Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ernie Chambers + Sol Yurick

There are a couple items in today's paper that are interesting.  John Eligon reports on Ernie Chambers' return to the the unicameral Nebraska Legislature after being term-limited out by a 2008 law.  Chambers was first elected in 1970.  I learned about Ernie Chambers almost a decade ago when my girlfriend at the time and I watched a video of A Time For Burning, a documentary nominated for an Academy Award in 1967.  The movie is about a Lutheran minister's attempts to foster a little interracial understanding in Omaha.  Ernie Chambers, who in the days before his long run as a state Senator was a barber by trade, gives the Black Power perspective as he cuts hair. It's a great film, intelligent and pretty to look at.

Also in today's paper is William Yardley's obit of Sol Yurick.  The obituary is oriented almost entirely around Yurick's 1965 novel The Warriors but one does comes away with a sense of another America that used to exist, a pre-digital one where progressive writers and intellectuals weren't so completely marginalized.  The only Yurick book I've read is Behold Metatron, the Recording Angel of which I remember hardly anything other than it was part of the Semiotext(e) Foreign Agents Series that I read religiously when I was in my early twenties.  The Semiotext(e) books were little black paperbacks that fit in one's back pocket.  When my ex-wife and I moved from Berkeley to New York City I remember making a special trip to the Columbia University campus address, 522 Philosophy Hall, that was listed inside each Foreign Agents Series book as the location for Semiotext(e).  In something reminiscent of a scene from a David Lynch movie all I found was an empty office in an empty building.

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