TiR was predisposed to join Thomas Chatterton Williams in admiration of his dad, after reading these parts of the interview linked here:
Q: Your father owned 15,000 books, but says that he has never read for enjoyment. What is the difference between your attitude toward books and your father’s?
A: It’s true, Pappy is in his 70s and to this day he still underlines articles in the newspaper every morning. My father loves to read, but he can’t simply relax with a good book. Reading will always be work for him. He always felt pressure to read for the purpose of obtaining practical knowledge (even from novels). He was born black in the segregated south in the 1930s, and he figured out early on that if he didn’t teach himself what he needed to know through books no one else would. I contrast this with my own view that it’s nice to enjoy literature for purely aesthetic reasons.
. . .
Q: How does your father feel about Losing My Cool?
A: Since then he’s read the book cover to cover at least three more times, underlining it extensively (always underlining!).
Williams here generally is discussing his 2011 book, Losing My Cool: Love, Literature, and a Black Man's Escape from the Crowd.
TCW first came to TiR's attention with his Baldwinian take on the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, here.
A great relief it is to search the DSMIV [.pdf] and V and to find no entries to indicate that an autodidactic insistence on reading texts in hardcopy and underlining them has (yet) come to be considered a disorder.
TiR has no idea if the novel contains "blasphemy."
However, why does it seem that the most imaginably "blasphemous" passages are also the funniest?
Or the most bitingly ironical . . .
Ha ha! I've always wondered to myself: Why such a complicated relationship between this religion and wine? Why do we demonize this beverage when it's supposed to flow in rivers in Paradise? Why is it forbidden down here, but promised to us up there? Drunk driving. Maybe God doesn't want humanity to drink while driving the universe in His place, holding the wheel for both of us. . . OK OK, I admit it, the argument is a bit dodgy. I love to ramble on, as you're starting to know.(pgs. 61-2)
For me, religion is a form of public transportation which I don't take. I would rather go to God by foot, if I must do it at all, but not as part of a package tour.(p. 76)
If I may be so bold as to say it, religions horrify me. All of them! Because they skew the weight of the world. I've sometimes wanted . . to scream out: stop your whiny recitation of verses! Live in the world! Open your eyes to your own power and dignity! And stop running after a father who has fled away into the skies and who is never coming back.(p. 79)
What would I do if I had a scheduled appointment to meet God and I passed a motorist on the road who needed me to help him fix his car? I don't know. I am that guy who's broken down, not the one who's passing by in search of holiness.(p. 80)
The story is told of a certain Sadhu Amar Bharati. You've undoubtedly never heard tell of this gentleman. He is an Indian who insists that he has kept his right arm raised up in the air for thirty eight years. And as result, his arm is nothing more than a bone wrapped in skin. It will stay stuck until he dies. Maybe that's the way it goes for all of us, deep down. For some, it's arms hugging the void left by the body of a loved one. For others, it's a hand holding onto a baby that's already grown old, a leg raised above the brink of a thresh-hold that will never be crossed, teeth clenched on a word never pronounced, and so on and so on. The idea keeps me entertained . . . (p. 101-02)
I want to howl out that I am free, that God is a question not an answer, and that I want to meet Him alone, all by myself, as on the day of my birth or my death.(p. 149)
Driving a cab was never a problem for me . . . That was in the says where the cabdriver made 49 percent of the meter, paid in a check every two weeks, and kept all of the tips (maybe thirty dollars on forty to fifty rides a night). We didn't pay insurance, gas, or tires. I remember many nights making a hundred or one hundred twenty dollars, and in the 1970s that was good money. If I worked three nights a week, I had enough to pay my rent and living expenses . . .
A lot of Einstein on the Beach was written at night after driving a cab. The days when I didn't have to drive I had time to write music in the daytime . . .
After five years, I finally quit driving a cab in 1978 when the commission to write Satyagraha for the Netherlands Opera came through.
Uber doesn’t count these drivers as employees. Uber says they’re “independent contractors.”
What difference does it make?
. . Uber drivers pay for their cars – not just buying them but also their maintenance, insurance, gas, oil changes, tires, and cleaning. Subtract these costs and Uber drivers’ hourly pay drops considerably.
from Robert Reich's "Why We're All Becoming Independent Contractors," here.
Reich also mentions Uber drivers' lack of "labor protections." The mid-1970s drivers, like Glass, who drove out of the Dover Taxi Garage seem not to have been formally unionized. However, the garage was the hotbed of the Taxi Rank and File Coalition, described by the NLRB in 1977 as "an activist group of taxi industry employees with participants working at various of the companies covered" by Local 3036's contract.
Mark Jacobson's classic 1975 magazine piece on Dover gives a good sense of the Coalition's militancy.
A terrific blog devoted to the Coalition, including six full years' worth of scans of its newspaper, The Hot Seat, discussing its activities, is here.
