Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Philosopher and the Wolf; Tom Hayden on The Long Sixties

To continue with the trip, we visited some knockout shops in London- especially recommended are John Sandoe, in Blacklands Terrace near Sloane Square, a quaint small two story shop where most of the staff are published writers- great literary magazines as well. Then there is the redoubtable London Review of Books Shop on 14 Bury Place, in the shadow of the British museum, and Housman's peace bookstore, near King's Cross, which is a terrific multidisciplinary progressive shop that has been publishing its own annual peace diary as well for more than 50 years now.

In Paris, in the wee hours of the morning at the venerable Deux Magots, for what has become the annual Limerick on the spot write-off.(with the spirit of bawdy Lord Douglas looking over our psyches)- On the subject of fetishes(not the only one that evening) here is one of my winning entries- and concededly mild as well--

In London, foot fetishist Hugh
contracted a hospital-borne flu
but I read in a letter
that he now feels much better
since they've reshaped his bed like a shoe

recommended- The Philosopher and The Wolf, (Pegasus Books), by Mark Rowlands, a marvellous example of how living with a wolf(whom the author would bring to the philosophy college courses he taught, where it sat inder the table and from time to time howled) is an experience utterly transformative . We hear that we are a simian species, engaged in dedeption or manipulation, whereas the wolf has a purer existence living for the moment and not always planning for pleasure in the future. A wonderful mind trip out of the species into greater comprehension of the role of non-human animals and our own strange place on earth.Truly transformative!

Tom Hayden, who wrote the Port Huron statement on participatory democracy in 1962,which laid out the basis for much of the social protest and change of the 60's,and was the President of SDS before it crashed in the 70's, and later state legislator and husband of Jane Fonda, has scribed a brilliant history of 50 years of activism, culminating in the beginning of 2009 with the first sign that the Obama years will be a complex period, and not a period of soaring straight line progressivism. A wonderful review of the last 50 years of activism, and of the continuing struggle against what Hayden calls the Machiavellians, those who use power and money to at the very least to reinforce and continue the status quo. Exceptional - it was published in 2009 by Paradigm Press and disappeared-will be in paperback in April 20111.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Magic In Europe;New Song-Just the Same

Coming back from two weeks in Europe,with particular pleasure in browsing the still vital bookshops and markets in Paris and London, we particularly recommend Village Voice Books on Rue Princesse in the 6th arrondisement for English language current and backlist, Galagnani's carriage trade Rue de Rivoli shop, that old reliable La Hune sandwiched between Cafe Aux Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore and most of all Jacques Noel's postage stamp sized brilliant graphics/art/ offbeat shop Un Regard Moderne, 9 Rue Git Le Coeur, in the heart of the Latin Quartier and opposite the Beat Hotel, since renamed, where Burroughs , Ginsberg, and friends hung out in the 50's and where Naked Lunch was pulled together.

To counter this spell of bourgeois activity,here is a piece we wrote ,inspired by thoughts of that great standard, "Little Boxes" by Malvina Reynolds and updated.

Just the Same
C 2010 by E Kabak

Investment bankers, hedge traders.
stock brokers,bond salesmen
they're all on their iPads now
and they all act the same

there's a young one and an old one
and a moustached one and bald one
reading Financial Times and the Journal
and they all think just the same

and they live in McMansions
and gated communities
and they all trade with impunity
and they all do the same

selling mortgages, sliced and diced up
and derivatives unfathomable
making millions, if not billions
from playing the game

on their cell phones,making bad loans
and currency and credit swaps
leaving footprints like cow flops
which all look the same

using tax cuts and loopholes
you could drive a gold truck through
holding largesse, such extreme wealth
but never the blame

and they think in dry numbers
and faceless equations
which they hide by evasion
and secret code names

there's a thin one and a fat one
even scarified and tattooed one
and they all call it socialism
if it means a level game

and their credo- maxing out wealth
is best for society
leaving few crumbs on the table
they all now declaim

there's a rich one and a richer one
and the richest one,and a wannabe
and they live so compassionless
but they all die just the same-

and all of them golems
who turn to dust just the same