Archive for September, 2009


How Do I Feel After Teaching Two Seminars in a Row?

September 24, 2009

Like this, mutatis mutandis:


How Journalists Make Hash (On Blogger Superiority Complex)

September 18, 2009

Take notes from Moscow News business reporter Ed Bentley, who recently tried his hand at covering ethnic violence in Russia.

If the lessons aren’t clear, take a look at David Brooks on anti-health care protests.  Then compare with Tenured Radical.


Archival Things: Organizer Notes #2

September 8, 2009

[West Virginia, 25 February 1936]

I am in bad need of medical treatment. My left ear is leaking for almost a year. In the past two months I am rapidly losing hearing on this ear. I can no longer carry on telephone conversation by holding receiver on this ear. It it continues this way for another couple of months there is every possibility that I may lose the hearing on this ear completely, unless I get the necessary treatment.

My left kidney is so badly infected that I cannot lay on my left side and cannot stand long enough to make an hours speech.

I have lost all but five of my upper teeth. The remaining five are so bad that I can pull them out with my fingers. As a result I can chew no food which results in continuous constipation and terrific headaches at least twice a week.

My ear and kidney may develop other complications if proper treatment is not given to me. There is no possibility whatsoever to go to a doctor here in West Virginia because of lack of funds and to my knowledge there are no free clinics in the state. If I would go to Chicago immediately I believe arrangements could be made to get treatments.

In addition I live in a house since last September without paying any rent. I have an eviction notice and undoubtedly will be evicted within the next few weeks. I have already received the third eviction notice.

These may not appear to be sufficient reasons for my immediate departure to Chicago. Nevertheless they are important to my health which is essential in carrying out the new task assigned to me.


Archival Things: Organizer Notes #1

September 7, 2009

District 9. Minnesota. This is a Finnish prairie. I call it the Finnish woods. It’s dark and dreary for us here. We have a few English and South Slavic outposts. They control everything that is worth and worthless. We couldn’t touch this district even if we move the CI [Communist International] into Minneapolis. The state is a Finnish Cooperative Commonwealth.

District 13. [San Francisco] … Very little if any political activities. This is a home of retired radicals. Not even retired revolutionists.

District 15. Connecticut. In this case we are planning to remove the district – not the district organizer. We will shortly make it a sub-district of New York. There is nothing here worthwhile speaking of.


No Comment Archival Thing

September 7, 2009

In 1947, Charles S. Johnson was sworn in as the first Black president of Fisk University.

CSJ at his inauguartion


Netflix Reviews by/for the Bleary-Eyed

September 5, 2009

No time for real blogging in the foreseeable future.  Too busy with teaching two classes, dissertation drafting, conferences, and the job market.  But here’s a quick run-down of what I do with the two hours between leaving the office and falling asleep, usually while eating leftovers out of tupperware. (Sorry folks, no time to cook means no time to embed links to the movies–you’ll have to google things for yourselves.)

Gran Torino: Lizzie thought it would be about Italian cars, or maybe a heist (based on the title and cover), but soon figured it out. “So it’s like a role-reversed Karate Kid?” Right down to the classic car hand-off at the end.

The Class: As someone who used to have to do classroom observations in a public high school, all I could do was count the missed teachable moments and squirm at the awful relationship between instructor and students.  In this regard, this French flick is far more accurate, if far less watchable, than the typical American dreamy dramatizations of urban schools, from Stand and Deliver to Freedom Writers.

Odds Against Tomorrow: Unless you are into the backstory of “red” Hollywood, there is only one reason to watch this: Harry Belafonte.  The scene when he gets drunk and goes wild on the xylophone is priceless.

Street Thief: Made-for-TV cinema verite on the life of a working thief.  After 12 hours of staring at documents and trying to squeeze out academic prose, it was welcome mindless bliss.

Elevator to the Gallows: I was suckered by the scenery and the music.  If I were less inclined to suspend my disbelief, I think I would have found some holes in the plot.  But the cars, the clothes, the architecture, Miles Davis… my disbelief was distracted.

Pollock: I could watch Marcia Gay Harden all day long.  (I endured every episode of “The Education of Max Bickford” to see her.)  Otherwise, Ed Harris’s depiction of creative genius and drunkenness was overwrought, and the score sorta slaps you in the face over and over.

The Last House on the Left (2009): OK, I thought this remake of Wes Craven’s horror classic might be good either for a scare or for some comic relief.  About 30 minutes in, I started reading Rick Bayless’s interview in Chef’s Story and an article from Gastronomica on class identities and the rise of the American celebrity chef.  From what I could tell, the movie had no unexpected turns or noteworthy performances.

Felon: Yeah, we needed another movie about how scary American prisons are for white dudes.  Especially because of cruel black corrections officers.  Steven Dorff as rough and tumble working class dude?  Val Kilmer as wise prison “veterano?” (His word, not mine.) I amused myself by imagining that this was a sequel to White Man’s Burden.

The State Within: In this UK-made TV series, America can only be saved from evil corporate barons and corrupt political underlings by the crusading British ambassador, played by Jason Isaacs.  Vaguely interesting for insight into how roast-beef-eaters see the US–the Canadian series Intelligence is also revealing in this regard–but the plot and dialogue are pretty weak.  Ben Daniels, however, is highly watchable as boy-kissing intelligence officer Nicholas Brocklehurst (what a brilliant name!).


Feel free to post recommendations for compelling, but not-too-engaging movies and TV series that can fill the slot between my car pulling into the driveway and my head hitting the pillow.