Main

Meiselman Archives

Ingmar Bergman

This is the best eulogy I've read and a perfect epitaph: "Above his brilliance as a theatre and film director is Bergman's writing." Thanks.
Phillip Goldsmith
read Arthur Meiselman's article

Fakes, Forgeries and The Madnesses of Crowds

This should have been titled "Fakes, Forgeries and The American Way". It's a very funny and sad article except for the slander of my hero, Howdy Doody.
Burnett
read Arthur Meiselman's article

Fakes, Forgeries and The Madnesses of Crowds

And you can add these:
The "virtual" French in France who don't speak French
The "virtual" English in England who don't speak English
The Americans in Iraq who don't speak Iraqi
The Iraqis in America who don't speak Iraqi
The Japanese in Japan who don't speak
and, My Sister's "virtual" boyfriend
T. Rutten

...........Who was it who said that the U.S. dollar was the best example of Faux Art? I think I did.
Reverend Bones

...........I was surprised to hear that anyone was still painting pictures anymore. How faux is that?
Mave

...........The "virtual" breasts, lips, hips, asses and soon penises of everyone over 12 yrs.
T.

...........Seek and ye shall find in the revealed word of God.
Mark W.

...........I don't understand some of your references but they must be real because I understand the rest. Now you've given me a lot to think about and that's the worst "madness" of all.
Michele

...........Bravo! Tour de force! So what are you going to do for an encore rename the planets? Start with Uranus and work up.
Everlast

...........I don't understand your putdown of Bill Gates and his mother. They do wonderful work. That is the history of rich people in the USA.
Barbara Seligman

...........You should ask this--will the real Leonardo DiCaprio,George Clooney and Angelina Jolie's lips please stand up!
T.
read Arthur Meiselman's article

The Art of Smoking Cigarettes

You're such a brave guy! As a "recovering addict" I just want to say it has been a lonnnnggg time and I miss my "tobacco-lover" soooo much! The hell with it all, I'm lighting up again. And I believe you--with the terrorist invasion of Bushism the dark clouds are gathering, and I am collecting as many packs and cartons as I can and cleaning up the bomb shelter that my Poppa built in the '50s. There I will retreat and hide in a cloud of enlightened smoke until the second coming--or will it be the third. George Orwell was right!
Linda N.
read Arthur Meiselman's article

The Terrorism of Books

It was an inspiring observation. The electronic screen is intruding in all human activities; that of performing arts, friendships, relationships especially family relations. The more we are conscious of this intrusion of technology, the better this globe for inhabitancy. Thanks for the article. I could read at this corner of the world, thanks to the devil of technology!!
Harikumar Padmanabhakurup

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Lima... Peru Not Ohio

And we've been sitting on the "never" spike for the past eight years, haven't we! Get the bidets ready for November, there's a lot to clean.
a not-so innocent Manhattanite
read Arthur Meiselman's article

On Jody Thomas

I wonder if also that there were some who didn't want to have this indictment of the prison system at that time. I know that there have been a number of movies that were hard-hitting on the subject but I wonder if yours was just too hard. It sounds like the play-story is just too overwhelming and as you say too unrelieved. I hope we get to see it some day.
rjs
read Arthur Meiselman's article

The Story Of Jody Thomas

Arthur Meiselman carefully elicits the dilemnas a playwright goes through when he or she tries to get beyond the tried and true, or the acceptable "experimental play". How the playwright "sees" the world of his or her creation is essential to the truth and power of a work on stage. I also agree that dramaturgs, literary managers and the rest of the mess are calibrating, to some extent, what goes on in the regional theatre. Operation MFA is in full swing. As to whether these arbiters of what works have enough life experience under their belt is another story altogether. Being inside a theatre in an office all day long is frequently gratuitous to head on, knuckle down and do it experience. A pox on these mouse traps!
Ned Bobkoff
read Arthur Meiselman's article

The Art of Cooking

Is this about sex? Or is this your take on religion in the 21st century? It's certainly not about cooking, is it?
Nina (needs to know)
read Arthur Meiselman's article

The Art of Cooking?

To answer your questions - Cooking is about sex, and cooking and sex are about religion and religion is about cooking and as a great religious leader said once: "All life is a paté. Come up and see me some time."
Arthur Meiselman
read Arthur Meiselman's article

Lester Cole

A touching, embracing reminder of what, in the long run, counts: a sense of shared humanity and a shot of wisdom earned.

Ned Bobkoff

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Reality Check

Talk about sexism and racism. I don't understand where you're coming from or what this writing is all about other than a slap against our heritage. What does "reality" and "naturalism" in the arts have to do with this election? Sarah is going to surprise everybody with her charm and good looks, and then she is the picture of the typical God-fearing, motherly woman. She is exactly what is needed to make our hopes and our people strong. And you are wrong about Mrs. Clinton. She is too dumpy and too much like her corrupt husband to ever be elected. The best thing that could ever happen to her is a Jerry Bruckheimer action movie about her life. By the way, Fareed Zakaria is a foreigner and a Muslim so that should tell you something about what he has to say.

George Kerman

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Reality Check

Talk about sexism and racism? Right! Follow me, Mr. Kerman right down the hole and you'll find Mr. Meiselman right there at the tea party throwing ping-pong balls at the Mad Hatter who looks amazingly like George W. Bush. Guess who the Queen of Hearts looks like? And while you're at it, why don't you read his article again,. You seemed to have missed the point. By the way of your by the way, Fareed Zakaria is a highly respected American journalist and guess who he looks like?

