Drug-haunted violin virtuoso dies at 60
A short story
The rain soaked him to the bone and the gloom overcast drained all of the humor from him. How many days had it rained? Three? No, four. And the cold, that raw winter cold.
He had not expected to see them at the burial, especially not on a miserable day like this. He had to stand with them at the burial since standing apart from them would have seemed, confrontational, so he stood with them. In that frame of things it surprised him when Wolfe leaned in front of Schuler and whispered “Mary, join us for drinks afterwards. We’ll lift a pint to our friends passing” he mentioned a place, the Harp and something.
He said yes but he resented it. He felt he should have said no.
“Pint indeed” he mused “where does he think he is? England? We don’t lift pints in America, we drink a beer and beer is cold and it’s not the right weather drinking beer or anything else”
He left well before they did and decided to take the coward’s way out and go home. He would never see them again anyway. Pink indeed.
On the solitary and silent drive back to Georgetown the roads were covered in a thick grey fog that seemed to take on a life of its own as it floated from the Potomac and melted across the roadway.
He parked on 35th street, bounded down the sidewalk, shielding his head from the rain when he spotted the warm, soft glow of coffee shop’s lights on O Street, beckoning his weary bones. Coffee. Warmth. He’d take it. His boney fingers are cold and white. The thick smell of freshly brewed beans relaxed him and removing his wet raincoat and tweed country walking hat he order a cup from a tall and lean young man behind the counter.
“Black, no sugar”
He took a seat with small round wooden table that looked out into the cold and dreary Georgetown streets and folded his cold hands around the cup and relaxed to the rhythmic sounds of the rain falling on the tin roof above him. The bright lights gave the café a sense of protective coziness and that was what he needed at that moment.
Guilt got the best of him. It always did. He called Wolfe and said “Ernest here. Look, I’m in Georgetown at a coffee place on 35th and O, there’s plenty of parking. It is far too early for drinks. Come by here. I’ll flip for the coffee.”
Wolfe agreed, reluctantly and grumbling, but he agreed. Mary would come with him of course because Mary had absolutely no backbone around Wolfe. It was why they made such a successful partnership later on.
He put down the phone and returned to the events of the day. So he was dead. He was so young. Only 60. And then looking around the café filled with the fresh young faces of Georgetown students he though “My God, sixty, am I really so old that I hail six decades as young?”
So, maybe he wasn’t young. It was more that he always seemed young because he was so vibrant even at the end when Cirrhosis killed him.
He took a deep breath and sighed louder than he had intended causing one of the students at a table full of student to turn and give him a scornful look. He sneered back at him and the boy looked away. “Scorn” he thought “It’s what youth does best. Well that, and travel in packs.” He was solitary man and always had been.
Returning to his gaze out the window he watched them park at the far end of the street and start to job towards the café, covering their heads from the rain drops. He turned and ordered two teas, Earl Grey, and a coffee for Wolfe and returned to the view on the street. He studied them carefully. Glee, the departed soul’s wife, although lovely, tall and graceful as ever, looked old and tired. The lines in her stately face were deep and shouted out her weariness.
Mary, once the protégé from the departed, walked slightly behind her of course. Beautiful but timid. Younger than all of them. She had been their secretary, of sorts, and now she was another friend who remembered things past. And then there was Wolfe. God help us all. Look at how large he’s gotten. By the time they were close to the door, the teas and coffee were ready and he collected them and placed them at the table, just as they entered.
He stood and greeted them all, embracing Glee, kissing Mary’s hand and offering a curt nod to Wolfe and then remained standing through the traditional shuffling of positions and then he sat.
Mary unbuttoned her heavy coat to reveal her still slim and curvaceous figure and turned to him and said “It’s all like a bad dream isn’t it?”
“Let’s not discuss it” Susan said as she removed her coat and hat and then pulled him closer and gently kissed his forehead and said “Let’s just talk about the old time, shall we? The good times.”
“I don’t like this chair” Wolfe said “Terrible view”
“Would you like my seat” Mary asked with a smile.
Wolfe looked over the offering and said “No. That seems only worse. I’ll take yours Earnest”
“Screw you” he replied. It was the only way to handle Wolfe.
Wolfe looked around the shop with disdain. He did disdain well. His eyes looked over the faded black and white tiles on the walls and ceilings and asked “What is this place?” It has the feel of morgue”
“It’s a coffee shop” Earnest answered “It’s a place where nice people go to drink coffee. I bought you one” and pointed to the cup in front of him. Wolfe took the cup, placed it close to his nose and smelled the coffee. A flask appeared from his rain coat. He poured a bit into the cup.
The young man behind the counter pointed an accusing finger at Wolfe and said “There is no liquor here, sir”
“I know dear boy” he answered pouring a pinch more “That’s why I brought my own”
Susan sat to my left and clasped my hand in hers “How are you Earnest?”
Mary leaned forward in her chair to hear his answer. He felt nervous and played with the rim coffee cup.
“I’ve been better” he answered as he inspected the cup.
“You’re depressed over what happened recently” Susan said.
“Why” Wolfe asked “What happened recently?”
“She means” Mary answered “His death. Depressed over the death”
“I am not depressed over his death” He said and added as an afterthought “All right maybe a little depressed.” He paused again and said “I’m very depressed over it”
“People die” Mary said as she aimlessly stirred her coffee. “If only I had……”
Silence fell over them.
“If only you had what?” Wolfe asked.
She shrugged. “I don’t know”
“I gave up on him.” Earnest answered sadly.
“We all did” Mary replied with a tilt of her head.
“Well I certainly didn’t” Susan said. And she was right in that. She had stayed with him through it all, even after he divorced her, she was there for him
“I feel numb” she said to no one in particular. “It all seems so meaningless. It took me five hours to get ready this morning and I can’t recall a single moment”
“Have you asked yourself the question” Wolfe said “Is this something worth being depressed about?”
He leaned forward when he spoke. He always did that, leaned forward into person’s space and I hated it when he did it and I was thankful for the table between them.
“What sort of an asinine proposition is that?” Earnest asked “You want me to be happy over this?”
“I want you to see it for what it is.” He answered with a shrug “And what it is, what it’s all about, is that it’s about time. It’s about time he died”
“Oh that’s lovely” Earnest said “I’m so glad you came along to the funeral. You’re a delight, really”
“Oh Wolfe” Susan cried “What in heaven’s name is wrong with you?” She pushed her tea to the side, crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair.
“Wolfe. Really” Mary added.
“He was confined to his bed for the past eight months.” He said and then added loudly, “He wore a diaper because he had no control of his bowels” and at that a very young student, a girl, turned and crinkled her nose at him causing Wolfe to return the look to her and add “Oh grow up kid, we all have bowels and every now and then they do whatever the hell they want to us”
Returning his attention to them he said “He hallucinated. He cried.”
“That’s enough” Susan said
“He howled. He demanded. He begged.”
“Wolfe” Mary said “Enough”
“He vomited. He was on a constant painful withdrawal from something for the past ten years only to become addicted to something else. And you tell me you are depressed that all that is over? Well I’m not”
“Why are you so angry, Wolfe?” Susan asked snapped.
“I’m not angry” he answered “I’m simply saying that for once in its long creepy career, death, that goddamn thief, finally came at the right time “
“I have always wondered if you were mentally ill” Earnest said
“Let him be” Mary added. “It’s his way of healing”
“And how are you healing” Earnest asked her.
“My usual way” she answered “Guilt and trying to bargain with God to make it all not true”
“Well I’m not angry” Wolfe said again.
“It’s all right if you are angry” Mary said “Anger covers pain. There are other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time”
“Thank you Doctor Mary” Wolfe said.
“Why don’t we discuss something pleasant?” Mary said.
“I know what we can do” Susan said happily “We can all meet again, like we used too in the old days. Sunday’s. Remember how it was on Sundays? We can have that again. There’s the four us and he’ll be with us, in spirit. What do you say?” It’ll be just like it was, just like it should be. One big happy maladjusted family.”
No one was interested.
“What will you do with his things?” Wolfe asked.
“His things?” Susan asked indignantly.
“Well his instrument….his…things” Wolfe said haltingly. He knew he was in trouble.
Susan turned her slender body to face him “What do you mean what will I do with them?
“Well” he said slowly “will you donate them to a charity? Sell them perhaps? There is a market certainly. I could probably fetch well into the six figures or more for his instrument if you’ll allow me to make inquiries”
“I’ll do no such thing.” Susan snapped “I’ll keep them where they are, where they belong.”
“Why?” Wolfe said equally loudly “He left you nothing except debt. So why won’t you let me sell them for whatever I can for you?”
“Why?” Susan shouted emotionally “Because they are his, they are his belongings”
“He’s dead and gone and your broke and here” Wolfe said flatly.
“You know he never liked you and now I can see why” she answered.
“Now come on, that’s uncalled for.” Earnest said
“Heartless little schemer.” She added and then turned her back on him.
No one spoke but after several seconds. Finally Earnest said softly “However the heartless little schemer is correct, Susan. He is dead and you should start thinking about…”
“That doesn’t mean everything changes.” She snapped “That isn’t what it means. Only people like you think like that”
“Yes I recognize that this is a somewhat inappropriate statement to make at this time” Wolfe said.
“When has in inappropriate ever stopped you?” Susan snarled.
“All right” he said emphatically “Okay. Fine. You talk about not being liked?”
“I think we need to get off this” Earnest interjected “Before we say more things we don’t mean”
“I don’t know why I’m here.” Wolfe said loudly “I didn’t like him very much” and then he corrected himself “Not at the end” and turning to Susan he said “And I knew him for years before you arrived. There wasn’t much about him to like at the end”
“I prefer to recall him as in his fantasy life” Earnest said “The glamorous life. The ideal of him”
“When did you hear from him last, Earnest?” Mary asked
“Oh, five years was it? Yes. Five years. But we were on again off again constantly. He would stop the drugs, stop the boozing and seem genuinely interested in focusing on music again. But he had declined as a performer although some of the old spark was there every now and then. He told me he was embarrassed by the bookings he was getting. Retirement communities, that sort of thing”
“After he got ill last summer, he just decided to die.” Susan said “He stopped playing entirely. It was too painful for him. He felt like his career had been ripped from him, and he didn’t have the great venues to play in anymore and it just crushed him.”
