Category Archives: Culture

Song of the Day #1970

Song of the Day: The Thriller Megamix, mixed by DJ Jason Nevins, highlights some of the hottest tracks from Michael Jackson’s masterpiece. On this date in 1982, the “King of Pop” released the all-time global best-selling album, “Thriller“. It would have an immeasurable impact on popular music and culture. It spent an unprecedented 37 nonconsecutive weeks at #1 (and is actually back in the Top Ten this week), was the first album to spawn 7 Top Ten Hits, and advanced the art of music video—from the sparkling “Billie Jean“, the first video by a black artist to air in heavy rotation on MTV, to “Beat It“, directed by Bob Giraldi, with its kick-ass Eddie van Halen guitar solo and its Michael Peters choreography, to the John Landis-directed iconic short film, “Thriller“, a 14-minute music-and-horror dance extravaganza. Many of the songs on this all-time best seller are staged in “MJ: The Musical“—a wonderful “jukebox musical” that I saw on Broadway this past summer. This megamix highlights five key songs from MJ‘s 40-year old masterpiece, an unforgettable part of the soundtrack of my youth and of my years as a mobile DJ: the title track, “Billie Jean“, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’“, “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)“, and “Beat It“. It is not without some poignant irony that this anniversary comes during the funeral week of my sister, Elizabeth “Ski” Sciabarra. She and I both saw MJ with his brothers on the 1984 Victory Tour and the 1988 Bad World Tour. We danced to his music anytime it echoed through a dance club. And every time she took one of her dance teams to a national competition, she looked forward to hearing an MJ track on the bus—as a sign of good luck. I miss her. But these memories live on …

Happy Thanksgiving from Ski, Me, & Turkey!

We’re a little early … but before folks head out for the holiday weekend, we just wanted to say how much we’re counting our blessings—for every person who has expressed their love and support during such a challenging time. A very Happy Thanksgiving to All!

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* Gravesend is the section of Brooklyn we’ve lived in our whole lives! It was one of the original towns in the Dutch colony of New Netherland, the name meaning “groves end”—from the Dutch settlement of Count’s Beach in the Netherlands.

Ski: A Lifetime Achievement Award

At the Centennial Gala on November 19, 2022, celebrating a century of excellence at Brooklyn Technical High School (1922-2022), my sister, Elizabeth “Ms. Ski” Sciabarra received the Lifetime Achievement Award. My deepest thanks to the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation and its President Denice Ware for sending me this wonderful clip celebrating the life and legacy of a beloved educator whose work has touched the lives of countless thousands of students and colleagues over a fifty-year career. Check it out on YouTube (and below)!

#GoFundSki

Thank you to everyone! And a special thanks also to Carol Cunningham dropping off these lovely flowers and memorabilia from the Centennial Gala!

JARS: New December 2022 Issue!

As I announced on September 6, 2022, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will be publishing its grand finale in 2023 as a double issue. We are working very hard right now to complete the submission of the full slate of articles toward that end—an elegant conclusion to our 2+ decades of commitment to being the only nonpartisan, interdisciplinary, double-blind, peer-reviewed, biannual periodical devoted to the study of Ayn Rand and her times.

Today, it gives me great pleasure to announce the publication of the penultimate issue of JARS (which will be published on both the Scholarly Publishing Collective and on its way to subscribers in hard copy next month). Our December 2022 issue continues another commitment we made when this journal began, that every new issue would feature at least one new contributor to our project. With our newest issue, we welcome three new contributors: Mikhail Kravtsov, Luca Moratal Roméu, and Elizabeth Bissell, bringing our total number of authors to 188, who have contributed 408 articles over the past 22 years. Our 2023 grand finale will add to those totals.

