The Power Broker

(Robert Moses and the Fall of New York) (by Robert A. Caro, 1974) That this brick of a book (well over a thousand pages) about public infrastructure is so compelling is due to, first, its traverse of key decades in the rise of America (1920s to the 1960s); second, the author’s awesome depth of research and keen grasp of his subject; and third, the subject himself: the most famous public official in New York (perhaps America), Robert Moses (18 December 1888 – 29 July 1981), a humanities man, without engineering qualifications, who yet singlehandedly matched the Pharaohs and the Romans in…

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The New Manchurian Candidate

August 31, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, HISTORY, POLITICS |

Fierce Pashtuns, over time Teach us what we should mark well: All invaders, in their prime Find Afghanistan is Hell. Since Alexander and Genghis Khan Empires laid plans to attack But a donkey borne to Mecca by divan Remains a donkey, when it comes back. Regression, Poverty, Heroin, Despair Its GDP, after the Great Game; Until a parochial tribe assumed the care Of benighted lands, to general shame. For a very few years the only folks To be pained by this, were local tribes Who stood as Shia or told the wrong jokes Or encouraged girls to read or be…

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The Covid-19 Hall of Shame

July 14, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, HISTORY, LIFE, Ulalume |

911 deaths in Australia from (with?) Covid, in 18 months. 169,301 registered and received deaths in Australia in 2019 (pre-Covid). Are we missing something here? Like a sense of proportion? Pardon our manners, but here we must quote ourselves : “In this plague year…we saw Australians banned from returning to their own country; banned from leaving it; banned from crossing state lines, in apparent/arguable breach of section 92 of the Constitution; locked in their homes unless adjudged by a bureaucrat as ‘essential workers’; arrested on beaches, golf courses, parks (and in the case of one pregnant woman in Victoria, handcuffed…

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Cabaret

June 25, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, FILM, HISTORY, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Directed by Bob Fosse) (1972) Adelaide Cabaret Festival, 24 June 2021 Inspired by the Weimar work of Christopher Isherwood, Cabaret is perhaps the last great movie musical. A brilliant rendering of the last days of chaotic democracy in Germany, the long shadows of Nazism entering stage left, the Kit Kat Klub becomes a trope for the death of heady, insouciant decadence, about to be replaced by something far more depraved. Fosse’s direction is faultless, as are the period feel and production values. The cast is superb, led by Liza Minnelli, perfect as the brash and wide-eyed Sally Bowles, an American…

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The Faucian Bargain

(With apologies to Christina Rossetti and her “Goblin Market”) Morning and evening Folks heard the coolies cry: “Come buy our pangolins, Come by, come buy; Bats and lemurs, Bits of Uyghurs, Human femurs, Embargoed seegars – All ripe together In wintry weather,- Morns that pass by, Fair foreign bats fly; Come by, come by; Pass the wet market.” ♠ Evening by evening Beyond the fence and bollards, Shi Zhengli bowed her head to hear, Her Wuhan boss, who hollered “Lady, veil your blushes Crouch in your office like a cave In the cooling weather; With cautioning arms and clasping lips,…

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