Alice's White Rabbit

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Reality: Stage It and Cage It

One of these days, I hope the mainstream media is honest enough to at least give a nod to the hypocrisy of criticizing Sarah Palin for her lack of qualifications to be veep while simultaneously failing to point out that Obama is similarly -- if not more -- lacking in experience for the position he seeks. At least the buck has stopped with Palin. At least she has made executive decisions and had to answer to a constituency. Not Obama. And wasn't Pres. Clinton also Governor of a very small state?

Jake Meyers

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Reality: Stage It and Cage It

In response to Jake Meyers comment: "One of these days, I hope the mainstream media is honest enough to at least give a nod to the hypocrisy of criticizing Sarah Palin for her lack of qualifications to be veep while simultaneously failing to point out that Obama is similarly -- if not more -- lacking in experience for the position he seeks. At least the buck has stopped with Palin. At least she has made executive decisions and had to answer to a constituency. Not Obama. And wasn't Pres. Clinton also Governor of a very small state?"
I agree on the lack of experience comment only in that technically not one candidate that ever runs for president is truly qualified for the job. The role is complex, convoluted and can only be fully understood with on-the-job-training. But I will take Obama's "lack of experience" over Palin's lack of experience and her cutesy, folksy, beauty contestant, soccer-mom, small-town, "you betcha" act any day of the week! (How many male world leaders or CEOs on this planet have ever had to strut on a stage in a bathing suit for "college money"?) The Republicans who threw sexist rhetoric at Hillary Clinton for months and are now pushing for Palin must be secretly laughing inside and behind their country club closed doors (with their Democratic golf buddies). Now they have the opportunity to put up a woman, who is a walking caricature of herself, use her for political gain, and confirm the misogynistic tendencies that people (both men and women) already have and effectively set back feminism in this country. And of course fight the thing they fear the most... a man of color having the same power and opportunity that they've kept for themselves for years.

Lia Beachy

Kerman's Reality Check Re-checked

Mr. Kerman,
Why do the God-fearing folk seem to have less tolerance, love and peace in their hearts than anyone else? Kind of goes against the teachings of Jesus Christ (who was a good Jewish boy and probably loved fried matzo) doesn't it? I certainly don't need either the conservative media or the liberal media to tell me what I think of Sarah Palin. Your voice of misogyny and bigotry is just one of the many sad misguided plebs in the United States (and the world) which prove to me that Palin is the last person on earth I'd trust to water my houseplants let alone help McCain run, I mean, ruin the country even more.

Lia Beachy
atheist, feminist, humanist

P.S. Fareed Zakaria is more intelligent than you, more famous than you and makes more money than you. I bet that gets your panties in a bunch!

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Reality: Stage It and Cage It

Sara Palin is a cheer leader and that's it. Compare Biden's use of his experience in the Senate, in the debate, or Obama's thinkng outloud, while he deals with the issues, and you have the distance, and difference, between A and Z. Palin like her mentor, John McCain, is trapped in a One Note Charley routine. There is no doubt that she has an outgoing and exuberant quality. And there is no reason to fault her on that. But she's in a different stadium than the one she thinks she is cheerleading in. McCain's choice of Palin as his Vice Presidential candidate reflects his poor judgement.

Ned Bobkoff

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Owning Picasso

Perhaps, though, he owns more or less than he knows: a "Picasso" from the agile hand of Elmyr de Hory? Unrecognized fake chef d'oeuvres of Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Renoir etc. still populate the museums and living rooms of the world. The greatest faker of the last century did not copy, he created the masterpieces. And he did so very fast. Have a look (again) at the amusing film-essay by Orson Welles, "F for Fake", meet the master painter and see him at work. You will also meet his Ibiza neighbor, the equally brilliant literary faker Clifford Irving, who not only wrote the invented autobiography of Howard Hugues ("Hoax") but also a biography of his friend and inspiration, Elmyr de Hory. And if you rent the additional DVD from Netflix you will learn that the fake Picassos have become a collectors' item in their own right. What is more thrilling these days: a Picasso on your wall or an Elmyr de Hory that even Picasso himself could not tell apart?

Renate Stendhal

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Rage v. Cabbage

I'll take Mr. Bettencourt's anger over Mr. Meiselman's doom. At worst, anger can remain positive and can be worked with, doom is just unforgiving gloom. It is an apparent difference in persepective. Both excellent writers, Bettencourt stands apace and surveys the scene, whilst Meiselman steps into the scene and calls forth. Though he writes prose as if it were poetry, he literally scares the "hell" out of me.

Anee S. Waterson

read Michael Bettencourt's article
read Arthur Meiselman's article

Kings and their cabbage

Well Maestro. you've caught me again. To say you have a wry sense of humour is an egregious understatement. I didn't particularly like "Children of Men." It was too monochromatic for my taste, painted in one color-what you call "doom." Between "babbling" and "doom," I tried to find a wee bit of hope. But before futility, there you go, slipping it in when I'm not looking like a drop of lime in a dry, dry, dry martini, clever, selfish writer that you are.

