Happy Birthday Ernest Hemingway

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The great author Ernest Hemingway was born on this day, July 21, 1899. Pictured here in 1952, Cuba. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

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Ernest Hemingway and Carlos Gutierrez aboard Hemingway's boat, the Pilar, 1934. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Ernest Hemingway and Carlos Gutierrez aboard Hemingway’s boat, the Pilar, 1934. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.


Ernest Hemingway’s Cuba Home to Get $900,000 in U.S. Improvements

Ernest Hemingway's home near Havana, Cuba, is expected to soon receive an infusion of badly needed building supplies from the United States. An American foundation restoring the legendary writer's home in Cuba on Saturday, June 20, 2015, signed an agreement with the Cuban government to -- for the first time -- import construction materials directly from the United States to aid the preservation efforts. (CNN)

Ernest Hemingway’s home near Havana, Cuba, is expected to soon receive an infusion of badly needed building supplies from the United States. An American foundation restoring the legendary writer’s home in Cuba on Saturday, June 20, 2015, signed an agreement with the Cuban government to — for the first time — import construction materials directly from the United States to aid the preservation efforts. (CNN)

HAVANA (AP) — A U.S. foundation will ship nearly $900,000 in supplies to build a state-of-the-art facility to preserve Ernest Hemingway’s books, letters and photos – the first major export of construction materials to Cuba since President Barack Obama loosened the trade embargo on the island.

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The Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation has been trying for years to help Cuba stop thousands of pages of documents from slowly disintegrating in the baking heat and dripping humidity of the sprawling homewhere the American writer lived and worked outside Havana from 1939 to 1960. Officials with Cuba’s National Cultural Heritage Council, which runs the Finca Vigia, have been enthusiastic about building a conservation laboratory but said they didn’t have the funds or supplies to do it.

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High-quality building materials are virtually impossible to find throughout much of Cuba, with homeowners forced to buy paint and water pumps stolen from government agencies and pay overseas travelers to bring items as large as sinks and kitchen cabinets in their checked luggage. In state-run hardware stores, a request for an item as mundane as a box of screws can provoke peals of laughter from salesclerks.

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The foundation’s proposal to send four shipping containers with as much as $862,000 of materials ranging from nuts and bolts to tools and roofing was approved by the U.S. government in May, after Obama created a series of exemptions to the embargo. The exceptions include permission for Americans to export supplies donated for the purpose of supporting the Cuban people in fields such as science, archaeology and historical preservation. Read the rest of this entry »


Movie Poster: ‘À Bout Portant’ Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Killers’, Don Siegel, 1964

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[PHOTO] Books, Babes, Bullfights, Bravado; 20th Century Man, Ernest Hemingway

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From LIFE magazine

[Explore the vast Hemingway collection at Amazon]


Why Paris is forgetting Ernest Hemingway

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American writer Ernest Hemingway had close links with Paris. He first lived there in 1920 and played a marginal, much-mythologised, role in the 1944 liberation of the city. But now, 70 years on, memories of the author are starting to fade.

Hugh Schofield BBC News, Paris: Twenty years ago when I first started reporting from Paris, a story on Hemingway would have been so corny that you would have got short shrift from any editor hemingway-book-feasthad you ever had the gall to suggest it.

[Order “A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition” and other books by Ernest Hemingway at Amazon.com]

Paris was full of Hemingway wannabes – young people just out of university sitting dreamily in cafes and struggling to get their prose more muscular.

There were guided tours round the sites – his homes on the Left Bank and the Shakespeare and Company bookshop.

No self-respecting acolyte would be seen on the street without a copy of Hemingway’s magisterial memoir of Paris in the 1920s, published posthumously under the title “A Moveable Feast”.

Crowds gathered to cheer French General Charles de Gaulle, 26 August 1944

Crowds gathered to cheer French General Charles de Gaulle, 26 August 1944

The commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris from the Germans brought it all back, because August 1944 was in fact one of the most celebrated episodes in the Hemingway legend.

“I’ve seen you beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for… you belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.”

Already famous for his books, he was working as a correspondent attached to the American 5th Infantry Division, which was south-west of Paris in the town of Rambouillet.

“This is the kind of stuff that used to set young writerly hearts racing.”

