I don’t know who painted this last. Let’s say the Midtown Master.

The first, of course, is by Paul Klee: The Twittering Machine.

Then Death and Fire. Also by Klee.

Then a painting by David Dalla Venezia, whom I met at one of his exhibits years ago, somewhere in Italy.

March 8th, 2009

NYker re David Foster Wallace

Posted in Death, Reading by ed

The last word, for now, I guess.  Worth reading.

March 4th, 2009

Dead deadbeats cough up

Posted in Death, Money by ed

Apparently it pays to dun the dead.

Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer?

Where be his quiddities now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks?

Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery? Hmm.

This fellow might be in’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries.

Is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt?

Will his vouchers vouch him no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than the length and breadth of a pair of indentures?

February 16th, 2009

Buffalo plane crash: Envious?

Posted in Arts & Private Life, Death by ed

An airline pilot chats about the last (and first) 30 seconds:

“Nobody suffered in this crash … It takes longer to describe it than the whole incident occurred. Pitch up, pitch down, roll, roll, pitch up, roll and it’s done, that quick.”

Lucky bastards.

February 16th, 2009

WSJ: Old journalist doesn’t die,
just runs a strip joint

From Murdoch’s new Wall St Journal:

A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, he was a foreign correspondent for 11 years in the Middle East and wrote feature articles on countless subjects for the Dallas Morning News. One year, the paper nominated him for a Pulitzer Prize.

Now he has a new job: running a strip club. “I feel lucky,” he says.


November 13th, 2008

Kemal Bakarsic:
The Libraries of Sarajevo …


There has never been a place on TNC to post comments about “The Libraries of Sarajevo and the Book that Saved Our Lives” by Kemal Bakarsic.

Now, thoughts may be posted here below.