Hotaling's, the fabled Times Square newsstand, quietly closed its landmark store . . .
Hotaling's colorful grandfather, also named Arthur, began Hotaling's News Agency in New York in 1905 on the theory that visitors and new New Yorkers wanted to read their hometown newspapers. . . .
Hotaling once complained that Broadway was being hurt by the demise of yokels. "I'll tell you what's the matter with Broadway - there's no more yokels left," he said. "There's no back-country for them to come from. The automobiles marked the end of real yokels, and everything that lived off the yokels - from Broadway to the circus - is dying."
Nothing else like that glorious place, then or since.
Debord put it nicely in his Considérations sur l'assassinat de Gérard Lebovici:
He who does not, of his own free will [spontanément], make himself as visible as possible in the spectacle, lives in fact in secrecy, since all current communication in society passes through this mediation. He who lives in secrecy is a clandestine person.
TiR out of curiosity took a shot a englishing this new piece of writing by Kamel Daoud:
Le Point Afrique - Published 1/11/2015
Charlie Hebdo and Africa: The name of Allah, the first name of Ahmed, the pseudonyms of 'Charlie'
The Algerian journalist and writer, targeted by a recent fatwa, is not afraid of death. The same does not go for the prospect of a world without liberty in which he would have no 'place.'
This is the mechanism of the '11': an 'Allahou akbar,' a few assailants, several deaths, some analysts in TV studios, some rallies, a slogan, a plan for Global War part II, some conspiracy theories, some people weeping and then a president who calls for a gathering of the people and promises retribution. Next, three or four religions on the corner, who issue condemnations, some extremists who remind us that they saw all of this coming a mile away, some relatives of the dead who bear witness, and some Muslims who affirm that to pray is not the same thing as to murder. This mechanism is without shades of grey. One of the officers struck down is named Ahmed, so they say, but it's no use. The mechanism of '9/11' has the name 'Allah,' not the first name 'Ahmed.' Wearying. A remake of a remake, for the Algerian that I am, a child of the 90s war. Exhausting beyond words. Nothing to say. At night, I watch Global Television, I hear condemnation and desolation, but it's no use. Or nearly so. It's not enough. 'I am Charlie' versus 'I am Allah,' with, in the middle, 'I am nothing.' Or nearly so. Suffocation.
The fable of the three hostages
This is the story of three hostages held by ISIS in the unified global Sahara: God; the lukewarm and soundproof Muslim; and the White person -- an illustrator, Christian, Jewish or otherwise, or a bystander, or a freedom fighter in the world called 'Arab.' In the first video clip, we do not see the hostage. He's said nothing for centuries. We make him say whatever we want by inserting little verses. This is the hostage as imagined, or the hostage who imagines the universe that contains us. It is a mental clip in the head of the jihadist: 'I am Allah' because 'Allah told me so.' The Jihadist proclaims himself God so as to give the middle finger to Christianity, which proclaimed God in man. The second hostage is only half visible. He is the Muslim who says nothing, and whose lines we 'dub in.' He's not the one firing off but it's his lips which move. This is hostage number two. We can set him free but only if he himself wants to be; to accept the Stockholm model without the Stockholm Syndrome (with the Jihadist); to begin, as if taking the first step on the Moon, to reject but also to reread his books, to sort his garbage from his imams; to accept that the religion is about thinking, taking a second look, making corrections; and to hasten to rejoin humanity instead of slowing down or shooting it in the back. The third hostage is the Other: a drawing, a word, a book, a White man, a sheet of paper, or a tourist, or an Ahmed who was caught in the middle.
Whose child is this killer?
Weariness. To condemn is not enough. It leads to sadness, to the gathering of dead leaves. It's worth recalling that the name Ahmed is not the same name as Allah. But that's hardly enough. It's all well and good to say that the killer does not represent Islam or Muslims, but it's like a flower opening its mouth in a thunderstorm. We'll just have to go there, then. To dissect. To push forth. To tally up. To pose to oneself the true question: This killer is the child of whom? Whence comes the jihadist? One is not born jihadist, one becomes it. Because of the war, of Saudi books, of their satellites, sheikhs, fatwas, promulgations, imams, theologians who flood the world and stuff souls to the gills. One must name and show the matrix. And destroy it.
On the horizon, a multitude of questions
To me, tomorrow is a world as hard and mute as a closed door. Condemned twice over: by a fatwa and by geography. Where can people like me go? Back to oneself, slowly. To accept one's path. I don't know what else to do, except to defend my freedom and my presence in the world, against those who would kill me, and against those who would take me for a killer. I have no place to go, but I know the direction in which I'm going. I'm not afraid to die. However, I fear that the killer will win and fashion a world in which I have no place. It's that. I too am Charlie, and where he goes, there I am.