Here, in flagrant breach of the Geneva Conventions governing war reporting, Hemingway set up as a kind of mini warlord. His hotel room was full of grenades and uniforms, and he had command of a band of Free French fighters who reconnoitred the approach to Paris and provided information to the Allied armies. Read the rest of this entry »


Movie Poster: Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Killers’

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[PHOTO] Ernest Hemingway

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“An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.”

— Ernest Hemingway

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The Last Days of Ernest Hemingway: He Thought the Feds were Spying on him

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Delusional? Mentally deranged? In need of shock therapy and medication to treat persecution fantasies involving mysterious government forces?

Or..100% correct, but no one would listen to him? 

We never got to tell him, “Damn, Earnest. You were right, you were under heavy surveillance. And… we’re really sorry you shot yourself…”

editor-commen-deskI read A.E. Hotchner’s Hemingway Biography, many years ago, and recall being troubled by the passages describing Hemingway’s decline. Hemingway’s delusional state was vividly catalogued. Hotchner, a fellow writer and longtime a pal of Hemingway’s, visited Ernest in the hospital during the period when Hemingway was administered shock treatments. Tortured, in an attempt to “cure” his paranoid delusions.

Hotchner’s tone was in that final chapter was somber. Saddened by his famous mentor’s inability to distinguish paranoid fantasy from reality, Hotchner characterized the great man’s decline without ever considering the possibility that Hemingway’s anxiety was well-founded. His phones–even…

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The Last Days of Ernest Hemingway: He Thought the Feds were Spying on him

hemingway-typewriter

Delusional? Mentally deranged? In need of shock therapy and medication to treat persecution fantasies involving mysterious government forces?

Or..100% correct, but no one would listen to him? 

We never got to tell him, “Damn, Earnest. You were right, you were under heavy surveillance. And… we’re really sorry you shot yourself…”

editor-commen-deskI read A.E. Hotchner’s Hemingway Biography, many years ago, and recall being troubled by the passages describing Hemingway’s decline. Hemingway’s delusional state was vividly catalogued. Hotchner, a fellow writer and longtime a pal of Hemingway’s, visited Ernest in the hospital during the period when Hemingway was administered shock treatments. Tortured, in an attempt to “cure” his paranoid delusions.

Hotchner’s tone was in that final chapter was somber. Saddened by his famous mentor’s inability to distinguish paranoid fantasy from reality, Hotchner characterized the great man’s decline without ever considering the possibility that Hemingway’s anxiety was well-founded. His phones–even in the hospital–were tapped by the FBI.

Decades later, when it was revealed that Hemingway was being systematically spied on by his own government, I wondered if Hotchner would address it in print. Will Hotchner update his Hemingway biography to include a rewrite of that misguided last chapter? I can only imagine how mortified Hotchner must have been. The unintended damage to Earnest Hemingway’s legacy is impossible to measure.

The  questions surrounding Hemingway’s suicide, in light of what we now know, could not have been easy for Hotchner to reconcile. Not only was Hemingway harassed by the U.S. Government, he was misunderstood by his closest friends. Hemingway’s pleas for intervention were ignored. Hemingway ultimately took a shotgun and ended his life.

The following item, from Reason.com, re: Hotcher’s essay in the NYTimes, shows the biographer revisiting these tragic events. Hotchner may have addressed it before, but this is my first time seeing it in print.

If we think Government abuse and surveillance of its own citizens is new, we can recall the life and death of Ernest Hemingway. The abuse is no longer limited to the famous and influential, but extends much further.

4th of July, 2013. Updated October 2nd, 2013The Butcher

Ernest Hemingway’s friend A.E. Hotchner has a moving essay in The New York Times about the closing months of the novelist’s life in 1960 and 1961. At that point Hemingway was anxious, paranoid, convinced the Federal Bureau of Investigation was following him and that his home and car were bugged. He tried several times to kill himself and was put in a mental ward, where he received 11 electroshock “treatments.” Even in the hospital, he insisted that the FBI was spying on him. Finally, 50 years ago yesterday, he ended his life.

Decades later, in a twist you may have seen coming,

“…the F.B.I. released its Hemingway file. It revealed that beginning in the 1940s J. Edgar Hoover had placed Ernest under surveillance because he was suspicious of Ernest’s activities in Cuba. Over the following years, agents filed reports on him and tapped his phones. The surveillance continued all through his confinement at St. Mary’s Hospital. It is likely that the phone outside his room was tapped after all.