“Ripped from him by whom? Fate?” Wolfe asked “He screwed himself, plain and simple”
“They closed the doors to him.” Susan said angrily “He was blacklisted. You know that. You know that more than anyone else”
“He was blacklisted because he lost control of himself and as a result everything around him disintegrated, his career his family. Everything.” Wolfe said “How can anyone with that much opportunity be called a victim? ‘He had everything handed him and he messed it all up.''
“When did you see him last?” Earnest asked Wolfe.
“Oh” he rolled his eyes and calculated “Last year…no …yes, last year when he had that liver failure issue. I phoned. Didn’t actually see him”
“I didn’t hear about it” I said
“We kept it under wraps.” Susan added “He wanted it that way”
“He should have died then” Wolfe said twirling a plastic stick in his tea.
“Oh ease up will you please?” Earnest said.
“Why? I speak the truth.. There have been other concert violinists with the same problems and they did not just give up. Their careers did not suffer. Other concert artists have gone into decline, accepted it, and just moved on, but for some reason, our boy could not bring himself to move along.”
A group of students slowly made their way into the cafe
“Must they open that door every time they come in and leave?” Wolfe growled as he cast the evil eye on some departing students.
“Well yes, that’s the entire purpose of a door” Earnest said “It serves no other purpose”
“It lets in the cold air” he snapped.
“We’ll have them exit through the back, how would that be?” Earnest said
“Why don’t we just meet in a bus station or something?” he snarled.
“You have no idea what bus station looks like.” I said “For all you know this is a bus station.”
“And what happened between you and him?” Mary asked Wolfe.
“He stopped talking to me ten years ago.” He answered “I booked to play for a large condo community in South Florida. The money was good. Glamorous? No. But a good paycheck. I brought it to him in person. He was drunk or maybe he was high, but he was in a foul mood. He was insulted. Kept screaming “A condominium!” smashing things. Threw a lamp at me. That was the last of us. Then he called earlier this year. We spoke for a while. Never mentioned Florida”
He stared out into the rain and then turned to Susan and said “It’s astounding how much of what he did to us we simply decided to forget”
Although she was looking out the window, Susan reached across the table and taking Wolfe’s mighty hand in her own and kept it there.
“Mercurial. He was a mercurial performer” Earnest added “It was what I called him in the first column I wrote about him. He didn’t know what it meant. He assumed it meant mediocre”
“He was barely educated” Wolfe added.
“So I look up from desk the next morning and there he is, red as beat, my column in his clenched fist demanding to know why I called him mercurial. I reached across the desk opened the dictionary and read the definition “Wonderful word mercurial. Related to the Roman God Mercury. Unpredictable, lively, active, brilliant, impulsive, consistent.” He said “Oh. Well in that case do you want to go and have a few drinks?” I said yes. He needed an agent. I abhorred writing columns so I told him I would be his agent. He agreed. We were both good and drunk by then. But I represented him for seven years. Never had a written contract between us. I booked him in more than 100 concerts a year back then. He grossed almost a million bucks a year just from the shows. And then there were records.
“What happened between you two?” Mary asked Earnest
“I was with him one afternoon” Earnest replied with a deep sigh “we were both drinking, this was in the beginning of the end and he asked me “Why aren’t I on television anymore?” and I lied and I didn’t know. Well we argued, as drunkards do. So in the spirit of complete meanness, I phoned…I’ve forgotten his name, the producer up in New York, he’s dead now. I get this producer on the line and he asked him, on the speakerphone, “Why is our boy not on television anymore?” and the producer doesn’t miss a trick and says “Because your boy is an unreliable drunk” and he hung up. A few weeks later I got a letter from the questionably esteemed Mister Wolfe seated here on my right stating that he was now representing our boy”
“I thought he would be a good client” Wolfe said nervously and turning to Earnest added “And I did not pursue him, he came to me”
That was lie, they all knew it, but the course of the conversation changed.
“Where was the second wife? Why wasn’t she there today” I couldn’t remember her name but I could picture her beautiful face “What’s her name?”
“The bitch from hell.” Susan offered.
“What was her name?” Earnest asked.
“That was her name” Susan countered.
“It was her title, actually” Wolfe offered.
“Why did he marry her?” I asked “She was so awful.”
“She thought he had money, he thought she had class” Susan said recalling her face “Jesus, he really was a hick back then wasn’t he?”
“No” I said “I think he was just young”
“You could spot her a mile away” Wolfe said
“Well, now we could, yes” Earnest replied
“She’s the one who turned him to drugs.” Mary said “He was innocent drunk before” her.
“She didn’t even have the class to show up to the man’s funeral” Ernest said.
“Well thank God for that because she’s dead” Susan said happily.
“Dead?” Earnest repeated.
“Seven or eight years ago” Susan said “Put a gun in that lovely mouth of hers and pulled the trigger”
“I understand no one claimed the body” Mary added.
“Jesus” Earnest whispered “She was so beautiful”
“What about the mother?” Wolfe asked “You never hear much about his mother.”
“A drinker” Susan said taking a sip from Wolfe’s flask “very tragic. Dead too.”
“I heard” Wolfe said “his father pushed him, mercilessly. He pressured the kid to practice for hours at a time.”
“Well that’s the oldest tune in the book though isn’t it?” Earnest said.
“He told me” Mary said “That it was his old man who got him into Juilliard.
“He got booted out though” Wolfe said.
“Why?” Mary asked.
“Generic disciplinary reasons is what I’ve always read’ I answered.
“He seduced a teacher.” Susan said flatly.
“A man or a woman?” Wolfe asked. He was fishing for gossip.
“You’d love it if it were a man wouldn’t you?” She answered.
After a brief lull in the conversation, Susan said “Well his rise was fast his descent was so painfully slow.”
Wolfe added “I heard that when he returned home from the international competitions Moscow to Idaho….”
“Colorado” Mary corrected.
“All right, Colorado.” Wolfe said “I heard that when he returned home from Moscow to Colorado that his father had choreographed a publicity stunt and that included having the boy’s horse met him at the airport.”
“That’s a long drive for a horse isn’t it?” Mary asked.
“And” Wolfe said tossing more gasoline on the fire “Let us return to the august Carnegie Hall. He sold the place out?”
“Yes we did” Earnest answered.
“But to that I say, so what? Putting asses in seats does not equate to talent, we’re not Hollywood you know.” Wolfe said “The entire point of that concert, if you will remember was to prove that he had the right stuff for a long term career that he wasn’t a pretty boy flash in the pan. And all of you saw what happened, you were all there. All that he managed to do was to reinforce the image of a musician wonderfully adept at light repertory and at sea in Brahms.”
“Show some Goddamn tact will you?” Earnest begged
“He succeeded but for the wrong reasons.” Wolfe said firmly “It’s the same with all of these competition winners. They never have a chance to recover. His is a cautionary tale of what can happen when a gifted young artist, still personally and musically immature, is turned into a global commodity for a spate of wrong reasons. His entire package was nothing more than mastery over a small body of 19th, 20th century showpieces that were intended to show off the violinist's art. That was all well and good in the beginning but as the years went by it grew old”
“He didn’t mature” Mary added “as a musician”
“And” Wolfe continued “as expected the critics took him task increasingly for what they saw as, correctly I should add, of flash over substance.’you used to be able to start an artist in Carnegie Recital Hall and build them up over seven years. Now you have a couple of competition winners who reign supreme over a limited ability until the next couple of winners come along and pushes them out of the way.''
“But” Earnest interjected “they always said that about him, from the very beginning “His repertoire relied too heavily on flashy pieces that lacked depth” but it didn’t bothered him, not in the beginning anyway. Nothing bad could touch him and he knew it. He used to say to me “Aside from technique of the highest caliber, you need the glitter. The conviction of your own style. The polish."
“He had no polish” Wolfe said looking directly at Earnest “Not the right kind. He had flash. There is a difference you know”
“He was never an introspective artist, he said that once” Earnest said in his defense. “He told me “Ernie, the problem with introspection is that it has no end.”
“He failed completely in the heavier repertory, Beethoven and Brahms.” Mary said “You know that”
“Because he was never given the opportunity early on to develop and grow.” Earnest said
“That’s not true” Wolfe said “The opportunity was there for the taking. He chose not to take it and he paid for it as a result. The Big Five orchestras barely acknowledged him.
“He played with Philadelphia and Cleveland” Earnest said
“He played with them once” Wolfe corrected him “perhaps twice Boston, Chicago New York Philharmonics? Never. The music directors at those orchestras didn't want to spend their time conducting his repertory. And had they asked for Beethoven or the Brahms, he wasn't ready. You can't make a career just on bravura repertory.”
“But you can make a career out of being charming” Earnest said “And he was charming”
“And he was overbearing” Wolfe added
“And he could be tactlessness.” Mary added “He told a conductor once, I’ve forgotten who it was, when he was told that he would have to perform a duo recital ''I don't intend to share half the burden with the pianist. It's a violin recital, and I intend to play just that.''
“My God” Wolfe said as the memory came to him “He posed for After Dark, do you remember that? What an uproar that caused! Do you recall that?”
“How can I ever forget?” Ernest answered mournfully.
Wolfe leaned into Earnest to closely and whispered “Tell me truthfully. Did you arrange that?”
“You are really obnoxious” He answered “and no. I did not. He did it on his own.”
Earnest paused and looked out into the rain and saw them, the two of them twenty years ago in Manhattan at the photo shoot. He’s lying naked, belly down on a white carpet on the floor, the auburn red of the violin covering his torso, a bottle of Armand de Brignac in his hand “Cheer up Ernest! We’re letting them see a new side of me”
“Managing him could be a nightmare” Earnest said aloud but barely above a whisper.
“You’re telling us?” Wolfe shouted. A group of students at a table turned to look at him.
“You are being loud” Mary said with an eye towards the kids.
“Oh fuck them” Wolfe said directly to the kids and waving them off he turned to Mary and whispered “Our boy did a three page spread, shirtless, wearing cowboy gear.”
“I missed that one” Mary said “What’s After Dark”
“It was this Gay rag” Wolfe answered. “It was long before you were around”
“Before I was around?” she asked
“Yes, you know, before you two were involved” he replied
“I think it was a legitimate weekly magazine, filled with celebrities” Earnest added
“Well he was a cowboy, you know” Mary said
“Oh please, not everyone from Colorado is Cowboy” Wolfe said waving her off.
