Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recommended Reading

I've found a few interesting things on "the internets" and on paper lately. Here are some -

There's a blog called Ephphatha Poetry that had a tremendous posting on Thursday. Called "Imagine if the Tea Party was Black", it does just that: it imagines what the reaction would be if blacks were the ones descending on Washington armed with semiautomatic rifles. By coming at Tea Party tactics from outside the box, it provides a very different and enlightening perspective.

Soldiers' Angels Germany is a nonprofit (501 (c)3) organization that provides support to wounded soldiers being treated at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany. Their post from Monday, "The True Heart of the American Soldier", is a gut-wrencher. So are many of their other articles.

The financial implosion that we are just beginning to emerge from is a very confusing thing, at best, to try to understand. While trying to make some sense out of it, I stumbled on Paul Krugman, an op-ed contributor for the New York Times. His columns explain in clear English what's going on. He also writes about where his disagreements with other economists are, and why, and in a respectful manner (as long as they have a leg to stand on). Paul also has a blog where he posts his shorter, more off-the-cuff remarks.

Some of my friends on the political far right have been raising a ruckus about Saul Alinsky. He was a community organizer, beginning in the 1930's (when it was a very, very bad time to be a community organizer) and continuing right up until his death in 1972. Alinsky wrote a book, Rules for Radicals, after the debacle of the 1968 Democratic presidential convention in Chicago. My friends have been saying, in effect, "Read this book by this communist! He was Barack and Hillary's biggest influence! You'll see how evil they are!" Well, I'm reading the book, and I have to say it's brilliant. It's Machiavelli for the common man. It's also about as evil as an automotive shop manual. Now the comparison to a shop manual is not really a reach. Alinsky's book describes a set of techniques and approaches to creating a grass-roots movement for those who have little or no political power. These techniques and approaches can, and are, being used by both sides of the political spectrum. As I read through the book, I see beautifully-written passages that perfectly describe things done by the Tea Party, George Bush, Bill Clinton, the Taliban, Fox News, the Huffington Post - it doesn't matter which side of the political spectrum they're on, they're using Alinsky's tools. Especially the extremists.

And now for a lighter note. We have a rather large library of paperbacks that have collected here over the years. While browsing through it a few days ago, I came across a compilation of a particular line of DC Comics that I used to read as a kid back in the 60's. I'm getting the biggest kick out of finding issues that I remember reading 40+ years ago. And as an artist, I'm really amazed at the sophistication of the artwork. Each page is skillfully laid out to guide your eye from one panel to the other, without your being aware of it. Each drawing is connected to every one around it, and each page is its own concept. The "action" pages, where tanks are shooting and planes are blowing up, are drawn very differently than "quiet" pages. You could teach a whole semester's worth of composition from these old comics. Maybe that's where my interest in narrative art came from ... whaddaya think?

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