For my money, Fresh Air is the best program on radio. And Terry Gross is the best interviewer in the world. Nobody follows-up the way Terry Gross does. My favorite interview? Divine, explaining how John Waters talked him into eating a dog turd and what he did after he ate it. If you can get your nerve up to interview Terry Gross, you're ready to interview anybody.
I don't know who River is, but Baghdad Burning is a brilliant blog. It's out in book form now, complete with introductions and assessments by foreworders, but I like to read it on line better, the way I read it first. When River left Iraq and stopped blogging, I felt an important voice of Iraqi nationalism had been silenced. I may never know who River is, or even whether she is a woman or a man. I may never know if her blog is one of the finest examples of citizen journalism I've read, or just clever propaganda. For all I know, River is an Iranian agent. Juan Cole seems to believe she's authentic, but, for all I know, Dr. Cole is an Iranian agent himself. This is cyberspace. It's worse than Chinatown. Nothing is as simple as it seems.
I keep this picture on my desktop to remind me that I know less than zero about what's going on most of the time.
What's happening here is Norman Schwartzkopf, the first general to double envelop an enemy army since Hannibal, and an authentic genius with an I.Q. of 168, is telling the leaders of the Iraqi army he destroyed that they can keep their helicopters so they can massacre the Shiites down around Basra when the Shiites revolt. The Shiites in the South were Iran's way into Iraq, you see.
Schwartzkopf's version of the event is that the Iraqis fooled him. I saw him say that in an interview. He said it with a wry smile. He thought they wanted those helicopters to fly to business meetings or something like that, he said. The Iraqis fooled Colin Powell, Dick Cheney and George H.W. Bush at the same time, of course.
This is Schwartzkopf's envelopment of the Iraqi army. Look where the 24th Mechanized Division is. You tell me if you believe Schwartzkopf could be gulled by a bunch of Iraqis.
When Camille Paglia started writing about Madonna back in the Sexual Personae days, I had a hard time keeping their life stories apart. It was never clear to me if Paglia was writing about Madonna or about herself. It's not hard to tell these days. Apparently, Paglia doesn't approve of the way Madonna has chosen to age.
I always figured it was a bad idea to talk about anybody's body parts, but Paglia and the British press are into the contrast between Madonna's face and her legs. Paglia says Madonna looks like a dissolute old streetwalker. Maybe Paglia has written about Madonna so much she thinks she owns her. For Paglia, writing has become a kind of sympathetic magic. She uses the written word instead of a voodoo doll.
I'm more interested in Madonna when she was starting out, when she was dancing and posing nude for Lee Friedlander.
How did Madonna become Madonna. That's what I want to hear about.
An Unknown Soldier
He was probably a Russian, though he might have been Polish. He was among the first Russian Army soldiers to enter Auschwitz, one of the first to liberate a concentration camp with living prisoners. On January 27, 1945, he found 7,000 survivors at Auschwitz. Like the prisoners at the other camps on the Eastern front, the rest of the Jews and political prisoners at Auschwitz had been killed or relocated as the line of battle moved toward Germany.
Thornton Wilder constructed his novel The Bridge At San Luis Rey around the collapse of a suspension bridge in Peru. Wilder asks why some people ended up on the bridge that day, while others escaped death.
If one of those Russian soldiers is still alive, I'd like to know how he ended up at Auschwitz that day. Exactly how did history choose him for that great honor?