“Yes true” Susan replied “but everyone from Turkey Ridge Colorado is a cowboy. I’m certain of that”
“Cowboy indeed” Wolfe said dismissively “He was trained at Juilliard.” And then he turned to Earnest and snickered “You couched him into wearing those damn boots”
“I did not.” Earnest said “The man wore cowboy boots”
“Snakeskin they were.” Susan said “Who in the name of God hunts down snakes for their skin? Where do they get people to do that sort of thing?”
"He could stand on a horse" Ernest said “Only cowboys can do that”
“Now there’s a talent every violinist needs.” Wolfe added with a majestic wave. “Did you advise him on that bit of trashy behavior as well?”
"He could play violin on a horse.” Mary said “I saw him do it when we went to his father’s ranch or far or whatever you call those horse places"
“Oh I’m so sorry I missed that.” Wolfe said with a condescending air.
“Well anyway, it’s difficult to do.” Mary added
“How would you know?” Wolfe cracked and then added “And once again I say unto ye “The triumph of flash over substance. He could play a violin on a horse but he couldn’t play Beethoven in New York, or Chicago or anywhere else for that matter”
Pensive for a moment, Ernest took a sugar packet, examined it, rolled into a ball and snapped across the table with a flick of his fingers. .Susan ran a manicured finger over the rim of her cup, squinted and asked Wolfe “What did you just say?”
“That he wasn’t a real cowboy” Wolfe answered as he poured more whiskey into his coffee cup.
“No” Susan said sharply, her lips closed tightly her clear blue eyes focused completely on Mary’s face. “You said to her ‘before you two were involved’
She leaned in and stared intently at Mary from across the small round table “You were involved with my husband?”
Wolfe and Earnest looked across the table at Mary. There was no saving her from what was about to happen. Her mouth was open, her eyes were wide, her fingers dug into the sides of her cup. She took a deep breath.
“That isn’t what I meant” Wolfe lied.
“It was for one summer” Mary said
“It’s all ancient history” Earnest said cutting her off before she dug the grave any deeper.
The sentence was barely finished when Susan reached out quickly and slapped Mary across the face. Mary reached up to in shock causing the cup to tip and spill over the table. The shop fell silent as every eye watched the drama unfold.
“You two faced” Susan searched for the words, her face flushed. She raised her hand again but Earnest took her by the wrist and lowered her arm to the table as Wolfe sopped up the coffee from the table.
“Every all right over there?” the tall, thin young man from behind the counter asked in a way that was intended to be commanding.
“Does everything look fine?” Wolfe asked and then waved his hand dismissively at the student who stared across the shop as thought they were frozen in place. “Return to your comma’s.”
“It happened quickly. It ended quickly” Mary said as she tilted her slender face up towards to white ceiling “ I didn’t know you then, well I didn’t know you well. He told me that you two barely spoke. He lied. He lied about everything all of the time. I learned that later”
She looked directly across to Susan and with her eyes filling quickly with tears she shook her head and said “I was young and he was beautiful and I was stupid and dumb and you are my best friend.”
“And you are my only friend” Susan said taking Mary’s hand “and if a girl can’t slap her only friend who can she slap?” and Mary laughed against her will and wiped away her tears and Wolfe rose a meaty hand in the air and shouted “Garçon! Coffee’s!”
“It’s self-serve” Earnest told him.
“I don’t know what that means” he replied.
“Well its much like your life philosophy” Earnest said.
“He was flat broke” Susan said and then taking Wolfe’s hand in hers again she said “Maybe you should look into selling his things, his instruments and all”
They fell into a moment’s silence.
“The public forgot him.” Susan said “He became unfashionable”
“He should have known the public would tire of him.” Wolfe added “Celebrity in the mainstream is a fleeting thing, nothing more than a disposable commodity in the mainstream.”
It was about that time” Susan added “when he tried to come back by presenting himself in a more sober and serious light, but the classical world didn’t want him back”
“Well no one took him seriously anymore.” Wolfe said “Those people tend to mistrust sudden fame. You know, he once said to me “Wolfe my lad, fame will make me immortal” but actually fame killed him. And it killed him a hundred times or more”
“He was so bewilderment by it all, by the loss of his career.” Susan said “He started losing weight. He drank more until he stopped playing the violin entirely.”
The young man from arrived with a filthy white towel and sopped up the spilled coffee and walked back to his position to the counter causing Wolfe to point a spot on the table and say “I think you failed to leave some germs here, on this spot”
They were tired from the subject and the gloom of the day darkened their moods.
“Are we okay?” Wolfe asked to one and all “Is everything all right between us?”
No” Susan answered “but we will be. We just have to accept what happened to him was his own doing, really, not ours”
“Well what more can be said?” Earnest asked
“He seemed unable to thrive out of the limelight. So, he withered and died” Wolfe said. “Even the brightest candles are not meant to burn too long”
No one spoke for a moment until Wolfe said “I should take a leak before we leave” and he did and they waited for him making small talk and when he was finished they gathered their coats and hats. The rain had stopped and the sun appeared cautiously from the clouds.
The child with his sweet pranks the fool of his senses commanded by every sight and sound without any power to compare and rank his sensations abandoned to a whistle or a painted chip to a lead dragon or a gingerbread dog individualizing everything generalizing nothing delighted with every new thing lies down at night overpowered by the fatigue which this day of continual pretty madness has incurred. But Nature has answered her purpose with the curly dimpled lunatic. She has tasked every faculty and has secured the symmetrical growth of the bodily frame by all these attitudes and exertions --an end of the first importance which could not be trusted to any care less perfect than her own. Emerson
300 quotes from Emerson
To view more Emerson quotes or read a life background on Emerson please visit the books blog spot. We update the blog bi-monthly emersonsaidit.blogspot.com
What Love is…..
Is it not enough to know the evil to shun it? If not, we should be sincere enough to admit that we love evil too well to give it up. Mahatma Gandhi
Trying to teach myself Spanish and this is what I learned today..............
Esconder (hs-kohn-dehr') to hide, to conceal
1. Mis hijos escondieron mis llaves esta mañana.
My kids hid my keys this morning.
2. No sé si es posible esconder este grano con maquillaje.
I don't know if it's possible to conceal this pimple with makeup.
The Fantastic Names of Jazz
A poem by - Hayden Carruth
Zoot Sims, Joshua Redman,
Billie Holiday, Pete Fountain,
Fate Marable, Ivie Anderson,
Meade Lux Lewis, Mezz Mezzrow,
Manzie Johnson, Marcus Roberts,
Omer Simeon, Miff Mole, Sister
Rosetta Tharpe, Freddie Slack,
Thelonious Monk, Charlie Teagarden,
Max Roach, Paul Celestin, Muggsy
Spanier, Boomie Richman, Panama
Francis, Abdullah Ibrahim, Piano
Red, Champion Jack Dupree,
Cow Cow Davenport, Shirley Horn,
Cedar Walton, Sweets Edison,
Jaki Byard, John Heard, Joy Harjo,
Pinetop Smith, Tricky Sam
Nanton, Major Holley, Stuff Smith,
Bix Biederbecke, Bunny Berigan,
Mr. Cleanhead Vinson, Ruby Braff,
Cootie Williams, Cab Calloway,
Lockjaw Davis, Chippie Hill,
And of course Jelly Roll Morton.
Hayden Carruth (August 3, 1921 – September 29, 2008) was a poet and literary critic. He taught at Syracuse University. Hayden Carruth grew up in Woodbury, Connecticut, and was educated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at the University of Chicago.
He lived in Johnson, Vermont for many years. Carruth taught at Syracuse University, in the Graduate Creative Writing Program, where he taught and mentored many younger poets, including Brooks Haxton and Allen Hoey. He resided with his wife, poet Joe-Anne McLaughlin Carruth near the small central New York village of Munnsville.
He wrote for over sixty years. Carruth died from complications following a series of strokes
Carruth wrote more than 30 books of poetry, four books of literary criticism, essays, a novel and two poetry anthologies. He served as editor of Poetry magazine, as poetry editor of Harper's, and as advisory editor of The Hudson Review 20 years. He was awarded a Bollingen Prize and Guggenheim and the NEA fellowships.
In 1992 he was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for his Collected Shorter Poems and in 1996 the National Book Award in poetry for his Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey.
Shortly after the debut of Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey, he also won the $50,000 Lannan Literary Award. His later titles include the 2001 collection of poems Doctor Jazz and a 70-minute audio CD of him reading selections from Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey and Collected Shorter Poems.
His Last Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) combines poems written toward the end of his life with the concluding poems from twenty-six of his previous volumes. Other awards with which he was honored included the Carl Sandburg Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the 1990 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Vermont Governor's Medal and the Whiting Award.
Noted for the breadth of his linguistic and formal resources, influenced by jazz and the blues, Carruth's poems are informed by his political radicalism and sense of cultural responsibility.
Many of Carruth's best-known poems are about the people and places of northern Vermont, as well as rural poverty and hardship, addressing loneliness, insanity, and death.] One of his most celebrated poems is "Emergency Haying".
