The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘John F. Kennedy’

It’s Time to Stop Bothering with Underwear, and Other News

April 21, 2016 | by

A pair of silk-chiffon knickers from the 1930s, on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

You Think You Know About Puritanism, and Other News

March 17, 2016 | by

A still from The Witch.

  • Since I began working at the Review, I’ve asked repeatedly for one simple thing that would propel this magazine to new heights: limited-edition designer-made cashmere Paris Review socks. They’re now a reality, and guests at our Spring Revel will walk away with a pair of them. (Maybe they’ll even walk away wearing them.) As Women’s Wear Daily reports, “Editor Lorin Stein has enlisted the talents of Gabriela Hearst and Peter Miles to design signature socks as a parting gift for attendees at the April 5 gala at Cipriani 42nd Street. The fashion designer Hearst and art director Miles, whose portfolio includes work for Céline, took into consideration some of the cover art from the literary journal. The women’s design borrows from Derek Boshier’s art on the spring 1966 issue’s cover, and the men’s version drew from Günter Fruhtrunk’s handiwork on the summer 1969 one. Hearst teamed with the Italian sock specialist Maria La Rosa to produce the women’s socks.”
  • Dan Chiasson looks at Robyn Schiff’s new collection, A Woman of Property, which seems to emerge from the anxious mist of a stress dream: “Schiff’s poems, with their Hitchcock-like distrust of appearances, their alertness to hidden binds and snares, offer something few poets ever discover: a vision of the whole world. It’s a paranoid vision, often an unsettling one, but a huge variety of phenomena enter the poems. From H1N1 to supermarket carnations and the petrified rictus of a lobster (“like a terrible crack / in a wall something worse is coming through”), these poems are interested in everything, possessing a capaciousness that, paradoxically, requires tight control. If you had a houseful of wild animals, you would need cages. Schiff, like Marianne Moore—a profound and not entirely metabolized antecedent—has, instead, stanzas: rigid, cratelike stanzas, which often employ regular patterns of syllables per line.”
  • If you go to the movies and see The Witch, you may think, Hey, I know a ton about Puritanism now! I’m, like, an expert in Puritanism! Michael Robbins is here to remind you that you’re not: “Twice we see Thomasin’s brother Caleb steal a peek down her shirt and then feel guilty about it, and we’re supposed to infer that religion leads to shame, which leads to repression, which leads to making out with a witch disguised as a grown-up Red Riding Hood … To be blunt, most reviewers appear not to know much about Puritanism … No doubt many Puritans, like many film critics, were self-righteous. But Jonathan Edwards articulated a core theme of Calvinism when he wrote that ‘The deceitfulness of the heart of man appears in no one thing so much, as this of spiritual pride and self righteousness.’ It is one thing to strive to recognize and overcome self-righteousness and fail; it is another to see it only in those to whom you feel superior.”
  • Charlotte Moorman is widely known as “the topless cellist,” because she once played the cello with her top off. But she did other things, too. Two new exhibitions aim to tell us more about her career as an avant-garde performer: “The formidable eleven-person curatorial team at the Block has used the opportunity to refurbish Moorman’s unfortunately limited reputation as Nam June Paik’s topless prop … The exhibition begins by positing Moorman’s version of John Cage’s 26'1.1499″ for a String Player as the centerpiece of her experimental performances … Her elaborately annotated copy of the score is displayed under glass … Explained in handwritten notes, her additions include playing a giant bomb outfitted with strings, smashing lightbulbs with hammers, kicking cowbells, and frying an egg. These actions, combined with the already rigorous timing, ultimately made the piece impossible to complete in the prescribed twenty-six minutes. Cage publically dismissed Moorman’s interpretation as ‘murdering’ his score, but she performed it on the Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas shows anyway.”
  • What if JFK’s most stirring bit of rhetoric—“Ask not what your country” et cetera—was lifted from Kahlil Gibran? The poet, whom the New York Times memorably (and accurately) discussed as a “candy metaphysician,” once wrote a letter to the Lebanese parliament with this little zinger in it: “Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country?” Kennedy’s advisor Ted Sorensen is aware of the similarity: “The Khalil Gibran Society telephoned and wrote me asking whether either Kennedy or I had read the piece, even though it had not been translated into English by January 20, 1961. Did either of us read Arabic or any of the Middle Eastern languages in which it had appeared? I was asked. No, we did not.”

