• Robert Birnbaum

Scratch Pad

Updated: Apr 9, 2019

The buzzing blooming confusion...

There are a multitude of millennial scamsters Elizabeth Holmes, Martin Shkreli Dan Mallory, Anna Delvey,(the Sacklers?) un so weiter. A prize for audacity goes to Billy Mcfarland,the disorganizer of the of by-now-infamous Fyre Festival. It's a mildly interesting story but what caught my attention was my discovery of a new species of creature —the influencer. Apparently, this fauna has been spawned by the burgeoning social media universe, a locale that no longer is bound by the laws of Aristotelian logic. It gets bette, as there are now agencies who specialize in infuencer marketing. Oy veh

One hopes that the epidemic rise of these hyena-like beings may be stemmed by the likes of Gianluca Casaccia, 40, the manager and co-owner of the White Banana Beach Club on located on Siargao,a small out of the way island in the Philippines *

Casaccia, ...decided it was time to take action after opening his inbox and finding yet another message containing the phrase: “I am an influencer.”

Since May, when Mr. Casaccia, ...has received about 100 of these messages,

Along with a bar, the venue has a restaurant and two “luxury dorms” for around $23 a bed. The typical email from a “wannabe influencer” is something like: “I’m coming from the 25th to the 27th. We need three beds and food and accommodation.” In exchange, the traveler offers content instead of money.

“We found this disrespectful,” he said in an interview Monday night. It didn’t help that often the “influencers” had fewer than 2,000 Instagram followers. “How can you help me if you are no one?” he asked.


"Cold War is a passionate love story between a man and a woman who meet in the ruins of post-war Poland. With vastly different backgrounds and temperaments, they are fatefully mismatched and yet condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in 1950s Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, it’s the tale of a couple separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate — an impossible love story in impossible times. Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski and starring Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot."

I am reminded that with Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come", Gaye's "What's Going On? " is one of the major anthems of the Civil Rights movement.

What's Going On?

Mother, mother There's too many of you crying Brother, brother, brother There's far too many of you dying You know we've got to find a way To bring some lovin' here today, yeah

Father, father We don't need to escalate You see, war is not the answer For only love can conquer hate You know we've got to find a way To bring some lovin' here today

Picket lines and picket signs Don't punish me with brutality Talk to me So you can see Oh, what's going on What's going What's going on What's going on

Right on, baby

Right on Right on

Mother, mother Everybody thinks we're wrong Oh, but who are they to judge us Simply because our hair is long Oh, you know we've got to find a way To bring some understanding here today

Picket lines and picket signs Don't punish me with brutality Come on talk to me So you can see What's going on What's going on Tell me what's going on I'll tell you ya, what's going on Right on, baby Right on, baby Right on, baby

The Age of Disenchantments: The Epic Story of Spain's Most Notorious Literary Family and the Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War by Aaron Shulman

For reasons I haven't bothered to examine, the historic episode known as the Spanish Civil War, which was a rehearsal for the coming world wide conflagration, has fascinated me. Beginning with Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, to Hugh Thomas's compendium,The Spanish Civil War,toAdam Hochschild's, Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939 to Mary Gordon's novel There Your Heart Lies and Leonardo Padura's splendid,The Man Who Loved Dogs. And though it is more about the assassination of Leon Trotsky, Antonio Chavarrías's the film,The Chosen, provides context by setting the scene, depicting the war from the Soviets involvement

...Aaron Shulman takes us deeply into the circumstances surrounding the Spanish Civil War through the lives, loves, and poetry of the Paneros, Spain’s most compelling and eccentric family, whose lives intersected memorably with many of the most storied figures in the art, literature, and politics of the time—from Neruda to Salvador Dalí, from Ava Gardner to Pablo Picasso to Roberto Bolaño...The Age of Disenchantments sheds new light on the romance and intellectual ferment of the era while revealing the profound and enduring devastation of the war, the Franco dictatorship, and the country’s transition to democracy...

Take Me to the Alley joins Lush Life as one of most melancholy saddest songs I know of, and yet I can not stop listening to it...

As with many overblown, over hyped sports spectacles I have lost interest in the national hysteria entitled March Madness. But from what have come to learn about Coach Tom Izzo, mentor of the Michigan State Spartans basketball squad, I have found him a likeable fellow and a fine basketball mind. So when I chanced to tune into the Michigan State vs Minnesota game a few weeks ago, i was able to watch for just a few minutes as the outcome appeared to be barely contested by the woebegone Golden Gophers (really what kind of name is this for a sports team?) So I was surprised to learn that an instance of Izzo screaming at his star player Aaron Henry received inordinate attention. Especially since Izzo may be the farthest example of abusive mentoring benchmark set by the legendary coaching tyrant Bobby Knight . As this nothingburger played out, both his current players and MSU like Dramond Green came to Izzo's defense.**

A political thriller and human drama, THE LIVES OF OTHERS begins in East Berlin in 1984, five years before Glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall and ultimately takes us to 1991, in what is now the reunited Germany. THE LIVES OF OTHERS traces the gradual disillusionment of Captain Gerd Wiesler

Lawrence Ferlinghetti turns 99...

Back when I was younger and more impressionable, this was one of the first poems which I related to—the lifeless stanzas extolled by my public school teachers were wasted on me...

A Coney Island of the Mind,

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The wounded wilderness of Morris Graves is not the same wild west the white man found It is a land that Buddha came upon from a different direction It is a wild white nest in the true mad north of introspection where ‘falcons of the inner eye’ dive and die glimpsing in their dying fall all life’s memory of existence and with grave chalk wing draw upon the leaded sky a thousand threaded images of flight It is the night that is their ‘native habitat’ these ‘spirit birds’ with bled white wings these droves of plover bearded eagles blind birds singing in glass fields these moonmad swans and ecstatic ganders trapped egrets charcoal owls trotting turtle symbols these pink fish among mountains shrikes seeking to nest whitebone drones mating in air among hallucinary moons And a masked bird fishing in a golden stream and an ibis feeding ‘on its own breast’ and a stray Connemara Pooka (life size) And then those blown mute birds bearing fish and paper messages between two streams which are the twin streams of oblivion wherein the imagination turning upon itself with white electric vision refinds itself still mad and unfed among the hebrides

Larry at 96 years


* No, Your Instagram ‘Influence’ Is Not as Good as Cash, Club Owner Says

** Where Tom Izzo exhibits being a class guy..


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