Alex and Louis Grave

These are the faces you want to remember from this post.

1. The Butcher of Lyon

The past is never dead.  It’s not even past. ~ William Faulkner

Towards the end of Hotel Terminus, Marcel Ophuls interviews Ute Regina (or is it Regine?) Messner.  It is difficult to discover anything about Ute or her husband Heinrich (Heini?) or their family.  Their presence on the internet is practically nil.  I was able to find only one undated photograph of them together in Bolivia.  One wonders what Heinrich was doing with the German community in Bolivia but no answers are forthcoming.  What one finds about Ute are references to one or two documentaries and in a few press releases related to her presence at her father’s trial.  About Heinrich, I could find nothing.  Is he the Austrian Olympic skier of the same name, about whom one can only find records of his ski results and nothing at all about his personal life?  That Ute was reported to live at an Austrian ski resort at Kufstein, where her husband worked as a teacher makes this a tempting proposal.  When Heinrich Messner, the alpine skier, retired from professional skiing, he taught at a ski school, but Wikipedia says this school was at Steinach am Brenner in the Austrian province of Tyrol (a one hour drive from Kufstein) so it is hard to know what to make of this, if anything.  Were this to be a Borgesian tale, and perhaps in a way it is, one could also mention a Reinhold Messner – another mountaineer from the Italian Province of South Tyrol (which, one soon discovers, may be the same place as the Austrian province of Tyrol), whose picture, speaking at an event nine years ago in the Kufstein Arena, can also be found online.  Reinhold’s father, Josef Messner, like Heinrich Messner, is reported to be a teacher.  I could find no pictures of this Josef (was Josef one of Heinrich’s names?), although I did discover a Franz Josef Messner who, of all things, was a leader of anti-Nazi resistance in Austria and who, after being betrayed, was sentenced to death in the gas chamber at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp.

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Posted by: Dan | April 7, 2017

Last evening, it began to snow.


Last evening it began to snow.  The snow fell until this morning, a slushy combination of water and ice, falling more in globs than flakes, that never quite turned into rain because a cold north wind was blowing and causing the temperature of the air to drop by about six degrees.  Walking into the wind, shortly before noon, wearing long johns, gloves, and a balaclava, I felt as though I was journeying through the heart of winter.  For the last few months, it appears as if the seasons are blurring together and moving rapidly in and out of each other.  Time has become confused.

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Posted by: Dan | April 2, 2017

March Reviews

Barely discussed in this post: 7 Books (The Mush Hole, On the Natural History of Destruction, The Silent Angel, Satantango, The Failure of Nonviolence, They Chose Life, and The Evidence of Things Not Seen), 5 Movies (The Love Witch, Moon, Goodbye to Language, Get Out, and The Tribe); and 5 Documentaries (Just Do It, The Sorrow and the Pity, The Eagle Huntress, I Am Not Your Negro, and The Russian Woodpecker).

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Introduction: “A Magnificent Work”

On November 6, 1944, the Most Reverend P. Carrington, Archbishop of Québec and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Canada, wrote to the Secretary of Indian Affairs to express his dismay that the federal government was considering altering the dynamics of the Mohawk Institute – a residential school for Indigenous children located on the Six Nations reserve outside of Brantford, Ontario.    For a century, the school Principals had been Anglican clergymen nominated by the New England Company (NEC) or the Anglican Diocese of Huron but the Department of Indian Affairs (DIA) was seeking to change that.[1]  Archbishop Carrington writes:

I am informed that the Department is considering the idea of radically changing the whole character of the School by putting it under a Layman as a Principal…

I was very much shocked when I heard of this proposal to bring to an end a religious and educational tradition which has been established for so long, and I am sure that Anglicans generally throughout Canada would hear of this decision with regret and amazement.[2]

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Posted by: Dan | March 4, 2017

February Reviews

Briefly discussed in this post: 5 books (one on apocalyptic stuff, another Sebald, dipped my toes into Lovecraft, failed to empathize with Didion, but smiled through Tiqqun); 2 movies (artsy French thing and indie thriller thing) and 6 documentaries (mixed bag of nuts here… with emphasis on the word nuts…).

