Category Archives: Culture

Film: “We the Living” 80th Anniversary Preview

My friend Duncan Scott sent me this link to a preview of a newly restored 80th anniversary edition of the 1942 Italian film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s tragic novel, “We the Living”. This is, in my view, the finest film adaptation of any work by Rand.

The description tells us:

“We the Living” – 80th Anniversary Edition – Preview

This is a preview reel of the newly restored, high definition 2022 version of “We the Living”, the film classic based on the novel by Ayn Rand (“Atlas Shrugged”, “The Fountainhead”) Set in the chaotic aftermath of the Russian revolution, “We the Living” is the story of a young woman who courageously defies a brutal regime. It is an extraordinary tale of romance and betrayal and, at its core, a fierce and impassioned outcry for the right of each human being to live free.

“We the Living” stars three film legends: Alida Valli (“The Third Man”), Rossano Brazzi (“South Pacific”) and Fosco Giachetti (The Life of G. Verdi). It was directed by Goffredo Alessandrini. The film is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Ayn Rand. It was originally released in Italy as two films, “Noi Vivi” and “Addio Kira” (1942). The films were later combined and released as “We the Living”.

“We the Living” – 80th Anniversary Edition, is a new edition of the film that is newly restored and rejuvenated—and in high-definition for the first time. Using state-of-the-art digital software technology, the film was cleaned up and repaired, frame by frame, removing scratches, dirt, and other flaws that are common in old movies. Improvements to exposure and contrast were also made, scene by scene. The soundtrack was de-noised and its fidelity improved.

“We the Living” – 80th Anniversary Edition is set for release in the fall of 2022, exactly 80 years after the film’s premiere in 1942 at the Venice Film Festival. For more about the film and a behind-the-scenes documentary go here.

Check out the nice Facebook conversation on this post. (Information on a July 2022 screening of the film can be found here.)

DWR (6): Market, State, and Anarchy

Today, the Center for a Stateless Society publishes an article by my very dear friend, Ryan Neugebauer: “Market, State, and Anarchy: A Dialectical Left-Libertarian Perspective.” Though this is not strictly a part of the series I’ve dubbed “DWR” (“Dialogues with Ryan”), the article certainly evolved over a period of time during which Ryan and I have had many lengthy discussions about so many of the issues addressed in this new piece.

The article offers a wide-ranging critique of the status quo of “Liberal Corporate Capitalism”, before launching into a detailed critique of proposed “alternatives to the status quo”, including “Free-Market Propertarianism”, “State Socialism”, and “Anarchism.” Since Ryan considers himself at minimum a philosophical anarchist (as do I), much of what he has to say entails a perceptive engagement with some points of view that he himself has held over the years. Indeed, what makes the article worthwhile is that it is a dialectical combination of both critique and self-critique.

The article includes many wonderful citations, including some to my own work on the usefulness of a dialectical methodology for a critical libertarian socio-political project. Ryan grapples with the need of radicals to function on the basis of the real conditions that exist. His left-libertarian framework—a framework with which I, myself, have been associated—is one that “seeks to make the best of what we have where we are presently at and always push to do better. It will not however paralyze itself with rigid dogmas and face destruction.” He writes:

Ultimately, I fall on the Left-Libertarian side of things. I especially like its emphasis on a sustainable, non-bloated autonomism—that is, the building of spaces of autonomy in the now and outside the current system. Such autonomism requires the freedom to create without asking for permission in a system that provides signals for judging individual needs and relative scarcity. This will most likely entail a complex mix of commons, markets, and cooperatives. It will also require a movement away from a system that treats land like a typical commodity, a system that encourages dependence on capitalists through subsidies, intellectual property rights laws, crony trade deals, and regulations that restrict competition. Politically, more people need “skin in the game” on a decentralized, local level

Given its wide-ranging scope and its accessible, succinct delivery, I strongly recommend Ryan’s article to your attention! Check it out here.

Happy Eastern Orthodox Easter!

A very Happy Easter to all my Eastern Orthodox family and friends!

Easter Eggs Complete!

Easter Egg Surprise!

So we began the process of boiling our Easter Eggs this morning, and I decided to take one out for a rare omelette with my sister’s roasted peppers. Alas, I did not know how rare this would be! Lo and behold … a double yolk! There is a one-in-one thousand chance of this happening, apparently. Yin and Yang right there in a bowl! A Dialectical Sign for sure! Wow!

Holy Week Memories

This date, April 21, has special significance to me. On this date in 1974, I was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn—the same hospital in which I was born—to undergo life-saving intestinal by-pass surgery for Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome. I often think of that hospital as the place in which I was born—and re-born.

It was also on this date—in 1995—that my mother, Ann Sciabarra, passed away at the age of 76, after a five-year-long battle with lung cancer. It was in the wee hours of Good Friday morning that she left us. She was one of the eight children of Vasilios P. Michalopoulos, my Papouli, who was the first pastor of the Three Hierarchs Church in Brooklyn. Her name in Greek was Anastasia. Father Eugene Pappas of that same church remarked at her funeral that it was just like my mother to have died on Good Friday, “only to be resurrected with Christ on Easter, her name day.” “Anastasia” is a derivative of “Anesti”, of the Resurrection, which is why Greeks say to one another on Orthodox Easter: “Christos Anesti” (or “Christ is Risen”).

