William F. Buckley, Three Years Passed

Good interview by Kathryn Lopez here with one of the compilers of a recent anthology of William F. Buckley’s work, Athwart History: Half a Century of Polemics, Animadversions, and Illuminations: A William F. Buckley Jr. Omnibus.

Lopez: What does George Will mean when he writes that Bill helped “unmake history”? Do you agree?

Bridges: He was talking about History, the concept invented in the 19th century to mean that the world is controlled by vast impersonal forces, and that there is very little that individuals can do about it. George Will is saying that individuals can “make meaningful choices” — as Bill did in founding National Review. And speaking, as we were a minute ago, of making your argument vivid, here is what Will writes in the Preface: “When he, in effect, rolled up that first copy of National Review and swatted History on its upturned nose, he was saying: You are not all that you have been cracked up to be.” Wish I’d said that!

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Alveda King: ‘The Most Dangerous Place for an African-American is in the Womb!’

A prime example of the level of free speech tolerance on the left. They can’t stand to see faces associated with their slaughter of the innocents.

“CNN reported on Friday that Lamar Advertising, which owns the billboard, decided to take down the message after people who opposed it threatened workers in the building located next to the billboard.

The Rev. Al Sharpton had reportedly planned a protest at the site of the billboard on Saturday and pro-abortions groups had also complained about the pro-life message.

Mary Alice Carr, vice president of communications for NARAL Pro-Choice New
York, said in a statement that the billboard was “attacking women for choosing abortion while simultaneously destroying family planning.”

But King said the billboard should have provoked a different kind of outrage.

“Black people in New York and all over the country should be outraged at the numbers of black babies we lose every single day to abortion,” King said. “An astonishing 60 percent of African-American pregnancies in the five boroughs of New York City end in abortion.
“That’s unfathomable,” King said.”

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The River: 30 Years On

Thirty years ago this week Bruce Springsteen released The River. It’s the album most representative of his live shows in showing the breadth of styles mastered by Bruce and the E Street Band and that by virtue of the number of songs makes it an automatic contender for a Bruce desert island album. A couple of things making the album special to me personally is that it was the first new release by Springsteen after I had been converted to devoted fandom, and it was the first Bruce release after I had begun working for The Record Bar.

In 1980 it had been two years since a new Springsteen album, a pretty long time between releases then, if not as long as the three year wait between Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town. Anticipation had built for the next album with Bruce’s already legendary 1978 Darkness tour, and by his participation at the No Nukes concert the following year. The concert had produced a movie of the same name, containing the first official live releases on film and album of Springsteen and the E Street Ban with the band represented on the LP in a collaboration with Jackson Browne and by their show closing Detroit Medley. On film the songs represented were Thunder Road, Quarter to Three, and a melancholy new song that would become the title track of the next album, The River.

Springsteen has rearranged the title song of The River several times since that Madison Square Garden performance. Some of the re-imaginings work better than others. But none of the subsequent performances has provided the chill factor for me that hearing the opening, mournful harmonica strains and “I come from down in the valley/Where mister, when you’re young/They train you up to do/Like your daddy done’ in the theater at Carolina Circle Mall in Greensboro did. I returned to see the film, I believe, twice more to see the excitement of the live ‘Thunder Road’ and “Quarter to Three’ as well. But I would have gladly done the same if ‘The River’ had been Bruce’s only song in the film.

So it was with the knowledge of that one song, a fandom fed by bootlegs and Dave Marsh’s biography, and anticipation for what might be next that accompanied the unpacking of The River on that new release day at Four Seasons Record Bar. And from the chiming guitar chords and Max Weinberg’s crack drum shot at the beginning of tha album’s opener, ‘The Ties That Bind,’ I don’t think any album by anyone over the last 30 years has fulfilled the hopes and lived up to the promise that The River had for me in 1980.

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Joseph Sobran, R.I.P.

During a week that was marked by the passing of several notables (Tony Curtis, Arthur Penn, and Greg Giraldo among them), the death of Joseph Sobran was relatively overlooked-even at the magazine where he made his reputation, National Review. The remembrance linked here and quoted below is the best I have read.

