Homage to Catalonia

One of the pleasures of lockdown is to read and also reread. It’s been a long time since I picked up a George Orwell book, decades in fact, but I was moved to take up his classic depiction of fighting in the Spanish Civil War to be reminded in an age of keyboard social justice …

Hons and Rebels

The Mitford Sisters are iconic siblings who managed to put themselves at the heart of politics in the 1930s and have an enduring mystique. Unity Mitford became a confidante of Hitler while her sister Diana married the British Fascist leader Oswald Moseley. However, their sister Jessica choose a different path. She veered violently to the …

The Contender

The current explosion of radical politics made me turn to a Marlon Brando biography I’ve had on my shelf for a few months.‘The Contender’ is a fascinating delve into the life of one of the centuries best actors and most exciting cultural figures.Even before he was famous for his stage performance in Streetcar Named desire’, …

Downtown 81

Nostalgia is rife right now for obvious reasons. Who wouldn’t want to retreat to a more peaceful time?But that said, I’m a New Yorker, and part of me quite enjoys the drama. My idea of escape is to return to the gritty eighties of downtown Manhattan where an artistic and musical explosion was happening after …

Steely Dan

The more I listen to Steely Dan, the better they become. Unlike other groups who tended to stick to the same tried and trusted bandmates, the Dan brought in the cream of US seventies session musicians to join them on their quest from Chuck Rainey to Larry Carlton.This band brought in jazz legend Wayner Shorter …

Rage On

Sometimes a band defines a moment and right now that band is ‘Run the Jewels.’ Their latest effort encapsulates the rage over the George Floyd murder and reaches beyond rap out into the general musical world ‘Just’ is particularly good with it’s punchy lyrical refrain “Look at all these slave masters posing on your dollars”

Noir Nights

I’m a long-time fan of film noir, but this lockdown has allowed me to start delving a bit deeper, both re-watching old classics like ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’ and discovering new gems like ‘Detour.’What struck me very forcibly was how strangely Un-American the genre is in one respect – they are very fatalistic. We …

The Sound I Saw

Roy DeCarava documented the great days of jazz. His book ‘The Sound I Saw’ has some of the most iconic images of the medium. Perhaps even more famous for his collaboration with Langston Hughes, ‘The Sweet Flypaper of Life,’ DeCarava is now enjoying something of a revival thanks to ‘Light Break’ a retrospective of his …

Mother

Paul Graham spent two years taking pictures of his elderly mother in a care home. The images are simple. His mother sits in a chair, sometimes staring at the camera other times dozing off. Anyone who has watched their mother slowly fade away would have loved such a subtle and clear-eyed memorial to the last …

Homecoming King

Esteemed and jaded writer Daniel Mantovani (played by Oscar Martinez, who gives a pitch-perfect performance of a world-weary man who has the gift of a comedic eye for reality) decides to accept an invitation to fly back to his old hometown Salas in Argentina.Pretty quickly, he discovers this idea to have a downside.At first, he …