Books read recently by J. Zimmerman.
Inspired in part by's book blog.

{ September 2003 }

(09.30.2003) (09.28.2003) (09.26.2003)
Goodbye, good George.
So sorry to hear that George Plimpton, who founded the the amazing Paris Review magazine (1998) died yesterday in NYC. His generosity to the writers of the twentieth century was huge. We benefit from his publishing of their writings as well as the delightful and instructive interviews with enormously talented creators. (09.25.2003) (09.24.2003)
Commentator Rob Holbrook drew to my attention yesterday's NYT essay by David Cay Johnston, 'Studies Say Tax Cuts Now Will Bring Bigger Bill Later'.

Quotes that Mr. Holbrook highlights include:

(09.22.2003) (09.21.2003) (09.20.2003) (09.19.2003)
Simon Schama's "The Stone Gardner" essay in the recent New Yorker tells of the construction of the Garden of Stones memorial dedicated on September 16th by Holocaust survivors at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan.

The designer is Andy Goldsworthy (of Rivers and Tides and "The Storm King Wall" as in the glorious Wall: At Storm King). Schama includes notes on British "land art" that influenced Goldsworthy, especially Richard Long, who has since turned to "solitary, imperially guilt-burdened peregrinations ... in the Andes or the Himalayas."

Meanwhile concerning the 10-ton granite boulders while they were being hollowed for Goldsworthy by Ed Monti with a 4000-degree Fahrenheit kerosene torch:

(09.16.2003) (09.15.2003)
Speaking of help to get the hogs out of the creek, William Jefferson Clinton could be the man to do it. I just heard his talk and Q&A in Monterey. Bill Clinton is a powerful Democrat who, like my other favorite Jimmy Carter, is contributing to the world's benefit after his retirement from the USA presidency.

What a relief to hear him after too many stogy or confused or wimpy other Democratic leaders.

The talk (with Leon Panetta) will be rebroadcast tonight at 8 p.m. and you can hear it:
(1) either in the California Central Coast area on KAZU at 90.3 fm
(2) or on the web through
If you need a boost in your hope and your faith, check it out. For example, he refers to the Bush tax-the-non-rich strategy as:

Sat in on Jim Hightower's talk, around his Thieves in High Places: They've Stolen Our Country -- And It's Time to Take It Back (new this year 2003) which I added to my 'to read' box. Some quotes from his talk:
(09.12.2003) (09.10.2003)
Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club) now has DIARY: A Novel, which is said to be the "reinvention of the horror novel in this scary and profound look at our quest for some sort of immortality." Metro Santa Cruz quotes Palahniuk:
(09.08.2003) (09.07.2003)
Dolphins cartwheeled out of blue ocean while the swimmers in the Big Kahuna Triathlon glided ashore. (09.06.2003)
Stanley Kunitz as quoted by Dana Goodyear ("Poetry is the conversion of life into legend") in his essay in the recent New Yorker
(09.04.2003) (09.02.2003)
Updated the Ecology Footprint quiz results with those of friends for our impact on Gaia. The current average American ("Eusan") footprint is over 10 hectares (25 acres). The current worldwide average footprint is 2.4 hectares (6 acres), which exceeds the available acreage. Mine is 20. [See also more on Ecology elsewhere.] (09.01.2003)

{ August 2003 } (08.31.2003)

This month's Utne Magazine ("the best of the alternative Liberal press") includes:

(08.30.2003) (08.29.2003)
Washington Post announces that Louise Glück (mentioned earlier when I read The Wild Iris and The Prism) is to be poet laureate after Billy Collins. [See also Poets Laureate of the United States of America.]

Linton Weeks writes:
Hooray for chocolate! German research shows that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure. [This morning NPR quotes their study reported in JAMA.] My instincts were correct all these years.

The value of self-medication: 3 oz. dark chocolate/day drops the average blood pressure (which was 153/84 in the 2-week study) by -5/-2. [Just remember to cut out those calorie-wasting breads, cakes, sugars, butters, etc. to compensate.]