The December 2022 issue features the following articles and contributors:

Introduction – Chris Matthew Sciabarra

ARTICLES

Archival Discoveries Related to Ayn Rand’s Residences in Saint Petersburg
(Petrograd/Leningrad) – Mikhail Kravtsov and Mikhail Kizilov

Objectivism and Libertarian Political Thought: A Comparative
Introduction – Luca Moratal Roméu

Chosen or Proven Ethics? – Robert Hartford

Error, Free Will, and Freedom – Kathleen Touchstone

Where There’s a Will, There’s a “Why?” Part 2: Implications of Value
Determinism for the Objectivist Concepts of “Value,” “Sacrifice,” “Virtue,”
“Obligation,” and “Responsibility” – Roger E. Bissell

REVIEWS

Ayn Rand, Nihilist? (review of Aaron Weinacht’s book, Nikolai Chernyshevskii and Ayn Rand: Russian Nihilism Travels to America) – Elizabeth Bissell

“Atlas Shrugged” Explored (review of Edward W. Younkins’s book, Exploring “Atlas Shrugged”: Ayn Rand’s Magnum Opus) – Fred Seddon

Index to Volume 22

Check out our article abstracts and our contributor biographies. Subscription information is available here. (This announcement has also been posted to Facebook here.)

Only one more (double) issue to go! Don’t miss out!

Sharon Presley (1943-2022), RIP

My dear friend, Ellen Young, announced today that Sharon Presley, lifelong libertarian feminist writer and activist, died on Monday, October 31, 2022, at the age of 79. Her partner Art—who has had his own share of health challenges—was able to be there to say goodbye to her.

Sharon had been suffering from serious illnesses for quite a while. In the wake of eviction from her apartment and the loss of her cats, she was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes for over a year.

Sharon received her B.A. in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, her M.A. in psychology from San Francisco State, and her Ph.D. in social psychology from the City University of New York. She taught on the psychology of women and other gender-related courses at California State University, Iowa State University, the College of Wooster, and Weber State College. Her published research included historical papers on women resisters, a study of Mormon feminists, an edited collection of essays on nineteenth-century individualist feminist Voltairine de Cleyre and the 2010 volume, Standing Up to Experts and Authorities: How to Avoid Being Intimidated, Manipulated, and Abused. Sharon was also a national coordinator for the Association of Libertarian Feminists and Executive Director of Resources for Independent Thinking.

Her frail state over these many months was quite a contrast to the rambunctious fireband whom I met way back in 1978, when I was an undergraduate student at New York University. She and John Muller had helped to launch Laissez-Faire Books, which offered a treasure-trove of classical liberal, libertarian, and anarchist literature in the heart of Greenwich Village. As a cofounder of the NYU chapter of Students for a Libertarian Society, I spent a lot of time at that bookstore, especially in 1980, when it became a virtual warehouse of antidraft placards and pamphlets that we distributed in Washington Square Park, joining with other student groups to protest Jimmy Carter’s reinstatement of Selective Service Registration.

From the very beginning of our friendship, Sharon and I had our differences, but it never interfered with her willingnesss to step up and speak out in an uncompromising, principled way on many controversial topics. She gladly accepted our invitation to speak at an NYU-SLS-sponsored event, delivering a fiery lecture in support of reproductive freedom. Given that Ayn Rand’s work played such a key role in initially sparking Sharon’s political radicalization, I was delighted, many years later, when she accepted an invitation to be among the diverse group of contributors to Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand (1999), which I coedited with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, for the Penn State University Press series, “Re-reading the Canon.” That volume, prominently featured among anthologies on thirty-five major figures in the Western philosophical tradition, brought Rand’s work into critical engagement with various feminist perspectives. Sharon’s essay, “Ayn Rand’s Philosophy of Individualism: A Feminist Psychologist’s Perspective”, was one of its gems.

My very deepest condolences to all those who knew her. I will miss her.

Sharon Presley (1943-2022)

See comments on Facebook.

Happy Halloween!!!

No matter how crazy life is, Ski embraces every holiday!

#GoFundSki

Bwaaahahahaha!

Check out comments on Facebook here and here.

Aaron Judge: 61 HRs and Counting …

New York Yankees baseball player Aaron Judge hits #61, tying Roger Maris’s American League home run record … 61 years after it was set (in 1961). Judge is vying for the Triple Crown this year, leading the AL in Runs Batted In (RBIs) and Batting Average as well. Crossing fingers for 62 in ’22! Go Judge!!! (And check out Mike Lupica on Judge’s historic Yankee year.)

Check out the Facebook discussion here and here.