Hizonner

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Andrea Dworkin

As you know, the 20th anniversary edition of Andrea's Intercourse was recently published. It's still a vital and devastating work. So thank you for "revisiting" Andrea's legacy and reminding us of the poetical-political side of her writing in First Love. The memory of her and the on-going impact of her life's work is triumphant.

Letty Becker Adler

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Manfredo Fest

I always loved his music. Latin jazz as good as there ever was and the article caught that thing that made Manfredo's music so rich--that classical ride underneath. It's so sad that he passed when he did, but such a joy that his music is still alive and real. I hope somebody will do a commemorative album and pick the high points of his career. Maybe there's some film available. He was a joy to listen to and a joy to watch.

Bobby Friedkin

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Life Upon the Wicked Stage

If it were up to you, I would be barred from acting at all because I don't even meet half of your requirements. But my success as an actor is not based on your damn elite requirements-it is based on what my audience wants, sees and appreciates. I suppose you will become "she, who's name may not be spoken" and create an "artsy" theatre art-form instead of the wonderful open entertainment that it is. I'm glad that will never happen.

Pier Harrington

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Life Upon the Wicked Stage

No, "she" would not tolerate that. After all, "she" is "she"! What "she" might grant me is to be the Commissioner of LCD (lowest common denominator) and in that exalted position I would gladly grant you a license to be wonderful, open and entertaining (along with everyone else and their mothers).

Arthur Meiselman

read his article

Terror of the Fading Book

For awhile there I was feeling really good that there was a champion of the "fading, dog-eared, much-read book" you could carry around, but the imaginary ending is really scary - all those giant pages flying around!

Ellen Miles

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Terror of the Fading Book

Reading Arthur Meiselman's column on the Terror of the Fading Book, with its tactile apprehensions fixed the issues squarely home. Having recently finished a book "1491" that brilliantly and thoroughly laid out the contributions of the indigenous people's of the Americas, particularly South America, in agriculture, landscaping and the infinite wisdom of protect the land, Meiselman's comments rang true. The experience of reading over time, flipping the pages back and forth, is not only tactile comprehension, but a private lasting pleasure. Highly personal and absorbing. Arthur put his finger on the page.

Ned Bobkoff

read Arthur Meiselman's column

In Search of Heaven's Gate

Perhaps some day Cimino will release his director's cut with the full 5:25 version and then we might see a real film with his vision. I'm glad you are not a major film critic or the industry's "movie czar". I tremble at the thought of you ever reviewing a film of mine. So tell me, what is the great celluloid hope for films in the future?

Louis Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's column

In Search of Heaven's gate

Pixar!

AM

A****R

Somehow I get the strong impression that Mr. Meiselman doesn't like James Cameron and likes "Avatar" even less. Cameron is truly an "Animating Life Giver" and "Avatar" is a g*d-like creation that is creating g*d-like billions of dollars. Isn't that a miracle?

Perry Silverstein

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Avatar

No, it's not a miracle, it's a wonder, a brilliantly merchandised video game. I don't dislike James Cameron. How could I? He's going to bring God on to the stage of my next production. It's called: "Time Out for Ginger" and it all takes place in an IPhone.

Mr. Meiselman

The Lives of Others

Who said "the simpler a work of art becomes, the more beautiful it is"? I'm glad someone still recognizes cinema at its purest and simplest. Thank you for that.

Aaron Klein

read Arthur Meiselman' column

3-D with or without Avatar

You won't be impressed for long, I promise, when you put on those glasses. The effect is no big deal; less impressive than the I-Max next door -- at least in Avatar. The effect is that one gets used to it so fast it's hardly worth losing ink over it. The weirdness of foreground distortion reminds you every now and then, oh yes, this is 3-D, isn't it? Clumsy. Like filming a puppet stage and getting hit by the flat cardboard bushes at the stage edge. Bob Wilson on the theater stage used it (sparingly!) to much better effect than Cameron did. Anyway: Very enjoyable article on Oscar contenders and acting. I wonder if you would find Polanski's new Ghostwriter more adult (in the European way) and find some acting in it, too? I did.

Renate Stendhal

read Arthur Meiselman's column

About "Shadows"

What a beautiful piece of prose this is. Or is it poetry? Or a song? How mysterious. One doesn't know whether it is a clip from a longer work or a lead-in to another one. Whatever it is, it evokes music in its words, emotional music. It's simply beautiful.

Louis Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Di Wu

I first encountered Di Wu during a re-broadcast of the 2009 Van Cliiburn piano competitiion. It was mostly about the medalists, but I really was caught up with DiWu's performannces, such as they were shown. I purchased the Prize winning DVD offered through PBS and have since been able to hear her play live. I greatly admire her talent and have been reading all about her and listening to her music ccurtesy of the internet. May she have a long and continually sucessful career. Her playing is just spectacular. No wonder the critics rave. I've loved music all my life and I thank God for this new source of joyous listening. Go Di!

Sarah Kendall

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Mine Vaganti

Great review. Such a refreshing critic's look. So glad somebody got over their own hangups and gave this wonderful film the praise it deserves. Did you notice the shots behind the credits? Ferzan used a lot of things he didn't use in the film. It's almost like a short-story version.

Mark B.

read Arthur Meiselman's review

Mine Vaganti

This movie is about so many things and I do agree with you it is a strong comment about the art of filmmaking. Ferzan Ozpetek deserves every honor he receives. How beautiful for him to receive the honor in Bangkok.

