Category Archives: it’s a small world

Daily Oddities, July 23rd, 2009

We’ve got lots to talk about today, so lets get right down to the real serious stuff.

Globe: Things still really suck for EU little cousins Bulgaria and Romania, where infighting, corruption and graft are making it difficult to get anything done. Vote-buying, which we’ve mentioned before, is easy when your political power is less valuable (and less real) than a few kilos of sugar. Someone finally explains the decriminalization of homosexuality in India, which was confusing us, and scientists learn that chimps really had AIDS all along.  Chief Rabbis have threatened to un-kosher certain veggies for overspraying, and the first trials of a new swineflu vaccine are underway in the land down under!

California: As we repored earlier, it’s going to be a hot motherfucker in the Southland this weekend. Which apparently won’t stop people from lining up around the corner for social services from the Mexican Consulate (brought to you by the department of obvious feature stories).

If you want social services in Brooklyn: Brokelyn’s got a special report on all the places you can recieve medical care if you haven’t got a pesky little thing called insurance. Which could come in handy if you happen to run into one of the CRAZY RABID RACOONS terrorizing the boroughs or if you happen to be part of the half of New York City that is overweight.


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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Brooklyn, Daily Oddities, Israel, it's a small world, Los Angeles, Swine Flu

Bibliomaniac’s Guide to Reading

Some days, it seems like reading is a lost art. Sure, we read text messages and Tweets and even Japanese cell phone novels; we read on the iPhone and the Kindle and maybe even the headlines at, but when was the last time you sat down with a serious work of literary fiction or long-form journalism and actually finished it? Whose was the last biography you read? The last book of essays? The last contender for Great American Novel?

The sad fact is, in the first quarter of 2009, one out of every seven books sold in the United States was by Stephanie Meyer, of Twilight fame.  The very existence of Dan Brown in the cannon should be enough to make writers, would be writers, and lit nerds alike throw down their swords and give up the fight. I’m not against popular literature–far from it–but wasn’t there a time in the not so distant past where we made a distinction between pop and pulp, where writers like Mark Twain,  Judy Blume and Kurt Vonnegut wrote blockbuster bestsellers that didn’t suck (and that’s just the Americans). Sure, good writers are still out there ( and G-d willing, always will be) but their market is ever-shrinking. The reason? Readers have forgotten how to read.

Sure, the internet has a hand in it, but so does the proliferation of the automobile, the explosion of television, the sub-/exurb and the increasing demands of modern life. Now that you’re un- (or under) employed (or, conversely, now that you’re maximally stressed trying to scrimp around the edges and make ends meet in a fantastically bad economy), here’s 7 tips to help you relearn reading.

1) Break it up: The number one reason non-readers don’t read is that reading is boring. Yes, I admit it, even I get bored with books. That’s why I read across platforms (to borrow terminology). A typical month includes daily internet news, two weekly magazines, one or two novels, a collection of short stories or essays and a biography or non-fiction book. That’s a lot, but even beginners can mix and match to match their ability, taste and appetite. For more clues on how to do it, keep reading…

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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Bibliomania, it's a small world, nanowrimo08, The Liberal Media

Sergei Dovlatov, and why you should care

It’s been a little while since I felt the compulsive need to write/talk/read about Sergei Dovlatov, the unsung Soviet storyteller whose raw wit and uncomfortable humor trancends national borders, economic philosophies, and continents, even if it never trancended Russian. He is also my favorite author, and the subject of this week’s New Yorker Fiction Podcast.

Dovlatov was at once the ultimate starving artist and the ultimate sell-out hack. He was as reluctant a Soviet as he was an American, and yet he excelled at both. Though he died of liver cirrosis (which, if you’ve read any of his fiction, is painfully ironic) at 48, he was exceptionally prolific. Yet, much deserved notoriety has evaded him, in death as in life. Perhaps because he died at precisely the same historical moment as the Soviet Union, a period in which our interest in our great Cold War nemisis suddenly evaporated into thin air.  Perhaps it’s because so little of his work is translated, although that’s a rather specious arguement. In any case, Dovlatov is one of only a few writers you’re more likely to find at your local library than at your local bookstore. Go check him out. Vidoes are in Russian.

Dovlatov on being a writer:

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Rep Barney Frank is the hottest pool volleyball playing mother fucker on Earth

Rep Barney Frank is the hottest pool volleyball playing mother fucker on Earth

Be the AWESOME you wish to see in the world, Barney. BE IT.

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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Daily Oddities, it's a small world

Terror Couture

Recently, I’ve become obsessed by terrorist chic- not the kind defined so brilliantly by bradtriescriticaltheory – the sort that’s already been coopted and comodified to the point that Palestinians should be embarassed to wear the kaffieyeh, but things you could only hope to buy abroad or in the untouched pockets of outer borogh New York. After all, isn’t that what drives fashion? Having stuff others can’t? Terror chic are things I would wear if i lived in nihilist, party-obsessed Berlin, where no one gives a fuck about being PC and my friend Anna walks around in a fox stole and suspenders over a wifebeater. Granted, I’ve never been there, but if i were i think this is what i would don.

La Santa Muerte medal:

Two years from now, this will be on Vice Mag’s DOs/DON’Ts list. Today, I could only begin to start to tell you where you get it. Santa Muerte is the sculled and hooded figure of death, the patroness of narcotraficantes. Wear it on a gold chain, either over your cleavage creasing text-tat or in that bear-patch you’ve so artfully groomed to  sweat in full public view  over the collar of your V-neck 50-50 tee.

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Sri Lanka vs Darfur: How We Read Conflict

*(reader note: since lots of my recent traffic seems to have an infants sense of irony, I’m marking anything I said ironic  with asterisks. ****)

I was asked in an interview recently why the Sri Lankan conflict (which has about 1/2 the deaths + 1/3 of the refugees of the Darfur crisis – 95% of the international attention) doesn’t get more press. Upon realizing that I knew the answer and could articulate it, I felt at once elated, depressed and fucking nerdy. I also felt a deep and abiding need to share.

1) Sri Lanka has precisely  * zero * strategic interest for anyone, ever (except India).
The island, though rich in culture, history, and foliage, lacks the natural resources of a place like, say Burma. As an island it borders nothing, and so threatens little. The only people Sri Lanka ever menaces are Indians, though they do that to great effect, since at least the time of the Ramayan, when the demon Ravaana came up out of its jungles to wreck Bible-style havoc. The Tamil refugee crisis has sparked civil unrest in India’s southernmost state, where the entire parlament resigned late last year to protest Delhi’s not doing of things. Then again, Tamil Tigers killed Rajiv Gandhi, so maybe it was, like, a thing. On the third hand, India’s protracted elections will probably reflect, at least in part, Tamil Nadu’s increasing distress at Delhi’s cold shoulder.

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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, India, it's a small world, Religion, Sri Lanka, United Nations

Check Out my Awesome Slideshow


I am consistantly amazed at how much i get to do whatever i want.

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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Brooklyn, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, it's a small world, Sri Lanka, The Liberal Media, United Nations