I hate woe is me.. But lately, I am getting extremely nervous. The first thing I predicted before the Covid-19, was the 2020s were going to see death after death after death.
People we know a lot of people more than ever before in human history
But not really know, that which we all know. Television, movies, recording music and Baby Boomers. A great group of folks.
Now the boomers have to face the fact that they are no longer in charge. And us poor left over Rock and Roll generation, we should not even be stil here. But some of us still hanging in there and even get a kick out of Fats Domino singing Blueberry Hill every now and then.
What we didn’t know, with Fats singing his ass off, in Vegas, was the Boomers were going to kick our asses. They found many ways to stay on their side of the sidewalk , They were not good folks.
So those left over Rock and Roll generation was soon overcomed by the Boomers and some of us sat on a stoll in a bar in Greenwich Village, thinking about the good old days.
Then along come Covid-19. There is a part of me that has scared me for years: that we humans are about to drain the devil out of our little planet. There are too many of us, and there are too many greedy people wanting more and more.
I just think the beautiful blue ball has just smacked us upside the head. But enough of me. This is one of the best issues yet.
Enjoy issue No. 90 of the Neworld Review.
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Few filmmakers are as adept at weaving the past and present as Spike Lee. His most recent project Da 5 Bloods is exemplary of this as well as his occasional nods and riffs on cinematic history. With the introduction of the four African American vets who meet and prepare to return to Vietnam, ostensibly to recover the remains of a fellow soldier—though they are also on a mission to find some buried gold bullion—you learn their names and a smattering of their resumes.
Like Malcolm X and Blackkklansman, the film opens with a montage of pics and clips of momentous African American history, none more striking and on point than Muhammad Ali’s famous quote “I ain’t got nothing against those Vietcong.”
It sets the stage for the entry of the reunion of the brothers who haven’t seen each other in years and this establishing shot gives them opportunities to say how much they have changed, or not.
Even before Marvin Gaye arrives on the soundtrack with his classic “What’s Goin’ On?” the Bloods’ names evoke Motown, specifically the Temptations with Delroy Lindo (Paul), Clarke Peters (Otis), Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (Melvin), and Norm Lewis (Eddie). Jonathan Moore (David) portrays Paul’s son and there is a scene where a bit more than nuance is made to lead singer David Ruffin, not David of the Bible, Moore informs Mélanie Thierry (Hedy) the only white woman in the film. She is traveling with two other NGO workers who get inadvertently caught in the film’s crossfire and two and half hours of intensity.
An exchange of paperwork legitimates the Bloods’ trip, official government documents that permits them to recover the remains. Their travel guide, Johnny Nguyen (Vinh Tran) later hands out the maps they will need to navigate territory they haven’t seen since the war. When Otis breaks from the group to keep an appointment with a Vietnamese woman, he learns that he’s the father of her daughter. A nightclub scene offers a brief interlude as the Bloods dance, a little monkey, twist and mash potatoes, as they once did when they were much younger. And it’s interesting to see how there are no younger actors to portray them back in the day or to remake their faces as Netflix did with Robert DeNiro and other characters in “The Irishman.”
Film buffs will immediately recognize both the visuals and music as the Bloods make their way up the Mekong River into Conrad’s “Heart of.....Read More
In the summer of 1969, I lived with my boyfriend in a Marxist commune in New Haven, Connecticut. Almost every evening, we sat around the living room having discussions about political issues (and working out personal issues between members of the commune). I mostly kept quiet because I wasn’t a Marxist, only a Marxist-in-law, as it were.
But my boyfriend and I discussed the issues when we were by ourselves. The root of our disagreement was that he thought the main problem in the US was class disparity and I thought it was racism. In his new book, The Broken Heart of America, Harvard historian Walter Johnson shows exactly how we were both right and that the flashing light illuminating both of these issues from almost the beginning of the American experiment has been, and is, St. Louis, Missouri, my home town.
Johnson is both scathing and precise in his analysis of how and why, “From the Lewis and Clark expedition to the police killing of Michael Brown in 2014 and the launching of Black Lives Matter, many of the events that we consider central to the history of the United States occurred in St. Louis.”
