Saturday, July 31, 2010

Everything's up to date in New York City

I haven't quite worked out all the kinks yet, as you can see from some inconsistencies in color and assorted other design anomalies, but, as you can also see, I've updated the look of Read Red. Welcome to the new and, I'm hoping, renewed incarnation of this blog. As always, Read Red is devoted, mostly, to my efforts at communist literary commentary. One worker-activist-reader-writer's admittedly idiosyncratic and decidedly non-academic analysis, criticism, praise and rants about books, literary news and the like. Hereabouts things often veer, as well, in other cultural and political and even, yes, personal directions. There's just no telling, you know? I go about as fer as I can go.

Vacation photo gallery

I'm going to start posting some pix from my various outings during this vacation. They're more or less random, as in, reflecting the rare occasions when I thought to take a picture and, further, filtered by how crappily the cell phone photos turned out.

For starters, this.
I hesitate to write about it because it's one of those obscure spots you don't want to become better known in fear of its being overrun, but there's a lovely corner tucked away in, believe it or not, the South Street Seaport that offers a splendid way to while away a summer's afternoon in relative peace and quiet. For free. The Seaport is generally considered a ghastly tourist trap, to be avoided by any real New Yorker, and with good reason. It's replete with garishly tackily fake Ye Olde Harbor crap, with lots of high-priced stores, with very expensive and not very good restaurants. Furthermore, in the summertime it's completely overrun by tourists. You practically have to use your arms to part your way through the throngs of them to make your way around back. To where the Seaport also has, if you know where to find it, a wonderful deck situated right over the East River, furnished with wooden lounge chairs where you can sit. And sit. And sit. Contemplate the waterfront, watch the boats wafting to and fro, gaze across at Brooklyn, ease your pulse down to the rhythm of the drifting current, regard the beautiful beautiful Brooklyn Bridge (pictured here). Read. Nap. Think. Write.

I spent some three hours there one July afternoon. OK, it ain't the country. It's not even Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, where at least you can put the city behind you and look out upon a natural watery prospect. Here you haven't escaped the city. It's all around you. But you can at least, if you time it right and you luck out in terms of noise and crowd, find yourself at a remove, find a way to relax. I managed the feat, and had a lovely afternoon.

Oh--and there's a miniature golf course back there too! Could you just die?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Do me a favor. Don't say "panties."

Today's rant is on the topic of a word I detest.

Because it's summertime and random effluvia float through my vacation-besotted mind, and also because I spent yesterday at the glorious wonder of the world that is Coney Island lolling on the sand and frolicking in the wet (and surprisingly cold after all this heat) embrace of Miss Atlantic and a day of gazing at bodies and beachwear brought this to mind, may I have a moment of your time to appeal to you to never again let the non-word "panties" pass your lips? Why, you ask? Well, I'm glad you did. Here are my thoughts.

When I was growing up, back in the 1950s and 60s, we wore underwear. As a little girl I wore two undergarments, one on top and one below. On top I wore an undershirt; actually, I still do, most days, one of those Jockey-knockoff tank tops, and though no one but me calls it an undershirt that's what it is and I see no reason to refer to it any other way. I don't wear a bra except on days when whatever shirt I'm wearing would likely expose me to harassment; call me old-school feminist if you like, but I see that device as pure misogynist torture (except, perhaps, for some women with very large breasts, who report that carrying that weight without a bra can be painful, though I'm convinced that, were profit not the only factor determining such things,a better solution than the bra would be devised). Anyway, that's on top: an undershirt. On the bottom, I wore, as all us little girls did, underpants. I should qualify that phrase "all us little girls," because of course  I don't know for sure that my experience is the same as that of all girls of all nationalities and every class circumstance in this country. I'm pretty sure, though, that at least in Detroit and its environs, at least at that time, the word was underpants for most girls across racial, ethnic and class lines. Now then: I wear underpants still. And so do most women in this culture as far as I know. What we wear down there hasn't changed since we were kids, except for variations in style for some. We wear underpants, whether they're skimpy and frilly or ample and comfy, and of course you can guess which variation covers my tushie.

