Editor's Message From The Editor
The Song Remains the Same
Rather than “run the risk” of repeating myself, I have opted for certainty. Four years ago I wrote the following about the city’s last mayoral campaign—and alas, history is repeating itself, too.
The Brooklyn Rail, November 2005
The $64,000,000 Pyramid
More than anything else, money has been the determining factor in the most lopsided mayor’s race that, mercifully, will end in early November. Regardless of what one thinks of Mayor Bloomberg, it is obvious that any candidate who can spend $64 million (as of the end of October), or 17 times more money than his opponent, stands a pretty good chance of winning. Needless to say, there isn’t much that money can’t buy in this town.
The point of the city’s progressive public financing system—which provides matching funds of up to 6-1 in cases of financially mismatched elections such as the present one—is to create a reasonably level playing field. The justification for candidates like Bloomberg being able to circumvent that system is the Supreme Court’s ruling, in Buckley v. Valeo (1976), that the self-financing of political campaigns is protected under the First Amendment.
But as anyone subjected to Bloomberg’s deluge of ads on the airwaves, in print, and everywhere else knows, a self-financed political campaign isn’t free speech—it’s paid media. Lots of it.
In his dissent to the portion of Buckley v. Valeo dealing with self-financed campaigns, Thurgood Marshall explained quite reasonably that financing restrictions reduced “the natural advantage of the wealthy candidate” and “promoted equal access to the political arena by all potential candidates.” Alas, Marshall’s views now seem quaint, as the Age of Equality ended with the ascent of Ronald Reagan.
The only present obstacle to the reign of Bloomberg is term limits. And we can only hope that Mayor Mike doesn’t finance a campaign to do away with them. Otherwise, future challengers will face a similar fate as the current one, who in this election at least, will be remembered simply as poor Freddy Ferrer.
Four years later, Mike’s millions are everywhere, buying the loyalty of media, nonprofit groups, and anyone susceptible to advertising saturation. So why he is so repeatedly and ridiculously rude to any reporter or public official who dares to ask him a challenging question? As the old adage goes, perhaps there is something he just can’t buy. And on that account, I’ll end with something I’ve never heard anyone, including myself, say before: “poor Mike Bloomberg.”
Lhasa City SeriesBy Droma Yangzom
APRIL 2023 | Critics Page
I wouldn't be surprised if Lhasa, Tibets capital city, is one of the fastest changing cities in the world. Whenever I go back, Im astonished to see all the changes. Sometimes I feel as if I cant recognize my own city.
from City of BlowsBy Tim Blake Nelson
FEB 2023 | Fiction
Those familiar with Tim Blake Nelson's work in Coen brothers films, the Watchmen series, or last year's Old Henry, will immediately understand that this novel's depictions of Hollywood machinations are of a higher caliber than those in any other literary work that's attempted to depict that world. City of Blows abounds in the economy and fluidity that accompanies true authorityseen in this description of a producer: “One of the biggest pricks in LA. But he gets his movies made. Directors rarely work for him twice.” What's less expected is Nelson’s investigation of the relationship between insecurity and toxicity, seen in Weinstein-esque predators but also applicable to masculinity at large. The psychological motivations and character examinations develop City of Blows from a roman à clef to a work far more universal.
Halima Afi Cassells and Shanna Merola: Swan SongBy Steve Panton
FEB 2023 | ArtSeen
Swan Song, the exhibition, takes place in the Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead, a full-size replica of the eponymous artist's childhood home located on MOCAD's grounds. The venue is awkward, but the exhibition design, done by the artists, skillfully reimagines the space, transforming it into a seamless environment.
A Song for the Strivers in Evanston Salt Costs ClimbingBy Billy McEntee
NOV 2022 | Theater
Evanston Salt Costs Climbing, directed by Danya Taymor and produced by The New Group, is a song for the striving: a love letter to those who feel too much, who cant help but give and give of themselves even if it comes at their own expense. Such characters exist throughout Arberys other plays, including the wounded Emily in Heroes of the Fourth Turning and saintly Isabel in Plano.