The recent articles by Seymour M. Hersh in The New Yorker are worth the subscription price and then some. He’s providing us with the most current and by far the most troubling information behind the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Highly recommended. Background article on Hersh here.
Also recommended at The New Yorker are Anthony Lane’s film reviews, many of which have been collected in his book Nobody’s Perfect. Here is a sample from the not-so-distant past, regarding Indecent Proposal. Here he describes the first meeting between Robert Redford and Demi Moore:
So when he sees Diana in a Vegas boutique the wheels of lust start to grind, and before you can say junk bond he’s asking her to kiss his dice and throw a seven. She wins, of course, whereupon he installs her and David [her husband, Woody Harrelson] — who have just lost all their cash — in an expensive suite. They look awed and pleased, although it’s probably the nastiest hotel room ever seen on film: a steel-blue mess, rounded off with a delightful touch, at least in the print I saw — a microphone nodding from its boom at the top of the frame. Gage [Redford] then makes his big offer: a million bucks for a night with Diana — no aftermath, no strings. “It’s just my body,” Diana explains. “It’s not my mind.” I was glad to have that cleared up, though it does raise an interesting question: How much would you pay for an evening with Demi Moore’s mind?
Of the eight people currently in the coffee shop, six of us have laptops. I have, probably to my disadvantage, figured out how to install an AirPort card on my Mac and am currently enjoying a free wireless Internet connection. I say disadvantage because I will get less writing done now that I can obsessively check my e-mail or read author interviews on Powell’s. Interestingly enough, Julie Otsuka, who wrote When the Emporer Was Divine, has a piece at Powell’s about writing every day in a coffee shop for the last several years. I know for a fact that Otsuka is a Columbia MFA graduate who still lives in New York City, and of course I want to know which coffee shop she uses, because obviously I will be shopping for a new one come September. Call it coffee shop envy. One has to choose carefully, there are coffee shops where people go with their laptops, and there are coffee shops where people go to talk. Cafe Flore, just down the street, is more of the latter. They also play their music louder and have unfortunately made a switch to some cable radio station that plays pop songs from the 70’s and 80’s over and over. And not the good pop songs, either. I’m talking Mariah Carey. Whereas in this coffee shop the rumpled young Asian man behind the counter is partial to, well, I don’t know what to call it, it’s more John Cage than Mariah Carey. At times it grates on my nerves, especially when I’ve been reading the same sentence in The New Yorker for the last seven and a half minutes, but then the chord changes and Cage fades agreeably into the background.
A couple of minutes ago a guy in a bomber jacket with a white bandana wrapped around his sweaty forehead came in, muttering to himself. I noticed that he did NOT have a laptop, nor did he stop at the counter and order a latte. In fact, he retired to the hallway outside the bathroom, several feet from my table, and picked up the receiver from the pay phone. I watched him out of the corner of my eye. He was the kind of person I would inevitably have to 86 when I was a bartender back in my days of youthful despair. Take it from a former meth addict, this guy was tweaking. Or is it tweeking. I can never remember. He fiddled with the receiver, lifted it to his ear and then, without depositing any change, punched six or seven digits on the pad. The person on the other end must have picked up immediately, for he began talking right away. “Uh, yes, I’d just like to…uh..confirm my job interview for tomorrow and uh..thank you very much.” He hung up and then placed several more calls, all without quarters or, from what I could tell, a Sprint card. I looked up and we made eye contact, whereupon he straightened his posture and inquired as to his checking account balance. Then he hung up and skulked out to the sidewalk. I watched him walk away, realizing with a start our similarites. For here I sit, pretending to work, dependent upon the good will of some unseen authority for the next open door.