23 fiction books you'll want to read -- and share -- this summer
In the Country
Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95
The nine short stories in this debut collection follow Filipinos living in their native country and abroad, all in search of a place to call home. (June)
Grand Central, $25
The author of "The Middlesteins" returns with a novel about Mazie Phillips, the "Queen of the Bowery" who opened her theater to homeless New Yorkers during the Great Depression. (June)
The State We're In
The short-story master returns with a collection set mostly in the Pine Tree State and featuring a sarcastic, world-weary teenager named Jocelyn. (August)
In the Unlikely Event
Alfred A. Knopf, $27.95
Set largely in the 1950s, Blume's novel for adults follows residents of Elizabeth, N.J., whose town is wracked by three airplane crashes in a short space of time. (June)
Pamela Dorman/Viking, $27.95
A quartet of stressed-out New Yorkers spend a month on an island but find it hard to leave their problems in the city. (June)
Confession of the Lioness
Mia Couto, translated by David Brookshaw
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25
Young women in a small Mozambique village are being killed by what the townspeople believe is a lion, but the truth is much more complicated. (July)
Cinco Puntos, $16.95 paper
A New York restaurant owner hopes to turn his imperiled eatery around by stealing a chicken recipe that also happens to be a Cuban government secret. (June)
The Sunlit Night
A young artist going through a painful breakup and a teenage boy whose father has just died form a friendship on an island north of the Arctic Circle. (June)
St. Martin's, $26.99
A journalist in England, struggling with alcoholism, must come to terms with a long-buried family secret and one painful, drunken mistake. (June)
Death and Mr. Pickwick
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30
This sprawling historical novel follows the creation of "The Pickwick Papers," featuring its author, Charles Dickens, and the artist who may have originated the Mr. Pickwick character. (June)
Spiegel & Grau, $26
The comic tale of a biracial man who inherits his late father's haunted mansion in Philadelphia and soon encounters two people at a comic book convention who will change his life. (Out now)
The Festival of Insignificance
Milan Kundera, translated by Linda Asher
Four friends in Paris discuss topics including sex and politics in the Czech-French writer's first novel in more than a decade. (June)
China Rich Girlfriend
This sequel to the successful novel "Crazy Rich Asians" follows the trials and tribulations of extremely wealthy, young social climbers in China. (June)
Go Set a Watchman
Probably the most anticipated American novel in years, this sequel features Scout and Atticus Finch in Maycomb, Ala., 20 years after the events in "To Kill a Mockingbird." (July)
Told in reverse, this tragic and sprawling novel chronicles three generations of troubled British expatriates living on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. (Out now)
The Beautiful Bureaucrat
Henry Holt, $25
A young woman takes a data entry job at a mysterious, windowless facility and starts to get suspicious of her employer after her husband temporarily disappears. (August)
Among the Ten Thousand Things
Random House, $26
A philandering artist's secret life is discovered by his children; the revelation stuns his ex-dancer wife and throws their family into a tailspin. (July)
Kitchens of the Great Midwest
J. Ryan Stradal
Pamela Dorman/Viking, $27.95
This debut by an L.A. writer is the story of a young woman raised by a single father who grows up to become a celebrated chef. (July)
How to Write a Novel
A precocious 12-year-old Georgia girl thinks she can find a husband for her single mom and money for their family by writing a novel. (August)
A Hanging at Cinder Bottom
Tin House, $15.95
In 1910, a poker shark and his girlfriend, a brothel madam, face the gallows for allegedly murdering a West Virginia mayor. (July)
Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness
Europa Editions, $16
A 41-year-old librarian on a New England island, stuck in an unhappy marriage, is drawn into a passionate affair with a high school boy. (Out now)
The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty
After her backpack is stolen, a woman on vacation in Morocco assumes another person's identity and ends up befriending a famous actress shooting a film in Casablanca. (June)
The Dying Grass
A Novel of the Nez Perce War
William T. Vollmann
The fifth installment in the author's "Seven Dreams" series, this nearly 1,400-page novel chronicles the 1877 war between Native Americans and the U.S. Army in the American northwest. (July)
Sports, bios, history and more: 27 nonfiction books to check out this summer
The Rose Hotel
A Memoir of Secrets, Loss, and Love from Iran to America
National Geographic, $26
An Iranian-born psychologist tells the story of her family, forced to leave their home country for England, then America, after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. (Out now)
My Dreadlock Chronicles
Bolden/Agate, $15 paper
Part memoir of a professor's decision to grow dreadlocks, part meditation on the significance of African American hair in art and society. (June)
The Great Detective
The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26
This biography of the world's most famous fictional detective investigates how Arthur Conan Doyle's character has managed to stay relevant all these years. (June)
I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career
The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955-1997
Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, edited by Bill Morgan
City Lights, $26.95
A collection of the letters, spanning over four decades, between "Howl" poet Ginsberg and City Lights co-founder Ferlinghetti, both Beat Generation legends. (June)
A Surfing Life
The Penguin Press, $27.95
The New Yorker staff writer reflects on his life as a surfing fanatic, from his youth in Hawaii to later stints riding the waves in Thailand, Indonesia and more. (July)
The Biography of Iceberg Slim
A look at the life, literature and politics of Robert Beck, the infamous pimp and bestselling author better known as Iceberg Slim. (August)
Under the Same Sky
From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America
Joseph Kim with Stephan Talty
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28
The story of a young North Korean man who escaped the poverty-wracked country for China and then the U.S., where he became a college student. (June)
The Pawnbroker's Daughter
W.W. Norton, $25.95
A posthumous memoir from the former U.S. Poet Laureate, who grew up during the Depression, attended Radcliffe and went on to write of feminism and life in rural New England. (July)
A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League
Dan-el Padilla Peralta
The Penguin Press, $27.95
An undocumented immigrant tells his story of growing up homeless in New York and earning a Ph.D. in classics from Stanford University. (July)
Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget
Grand Central, $26
After too many mornings waking up with no memory of the night before, a young journalist makes the difficult decision to give up drinking for good. (June)
An Imperfect Son Buries His Parents
The NPR commentator looks back on the deaths of his elderly parents and his sometimes contentious relationship with his older brother. (June)
The Domino Diaries
My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba
Amateur boxer and gonzo journalist Butler writes about the pugilists of Havana and the beauty and contradictions of life in Cuba. (June)
The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll
Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27
A biography of one of the most controversial businessmen in rock 'n' roll history — the canny, temperamental manager of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. (June)
The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty
Bengie Molina and Joan Ryan
Simon & Schuster, $25
Three sons, six World Series rings. The former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim catcher writes about the man who raised him and his two brothers, also star baseball players. (Out now)
Year of the Dunk
A Modest Defiance of Gravity
In this memoir a reporter and cancer survivor in his 30s, who's not exactly in the best shape of his life, resolves to dunk a basketball in one year. (Out now)
Dreams to Remember
Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul
The soul musician who died at 26 is the subject of this appreciation, which considers the singer's career in the contexts of popular music and civil rights. (June)
The Greatest Films — and Personal Favorites — of a Moviegoing Lifetime
Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95
The longtime film critic, who has seen more than 20,000 movies in his 50-year career, reflects on the films he loves the most. (June)
A History of the Written Word
W.W. Norton, $26.95
From the author of "Library: An Unquiet History," this chronicle of the art of writing spans millennia, from ancient Mesopotamia to our computer-obsessed modern age. (July)
Give Us the Ballot
The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27
The Voting Rights Act was signed into law 50 years ago, but according to journalist Berman, the fight for equality in voting is still taking place. (August)
The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition
Houghton Mifflin Harcou
This vivid history of the 1947 partition of India looks at the terrible violence that accompanied this division of the subcontinent and independence from the U.K. (June)
Russia and Its Future with the West
Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, $27.99
The historian argues that Vladimir Putin's controversial style of governance won't be going away anytime soon, no matter who succeeds him as Russian president. (June)
A Story of Courage and Healing in One of America's Toughest Communities
The trials and successes of an anti-gang group are at the center of this book by a UCLA anthropologist about the South L.A. community group she co-founded with local activist Big Mike Cummings. (June)
Life's Greatest Secret
The Race to Crack the Genetic Code
A history of the scientists who discovered DNA and the genetic code, forever changing the face of science as we know it. (July)
Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight
Margaret Lazarus Dean
Graywolf, $16 paper
The writer offers a history of American exploration in space and considers what it means for the country that the space shuttle program has ended. (Out now)
Ernest Lawrence and the Invention That Launched the Military-Industrial Complex
Simon & Schuster, $30
Times columnist Hiltzik chronicles the life and career of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who invented the cyclotron, which changed the face of modern warfare. (July)
The Weather Experiment
The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30
A history of the 19th-century scientists who realized that weather didn't have to be a mystery and pioneered the study of meteorology. (June)
The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack
And Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution
Palgrave MacMillan, $27
One of the world's leading paleoanthropologists looks at how the discipline has evolved over the years and the missteps scientists have made along the way. (June)
10 lifestyle books that you won't want to put down
Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
The Penguin Press, $28.95
Comedian Ansari and sociologist Klinenberg team for a humorous look about why dating seems to be so much more difficult in the contemporary era. (June)
Walking with Abel
Journeys with the Nomads of the African Savannah
A seasoned reporter joins cattle-herding nomads in the intensely hot Mali grasslands as they cross the savannah. (August)
Always Pack a Party Dress
And Other Lessons Learned from a (Half) Life in Fashion
Blue Rider, $30
The socialite and fashion maven combines reflections on the evolution of her style with advice for the would-be fashionista — and, of course, there are photographs. (Out now)
The Beetlebung Farm Cookbook
A Year of Cooking on Martha's Vineyard
Chris Fischer with Catherine Young, photographs by Gabriela Herman
Little, Brown, $35
A farmer and chef writes about the food of his beloved New England and presents recipes showcasing his take on the island's cuisine. (June)
The World on a Plate
40 Cuisines, 100 Recipes, and the Stories Behind Them
Penguin, $20 paper
Any recipe book can tell you how to cook; this one offers a much deeper look at the history and anthropology behind some of the world's most iconic cuisines. (Out now)
Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
Random House, $28
It's a new quest for the Golden Fleece. Kurson chronicles two archaeologists as they search for the mythologically-named pirate ship off the Dominican Republic coast. (June)
In a French Kitchen
Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France
Susan Herrmann Loomis
An American in (well, near) Paris explains the simple elegance of classic French cuisine, through anecdotes, lists of ingredients and equipment, and recipes. (June)
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
Laura O'Neill, Ben Van Leeuwen and Pete Van Leeuwen with Olga Massov
Beat the summer heat with recipes from one of Brooklyn's favorite ice cream retailers, known for unusual flavors and all-natural ingredients. (June)
The Shepherd's Life
Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape
Already a bestseller in the U.K., this book by a shepherd in England's Lake District celebrates the generations-old traditions of his family farm. (Out now)
Naked at Lunch