We wear underpants. Yet at some point we--no, not me, but many if not most women, and, more to the point, most men and the whole of this bourgeois patriarchal society, every organ of its media and so on--at some point we started referring to our underpants as "panties." I'm not sure if this change took place at a particular point in time, perhaps some time in the 70s, or if the tyranny of the panties is an older phenomenon culturally that imposes itself on each individual of us at a certain point in our coming of age. That is to say, I'm not sure whether I noticed everybody referring to the undergarment I'd always known as "underpants" as "panties" some time in the 1970s because I'd entered womanhood then and somehow this horrible word tries to assert itself on each of us at that point in our lives--or if the word somehow became ubiquitous at that time and has since continued its quest for world domination, in concert with all the rest of the ever accelerating societal assault on women's personhood via the media, cosmetics and fashion industries, the mandatory sexualization of musical artists' performance styles (no more could women simply sing on a stage, no matter how beautiful their voices or brilliant their compositions, no, they had to wear the skimpiest possible outfits, smear the brightest possible paints onto their faces and so on if they sought any commercial success), the sad, disturbing sexualization of little girls (and it ain't just poor dead JonBenet, check out girls' clothes, accessories) and so on and so forth.

That said, that I don't know whether this panties business has been going on a long time and we each become aware of it as we grow up or it's only reared its misogynist head in recent decades, either way I hate it and would love to see some young woman lead a crusade against it.

Panties. When I was a child, it was used as a put-down, a taunt, to imply childishness, immaturity. What a babyish word: panties. Only a baby would wear panties. Big girls wore underpants. Then came the perverse switcharoo 10 or 15 years later: somehow now panties are supposed to be what denotes your adulthood. Women wear panties. Only children wear underpants.

Really? Rather, the reality, I believe, is that whether this term is nowadays used for children and then carried on for adult women or imposed upon girls as they hit physical maturity, "panties" is the word for women's underpants and is ubiquitous in all media, advertising, fashion and so on precisely because of its infantilizing connotation. Infantilizing and, at the same time, sexually objectifying. Panties as in: women are girls. But also panties as in: women are sex objects. Both the objectification and the infantilization are degrading, demeaning to women. Which is exactly the point. For sexist society, a frisson of sexual excitement made all the more exciting for its inherent affront to women.

Is the word "panties" a major, central aspect of the whole construct of patriarchal capitalism? Even though I've got mine all in a twist, no, I'll grant that it's not. Is it a symptom? Oh yeah, baby. If you don't believe me, believe the definition and etymology, which I've confirmed in several sources. The word means "underpants for women and children." It can also be used, and has been for over 150 years, as a derogatory reference to a man's underdrawers. So basically, women are children. And for men, as is always the case, the worst possible insult is to be likened to a woman.

Coming soon: another word rant. Do me a favor. Don't say "partner" to refer to my same-sex lover. Also, more on books I've read and art I've looked at during my vacation.

Monday, July 26, 2010

While I've been vacating ...

... my lover and comrade Teresa Gutierrez has been working hard, about which, yes, I feel my fair share of guilt though I assuage it with assurances that I do my part to enable her to do hers ... anyway, Teresa spent this past weekend at the very important national antiwar conference in Albany. Here's her talk to the opening-night session.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hello from Hotsville

Before I started my vacation I said I probably wouldn't blog much but I wasn't thinking about what the real reason would turn out to be. It's too damned hot. (Kiss Me, Kate! Or no, please don't, it's too hot for any bodily contact.) As a result of recent household budgetary cutbacks, we no longer have a wireless internet connection, and the computer desk is in the hottest corner of our apartment, to which I've been unable to chain myself for more than a few minutes at a time. Has there been a day that hasn't hit or surpassed 90 degrees? I don't think so. Today is one of the worst, but I've moved the fan so it's looming right on top of me, and let's see if I can't endure this for long enough to get a few things said.

One success I've managed during this break is getting myself to some museums and looking at some art. Twice, amazingly, the first week, and once the second.

My first stop was at the Morgan Library and Museum. Not without mixed feelings, naturally. This spot houses the collection of the most larcenous of the robber barons, old J.P. himself, houses it, partly, in his old Madison Avenue mansion. So I knew I'd be sort of half sick the whole time. But really that's no different than most of this town's museums, all of them built on plundered riches. You have to swallow down your bile and get on with it if you're ever going to look at the art. I'd never been to the Morgan before, and have meant to forever, but I made a stupid mistake. At the front desk they told me that "Mr. Morgan's library is closed for renovation" but that the museum section with all the current special exhibits was open. Hothead that I am, I kept too busy smirking and whispering to myself nasty comments about "Mr. Morgan" to take in what this meant--that the very material I'd always wanted to see is what's housed in the thief's currently closed library. That is, all the fascinating manuscripts, stuff like Thoreau's handwritten journals, Byron's letters, etc., is exactly what my $12 entrance fee wouldn't buy me. Once I figured that out, I'd already paid and begun looking around, so ah well, I took in what there was to take in.