Song of the Day #1962

Song of the Day: (Ah The Apple Trees) When the World Was Young, music by Philippe Gerard, French lyrics by Angele Vannier, English lyrics by Johnny Mercer, has been recorded by countless artists through the years. Check out renditions by Edith Piaf (in the original French, as “Le chevalier de Paris“), Aretha Franklin, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, Eydie Gorme, and Frank Sinatra [YouTube links]. Apple is the official fruit of New York, and today, The Big Apple, and all those who have been nourished by its fruitfulness, mark the twenty-first anniversary of 9/11. In memory of those whose lives we lost.

The Twin Towers, from the Staten Island Ferry, May 12, 2001
Photograph by Chris Matthew Sciabarra

See Facebook discussion here.

JARS: Toward a 2023 Grand Finale

In the fall of 1999, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies began publication as the only nonpartisan, interdisciplinary, double-blind, peer-reviewed, biannual periodical devoted to the study of Ayn Rand and her times. In 2013, JARS began a fruitful collaboration with Pennsylvania State University Press. Our reach has grown beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. We are indexed, in whole or in part, by nearly two dozen abstracting services across the humanities and the social sciences and are reaching thousands of global readers due to our availability on a variety of e-platforms—from JSTOR and Project MUSE to the new Scholarly Publishing Collective. And all its issues will always be on the Portico dark archive.

Over these last 22 years, JARS has contributed to the expansion of Rand scholarship in a truly significant way. With the forthcoming December 2022 issue, we will have published 408 articles by 188 different authors. Thus, we have not merely reflected a growing interest in Rand’s ideas; we have helped to spark a broader critical engagement with a thinker who was once viewed as outside the philosophical and literary mainstream. To this extent, we have accomplished one of our most important goals. Indeed, unlike the first year in which JARS appeared, articles about Rand are now being published regularly across the world in a wide variety of scholarly journals. And each year, more and more books are being published about her ideas and influence, and not even we can keep up with the demand for reviews of this expanding literature.

There comes a point at which one can look back at the achievements of a project and declare that it is time to move on. After more than two decades of what could only be termed ‘a labor of love’ by a group of editors, advisory board members, peer readers, and writers, this journal will be publishing its last volume as a double issue in 2023. We look forward to providing our readers with a truly grand finale. Our back issues will continue to be made available electronically and in print for as long as there are people seeking their contents.

This decision was made by the JARS Foundation Board of Trustees. This was not a publisher decision to liquidate JARS—which has been one of the most popular periodicals in the Penn State University Press Journals Program.

We know that there is still much work to be done in this field of study, but we are proud to have made a trailblazing contribution to its long-term vitality and success. Above all, we thank our readers for having made this journey possible.

Toward that end, I should note that we have a full slate of articles for our final July-December 2023 issue and will not be accepting any additional submissions beyond those already in production.

***

As a personal aside, I have been asked by friends and colleagues about my own future in a post-JARS era. All I can say is this: It is no coincidence that the last book I published as an author was in the year 2000. It was the conclusion of my “Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy”: Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism. Since then, I have worked very hard as a founding coeditor of JARS, publishing the equivalent of two anthologies per year for what will be nearly a quarter century. Aside from several reviews and historical-archival essays that I contributed to JARS, my only “side” project was as a coeditor of The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom (2019). I fully intend to invest much more time and effort in expanding on this dialectical research project and its implications for human freedom and personal flourishing. But before I return to that project, I will be moving toward the completion of JARS. I’m proud of what this journal has accomplished and look forward to its graceful conclusion.

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*This has been announced publicly on Facebook and a link to it can also be found on the JARS home page. It was also announced by Stephen Boydstun on Objectivism Online.

Film Recommendation: I Am Not Alone (2019)

I finally had a chance to see the 2019 documentary, “I Am Not Alone“, written, directed, and coprodued by Garin Hovannisian, with whom I enjoyed much correspondence some years ago. Among its other producers is my friend Alec Mouhibian. The film details the makings of the 2018 Armenian “Velvet” Revolution, which commenced with the anti-government protests staged by Nikol Pashinyan (who went on to become that country’s Prime Minister in May 2018). The against-all-odds protests began in response to the third consecutive term of Serzh Sargsyan, the most powerful politician in the country at that time.

This truly outstanding film documents the power of bottom-up civil disobedience as a means to affecting political change. Highly recommended!