A Reluctant Nudist's Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World
Mark Haskell Smith
L.A. author Smith puts on his reporter's hat and takes off everything else as he explores the history and sociology of nudism. (June)
Get ready to be obsessed by these 29 page-turners
The Truth and Other Lies
Sascha Arango, translated by Imogen Taylor
A bestselling author tries to hide two big secrets: He doesn't actually write his famous crime novels, and his mistress is pregnant with his child. (June)
NAL, $15 paper
A British policewoman investigates a series of bizarre, cruel abductions. The first in a new series featuring the troubled detective Helen Grace. (June)
The Suspicion at Sanditon
(Or, the Disappearance of Lady Denham)
In this new installment of the popular series, Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are married amateur detectives investigating the disappearance of guests from a mansion. (July)
Time of Death
Atlantic Monthly, $25
The 13th novel featuring detective Tom Thorne finds the British inspector helping his girlfriend look into the abduction of two teenage girls. (June)
Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26
Detective Mollel, a Maasai police officer in Kenya, is exiled from Nairobi to a town called Hell, where he's expected to investigate kidnappings and possible government corruption. (June)
Marry, Kiss, Kill
Prospect Park, $24.95
The Emmy-winning "Frasier" writer makes her literary debut with the story of a Santa Barbara detective and her partner probing a series of murders. (June)
Skies of Ash
Rachel Howzell Hall
L.A. homicide detective Elouise Norton suspects a man of killing his wife and children in a house fire. But is her judgment clouded by her own failing marriage? (Out now)
Loon Lake, Wis., police chief and fly-fishing fan Lew Ferris is on the case when a rich widow is pushed into the path of a logging truck. (June)
A high-schooler finds stolen manuscripts from a novelist who was killed years ago. When the killer comes back to claim his stash, he's not happy. (June)
The author of "The Good Girl" returns with the tale of a woman who takes in a homeless teenager and her baby, only to realize her good deed may have been ill-advised. (July)
Joe R. Lansdale
African American cowboy Nat Love (better known as "Deadwood Dick") befriends Wild Bill Hickok and others while on the run from a murderous Texas landowner. (June)
Charlie Martz and Other Stories
The Unpublished Stories
William Morrow, $25.99
A collection of 15 western and crime stories that the legendary author, who died in 2013, wrote in the 1950s, long before he became a literary star. (June)
The President's Shadow
Grand Central, $28
Archivist Beecher White is called in to help the president after the first lady finds a severed arm in the White House Rose Garden. (June)
Freedom Oliver is a tough-talking Oregon bartender with a drinking problem. She's also in the witness protection program — at least until her daughter from her former life goes missing. (June)
The Hand That Feeds You
A graduate student finds her fiance killed, apparently mauled by her dogs, and then discovers he wasn't who he claimed to be in this first book by "A.J. Rich," a.k.a. novelists Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment. (July)
Let Me Die in His Footsteps
In the latest from Edgar winner Roy, two feuding families in rural Kentucky are thrown together after a body is discovered in a well. (June)
A Novel of the Next World War
P.W. Singer and August Cole
Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28
This techno-thriller imagines a world in the near future after China attacks the U.S. — not just on land and on the sea but in cyberspace as well. (June)
Prospect Park, $15 paper
An L.A. bartender gets more than he bargained for when he agrees to protect a billionaire's daughter from the Russian mafia. (July)
Alfred A. Knopf, $27.95
A DEA agent comes out of retirement to hunt down a ruthless Mexican murderer and drug cartel boss who has escaped from prison. (June)
What 50 Years of Writing Have Taught Me
By Anne Roiphe
Anne Roiphe's first novel, Digging Out, was published in 1967. Her second novel, 1972's Up the Sandbox, was made into a film starring Barbara Streisand, and was called "a feminist classic" by Salon in 1996. Now 79, Roiphe has just published her 10th novel, Ballad of the Black and Blue Mind, which received a starred PW review. Roiphe looks back on a life of writing.
It’s a long story—the one about how I published books, fiction and non-fiction and how I survived the rocks thrown and the debris in the path and how I kept going the way you do in a bad dream when you are trying to get somewhere and all roads lead in another direction and the train goes off the track and the car runs into a tree etc. That is the melodrama of it all. But after fifty years of work I see less melodrama and more of the quiet pleasure of the thing, the sweet moment of finding the right word, or the turn of plot, or the idea that opens the next idea.
Of course I am the heroine of my own writing story but I am all too aware that from another perspective I am a writing ant scurrying across a great field hiding in the grasses, hoping the bigger and better ants don’t have me for lunch.
It began in a writing class at Sarah Lawrence College when the poet Horace Gregory, after listening to a girl’s story of staying in a motel in Las Vegas while waiting for her divorce papers, said to her, “Who cares about your divorce?” I cared. I thought the piece he mocked was brilliant. But within six weeks after I graduated I married a writer and decided to devote myself to his well-being, to tend his wishes, work as a receptionist, type his manuscripts and mail them out to publishers.
We were divorced when I was twenty-seven and I then wrote the story of this misadventure, a kind of memoir disguised as a novel. I had met an editor at McGraw-Hill on the beach in Amagansett and I sent it to him and he accepted the manuscript and published it with a batch of new authors. I was twenty-nine and my mother had died but the other members of my family were furious and wounded and vowed never to speak to me again. They had a point. I had exposed, fumed, ridiculed, shamed, and otherwise carried on as if nothing mattered but my pages, my story. I am not the first writer to have taken revenge on old wrongs. I am not the first writer to look critically at the hearth. There was no feminism in the air when I began to write although it hovered just over the edge, just where I couldn’t see it, but yearned for it anyway.
I received a call from my editor. Sales of your book are incredible in one bookstore on the upper east side of Manhattan. The store can’t keep the book in stock because the demand is so high. My aunt who lived a block away from that book store was buying out the full supply again and again, not realizing the store would only reorder and reorder more. She was trying to keep her friends from reading it.
My next editor at Simon and Schuster was of the three-martini-lunch kind. He was fired finally for sleeping the afternoons away at his desk. And then I wrote books of all kinds. I had remarried a psychoanalyst. We had tuitions to pay. We had life to consider which is far more important than art, I quickly came to see.
I wrote about family and children and a thousand articles a year or so it seemed. I became a columnist for the New York Observer. I had opinions that grew like weeds in my brain. We never took a vacation that I didn’t write about for some magazine or paper. And I loved it. This writing that was not art but was like shoemaking, a craft, an honorable occupation.
And then not so honorably I wrote more memoirs. Yes, I was still writing about the things I knew all too well. While they tell you to write about what you know they don’t say you should keep at it for forty years. But I never felt I had it just right. I had something else, something further to say, some new perspective, some new fury possessed me and I repeated the story in variations. Perhaps this was a disaster for my writing life or perhaps that was the only way I could have had a writing life. Either way it was what happened. I am now old enough to see that I could have done better or I could have been a lady who lunches or plays golf at the club or raises roses in her garden. As it was I put my politics into my non-fiction and my imagination into my polemics and mostly I honored the distinction between fact and fantasy although sometimes in the fiction the facts molted into strange night moths that were no more related to the facts than the giraffe is related to the dinosaur.
Sometimes reviewers hated what I wrote and sometimes they didn’t. A bad review in the New York Times makes you feel run over, mauled, miserable. But that feeling does not last. Now I can chase it away in a day, at most a week. I am protected by the fact that I just write, the outside world need not admire me, may not admire me, but admiration is not fuel for my mind. I like it of course but I wouldn’t cross the street to find it. What I like best is the power of the good idea, the adrenaline rush of the words mounting into paragraphs, into pages.
Sometimes I wish I had been born with a greater gift. Sometimes I am thankful for the one I have. I have friends who talk of the famous writers they know and friends who think of book parties like bee keepers think of their hives. I used to have names to drop. The owners of those names may have died or drifted away. I am not a better writer because I knew better writers. If only that were so.
In the beginning I had a decent and kind agent who knew exactly how to get me the least money possible. I should have stayed with him but I was attracted by the glitter of a more famous agent. Oh well, mortal flaws are common enough even in people who don’t write for a living. The glittering agent made a deal with Robert Altman to turn a novel of mine into a movie. And then Altman couldn’t do the movie and the agent would not ask for my promised advance payment because he didn’t want to annoy the director and soon I heard he became Altman’s agent and so it went. You really need some shark teeth to survive out there. In my fantasies I am a killer shark, a poison spider, a meteor dropping out of space on someone in particular’s head. In reality, I am a pussycat whose claws have been removed. Except of course if I am writing and then my claws are long and strong and could tear apart an adult in the space of a paragraph. I no longer shock myself by the wicked things I write.
I look at the long shelf of books I have published and I think how much better they might have been had I only—. Then I look at the shelf and I think I would rather have had three more children. Then I think I might have preferred to have more books and fewer children than I actually have. Then I remind myself that there is no reason to place children and books on a scale. There is room in life for numbers of both and one never precludes the other. That is a false assumption lurking in my brain from the days of my youth when I wore a garter belt that pinched and thought I should serve as muse instead of listening to one.
When my husband died and I was grieving I began to write a book about the new land I was inhabiting where widows mircrowaved dinner and consumed it watching the evening news. The writing did not make me sad. I was sad to start with. The writing made me feel strong and the writing told me what I was thinking and it is always a good to know what is happening in the dark recesses of one’s mind. When years earlier my teenage children had made me feel like a horse ready for the glue factory I wrote about it. When my brother died of AIDS I wrote a novel about cholera in Egypt and then I wrote about him. When I was still under thirty I wrote a novel about a mother dreaming of other lives as she sat in the playground awaiting her third child. My alter ego danced with Fidel Castro, nearly blew up the George Washington Bridge with a group of revolutionaries and roamed the globe as a foreign correspondent. When it was published the reviewers said it was a feminist book. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it was and I was glad.
When I was young I thought money was evil. I soon saw that evil or not it was necessary. As a writer I made some money in the days of large advances and movie sales. But I never reached the end of the rainbow where the pot of gold waits. I just wasn’t that kind of writer. I hovered in the mid-list or sank below the surface. Publishers have a track where they can see your lifetime sales figures. Mine must hover somewhere between anorexia and famine. Am I jealous of writers who can fly to Paris first-class as often as they like? Not really. But I am jealous of writers whose sentences pierce my brain and writers whose words matter to many. But jealousy is not a real sin whatever they say. It makes me try harder, push myself to do better.
In today’s world where publishers are counting pennies and blockbusters only pay for more blockbusters and young writers bang and bang on closed doors I doubt that I would be published at all. And so I am thankful that I came of age when it was possible to write a book that some people liked, that was read a bit, even though the publisher never took me to the Four Seasons for lunch or flew me in a private plane to a distant resort.
I will be eighty years old when the winter snows arrive. Some eighty-year-old writers rest. Some do not. I am not sure what I will do. I have a new book I have to finish before I consider if there will be another following. The books I have written, the ones on my shelf are not immortal. I am however proud to have been part of the conversation that takes place among the readers of books, the readers of small magazines, of journals, the curious and the angry, the hopeful and the not so hopeful among us.
