Read On, Write-In, Speak Out: Epistolary on a Saturday Morning!

Categories: OC Bookly

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Let's get the 411 out of the way. Press HERE, Great Americans to get information, driving directions and more - as if you didn't already know them - to prep for my favorite civic activism event ever, the 30th annual Great American Write-In, sponsored by Women For: Orange County. You'll want to share the info and invite friends because, of course, the Times and Register won't mention it as they might, should, toward promoting political engagement and civic literacy, unlike this magazine you are reading online, which profiled the long-time OC feminist outfit last year. This despite or perhaps because of the truly dangerous idea it represents as manifest in the powerful image at right, of an older woman holding a pen, mightier than the sword, they say, in the wonderfully authentic and vivid and scary act of hand writing a letter to an elected official. It's a modest if impressive bit of what remains of both participation and resistance in an often otherwise virtual and therefore mostly meaningless "like"-along or online petition or Facebook un-world  


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What's up, heterodox? Economist Richard Wolff Visits the Hellmouth

Categories: OC Bookly
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It's an easy truism that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing so, yes, the phony knowledge-peddling machine that is corporate mass media insists on telling obvious untruisms in the Groucho Marxist vein of believing capitalist apologist economics experts rather than your own lyin' eyes. Ha! Here's Marxist-Socialist- heterodox (you choose) economist, scholar, teacher, radio host and all-around economics de-mystifier Richard Wolff smiling at you from one of his two terrific websites, perhaps because he is looking so forward to appearing in the Hellmouth itself, aka Orange County, CA, USA this week. Yours Truly has the privilege (not class privilege, thank you) of introducing him at an OC Greens and KPFK (who else)-sponsored event on Thursday night in Santa Ana, tickets on sale now, as they say.


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Je Suis un Athée, Socialiste, Féministe: The Political Economy of Offense

Categories: OC Bookly

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Charlie Hebdo
No doubt others of you out there share my frustration (admittedly a familiar condition) with the failure of so many citizens, pundits, media thinkers, casual conversationalists to be able to hold two ideas in their heads simultaneously, especially to accommodate two difficult, provocative, "offensive" ideas. Or even three. Is it, for instance, possible to exercise a critique of religious extremists (never satisfactorily defined and to my mind a tautology) by way of careful and logical and humane hostility not only to one religion but, yes, all of them!? Look no further than the Bibliofellow, who here offers himself as an unshy role model, hostile to religion and able to ignore tasteless or dumb or unnecessarily mean efforts at, say, humor and satire but eager to celebrate the form always. Duh. This exemplary behavior seems too absent in a lot of what passes for discussion in too many forums, where silly people indeed talk about what "offends" them. I am increasingly, yes and oui, offended by religion, which is always necessarily a provocation, a purposeful, clumsy, institutionalized and too-powerful reactionary assumption-machine which by definition challenges the rational, humane, collaborative and usually gets away with it. Also, friends, the only people who attack religion with guns and swords and money are, yup, other religionists, no kidding.

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MacDonald Harris and the Mortality, Immortality of Illusion

Categories: OC Bookly

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The novelist MacDonald Harris was in real life Donald Heiney, a sailor from Newport Beach and co-founder of the UC Irvine graduate creative writing program, that nifty workshop which has produced a whole bunch of terrific novelists and short story writers, nonfiction scribes and teachers. He died in 1993 yet is having a nice run at immortality, every artist's goal, with first the recent publication of The Carp Castle and now, the reissue of Screenplay, his 1982 novel about, as they say, silent movie culture as imagined by a kind of Through the Looking Glass character whose journey to the other side of the screen plays around with identity and the construction of unreality that is image and words. It's "about" a lot more, of course. And, yes, there are a number of reasons to recommend this book: for its So Cal setting, its author's connection to the region, the book's edgy meta-fictional construct as imagined nearly forty years ago, the subject of movie illusion, and its truly creepy and wonderful protagonist, as well as the recommendation from British actor-director Simon Callow, who wrote the afterword, possibly the most enthusiastic review of a novel I've ever read.

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War is Over! If You Want It...