Dallas, Part 1: From Afar

November 22, 2013 | by

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. With all eyes on Dallas, it seemed fitting to re-run one of our favorite pieces from 2012, an ode to the city and its complicated legacy.

Between 318 and 271 million years ago, the ancient continental core of North America butted against what would become South America. Land folded and faulted; mountains were born. Then what would become the Gulf of Mexico opened, and inland seas washed the peaks away. It pays to remember there are mountains beneath Dallas. The tops may have eroded, but the roots remain buried deep.

Some 165 million years later—in 1841—John Neely Bryan built a shelter on a bluff and called the area Dallas.

One hundred and twenty-two years later—in 1963—John F. Kennedy was shot on that bluff, now named Dealey Plaza.

Seventeen years later—in 1980—J. R. Ewing was shot on TV. Read More »


On Occasion, I Write Pretty Well

August 6, 2013 | by


Via the 92nd Street Y.



Dallas, Part 2: Up Close

November 22, 2012 | by

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. With all eyes on Dallas, it seemed fitting to re-run one of our favorite pieces from 2012, an ode to the city and its complicated legacy.

[Read part 1 here.]

Have you ever seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night?

Dallas is a jewel, Dallas is a beautiful sight.

And Dallas is a jungle, but Dallas gives a beautiful light.

—Jimmie Dale Gilmore, from the song “Dallas”

From a Boeing 737 on a sparkling fall day, Dallas looks like a patchwork of mottled greens and browns, the ground more rich and loamy than withered and sere, as if the coming winter were just nature’s way of winking. The lakes are murky, the land billiard-table flat, laced with former wagon trails that have now become thoroughfares. Approaching the city, cloned suburban houses sprout in rows that curl and stretch with predetermined whimsy, the pools, tennis courts, and golf courses popping up at neat intervals. Divided expressways thread through the map, the roads laden with cars, pickups, motorcycles, and semis all going, going, going, even on a Sunday, even on a football Sunday.

I am flying into Love Field, an airport that has served Dallas since 1917, when the army named the flying field after First Lieutenant Moss Lee Love, who crashed and died in his Type C Wright pusher biplane four years earlier. Kennedy landed at Love Field at 11:37 A.M. on November 22, 1963. It is a Texas State Historical Site. I am flying into history.

Read More »


Memories of the Kennedy Administration

June 30, 2011 | by

Rose Kennedy with President Kennedy.

I graduated from college in the late 1980s with a degree in English literature and no real idea of what to do for a career. One afternoon I wandered out of Harvard Square after a movie at the Brattle Theater and saw the grand yellow Georgian mansion where the nineteenth-century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had lived. A sign said that it was open to the public for tours; they must hire tour guides, I thought. I imagined it would be pleasant to work in a dusky, book-filled house, tucked away in a quiet pocket of the world. I went inside and filled out an application.

When I got a call a few weeks later, it was to interview for an opening at a different, affiliated historic site: John F. Kennedy’s birthplace, a not so grand, actually kind of poky early-twentieth-century house in the nearby suburb of Brookline. I was a little disappointed, as I didn’t have much interest in the Kennedys. But I didn’t have any other employment prospects either, so when an offer was extended, I accepted. My parents were pleased, at least. I had grown up hearing from them about the shock of the Kennedy assassination, how they had gathered with friends in front of the television set and mourned for days—for four days, to borrow the title of a commemorative book my father had on our shelves back home.

The National Park Service maintained both Longfellow’s and Kennedy’s houses, and I was surprised to find that my title would be “park ranger,” something I had never thought I’d be. On my first day I was given a catalog from which I was to order a ranger’s uniform: flared pants and a shirt with epaulettes, both dull green and made of stiff, scratchy, nonbreathable polyester; and a broad-brimmed campaign hat, the kind that Smokey Bear wore. I was at war with my uniform and its hopeless lack of coolness from the beginning. When my half-hour break came around each noontime, I did a quick change into my civilian clothes in the bathroom before going to pick up lunch in nearby Coolidge Corner, where I might run into someone I knew, and another quick change when I got back. There was barely time left to eat.

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