And then there is this. My daughter Katie just called to tell me she is dedicating her new book, The Violet Hour, coming next winter, to me.
(Lady Macbeth speaks)
Visit our Shakespeare Blog at the address below
The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry ‘Hold, hold!’
Precipitous (pri-SIP-i-tuhs) 1. Resembling a precipice, a cliff with a nearly vertical overhanging face.2. Extremely steep.3. Abrupt, rapid, or hasty (applied to a worsening situation). From obsolete French précipiteux, from Latin praecipitare (to cast down headlong), from prae- (before) + caput (head). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kaput- (head), also the origin of head, captain, chef, chapter, cadet, cattle, chattel, achieve, biceps, mischief, occiput, recapitulate, and capitation.
Is life's happiness curve really U-shaped?
Ageing doesn’t mean a steady descent into misery – evidence suggests that happiness is likely to increase as we head towards old age, but is it that simple?
Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman
“I hope I die before I get old,” wrote Pete Townsend of the Who in 1965, neatly encapsulating our culture’s veneration of youth – and disdain for those benighted souls who no longer possess it.
The 20-year-old Townsend was, of course, to be disappointed: last month he turned 70. But over the decades he may have revised his views on the grimness of growing old. Because the ageing process isn’t necessarily a steady descent into misery; on the contrary, the evidence suggests that happiness is likely to increase as we head towards old age.
This isn’t to say that the idea of the mid-life crisis has had its day. In general, people seem to begin their lives with a high degree of contentment. From the age of around 18 we become gradually less happy, reaching a nadir in our 40s. One estimate suggests that, over the 30 years from teen to middle age, life satisfaction scores dip by an average of around 5-10%.
However, the happiness curve is U-shaped. As we head into our 50s, levels of contentment take off again. By the time we’re in our 60s, it’s likely that we’ll never have been happier. (The upward trend doesn’t continue indefinitely, though: unsurprisingly, levels of satisfaction usually dip in the last couple of years of life.)
We are, of course, talking averages here: broad statistical trends, typically based upon responses to one question (such as “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days – would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?”). An individual’s personal experiences may be quite different.
Nevertheless, it’s a pattern that’s been detected in many large-scale studies. The U-shaped curve emerges very clearly, for example, from data on half a million Americans and Europeans.
The pattern has been found too in longitudinal studies of the general population: that is, research that follows the same group of people over a number of years. This kind of study is expensive and challenging – and, consequently, less common. But it’s also the only way to trace how a specific individual’s happiness changes with age.
The U-shaped curve remains when you control for factors such as birth cohort, physical health, income, number of children, marital status, and education. It’s seen in both sexes, though men tend to be happier than women (albeit women smile more). And, would you believe, researchers have even claimed to have detected it in great apes.
A study of 500 chimpanzees and orangutans rated for happiness by their zoo keepers indicated a primate mid-life crisis at around the age of 30 – a finding that led to speculation that some (as yet unidentified) age-related biological influence is at work.
However, though the U-shaped curve is pervasive it’s most certainly not universal. For one thing, it seems to be far more prevalent in high-income nations. In countries of the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe (Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Russia, for example) wellbeing in childhood is markedly lower than in the west, and it then steadily declines with age. Life satisfaction in Latin America and the Caribbean is reasonably high in childhood (though lower than in the west), but again deteriorates from there. In sub-Saharan Africa countries such as Angola, Cameroon, and Ethiopia, life satisfaction remains low throughout the lifespan.
Even in the case of wealthy nations some academics have argued that the U-shaped curve is a statistical illusion. (Economists, incidentally, figure prominently in the debate over the U-shaped curve.) Perhaps, for example, unhappier people simply die younger.
There’s certainly evidence of a correlation between wellbeing and mortality. A new UK study that followed more than 9,000 people in their 60s for eight years found a death rate of 29% for those in the bottom quarter for happiness. For the most contented 25%, on the other hand, the rate was just 9%.
Some of that stark difference can be attributed to physical health. The UK study found that older people with illnesses such as coronary heart disease, arthritis, and chronic lung disease were likely to have lower levels of wellbeing. Moreover, it may be that happiness helps prevent people falling ill. Yet even after controlling for initial physical health, wealth, education, and depression, happiness was still associated with a 30% reduction in the risk of death.
The link between happiness and mortality may be skewing the statistics to a degree, but the overall death rate isn’t nearly high enough to account entirely for the U-shaped curve. Perhaps more subtle biases are at work. Perhaps researchers haven’t always fully grasped the complexity lurking in the large sample data. What happens for example when you factor in the possibility that the people getting happier in the studies are essentially the same individuals who began life with high levels of contentment? After all, happy people are more likely to experience positive life events (career success, for instance, or great relationships), which in turn bring even greater happiness.
When you correct for this effect, say economists Paul Frijters and Tony Beatton, the U-shaped curve disappears; what we see instead is an overall gradual decline in happiness with age. Not everyone, of course, stays in a longitudinal survey; inevitably, a percentage of participants drop out. When Frijters and Beatton controlled for this factor they found that the happiness shape changes again. This time the data formed a wave: happiness remained fairly steady up to around age 55, at which point it increased, before falling sharply at about age 75.
The U-shaped curve theory has its dissenters. Yet evidence for its existence in the prosperous west keeps on coming, most recently in a longitudinal study of the general population in Britain, Australia, and Germany that tracked individual changes in wellbeing. So if it’s accurate, what are the reasons?
The short answer is that no one knows, not least because the surveys that generate the data are less well suited to elicit explanations. This isn’t to say that theories haven’t been suggested. Two are particularly popular in the scientific literature. The first is economic: essentially, it all boils down to the effect of work on our wellbeing. The downward curve of contentment begins as we enter employment in early adulthood and accelerates as work takes up more and more of our time in mid-life. But we reap the rewards as we enter our 50s – established in a career, financially secure and with the kids having finally flown the nest, we now have time to enjoy the fruits of our frenetic mid-life labour.
That’s the idea, at least.
The other dominant theory is psychological. We start off in life with high hopes, which we gradually realise are unlikely to be fulfilled. “Dashed hopes and good intentions. Good, better, best, bested,” as Edward Albee put it in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Middle age brings a new sense of realism; a determination to enjoy life as it is; and thus an increase in happiness.
Whatever the explanation, the U-shaped curve teaches us that a mid-life slump is both normal and temporary. Comedian Dylan Moran boils life down to just four stages: “Child, failure, old and dead”. But then he’s 43. Ten years on, the chances are life may seem a much happier affair.
Dutch city of Utrecht to experiment with a universal, unconditional 'basic income'
The University College Utrecht has paired with the city to see if a system of welfare without requirements will produce an efficient society
The Dutch city of Utrecht will start an experiment which hopes to determine whether society works effectively with universal, unconditional income introduced.
The city has paired up with the local university to establish whether the concept of 'basic income' can work in real life, and plans to begin the experiment at the end of the summer holidays.
Basic income is a universal, unconditional form of payment to individuals, which covers their living costs. The concept is to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study.
University College Utrecht has paired with the city to place people on welfare on a living income, to see if a system of welfare without requirements will be successful.
The Netherlands as a country is no stranger to less traditional work environments - it has the highest proportion of part time workers in the EU, 46.1 per cent. However, Utrecht's experiment with welfare is expected to be the first of its kind in the country.
Alderman for Work and Income Victor Everhardt told DeStad Utrecht: "One group is will have compensation and consideration for an allowance, another group with a basic income without rules and of course a control group which adhere to the current rules."
"Our data shows that less than 1.5 percent abuse the welfare, but, before we get into all kinds of principled debate about whether we should or should not enter, we need to first examine if basic income even really works.
Being Grateful Today Leads to Happiness Tomorrow
by David Schnurman
CEO of Lawline and FurtherEd, the leading provider of online legal continuing education.
In the beginning of the year, I started an email chain with a close friend of mine where we simply stated the 5 things we were grateful for on that particular day. What this lead to was daily exchanges of our top 5, with the one rule that we could not repeat anything written in a prior email. So, for example, I could only be grateful for my amazing wife once (which was of course on the first email, Kelli).
I started this exchange because as an entrepreneur, stress is a regular part of our lives. It is what we signed up for, but we still need a way to manage it. Every morning this list allows me to think about my previous day, my life, and my family, and find something new or different that made me happy.
Recently, I decided to take my entire list and put it into a spreadsheet. By doing this, I was able to take my raw thoughts and turn them into themes. I would like to share the top 5 areas I am grateful for in the hopes of helping you start this process, and see where you end up after one month.
Top 5 Areas I am Grateful for:
Personal (39%) - There was a wide range of subcategories in this area, which include: feelings, leadership, accomplishments, learning, writing, and so forth. Sometimes it was general, like “a good laugh” or specific, “having an enjoyable lunch with Frank.” At first I felt guilty that this area had twice as many entries than my “Family” section, but I realized that the numbers made sense. Running a company and working with so many great people lead me to feeling grateful for the opportunities I am exposed to.
Family (17%) – Of course, if I could repeat the same things more than once, family would be the top of this list by far. Similar to my personal list, what I wrote ranged from “having a wife as a best friend” to something more specific such as “walking my kids to school.” My family is my rock, and being grateful for all the things they are to me is a significant part of my happiness.
Comfort (17%) – I realized that there is so much that we take for granted on a daily basis that makes our lives easier and often happier. My comments ranged from “wireless internet access” to “having a short commute.” There is no doubt in my mind that technology adds comfort to my life on a daily basis and as result makes my life happier and fuller.
Other People (16%) – Now this area is key. The relationships that you make in your life will be the ultimate determination of how happy you are day in and day out. What I noticed here was that most of my comments were specific, such as “Micah’s work ethic” or “Sandra…enough said!” I believe it is my relationships with others that directly effects my growth as an individual.
Fitness/Health (11%) – Without good health nothing else matters. I was somewhat surprised it was this low on my list. My comments ranged from “going for a nice run yesterday morning” to “making myself a delicious fruit smoothy.” I feel so much better on a daily basis when I feel that I have contributed towards a healthy lifestyle.