Alicia Martolli

read Arthur Meiselman's review

Italy and Bangkok

I also wanted to thank you for the story on the [Italian] film festival in Bangkok. Even with its commercial side it is a valuable idea. I hope they do this everywhere and other national film industries follow them and do the same thing. It can only help in this troubled world of ours.

Alicia Martolli

read Arthur Meiselman's article

The Film Festival

I saw most of the offerings. They were good, and I agree with the reviewer and the previous poster that Moviemov is important and valuable. Yet I cannot resist commenting that the management needs to spend more time, more effort and more expense in making this event more important and more valuable to the one community that will guarantee their success--the press.

Devin Polik

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Lingua Franca

There's nothing wrong with English, except that it is really not designed for an international role. I'd like to see wider use of Esperanto for unambiguous communication between people of different mother tongues. Am I asking too much?

Bill Chapman

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Up the Carriage Trade - Up Anyone

Congratulations and good luck. You can't even get actors to respect other actors by showing up on time, so I don't know how you can expect audiences to be any better. Being late isn't just being rude, it's the sign of a small mind running backwards.

Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Great Performances

Add to your list, Paul Muni in Inherit the Wind. Muni was a prime example of a major acting talent who was nurtured and developed by what is historically the oldest, most productive acting training "method" -- working in rehearsal and on stage with successful actors and directors. He had no formal training, never took a class nor set foot in a studio. He learned from anyone who would talk to him, show him, work with him. Beginning as a child-actor in New York's Yiddish Theatre, Muni went on to become a "star" on Broadway and in Hollywood. He earned many awards including an Oscar. He was admired for his self-developed discipline and detailed character preparation and a strong influence on many other actors including Marlon Brando, who had one of his earliest stage experiences with Muni. For a "star", Muni was incredibly introverted and shy. He rarely gave an interview and was reputed to have never seen his performances on the screen for fear that he would lose his internal acting p.o.v. Inherit the Wind was a culminating performance in Muni's theatrical career. After the play's successful launch in 1955, Muni was forced out because of a cancerous tumor in his eye. Melvyn Douglas replaced him. Muni's eye was removed and the cancer stopped, and later in 1955, he returned to the Broadway hit. That night, when he first appeared on stage, the audience rose in unison as if rehearsed in a chorus of applause and cheering. Muni stopped at his entrance, looked at the audience, turned away, and delivered his first line. It was a stunning moment. Never to be forgotten, since I had the good fortune to be in the audience on that night.

Arthur Meiselman

read Nathan Thomas' column

Great Performances

Arthur's story of the great Paul Muni reminded me of an important omission -- the Marx Brothers. They honed their skills out on the vaudeville circuit and then wowed audiences in "I'll Say She Is," The Cocoanuts," and "Animal Crackers." Evidently to see them live was far funnier than seeing them on the screen. And more than that, they took ethnic humor out of the tenement and into the mainstream that led to, among other folks, Woody Allen's films.

Nathan Thomas

read Nathan Thomas' column

Q Factor

You're optimistic, Arthur, way too optimistic. You strike a chord with the media and it plays a song that no one hears.

Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Perspectives

What a good expansion of the magazine. Jon Rendell's photography is beautiful both technically and in its composition. He captures the spirit of my favorite city. And Arthur's little trio is a teasing provocation to say the least. And the "writings" are worth the price. Thanks for all of that.

Laird

see the Perspectives

Marco Millions

It's almost as if O'Neill wrote this play last year. His indictment of the military-industrial complex and corporate politics is scathing and so very timely. It would make a blockbuster movie today. I also agree with the writer's opening indictments of our "dumb" presidents but I love Bob Dylan. He is the great poet of the 20th century.

Maria Einhorn (truthsayer)

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Patrick Nagel

Great cover page. It's great to see the Nagel women again in all their chilling glory and those eyes. I don't think the iphone flickr crowd really knows how much he's influenced what they see and do. RIP Patrick, you're still with us.

Bill Rasterbaum

read the article on Patrick Nagel

Patrick Nagel

Thanks for this little retro on Nagel. Good to see. It's the eyes all right. Never saw anybody like that. Wish I did.

Allison Morley

read Patrick Nagel article

Momentous Indeed

How fitting that Arthur's citing (sighting) is one of a number of astounding and significant occurrences that are hidden and lost in the daily news churn. They print the news, they regurgitate the news, nobody reads unless it has pretty pictures. Literacy for the illiterate.

Louis Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Arthur Meiselman

One of Arthur Meiselman's funny, brilliant cultural commentaries. The "aenglish elbow" says it all and the examples are hilarious.  Aenglish uber alles, "girdling" the world with LOL eloquence. Added edge of perhaps intentional irony: the pretty Asian Talk Girls that partly girdle the article, blinking at the reader with their online readiness to engage...in what? Aenglish, for sure. 

Renate Stendhal

read Arthur Meiselman's commentary

A Seasonal Man

I suppose that's what Arthur's "Thing Man" is. A strange tale that hearkens back to Medieval times and forward to Curiosity roaming on Mars with a little bit of the Bourne Legacy thrown in. Or is there a movie in the works perhaps?

