On My Mind
Thinking in Words, Selectively
The daily engagement of thoughts and ideas and the effort to sprint—often times correctly, sometimes incorrectly, and occasionally harmfully—to get something said first is a methodology I’m going to leave to others. Though I read a New York Times article recently (April 2013) about a dispute over ownership of the Empire State Building and conjured up a dialogue among King Kong, Deborah Kerr (“An Affair to Remember”), and Michael Bloomberg to prevent conversion of the observation deck to luxury condos that some might have enjoyed reading. Instead, it stayed, rightfully, in my head.
What’s “on my mind” does involve current matters, sometimes provoked by news articles about cultural and generational changes that I’ll post with comment. The book review I wrote—“The Lawyer, Louis D. Brandeis, A Life,” which is posted below as a pdf—is more reflective of what I intend; hoping to provoke dialogue not as lament about what used to be but about what could and should be, not just as public policy or law but as personal and cultural imperative. I also expect to post brief essays about other matters, movies and movie directors, the occasional adventure and, most likely, anecdotal observations or insights into characters or settings I chose to create in my novel or have examined in my other work.
“There are moments, sometimes seconds or minutes in duration, when the risk of being outdoors in the cold or the water or on the ice is no longer diminished by gear, clothing, the learned rules of safety, or even the proximity of colleagues. It is when the white clarity of preparation confronts the black reality of nature’s deadly unpredictability, where judgment, physicality, and luck meld together to form the intuitive response to save your limb or life or your journey’s purpose. You’re in the gray.”
“The United States Senate Banking Committee hearings conducted by Ferdinand Pecora yielded disclosures about more than the self‐serving, unethical conduct of the nation’s largest banks and most prominent bank officers. The hearings, perhaps with an intention not originally conceived, also disclosed conduct by Wall Street law firms in the precise business documentation and transactions that deceived existing and prospective stockholders, and the pubic generally, to the bankers’ and the lawyers’ benefit.”
“The bared, sordid underbelly of men at City Bank, Chase, and JP Morgan that Pecora’s questioning revealed was permanently solidified into the face that still haunts any predictability or prospect of an ethical-driven normalcy. The current apprehension of what such men are capable of doing, only randomly uncovered to no ones surprise and rarely rectified to even less surprise, remains fairly constant in America….Numerous, unexceptional examples of wrongdoing and bold daring to test the limited resources of even the most responsible government official, are reported daily. ‘Too big to fail”…. will continue until the complete rationale [for such conduct] is questioned and exposed. Ferdinand Pecora sought to examine that rationale in 1933…”
Short fiction by NTP
In the early months of 2013, the novelist Mary McCarthy was approached by three colleagues in literature, each concerned in distinct ways by the problematic evolution of their reputation, and how and in what form it might endure into this Century: Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Mary Magdalene. Each invited a third person to aid in the dialogue: Dashiell Hammett, David Lean, and Frances Cabrini.
Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson
If there was an enigmatic element in Lawrence’s temperament, it may be found in his imagination under pressure, his intuitive skill at melding geographical and military thinking, and the decisiveness of his choices in giving his imagination life. He saw the moment. They were accurate and monumental choices.
Louis D. Brandeis: A Life by Melvin I. Urofsky
A specter is haunting the nation. Theodore Dreiser’s Frank Algernon Cowperwood; the financier, the titan, “perfectly calm, deadly cold,” selling stock he did not own. As the banker, he was entrusted with other people’s money. “[L]ike a spider in a spangled net, every thread of which he knew, had laid, had tested, he surrounded and entangled himself in a splendid, glittering network of connections, and he was watching the details.”