A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

All This Could Have Been Yours, Los Angeles

by evanmcmurry

The Dodgers are so corrupt even people who didn’t buy the team are going to jail:

Some were disappointed Cohen was swept aside at the last minute by an aggressive $2.15-billion bid by the Guggenheim Baseball Group, a initially misnamed the “Magic Johnson-led group.”

Cohen’s hedge fund company, SAC Capital, was under investigation for insider trading during the bidding process, though Cohen was reportedly not directly under scrutiny.

Not anymore.

Tuesday the Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen had been implicated in a massive $276-million insider trading scheme.

Perhaps your economic Spidey sense was tingling for good reason. Now just imagine if Cohen — widely viewed as the runner-up — had actually won the bidding. The Dodgers would have gone from bankruptcy court under Frank McCourt to criminal court under Cohen.

It remains to be seen what Guggenheim Baseball Group will ultimately be guilty of.

Portrait Of James Wood As Sid Vicious For Some Reason

by evanmcmurry

Dagoberto Gilb once warned a class I was in that “Grad school is the last time you’ll ever be called ‘dangerous’ for something you write.” Add to that the Los Angeles Review of Books:

James Wood is not the sort of critic who surveys artwork in awed hush, diligently obeying the Silence Please signs. He likes to get up close to consider the details and (you sometimes worry) oil the canvas with his fingers. A novelist himself, his criticism is often spurred by his own writerly instincts — a habit that occasionally lands him in incautious positions: his essay “Paul Auster’s Shallowness,” included in The Fun Stuff, opens with a long summary of an Auster novel that, as Wood eventually reveals, doesn’t actually exist: it is a parody, invented by Wood (“It is unfair, but diligently so: it reduces most of the familiar features of his work”). If this send-up of Auster’s complacent fiction wasn’t so mischievously effective, one might have grumbled in quiet about Wood’s fearlessness, his utter lack of propriety. Where are his manners?   

But then The Fun Stuff reminds us in its opening essay “Homage to Keith Moon” that “subtlety is not rebellion, and subtlety is not freedom, and sometimes it is rebellious freedom that one wants.” Though he wields a subtle, nuanced intelligence, Wood has often sailed close to the winds of rebellious freedom.

Gimme a fking break. James Wood is a great critic, and this review is largely correct about why. But let’s not pretend Professor Elbow Patches is wearing a leather jacket just because he wrote an essay about Keith Moon.

No Refunds, Anna Karenina Edition

by evanmcmurry


Wright has chosen to eschew naturalism (there have been plenty of straight Anna K versions, after all) and set Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s 1877 novel primarily in a crumbling old theater. The idea, I gather, is to bring out the decadent side of nineteenth-century imperial Russian culture and to illustrate a line from a book by historian Orlando Figes describing people in St. Petersburg high society as “living their lives as if on a stage.” So a curtain goes up and stylized groups of actors bustle about said stage or in the catwalks high above. They archly telegraph their snobbery or righteous disapproval. They freeze in place while a spotlight falls on Anna (Keira Knightley), the upright government official’s wife who swoons unto death for the radiantly handsome officer, Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Sometimes the actors attempt to establish a measure of psychological reality while the camera and scenery move operatically around them—a difficult task.

[…] Framing Anna Karenina this way is fatally distancing—it’s Brechtian Tolstoy.

Plus Keira Knightley!