Louis Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Things About Things

Nice writing. Good story. But why the tease? We all know what the "thing" is. And we all know what the "thing" isn't. You tell us "imagine that". We do. What you don't tell us is what you imagine. It must be mindblowing. Imagine that.

Bill Appledorf

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Gigli

I have to agree with you. "Gigli" is much better than all the smearing and unjustified bad rep that it's received. Yes, there's something very Wellesian about what has happened to Brest as a result but the difference is that Welles was a great actor and just picked up his marbles and moved to Europe and went on making movies the way he wanted to. Brest just went and hid in a corner. I don't think Affleck will ever do any thing about that. He's too jumpy and self-absorbed. But he is a good director.

Michael Aptrow

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Martin Brest

I wonder if anyone has come up with more information about Martin Brest. Maybe Brest himself will show up and give us a talk. Naturally, Affleck is totally unmotivated to revive anything and anyone that has to do with his pre-redemption (as you call it) years.

Louis Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Jew In the Box

A fascinating story. The sense of futility is almost overwhelming, depressing until the end: the last line is shattering. How do we live with this? We probably don't.

Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's column

The Jew In The Box

Your take is an opportunistic reference to the current exhibit in Germany, but in a way it damns it. It says it's hopeless. I don't agree. The old diseased Germany is dying out and the new Germany has a new "immune" system that is ridding that culture of what you call the "poison." It's the children, man, the children, the young people who grow the hope.

Michael Aptrow

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Jew In the Box

What makes this story so disarming is its Salteresque style. The words flow and the images flow inside of them and around them. It seems to be a simple, passing story-image that's reminiscent of an espisode from Rod Serling's "Night Gallery." It's beautifully disarming and yet it contains, as I said in an earlier letter, a sense of futility that is almost overwhelming if it weren't for the ending and its shattering last line. I don't know if 'Bravo' is an appropriate kudo.

L. Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Hong Kong at 4:30pm

I love Hong Kong and I know what you mean by the shift from day to night. And I loved "Suzie Wong" and I know what you mean re "disappearance". What I don't know is whether you're a romantic fool, a foolish romantic, or a die-hard lover. Carry on Sr. Arthur, you'll find her yet.

Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's column

History of Cats

Funny and sad at the same time. The cat, domestic or otherwise, is a historical creature of such mystery and intelligence. They will survive long beyond earthly people including the Vietnamese.

Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's article

History of Cats

I enjoyed your cat history even as it is tongue-in-cheek a lot of it is very true. I always had cats because I prefer them to dogs. I laughed so hard when you said that cats think dogs and people are the same species. It's true. And what is it with people who keep snakes and spiders as pets? They must be sick. These kind of pets should be banned.

Randy Strick

read Arthur Meiselman's article

War Films and November 22

Eloquent and disturbing article. How many times do we have to say "madness" in the face of all this carnage and horror? No one listens and when they do they just turn up the volume on their ipods. What a pitiful species we are.

Paul Kevlin

read Arthur Meiselman's column

50 years... a historic blink of the eye, and the eye is blinded.

Arthur Meiselman's column on the brutal futility of war, wars that are often set under an umbrella of elephantine sour justifications, are comments that bruised my heart. As I age with some knowledge of the global hypocrisy of killing equations, I don't want to fall into the trap of "this is the way it is", when it comes to the brutish justifications that nations use to sell war to their peoples. Yet I know that many peoples are fed up to their necks with the killings going on. One of the few resources we have to counter the brutishness is open ridicule, vigorous satire, and most of all, using organizations like the U.N. to cut through the agonizing bull-shit supporting wars. Time, history and caring, are still on our side; and that is a nudge in the direction of outwitting the schmucks who multiply the death traps.

Ned Bobkoff

read Arthur Meiselman's column

A Writer's Writer

Dear Arthur, I would like the name of your "ghost" writer. Anyone who can pour out the kind of prose that waves under your banner belongs on my side of the media fence. We'll pay him double and then some. Lay you odds he's not from this planet just like your "bard" Will.

Lou Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's column

A true writer speaking

Beautiful and archetypal, your story of how writing started early in life, and stayed with you. Mine started just like that, with a poem at age 6 that stated (in German and in rhymes) "I want to see everything, everything, and never be against." Against what? Mystery... All of writing is a mystery. Mine ran into a nasty teacher at age 10 who detested my passion of seeing and saying everything. It went underground, surfacing again over early paintings of Kandinsky. Maybe that's part of the reason why Scene4 is my magazine of choice: writing paired with art and exquisite design. Yours is a unique vision of bringing writing into the world -- and keeping it there. A labor of love for all of us to enjoy.

Renate Stendhal

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Gender?

I for one believe that gender is misapplied to human beings based on physical differences and is a persistent promotion of racism. In this fine issue of Scene4 (April 2014), (Michael) Bettencourt and (Arthur) Meiselman both shine their lights brightly on this ugly distortion that has plagued the entire history of life. There is only one gender - human.

Petra Dischban

read Michael Bettencourt's article
read Arthur Meiselman's article

Not so modest

Arthur Meiselman's proposal in "And In The Beginning..." (April 2014) is far from modest. Raucously humorous, yes, but at the same time disturbingly insightful. My modifications are: out with men, if I can join the women. Or better yet, merge! Not neutral, omni-sexual, or poly-sexual, or inter-sexual which we already have. Eliminate child-bearing? Is that even a question? Here's to test-tube babies and the medium that nurtures them.

