Cheer up boys, it could be worse

Fly Casting on City Streets Is Weird. That’s Why I Love It.

Credit…Malike Sidibe for The New York Times


I live in New York City, in downtown Manhattan, on the seventh floor of a 13-story apartment building. Two or three times a week, I wake up early, ride the elevator down to my lobby and say good morning to my doorman, in the custom of millions of city dwellers everywhere.

But on the particular days I’m describing, my next move isn’t so familiar: I plant myself in the middle of West 12th Street and commence fly-casting — essentially fly-fishing without the fish — slinging 30 or 40 feet of thin nylon line behind me and in front of me, over and over again while stepping in and out of the street in sync with the traffic-light cycles to avoid passing cars, like some kind of bastardized urban version of Brad Pitt in “A River Runs Through It,” God and Norman Maclean forgive me.

I’ve been practicing this peculiar ritual for years. Some time ago, I was looking to shake off the rust and get my arm in shape to prepare for an upcoming fishing trip to Wyoming, but living where I do, I didn’t have a suitable place to do so. Or I thought I didn’t, anyway. But then it occurred to me that a city street — long, straight and, in my case, relatively free of traffic — is actually quite suitable. Pretty great, even. Peculiar is in the eye of the beholder.

This year, street-casting has taken on a new urgency. I typically fish 20 or so days a year, everywhere from the Catskills to the Bahamas, but because of Covid-19, I haven’t managed to get out on the water at all. And yet, like many of us these days, I’m desperate to find pockets of joy wherever I can. Some people bake bread; others do jigsaw puzzles. I cast a fly rod on West 12th Street. For now, it’s not a way for me to prepare for a trip — it is the trip.

While street-casting, per se, may not be an actual thing, fly-casting definitely is. The sport dates back some 150 years and was popular enough in the first half of the 20th century that competitions were held at Madison Square Garden. Today the pursuit is mostly centered on local clubs, with various associations hosting distance and accuracy competitions around the world. Fly-casting’s undisputed GOAT, 63-year-old Steve Rajeff, won the American Casting Association’s all-around championship 46 years in a row and has taken first place at the World Casting Championship 14 times. Its newest superstar is Maxine McCormick, a 16-year-old who took up casting at age 9 and notched two world titles by the time she was 14. (She has been called the Mozart of fly-casting.)

There’s a simple Zen pleasure in the metronomic rhythms of fly-casting, and it’s a pretty cool experiment in applied physics. The trick is to “load” the line on the back cast, then transfer the coiled energy on the forward cast, stopping the rod at precisely the right moment to shoot the line forward with maximum speed. As with a golf swing, a million things can go wrong. But when you get it right, it’s magic.

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A Picture of Change for a World in Constant Motion ~ NYT


Early spring. A heavy sky. Chilly, but not bitter. We’re near Suruga Bay, on the south coast of Honshu; maybe you can taste the salt in the air.


The year is 1830 or so: the waning days of the Tokugawa shogunate. And from the northwest, a wind is blowing with the force of a steamroller.

It’s not his most famous work, but this is my favorite woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai: “Ejiri in Suruga Province.” It’s the 10th image in his renowned cycle “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.”


I love it most for how it captures an instant, with an exactitude that feels almost photographic. Here. Now. A country road, two trees, daytime: hold onto your hats.

And for something else: the story it tells about how images circulate in a cosmopolitan world.


Today Hokusai stands — for Western audiences, and in Asia too — at the pinnacle of “Japanese art.” But if you told the grandees of 19th-century Edo that Hokusai would become the most famous artist in the country’s history, they’d never believe you.


‘Bad Boy’ and Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. woopin it up

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Falwell with his pants unzipped, belly showing, part of his beard painted and his arm around a young woman.

The caption on the now-deleted post reads, “more vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”


Jimmy Fallon: Trump’s Latest Interview Made His Briefings Look Good ~ NYT

The “Axios on HBO” interview was “such a disaster, at one point FEMA showed up and wrapped Trump in a foil blanket,” the “Tonight Show” host said.



With most of late night taking the week off, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers stayed busy with what President Trump has been up to — notably an interview on “Axios on HBO,” in which Trump fared poorly under questioning by the Australian reporter Jonathan Swan. Fallon said it “was so bad it made his coronavirus briefings look good.”

“If you don’t know Jonathan Swan, he’s an Australian reporter, which is fun because we got to see a Trump interview go down the drain in the opposite direction.” — JIMMY FALLON

“The interview was such a disaster, at one point FEMA showed up and wrapped Trump in a foil blanket.” — JIMMY FALLON

“In a new interview, President Trump said the coronavirus pandemic is, quote, ‘under control as much as you can control it.’ What? You’re not controlling it at all. You’re handling the pandemic the way parents handle a third child: ‘Eh, gotta get tired eventually. Just, uh, just turn the TV up.’” — SETH MEYERS

“When asked in a new interview how history will remember late civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis, President Trump said he did not know because he doesn’t know John Lewis. I guess in the same way Republicans suddenly won’t know Trump after Nov. 4.” — SETH MEYERS

“Trump did so poorly the only HBO interview he’ll do now is Elmo’s late-night talk show.” — JIMMY FALLON

