This morning I read about about 25% of a long New Yorker piece about the coronavirus tragedy, written by Lawrence Wright and titled “The Plague Year.” It basically explains how Donald Trump, his executive branch goons and his moronic bumblefuck followers brought hell to this country by prolonging the pandemic and turning it into a much more deadly scourge than it needed to be.
A few days ago film critic Thelma Adams posted a long list of destinations. She said to put YES next to any place you’ve been. The average is 8, she said. Thelma has visited 56. I’ve visited 98 or 99, and I will never, ever visit Dubai. And honestly? At this stage in my life I’m not putting a lot of faith in the idea of visiting Alaska.
Here’s my incomplete rundown, which omits a few cities, towns and regions:
Amsterdam — YES
Arcos de la Frontera, Spain — YES
Arizona — YES
Atlanta — YES
Austria – YES
Barcelona — YES
Belgium — YES
Belize — YES
Berlin — YES
Bern, Switzerland — YES
Boston — YES (lived there!)
Bordeaux, France — YES
Part one runs 135 minutes, he says, and part two runs 82 minutes.
Hilaria Baldwin confession video on Instagram, posted yesterday: “I’ve seen chatter online questioning my identity and culture. This is something I take very seriously, and for those who are asking I’ll reiterate my story, as I’ve done many times before. I was born in Boston and grew up spending time with my family between Massachusetts and Spain. My parents and sibling live in Spain and I chose to live here, in the USA. We celebrate both cultures in our home — Alec and I are raising our children bilingual, just as I was raised. This is very important to me. I understand that my story is a little different, but it is mine, and I’m very proud of it.
“Yes, I am a white girl. And let’s be very clear that Europe has a lot of white people in there, and my family is white. Ethnically, I’m a mix of many, many, many things. Culturally, I grew up with the two cultures. It really is simple as that.”
Concurrent Hollywood Elsewhere confession: I too am a white person. English, French and German ancestors. Raised in a succession of white suburban neighborhoods in New Jersey, and then, when I turned 16, in a 99% white exurban environment in Wilton, Connecticut. And I’m very sorry for that. I used to argue with the notion that white people have always been evil exploiters of people of color, but I’ve since come to accept my fundamentally cruel and rancid heritage, and of course my own basically demonic nature. I now understand that for the rest of my life it will be my lot in life to atone for this — head bowed, staring at the ground, shuffling along in my brown suede Italian lace-ups.
Uhm, not really. As in kidding. As in “there are no white-people haters like white wokesters…ever notice that?”
Posted on 8.7.19: “Speaking as an X-factor white guy from a middle-class New Jersey and Connecticut upbringing, I don’t feel repelled or disgusted by my Anglo-Saxon heritage and family history. I deeply regret the cruelty visited upon immigrants and various cultures of color by whites, but the fact that racist attitudes were common throughout most of the 20th Century and certainly the 19th Century doesn’t mean that white people (more particularly my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, reaching back to the mid 1800s) were inherently evil.
“By current standards they seem insufficiently evolved, of course, but they were born into a certain culture and were dealt certain cards, and most carried the weight as best they could. They weren’t born with horns on their heads.
…was a terrific disturbance. Great thunder booms, lightning flashes, sheets of rain, water gushing from drain chimneys. The cats were alarmed so I did what I could to calm them down, but man, what a show…punctuated the gloom, broke up the monotony. Tatiana said she felt scared, and of course local TV news reporters did everything they could to stoke viewer fears. But I was turned on. I also like small earthquakes.
If Orange Plague seriously wanted everyone to get $2K rather than $600 as part of the now-signed pandemic relief bill, why didn’t he start engaging with the Cangressional process weeks ago? Or at least do it through Mnuchin? Pretty much all Trump has done since 11.4.20 is spread his delusional bullshit about battleground vote tallies being somehow rigged. $600 is an insult, of course, but that’s not the point.
The newly constructed Moynihan Train Hall, an adjunct of Penn Station, will open in a few days. The Moynihan can’t hope to challenge much less replicate the grandeur of the old Penn Station, which was demolished in ’64. But at least it’s an attempt to improve the coming-and-going atmosphere, which had degenerated into a “subterranean rat’s maze” (N.Y. Times, Michael Kimmelman, “When the Old Penn Station Was Demolished, New York Lost Its Faith“).
The Amtrak video indicates that the Moynihan lacks that sense of splendor, that scale, that aura of towering grandeur that has always characterized the great train stations of the world.
Interior of old Penn Station arounds 1910.
IMHO Grand Central Station is the only truly transporting and monumental American train hub; all the other choice ones are in Europe.