In the years since, I have tried to reconcile Ernest’s fear of the F.B.I., which I regretfully misjudged, with the reality of the F.B.I. file. I now believe he truly sensed the surveillance, and that it substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide.”

Via Tom Jackson — via Reason.com


Antlers Hunter S Thompson Stole from Hemingway’s Home Returned to Family

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The late gonzo journalist ‘got caught up in the moment’ on a visit to his idol’s home, his widow explained, and had long planned to return them.

 reports: A set of antlers stolen by the late Hunter S Thompson from the home of Ernest Hemingway has been returned to the Nobel laureate’s family by the gonzo journalist’s widow.

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Anita Thompson told the website BroBible that Thompson took the elk antlers from Hemingway’s home in Ketchum, Idaho, in 1964. Hemingway shot himself in the home in 1961. Thompson visited three years later, to write an essay about his visit, What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum?, exploring “just what it was about this outback little Idaho village that struck such a responsive chord in America’s most famous writer”.

Ernest Hemingway's home near Havana, Cuba, is expected to soon receive an infusion of badly needed building supplies from the United States. An American foundation restoring the legendary writer's home in Cuba on Saturday, June 20, 2015, signed an agreement with the Cuban government to -- for the first time -- import construction materials directly from the United States to aid the preservation efforts. (CNN)

Ernest Hemingway’s home near Havana, Cuba, is expected to soon receive an infusion of badly needed building supplies from the United States. An American foundation restoring the legendary writer’s home in Cuba on Saturday, June 20, 2015, signed an agreement with the Cuban government to — for the first time — import construction materials directly from the United States to aid the preservation efforts. (CNN)

The young man who would go on to write Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and to invent gonzo journalism also, according to his widow Anita Thompson, “got caught up in the moment” and stole the antlers, going on to hang them in his own garage. In his essay, Thompson refers to “a big pair of elk horns over the front door” in Hemingway’s “comfortable-looking chalet”.

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Anita Thompson told Brandon Wenerd at BroBible that her late husband, who killed himself in 2005, “had so much respect for Hemingway” and “was actually very embarrassed” by his actions. Read the rest of this entry »


Finca Vigia: Hemingway’s Cuban House

One fan’s trip to author Ernest Hemingway’s newly accessible Cuban abode leads her to a new appreciation of humble furnishings.

Antonia Van Der Meer writes: I love to look at homes as places of inspiration, especially those of famous authors. The Holy Grail for me was Ernest Hemingway’s house in Cuba, known as Finca Vigia (Lookout Farm). There he wrote the Pulitzer-Prize winning “The Old Man and the Sea,” as well as “Islands in the Stream” and “A Moveable Feast.”

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

I’d heard about the house for years because my brother, William Dupont, a professor of architecture at the University of Texas San Antonio, leads the Finca Vigia Foundation’s U.S. technical team. He works with Cuban colleagues on the restoration and maintenance of the house, which is now a museum. In May, I accompanied him to Havana.

A long driveway separates the farm from the small homes that dot the area around it in San Francisco de Paula, a working class suburb about 20 minutes outside Havana. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Paris est uno Fete’: Hemingway’s Paris Memoir Flies Off Shelves in Show of Defiance

Orders surged after a BFM television interview on Monday with a 77-year-old woman called Danielle, who urged people to read the memoir as she laid flowers for the dead. The video was shared hundreds of times on social media.

 reports: Ernest Hemingway’s memoir about the time he spent lounging in cafes and bars in 1920s Paris has become an unlikely totem of defiance against the terrorist attacks that claimed 129 lives in the City of Light last Friday.

“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”

Hemingway’s ‘‘A Moveable Feast,’’ or “Paris est une Fete” in French, is flying off the shelves at bookstores across the French capital and is the fastest-selling biography and foreign-language book at online retailer Amazon.fr.

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“Copies have been laid among the flowers and tributes at the sites of the massacres, and people are reading the book in bars and cafes.”

Daily orders of the memoir, first published in 1964, three years 51lVoALt-2L._SL250_after the American author’s death, have risen 50-fold to 500 since Monday, according to publisher Folio.