Over the course of one year, the percentages can change and even the topics, but this list is a good indication of where my mind is currently. It reminds me of all of the amazing things I have going on in my life and it allows me to use this positive energy to make more great things happen. We are not a personal self and a professional self. We are only one person and focusing on what we are grateful for will lead to happiness all around.
The views expressed in this post are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, its management, or its other members.
Two Canadian mayors want to launch an experiment that could change how we think about poverty forever
Updated by Dylan Matthews ET @dylanmatt
The mayors of the two biggest cities in Canada's most right-leaning province are sounding very sympathetic to a guaranteed minimum income.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi signaled support for a variant of the policy known as a "negative income tax," and expressed a desire for Alberta's new left-wing finance minister Joe Ceci to explore the idea. His Edmonton counterpart, Don Iveson, said in an interview that his city and Calgary would be well-positioned to run guaranteed income pilot programs, just as two cities in Manitoba did in the 1970s.
But wait — what is a guaranteed or "basic" income, anyway? Here are the basics of the idea, in eleven questions.
What is basic income?
"Basic income" is shorthand for a range of proposals that share the idea of giving everyone in a given polity a certain amount of money on a regular basis. A basic income comes with no categorical eligibility requirements; you don't have to be blind or disabled or unemployed to get it. Everyone gets the same amount by virtue of being a human with material needs that money can help address.
There are a number of different names this idea has gone by over the years. "Universal basic income" and "basic income guarantee" are used frequently. "Guaranteed minimum income" and "negative income tax" are generally used to refer to versions of the plan that also impose a tax that gradually eats up the cash transfer, as a means of reducing the cost of the policy. "Demogrant" was popular in the '70s, and "citizens' dividend" and "social wage" get used from time to time.
Who supports basic income?
Surprising people! Arguably the biggest popularizer of the idea in the 20th century was libertarian economist Milton Friedman, who specifically favored a negative income tax as a replacement for much of the welfare state. Many left-of-center economists, like James Tobin and John Kenneth Galbraith, were also on board. More recently, Emmanuel Saez and Jonathan Gruber, two of the most influential left-leaning economists currently working, argued that an ideal tax system would feature a "large demogrant."
Martin Luther King Jr. endorsed the idea in his book Where to Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, writing, "I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective—the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income." Activists and scholars Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven authored an influential article in The Nation in 1966 which called for a national movement of the poor with the intended goal of achieving a basic income. More academically, left philosophers and intellectuals like Erik Olin Wright, Peter Frase, Carole Pateman, Antonio Negri, and Michael Hardt and in particular Philippe Van Parijs have written in favor of the idea.
But the idea still retains appeal on the right for the same reasons Friedman embraced it. Libertarian economist and National Review/Reason contributor Veronique de Rugy spoke up for the idea on Fox News and received a favorable hearing. Charles Murray of The Bell Curve fame wrote a whole book laying out a specific plan for a negative income tax to replace the existing welfare state.
Has a basic income been implemented anywhere?
Not exactly, but a lot of countries have generous cash transfer programs of one variety or another. In the United States, Social Security is more or less an age-limited basic income program which ties benefits to wages to make itself look like a pension program. Supplemental Security Income is a guaranteed minimum income scheme for the aged, blind, and disabled. Food stamps are a guaranteed minimum income distributed through food rather than cash. The Earned Income Tax Credit functions much like a negative income tax with a work requirement.
Most other developed countries, including the UK, France, and Germany, have similar income support systems with eligibility requirements of varying strictness. In the developing world and in particular Latin America, conditional cash transfer (CCT) schemes — wherein low-income families are given cash benefits with no use restrictions provided they fulfill certain conditions, like sending kids to school or getting vaccinated — have become popular over the past decade or so. The most famous program is Brazil's Bolsa Familia, but Mexico, Colombia, and plenty of other countries have similar programs, with meta-analyses showing the programs have significant positive effects on health and education outcomes. New York City even tried out a CCT, with evaluator MDRC finding positive results.
Formal basic income plans have been tried in small experiments. A whole series of experiments in various US cities testing out negative income tax plans were conducted in the 1970s, as was a much more ambitious trial in Manitoba, Canada. The results of the experiments are controversial, but included a modest reduction in hours worked as well as improvements in health outcomes and, naturally, an increase in incomes. A much more recent trial in Namibia also reported positive outcomes.
Wouldn't this destroy the economy?
A common concern with basic income proposals is the worry that they'd destroy incentives to work. If people no longer need to work to afford an apartment and food and other life necessities, then it stands to reason that the incentive one has to get a job — or to work a given number of hours on a job — would be reduced. Even if one doesn't want to live on whatever the given basic income is, they might go from working full-time to working part-time, making up the difference with the benefit. This is concerning to people both because most Americans have a strong belief that people ought to work for a living, and because reduced work effort means reduced production — in other words, an economic slowdown.
As noted above, a real basic income has never been implemented across a whole country, which makes macroeconomic effects hard to predict. But we do have some experimental evidence on the question of work effort, drawn from the negative income tax experiments in the US and Canada in the 1970s. Those studies found that work effort declined when a negative income tax was imposed, as predicted, but that the effect was quite small. Moreover, most of the reduction in work effort appeared to come from people taking longer stints of unemployment. That can be a bad thing, but it can also mean that people aren't settling for second-best jobs and holding out for ones that are better fits for them. That'd actually be good, economically. Additionally, the work effect reduction for young people appeared to come entirely from increased school attendance— also a desirable outcome.
Another factor is underreporting. Negative income taxes provide an incentive for beneficiaries to underreport their incomes so as to get a bigger benefit — and that's exactly what happened in the US negative income tax experiments. For the experiment in Gary, Indiana, when participants' reported incomes were cross-referenced with official government data on their earnings, the reduction in work effort went away entirely.
So it's reasonable to think there might be a reduction in work effort if a basic income were imposed. But the scale is likely to be modest, and the form that reduction in work effort takes could very well be good for the economy in the long run.
Could a basic income ever happen in the United States?
At the moment, probably not, given that Congress won't pass basically anything at all. But the odds in, say, the next hundred years aren't necessarily zero. For one thing, in the 1970s basic income proposals were popular among both political parties. Richard Nixon pushed a negative income tax through the House, and Jimmy Carter made a less successful but real attempt at passing one himself. In 1972, George McGovern challenged Nixon for reelection not by attacking his income support policies but by proposing a more generous basic income.
More to the point, most countries, as noted above, have income support schemes that are at least somewhat similar to a basic income, and when the idea is framed in more familiar terms it ceases to seem so radical. Case in point: the FairTax plan, which would replace all federal income, payroll, gift, and estate taxes with a 30 percent sales tax, includes a household refund of taxes paid on spending up to the poverty level. Households would receive that refund regardless of their work status, making it a pure (albeit quite small) basic income. Last Congress, FairTax was endorsed by 76 members of the House and 9 members of the Senate — all Republicans. They probably wouldn't think of themselves as basic income supporters, but in a way, they are.
What's the liberal/leftist case for basic income?
The basic left-of-center case for a basic income is that a sufficiently large one eliminates poverty. Poverty is bad, the left has traditionally been very invested in fighting it, and basic income represents an elegant way of eliminating it. Basic income also reduces inequality, which leftists and liberals tend to find desirable for a number of reasons, not least that, generally speaking, poor people get more use out of an extra dollar than rich people lose by foregoing a dollar, and thus redistribution can be expected to increase overall well-being.
But there are more intricate arguments as well. Philippe Van Parijs, in his book Real Freedom for All and other writings, argues that a basic income is necessary as a matter of freedom. To be truly free, Van Parijs argues, people have to have "access to the means that people need for doing what they might want to do." Providing a basic income for everyone provides those means. Pete Frase, an editor at Jacobin and influential leftist writer on economics, makes a similar argument. A basic income, he argues, "directly addresses one of the most fundamental objectionable things about capitalism, namely the fact that it makes almost everyone dependent on performing wage labor in order to survive."
The freedom argument rests, to some degree, on a critique of our culture's overwhelming emphasis on the importance of work. Frase notes that 84 years ago, John Maynard Keynes was predicting that within a hundred years, the world would be rich enough that the "economic problem" would be solved, and the world would enter an "age of leisure" where far more of our lives were devoted to activities outside of work. We have so far failed to create that world, but a basic income would enable it by granting all people the ability to drop out of the working world, or to dramatically cut back their hours. If you think of leisure as an active good, and unpleasant work as a societal ill, that's a great case for a basic income.
Finally, some philosophers, most notably Carole Pateman, have made an explicitly feminist case for a basic income. Pateman notes that most welfare states were designed with an understanding that women would get benefits based on their husbands' contributions and status, rather than their own. This kept women economically dependent on men and supported a model of marriage that allowed men to free-ride off the domestic labor of women. Things have changed somewhat, but women still work at lower rates than men and earn less. A basic income, Pateman writes, "would, for the first time, provide women with life-long (modest) economic independence and security, a major reason why it is central to democratization."
What's the conservative/libertarian case for basic income?
The laissez-faire case for basic income is premised in some measure on a critique of the existing welfare state, and a claim that redirecting the same money into a basic income would result in better outcomes.
For one thing, it would likely require less bureaucracy to implement than many existing welfare programs. "The biggest advantage of a [negative income tax] is that it requires the smallest possible bureaucracy to implement," Guy Sorman, a right-leaning French philosopher, wrote in City Journal. "No longer would the federal and state governments maintain the sprawling multiple agencies necessary to distribute food stamps, public housing, Medicaid, cash welfare, and a myriad of community development programs. Nor would they need to pay the salaries and enormous future pensions of the public employees who run all these programs."
The fact that a basic income takes away the decision of what to spend money on from the government is also enticing to libertarians. "Benefits are often given in-kind rather than in cash precisely because the state doesn’t trust welfare recipients to make what it regards as wise choices about how to spend their money," University of San Diego's Matt Zwolinski writes. A basic income, Zwolinski continues, would change that.
Charles Murray argues for a basic income by arguing it makes individuals responsible for their own flourishing, rather than requiring the government to make spending decisions on their behalf. "A persuasive critique of the current system is that the people who make up the underclass have no reason to think they can be anything else," he writes. "The GI says just one thing to people who have never had reason to believe it before: 'Your future is in your hands.' And it is the truth."
Ed Dolan notes that, for conservatives and libertarians who care about preserving work incentives, a basic income actually has advantages over welfare programs that phase out with income and implicitly impose high effective marginal tax rates on beneficiaries. Giving everyone a cash grant doesn't do that.