Starting with a foreshortened viewing of what was billed as an introductory film about the library and museum. Made it through only about four minutes of that. Four minutes of high-culture talking heads extolling Pierrepont's virtues as a lover of art, with the quickest, most euphemistic reference to the source of his riches. Something about his "success" in "steel, banking and other industries." Could ya puke, or what?
No matter. Onward.

I did take in an interesting, though small, exhibit of drawings and etchings by Albrecht Duhrer that I liked a lot. And a fun exhibit of "romantic gardens" and books and art inspired by them, all this quirky demented stuff from England, France and Germany from the 1800s mostly. It ended with some U.S. material, saving the best for last: the original proposals for Central Park by Olmsted and Vaux, the actual drawings, plans, prints, etc. Of course all of this is packed with political meaning. The English gardens directly related to the flowering of colonialism. The history of Central Park rife with racism, super-exploitation of labor, and the most snobbish class elitism you can imagine--the place was supposed to be a retreat where the moneyed swells could get a break from the hoi polloi. Good to see and lots to think about. But not lots to see, what with Mr. Morgan's library off limits and all, so I was finished earlier than I'd hoped and emerged into the heat of the day. What to do, what to do? What I decided to do was walk the few short blocks to the main library and hang out there for a while.

There too I encountered many annoyances, starting with whatever the hell monstrosity they're constructing out front that blocks the beautiful old facade--what are they doing? what can they be thinking?--and extending to the naming frenzy that seems to have taken hold since I l
ast visited, which has the whole library building itself and every room and bench within it now bearing the moniker of some thief who bought the bragging rights. Grrr. Do we not pay taxes? Why must our public treasures be auctioned off to these parasites? Come now, we all know the answer. Our taxes go for war and occupation, for bank bailouts and tax breaks to corporations. The richest person in New York City is the mayor of New York City. Do people throughout the country know this? Do folks see what an extreme state things have come to, where the bankers and biggest of the big bourgeoisie have taken direct control of state power? It's as if we're in the Florence of the Medicis. Anyway, this is the context for the wonderful beautiful main library being auctioned off piece by piece--or, in P.R.-speak, not being able to survive on public funding and being saved by generous benefactors. Yecch. And grrr again.

That off my chest, I must also say oh my. How I love the main reading room. I'd forgotten. Somehow years had passed since I last used it, and I'd forgotten how gorg
eous it is, how wondrous and special.

There is the architectural grandeur. That drop-dead-gorgeous ceiling. There is the cool air whooshing through. The high windows and somehow perfect lighting. The spaciousness that engulfs you so you don't feel crowded no matter how many people are sitting at those rows and rows of long tables. Magical. So that's how I finished that afternoon, sitting and reading (although the "reading room" is actually a work and research room, most people using it to work) and looking about me and remembering what a lucky girl I am to have a nice paid vacation and a big pile of books to get through.

I'll get to that, the books I've read, and also to my other artsy adventures, in upcoming posts if and when the heat lets up. Meanwhile, I'm heading to the Astoria Pool! Another NYC public treasure--hey, I'm surprised they haven't named it after some billionaire yet--oh wait, oops, Astoria itself is named after another 19th century scoundrel, John Jacob Astor, the first multi-millionaire in U.S. history--well, anyway, the city pools are great, and the Astoria Pool is I believe the greatest of them all.

It was a WPA project, and it is absolutely beautiful. Can't wait to cool off, for free!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vacation dispatch #2

Reading report: I read Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead. Loved it. Hilarious but also profound--no easy combination to pull off.

I've read all three of Whitehead's previous novels. His first, The Intuitionist, is in my opinion a work of genius. The second, John Henry Days, was very good. Apex Hides the Hurt, his third novel, I wasn't crazy about; after the depth of the first two it seemed slight. Now this one, very different from all that came before, and a wonderful gift to readers from an astoundingly gifted writer.

Colson Whitehead couldn't write a bad sentence if his life depended on it. He can, however, write wicked parody of bad sentence writers. Check out this delicious takedown of James Wood.