Michael Aptrow

read Arthur Meiselman's article

The world's wealth

You and your fellow producers are creating the world's wealth.  Of course, you don't own most of it; you work for wages.  Still, you are what you let eat at your soul.  You are a member of a capitalist commodity culture. Your life's creativity is bought and sold on the labour market and you buy what your class produces.  And so it goes within the totality of today.

Mike Ballard

read Arthur Meiselman's column 

Happy Eating

"The pleasure of it all is to eat when we're hungry and to eat when we're not." Julia Child would have loved this, especially: "Food is a very happy thing." Mr. Meiselman's journey from Copenhagen to Hanoi is a delightful culinary tale. He should write a cook book. Julia did.

Rosebeth Moore

read Arthur Meiselman's column

San Francisco

This story excerpt beautifully evokes the sad nostalgia of the decline of the City-by-the-Bay. Though it is a 'romantic-mystery-thriller' (if I may tag it as such), the evocation of a city and its spirit that is fast disappearing into the low-hanging fog of Google-land is both heart-rendering and eye opening. It's a compelling read and choicely written. Now to wait for the rest of it. When do you think that will be?

Michael Aptrow

read Arthur Meiselman's story

How Now Copyright?

I read, with interest, Arthur Meiselman's piece on copyright. My response to the writer, since I am cited by him as a spur to his article is this:

I am not against copyright, that is, not against having some form of protection for created work, for the "property" of the creator.  I would just dial back the protections to the original terms of the Copyright Act of 1790, which gave a creator 14 years of protection, with an additional term of 14 years if he or she was alive at the time of the renewal.  (The original law only protected books, maps, and charts; other items, like music and paintings, were added later.)

I also don't have a problem with copyrights being treated as commodities and passed along/sold to other parties, as long as the time limits don't reset during the exchange: If my father in his will passes along to me the copyright to his wildly successful book, and thus its profits, in the 27th year of its copyright (renewed after 14 years), I get the profits for one more year only, and that's it.  Then the book goes into the public domain.  (Whatever publishing rights companies have do not trump the copyright term limit -- once the property passed into the public domain, they no longer have exclusive access to it.)

I would also support a provision that doesn't make copyright automatic once a work is created.  Copyrights would have to registered, with a small fee to do this, in order to start the clock ticking on the first 14 years.  If a copyright is not registered, then that work does not have copyright protection and is automatically added to the public domain.  (We'd have to work out some window during which a creator can register so that the created work has a provisional or contingent protection, a "pre-copyright" protection, in case they're on walkabout in Australia when the inspiration comes.)  This would also allow people to forego copyright if they didn't want it (today known as "copyleft") without having to go through the hoops of the Creative Commons licensing procedures (but this would also mean that the creator would have no say in how the work gets used in the public domain).

The logistics of this are too complicated for this limited space, but they are mostly legalistic in nature once the umbrella concept of a time-limit for a registered copyright is established (e.g., can someone "own" something in the public domain, such as a Picasso painting hanging in the Metropolitan Museum, or "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in its new Japanese manga version?).  This doesn't make them easy but it does make them doable and possible.

My desire is to get as much material, actual and virtual, into the public domain as possible as quickly as possible without too much interference from the dead hand of the past or the greed of corporations and creators -- as the original act said, in order "to encourage learning."  Twenty-eight years seems enough time for a creator to make his or her money.  My desire is to cut back all the kudzu that has smothered copyright to the point where, now, anything after 1923 is out of bounds, with absurd restrictions like a book not going into the public domain until 70 years after the death of its author.  To me, that's racketeering.

Of course I will not win this argument -- there is too much money at stake.  But it's an argument that still needs to be made.

Michael Bettencourt


I agree with most of Michael Bettencourt's arguments. But the implication of his strong desire toward "public domain" is what concerns me. I don't care about the financial provisos of copyright: protect the creator and the creator's heirs, all for a reasonable time, and then the hell with it... let the bucks be made by the buck-makers. What I do care about is the content, the creation as the creator conceived it. Within most current copyright protection, while the creator is alive, his/her permission is required to change one comma, one note, one choreographic movement, one anything. Once the creator has been de-created, my admonition is that the permission is no longer available. Nothing should be changed. If a creation is to be adapted, write a new version based on the original, but do not, do not use the original words or notes or strokes. If you want to do "Rome&Juliet" Mr. Luhrman (after you find actors who can speak English), write your own. I cite George Bernard Shaw who sent a sheriff with a cease&desist court order at the Broadway opening of one of his plays: do it the way he wrote it or don't do it. If you want to do a Balanchine ballet, do it as he conceived it, or choreograph your own. The argument against my argument is: hey, that's not the way show business works. My answer: Tough shite! Shaw understood the business of show better than almost anyone alive today. Of course, he's dead and his creations? Unprotected.

As I calm down here, I'm fully aware that it is the Internet which has unleashed an irrevocable shattering of copyright protection. The "mashup" is the worse thing that has happened to artistic creation since the invention of television and free agency in baseball. And, as Rebecca Solnit noted in Harper's: The Internet will also "create elaborate justifications for never paying artists or writers." She also notes: "...2014 has turned out quite a bit like [Orwell's] 1984."

