29 May 2016 
  Byline Alexandra Ares



  After reading and watching everything I could about Hillary Clinton’s email, server, and the roll of flat-out-lies, including the tortured declaration of her spokesperson Brian Fallon to Wolf Blizzard on CNN; after re-watching her own previous televised lawyerly admissions that “I was as truthful as I know to be” on the subject  (which, to be snarky, logically implies Hillary’s self-admitted inability to tell the truth)  I can only surmise the following: President Barack Obama, her direct boss when Secretary of State, must have known about her separate server, since he’d received regular emails from Secretary Clinton for four years, all from the "" email address, not the standard "". The President cavalierly allowed it. Most likely, it’s been an implicit okay for Hillary to continue, or even a verbal one, after some brief exchange where she might have requested or just mentioned the use of her own server. The fact that President Obama granted Secretary Clinton such special treatment, only shows the power of the Clinton machine in the Democratic Party, due, no doubt to the Clintons’ skill to raise money. 
  Hillary Clinton’s calculation must have been that, given the President tacit involvement, the Justice Department's Investigation and even the FBI's investigation would be slowed down, or even stalled, at the highest level, until she had the nomination, and then the election, in the bag, repay the favor, and later mitigate the fallout. The internal audit of the State Department watch dog must have come as a surprise, which put her in a tight spot: She didn’t want to mention the President’s tacit approval and drag him into a scandal at the end of his mandate, when she dearly needs his support for her own presidential campaign. So she stonewalled the IG request to cooperate and hunkered down to buy time. 
  In the meantime, President Obama must have found out a few things about Hillary Clinton since she'd left office, or rather since she'd been kindly asked to retire for "health reasons." Perhaps Mr. Obama was informed or even read the book “Clinton Cash” (I would hope), and learned about the various brazen conflicts of interest between the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton’s speeches and fundraising for the Clinton Foundation, about the sloppy work of the Ethics Office, and wisely decided to step back and let the Inspector General pay due diligence. 
  I imagine Hillary feels betrayed. She's in a hot seat. However, if she loses to Trump in November, just before leaving office, President Obama will, most likely, issue some sort of pardon for Hillary or create a deux-ex-machine solution that will exonerate Clinton last minute; provided, of course, some sort of quid-pro-quo will be arranged. The Clintons are very transactional and President Obama showed that he, too, knows how to play “the game.”  
  In times like these, having the media and the opposition Republican party turn on the heat and pressure various Governmental entities to do their job and investigate everything that has to be looked into is a plus (and I say this as a liberal Independent) for our otherwise pay-for-play democracy. One might ask however, how come none of the televised democratic debate moderators asked any questions about the ample documented conflicts of interest between Secretary Clinton and The Clinton Foundation? But this explains Clinton's refusal to debate on Fox News Channel.  Stay tuned.    
  25 May 2016 
  Byline Alexandra Ares



The recent report of the State Department Inspector General (appointed by President Obama) on per personal Email & Server Gate just killed Hillary Clinton's candidacy. It is very serious. It is not some cheap scandal concocted by the Republicans. The only question begged to be asked is why didn't they release these findings 35 primaries ago so voters could know the truth? Who and why stalled the inquiry? 
   Is Hillary going to be accused by FBI of espionage like Snowden and obstructing justice? What are the super-delegates going to do in view of these revelations? Is everything going to be buried by the friendly media and the Clinton campaign like a dead corpse in the Nevada Desert under three feet of additional lies? 
   The NYT digital Home page reaction was strange: As the Clinton story accumulated about 2000 comments, instead of going into breaking news mode NYT kept the Clinton story in the left corner with the smallest headlines possible, while running as top homepage story with a large headline and photo of Asian actors and than one of cooking stakes. I repeat: The cooking stakes story was more important than the story of their endorsed candidate who had broken the rules, had lied about it, had acted above the law, had obstructed the underlings who'd tried to enforce the State Department security protocol, and had gotten away with it unlike other former State Department officials, fired for similar conduct and lesser crimes. Incredible news judgement, or should I call it complicity, at the paper of record. Of all news sites, Politico had the most comprehensive coverage, while LA Times had the worst article, leaving out half of the inconvenient findings and minimizing it as much as possible in view of the California Primary on June 7. At the night cable news shows, the pundits and anchors where either struck by inertia or bending over backwards to minimize the blow and to distract viewers by attacking Trump instead, the perennial, by now, pinata of blows.  
  While we are all waiting to hear what are the legal penalties of the findings, we hope that the Democrats will do the right thing and find one honest man or woman to run as president and vice-president, in a country of 330 million people. They actually have that man, but they don't like him because he doesn't take special interest money and doesn't raise money for the Democratic Party selling influence. 
  People's comments on Washington Post and the New York Times range from blind denial to anger to humor. 
  ScottW, NC - in the New York Times