And then there is what Johnson calls, “the often forgotten radical history of St. Louis,” in which people of color (frequently women) and other groups fought back, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. Johnson acknowledges that previous historians have noted St. Louis’s geographical location at the junction, not only of the Missouri and the Mississippi, but of the north and south, east and west, but, he says, “This book makes a more pointed claim: that St. Louis has been the crucible of American history—that much of American history has unfolded from the juncture of empire and anti-Blackness in the city of St. Louis.”
Johnson, who teaches history and African-American studies at Harvard, has the patience and the writing skills to lay out his story in riveting detail over 500 pages.
Let’s begin with the native Americans. The Cahokia Mounds, straight across the river from Delmar Boulevard, defines the racial divide in present day.....Read More
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the theatre world had to suddenly halt in the middle of March and it has been decided that theatre will not occur again until 2021. The Broadway League that decides what happens on the Great White Way, is trying to figure out how to bring back theatre safely for both the audience members and the cast, stagehands and everyone involved with putting on a production.
Hearing that Broadway was stopped was something I never thought I would experience in my life time and it was devastating, but understandable.
The Broadway League has information regarding performance cancellations and ticketing. Broadway theatres are now offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for all performances through January 3, 2021. The Broadway League is working with city and state officials as well as leaders in science, technology, and medicine to formulate the best plan to restart the industry.
Some of the logistics being currently reviewed for audience members and employees include: screening and testing, cleaning and sanitizing inside theatres, and backstage.
Returning productions are currently projected to resume performances over a series of rolling dates in early 2021. Tickets for performances for next winter and spring are expected to go on sale in the coming weeks. For regular updates on ticket sales, individual show announcements, performance dates, and more, check Broadway.org for information.
"The Broadway experience can be deeply personal but it is also, crucially, communal," said Chairman of the Board of The Broadway League, Thomas Schumacher. "The alchemy of 1,000 strangers bonding into a single audience fueling each performer.....Read More
In America’s national imagination and in the private thoughts of individual writers all over the world Ernest Hemingway looms large in one of two ways. First, there is the Papa Hemingway profile: older, grizzled, weather-worn, white-haired, and always bearded. That’s the Hemingway of the 1950s, in the afterglow of The Old Man and the Sea (which was his last book-publishing triumph while alive).
But then there is the Young Hemingway of Paris in the Twenties renown. The boundary-testing, barrier-breaking prose innovator, who with The Sun Also Rises, plus a legendary batch of early short stories (“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” “Big Two-Hearted River,” “In Another Country” and others), transformed American writing as he influenced world literature in the mid-to-late 1920s.
Even now, more than a half-century after his 1961 suicide and nearly one hundred years after his first books appeared in the 1920s, aspiring writers yearn to create books and affect culture with something resembling Hemingway’s power. Indeed, while Hemingway is the ultimate Dead White Male in the opinion of many, he remains a towering literary role model for others.
The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: 1932-1934 is Vol. 5 in the ambitious series of tomes that Cambridge University Press is issuing to chronicle every letter-writing year of Ernest Hemingway’s existence. This 600-plus page collection is devoted to a period of three years and that is a remarkable reminder of how prolific Hemingway was as a correspondent.
What’s most fascinating, though, about this guided tour through 1932, 1933, and 1934 in the life of Hemingway is that it captures one of his.....Read More
From our breakfast nook during these days of isolation, we watch hummingbirds flitting atop the blooms of the lion’s tail, leonotis leonurus, that my wife planted from tiny seedlings in the fall that now stand six feet tall winding into the branches of a decrepit crape myrtle.
The bright orange blossoms provide a feast for the two hummingbirds that suck its nectar in the early morning hours before the heat of the day shrivels up the flowers and the diners pack up for the day. We hoped the hummingbirds might build a nest somewhere in the garden, but the squirrels that endlessly scurry through the trees have thwarted that. The rodents rule over the garden mercilessly, taunting our old Manchester terrier, who harbors the frustrated notion that the garden is her domain. But the murder (how seldom one gets to apply the term this way) of crows takes the dog’s side, driving the squirrels away.