Arthur Meiselman

Michael Bettencourt's earlier column: "Dear Mr. Beckett"

Arthur Meiselman's current column: "On Copyright And Cats"

How Now Copyright? - A Response To A Response

Response to Arthur's Response

Citing the "mashup" as "the worst thing that has happened to artistic creation since the invention of television and free agency in baseball" is to forget that the "mashup" is how any art gets made.  No inventor creates something in the way that Athena burst forth from the head of Zeus when Hephaestus cracked open his skull, that is, something without antecedent, without an origin story, without some debt to (dare I say it?) to the "public domain."

This is precisely the point Nina Paley made in stripping her wonderful work, Sita Sings The Blues, of all copyright restrictions: "From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes."

For me, the more things there are to mash up into new forms, the better off everyone will be, not just in the arts but in all aspects of intellectual study -- "mashup" is just a synonym for "the free market of ideas," and the public domain, where everybody has a library card to borrow the materials, is where this market can play out the trading that results in new ideas, new practices, new directions.

This fertility -- its power to nourish and propel -- is why we can't follow my colleague's advice and do only "archival performances" (my term, not his) of past work.  Shaw had every right to issue his cease-and-desist then, but I don't think anyone can make a defensible aesthetic argument that his work is well-served by issuing one now on his behalf, and there's certainly no legal basis for it either.

Perhaps Shakespeare is more to the point here, since competing versions of some of his plays defy citing any one manuscript as definitive, Arthur's "the original words."  (Kenneth Branagh, for his film version of Hamlet, simply mashed together every version he could find into one script, which is why the film runs for four hours with an intermission.)  There is no ur-Shakespeare text, and certainly no ur-Shakespeare performance (we have no settled picture of what happened on an Elizabethan stage), and thus no ur-Shakespeare to which we must always remain faithful.  

And even if such a thing did exist, doing R&J in 2014, even following every jot and tittle, will not be the same as a production done in 1614: we can mimic the practice but we can't access the spirit and mind-set of that time.  We are different people living in a different world, and our R&J will be an automatic betrayal of the original.

Rebecca Solnit's point about "the Internet" is a good one in terms of its effects on artists' livelihoods.  However, it's not "the Internet's" fault but the way people use and abuse this vast infrastructure for sharing information -- a subject too large to parse here but one which touches upon the ethic of the public domain and a regulated commons.

But it certainly has thrown into disarray old notions of ownership and control and property and contract, which, to me, is a very good thing since many of these notions were restrictive, exploitative, and rent-seeking, and needed to be challenged.  Going back to a situation where "the permission [to change things] is no longer available" is to go back to the very practices that "the Internet" has up-ended.

The "mashup" is how stuff gets made.  The source material for the mashup is both the universe of all created artifacts and the cultural "air" we all breathe as citizens of some collective.  Given the capitalistic way we have chosen to arrange our current collective, it makes sense to define creation as "property" and afford it some of its protections.

The debate is over the extent and power of those protections, and my contention is to give them a statute of limitations that balances inventors' abilities to make some money off their efforts and the public domain's need for new stuff to mash up.  I believe this is a fair trade, given how the public domain seeds everything of value created by anyone who lives in its midst.

Michael Bettencourt

Ode to A

I like this kind of teaching best. No preaching, no saintliness, a bit of cynical fun, and a lot of knowledge to take us on a snappy, fabulous tour de monde réligieux. Ode to Arthur Meiselman, also known as Arteur Editfleur, the writer and the maker and shaker of Scene4. Happily riding on his coat-tails as a contributor, I can't even imagine how much work it must be to bring out this sumptuous magazine (sans ads) every month. We owe you a lot, Arthur, and gratefully wish you a prosperous, poetic new year. Sing, pray, love for the continued charmed ride of this magazine!

Renate Stendhal

Arthur Meiselman's column: "Heaven"

Holocaust Terror

I cannot begin to express the horror, the pain that comes from reading "The Jew in the Box" and Celine Nally's stirring portrayal of Edith Stein. My family was there and their memory is part of the heritage I pass down to my children, as terrible a memory as it is. Both of these should be preserved forever in a recording or on film. They should never be forgotten.

Harriet Sherman

Arthur Meiselman's column: Second Reunion

Celine Nally's play: Into the Light

Pebbles and Potatoes


"With the torrential downgrading to the lowest common denominator, so-called 'elitist' pursuits as cursive handwriting and elocution have disappeared from American public education. We're inundated with children who cannot write with their prehensile thumbs and mumble through their numbed noses." This cultural commentary by Arthur Meiselman made me laugh with the recognition of a non-American who's forever puzzled by young or youngish people writing with their fists and mumbling to the point where nobody could ever accuse them of a commitment to speech.

Renate Stendhal

Arthur Meiselman's column: "Pebbles and Potatoes"

The Blacklist - Who Cares?

I care, because as Meiselman so obstreperously and defiantly notes, the Blacklist never ended. Look around us at the bombast of Donald Trump and the teeth-nashing parade of his right-wing colleagues, at the ugly profiling and hate-calls for anti-immigration measures, at the hypocrisy and anxiety of the fading White majority, at the thundering gallop of the Four Horseman of Capitalism, at the silencing and repression of dissent. The "blacklist" has always been with us, from Jefferson to Obama. What the Hollywood Ten experienced was a generational replay of a "film" on a continuous loop.

