*First, congratulations to Greg for his cover story in CityBeat this week. His damnation/analysis of Proposition 13 is not only an efficient balance of airtight argument and historical context, but also the kind of non-kneejerk dissection of an issue that’s always been hard to come by. I’m afraid his larger point, that Prop. 13’s most damaging outcome was how it fundamentally changed the way California government funds itself, will be lost on the many readers who already have a one-way-or-the-other opinion. (He also contributed an analysis of Prop. 13’s effect on schools and affordable housing, and profiled some dreamer who wants to take it to the Supreme Court.)
*The folks at Midnight Eye weigh in on their favorite Japanese films of the year, and Strawberry Shortcakes tops the lists of two of the editors. I have to admit I haven’t seen a one of them. I missed Tekkon Kinkreet during its one-week L.A. run over the summer, and have been awaiting Naomi Kawase’s The Mourning Forest since it won the Grand Prix at Cannes.
*Amidst a sea of Clinton-Obama ruminations, George Packer’s New Yorker breakdown of the two candidates sticks out as one of the most thought-through. It’s common wisdom now that the Clinton-Obama decision comes down to a vote on management style/personality more than policy, and though this piece doesn’t contain any new revelations, it takes an appreciated shot at unpacking what, exactly, that means.
*My most anticipated book of the year is not a novel, but the ‘book-length essay’ How Fiction Works, by the English-speaking world’s leading (and, naturally, most controversial) book critic James Wood. An excerpt from it posted in literary blog The Elegant Variation set off a heady debate on book criticism in the comments section. Wood’s most notorious cultural moment was probably this article he penned in the weeks after September 11, which not only coined the term “hysterical realism” but also led to a public back-and-forth with Zadie Smith.
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