It’s the Friday the 13th edition of Unrequired Reading, dear readers!
Maxon Crumb’s not a hockey-mask-wearing serial killer, but he did come off as a weird bird in the great documentary about his brother, Robert Crumb. Here’s a good profile about him in the San Francisco Chronicle.
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Gunter Grass is actually creepier than Max Crumb. Still, he wasn’t a serial killer for the SS during World War II. Sez Tim Cavanaugh:
It’s not so much Grass’ hypocrisy as his self-satisfaction. In what fucked-up parallel universe is it considered persuasive to argue, at this late date, that postwar attacks on the West German establishment (and frequently more-than-tacit support for the East German terror state) in any way obviate, or mitigate, or do anything else but compound the error of supporting the Nazis during the war? Why is it the default assumption that Grass’ anti-capitalism was a rejection of National Socialism rather than a continuation of it? (I actually think it may be neither, but among Germans who are irate at Grass over the lifelong SS coverup there seems to some sense that he’s let down his core principles, so it’s worth asking what those core principles are.)
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There was creepiness aplenty in HP Lovecraft’s stories. In NYROB, Luc Sante writes about the new Library of America edition of Lovecraft’s work, and Houellebecq’s book about the demented writer of Rhode Island (I visited Lovecraft’s grave once, which evidently is going to grant me invulnerability to harm from nerds):
That the work of H.P. Lovecraft has been selected for the Library of America would have surprised Edmund Wilson, whose idea the Library was. In a 1945 review he dismissed Lovecraft’s stories as “hackwork,” with a sneer at the magazines for which they were written, Weird Tales and Amazing Stories, “where. . .they ought to have been left.” Lovecraft had been dead for eight years by then, and although his memory was kept alive by a cult — there is no other word — that established a publishing house for the express purpose of collecting his work, his reputation was strictly marginal and did not seem likely to expand.
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Beck creeps some people out, but his Sea Change album helped me through some heartbreak a few years ago. Here’s an interview about his new record, work habits, and religion.
And here’s a piece about the unique packaging for that new record.
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Must be Friday the 13th if Gadaffi is making sense. It’s pretty much an article of faith in modern times that countries with great natural resources will fail to develop human capital on a par with countries that have little by way of natural resources. Or, as Kyle Baker put it, “If you can get an A without trying, why work for an A+?”
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A while back, I explained why I love Vegas: it’s like an alien theme park of planet Earth. Here’s a piece about architecture, engineering and culture in Sin City.
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Vegas is no Transgondwanan Supermountain.
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Congrats to Orhan Pamuk for winning that Nobel literature prize. I’ve got a couple of his books somewhere in the library downstairs, but I won’t even pretend I’m going to break one out in honor of his honor.
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On the other hand, I oughtta get around to reading Bernard-Henri Levy somedarntime. This profile’s got some neat passages, including:
So why has France been quite so vitriolic about America? “France and Germany,” he corrects in fluent English. “It has nothing to do with what America does and was long before Iraq. It is about the idea of America, Rousseau’s social contract, where you decide to join a society. Its people have no roots, no memory. This is seen as an insult to what a real community should be, which is about blood and the soil.”
So what browns him off about Blighty? “We, you and France, are the two most snobbish countries on earth Ã¢â‚¬â€ full of invisible keys to invisible doors.” Isn’t America just as excluding, but on grounds of materialism? “Not true,” he insists. “Wealth has to be earned. There is still a very puritanical view of wealth. Without philanthropy it is not respected. Money might be god, but it is a guilty god.”
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Rounding out this week’s Unrequired Reading: an obscure reference from the Simpsons!
Chief Wiggum: “All of our founding fathers, astronauts, and World Series heroes have been either drunk or on cocaine.”