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Posted by: Dan | February 4, 2017

January Reviews

Kinda, sorta, but not really reviewed in this post: 8 Books (the last two in Ferrante’s Neapolitan series, two by Krasznahorkai, one by DFW, a tract by The Invisible Committee and a tome by Badiou, and, last by not least, a really beautiful one about trees); 4 Movies (they all ended up being kinda scary); and 8 Documentaries (which are all over the map).

This month, I’m going for waaaay shorter reviews.

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Posted by: Dan | January 27, 2017

To be Open without being Annihilated

I watched a documentary last week that included some clips from Geraldo Rivera’s career-making 1972 short, “The Last Great Mistake,” about the way mentally handicapped kids lived in an institution on Staten Island called Willowbrook. I did not expect these clips. I was not prepared for them. They were amongst the most devastating and heartbreaking things I have ever seen. Something broke inside of me when I saw them and it hasn’t knit itself back together again. This happens to me sometimes. Sometimes I become so overwhelmed by the violence of our world, as that violence ends up being encapsulated in this or that event — Indigenous children frozen in the snow trying to find their way home, Nazis using dogs to chase down little kids outside the camps, a baby scalded with coffee and left to die three days later in his crib, and now these kids naked and wailing and flailing and covered in feces in darkened rooms where the curtains were never opened, some clustered around a couch, some curled up in fetal positions on the bathroom floor, some isolated in dark corners, naked and sitting bent over hugging themselves because they are sad and they are scared and they are alone and there is no one else to hug them – that I feel like something snaps and disappears.  Something inside breaks and goes away for awhile.  And I also want to disappear, go away, stop.  Which is not to say that I want to die but that I don’t want to know anything anymore, I don’t want to say anything anymore, I don’t want to do anything anymore.  I want to lay down and stop talking and not get up for a very, very long time.

I want to cry and not be comforted until these things never happened.

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Posted by: Dan | December 30, 2016

2016 Reviews in Review

Well, another year come and gone.  This year I read 65 books, watched 23 movies, and watched 41 documentaries.  Good to know that I’m doing something with my life.

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Posted by: Dan | December 29, 2016

December Reviews

Reviewed in this post: 9 books (Conflict is Not Abuse; Solidarity and Difference; Paul and the Stoics; Personal patronage under the early Empire; Seiobo There Below; Giovanni’s Room; The Story of a New Name; teaching my mother how to give birth; and The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni), 3 movies (The Battleship Potemkin; Andrei Rublev; and On the Silver Globe), and 5 documentaries (Author; Little Hope was Arson; An Open Secret; Rape in the Fields; and Rape on the Night Shift).


1. Conflict is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair by Sarah Schulman.

08 Covers.indd

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Posted by: Dan | December 17, 2016

What We Sought in the Wilderness

The Heavens have innumerable plans for us, but after we are born there is just a single one. ~ from Seiobo There Below by Lázló Krasznahorkai

Be sure to find me, I want you to find me, and we’ll play all over, we’ll play all over, we’ll play all over again. ~ from Georgia Lee by Tom Waits.

1. Ryker

I was going to write about the death of Ryker and the trial (now mistrial) of his parents, when I learned that one of the jurors – a woman – had suicided.  It’s that time of year.  And she had spent the last few weeks being exposed to pictures of an 18-month old (some reports say 20-month old) baby boy who died because he was burned – scalding with instant coffee is the probable cause – and the jury was shown images of these burns, clustered as they were, on Ryker’s lower back, side (sometimes “torso” is used), buttocks, genitals, and thighs (almost all the way to his knees).  It is the very incarnation of David Foster Wallace’s “Incarnations of Burned Children.”  Only here the child is real, the child was alive, and now he is not.  They say he was left in his crib for three days before he died.  He was never taken to receive medical care.  In the local news, the burns that killed him are described as “red, blistering burns.”  They are also often described as “angry” as in “red, angry burns” or “red, angry injuries.”  The pain they caused was probably excruciating.  A mistrial resulted because the mother was declared unfit to participate due to a recent surgery for appendicitis as well as some other complications.  I spent half the day explaining to people that, no, this doesn’t mean the charges have been withdrawn, and, no, this doesn’t mean she has escaped whatever our justice system might have in store for her, it just means that everything is delayed and will have to start all over again next summer.

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