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What Kind of New Deal?

All the talk about a "new" New Deal raises the question of how the contradictory New York legacy of the original one might guide us in the months ahead.

Dan Burley’s Original Handbook of Harlem Jive (1944)

Harlem in the early 1940s was a place in flux. Though the Renaissance had ended a decade or so earlier, the cultural scene was still quite vibrant, with legendary jazz musicians, dancers, and entertainers of all sorts performing regularly in its many nightclubs.

When You Are Locked in the Trunk of a ’69 Bonneville

My parents hailed from New York—my mom from Hell’s Kitchen, my dad from Queens, but they were back-to-the-land-ers, and I grew up in the rural southwest corner of Massachusetts. In the early ’80s we had a shifting stock of about 18 goats, two horses, lots of chickens, and even a couple of pigs. I was between eight and ten years old, and during this time one my favorite activities was to lock myself in the trunk of the family car.

Still Doing It: Coming to a Sex Shop Near You

The year is 1972. The doorbell rings and a boisterous Betty Dodson, nude, answers it. “Come on in,” she says to the stream of 13 women, aged anywhere between recent Smith grad and New Jersey grandmother, as they enter the large spare living room of her mid-Manhattan apartment.

Docs In Sight

From Laos to Brooklyn: Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath in conversation with Williams Cole

Ellen Kuras is highly regarded as the innovative cinematographer responsible for films from Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam and Bamboozled to Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind: Rewind. The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) is her directorial debut, a documentary she filmed over 23 years in an amazing collaboration with Thavisouk Phrasavath (Thavi), the film’s subject and its co-director.

Poland Here, and Poland Now

Poland’s 1989 elections ended communist rule, and have earned 20th anniversary acclamations. With economic pain worldwide, an Economist piece on Eastern and Central European nations under strain said that in Poland “things look better” by a sturdy margin.

Andrzej Wajda: Poland and the Screens of History

On October 17, the Film Society of Lincoln Center opened Truth or Dare, a month-long Andrzej Wajda retrospective. Wajda (pronounced VY-da) is among cinema’s great living auteurs, and spent decades cannily steering script proposals and finished works past Poland’s communist-era censor bureau.

Restoring the Republic, Bacevich’s The Limits of Power

Americans have never been overly fond of limits. We don’t like to be fenced in, and equally, we hate to be fenced out. We love our freedom, so much that we want to share it with every last darkened corner of the world. We don’t care what it costs.

Only the Beginning, Filkin’s The Forever War

Mutilation is usually the stuff of unhinged, calculating sadists. During the Iraq War, Shiites have trademarked their murders by boring holes into their victims’ bodies with electric drills, while Sunnis have used decapitation and self-immolation as their M.O.

Dershowitz at War: The Case Against Israel’s Enemies

In an attempt to rectify every factual wrong committed against the state of Israel, Alan Dershowitz has effectively argued himself into irrelevancy. The author of The Case For Israel has returned to battle for the Middle East with The Case Against Israel’s Enemies, a chapter by chapter response to Israel’s various ill-wishers.

Superman from the South, Rodriguez’s Che: A Graphic Biography

The latest installment of Che-inspired popular art is veteran cartoonist Spain Rodriguez’s Che: A Graphic Biography, a frenetically-paced account of the South American revolutionary’s life. Armed with iron-clad principles and an enduring love for the “little guy,” Ernesto “Che” Guevara jackboots his way through these pages with the moral urgency of a missionary.

Memories of Great Books, Beam’s A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books

In 1952, an aspiring American intellectual looking to fill his home library with expert-approved literature had several options. He could join the Readers’ Subscription Book Club, a mail-order arrangement armed with the prestige of Columbia University professors Lionel Trilling and Jacques Barzun.

A Forgotten Man of the Resistence, Paulhan’s On Poetry and Politics

In their introduction to On Poetry and Politics, the first major English translation of writer Jean Paulhan’s essays, Jennifer Bajorek and Eric Trudel note that Anglophone readers who know of Paulhan generally associate him with two things: his nearly forty-year stewardship of the Nouvelle Revue Française—vanguard of French literary culture and early home to Gide, France and Valéry; and the period l’entre-deux-guerres, that historical interlude T.S. Eliot once described as “twenty years largely wasted.”

Fair Play: Lilly Ledbetter’s Story and Workplace Discrimination

Lily Ledbetter has a story to tell. In fact, you may have already heard it. They’ve been telling it in Congress, in the Supreme Court, in corporate boardrooms, in newspapers, and on televisions across the nation. I would even hazard a guess that at least one book or movie in the next couple of years is going to retell her story all over again


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 08-JAN 09

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