  For 1420 days Clinton intentionally violated State Dept. rules by maintaining a server in her basement to handle ALL her email. Her aids blew off, 2 State Dept. officials concerned she was using a private email, telling them to never bring it up again. Those aids lied to the State Department officials stating the lawyers had approved it. 
  After leaving the office she failed to turn the records to the State Dept. (as required by law) but hid them with a private company. She only disclosed the fact of the server when a hacker (Romanian Guccifer) broke Sydney Blumenthal's email server disclosed the strange email address of Secretary Clinton ( Even when caught, she had a private attorney decide what was public and what was private email. An attorney with no security clearance and no training in FOIA.
   Clinton had years to right the wrongs while in office, but she did exactly what she wanted t do. She lied when she said she complied with all State Department regulations. She refused to cooperate with Inspector General-unlike other Secretaries of State.
   Her actions were intentional and reckless. She must lose her security clearance, as would any other government official.
   If you think it's not big deal, you have your head in the sand. Pull it out and take a look at what Clinton did. No-everyone else did not do it. No--she did have thousand of classified emails and 22 top secret documents on her server. No, she is not qualified to be President.            

  Here are two interesting ones from the Washington Post:
   Melsulli  4:05 PM EDT
  The FBI is still investigating. She should be held accountable and charged with espionage. Snowden was charge with espionage for "unauthorized communication of national defense information" and "willful communication of classified intelligence with an unauthorized person". 
   Hillary did both by using an unsecure server which she knew got hacked several times, she also was emailing classified information with Blumenthal who was not authorized to view classified information, she corresponded with international diplomats on an unsecure server which is a violation of US law, she deleted over half her emails which is against the law established in 2009 that says all state department employees must save and secure any documents, she lied about having approval to use it, lied about how long she had been using it and lied about turning over all her emails.
   wilderp71 3:50 PM EDT
  A secretary of state with non-government staff being paid by a personal foundation largely funded with money from foreign countries. Her husband is an ex-president with a scandalous history of extra-marital relations and an expired pass on the Lolita Express. A private email server used to control access to the communications of the secretary and her inner circle. Wiped hard drives. A Romanian hacker. The FBI. A presidential election between the former secretary and a bombastic unhinged billionaire with a smoking hot wife and daughter if she can shake the demented looking old socialist for the nomination. 
   If you pitched it as a movie you'd be laughed off the set. Good work America, we are a parody of a 70's 007 Bond movie.
  No comment. 
  May 2016 
  Byline Alexandra Ares


   We are almost one year into the primaries, Hillary Clinton almost got the nomination, and it is still unclear. 
   So why is Hillary actually running for President? She self-admitted that she is not a natural politician and she lacks sweeping clear ideas. Then why? Only to become the first woman president? It’s not enough.
   From the "voters' bench" it is clear that Bernie runs for president because he wants to take special interest money out of politics, he wants single payer for all, and he wants free public education - fixing three deep sores in the increasingly unaffordable American life. Trump wants to stop illegal immigration, build a wall at the south border and filter very carefully who gets in the country, he wants to re-negotiate former bad trade deals, take USA out of military quagmires, and make the military allies pay more; all sore points at macro level that affect everyone. 
   So far, Hillary has come across as running for President like a career executive for whom the position of CEO is the next dearly desired career step. Trump and Sanders run for president as outsiders who want to restructure America Inc. so it will work better for all the workers. Hillary can’t fully restructure America Inc. for the workers because she received contributions from all the stakeholders. 
    So, I ask this question again: Why is Hillary running? She has a host of small policies for various voting groups, but we can't see why she is running, other than, to paraphrase Bill (when he was asked why had he had sex with Monica Lewinsky) because she can. 
    The Democrats need more than that in the fall if they want to convince independents and Bernie supporters.
    As a corollary, we all know why Bill Clinton is running for the post of First Gentleman and Job Czar. He must look at the big budget deficit knowing that he left a surplus, and he would love a restoration so he can work his political genius again. It would also be a boon for the Clinton Family Foundation business of monetizing political access for (gasp!) 2 billion dollars in the last 15 years. However tempting, a Bill Clinton's restoration and governance by proxy would be all too painfully similar with Putin's run as a Prime Minister under a puppet president after he'd completed his two terms. Many would recoil at the prospect.   

