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Sir Francis Bacon’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: With a Little Help from Byron and Strindberg

Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song, and I’ll try not to sing out of key. —Lennon and McCartney There is no excellent beauty that hath not…

Looking for Amiri Baraka and LeRoi Jones on Martin Luther King’s Birthday

“Amiri Baraka, The Last Poet Laureate of New Jersey.” This is how Baraka, who died at 79 on January 9, signed the introduction to his 2007 short story collection, Tales…

The Year of Reading Shakespeare Begins in the Skies Over London

I kept thinking of Shakespeare as I watched the eleven-minute BBC video of London’s spectacular New Year’s fireworks display. All that celestial excitement exploding above his river, his city, his…

Take a Cup of Kindness for Auld Lang Syne, Peter O’Toole, and the Librarian on the Bench

“In My Life” started out as a bus journey from my house to town … and it wasn’t working at all …. But then I laid back and these lyrics…

’Tis the Season for Film Noir: Winged Words on a Homeland Holiday

“The bad girls were so much fun to play …. Critics always said I acted best with a gun in my hand.” —Audrey Totter (1917-2013) When actress Audrey Totter died…

Over the Bridge to the Other Side — A Matter of Life and Death

Here we go again, life or death on the dreaded Williamsburg Bridge. I know to stay in the far right lane but as I come to the Brooklyn moment of…

Looking Into “The Cairo Trilogy” Through a Half-Open Window

“You should be serious about serious things and playful when you play. There’s an hour for your Lord and an hour for your heart.” —said by Zanuba, the lute player…

Catcher in the Rain: Reading Rilke and Salomé, Salinger and Esmé

no one, not even the rain, has such small hands —e.e. cummings This column began during one of those steady unthreatening rainfalls when you can imagine you hear the night…

On James Agee’s Birthday: Celebrating New York Beginnings With Grace Kelly and Lou Reed

New York City, how I love you, blink your eyes and I’ll be gone just a little grain of sand. —Lou Reed (1942-2013), from “Nyc Man” If anybody starts using…

Kennedy 50 Years After Dallas: A Sense of History, A Sense of Fate, A Sense of Himself

I used to have the feeling that no matter what happened I’d get through. It’s a funny thing that as long as you have that feeling you seem to get…