Running for Your Life: What If the Greats Were Us Thursday

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who perished at the hands of his blood foes, the Nazis, would have us meditate on the lessons to be learned from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.

How often, in these days of hate and suspicion between God fearers and liberal sneerers, between Fox believers and Comedy Centrists, do we pause and try to hear the uncluttered message of love and forbearance, of meekness and faith, what Bonhoeffer would say if he were alive today, that:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them … sound no trumpet before you.”

Next: Running for Your Life: Steady Does It

Running for Your Life: Clutter Fighter

Take an hour, any hour. Pick through stuff in your closet. Set aside three distinct piles, to wit:

1/ Sucks as fashion item and will always suck as fashion item

2/ Reminds you of some unpleasant memory (person or thing)

3/ Provisional and dead obvious keeper

Then get big non-see-through bag(s) and throw in contents of first and second piles. No need to sort these piles at this time.

How about that? You just save yourself $20 in book costs and didn't add to your clutter. Congratulations !

Next: Running for Your Life: Steady Does It 

Running for Your Life: Jazz Palace, NYC !

They’re off! The lives of Benny, Pearl, and Napoleon et al, are in the minds of thousands, with book launches in Chicago, and most recently, in Brooklyn. At the party of the year, the cocktails – Al Capone and the Plot Twist – were delicious, thanks to my multi-talented daughter Kate and actor and friend Michael Early, the Audio Book reader of The Jazz Palace, did a dramatic performance of the place they called The Stroll.

People streamed to the party at the Community Bookstore on Seventh Avenue, some sipping wine at the back or in the garden, listening to live jazz, and others in the front where the cocktails were poured. Next in Manhattan, the Center for Fiction on Tuesday, April 28, Oh, and you don’t have to make a beeline to the next event. See what all the excitement is about. Read the book of the season: The Jazz Palace

Next: Running for Your Life: Steady Does It

Running for Your Life: If-the-Greats-Were-With-Us Thursday

Then, of course, there is Goya. Who better to lay bare the essence of our current times? Critic T.J. Clark tells us about a show of the Album D drawings by the great Spanish artist (1746-1828) now at London’s Courthauld until May 25: Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album.

Clark writes:

  • “There seem to be difficult things in the world, like old age and human cruelty and petty malice and the ugliness of lust, to which I (Goya) am drawn, and which I can’t put down – can’t get used to.”


  • “I couldn’t put a name to the quality of Goya’s laughter, or decide how much I wanted to join in.”


  • “The wordlessness of Goya’s pages – the way his images annihilate their scribbled captions, and never stop saying ‘De esto nada sabe’ (‘Nothing is known of this”) – seems intrinsic.”


  • “This is old man’s art – Goya was in his seventies, as profoundly deaf as his contemporary Beethoven, when he did Album D – and in old age acceptance and abhorrence often keep company.”

A lifetime is too short to stand before these drawings and wonder of them as Clark does in the April 9 edition of the London Review of Books.

To quote Matthea Harvey’s title of her beautiful book of visual poetics, “If the Tabloids Are True, What Are You?” There is a reason this work by the incomparable Goya is something you can’t put down. You can’t get used to.

Next: Running for Your Life: Jazz Palace, NYC !

Running for Your Life: “It Follows”

I don’t really go for horror movies all that much. But there’s a lot to like in “It Follows” by David R. Mitchell, now at your local Bijou.

A friend and one of my favorite movie critics, Michael Wood, has this to say, “[It] offers an extraordinary mixture of over and under-statement, with almost nothing in between.”

There is a scene that crystallizes its message for me: When the girlfriend hero asks her boyfriend to play the game in which a person reveals his secret desire: who he would like to change places with. He chooses a coddled toddler.

These are teens with outsized fears before adulthood scrapes the life (the sex?) out of them. Could it be even teens see so much of their life has passed them by? If only we could do it over. But we can’t. “It Follows,” that we can’t. Mitchell is definitely on to something here.

Next: Running for Your Life: If-the-Greats-Were-With-Us Thursday