Note from the Editors

As the US economy shed another 600,000 jobs last month for a total of 3.6 million in the past 13, Congress remains mired in paralysis, engulfed in partisan bickering, and wealthy executives bitterly whine that they cannot possibly live on $500K in Manhattan -- they'd need a bare $1.6 million minimum to keep frequenting les salons dorés in good company. Art Shay has a message for ces gens là that they should heed in a hurry, as the ship is nonchalantly careening in stormy pre-Depression waters: These people stink. Shay, with his renowned photographic memory, provides an apercu of our pre-Depression dysfunctional age as well as reminiscences of long forgotten yesteryears. Reading Jan Baughman, one has to wonder whether we are well past the stage of dysfunction and have entered the territory of irremediable dystopia, in spite of the anguished and angry calls by Charles Marowitz for Obama to shake the darn tree so forcefully that all the dead, rotten branches will finally complete their rotting process on the ground and let the tree grow again, sound and alive. Though if you follow the continuing saga of our Ponzters, Fraudsters, and Banksters that Gilles d'Aymery has been faithfully portraying in his persistent Blips you should not hold your breath for a favorable outcome. The system is not just corroded. It is putrefied. And it's not limited to the financial world. Michael Barker, equally persistent, underscores how much wealth controls and sets the agenda of human rights organizations, this time in the Israel-Palestine conflict -- in the same fashion the MSM controls the news and how countries are depicted; e.g., Nigeria as Femi Akomolafe reports. Not surprisingly, the same corrupt processes extend to the environment as Martin Murie shows, taking the example of the jaguar. Not a happy spectacle, to say the least.

Fortunately, to avoid falling into a deep depressive mood, Isidor Saslav brings us a world of music thanks to his latest visit to the New York Philharmonic; Peter Byrne reviews two books by Scott Turow; Guido Monte and Marie Rennard add a touch of poetry; Raju Peddada explores the world of luxury with some conclusions you will appreciate; and Scott Porter mulls over the benefits of being attentive to others -- the art of listening. We end this edition with your letters. Enjoy.

As always, please form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans. It's your voice that makes ours grow.

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American Myths & Realities

Art Shay:  The Real World of Deerfield And The Coming Depression

The legendary photojournalist Art Shay shares his painful remembrances and little glints of joy of the Great Depression, and his observances of the comings of Depression Two in his hometown of Deerfield and beyond.   More...


Jan Baughman:  National Priorities In The Economic And Digital Divide

If the US government was as concerned about its citizens' access to health care and decent wages as it is about their access to television, the country would be in pretty good shape right now.   More...


Charles Marowitz:  Obama's Gordian Knot

You don't effect meaningful change by trying to cement cozy partnerships with people who have publicly declared they would like to see you fail. Tangled up in today's global Gordian Knot, President Obama needs to find the cajones to be decisive, not conciliatory.   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #79

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk, from the Bernie Madoff scandal and the Mini Bernies mushrooming throughout the land, replete with a failed attempt at a staged death; a New York Times economic rallying cry against the gilded life of former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill and the silent whimper of the government's latest economic stimulus package; European advice on America's economic quagmire; and more on la connerie, which in any language is an overall mess.   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Michael Barker:  Engineering Human Rights In The Israel-Palestine Conflict

Investigation of the ongoing co-option of progressive human rights groups in Palestine.   More...


Femi Akomolafe:  Understanding Nigeria

A dialogue to help understand the most misunderstood country and its people -- Nigeria.   More...


Activism Under the Radar Screen

Martin Murie:  The Jaguar Scandal

The failure to protect endangered species dates back to the Clinton administration, and George W. Bush's interior department was flagrant in its violations of the Endangered Species Act, including ignoring evidence of jaguar habitat in Arizona.   More...


The World of Music

Isidor Saslav:  Conductors' Guild Convention In New York 2009

Former concertmaster Isidor Saslav reports on the Conductors' Guild Convention in New York and his attendance of an open rehearsal of the New York Philharmonic, an odd mixture of classical, impressionistic, and bang-on-the-can schools.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Peter Byrne:  To Kill Or Not

A review of two potent works by Scott Turow, a non-fiction essay and a novel, that address his stance against the death penalty and the error-prone, faulty institutions that implement it.   More...


Multilingual Poetry

Guido Monte:  War n.2

Once again Guido Monte continues, along his famous linguistic and visual blendings, to describe the complexity of our times -- with a collage by Pippo Zimmardi.   More...



Marie Rennard:  The Day I Die...

A poem for the sounds and scents along the soft paths of heaven on the way to death.   More...


Arts & Culture

Raju Peddada:  What Is Luxury?

There is a distinction between luxury, which often transcends material manifestation, and consumerism, which is more often inconsequential, crass, and decadent.   More...


Kitchen Philosophy

R. Scott Porter:  Learning From Everyone

Lessons learned from the chance discovery of a cabin in the midst of a snowstorm apply to today's state of the world and what, if anything, we learn from it.   More...


Letters to the Editor


On Janis Joplin, Martin Murie, and the mythology of Wal*Mart; Peter Byrne on his unfavorite novelist, John Updike; Scott Porter on Catholics, birth control, and overpopulation; and an exploration of multilingual verse in the Guido Monte tradition.   More...


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SWANS - ISSN: 1554-4915
Created: February 9, 2009