You notice these little things as the springtime of confinement moves into summer and there is plenty of time to observe things that normally get lost in the quotidian busyness that normally occupy us.
The art of the essay is a way to explore the richness in small things and perhaps through the small things finding a new way of looking at bigger subjects: love, friendship, mortality.
While watching the work of our hummingbird friends I thought about Brian Doyle’s essay “Joyous Voladoras,” which I discovered in the Norton reader several years back and assigned to college freshmen, many of whom had never read an essay but were suddenly asked to write one of their own in response to that of Doyle’s.
I recently ordered a copy of One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder, a collection of Doyle’s essays selected by his wife, Mary Miller Doyle, and published by Little, Brown and Company in 2019. “Joyous Voladoras” (so named by the first white settlers to the Americas), fittingly, the lead essay in this wonderful and lovingly compiled book by.....Read More
There is much to like about Clarence Major, the poet, writer, editor, and painter. He is as prolific as any notable American writer, but maybe not as highly commercial as the most promoted scribes on the national bestselling lists. As the pundits of World Literature Today, Major is a “polymorphous writer who has been iconoclast, black esthetician, modernist, surrealist, postmodernist, and deconstructionist.” That’s what readers admire about Major and hold him so high regard.
Fans have always wondered when the author would release a reader of sorts. Well, here it is: The Essential Clarence Major: Prose and Poetry, a well-packaged collection of novel excerpts, short stories, essays, memoir, and poetry that will give the reader a generous sampling of the writer’s creative range. The segments of his prose writing are most revealing and intriguing. Some of the early works have not featured, including No, Emergency Exit, and one of my Major favorites, All Night Visitors.
Before going deeper into the collection, let’s meet the author, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, who later moved to Chicago with his mother. The writing bug bit him when he read Raymond Radiguet’s 1923 Devil in the Flesh, leading to a youthful obsession with the books of Richard Wright, Chester Himes, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner. Also, he fell in love with the style of Impressionism and the genius work of Vincent van Gogh, but he reconsidered his artistic goals at 17 after attaining a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago.
Following his discharge from the Air Force in 1957, Major reentered the Chicago literary scene, editing and publishing Coercion Review from 1958 to 1961, where he encountered Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg and William Carlos Williams. He relocated to New York City’s Lower East Side in 1966, moving into a creative environment of artists and writers, eventually publishing All Night Visitors with Maurice Girodias’ imprint, Olympia.....Read More
Howard Rambsy's first book, The Black Arts Enterprise and the Production of African American Poetry (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011), examined many aspects of the Black Arts/Black Aesthetic Movement and gave special attention to "publishing venues and editorial practices [as] the principle connectors in the far-reaching transmission of poetry during the black arts era."
Since 2011, Rambsy has used his website Cultural Front (www.culturalfront.org) as a mega-notebook for information on such items as:
The wealth of information in Cultural Front has inspired many critical thinkers to pursue new scholarly projects; it has also served as the source of Rambsy's authority and his being esteemed by his peers.
Rambsy makes compelling speculations about pedagogical change necessitated by trends in African American literary and cultural arenas. His gathering of data as empirical evidence of how cultural domains function is impressive. If there is a weak spot in his method, it is a tendency to make hasty albeit tentative conclusions without scrutinizing the data. Astute readers get the point quickly. The strength of his efforts, on the other hand, exists in his sketching out a needed sociology of African American literature, in his being a pioneering scholar activist.
While parts of Bad Men: Creative Touchstones of Black Writers are grounded in his first book, his second book deals mainly with works produced since 2000. Rambsy uses quite general assumptions .....Read More
James Patterson’s Alex Frost books, filled with a “sharp intuition, beat ‘em up” “explore the depths” style of crime novel, has made him among the top five crime writers in the world. Lately, he has been working closely with a select few co-writers, training them to write good commercial books.