Activity report: I've made two forays into Manhattan, the first to the Morgan Library and Museum to check out the riches of the old robber baron J.P. and then to the main library, and the second to the Museum of Modern Art. I have some things to say about all three stops, and will when I can bear to sit at the computer for long enough. This desk is in the hottest spot in our apartment, and given this endless stretch of 90-degree-plus days it's anyone's guess when I'll be able to sit here long enough to write a substantive post.

Political note: This past Thursday heroic people's lawyer Lynne Stewart was resentenced to 10 years in prison. The ostensible reason for the much harsher sentence is outrageous. Basically, if the judge's remarks are to be taken at face value, he piled on the years to punish Lynne for her public comments making light of the original 28-month sentence. That is, he means this 70-year-old dubbed Mother Courage by Ramsey Clark to die in prison for something she said. So free speech is now a capital crime. Behind the whole thing, though, the original charges as well as the drive to deepen the punishment, to lock her up and throw away the key, is the ongoing, ever broadening assault not merely on civil liberties in general but more specifically on political activism and left advocacy.

I haven't heard word of what's next in the movement to free Lynne Stewart, although I'd assume the harsh sentence will be appealed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Soon to be a major motion picture: Dispatch #1 from the vacation front

I've done a little of this and a little of that but mostly I spent the first few days of my vacation reading The Passage by Justin Cronin. I finished it last night. Well. It's an okay story, written okay. It more or less kept my interest. This novel is very very much like a Stephen King novel, minus most of King's irritating tics like the annoying fake-folksy colloquialisms clogging up the dialogue, the ubiquitous italics, the constant product placement. So okay, there's that to its credit. But there's also all this, straight out of the Stephen King School of Fine Literature: an ancient/wise/magical Black woman. Another ancient/wise/magical Black woman. A Black man portrayed as dimwitted, childlike, described in one place as eating the way a dog eats, in others as confused and humble and grateful and you get the picture. A pale glowing mystical immortal savior-of-humanity white child. An FBI agent who is a fine, wonderful fellow with a conscience (although, granted, it only kicks in after he's helped destroy a dozen or so hapless death-row denizens) and a heart full of love. A deep, dark, gate-of-hell region where the secret that will lead to the near-destruction of humankind is first found--in, what, you think it would be in Dubuque or Paris or London--no, you big silly, it's in the scary mysterious interior of Bolivia.

Then there's Cronin's depiction of what we at first think might be the only surviving outpost of people, nearly a century after the vampiric cataclysm, of its inhabitants, how they've organized their little enclosed society and then their heroic little band that sets off on its crucial epic quest. I've complained before about the stupefying lack of imagination most post-apocalyptic dystopian stories display, and The Passage is no exception. Somehow, in all these books, no one in the future has come up with any better way of organizing society, even though it was the old social system that created the whole mess they find themselves in. Wait, that's not fair, for there is here only scant evidence of the profit drive and resultant material inequalities; in a society with no surplus, there is a certain cooperation with regard to food and shelter and other basic needs, which I'm glad Cronin allowed into the narrative. My beef is with the hidebound social relations. For example, there's a creepy high body with supreme power, composed of patrilineal descendants of the "first families." Women can serve, but when a woman marries she automatically becomes part of her husband's family, so any woman with a First Family seat is either representing her husband's family or destined to lose her seat once she marries. And yes, they pretty much all get married. And fulfill typical roles like nurse and teacher. There is at least one great female warrior but there's not a man anywhere doing anything but What Men Do.

In case you were wondering, FutureWorld is hetero all the way. I guess all of my kind were wiped out, weak links that we are, and somehow not another same-sex lover or gender-crosser has been born in the ensuing 95 years. Hey, is this book sponsored by the Mormon Church? Not so farfetched, given the Twilight series. ...

Structurally, this big fat bestseller tried my patience. Perhaps it's because I rarely read these sorts of stories, but I can't remember the last time I found myself thinking, 'oh this scene will work well on the big screen.' Which is fine, I guess, that cinematic sort of plotting, but it struck me as overdetermined. Not quite formulaic, but close to it. I mean, our brave little band would be trudging through the high country of the Southwest, finding shelter here, eating squirrels there, and the pacing was so predictable that at a certain point I'd just know that when I turned the page they'd stumble upon a nest of Virals. Or tumble into a human-laid trap. Or be taken in by another group of survivors who Are Not What They Seem. And so on, until the last page whose last line might as well have been To Be Continued, so obviously does the tale end with a cliffhanger.

