Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

January 31, 2010

My Visit to Salinger's House

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 4:21 pm

I’ve had some requests to reprint this account of my journey and my belief that his silence was a principled position. A reproof to the publicity industial complex (a phrase first used there in).

Rest in the peace you sought so long and hard.


January 30, 2010

Remind Me: What is the Tea Party Plan to Cover the Unnsured?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 10:06 am

Or are they just content to see them suffer and die in greater numbers because they are poor? Remember this is not a question about Obamacare and its flaws. If you dodge the question with a typical loutish rant on that subject it’s an admission of ignorance or cruelty. This is a question about what you, Tea Partiers would do if you had the power. I’d like to hear specifics, else you’ll in effect be admitting you just don’t care.

January 29, 2010

Nabokov and Nuclear War

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 12:28 pm

Some commenter recently sought out my views on Nabokov’s uncompleted work, The Original of Laura and acted indignantly like I’d never addressed the question before, So, just in case you missed it. here is a link to the most recent of at least five columns I’ve written on the subject for The New York Observer and Slate. There will be a quiz.

And that link contains links to most of the others. It will explain why even though I don’t believe the book should have been published, against the author’s wishes, I’m nonetheless thanked in the acknowledgments by Nabokov’s son. . Strange story.

Maybe I’ve misjudged my audience. I’d be happy to learn there are people out there who care as much for culture as they do for vitriolic politics.

In any case I’ll take this opportunity to link to a podcast of the recent segment of This American Life I I did. on the so called “Letter of Last Resort” in British nuclear submarines which I think you’ll find of interest.

In fact for my book on nuclear war I’d like to hear from any nuclear submariners who feel free to talk.

January 28, 2010

Is This the True Spirit of the Republican Party?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 3:17 pm

I’m not accusing all Republicans of holding these views, but I haven’t heard many cries of outrage or calls for disavowal.

I guess being brought up by liberal Democratic parents, I was predisposed to believe this is how Republicans really think of the poor. But I know that’s not true of all of them.

On the other hand, why the silence? Here, I’ll give Republicans a chance to say that isn’t how they think. and please don’t waste your breath telling me Democrats think bad things. It will indicate to me you are avoiding the question because you can’t answer it or the answer is damning. The question about your party’s soul.

Wouldn’t you be ashamed to be in the same party that encourages the likes of this repulsive pol? I’m talking about South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate, Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer, who delivered himself of this wisdom:

(CNN) – South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, under fire for drawing a comparison between needy people and “stray animals,” said Monday that he regrets his choice of words.

In a phone interview with CNN, Bauer, a Republican candidate for governor, said, “I wish I had used a different metaphor.” Bauer told an audience Friday that people receiving government assistance are like “stray animals” because “they breed” and “don’t know any better.”

No Andre, you’re the one who doesn’t know any better. Thousands of years of moral evolution that have placed a high value on helping the unfortunate passed you by, you amoral ignoramus. And don’t compound it by lying, you heartless creep. You don’t regret it; you only regret the momentary media revelation of your repugnant true nature.

January 27, 2010

Tort Reform Ignorance

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:22 am

Have any of you been reading the absolutely horrifying stories in the New York Times series on radiation treatment mutilations and medical murders?

(That’s what they are by the way, the hundreds of thousands who die from malpractice complications, usually after unbearable agony.)

Put yourself in the place of one of these patients who have been literally “cooked’ to death, had irreparable holes burned into their vital organs by incompetent, un-qualified, greedy, uncaring doctors, hospitals, technicians, and medical device profiteers. This isn’t medical malpractice; it’s savage, deadly butchery carried out to make a quick buck off the suffering and fears of (mainly) cancer patients, leaving them and their families physically devastated forever.

Reading the series (I’ve linked to today’s second part, but it’s easy to go back to the beginning) makes one’s disgust with human nature even more intense.

It is only sheer ignorance of the facts — of the millions of medical ” mistakes” with horrifically painful, debilitating, crippling and deadly results — that would cause anyone to take the blundering doctors’ side in this controversy. Sure there are great doctors, some of whom make inadvertent mistakes, but the vast majority of medical malpractice is committed by arrogant, incompetent greed-head MDs who treat patients like factory-farm chickens bound to be butchered sooner or later, so why listen to them squawk and spoil the noble image of godlike authority and benevolence so many doctors still arrogate to themselves?

It’s bad but the evidence is this: doctors don’t learn from their mistakes. They are multiple malefactors. Stopping one with a lawsuit is a blessing to the as-yet uninjured. They keep making damaging mistakes, ruining or ending the lives of patients through carelessness or ignorance or sheer lust to pack in as many paying customers as they can. Lawsuits at least allow citizens’ redress. Anyone who could say “tort reform” is a solution to the health care crisis is ignorant. And yes there are greedy and creepy medical malpractice lawyers, but there are also some who care about the ravages of the ruthless butchery they get to see in their office every day. And the steely unconcern of insurance companies in the face of emergencies or extensive life-saving procedures.

