For a two-for-one intro to some uncommonly reliable commentators, listen to this wide-ranging, intergenerational conversation between Sanders campaign National Press Secretary Briahna Joy Gray and historian/Baffler co-founder Thomas Frank, both essential voices among leftist critics of corporate power and media.
Life expectancy in America is retreating. We’re the only Western country where this is happening… Why weren’t we talking about this all the time? Because it happened to ‘those people,’ and because their newspapers are dying or dead.
I know I keep doing this, but The Baffler keeps delivering. If ever an article were the platonic ideal of a piece to spotlight here, it’d be this one, Jessica Fletcher’s review of the Met’s Alice Neel retrospective, running through August 21st. Fletcher’s attention to healthcare and labor in Neel’s life and work, and to enduring economic pressures on women artists, is especially timely.
Neel emphasized how her lack of money led to her own severe depression, remarking, ‘If only I’d had five hundred dollars, I wouldn’t have had the nervous breakdown,’ as she could have kept renting a room and painting instead.
I’m deep into one of my periodic Irish lit spirals; in fact I drafted a whole post about it, but The Cranberries might loom too large… we’ll see. In the meantime, enjoy this 2002 interview with poet/playwright Paula Meehan, excerpted below.
Q. One of the major themes of this conference has been colonialism and postcolonialism and how Ireland fits into that model… I'm wondering if you could say a bit more about that.
A. I was born into the young Republic. With the establishment of the Republic in 1948, we didn't the very next morning wake up as true citizens of that Republic. The process has been slow and very, very difficult. There's so much recidivism, so much throwback to the colonized mentality. I'd be part of a bridging generation… For myself and my contemporaries who are cultural workers, a lot of our work has to do with a kind of detoxing… But after you're decolonized from one power, you're recolonized by another. It sometimes feels that in our case we're now just a part of the economy of the evil empire; transnational capitalism…
The full interview is a long but rewarding read.
1984 IRA poster. Read about Armagh Prison.