What's the liberal/leftist case against basic income?
The left case against basic income boils down to a question of what to prioritize: basic income, which is basically unprecedented at a national scale, or expansion of the traditional safety net through things like universal child care, generous work leave policies, free college, and the whatnot, which is a policy program that Nordic social democracies have actually adopted, and which, at least from certain perspectives, works.
American University's Barbara Bergmann is probably the most prominent exponent of this viewpoint. Bergmann notes that there are certain benefits that liberals think everyone should have access to, such as education, health care, childcare, housing, and the like. A government cannot afford to finance both these and a basic income, she concludes, and financing the benefits directly is preferable to giving people money to buy them individually.
Suppose someone gets a basic income, fails to buy health insurance, gets very sick, and doesn't have enough money to pay for life-saving treatment. You'd still need a universal health care system to save their life — and a basic income leaves less money to fund such a system. "The fully developed welfare state deserves priority over Basic Income because it accomplishes what Basic Income does not: it guarantees that certain specific human needs will be met," Bergmann concludes.
Proponents of a "job guarantee" — a government program to ensure that anyone who wants employment can get it, usually through the public or nonprofit sector — often criticize basic income as politically unrealistic and inflationary. University of Missouri - Kansas City's Randall Wray asserts that it would "add just about two or three zeros to all prices and wages in the US—at least within a reasonably narrow margin of error" (for the record, the idea that fiscal policy rather than monetary policy determines inflation represents a small minority in economics).
Some on the left, while not necessarily opposing a basic income, dispute the arguments offered for it by conservatives and libertarians. Contrary to the common idea among free-marketers that there are a plethora of wasteful welfare programs, the Roosevelt Institute's Mike Konczal argues that in the existing welfare state, "there are relatively few programs and they are run at a decent administrative cost." "Dissatisfaction with the current system feeds a dream of wiping the slate clean, but motivations for a clean slate vary drastically," Max Sawicky writes. "Some on the right would like to replace existing programs because they disapprove of what those programs do, not because they fail to erase poverty."
What's the conservative/libertarian case against basic income?
A basic income is a massive redistributive government program. Conservatives and libertarians generally don't like massive redistributive government programs. It's like their whole thing.
Anarcho-capitalist and University of Colorado philosopher Michael Huemer made the most full-throated version of this argument in response to Zwolinski. "Suppose I decided to provide a basic income for my neighborhood. I don’t have enough justly acquired money to do this, so I extract the needed funds from my neighbors by threatening them with kidnaping and long-term imprisonment if they fail to hand over the funds I require," he muses. "Sometimes a neighbor evades my efforts, usually by lying to me about his income. I kidnap these neighbors and hold them prisoner in small cells for years at a time." That'd be immoral. So why wouldn't the version where the government does the threatening?
The other, more mainstream argument is that basic income programs destroy work incentives rather than improving them (as other libertarians, like Dolan above, argue). This, the argument goes, not only hurts individuals' well-being and that of their community. Jim Manzi cites the experiments in the 1970s to support his contention that a basic income would reduce work effort.
The Kauffman Foundation's Brink Lindsey takes Manzi's conclusion and takes the logical next step, arguing that reducing work effort is necessarily a bad thing, pointing out that (involuntary) unemployment hurts well-being, both mentally and physically. "For most people, joblessness means not only a lack of income, but also lack of status, lack of identity, and lack of direction," he concludes. "It is the path, not to nonpecuniary forms of fulfillment, but to anomie and despair."
I LOVE THE ANSWER OF THE LAST KID IN THE LAST BOX ON THE BOTTOM RIGHT
"Half the lies they tell about me aren't true.”
THE BOOK OF FUNNY, ODD AND INTERESTING THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAY
John William Tuohy
I can’t sleep. J. M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan
I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis. Humphrey Bogart
I am about to — or I am going to — die: either expression is correct. Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian
Dammit…Don’t you dare ask God to help me. Joan Crawford to her housekeeper who began to pray aloud.
I am perplexed. Satan Get Out Aleister Crowley, famous occultist
Now why did I do that? General William Erskine, after he jumped from a window in Lisbon, Portugal in 1813.
Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French Fries’! James French, a convicted murderer, was sentenced to the electric chair. He shouted these words to members of the press who were to witness his execution
Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something. Francisco ("Pancho") Villa
I'll be in Hell before you start breakfast! "Black Jack" Ketchum, train robber
Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies. Voltaire, when asked by a priest to renounce Satan
Get these fucking nuns away from me. Norman Douglas
Don't worry...it's not loaded... Terry Kath, rock musician in the band Chicago Transit Authority as he put the gun he was cleaning to his head and pulled the trigger.
Die, my dear? Why that's the last thing I'll do! Groucho Marx
Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough! Karl Marx, asked by his housekeeper what his last words were
I have a terrific headache. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage
I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring. Richard Feynman
Drink to me! Pablo Picasso
I have not told half of what I saw. Marco Polo
Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking towards me, without hurrying. Jean Cocteau
Lord help my poor soul Edgar Allan Poe
Thank God. I'm tired of being the funniest person in the room. Del Close, comedian
I have tried so hard to do right. Grover Cleveland
I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away. Peace, Love, Empathy. Kurt Cobain. Kurt Cobain in his suicide note
It's very beautiful over there. Thomas Edison
No! I didn't come here to make a speech. I came here to die. Crawford Goldsby, aka Cherokee Bill, when asked if he had anything to say before he was hanged.
I know you've come to kill me. Shoot, you are only going to kill a man. Che Guevara
I'm tired of fighting. Harry Houdini
I see black light. Victor Hugo
“LSD, 100 micrograms I.M.” Aldous Huxley To his wife. She obliged and he was injected twice before his death.
Let me go to the Father's house Pope John Paul II
I'm bored with it all. Winston Churchill, before slipping into a coma and dying nine days later.
I know not what tomorrow will bring. Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet
Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you. Mother Teresa
Don't disturb my circles! Archimedes
I hope the exit is joyful and hope never to return. Frida Kahlo
They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance. General John Sedgwick, Union Commander in the U.S. Civil War, who was hit by sniper fire a few minutes after saying it
Dying is easy, comedy is hard. George Bernard Shaw
I'm losing. Frank Sinatra
Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius. Will you remember to pay the debt? Socrates
My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go. Oscar Wilde
"Jakie, is it my birthday or am I dying?" Lady Nancy Astor, upon seeing all her children assembled at her bedside in her last illness.
"Nothing but death." Jane Austin when asked by her sister Cassandra if there was anything she wanted.
"Friends applaud, the comedy is over." Beethoven
"I want to live because there are a few things I want to do." Aneurin Bevan
"I'm going away tonight." Singer James Brown
"Goodnight." Lord Byron
"Doctor, do you think it could have been the sausage?" Paul Claudel
"That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted." Lou Costello
"Goodnight my darlings, I'll see you tomorrow." Noel Coward
"Goodbye, Everybody!" Poet Hart Crane, said when he committed suicide by jumping overboard during a steamship voyage.
"That was a great game of golf, fellers." Bing Crosby
"My fun days are over." James Dean, shortly before his fatal car crash.
"I've had a hell of a lot of fun and I've enjoyed every minute of it." Errol Flynn
"Turn up the lights, I don't want to go home in the dark." O. Henry quoting a popular song, 5 June 1910
"Let us pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." Thomas Stonewall Jackson just before he was inadvertedly shot by his own men.
"Don't worry, it's not loaded." Terry Alan Kath, founding member of the rock band Chicago, said to Don Johnson, while pointing a 9-mm semiautomatic pistol to his own head. The single bullet left in the chamber killed him instantly.
"I wish I'd drunk more champagne." Keynes, John Maynard Keynes
"Cool it, brothers..." Malcolm X, last words before being assassinated in 1965.
"I've got to get to the top of the hill..." Morgan, John Pierpont Morgan
"So little done, so much to do." Cecil John Rhodes
"Why yes, a bulletproof vest!" criminal James Rodger, on his final request before the firing squad.
"We are the first victims of American fascism!" Ethel Rosenberg before her execution in 1953
"I feel faint." Adlai Stevenson before collapsing to his death
"I have just had eighteen whiskeys in a row. I do believe that is a record." Dylan Thomas
This is the last of earth! I am content. John Quincy Adams, US President, d. February 21, 1848
Waiting are they? Waiting are they? Well--let 'em wait. Ethan Allen, American Revolutionary general, d. 1789. In response to an attending doctor who attempted to comfort him by saying, "General, I fear the angels are waiting for you."
Am I dying or is this my birthday? Lady Nancy Astor, when she woke briefly during her last illness and found all her family around her bedside.
Codeine . . . bourbon. Tallulah Bankhead, actress
How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden? P. T. Barnum
Is everybody happy? I want everybody to be happy. I know I'm happy. Ethel Barrymore
Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him. John Barrymore
Now comes the mystery. Henry Ward Beecher, evangelist, d. March 8, 1887
I'd like to thank my family for loving me and taking care of me. And the rest of the world can kiss my ass. Johnny Frank Garrett, Sr., executed by injection, Texas.
I'd rather be fishing. Jimmy Glass, executed in electric chair, Louisiana.
I did not get my Spaghetti-O's, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this. Thomas J. Grasso, executed by injection, Oklahoma.
It is the duty of every good officer to obey any orders given him by his commander-in-chief. Actual words of Nathan Hale, American hero shot by the British as a spy.
I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country. The last words of Nathan Hale attributed
Monsieur, I beg your pardon. Marie Antoinette to the executioner, after she stepped on his foot.
Shoot me in the chest! Benito Mussolini to his executioners.
Shoot straight you bastards and don't make a mess of it! Harry Harbord "Breaker" Morant, Australian poet, to his firing squad.
Hurry it up you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while you're screwing around. Carl Panzram, executed by hanging Leavenworth, Kansas.
Adios. John Thanos, convict executed by injection in Maryland.
Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. Mark Twain. Cable to the Associated Press on learning that his obituary had been published.
In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promplty spilit apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more then ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny complelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obsticales of the foster care system and find his dreams.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.
AVAILABLE FROM LLR BOOKS.COM....................................(and Amazon too)
AVAILABLE FROM LLR BOOKS.COM....................................(and Amazon too)
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