[Order Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition” from Amazon.com]

Copies have been laid among the flowers and tributes at the sites of the massacres, and people are reading the book in bars and cafes, Folio spokesman David Ducreux said Thursday. Orders surged after a BFM television interview on Monday with a 77-year-old woman called Danielle, who urged people to read the memoir as she laid flowers for the dead. The video was shared hundreds of times on social media….(read more)

Source: Bloomberg Business


Hemingway Grandsons Celebrate 60th Anniversary of Author’s Nobel Prize

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Hemingway, who lived from 1899 until his suicide in 1961, was a journalist, author, world traveler and sportsman. In the 1940s and 1950s, he spent half the year in Cuba and would summer in Idaho

“This is a really emotional day, being here with the people of Cojimar. It’s something personal, it’s a family thing, and I also think it is historic.” 

— John Hemingway

COJIMAR – Carlos Batista writes: Just like Ernest Hemingway used to do, two of his grandsons sailed into the fishing town of Cojimar on Monday, marking 60 years since the iconic US author won the Nobel prize.

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John and Patrick Hemingway sailed in from the Ernest Hemingway International Yacht Club west of Havana, through the Gulf waters where “Papa” used to fish, with a group of 16 that arrived Sunday.

[Explore books and other cool stuff about Ernest Hemingway at Amazon.com] 

“This is a really emotional day, being here with the people of Cojimar. It’s something personal, it’s a family thing, and I also think it is historic,” John Hemingway, 54, said in Spanish to about 200 people who gathered on the fishing town’s waterfront to greet them.

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The author, also known for works such as “The Sun Also Rises,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and “A Farewell to Arms,” received the Nobel prize for literature in 1954.

About a dozen boats joined the four yachts carrying the Hemingway party in the two-hour sail over to Cojimar.

Hemingway, who lived in Cuba for over 20 years, rented a home in the town. He fished enthusiastically and was inspired here to write the classic “The Old Man and the Sea.0

Hemingway’s boat is in dry dock these days, near his Cojimar home, now a museum run by the government of Raul Castro, 83

The four yachts flew both US and Cuban flags; the two countries have not had full diplomatic ties since 1961.

Events like this “could contribute to some positive things between the United States and Cuba,” said John, a writer who lives in Montreal, alongside brother Patrick, 48, a photographer who lives in Vancouver.

Hemingway’s close ties to Cuba

Hemingway, who lived from 1899 until his suicide in 1961, was a journalist, author, world traveler and sportsman. In the 1940s and 1950s, he spent half the year in Cuba and would summer in Idaho.

“I met Hemingway myself when I was very young, maybe 13 or 14, and then we became friends.”

— Osvaldo Carrero Pina, now 78.

The dramatic twists were not just in his books; he struggled with mental illness and health consequences of heavy drinking even as he became an acclaimed author with a singular and strong spare style.

Married four times, Ernest Hemingway had three sons: Jack, Patrick and Gregory, the latter being John and Patrick’s father.

Ernest Hemingway was fascinated by game hunting and deep sea fishing, capped with drinks and some writing.

Ernest Hemingway and Carlos Gutierrez aboard Hemingway's boat, the Pilar, 1934. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Ernest Hemingway and Carlos Gutierrez aboard Hemingway’s boat, the Pilar, 1934. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

The author, also known for works such as “The Sun Also Rises,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and “A Farewell to Arms,” received the Nobel prize for literature in 1954.

And it was here in Cojimar that Hemingway docked his boat “El Pilar,” obsessed about marlin, knocked back mojitos, and where Cuban fishermen inspired his “Old Man.

When the Americas’ only communist government took power, around 1960, Hemingway left Cuba for the last time—but not before meeting longtime president Fidel Castro. Read the rest of this entry »


New Hemingway Artifacts From Cuba At JFK Library

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BOSTON (AP) — Materials from the Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway’s Cuban home are available to researchers for the first time at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

“It’s a personal peek into his life — it’s just wonderful..”

The 2,500 digitally scanned materials were housed at Hemingway’s former Cuban estate, called the Finca Vigía, where he lived for 21 years until he died in 1961.

This material reflects Hemingway’s everyday life in Cuba, said Susan Wrynn, an Ernest Hemingway curator at the Kennedy Library.