HE favorites: Milan, Gare de Lyon (love catching the 7:15 am train from Paris to Cannes) and Gare du Nord (Paris), Stazio Termini (Rome), Berlin Hauptbanhof and the stations in Prague, Munich, Zurich, Marseilles, Barcelona. Tatiana says after visiting the great Russian train stations (Kievsky in Moscow, the one in St. Petersburg) no U.S. train stations seem all that impressive.
What am I missing? Nominations for the all-time greatest train stations are requested.
The reason I haven’t watched this Frank Capra film in decades is that my main recollection is that it’s hyper and strenuous. A 480p version is streaming on Amazon but I don’t know. I remember enjoying Raymond Massey (in the part created on the New York stage by Boris Karloff) and Peter Lorre, but that was all.
Cary Grant may have been classic Hollywood’s ultimate embodiment of suave sophistication, but thankfully he never took himself too seriously, as seen in these comedy classics that showcase his inimitable flair for farce.
— Criterion Collection (@Criterion) December 27, 2020
How real is John Goodman‘s “Charlie Meadows” (John Goodman) in Barton Fink (’91)? It never mattered much to me, and I suspect it wasn’t a matter of great concern to Fink creators Joel and Ethan Coen. I think they just enjoyed fiddling with Charlie’s amiable, common-man personality (he’s like John Candy‘s Del Griffin), but at the same time without a clear idea what to do with him.
John Turturro’s Fink is a Clifford Odets-like playwright who’s agreed to write a Wallace Berry wrestling movie for an MGM-like Hollywood studio. After arriving in Los Angeles and checking into an oddly grim-feeling hotel, Fink meets Charlie, a fellow resident who seems friendly and folksy and easy to talk to. Later, of course, Fink learns from a pair of hard-boiled detectives that Meadows is actually “Mad Man Mundt”, a mass murderer.
But in the final act Mundt’s hellfire insanity seems a little over-the-top, and we’re led to wonder if he’s flesh and blood or perhaps some kind of demon from Fink’s creative unconscious.
Joel and Ethan, the director-writers of Barton Fink, allow us to wonder about Mundt without tipping their hand. He might be an actual killer or a weird creation of some kind, or maybe a mixture of the two. (Real Charlie, imagined Mundt.) We’re never quite sure, and that’s intentional, of course.
Just as writers are condemned, in a sense, to live in their thoughts, instincts and imaginations, Fink is enslaved to anxieties and nightmares that course through his system, partly about where modern urban society is heading as far as “the common man” is concerned, and partly about whether or not a kind of irrational madness may be afoot.
Fink’s greatest concern may be about that ultimate bugaboo and destroyer of worlds — writer’s block. What seems certain is that there’s a kind of madness in Fink’s creative brain, and a corresponding madness in the behaviors of “Charlie Meadows” as well as Judy Davis’s character, the unfaithful wife of that alcoholic, William Faulkner-like writer who goes on benders from time to time.
Nothing is stable or settled in Barton Fink — everything that transpires feels a bit skewed or bent or…overly imagined?
Likewise, Anton Chjigurh (Javier Bardem), the deranged hit man in No Country For Old Men (’07), may also be a ghost of some kind, at least as far as Sheriff Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is concerned.
Like Fink, Sheriff Bell frequently meditates about the moral tempo of society and how a kind of madness seems too be spreading like a plague. As he slowly tracks the destructive Chigurh, Bell is more and more convinced that this murderer with a mid ’60s Ringo Starr hair is the culture and vice vera, and that it’s all changing for the worse. Chigurh, he believes, is the ultimate manifestation of this growing moral rot. It almost seems, in fact, as if Bell is more focused on the omens than in actually catching Chiguh.
The Nashville bomber was a 63-year-old named Anthony Quinn Warner, who blew himself up in the explosion. Shards of flesh, scalp, blood, brain matter. But why the grandiose gesture? Whatever happened to the idea of quiet, non-collateral suicide?
“Anthony Warner is the bomber,” said Donald Q. Cochran, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, at a news conference on Sunday afternoon. “He was present when the bomb went off and he perished in the bombing.”
I read somewhere that Warner may have been freaked about 5G, nonsensical as that sounds.
If you’ve ever been to the region, you know that some locals pronounce the name of the victim city “Naishville.”
I meant that it’s always a better idea to spread the glory around. If you insist on giving the Best Picture Oscar to Parasite despite the third-act problems (especially that atrociously drawn-out ending), give the Best International Feature Oscar to Ladj Ly‘s Les Miserables. Or give the International Oscar to Bong Joon-ho‘s film and the Best Picture Oscar to Martin Scorsese‘s obviously superior The Irishman. Just don’t give both Oscars to Parasite…okay?