The question is, has this training endeavor hurt Patterson or his style of writing? If the House of Kennedy is an example, the answer would be that the training has not hurt, at least not in this collaboration.
Other partnerships have produced quite readable mysteries, some have proved more palatable than others. A few are more formulaic, one or two are pedantic and there is an edge missing from that found in his solo works. Maybe it was time for a change in direction?
The House of Kennedy, a history of the Kennedy family from the days of the Irish Potato Famine to today’s generation, is that change in direction chosen by both Patterson and his current co-writer, former New York Post journalist Cynthia Fagen.
Though there have been many books on the “Royal” family of the United States. The focus has been mostly on Jack and Bobby and the drama that pertains to the assassinations and the rougher.....Read More
Jacqueline Caldwell Rhodes travelled to Germany as an exchange student while in high school. This was a life changing experience for her. It was then, far from home, she fell in love with travel and photography. Later, as she explored the world; always with camera in hand, she took hundreds of pictures.
Although she loved what she was doing, in 1985 she decided she wanted to expand on what she knew to broaden her art. She wanted to move away from what was comfortable and connect to what was deeper and.....Read More
I just finished reading two books on interviews with former slaves from the famous FDR’s WPA, out of the dozens the project published. You can go to the Kindle store on amazon and download many for free.
So, what did I see in only two books?
First, almost all the plantations had a whipping pole in the large yard so all could see what was going on. Second, those slaves in the Upper South were deadly afraid of the slave driver that could come to the plantation and take them down “the river.”
The most feeling of grief for these poor folks was when a husband, a friend, or a mother, father, or young children, never to be seen again. I counted 7 women who birthed ten or more children, and did not know where anyone of them where after slavery.
Also, in both books, Mammy was real. According to these books, she.....Read More
For some time now, the United States, despite its declining reputation, has been the trendsetter for the world. Travel the world and you will find people wearing American styles, driving American-made cars, and, most markedly, using American-designed technology—Apple I-phones and computers.
People from other countries have enthusiastically embraced social media—information from demonstrators during the Arab Spring was conveyed through Facebook and Twitter.
So, it’s not surprising that other countries are also following America’s lead with regard to entertainment, including the current trend to produce series rather than motion pictures.
Telling stories in episodes isn’t new—it has its precursors in novels, like those written by Charles Dickens in the 19th Century and the weekly, even daily, television shows throughout the second part of the 20th Century.
Thanks to Netflix, some of the series that have originated in other countries have been made available. North Korea has produced the engrossing Secret Affair and Germany, the excellent Babylon Berlin. Several Middle Eastern countries—Kuwait, Turkey, even Saudi Arabia—have produced worthy series, but none with more skill and richness than Egypt.
Even though these countries are.....Read More
This plea for life has been seared into the collective memory of the entire world along with the video of the White Police Officer Derek Chauvin killing the Black man George Floyd. What is different about this murder is that three other officers were videotaped watching the killing.
And yet. Black people are not silent, and our activism has created movements to apprehend and punish this type of police officer.
In this book, author/athlete/activist Etan Thomas (Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge) has assembled over 50 interviews with the loved ones of victims of police violence and the athlete/activists who have helped them and the black community on the road to justice.
It is a hard book to read because the killings continue. Painful or not, it is a vital part of our history as Thomas makes clear.
He begins the book with a sensitive interview with Jahvaris Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s brother. Unlike the other victims in the book, Martin was murdered by a civilian named George Zimmerman who lived in the neighborhood. Fulton shares his feelings about the support their family received from the Miami Heat.
“…We were definitely appreciative of the different athletes speaking out on our behalf because, to be quite honest, it couldn't have happened without you guys…”
Fulton goes on to explain that the Press didn’t want to run the story at all. Had the Miami Heat not gotten involved, the world would never have heard about the Trayvon Martin murder.
A disturbing fact that comes across in the book is how the Press has been complicit in the murders of Black people. Admittedly, complicit is a strong word here. Unfortunately, there is no other.....Read More