Friday, July 16, 2010


"It was my habit to go very slowly up the low, broad steps to the palace entrance, pleasing my eyes with the majestic lines of the building, and lingering to read again the carved inscriptions: Public Library—Built by the People—Free to All. Did I not say it was my palace? Mine, because I was a citizen; mine, though I was born an alien ... My palace—mine! ... All these eager children, all these fine browed women, all these scholars going home to write learned books—I and they had this glorious thing in common, this noble treasure house of learning. It was wonderful to say, This is mine; it was thrilling to say, This is ours."

—Mary Antin, from her autobiography The Promised Land (1913), describing her visits to the Boston Public Library as a child, after her family emigrated from Russia

Monday, July 12, 2010

belated World Cup fever courtesy of the Commodores

Lionel Richie has been more popular abroad than in the United States for years now. He's got a huge Iraqi fan base, and my first hint of his fame in other countries came in 1996, after some friends returned from a summer trip to Europe and reported that they'd heard his 1983 hit "All Night Long" wherever they went.

Soccer's also more popular abroad than it is in the U.S., so how come this 1981 video for "Lady (You Bring Me Up)" by the Commodores, Richie's old band, wasn't resuscitated during all that endless World Cup coverage? It's my favorite of all the Commodores' songs—in fact it's one of the Songs That Will Still Blow Me Away Years From Now™—and it ended up being Richie's next-to-last hit with the group before he embarked on his smash solo career. But as Popblerd's Mike Heyliger said earlier today in an e-mail about the music video, "I bet the surviving Commodores wish they could burn it."