But that’s the way capitalism works. Shark eat shark, and I’d rather have the medical sharks looking over their shoulder at the malpractice sharks than not. Maybe they’ll pay attention when their super high-tech radiation machines are “cooking” and burning holes in people.

January 25, 2010

Brothers Deserves the Oscar More Than…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:30 am

Hurt Locker. The latter turns the Iraq conflict into Hollywood thriller cliche. Brothers returns a kind of agonized humanity to what was becoming a propaganda genre.

I just don’t understand why Brothers has been over-shadowed. Was it because people were tired of over-politicized war films and thought this was one?

Brothers is a brilliantly written and acted story of the cost of war that neither denigrates nor mythicizes the soldiers fighting it. It’s directed by Jim Sheridan, who won an Oscar for My Left Foot and has now made the film of a lifetime. It was written by David Benioff, who also wrote another amazing underrated film 25th Hour, based on his novel of that name, and directed by Spike Lee — his best — back in 2002. The guy can write.

Without getting into specifics — this is one movie whose plot you can’t summarize without ruining it — let’s just say it’s about two brothers: one who goes to Afghanistan (Tobey Maguire) and his other brother (Jake Gyllenhaal), the bad boy who stays behind and tries to take care of his brother’s wife. Based on a 2004 Danish film, there’s something primal, almost Biblical about it.

It’s a film that captures the unimaginable pain of separation that soldiers and their spouses go through, the horror they’re subjected to, and the PTSD that haunts them when they come home.

Yes, there are spectacular plot twists and you can’t forget that Natalie Portman (as the wife) is Natalie Portman (in a good way). But more than anything, it’s so intensely human and true it’s almost unbearable (in a good way).

Don’t miss it; it’s utterly riveting. Although I’ve already suggested Christian McKay of Me and Orson Welles for an Oscar, I can’t imagine Tobey Maguire not getting a nomination and wouldn’t feel bad at all if he wins, as the film itself should.

You can spend a billion dollars on special 3-D effects and never glimpse the dimensions of the human heart one can find in this film.

January 11, 2010

My Theory of Bill Clinton's Coffee Remark: The Game-Change Mystery Woman

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:52 pm

I’m the one who called him “Lower than a Yard Dog” in my last post about him. But I think he might have sunk even lower in my estimation.

Somehow part of me had, evidently, continued to be conned by his “sincerity” about civil rights. It was his best schtick — the Southern white boy who resisted the culture of segregation and racism. I mean there’s some truth there, isn’t there?

But the reports from Game Change, the new book about the 2008 presidential election, are — and as yet Clinton has not denied them — that he tried to make a joke to Teddy about Obama when ostensibly seeking Teddy’s endorsement for Hillary. He joked that Obama was so unready that a few years ago he would have been serving them coffee.

It’s that “serving them” thing that is so obtuse and offensive, and we must assume that the story came from Teddy Kennedy or someone he told it to before he died.

What more could he have done than to alienate the ailing senator whose family identification with the civil rights cause was one of the chief glories of its decidedly mixed record?

January 7, 2010

Is Revolver the Greatest Beatles Album? Or what?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:51 pm

I know: the question has been asked many times before. But I’ve been thinking about the Beatles lately because I had a call recently from one of America’s great writers on contemporary music, Tim Riley, who wrote an a near-perfect book called Tell Me Why, which is really a series of brilliant short essays about Beatles songs.

Gracefully written essays that treat the songs with a trained musician’s ear, not just as poetic texts to decode but as songs that achieve that evanescent alchemical fusion of word and music in which the lead and leadenness of type on a page is transmuted into gold on the stage. Or in the groove.

Riley amazingly both knows how this works and can articulate it better (on the Beatles anyway) than anyone I’ve read. While so many other writers (surprise!) reduce musicians to their words.

Anyway, he was telling me he’d completed a draft of his much anticipated John Lennon book, seven years in the making, and if there’s anyone I want to read on the subject it’s Riley because he knows the music inside and out.

In the course of our discussion he spoke almost ecstatically about the remastered reissues of the classic Beatles albums and how much there was to discover in them, so as soon as we hung up I hied myself to my next door Borders (no product placement fee), found the remasters, and decided to buy one at a time. But which one? It came down to Revolver, Rubber Soul, or Let It Be.

I have an indelible memory of seeing the film Let it Be when it was first released. An experience that’s imprinted itself on my soul, it was that movie, more than the album, but on the other hand, “Two of Us” may be one of the greatest Beatles songs ever. One of the most beautiful love songs, one of the greatest road songs. And I love Rubber Soul. “Nowhere Man.” “”In My Life.” “If I Needed Someone.” But there’s the obstacle of the impossibly syrupy “Michelle,” which I just can’t stand.

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