Chocolate watchers may remember the recent report by researchers at the University of California at Davis: they reviewed studies on chocolate and found a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease associated chocolate. They credit: (1) the main flavonoids in cocoa (flavan-3-ols); (2) oleic acid (third of the fat in chocolate), which is the same monosaturated fat as found in olive oil. [February issue of Journal of the American Dietetic Association.] (08.25.2003)

" EPA misled public on 9/11 pollution White House ordered false assurances on air quality" Just saw this August 23, 2003 SF Chronicle report by Laurie Garrett. Falsehood from the Junior Bush Whitehouse? Tut-tut.


NPR Morning Edition cites a current NEJM article, reporting how Americans [or more precisely 'Eusans' as Ridley would say, Ed.] spend more than twice as much as Canadians to administer their health care.

It costs Canadian patients less than twice as much as their Eusan cousins because they have a single administrator (the Canadian government) instead of the many [profit greedy, Ed.] private administrators as in USA. The numbers I think I just heard are:

(08.21.2003) (08.20.2003) (08.19.2003)
Heard Matt Ridley (author of the well written Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters (2000)) interviewed on N.P.R. today, primarily because of his recent "nature-nurture" book. Fascinating. Favorite quotes:
(08.18.2003) (08.16.2003) (08.15.2003)
Interesting poem The Prism by Louise Glück in the recent New Yorker, even though usually I find her poems obsessively ego-bound, irritated, and at times bossy and overly determined to win. This new 3-page poem, a meditation on marriage and love, comprises 30 small numbered sections that relate to each other like segments of The Look Stains. For example, section 4:
" When you fall in love, my sister said,
it's like being struck by lightning.

She was speaking hopefully,
to draw the attention of the lightning.

I reminded her that she was repeating exactly
our mother's formula, which she and I

had discussed in childhood, because we both felt
that what we were looking at in the adults

were the effects not of lightning
but of the electric chair."

Later, section 8 ends:
" You could take a few things with you, like a dowry.
You could take the part of you that thought.
'Marry' meant you should keep that part quiet. "

and section 13 ends:
" Being struck was like being vaccinated;
the rest of your life you were immune,
you were warm and dry.
Unless the shock wasn't deep enough.
Then you weren't vaccinated, you were addicted. "

While the poem does sometimes flash with Glück's querulous mode, the sections are intrinsically interesting and there is something hypnotic about the way she uses the sections to start a new topics and/or relate back to previous topics. (08.14.2003)

Speaking of elections, Arizona and Maine are the only 2 states with "clean money". The money is "clean" by virtue of the candidate receiving: (a) small ($5) contributions from a certain number of their constituents and (b) no private money, no booty from big private interests. The candidates then get money from the state.

In 2002, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano became the first publicly financed governor ever elected. Also, more than a third of Arizona's legislature is "clean".

See Ed Asner's article "Clean Money, Clean Elections for California" in July 18th S.F. Chronicle. Also see (08.12.2003)
During the Odd Nerdrum expedition last week, L. took me to several other galleries. The exhibit that haunts me is The Look Stains by Brad Brown. The artist's notes include:

Nicole Hollander:
Augusta Read Thomas:

Last day of the * 41st Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music *. with Maestra Marin Alsop. Includes:

This Festival orchestra has won the American Symphony Orchestra League's nation ASCAP award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music every year since the award's inception in 1982. Next year, plan to buy tickets! (08.08.2003)
Tag line of B.E.K. cartoon in new New Yorker (with absolutely no visual reference to Odd N.):
At today's open rehearsal, heard the repeat of John Adams' Guide to Strange Places (2001) which is again entrancing. Yes, I did look at Odd Nerdrum: Paintings, Sketchings, and Drawings (introduced by Richard Vine) while I listened. Paradise!

Then they rehearsed two pieces by Thomas Adès. Thanks to Phil Collins of New Music Works, I began to hear what Thomas Adès is doing. Phil says:

The background may carry the theme or basis of the piece, perhaps in slow-moving choral melodies. The foreground may be bright and bustling activity but, as in Oz, "don't be distracted".