   February 2016 
   Op-Ed | Alexandra Ares


    The wind of spring finally blows over the USA. Freedom from special interests, freedom from what the establishment wants us to think, like, and vote for. Freedom from stiffening political correctness. 
    I am what pundits would call an independent undecided voter. What an exciting election for the first time since I became a citizen over a decade ago! Many people in both the Democratic and Republican camps, I mean everyone but the establishment, have rallied around two brand new candidates, Sanders and Trump, who until not long ago weren’t even members of those parties, and who joined the fray in a last minute effort to save their country and party from special interests. This sends a clear message to the DNC and RNC and their entourage of simpatico media outfits and special interests: normal people want change. Exactly what change? 
   Just read the zillions of people comments in all the online editions of newspapers.
  Many Republican leaning voters want the establishment to slow down on all the madness of policing women uteruses. Sure, being pro-life is a noble thing as a principle, but in the practical life of the 21st century the strong-willed-freedom-loving American women don’t want to return to back-alley abortions. The normal Republican leaning voters want a strong military but no more wars and regime change interventions. They could all use cheaper healthcare, cheaper drugs, cheaper college tuition, cheaper cable and Internet, more on par with what the rest of the world is paying and with what America used to offer its citizens before 1970s. They are tired of illegal immigration and the drug highway at the south border. They want less regulation for daily activities, less political correctness, less corruption and more jobs and efficiency. The normal Republicans still love their rich 1% and hope to join the club. 
   November 2015 
   Op-Ed | Alexandra Ares


   For Halloween, which happens to coincide with my birthday, I flew from New York to Bucharest to celebrate with my family. On the same night, the capital of Romania was shook by the deadly nightclub fire that so far has killed 32 people and injured 180, many of whom are still fighting for their lives. It all happened at a free concert for the new album of a gloomy rock band, faithfully called “Goodbye to Gravity.” The fire started due to gross negligence of all the parties involved, from the band members who had lit indoor fireworks with no concern to the fire hazard, to its owners who had skimped on fireproof isolation, to the Sector 4’s Bucharest City Hall and Fire Department staff who had lightly rubber stamped dubious permits. The only one door, makeshift nightclub called “The Collective” is located in the basement of the Pioneer factory, which used to produce the most coveted Adidas shoes during communism. A place only five minutes away from where I stayed. Had some old friend invited me to attend the free concert, I could have been one of the victims. 
   Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis declared three days of national mourning for this unprecedented tragedy. The Mayor of Sector’s 4 City Hall promised to build a memorial for the victims, and all the government’s units took swift action. Too late. A cry of revolt and desperation coagulated via Facebook, which has ten million members in Romania, resulting in a huge march of protest against the entire government. As a Romanian-American who travels to Bucharest every year, this march of protest had a strange deja vue quality. From the early 90s, when Bucharest was first rattled by riots against the government, each year I’ve seen a new riot and a new march aimed to topple either the incumbent President or government—that is with street pressure not votes. It’s a case of, “here we go again,” and I stay glued to the television watching how legitimate revolt is always timely tied to the (often petulant) interests of whatever party happens to be in opposition. And yet, nothing never really changes. The same act will play out again and again, only with new actors. Read More...  

   September 2016 
   Op-Ed | Alexandra Ares



Vox populi, vox dei? Not so much for the New York Times, not so much for many movers and shakers in the United States. After so many years living here, I often  find myself questioning whether this is a democracy, or just a "fair" painted plutocracy.  
  For starters, the voice of the people hardly matters for whoever makes both the political and news and propaganda agenda. While everyone is trying hard to be as politically correct as possible, no one is actually listening to the people as long, of course, as said people happen to have different points of view— regardless how well argued, how wide  spread, how passionate, and how numerous. 
  That people— the hoi polloi— might be right, it’s not a sexy idea. We live in a culture where a select few— the media. the lobbyists, the insiders, the establishment— always know better and try to shove it down the throat of everyone else. This dichotomy gets blurred outside the country where foreigners wrongly see America, all of us, as an arrogant bunch, out of touch with reality, with what people wantCase in point: After the summer of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, this has been the September of the Muslim Invasion of Europe, the US Open, and the new Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert. What all these events had in common? The outliers proved, once again, the establishment wrong.   
  Like many people, I‘ve been particularly worried about the out of control influx of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe, with nothing being done to shut off the spigot. As thousands of New York Times readers have noted over the summer, the coverage of the media in general, and the New York Times in particular, has been astonishingly one-sided and in flagrant disagreement with its ultra liberal readers. Read More...

May , 2014
Book Expo America 2014 Kicks off Tomorrow

Book Expo America (BEA) the biggest North American Book Fair starts tomorrow (May 29-May 31s) at the Javitz Center in New York. With hundreds of new books and authors from across the world and across America, BEA is a busy and exciting place to be if you are a book lover. 
Click here to find out what is NEW AT BEA
BEA is open for public on Saturday, May 31st until 3 pm.   
Short Story, Spring 2014  
by Daniela Albu

Somewhere in Transylvania – small town haunted by an apparition

What a wonderful person my grandmother was! In no way could age hamper her beauty. It seemed untouchable. It would not alter under any circumstances. Not even when she was angry. My parents were young and lively and they would dance for the whole night spending the New Years' Eve in the mountains with noisy grown ups. There was no place for me amongst them. So there I was, by the fire, listening to my grandmother's stories together with my two other cousins. My grumpy grandfather pretended not to notice us, but I always felt that he loved us with all his heart. I never knew, at that time, why he would give us such strange and inquisitive looks. Now I know that he saw his past childhood and lost youth in us.  More...