This year, Good Friday falls on April 22, but it just so happens that today is Holy Thursday on the Greek Orthodox calendar. Which brings me to another one of those classic family memories …

Every year, Mom took my sister Elizabeth and me to Holy Week services. She never forced us to go weekly to Church as children or to attend Sunday school or Greek school (though, in retrospect, I could have used the latter—instead of a year-length course in dreadful statistics—toward a second foreign language requirement in my doctoral studies). But Holy Week was a different story altogether. We received communion, and typically attended services throughout the week, including Palm Sunday, the anointing of the Holy Unction on Holy Wednesday, the Holy Thursday evening procession of the cross, Jesus’s descent from the cross on Good Friday, and both the midnight resurrection service late Saturday night and the multilingual Easter Sunday morning Vespers of Agape. It should be noted that the Greeks go all-out. Those church services certainly helped me to appreciate the beauties of ritual, which speak to a sublime part of the human soul, whatever your religious beliefs.

On the night of Holy Thursday, in keeping with the Jewish tradition that the new day begins at sunset, Greeks begin to commemorate the events of Good Friday, marking the crucifixion, in which the cross is carried around the church, a replica of the body of Jesus often carried behind, only to be symbolically nailed to the cross once the procession makes its way to the front of the altar.

On this Holy Thursday night, back in 1971, when I was 11 years old, my sister and I accompanied my Mom to Three Hierarchs Church. The Twelve Gospel readings pertaining to the Passion were highlighted, in a re-enactment of the crucifixion. After the Fifth Gospel, the church was darkened and the cross was carried around the church in a mournful procession. Atop the cross were three lit candles. I was seated at the end of one of the front pews in the church, with a right aisle up-close view of the cross. The scent of the incense only heightened the sounds and visuals of the moment.

As the cross passed by me, the priest tipped it ever so slightly and hot wax from one of the candles dripped right onto my scalp. I let out an “Ow!” so loud that a few people turned around in obvious shock and contempt. Liz started to giggle, and I lost it. My mother saw what happened and kicked me under the pew. She leaned over and whispered in my ear: “Shhh! You got burned because you don’t go to Church!”

Well. This did not make matters better; my sister and I became convulsed with laughter, trying desperately to hide it. While elderly Greek women and men were moved to tears by the solemnity of the service, the tears were literally rolling down our faces, as we tried to contain our hysterics. Somehow, we made it out of that church without getting struck by lightning.

Safely outside, even Mom could not contain her own laughter, just shaking her head over the events of the night.

Memories, hilarious memories …

Hiromi Shinya Memorial Date

As Notablog readers know, I memorialized the trailblazing Dr. Hiromi Shinya in two previous posts back in December 2021 and January 2022. I was just informed by his daughter, Erica Kim, that a memorial service will be held for her father on Sunday, October 9, from 3:30pm at the Marble Collegiate Church, 1 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to attend, but I’m very happy that Dr. Shinya will be so honored.

Happy Passover, Western Easter, and Ramadan!

Three holidays converge this weekend, so I’m wishing my Jewish friends a Happy Passover, my Western Christian friends a Happy Easter, and my Islamic friends a Happy Ramadan.

The Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Palm Sunday today… so I’ll delay my Happy Eastern Easter greetings till next week! But a special story about Greek Orthodox Holy Week will be posted this coming Thursday. Stay tuned!

LGBTQ + Education

Folks have long known my stance on LGBTQ+ issues, but I wanted to give a H/T to Ari Armstrong, who provides some worthwhile “Notes on the ‘Groomer’ Panic and Transgender issues“. Ari is spot on in his central concern that “various conservatives seem to be intentionally drumming up a moral panic about the alleged ‘grooming’ of school children who are exposed to conversations and readings that <gasp!> discuss gay and transgender people.”

Thanks too, Ari, for citing my 2003 monograph, Ayn Rand, Homosexuality, and Human Liberation (now on sale at the Center for a Stateless Society).

Brooklyn Subway Shooting

By now, the whole world has learned of the subway shooting in the Sunset Park section of my hometown, Brooklyn, New York. The action eventually shifted to my own neighborhood, where the suspect left a rented van—two blocks from my apartment, on West 3rd Street and Kings Highway, in the Gravesend section of the borough.

As I noted on Facebook, law enforcement had cordoned off the entire area, with helicopters flying above. Leave it to my sister to find a moment of gallows humor in all this: “Just lock the doors. We don’t need any hostage situations on top of everything else we’re dealing with.”

The suspect has not yet been apprehended.* Thank goodness nobody was killed; let’s hope those who were affected survive and flourish.

But to all you New York Naysayers out there: Yes, there has been an uptick in crime in this city, in the wake of a pandemic and all the civil unrest that followed the George Floyd killing. I remember a city than in 1990 had in excess of 2,200 murders. Even with upticks in various crime categories, the city is nowhere near those horrific days of murder and mayhem. A cursory look at CompStat data shows massive declines across the last 29 years in every category—from murder and rape to robbery, burglary, and grand larceny.

This city has massive structural problems, but it is still a magnificent tapestry that draws its strength from its diverse neighborhoods. I’ve been a lifelong Brooklynite—and will be here until the day I die. Because, for me, this town is still the greatest city on earth.

___
* Oh, yes he has!

A New FB Profile Pic, Part II

In Coney Island, Brooklyn, in the shadow of the Parachute Jump.

Also see Facebook post here.