Tuesday, June 26, 2007

WaPo on the Dark Lord + Platanos & Collard Greens Anyone?

In case anyone has missed it so far, the Washington Post is running a series of articles, under the general title "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency," that suggest Dick Cheney is possibly the most powerful and dangerous Vice President we have ever had, and perhaps on par with the previous candidate for this dubious honor, Aaron Burr. But the thorough, informative articles aren't simply a catalogue of scaremongering anecdotes, though there are more than enough of those. Instead, they portray a zealous, unimaginably powerful extremist ideologue who's essentially a marioneteer, except that the puppet show he controls is the US government, our federal government. The "Commander Guy" has his say, but you can guess who wins in the end, often by convincing the "Decider" to go right along with his plans. And who said mesmerism and ventriloquy were lost arts?

(On some blogs, there's been discussion of the meta aspects of these articles; some bloggers surmise that they were prepared a while ago, but held back by the Post's editors, causing a mini-tempest, etc. Given how frequently the Post does backflips for the administration, would confirmation of this revelation cause the least surprise?)

Meanwhile, the doyenne of Official Washington, who recently was demanding that Barack Obama show his papers, is now airing her cohort's concerns that, well, Cheney might just have to go. Figure that! In 2007, after nearly two complete terms worth of damage! And who would replace him? Get ready: a certain tired, ill, not very sharp former lobbyist and current TV actor who seems, mysteriously, to activate their erogenous zones....


Platanos and Collard GreensI was holding in mind the post last week on Latinos of African descent as I reread this report on David Lamb's play Platanos and Collard Greens [behind a Times Select wall, my apologies] by Ginia Bellafante* in the New York Times. I haven't seen it but I want to (along with Grey Gardens, The Coast of Utopia, and about 2-3 other current theatrical offerings in NYC), and not just because of the title's culinary appeal. Bellanfante's "review" makes the piece sound quite simplistic but worth noting because da folks--da folks!--keep returning to see it. (The play's website gives me a different, better impression.) But then again, she notes its origins in Lamb's life and as a novel, the demand among New York City high school students for the prose text to become a play, and how viewers keep returning to it. So I do want to see what it's like. Has anyone out there seen it yet? Thoughts?

*Every time I read her name, I see Belafonte!


Reply to Kai: Blogger won't let me post to my own comments section, so here's what I was trying to write to you:

Hi Kai, I'm glad you enjoyed Blood Meridian. I'm not surprised it ravished, but did you find its content and ethical stances disturbing, morally troubling, etc.? It is his best book, with Suttree and the first two books of his Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing, also demonstrate his genius. I am looking forward to getting to The Road later this summer. He's too much too read while I'm immersed in my own writing; the centripetal pull of his prose is undeniable. I agree about Bolaño's The Savage Detectives, though the narrative slows in the latter sections, to good purpose. Have you read Bolaño's spellbinding Last Night in Chile? There are pages where the lyricism takes flight--figuratively (I'll say no more, but you know the moment when you reach it)...that work alone certifies his importance to me.


  1. I seem to have read Blood Meridian differently from you. I found the violence awesome, in the old sense of the word, but at the same time motivated by a deep, subtle current of moral investigation. More than anything else (apart, of course, from an aesthetic tour de force--the authoritative and vivid mix of neologism and mot juste he writes with compares only to Shakespeare in my experience; but what do I know) the novel struck me as a (learned this word from reading you!) "recomplication" of our simplistic notions of how Indians (Apaches) and various encroachers interacted: the victimized and legitimately wronged became, in some instances, marauders nonpareil, and those we held up as heroes never were, but despicably self interested. I thought he put forth the arguemnt subtlely, for sure, but it seemed clear enough to me: morally rigorous and, though appalling, convincing--not as you suggest amoral, or, or, "problematically" moral (how should one designate the moral argument of another which one feels is inadequate, or faulty?--I didn't find MacCarthy's so). Certainly, in the grand Judeo-Christian tradition, all those who lived by the sword got their just deserts in the end. But the novel's ambiguity was profound, and certainly admits variant readings--one reason I was so keen to turn right back to the first page and begin again, thinking I might see much differently.

    Maybe you could expand on what troubled you?

    I have read only the one by Bolano (and not completely yet!), but the Strand has discounted copies of At Night in Chile, so I'm very tempted. But my summer list is so long already!

  2. Kai, I think you're reading to much into my questions, but I'm off for a few days, so I'll reply when I return. But the novel does pose a number of aesthetic issues I'll definitely try to discuss soon....