For all my carping, why did I plod on and finish the damned thing? For one thing, because I'd bought it with the last of my holiday-present bookstore gift certificate, and I couldn't stand to have wasted it. And because it was, if not stay-up-all-night engrossing, at least diverting. It helped me empty my mind out as I entered into vacation mode. Now I've nary a thought in my head, a deeply to be desired and difficult to attain state.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Into the ether

That last was the red of it. Here is the read of it. My vacation begins any ... moment ... now ...

Today I made my final crazy round of libraries. When I leave work I'll be lugging home two more bags of books. I have four weeks off so I had to be sure I'd have enough books on hand to allow for the possibility that some will be duds that I'll start and quickly give up on. Now I do, I think.

I don't expect to blog much while I'm vacating. Who knows, though.

Oscar Grant, Juanita Young, Fred Hampton Jr. & Lynne Stewart

We, the crowd gathered at Judson Memorial Church last night, hadn't yet heard about the "involuntary manslaughter" wrist-slap verdict in the Jan. 1, 2009 Oakland, Cal. police murder of Oscar Grant. If someone had announced the news, my guess is that we would have ended the event with a march into the streets to protest this latest in the long, endless succession of racist outrages in which killer cops get away with murder.

How can I be so sure? Because the event was a fundraiser/rally for Lynne Stewart, the wonderful, courageous people's lawyer who is now a political prisoner railroaded into jail for the crime of representing her clients, and it was a rip-roarer. People rose to their feet time after time as speaker after speaker, including more than one who personally knows the reality of racist police violence all too well, spoke truth to power, speaker after speaker calling out their praise of this activist and advocate for justice and struggle.
How beloved is Lynne Stewart? Among the speakers was one who'd come up from D.C. for the program, one who'd flown in from Los Angeles, one who'd flown from Chicago. All to lend their voices to the movement to free her.

Juanita Young from the Bronx also spoke. New York police murdered her son Malcolm Ferguson 10 years ago--and because she has been a leader in the anti-police-brutality struggle ever since, the NYPD has targeted her for continuing harassment. Their campaign against her is futile. She won't stop. And last night she said she won't stop fighting for Lynne Stewart either, because Lynne Stewart has never stopped fighting for the oppressed.

After his inspirational remarks, I introduced myself to and took a picture of another speaker. He raised his fist for my cell phone camera, but the shot didn't work out so you'll just have to take my word for it that this was Fred Hampton Jr. He'd flown in from Chicago because, he said, that's how deep is his respect for Lynne Stewart. Fred Hampton Jr. is of course the son of Fred Hampton, the brilliant young leader of the Black Panther Party assassinated by Chicago police in a hail of bullets in the early-morning deep-night hours of December 4, 1969, as he slept in bed next to Akua Njeri, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with Fred Jr. So, as the person who introduced him last night said, Fred Hampton Jr. was literally born into the bloody struggle against police repression and murder.

Brother Fred Hampton Jr. has followed in his father's footsteps, making the struggle for justice and liberation his life's work. He too has paid dearly. In the early 1990s he was framed on gun possession charges and spent nearly 10 years in prison. Currently he chairs the Prisoners of Conscience Committee, and in this capacity has been tireless in his efforts on Lynne's behalf.

A couple weeks ago I posted a brief blog post about Fred Hampton after I'd had a dream about him. In that post I also took note of a recent Young Adult novel that has to do with what it was like for the children of Black Panther Party activists. Well, what it was, has been, and is like for Fred Hampton Jr. is honoring the legacy and carrying forward the work. Since my own photo from last night didn't come out, here's another one of him.

Lynne Stewart, who is 70 years old and dealing with several health issues, has a court date next week at which the government will try to increase her sentence. Hence last night's gathering, to build support and raise money for her defense fund, as well as next week's mobilization which includes a march, rally and vigil and then an effort to fill the courtroom in her support.

That's it. That's right. This is not about books, not today. Just life, real life, and the fight to make it better.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

'A crime against society' & other heat-wave links

I've been resisting links postings but I can't resist these.

Tayari Jones calls on readers to "rise up," arguing that a "a reader-focused initiative reminds everyone that depriving the broad marketplace of books by black authors is a crime against society, not just an offense against the careers of a few folks who happen to write books."

