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Posts Tagged ‘Lenin’

What We’re Loving: Fires, Isolation, Whispering Gallery

February 1, 2013 | by

Walk in New York - NYC Vintage - Postcard - Grand Central Terminal

Remember Rod McKuen? He’s the one who wrote those illustrated books of free verse with titles like Come to Me in Silence and Listen to the Warm. In the 1970s, McKuen called himself America’s most popular poet, and he may well have been. Since then he has faded into obscurity, without an heir—until now. For reasons best known to themselves, the poet and singer David Berman, the photographer Michael Schmelling, and the painter-sculptor Friedrich Kunath have created You Owe Me a Feeling, an unlikely late masterpiece in the McKuen mode. “Love is the 51st state,” Berman writes. And: “The whole country is turning / into LA (so let’s move to LA).” And: “Golden / retrievers / aren’t dogs, / they’re dogs / about dogs.” These aperçus appear between portraits of a rugged artiste doing his thing on a Kunath canvas, hefting a giant Kunath shoe, or nuzzling one of Kunath’s human-faced tangerines. It’s kind of hard to describe, but we all loved it, and (even though one of us [Nicole] has an e-mail address borrowed from a David Berman song) none of us happened to be stoned. —Lorin Stein

What better way to celebrate the Centennial of Grand Central station than with a dozen bivalves at the Oyster Bar and a visit to the Whispering Gallery? While there, check out the New York Transit Museum’s exhibit “Grand by Design: A Centennial Celebration of Grand Central Terminal,” on view through March 15. —Sadie Stein Read More »

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North American Books I Read as a Child in Castro’s Cuba

October 19, 2011 | by

Havana, Cuba. Photograph by Jordi Martorell.

In the spring of 2007, I was invited to a dinner organized by The Paris Review in honor of Norman Mailer. The novelist had just published what would be his last novel, The Castle in the Forest, and would have a conversation with E. L. Doctorow. That evening, when Mailer entered the room, with his very distinctive mien—that of a rather solid and stout man who, because of his age, used two canes—I was deeply moved. I told him—what else do you say in those circumstances?—how much I admired his books and that I started reading them when I was very young, many years ago.

A few days later I told a friend about this experience. “But, how?” he acted surprised, “Did you read Norman Mailer in Cuba?” And added, “Wasn’t he supposed to be one of the banned North American authors on the island?”

My friend had imagined, perhaps for a good reason, that you couldn’t find American literature in Cuba, that it was banned because both countries were at more or less declared war, an openly proclaimed enmity. I patiently explained to him that nothing like this ever happened. Mailer’s books and those of many other North American authors were not censured in Cuba; in fact, they were widely sold. You could find them in every library; they could be read by everyone. Read More »

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August 25, 2011 | by

Alexander Lobanov, Untitled, n.d. Collection abcd, Paris.

The opening lines of “From a Great Mind,” a song by the Siberian folk-punk singer Yanka Dyagileva, run something like this when translated from Russian:

From a great mind, only madness and jail,
From a reckless head, only ditches and barriers,
From a beautiful soul, only scabs and lice,
From universal love, only bloodied physiognomies.

A similar sentiment animates “Ostalgia,” the recently opened exhibit at the New Museum in New York. The name for the show is taken from the German neologism ostalgie, a portmanteau of east and nostalgia meant to evoke a longing for life in East Germany, particularly its daily rituals and their trappings. But the show—and this is probably true of its namesake concept—is not really about a longing for communism. It is rather about the hunger for the kind of meaning that can only emerge from meaning’s suppression. Repressive regimes raise the stakes: under them, art is not something artists are paid to create, but something that extorts a price—perhaps a terrible one—from the artist. Ostalgie is not for the totalitarian government but for the clarity that emerges from the knowledge that great minds risked the gulag, the madhouse, the blindfold, and the rifle with every act of artistic creation. Read More »

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