I hope readers will treat it as a mystery to be solved, and will evaluate each of the clues I find and present. Here we have one of the few paintings Van Gogh both signed and titled, a painting he described as “one of my only works with deep meaning.” The mystery is how one painting inside a café for poor workers and misfits can serve as a key to the artist’s spiritual journey.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
In his letters, Selzer refers to his native city as "my beloved Troy," and still considers himself a Trojan even though he has lived in New Haven, Conn., for 50 years. A retired surgeon and professor of surgery at Yale, the author published his first book of essays about medicine in 1973. Locally, he may be best-known for his 1992 memoir, "Down From Troy", in which he draws the city in luscious glory.
Monday, August 24, 2009
While much has been written about the festival, not much has been said about the aftermath. That story, as I chronicled as part of my 1989 oral history book and audiobook, just republished, is almost as tangled and intriguing as the story of the festival itself: How the four young co-producers untangled themselves from lawsuits among themselves and with scores of others. How Warner Bros. made off with the film and music rights, with barely nothing going to the musicians or producers. How the local townspeople around the festival site never got over the experience, in both good and bad ways.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
This is an exceptional book by two exceptional people, Vera and Donald Blinken, who set a high standard of achievement in a difficult ambassadorial assignment.
Donald served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary from March of 1994 until November of 1997. An investment banker and patron of the arts with a solid understanding of foreign policy issues, he was ideally suited to serve in the strategically important country of Hungary as it underwent a difficult transition from communism to democracy.
Vera Blinken, a former special assistant for the arts and cultural affairs to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and member of the Board of the International Rescue Committee, was proof that an ambassador’s wife can make a real difference. Hungarian born and fluent in the language, she was able to help Donald interpret the not always easy to comprehend Hungarian patterns of behavior.
Donald had two great achievements during his years in Budapest. He played a critical role in persuading the Hungarian government to accept the U.S. military base in Taszar, essential for U.S. participation in the NATO peacekeeping operation in Bosnia, which also paved the way for Hungary’s eventual entry into NATO. Equally important, his persistent yet diplomatic advice at the highest levels of the government was essential in moving Hungary to free market reforms after years of stultifying state controls.
Vera transformed what had been a somewhat dreary embassy resident, making it an exciting intellectual and cultural center for Hungarian leaders and visiting Americans. She also founded PRIMAVERA, the first breast cancer screening program in Central and Eastern Europe. She was, in every sense, a perfect coambassador.
It was a fitting tribute to Donald and Vera that each of them was awarded Hungary’s highest honor, the Middle Cross of the Order of Merit, something unprecedented for a husband-wife team.
Donald and Vera alternate in recounting the details of their Hungarian experience. They do it in a very frank and personal way, telling of both frustrations and triumphs, so that the reader gets to understand what running an embassy is like and why ambassadors are important.
At a time when President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are seeking to revitalize American diplomacy, this book by the Blinkens provides timely and inspiring testimony of how a dedicated and capable ambassadorial team can advance the interests of the United States.
- Richard N. Gardner, Professor of Law and International
Organization, Columbia University
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
ABC News ran a reflection on Woodstock the other night, which you can watch at their website. The segment includes interviews with a handful of people who were there, including David Crosby. Joel was interviewed and quoted in the companion online article. Here's a choice bit:
"Woodstock created a can-do spirit among the generation," said Makower. "People came together under the unpleasant circumstances and helped everyone else and survived what everyone outside the festival grounds dubbed as a 'disaster.'"
Joel was also quoted in The Houston Chronicle piece that asks "Does Woodstock mean anything after 40 years?" The Kansas City Star runs down a very thorough list of Woodstock books, including ours. Joel is also quoted extensively in articles in the Louisville Courier-Journal and Gloucester County Times, and the book is featured in articles in the Canton Daily Ledger and on the website Tonic—the place where good lives, don't ya know. We're happy to see the book on a fun site like that.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
How this intelligent, straightforward film ended up on the network of “Megan Wants a Millionaire” and “Daisy of Love” is a mystery, but we should just be grateful to VH1 for broadcasting it.