Catch up with Emily Henochowicz's artwork, which she's now received from Palestine, at Thirsty Pixels.

Absent Cause salutes Frida Kahlo on the 103rd anniversary of her birth. I was lucky enough to be introduced to the great artist's work back in 1970 in high school, have studied her paintings both in books and, whenever possible, in person, read Hayden Herrera's definitive biography when it first came out, I believe in the early-to-mid 1980s--and yet I'd somehow forgotten about this painting, which Greg includes in his homage today. It's titled Marxism Will Heal the Sick. It's from 1954, the year she died.

It's 101 degrees outside and the temperature is still rising. I was half-seriously considering staying at work overnight for the air conditioning--but just now the provost sent out a university-wide email announcing that Con Ed requested that this big institution start shutting down the A.C. in non-essential buildings, and that we should leave when our offices get too hot! This is bizarre, unprecedented, and, strangely for an early-closing announcement, unwelcome. If only I had my swimsuit here with me I'd hop the train and head to Coney Island. I haven't yet come up with a Plan B.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Zombies & other divertissements

As must be obvious from my infrequent posts, I'm sinking well and good into week-before-vacation mode, a.k.a. so tired I can barely drag my ass to work and back/so excited that soon I won't have to for a while. This three-day weekend is a nice taste of what's to come. Yesterday my love Teresa and I walked to the Sunnyside farmers' market early and more or less relaxed the rest of the day; today's agenda consists of household chores and relaxing; tomorrow more of the same plus, supposedly, some writing. My coming week will consist of some slight political activity, some major wage work as I rush to finish what must be finished before I shut down the department for four weeks, and some nutty vacation prep in the form of running among libraries to finish my panicky amassing of a vacation books pile and lugging said books home as well as checking online for various vacation activity possibilities.

Books? Well, yeah, it goes without saying that my major vacation plan is to read. But activity? Yeah, come on, old girl, try to rouse yourself to leave the house and possibly even the delightful borough of Queens and go somewhere, do something. All year long I think of the museums I'll hit during my summer vacation; the days I'll spend in heaven at the beach which, one of the joys of living in NYC, is a mere subway fare away; the parks; the free concerts; and so on. And most summers I do very little of it, because after another year of sleepless nights and endless weeks of dragging myself out of bed and in to work every fucking day all I want to do is sleep and read and hang close to home. And write. I must write. I'm trying to finish two stories and some poems, and then re-enter my novel in progress.

But this time around, I really am going to try to get out and about a bit more. Otherwise what's the point of living in a city where there's so much to do and so much of it is free or cheap? If and when I do manage to partake of some cul-chah, I'll pop in here to report on it. For the most part, however, blogging will probably be spotty at best for several weeks from here on out.

Getting back to books, though, I do want to report this: I couldn't help myself, this morning I started one I'd meant to save till my vacation. I've been forcing myself to slog through John Updike's Rabbit, Run, a thoroughly loathsome, repugnant work of essential misogyny shot through as well with casual racism and homophobia yet one I promised a friend I'd read. And I will finish it, probably this coming week on the train to and from work. But this morning, in semi-vacation mode, I just couldn't force myself to pick it up. Instead I opened Paul Is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion by Alan Goldsher. Oh my gosh what fun. When I picked it up the other day I showed it to a young friend and while she was amused she didn't get the title reference. Then I talked on the phone to my best friend, who's about my age, and I simply said the title and she burst out laughing. Those of you who didn't live through those days in 1969/1970 when the rumor ran round the world that Paul McCartney was dead* simply can't appreciate the deliciousness of this title. When I first saw it last week, I immediately remembered sitting in my high school Italian class where one of my classmates told me she'd heard that the Beatle had died and it had been covered up, and then all that followed, investigating the "clues" on the cover of Abbey Road and Sargent Pepper, playing "Revolution #9" backwards and hearing that weird voice say "I buried Paul" and so on and so forth. It was with considerable glee, then, that I picked up this book, thinking it would be a great start to my vacation reading as well as a cool lead-in to the more serious vampire novel The Passage that's thick on my pile. Rigid? Who, me?** Plans are meant to be changed, and so today I'm reading the tale of the zombie Beatles.

*Of course we all would later come to despise Paul--"Sir" Paul that is, for of course he happily accepted the British colonialist "order of empire"--and wish oh wish that he, not John, had died.

**You who get it, get it.