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Showing posts from January, 2010

Game Change: I read, so you don't have to.*

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Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heileman and Mark Halperin I try to stay away from political drama. This takes quite an effort, in San Francisco.  Even when benign, political passions waste valuable energies, treasures better spent in areas where we have some control. The fact that we have the vote feeds our natural fascination with our own opinions, no matter how impotent or ill-founded they are. I get wrought up over a politician or issue just like anyone else, but let's get real, folks: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Neither does 99.9% of the American electorate.  I suspect that most of the people paid to comment on politics are equally clueless. They aren't much closer to the action than we are. Heileman and Halperin's book is a fascinating education in the reality of politics. They  do know what they're talking about. The authors focus on the actual players. The first thing I notice

The Beach in Winter, and Leaving the Wall

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The ocean near my house throws up debris in winter: tons of driftwood and a dead sea mammal or two. The scene reminds me of T.S. Eliot's poem, The Dry Salvages. The sea is the land's edge also, the granite Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses Its hints of earlier and other creation. Arty San Franciscans assemble sculpture from found objects on the beach.  Last night I took Max for his first ice-skating session. I'd only skated once in the last thirty years, myself. Max did well; he didn't get discouraged when he fell down. Both of us noted an important rule: You must resist the urge to put a hand on the outside wall, for balance. When I pulled him far away from the wall, Max skated 800% further without falling.  Many people have observed this principle. It is expressed masterfully by Robert Greene in his book, The 33 Strategies of War: In the back of your mind, you keep an escape route, a crutch, something to

Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey To The End Of The Night: I read, so you don't have to

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In my early twenties, I lived with a voracious reader. He infected me with his serial passions. First came Henry Miller, then Charles Bukowski, then John Fante, then  Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Céline is that exceedingly rare writer whose work is exquisite in whole AND in part. Céline's hero begins his adventures by joining the army in France, during World War I. From there he works in the African jungle and Detroit, Michigan before returning to France. Along his way, in circumstances mundane and terrifying, he maintains both openness to experience and detachment from it, a god-like clarity. The passages below are quoted from Ralph Manheim's translation from the french. San Francisco, 1992 I never saw Princhard again. He had the same trouble as all intellectuals—he was ineffectual. He knew too many things, and they confused him. He needed all sorts of gimmicks to steam him up, help make up his mind. Tokyo, 2007 "You're already far away, Ferdinand

Max's Camera Work

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Happy 2010 everyone.  Max took a normal trip with Mommy to JapanTown this week. He took a camera with him, and brought back these photos. Max makes many art projects. At present, his drawing is no better than his class mates'. Probably his photographs are similar to other 5-year-olds' as well. I post them here because I like to see the world from his vantage point. The view from the back seat. I told Max he's treated like a king now, being driven around town by a beautiful woman. Sadly, he's too young to appreciate it. I told him that life is all down hill from here. At the grocery store, Max shot whatever looked good to him. About this photo, he said, "I like sugar."  It's refreshing to see things from Max's lower eye-level, although he is gaining on me every day. If he stays interested in photography when he's a teenager, perhaps I'll receive aerial views. You may recognize this Mommy face. It's the one Mo