Calling Sobran a forerunner of Ann Coulter isn’t far off the mark, though Sobran’s skewerings were generally more refined. In the 1970s as I read and slowly found my way from the muck of liberalism to the firmer ground of conservative thought, Sobran along with his mentor Bill Buckley, the writers at The American Spectator, and George Will were bright lights pointing towards right thought (in all senses of the words). Sobran’s later years were marred by a famous disagreement with Buckley (with whom he eventually reconciled), and with some questionable associations. Those later controversies fail to negate his earlier, brilliant writing. He is too soon gone, and is missed.

“…as Sobran frequently lamented, “the U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government.” A president who tried to govern according to the Constitution would probably be impeached. We’ll see how much better the Republicans not named Ron Paul running for Congress this year will fare. “Most Americans aren’t the sort of citizens the Founding Fathers expected; they are contented serfs,” Sobran wrote. “Far from being active critics of government, they assume that its might makes it right.”

Though Sobran died something of a Catholic anarchist, he was no libertine. He understood, for example, the reality behind the euphemism of “choice” in the context of the unborn: “After tens of millions of ‘procedures,’ has America lost anything? Another Edison, perhaps? A Gershwin? A Babe Ruth? A Duke Ellington?” he asked, concluding, “As it is, we will never know what abortion has cost us all.” “

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Hawaii Five-0

To quote Libertas: “• Hawaii Five-O beat out The Event in the ratings, albeit only by a nose. Hooray hot Hawaiian chicks fighting terrorists on The Big Island! Boo pro-Obama/anti-CIA propaganda!”

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Red Riding Trilogy: 1974, 1980, 1983

Good review here of the Red Riding Trilogy, a superlative group of British crime dramas based on the novels of David Peace, that have as their center the crimes of the Yorkshire Ripper. Made for original showing on the BBC, there’s no US crime film of recent vintage in their class. There are particularly strong performances by Sean Bean and Paddy Considine.

“The Red Riding Trilogy is a series of films produced for British television and based on a series of novels by David Peace (The Damned United). The novels chronicle crimes spanning a decade in the Yorkshire suburbs in Northern England. An ambitious film project, it ropes in three different directors to tackle three of Peace’s four books (1977 was dropped), creating a stylistically similar yet distinctive cinematic trio. Each film stands alone, but they also inform each other. Characters come and go, and events are shared between them. An incident in one movie may not have repercussions until another movie, illustrating the long-term effects of crime and the way corruption roots itself into a community and how long it takes to pull it out….

The Red Riding Trilogy is the kind of rich serialized storytelling that only TV can really afford us right now. American movie studios would never invest in something like this, something that requires a commitment and that is unrelenting in its grim outlook. It’s akin to watching three compact seasons of a good cable television series. Naturally, given how barren the Hollywood idea farm is these days, Red Riding has already been optioned for an American remake, with Steve Zaillian and Ridley Scott, the team behind Hannibal and American Gangster, attached to write and direct. This joins The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and Let the Right One In as part of a current trend of remaking foreign films for American audiences. Apparently, it’s not just subtitled movies we won’t see now, it’s also ones with accents. Like those other two films, the idea of another version of Red Riding is a colossally bad one. There is no improvement needed. And it doesn’t take a genius to know that the great innovation the U.S. producers will come up with is to compact it even further, to turn 1974 and 1983 into one narrative.

Don’t wait for this to happen. Get the story now, in its original form. You know they won’t do it right. Hell, they probably won’t even keep the great soundtrack of old soul songs.”

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‘Our Boys’ remains a hit

I can’t give this book any greater praise than to say that reading it gave me the same feeling that watching the TV series Friday Night Lights does. What’s remarkable about Our Boys is that it’s a true story. The book covers the 2008 season of the Smith Center Kansas Redmen, and the paperback edition brings it up to date and makes the original even better with a new afterword and interviews with Coach Roger Barta and writer Joe Drape. This article follows up on the Redmen a year after first publication of the book.

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