Read the rest of this entry »


Books: The Authentic Hemingway

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Joshua Kotin on The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Vol. 2 : 1923-1925

Joshua Kotin  writes:  Ernest Hemingway’s from the summer and fall of 1925 are especially thrilling. “I’ve written six chapters on a novel and am going great about 15,000 words already,” he tells Sylvia Beach in August. Two weeks later, in a letter to Ezra Pound, he declares, “48,000 words writ. […] If novel not suppressed sh’d sell 8 million copies.” “It is a hell of a fine novel,” he tells Jane Heap a few days later; “Written very simply and full of things happening and people and places and exciting as hell and no autobiographical 1st novel stuff.” Then in a letter to his father in September, he triumphantly announces, “I have finished my novel — 85,000 words — and am very tired inside and out.”

The completion of The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway’s first novel, is the denouement of the second volume of his letters, which collects his correspondence from 1923 to 1925. (The first volume, published in 2011, includes letters from 1907 to 1922.) The letters document his development as a writer, his life in Paris and Toronto (where he worked as a reporter for the Toronto Star), his travels across Europe (including to Pamplona and Schruns), his marriage to Hadley Richardson and the birth of their son, and his friendships and quarrels with Pound, Gertrude Stein, Ford Madox Ford, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many others. The letters are a real time version of A Moveable Feast, combining the memoir’s romantic and gossipy depiction of expatriate life with a powerful sense of precarity. Hemingway describes his life as a struggling writer without knowledge of his future success.

Read the rest of this entry »


Author: Hemingway watched Che’s firing squad massacres ‘while sipping Daiquiris’

Author Humberto Fontova says you don’t know squat about Cuba.

“[A]lmost everything most people (except Cuban exiles) think they know about Cuba isn’t just wrong —  it’s almost the exact opposite of the truth,” Fontova, a refugee from Castro’s Cuba and the author of numerous books about the country, told The Daily Caller in an interview about his new book, ”The Longest Romance: The Mainstream and Fidel Castro.”

Read the rest of this entry »


10 Fascinating Facts on President Ronald Reagan’s Birthday

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It’s the 106th birthday of Ronald Reagan, and since he was one of the most widely recognized world leaders, it’s not hard to find some interesting facts about the 40th president.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. Reagan had a long career as an actor and union leader before he became the governor of California in the 1960s and won presidential elections in 1980 and 1984.

Here are 10 facts about President Reagan you may not know.

1. Reagan really did enjoy jelly beans. According to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Libraryhis favorite flavor was licorice. Reagan started eating jelly beans in 1967 as he was trying to quit a pipe-smoking habit. He switched to Jelly Bellies a decade later.

2. One food that Reagan didn’t like was brussels sprouts. This is according to the Reagan Library website. In her autobiography, Nancy Reagan said her husband wasn’t a fussy eater since he traveled on the public speaking circuit for decades, but he also didn’t like tomatoes.

3. Reagan’s nickname of “Dutch” was given to him at an early age by his family. Reagan’s ancestry is Irish on his father’s side and Scots-English on his mother’s side. The name came from his childhood haircut, among other things.

4. The future President’s last movie role was in the 1964 release, The Killers. Based on an Ernest Hemingway story, it was Reagan’s only role as a villain in a film, and it was the first made-for-TV movie. However, The Killers was considered too violent for TV, and released to movie theaters instead.

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5. The future President lost partial hearing in one ear when he was hurt on a movie set in the late 1930s, after a gun was fired next to his ear. Decades later, President Reagan wrote to Michael Jackson offering his support after Jackson was burned filming a TV commercial.

6. Ronald Reagan started out in life as a Democrat and supported the New Deal efforts of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Reagan officially became a Republican  in 1962, but he had grown more conservative during the 1950s as he toured as a General Electric spokesman.

7. Reagan was not the original choice to star in “Casablanca,” instead of Humphrey Bogart. The urban legend over the issue is documented on snopes.com, and it started with a paragraph in a Warner Brothers’ press release issued before the movie was made. Bogart was always expected to play the lead role. Read the rest of this entry »


Where Have All the Manly Journalists Gone?

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Mark Judge writes: Ernest Hemingway. Ernie Pyle. Jack London. Christopher Hitchens.

Whatever happened to journalism as a manly profession?