“That’s right, the interview was on HBO, which is why beforehand they showed this graphic: ‘Adult content, child language, brief stupidity.’” — JIMMY FALLON

“In the same interview, President Trump said the coronavirus death toll, quote, ‘is what it is.’ God, he’s like the last-resort friend you confide in during a breakup. [imitating Trump] Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, it’s sad, it’s sad but it, uh — it is what it is. Can we get back to me?” — SETH MEYERS

“‘It is what it is’? You’re the president of the United States, you’re not Paulie Walnuts delivering bad news to Tony Soprano.” — JIMMY FALLON

“Yep, move over, MAGA, we’ve got a new hat on the market.” — JIMMY FALLON

“That reminds me of the moment after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when F.D.R. said, ‘Eh, what are you going to do?’” — JIMMY FALLON

The Wild Story of Creem, Once ‘America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine’ ~ NYT

A new documentary traces the rise and fall of the irreverent, boundary-smashing music publication where Lester Bangs did some of his most famous work.


Credit…Charles Auringer




On Jaan Uhelszki’s first day at Creem magazine in October 1970, she met a fellow new hire: Lester Bangs, a freelance writer freshly arrived from California to fill the post of record reviews editor. His plaid three-piece suit made him look like an awkward substitute teacher, she thought, and certainly out of place among the hippies and would-be revolutionaries using the publication’s decrepit Detroit office as a crash pad.

Uhelszki, still a teenager, was majoring in journalism at nearby Wayne State University, and had been sent to the fledgling rock magazine by editors at the student newspaper. “They said with a sneer, ‘We can’t publish you, you don’t have any clips, but Creem will publish anybody, why don’t you go walk down the street,’” Uhelszki said in a phone interview. “So my first clips were Creem. I started at the top.”

She’d arrived at the headquarters of “America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine,” as Creem’s front covers would soon proclaim. What began as an underground newspaper soon evolved under Bangs, the editor Dave Marsh and the publisher Barry Kramer into a boisterous, irreverent, boundary-smashing monthly that was equal parts profound and profane. During his half-decade at Creem, Bangs would publish many of the pharmaceutically fueled exegeses that made him “America’s greatest rock critic” — including his epic three-part interview with his hero/nemesis Lou Reed. By 1976, it had a circulation of over 210,000, second only to Rolling Stone.

Credit…John Collier

The magazine’s roller-coaster arc and its lasting impact on the culture is the subject of a spirited new documentary directed by Scott Crawford, “Creem: America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine,”which Uhelszki co-wrote and helped produce. The film opens Friday for virtual cinema and limited theatrical release, and comes to VOD on Aug. 28.

As a teenager, Crawford bought old issues of Creem from used bookstores near his home outside Washington, D.C. His first film was “Salad Days,” a 2014 documentary about the city’s hardcore punk scene.

“I was aware of the personalities involved,” he said of the Creem crew. “I’d heard stories over the years of their fights, literal fistfights, so I knew that this would make for a hell of a film because in addition to how much they contributed to music journalism, a lot of the writers were just as interesting as the artists that they covered.”

The documentary traces how Creem’s high-intensity environment mirrored that of the late 1960s Detroit rock scene, which was centered around the heavy guitar assault of bands like the MC5, the Stooges and Alice Cooper. Barry Kramer, a working-class Jewish kid with a chip on his shoulder and a volatile temper, was a key local figure: He owned the record store-cum-head shops Mixed Media and Full Circle.

“I liked Barry a great deal, and in fact I wanted him to manage the MC5,” the band’s guitarist Wayne Kramer, who is not a relation, said in a phone interview. (He also handled original music for the film.) “He had a vision and saw ways that this emerging counterculture could be monetized.”


Credit…Barry Levine


The original idea for Creem came from a clerk at Mixed Media, Tony Reay, who persuaded Barry Kramer to put $1,200 into the venture, which began in March 1969. When the cartoonist Robert Crumb wandered into Mixed Media in need of cash, Reay offered him $50 to draw the cover of issue No. 2. Crumb’s illustration included an anthropomorphized bottle of cream exclaiming “Boy Howdy!,” which became the magazine’s mascot and catchphrase.

Reay soon departed over creative differences, and the magazine briefly took on a more political flavor, thanks to Marsh, a 19-year-old Wayne State student. The arrival of Bangs in 1970 was explosive.

“They both had different ideas of what Creem should be,” Uhelszki said. “Lester just saw us as bozo provocateurs, and David wanted it to be a more political magazine and saw us as foot soldiers of the counterculture.”

In 1971, a robbery at the Cass Corridor offices spurred Barry Kramer to move the magazine to a 120-acre farm in the rural suburb Walled Lake. The staff lived there communally for two years: sharing three rooms and one bathroom, working and socializing around the clock amid a menagerie of dogs, cats and horses. In the film, Uhelszki reveals that a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night meant possibly encountering Kramer and getting a lecture about copy while half-awake, and that Marsh once deposited wayward excrement from Bangs’s dog onto Bangs’s typewriter.

“We had rolled out into the driveway,” Marsh recalls of the ensuing fistfight, “and I got my head smacked into an open car door. That’s OK, he wasn’t trying to hurt me, he was just trying to win.”



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