What You Can’t Avoid

Finally (and I say finally because it has taken six months) I experienced some of Kolkata’s infamous poverty.  Like almost everything in India, poverty has it’s own hierarchy. The term “rag-picker” wasn’t one that I’d heard commonly until I arrived here.  Around the corner from the Consulate, across from a relatively upscale shopping complex and next to the Barista coffee house is a strip of pavement that serves as a garbage dump.  Because it’s been used as a garbage dump for some time, there isn’t much pavement left.  There’s dirt, and there are holes in the dirt where rats that would put DC rats to shame live.  Most times when I walk by the pile of trash, there are at least two men and two women picking through the trash (rag-pickers of a sort) as a child of about one sits on the dirt next to the garbage pile.  This is in a nice, business area of town, mind you. Continue reading →


Every Little Thing…

This I will wait for. The Police have announced a world tour to mark their 30 year anniversary. God, has it been 30 years? There are two bands that I wish I had seen play live: The Clash (which will never happen now that Joe Strummer died a few years back) and The Police. Of the two, The Police had the more lasting effect on my adolescent life, which is not to say that their music was better or more influential, but it was hard to imagine wanting to be Mick Jones with those hideaciously awful teeth. Continue reading →

Booker Prize Attitude

So yesterday I heard Kiran Desai read from her novel The Inheritance of Loss.  Introducing her was Amit Choudary, no slouch himself in the field of letters.  Choudary, however, didn’t really introduce Desai so much as engage in what I would describe as a cross between and interview and an exposition of his own thinking as it related to Desai’s novel.  It had some strange results and wandered into strange territory, such as both of them criticizing American writing as becoming “simple” in form and structure, with the implication of a resulting decrease in quality.   Also included was a discussion of some Latin American writers, including Gabriela Garcia Marquez and Italo Calvino, who, I’d like to point out to them both is Italian, not Latin American.  (No one mentioned this, incredibly.)  And Choudary even went so far as to let us know that he didn’t think much of Marquez, although he said he was joking (I’m not so sure). Continue reading →

The Realm of the Pathetic

The Guardian published an article on conservative think-tank AEI’s offer to pay $10k for papers that counter the lates UN Report on Climate Change.  As State Department diplomats have been doing this for some time under this administration, I think AEI should pay up.  Oh wait, the State Dept. actually has ethics rules.