While newspapers and magazines have always attracted many types of writers, the most notable journalists often gained fame and recognition through their bravery in the face of extreme conditions. Hemingway and Pyle were war veterans. Hunter Thompson took on the Hell’s Angels and paid for it with a severe beating. Christopher Hitchens earned his scars through decades of dangerous stories and by challenging the orthodoxies of the culture.

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Somehow names like Dana Milbank, Christopher Hayes, and Don Lemon don’t equally inspire.

My father was a writer and editor for National Geographic for thirty years, from roughly 1960 to 1990. From him I got my earliest impression of what a journalist did. A journalist—like a good male novelist—was a man who would go away for several months on a story assignment, usually to exotic-sounding places: Borneo, Australia, Thailand, the North Pole. He would have adventures and, if he was single, might even experience a James Bond-like liaison with a lady or two. Dad would return home tanned, sweaty, sometimes sick and disheveled. And the stories! Almost capsizing in the Caribbean while searching for the spot where Columbus landed in the New World; being chased by government censors for taking pictures in the old Soviet Union; contracting a life-threatening fever in Africa after being warned by a medicine man to not take anything out of the country.

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There was an intense physicality to my father’s job; journalism was a job of grit and hard effort, like boxing. There was also a correlation between the roughness of the reporter’s life and the quality of his work. Being in danger, or even knowing that someone you wrote about might want to confront you physically, made you care about honor and accuracy. Jack London, author of Call of the Wild, was a hard-drinking oyster pirate and world traveler who risked his life reporting on the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Russell Baker knew the dirty Depression-era streets of New York.

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Eric Sevareid of CBS got his start reporting World War II from Europe, but that was only the beginning of his career of derring-do. As the New York Times obituary of Sevareid noted in 1992, “His was an adventurous life, which included a harrowing month among headhunters in the Burmese jungles. That was in 1943, after the plane in which he was riding developed engine trouble as it was flying over the Himalayas from India to China. Mr. Sevareid and 19 others had to bail out on the India-Burma border but made it out of the jungle on foot.”

[Read the full text here, at Acculturated]

Ernest Hemingway began as a journalist, and his experience in the First World War gave his work an introspective and poetic quality, as well as a hunger for pursuing the truth. There were no Twitter wars, with their childish resentment and petty back and forth of gotchas and ad hominem attacks. If two journalists had a beef with each other they dealt with it mano a mano.

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My father died in 1996. One year earlier Bill Gates wrote a memo outlining “The Coming Internet Tidal Wave.” Increasingly journalism didn’t require street smarts or derring-do; it often didn’t require journalists to leave their desks at all. Read the rest of this entry »


Philip Klein: Obamacare Repeal is More Likely, and Now GOP Needs an Alternative

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Philip Klein writes:  This month, two developments have shaken the conventional wisdom that repealing President Obama’s healthcare law is an impossibility.

First, Republicans scored a historic election victory, not only taking control of the Senate but likely winning the most House seats since 1928 — the year before Ernest Hemingway published A Farewell to Arms.

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Second, the Supreme Court took up another case on Obamacare, and if the justices rule against the administration, it would force a re-opening of the law.

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“Benson’s fear is that if the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration, whatever the merits of the decision, liberal media would portray it as a right-wing court ripping health insurance away from millions over a silly typo out of animosity for the poor. And if Republicans didn’t pass a simple fix to change the wording, they’d be accused of mass murder.”

This doesn’t even account for the recently released videos of one of Obamacare’s main architects, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, conceding that Democrats misled the public to get the legislation passed, benefiting from “the stupidity of the American voter.”

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“The problem for Republicans — which I tried to convey to Benson in a spirited exchange that followed — is that going along with such a “fix” would be rightly seen as a complete surrender by Republicans that would alienate conservatives and enshrine Obamacare forever.”

The prospects of repealing Obamacare can now be better described, in the words of Rocco Lampone in The Godfather Part II, as “difficult, not impossible.”

But the hope of repealing Obamacare, however remote, is all the more reason for Republicans to begin coalescing around a real alternative to the law.

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“That is why conservatives should push Republicans to have an alternative plan ready to pass should the Supreme Court strike down the federal subsidies — a decision that should come by late June. “

Due to their suspicions of Republicans, whenever anybody utters the phrases “Obamacare alternative” or “repeal and replace,” many conservatives tend to hear “Obamacare lite.”