Categories: OC Bookly

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I recently met a new reader of this humble blog, who breezily if perhaps accurately described it to its author, of all people, as starting out as a discussion of books but then morphing into politics. Wasn't sure if this was admiration or frustration. Regardless, I beamed inside, little ray of sunshine that I am. Yes, Bibsters, my two favorite topics, and those of most grown-ups, are books and politics, in their way the same topic perhaps and pretty inclusive of almost everything. So that this week I'll embrace the same reliable formula, the topic being books about war, and this just after the hollow celebration of Veterans' Day, formerly Armistice Day, its name changed in this country (and others) where the bullying of the war buffs subordinates the real meaning of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918 to a kind of weird if hearty fatalism about the presumed need for even more war and more wounded and dead veterans, the perverse tautology of state violence. 

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Gary Webb: Pariah No More

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Photo: Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images, Design: Dustin Ames

A few months after Gary Webb killed himself with his dad's old pistol, I stood shirtless in my back yard, staring at the full moon. The sky was black and cloudless, the moon blurry. Earlier that night, I'd poured myself several splashes of single-malt scotch. I shook my fist in the air and screamed.

I'd been a mess ever since Dec. 12, 2004, when the Sunday-morning edition of the Los Angeles Times hit my porch. As usual, I had opened the paper to the last page of the news section, where the Times tended to bury its most important stories. "Gary Webb, 49, wrote series linking CIA and drugs," read the headline, and suddenly I realized I was reading an obituary. Webb, the article stated, who "wrote a widely criticized series linking the CIA to the explosion of crack-cocaine in Los Angeles, was found dead in his Sacramento-area home Friday. He apparently killed himself."

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Readings and Sponsors and Now a Word from Your Bibster

Categories: OC Bookly

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I love this photo of quick-to-laugh novelist, teacher and booster of good writing and writers Janet Fitch (White Oleander, Paint It Black). Maybe she will flash it at me and others in the audience when she welcomes attendees to the nifty literary wingding I am putting on in a few weeks, and to which you, fellow bibsters, are cordially, as they say, invited. Fitch is one of our best So Cal book people, and for years (she says) she's been a fan and supporter of Santa Monica Review, edited by your not very humble Sunday morning blogger. Which is to say that I have the difficult and pleasurable and perhaps, for me at least, best job in the world, of reading hundreds of submissions (with help from short story writer Dawna Kemper and smart-dude Gabe Zacuto) and picking the absolute best of short and long fiction, memoir and essays and printing them twice yearly in that terrific project started by Jim Krusoe (Parsifal) of Santa Monica College about 25 years ago, a little West Coast literary magazine we like to call Santa Monica Review, its Fall 2014 issue out in a couple of weeks.

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Read Nick Schou's Kill the Messenger, See the Trailer, Read the Review, See the Flick

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Original Kill the Messenger book cover (left) and the version now that there's a major motion picture.
As you'd expect, the cover has changed to OC Weekly managing editor Nick Schou's book Kill the Messenger now that a major motion picture of the same title based on the book hits theaters today.

Whether vintage or new, you'll want to read the book before venturing into a local theater to see the movie starring Jeremy Renner. For Nick's sake, why not buy copies of each version? Check Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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Imagining Malcolm Margolin: California's Co-Creator and Cartographer of a Better Reality

Categories: OC Bookly

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Last week found Mr. Bib lamenting, complaining, bitching and otherwise cracking wise by way of that rhetorically nearly exhausted (and exhausting) question of Where to Start, as in how to locate some kind of place - ideally at least higher than Lowest Common DenominatorLand, but sort of wishing for at least that - and backing up lightly to basics, of civic engagement, history, critical thinking and science. In this morning's hebdomadal rant I pivot on that one, offering exactly (!) Where to Start, no head shaking or eye rolling, only pointing to those specific places just now of both pleasing difficult reality and imagination, to steal some poetry, happily, from this week's hero, the editor and publisher and all-around booster of the heartfelt, Heyday founder Malcolm Margolin, who the Bibliofella and family were lucky to see and hear last week with an adoring crowd at the terrific ALOUD reading series at LA Central Library, thank you Louise Steinman, curator and host of that most excellent program. 


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Miko Peled Shares His Journey from Staunch Zionist to Israel-Palestine Peace Activist Sunday

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Miko Peled is interviewed about his views on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Though he lives in Coronado now, Miko Peled was born in Jerusalem and has a grandfather who signed Israel's Declaration of Independence. His father served as an Israeli general who later became a peace activist, a critic of Israel's territorial expansion and a supporter of dialogue with the PLO and a two-state solution. Junior followed in his father's peacemaking footsteps, as you'll learn if you catch him speaking in Laguna Beach on Sunday.

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