Painting by Vuillard


Two dumpy women with buns were drinking coffee
In a narrow kitchen—at least I think a kitchen
And I think it was whitewashed, in spite of all the shade.
They were flat brown, they were as brown as coffee.
Wearing brown muslin? I really could not tell.
How I loved this painting, they had grown so old
That everything had got less complicated,
Brown clothes and shade in a sunken whitewashed kitchen.

But it’s not like that for me: age is not simpler
Or less enjoyable, not dark, not whitewashed.
The people sitting on the marble steps
Of the national gallery, people in the sunlight,
A party of handsome children eating lunch
And drinking chocolate milk, and a young woman
Whose t-shirt bears the defiant word WHATEVER,
And wrinkled folk with visored hats and cameras
Are vivid, they are not browned, not in the least,
But if they do not look like coffee they look
As pungent and startling as good strong coffee tastes,
Possibly mixed with chicory. And no cream.



—Thom Gunn

Home Bound

Why Pat Buchanan’s new magazine will be a surefire failure

And Raimondo is not the only one trying his hand at far-left/far-right synergy. On the University of California, San Diego, campus, David Duke’s supporters have distributed flyers on “Israeli genocide.” Lefty Pacifica Radio broadcasts right-wingers who rail against elites, including recordings of the late conspiracy theorist Anthony Sutton. Thomas Fleming, the editor of the paleocon Chronicles, told me, “I agree with environmentalists on chain stores, fast food, and the Americanization of Europe. I don’t even bother calling myself a conservative anymore.” Over the course of the ’90s the anti-globalization critique that started on the right with Buchanan’s 1992 and 1996 presidential runs migrated left. And 9/11, which has forever linked opposition to globalization to opposition to the war on terrorism, was the final straw. The Buchananites may not want to admit it, but in the post-9/11 era, as during the cold war, the prominent critiques of American internationalism will come from the left. The New Republic

‘Ripe for Ecological Disaster’

Snakehead Fish Were Dumped Into Pond, Officials Say. ‘…(A)n individual had dumped two northern snakehead fish into a drainage pond behind a suburban shopping center after the creatures got too big for their aquarium. Yesterday, state biologists returned to the pond and caught a half-dozen more baby snakeheads after they electro-shocked the water. All in all, it was not a promising discovery. Two adult snakeheads and several babies have been caught in recent weeks.

“We could very easily be talking about hundreds, if not more, juveniles in the pond,” said Eric Schwaab, head of fisheries for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. ‘ Washington Post

Has Horror Lit Found its Voice Again?

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Evil:

‘ “9-11 resembled cheap, lazy fiction,” says horror author Neil Gaiman, whose slim volume Coraline is already being called the scariest novel of the year, “and because it did, it made it strange for writers to decide what is valid artistically.”

Gaiman’s domain is often looked down upon as hack work, but the attack on the World Trade Center and the subsequent social dislocation have dovetailed precisely with the field’s new themes. After a spasm of doubt within the genre, which was just beginning to find new voices and readers at the close of a decade-long downturn, horror is back, freshly relevant and ready for a prime place on the shelves…’ The Village Voice

Bloody mess:

Blood sculpture may be ruined: Workmen may have melted a Marc Quinn sculpture rendered in frozen human blood by unplugging the freezer while remodelling art collector Charles Saatchi’s kitchen.

‘Saatchi bought the piece for a rumoured £13,000 in 1991 from art dealer Jay Jopling, who said the “very fragile” sculpture “requires quite a bit of commitment on the part of the collector”. ‘

Guardian UK [via Spike Report]

Fourth of July ironies

A Palestinian activist was arrested in Cambridge MA because of ‘suspicious’ wires in his car — which he says were to fix his stereo — and leaflets for a legal pro-Palestinian counter-demonstration planned for Boston’s Israel Independence Day celebration. This column about, among other things, the incredible abuses he suffered while in custody in a Massachusetts jail — including four dental extractions without anaesthesia — is by my friend Dennis Fox, a psychology professor turned gadfly journalist in my hometown. It almost didn’t get published because the Brookline Tab editor feared the backlash from vocal anti-Palestinians in this very pro-Israel Jewish community. (The excuse she used was that it was only peripherally Brookline-related.)