However, not every alternative to Obamacare needs to be a watered-down version of the healthcare law. And in fact, it’s always worth keeping in mind that even before Obamacare, the United States did not have a free market healthcare system. Read the rest of this entry »


[BOOKS] Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War

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Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, c. 1940 (Ernest Hemingway Collection / John F. Kennedy Library)

Whores de Combat: In search of adventure and engagement

Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War, by Amanda Vaill, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 464 pp.

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For The American ScholarCharles Trueheart writes: For its young cohort of reporters and photographers, and citizens of conscience, the Spanish Civil War was the place to be. It was not just the big war of the moment, although it was bloody enough, tearing Spain apart for three years (and for succeeding generations) and killing nearly 400,000 people. The conflict also bore the weight of a burgeoning global struggle, keenly watched and abetted by Hitler and Stalin, and was widely understood to be the harbinger of an inevitable world war.

“Hemingway had a clever phrase for the women who hung around the hotel, which may just as well have described the accredited reporters and photojournalists, day-trippers and do-gooders…whores de combat.”

Enter the cast of Hotel Florida, Amanda Vaill’s energetic group biography of six characters who found themselves—or rushed to place themselves—in the heat of this great battle to defend a shakily democratic, fractiously Republican Spain against the Nationalist rebellion of General Francisco Franco.

“…It captures the intellectual promiscuity of war reporting, and perhaps of journalism in general.”

In July 1936, when Franco led the army uprising, Robert Capa and Gerda Taro were young photographers in Paris, Jewish émigrés from Hungary and Germany, respectively, with newly assumed trade names. When they heard the news from Spain, Vaill writes, they felt “the adrenaline rush of a scoop in the making” and decided to leave for Spain immediately. “Here was a chance to document the struggle between fascism and socialism that was already consuming their homelands and might soon spread to all of Europe. It would all be a most extraordinary adventure, and it would make them famous. Together. They could hardly wait.”

[You can order the book “Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War” from Amazon]

Far away in Key West, Ernest Hemingway was in the doldrums. He was struggling over a collection of stories that would turn out to be To Have and Have Not and then be forgotten. He was worried that his success had turned him into a sellout. His rivalry with John Dos Passos was on his nerves. His marriage to Pauline Pfeiffer was on the skids. Spain was an escape to opportunity: “If he went to Spain with an assignment to report on the war, he’d get the makings of any number of novels.” Read the rest of this entry »


Bourbon and Books: Why is Alcoholism the American Literary Disease?

Gerald Howard  writes:  As a young literatus in training, I got myself early and often to the Lion’s Head, a legendary and now-extinct writers’ bar on Sheridan Square. Lined with the framed 51WjHVH6gNL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_covers of books by its denizens, it offered an atmosphere of boozy bonhomie and the opportunity for literary stargazing of a special sort. (Hey, I’m urinating right next to Fred Exley!) And it didn’t take long before I was told that gin mill’s trademark anecdote: A nonscribbling civilian drops into the Lion’s Head for a couple of beers. After taking in the scene for a while, he remarks to the guy on the barstool next to him, “There sure are a lot of writers here with drinking problems.”This elicits the swift reply: “Wrong. There are a lot of drinkers here with writing problems.”

[See the book: The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking at Amazon]

The same conundrum informs Olivia Laing’s heartfelt and melancholy alcoholic travelogue: Why, in America especially, are the production of literature and the consumption of destructive quantities of alcohol so intimately intertwined? Which came first, the bottle or the typewriter? While this condition has abated quite a bit in our more abstemious time (it’s been many years since I’ve seen anyone come back loaded from a publishing lunch), for much of the twentieth century, literary distinction and alcoholism were strongly linked. An oft-cited fact is that five of the first six American Nobel Prize winners—Lewis, O’Neill, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck—were alcoholics, and the list of other notable writers who suffered from the disease would more or less fill the allotted word count of this review.

 An advertisement for Echo Spring bourbon, 1957.

An advertisement for Echo Spring bourbon, 1957.

Laing, a British editor and critic, battens on to six of these sad, brilliant cases, all men, in an attempt to solve, or at least shed light on, the paradox that their desolate and haunted lives yielded “some of the most beautiful writing this world has ever seen.” Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Berryman—ransacked souls all who drank like fish and wrote like fallen angels.

