Question ONE:

* Is 

as wonderful as


Look, I don’t want to turn this into another Astor Place riots, but I think there’s a healthy American vs. UK rivalry to start here.

Question 2:

The biggest Dylan fan I know says: “every time Dylan does something, ten years later it’s revealed to be genius.”  Is the same true of the Coen Bros?

Even if I didn’t really like one of their movies, they are so good I assume that I’m wrong.  I liked this one though, even though it was so so sad.

Listen to Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, and Oscar Isaac sing 500 Miles.   Best I can tell they all did their own singing.

Question 3:

Who wrote “500 Miles”?

This song is usually attributed to Hedy West, who put together  “fragments of a melody she had heard her uncle sing to her back in Georgia.”

Her father, Don West, was a southern poet and coal mine labor organizer in the 1930s; his bitter experiences included seeing a close friend machine-gunned on the street by company goons in the presence of a young daughter.

Question 4:

What is the meaning of this movie?

I’ll tell you one message I felt strongly:  “pursuing great art requires great sacrifice.  It’s tragic if the art falls short.  You don’t get the sacrifice back.  Maybe the sacrifice itself is still noble but it’s an awfully lonesome road.”

Also this could be seen as a movie about a man being punished by God for abandoning a cat.

This was  a movie where the hero literally does NOT save the cat.

Question 5:

The two best units of art that emerged from Jewish Minnesota have to be the Coen Brothers and Bob Dylan, right?  Both deeply fascinated with “the old, weird, America.”  Is there anything to that?

Question 6: 

What would Minnesotan F. Scott Fitzgerald make of this movie?

I saw it just around the corner from where F. Scott Fitzgerald died.

Question 7:

Will the movie revive interest in The Clancy Brothers?

Question 8:

Why is Justin Timberlake so good at playing lame characters?

Is it because he has moved in his life so far beyond the idea of coolness?

Consider this testimonial by Joe Jonas.  Timberlake, who at least in his choices appears very smart, was at an equivalent point of fame and self-awareness  TEN YEARS AGO.

Question 9:

How the fuck is some guy in a magazine or a newspaper supposed to review a movie like this??  Obviously everything you’d think of the Coen Brothers already thought of times 1000!!

That’s what I thought as I walked out.

Sometimes Anthony Lane cheeses me off but his review of this movie helped me think about it.

(Some photo sources.  Are photos of movie stars on the Internet just public property we can repost?  I dunno, but 85% of all HelyTimes profits goes directly to charity)

Sniffen Court And The Amateur Comedy Club

Reading, as one does, about Robert Murray, once owner of the most shipping tonnage in New York, until he retired to a 29-acre farm on Manhattan which he called Inclenberg but everyone else called – and still calls – Murray Hill.

Mrs. Murray is sometimes credited with delaying the British as they pursued the haggard Continental army across Manhattan after being nearly destroyed at the Battle of Brooklyn.  Supposedly she offered them tea and cakes and her feminine charm.  David McCullough in 1776 counters: “she may have been extremely charming, but she was also a woman in her fifties and the mother of twelve children.”

In Murray Hill today is Sniffen Court, an alley off 36th Street built in 1863-4.  Here’s some good photos.

And this curious bit from Curbed:

Right on 36th Street, 1 Sniffen Court has been owned by the Amateur Comedy Club since 1884, and the building is registered as a legitimate theater. Additional research shows that the amateur theater group was a private one, operated strictly by and for the amusement of its own members and social circle with no public performances. The group dramatically broke their private character during World War I, when it became a dramatic theater company for the entertainment and benefit of military service members.

Here’s the Amateur Comedy Club website.  One hopes they provide welcome relief from the excessive professionalism of other comedy clubs.

A Good Mural In Chelsea

IMG_5432It’s over near the Portugese Jewish Cemetery.



Orange Butter

from Edward Robb Ellis’ The Epic Of New York City

A delicacy of the day was orange butter, made according to this recipe:  “Take new cream two gallons, beat it up to a thicknesse, then add half a pint of orange-flower-water, and as much red wine, and so being become the thicknesse of butter it has both the colour and smell of butter.”  Drunkenness was common.

The Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City

Is an under-visited place.  Pittsburgh Office told us about it awhile ago

H.P. Lovecraft referred to the “strange and disturbing paintings of Nicholas Roerich” in his Antarctic horror story At the Mountains of Madness.

View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow – Thomas Cole, 1836

go over to the Met and see it big.

Cole learned the rudiments of his profession from a wandering portrait painter named Stein

The fourth-highest peak in the Catskills is named after Thomas Cole:

from the Paris Review interview with J. P. Donleavy


How did you motivate yourself?


That was easy. It was simply money and fame. I was aware as anyone is, that in this world you can just be swept away. I’m aware of this just as much now. New York is a great place to be reminded of it. You arrive here, and Good Lord, you find out in ten seconds that nothing whatever matters, especially your own small life. So I knew I had to write a book that would be the best work in the world. It was that simple.

rest here.  FYI The Ginger Man is not the best work in the world.  Some writers are better at playing writer than writing.  There is a sentence or two in The Ginger Man that I think about lots, though.


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