Dirk Herrbeck

Arthur Meiselman's column: "The Blacklist"

Fundamentalism

It was there when the United States was founded and it created the Civil War. It murdered Lincoln and Kennedy and it dissipated Obama's presidency. Now it's a permanent fact of American politics and it threatens to end the dream. When will the people wake up? Before it's too late I hope.

Mia Bremstern

Arthur Meiselman's column: "Wishing you..."

De Ja Vu

With the Academy Awards it's not only de ja vu all over again, it's dejavued from year to year as Mr. M. so pointedly points out. I sympathize with him re Kubrick, long gone, the likes whom never to be seen again. Never is a vague word, so are the words Academy Awards. Thanks Arthur.

Michael Aptrow

Arthur Meiselman's column: "2016 Dé Jà Vu All Over Again"

On The Beach

Even though Stephen Hawking has joined the seti search with his tiny, near-the speed-of light bots, I'm afraid that it is all too little too late. I'll take your first option and dig deep I will. Or maybe I'll take the third very human option. Kramer's 57 year-old picture is still astonishing and hilariously depressing.

Michael Aptrow

read Arthur Meiselman's column: On The Beach

The Wafer

Cliche praise--this is a timely and gripping play. It may image the Hispanic world but I can see it in Africa and Asia as well, especially Africa. Sadly, it could never make it on television or even Netflix. The portrait of a conflicted revolutionary is too reminiscent of "Him" that was and still beguiles a huge congregation. I don't think anyone would touch it for film either. It's a drama for only the theater and the writing is magical.

Louis Laird

Arthur Meiselman's play: The Wafer

The Wafer

Beautiful. A classically constructed drama with modern trappings. Very E. O'Neillian. It would be fascinating to see a Part 2, a sequel that shows us what happens to a self-immolating leader. Does he become a saint, a savior, the next Christ? We Atheists would like to know.

Michael Aptrow

Arthur Meiselman's play: The Wafer

Hillary: The Movie

You struck a loud chord with this: "General John Allen. Something like, Do you think American soldiers will accept her, a woman, as their Commander-In-Chief?" He calmly and firmly dismissed the issue. And that's all that Hillary need do." So true. She really can't let herself get dragged into the pernicious swill that comes out of Fox and its friends. As for "the First Laddie", yes, I heard it too and it was First Laddie Clinton who said it.

Piri Ascherman

Arthur Meiselman's column: Hillary In The Movies

On The Beach

Arthur Meiselman's essay appears to be straight from the heart. I found it very moving and close to my own point of view. I too abhor the idea of warfare of any kind. Somehow, I just cannot bear to think of people dying for any cause, whatsoever it might be. I am so glad he wrote this inspiring piece. In fact, I feel this kind of work ought to appear on CNN and other channels that have wide coverage.

Sandeep Girish Bhatnagar

Arthur Meiselman's column: On The Beach

Jane Eyre

Your comparison of Orson Welles and Michael Fassbender is unfair. Mercy please, Welles was a genius actor and director and Fassbender is: a good actor who can't get out from underneath the director.
Also you're flat-out wrong about horses. I love horses and they love me. We both don't wear sleeping shirts. You never say whether you do or not. Do you?

Lou Laird

Arthur Meiselman's column: Bits&Pieces

Hello and not Goodbye

A wonderful play. I saw it when it was originally staged in Seattle (and mangled in LA). HIV is a character, a metaphor reminiscent of Camus' The Plague. The characters are heartfelt, beautifully drawn and inside the humor the theme of reconciliation is still so relevant today.

Lou Laird

Arthur Meiselman's play: Hello And... Goodbye!

All about life and death

There's a lot to admire about this screenplay's structure and visualization. A tightly drawn film, claustrophobic, great dialogue, action- "and" character-driven. Yeah, another prison film, another condemning of capital punishment, but the ending is a kicker. There's something else happening there. As the intro says: it's not a docu-drama.

Michael Aptrow

Arthur Meiselman's screenplay: Jody Thomas Doesn't Want To Die

Anthony Hopkins

You captured the Master though I think he's been phoning it in lately even on this exciting series (Westworld). What is important is that Sir Anthony's nonchalance and casual work ethic is so singular, so head and shoulders and heart above anyone else that it's exhilarating to just watch him in the closeups. I have to say that as much as I like Westworld, I have problems with some of the writing, especially when Lisa Joy contributes. And on that note, she shouldn't be allowed to direct another episode. Hers is the weakest and most misdirected of the series.

Michael Aptrow

Arthur Meiselman's column: Awake With Anthony Hopkins

re: Anthony Hopkins

Agree with you regarding Lisa Joy. It's very apparent when her pen is on the screen and it's equally apparent when Nolan is writing (and directing). He can write as he's done so admirably for his brother. Joy is a "Host" and a market tested one at that. Don't agree with you regarding Hopkins. He is such a master that maybe to you it looks like he's "phoning it in". His ease and what you call nonchalance is his remarkable simplicity in conveying the complexity of a character when, so often, the dialogue isn't there.

Laird

Arthur Meiselman's column: Awake with Anthony Hopkins

About Meiselman

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to RECENT LETTERS in the Meiselman category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Marcott is the previous category.

Moore is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

To SEND a LETTER to the EDITOR — Click Here
or
Send an email to letters@scene4.com