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[BOOKS] P.J. O’Rourke on the Baby Boom: the Aftermath

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Here we are in the baby boom cosmos. What have we wrought?

P.J. O’Rourke writes: The Baby Boom generation spans eighteen years. Already, the earliest boomers have reached retirement age. Many are getting more conservative as they get older. WSJ’s Jason Bellini reports.

We are the generation that changed everything. Of all the eras and epochs of Americans, ours is the one that made the biggest impression—on ourselves. That’s an important accomplishment, because we’re the generation that created the self, made the firmament of the self, divided the light of the self from the darkness of the self, and said, “Let there be self.” If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you may have noticed this yourself.

That’s not to say we’re a selfish generation. Selfish means “too concerned with the self,” and we’re not. Self isn’t something we’re just, you know, concerned with. We are self.

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[VIDEO] ‘Sweet Smell of Success’: Burt Lancaster Classics on TCM in November

If you haven’t seen Alexander Mackendrick‘s masterpiece “Sweet Smell of Success,” get it on Netflix, or tune in when it airs on TCM. Shot in black-and-white, it’s a dark, nasty little slice of big-city show business and monopolistic journalism. It’s loaded with rich, sharp dialogue, and great photography. If you think the media isbrutal now, this will make you reconsider: the treachery of bare-knuckle journalism in the height of newspaper age is deliciously portrayed. It’s my personal favorite movie from that era. Arguably the best role Tony Curtis ever played. And the best film featuring the seamy side of 1950s New York city.

Burt Lancaster, right, and Tony Curtis in "Sweet Smell of Success"

Burt Lancaster, right, and Tony Curtis in “Sweet Smell of Success”

Here’s Indywire.com‘s description of November’s Lancaster lineup:

Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna report: Classic screen actor Burt Lancaster (1913-1994) would have turned 100 this year, and to celebrate his centennial TCM is rolling out a month-long salute with back-to-back programming all night every Wednesday in November.

Included is Alexander Mackendrick‘s acid-tongued portrait of corrupt ambition “Sweet Smell of Success,” starring Lancaster and Tony Curtis as an unscrupulous gossip columnist-and-press agent team. A must-see.

Also playing is Fred Zinnemann‘s Pearl Harbor drama “From Here to Eternity,” which famously features Lancaster and an uncharacteristically bombshell Deborah Kerr kissing passionately on the sands of Hawaii; Jules Dassin‘s explosive prison-breakout thriller “Brute Force”; and the Robert Siodmak noir version of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Killers.” Read the rest of this entry »


Absinthe: Meet the ‘Green Fairy’

absinthe-1

Absinthe Popularity Rises Worldwide

“The stories about green fairies are exactly that: Fairy tales,” bartender David Andrle says with a laugh and a Czech accent.

He’s standing behind the wood of Hemingway, the best kept secret of Prague’s bar scene, expertly preparing my first sip of absinthe. “Or perhaps they are more of a reflection of the absinthe of the early 1900s actually being cut with other substances? Either way, you have nothing to worry about here.”

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The Smell of a Book

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I know e-readers are all the rage, but I’ll never get one. Call me a Luddite, but there’s something irreplaceable about a printed book: the heft of it in your hands, the striking cover, and, most important to me, its smell.

I fondly recall hiding under the covers after lights-out as a kid, Hardy Boys mystery in one hand and flashlight in the other, escaping into the adventures of Frank and Joe through the portal of the pages’ woodsy scent as I deeply inhaled the trapped, bookish air inside my blanket. In high school and college, I went on to discover many of my longstanding favorites: spare, economical bouquets from Hemingway, elegant perfumes of Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age, the smoke swirling around a Chandler potboiler (my guilty pleasure!).

And now, as an adult, I love nothing more than curling up with a good book, closing my eyes, breathing in through my nostrils, keeping my eyes closed and not reading yet continuing to draw in oxygen for hours, and, thanks to my fetishized olfactory associations for printed and bound matter, becoming sexually aroused.

Indeed, nothing is more of a turn-on than receiving a thoughtful book as a gift. On a related note, I have found that only through the pervading odor of a postmodern tome can I achieve orgasm. I don’t even particularly like the postmodernists’ work—too cerebrally opaque for my taste—but the smell of their writing, it just…

More — via McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: The Smell of a Book..