On New Year’s Day of 1947, not long after Random House published Mezz Mezzrow’s memoir, Really the Blues, there took place at Town Hall a kind of musical-revue version of his life. “Mr. Mezzrow himself served as the narrator,” reported The New York Times the following day. “He told how he had encountered different jazz players in different places. Then the curtains opened and instrumentalists or singers acted the parts of the performers mentioned, performing in the styles of the originals.”
Few poets stood higher on Joseph Stalin’s hit list than Anna Akhmatova, the Soviet doyen of reverie and suffering who was born near the Black Sea in 1899 to an upper-class family. Like many in her literary milieu before the Russian Revolution, she revolted against drowsy symbolism and became a poet of spiritual clarity and of simplicity—but she always resisted the characterization of her poems as the work of a seductive poetess or a counter-revolutionary. She preferred to consider herself a
When the Supreme Court delivered its ruling in June 2015 confirming marriage equality, it was greeted as an historic civil rights achievement. Over the past several years, mounting marriage victories combined with a cresting wave of trans activism had already pushed legal advocates to think beyond gay marriage, the issue that has absorbed the bulk of the movement’s advocacy, resources, and powers of mass mobilization. From the legalization of homosexual assembly to the repeal of anti-sodomy
This past fall, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released the results of a long-awaited inquiry into the final phase of the twenty-five-year war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It uncovered widespread mass killing, torture, disappearances, assassination, and rape. While the report blamed both sides, it reserved the harshest criticism for the Sri Lankan state, whose actions it said may amount to “crimes against
IT’S NOT MONDAYS YOU HATE, IT’S YOUR JOB From the beginning of capitalism, workers have struggled against the imposition of fixed working hours, and the demand for shorter hours was a key component of the early labor movement. Initial battles saw high levels of resistance in the form of individual absenteeism, numerous holidays and irregular work habits. This resistance to normal working hours continues today in widespread slacking off, with workers often surfing the internet rather than
Nations, like political creeds, can be upbeat or downbeat. Along with North Korea, the United States is one of the few countries on earth in which optimism is almost a state ideology. For large sectors of the nation, to be bullish is to be patriotic, while negativity is a species of thought crime. Pessimism is thought to be vaguely subversive. Even in the most despondent of times, a collective fantasy of omnipotence and infinity continues to haunt the national unconscious. It would be almost as
In “Chat écoutant la musique” (“Cat Listening to Music”), a two-minute, fifty-five-second video posted to YouTube on December 21, 2010, a black, white, and gray tabby sprawls across the keyboard of a Yamaha DX7. He sleeps and stirs, seeming to enjoy the pellucid, lapping notes and chords of a piece of piano music playing in the room. We watch the cat’s paws depress the keys soundlessly when he arches and stretches. We notice his ears perk and twitch. When the music briefly intensifies,
When I am not writing I am not writing a novel called 1994 about a young woman in an office park in a provincial town who has a job cutting and pasting time. I am not writing a novel called Nero about the world’s richest art star in space. I am not writing a book called Kansas City Spleen. I am not writing a sequel to Kansas City Spleen called Bitch’s Maldoror. I am not writing a book of political philosophy called Questions for Poets. I am not writing a scandalous memoir. I am not writing a
At a party recently, I overheard someone in his twenties talking about how much he enjoyed a television show called The Fall because it made him think about how “being a man is its own kind of disease.” People of both genders nodded in a sympathetic way. If this is a moment when young people seek out opportunities for misandry, there are plenty of occasions to do so; even pulp entertainments like Game of Thrones and Mad Max: Fury Road put men at the center not to assert male power but to invite
When the “linguistic escape artist” Christine Brooke-Rose died in 2012, at the age of eighty-nine, she was already a buried author, her formidable oeuvre little read or appreciated. With elements of science fiction, metafiction, and nouveau roman, her writing has been called “resplendently unreadable,” “incomprehensible and pretentious,” and simply “difficult.” Her 1998 novel Next, featuring twenty-six narrators and written without the verb “to have,” reappeared earlier this month from Verbivoracious
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