By David D. Robbins Jr.
A feature where I whittle down the world a bit for you, each week or so, by recommending some of the best topical links scattered across the internet…
1. “Christians for a Moral America Pray for George Michael’s Death”
By John Shore | The Huffington Post | 11-29-11
Yes, it’s good to remember the musical talent of George Michael, who gave the world Wham!, “Faith” (2008), while winning two Grammys and selling over 100 million records worldwide. But it’s also good to remember, in these Trumpian-Farage-ian times, the fundamentalist American Christians who prayed for his death after a bout of severe pneumonia in 2011. Also: An interesting new article, “Why George Michael turned his back on America”, written by Edward Helmore for the UK Guardian about the contract problems Michael had with Sony Records over the years. Also: His official website posted a wonderful timeline of the man’s life which you can see here. Also: USA Today posts a letter written by Frank Sinatra trying to encourage the singer, after Michael had talked to the Los Angeles Times about the strains of being a star singer. Also: Pitchfork posts Michael’s ’10 Best Covers’ here. I think it’s as good a time as any to remember this tweet from the man back in 2011 …
I HAVE NEVER AND WILL NEVER APOLOGISE FOR MY SEX LIFE ! GAY SEX IS NATURAL, GAY SEX IS GOOD! NOT EVERYBODY DOES IT, BUT…..HA HA!
— George Michael (@GeorgeMichael) May 13, 2011
2. “Humanizing Jesus”
By Peter Wehner | The New York Times | Dec. 23, 2016
Though I do not hold the Christian belief and in many ways despise it, this is a fascinating read. The author argues that Jesus was less concerned with the sins of those with supposed loose morals, but rather with the self-righteous among religious leadership who adhered to stringent beliefs in the old laws. He also reminds that there is a need to humanize Jesus, because reconciliation with our fellow man is one of his tenants.
3. “The Lost Neruda Poems”
By Magdalena Edwards | Boston Review | Dec. 21, 2016
Edwards writes a review of Forrest Gander’s latest book, which “opens his ‘Prologue’ to ‘Then Come Back’ with an admission: ‘It’s true, I’ve been caught in print several times saying, ‘The last thing we need is another Neruda translation.” His caveat: this hesitation comes not from a lack of admiration for Pablo Neruda’s verses and the ‘attention he’s justly received,’ but rather out of a desire to “champion terrific lesser-known and more contemporary Latin American writers in translation.'”
4. “Wham, Bang, Teatime”
By Ian Penman | The London Review of Books | Vol. 39 No. 1 · 5 January 2017
Yes, before the music industry decided to wheel-and-deal in selling cool — the music itself is what awed us. Here’s a look at three books specifically about David Bowie and one about the glam rock that he helped to create and sustain for a period. You can read this article for the meager price of an e-mail.
5. “Marlene Dietrich’s Marginalia”
Megan Mayhew Bergman | The New Yorker | Dec. 26, 2016
“Dietrich’s books are full of marginalia. She usually scrawled it in English, and with red ink. Inside a copy of “Love Scene,” a paperback recounting the story of Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh, she writes, “this is without a doubt the worst writing I ever laid eyes on.”
5. “1938: A Poet Who Mocked Stalin Dies in the Gulag”
By David B. Green | Haaretz | Dec. 27, 2016
“For some reason Stalin elected to ‘isolate but preserve’ Osip Mandelstam for his subversive poetry, which would only be published decades after his death.”