In rehearsing Adès' "... but all shall be well", Maestra Marin says:

Sound like life? Sound like the painting "Wanderers by the Sea" by Odd Nerdrum? Everything happens and nothing happens. (08.06.2003)
Visited SF for the * Odd Nerdrum * showing at S.F. Weinstein Gallery. The five oils still there were amazing. Sitting among them was like being in the presence of monarchs.

Facing the door was "Summer Nights" ( 71.2" x 75.5", 2001 ). Interesting to spot some differences from the catalog - Nerdrum (like the rest of us) changes his work even after it is "done".

Opposite it was "Self-Portrait in a Tree Trunk" ( 64.5" x 76.5", 1999-2000). with its anti-physics reflection.

Going upstairs, there were 3 more similarly huge and awesome oils: the bright sunny "Wanderers by the Sea" (2001); "One Blind Singer and Two Dancers" (2001); "Transmission" (2000).

Seven other oils had sold and been removed from the exhibit, which closes tonight.

Odd (from Weinstein catalog) says:

More Nerdrum paintings are expected at Weinstein in a month. (08.05.2003)
At today's open rehearsal, the outright winner (among John Adams, Thomas Adès, and Kevin Puts) is John Adams. His Guide to Strange Places (2001) is (as the BBC's Pilip Clark's program notes say):

Like Maestra Marin Alsop said on Saturday, American composers tend to like big endings. This Adams piece includes about a dozen big and false endings!

An Odd moment - at one point in the open rehearsal of the Adams piece, the hands of the harpist and harpsichordist were in line, doing that synchronous kind of dance that Odd Nerdrum captures in some of his pictures. As Odd's pictures are of strange places, I plan to bring his book to the next open rehearsal of this piece - what a blast to look at his paintings while hearing this music.

Today's quote from Harry Shearer: "Pretty good for a biped." Today's good news on futures: Poindexter is leaving.

Last night, the smash hit of 2nd concert in the Cabrillo Music Festival 2003 Season was "Frankenstein!!" (1977-79) by H.K. Gruber (b.1943), with a fabulous performance by chansonnier Joseph Ribeiro of H.C. Artman's cruel text - like:

On Latino USA, Diana Lopez says:

Last night a terrific opening concert "Blood Sweat and Tears" for the Cabrillo Music Festival 2003 Season. It was gripping. A wonderful combination of music and musicians. My favorite was Michael Daugherty's "Fire and Blood," (2003) with a stunningly agile Yumi Hwang-Williams on violin. Tonight more Daugherty - plus Herch's Symphony #2 (2001) and 2 other composers' work.

This month reading:
  1. Life of Pi Booker Prize-winning novel by Yann Martel How fabulous to be reading this (I'm at Pi's list of what he has when shipwrecked) while I await the Cabrillo Music Festival performance of Michael Daugherty's Fire and Blood (2003) on the works and lives of Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo. (Done August.)
  2. Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal (Libro 1) por J. K. Rowling, Alicia Dellepiane. Sí, en Español. Alohomora! (Done August.)
  3. Odd Nerdrum: Paintings, Sketchings, and Drawings by Richard Vine. (Done August.)
  4. The Human Genome Project: Cracking the Code Within Us by Elizabeth Marshall. (Done August.)
  5. Deforesting the Earth: From Prehistory to Global Crisis by Michael Williams. (Review).
  6. The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio by William J. Bernstein. (Done September.)

My 'to read' list includes C's suggestion of Fast Food Nation.

{ July 2003 }

I am admiring Lee Bontecou - there is an insightful essay (by Calvin Tomkins) on her in the current New Yorker. I like Tomkins' quote of Bontecou: "Being an artist is not a career ... It's just something that grabs you. You can't say `I'm going to be an artist`, because you have a little talent."

Tomkins sees some of the same characteristics in the older and the newer work:

Bontecou got her early energy from the "Abstract Impressionist" tradition. She says she was "working in the ... spirit, ... inherited from the Abstract Impressionist." Is she pulling "abstract" art in an analogous direction to how some poets want to influence language poetry?

{ 2002 } (12.31.2002) See the best of the 100 books I read in 2002.