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Eminence Front

Elderly rock stars have this gift for introspection and analysis; they look back with a clarity not present during the drug binges, and there’s a received wisdom that comes with the long-term attainment of stardom – a been there, done that shrug. Two of ’em – roughly half a rock generation apart – write a couple of fine personal journals. In recent posts, both David Byrne and Pete Townshend give homilies on performing and the current scene. Great reading, guilty pleasures.
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We Can Be Highline

Twenty years ago, a friend of mine pointed to the rusted and abandoned elevated railway bed in Chelsea, which I’d barely noticed before, and proclaimed: “There are a couple of real estate bigshots fighting for that – it’s gonna be valauble some day.” That day has come, but not in the developer-oriented vision my friend once had. Friends of the High Line, which is redeveloping the old passage for open space and limited mixed use building, is planning to hold the first Highline Festival this May. Chairman? One David Bowie, newly sixty and readying for a public celebration of that advanced age. Apparently, he found his glam venue. Fred Wilson has some details. Will this become a permanent part of the New York festival scene?

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Overlooked Calvin Baker

A great post from the always inventive, eminently book-worthy Maud Newton, the famed literary blogger – read it all but here’s a taste:

Calvin Baker’s strangely neglected Dominion is one of the books I admired most this year. I understand that a novel so allusive, in which invocations of myth abound and the richness of language recalls the King James, isn’t going to appeal to everyone. But I look at some of the hyped-up claptrap that has critics pulling out their trumpets this year, and am amazed that a story this good hasn’t garnered so much as a review in a major newspaper.

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London Calling

I’m not a film completist; with three children and a limited window of screening opportunities outside of video-on-demand, my year’s best, non-kiddie category, is scant by definition. So my “best of” list in the cinematic arts is limited to exactly two pictures, the only two to really cut through the mist of over-production and bad popcorn, and to stick to my intellectual ribs like butter on a toasted corn muffin.

Both are deeply English, more so in language than in culture. Both have all their crucial action scenes in and around London. And both deal with government and with the power of perception in the masses, a crucial factor in self-governance and the source of legitimacy of power.

VqV for Vendetta caused one right-wing reviewer to rant that the film was “a vile, pro-terrorist piece of neo-Marxist, left-wing propaganda filled
with radical sexual politics and nasty attacks on religion and Christianity.” Others took it as a parable of neoconservatism run wild: its core story of America in ruins, and Britain run by a brutish totalitarian regime is filled with torture, secret imprisonment, the end of fair trials, and a government spying on its citizenry.

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