Movie Review 
by Alexandra Ares 
This very enjoyable movie is a glossy fairy tale of India's coming of ge in the last century and of a rich boy and poor boy who swap destinies because of an overzealous revolutionary nurse who delivers them at midnight, when India regained its independence from Great Britain. More... 

 by Alexandra Ares  

Each time I pass the supermarket isle in the soup section, I glance at the tiny Campbell soup cans, and I see with the eyes of my mind the iconic Andy Warhol art, followed by flashes of TV images with wholesome, handsome and healthy American families around the kitchen table.  I’ve always wanted to buy a can of tomato Campbell soup out of curiosity, but somehow I always said to myself, some other day. Being raised by a European mother who always cooked soup from scratch, I always recoiled a little at the idea of canned soup. Until today...And all hell broke loose. (More...)


PEN American Center's New Trustees and Officers

New York City, March 6, 2013—PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization, announced yesterday at its Annual Members’ Meeting the newly-elected and reelected officer trustees of the Board, including John Troubh, Executive Vice President, and Jeri Laber, Vice President. Other newly-elected or reelected trustees of PEN’s Board are Jennifer Egan, Nathan Englander, Wendy Gimbel, Erroll McDonald, Elisabeth Sifton, and Andrew Solomon.  More...  
Winter-Spring 2013 Issue, Byline  
Killing me softly with your SUGAR
 by Alexandra Ares

You might think that at least savvy Manhattan is a safe place, but nobody is protecting us against unwanted added-sugar. It’s everywhere and especially where we don’t want it to be. Sugar is the new nicotine, and FDA is doing nothing to regulate it.  

he other day I was watching an old boxing match on TV, when I noticed how thin athletes were only a couple of generations ago -- compared to how buffed they are now. It’s not only the steroids, and not only the athletes, a large part of America is bigger or obese, carrying around the extra weight of the food industry’s corporate profits. And while the media cries wolf, the health care industry cries wolf, and some politicians cry wolf, my questions is who is protecting all of us, consumers from all the added sugar that the food industry is injecting in most of the foods on sale today? 

For sure, the FDA is asleep at the wheel, the same way SEC was conveniently asleep at the wheel before the financial meltdown, and I wonder if they’re all waiting for an even bigger ‘fat-ocalypse’ than having 60% of the country’s population obese, before they’ll start implementing small, common sense restrictions on adding sugar in all processed foods and beverages. Read More....


 Fall 2012 Issue, Short Story
Green EYES

A short story included in the new debut short story collection Four Doors and Other Stories by young Romanian writer A.G. Billig, recently released worldwide as an E-book by the UK based  MP Publishing.

The hard soles of his shoes were leaving marks in the cobblestone, melted down by the heat. The narrow asphalt strip went by the steep barren lakeside for a while, when suddenly it turned right and followed the highway,leaving behind a whitish dusty path. It was this path he chose daily as a short cut to his home. His shirt was glued to the skin of his chest and back because he hated wearing an under-vest. The man’s strides were heavy and rhythmic. He looked straight ahead, with a frowned set gaze. It might have been the daylight, as heavy as it was, making his wedding ring glow. He was tired. Tired from all the dust, tired from the scorching heat, tired with this forsaken place where he has been living for the past two years. He felt trapped. 
      He had settled down here right after being betrothed to Mary. He had met her at the movies. They were total strangers and yet  Read More....     

Fall 2012 Issue, True Story
The Dead Sea Scrolls Controversy Part 2: A NIGHT AND A DAY AT RYKERS ISLAND
By Raphael Golb

Read the moving story of a man who goes through hell because he defended his father's scholarly work using parody. The author, a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard, was arrested in March, 2009, and  prosecuted the following year for allegedly criminal conduct in connection with his anonymous campaign of blogs and emails concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls controversy. After seven delays requested by prosecutors, the trial verdict is still awaiting appellate review on First Amendment grounds. If Raphael Golb’s conviction and sentence are upheld, he will be spending six months at Rikers Island. For documentation concerning his appeal, see:

Things went smoothly at the court. The judge — Carol Berkman, who had presided over the trial at the prosecutor’s request — pronounced the sentence. “Your criminal intent,” she explained, “brought your parody over the line… Accordingly, there needs to be a clear message as to the consequences of continuing in such behavior.” When it was over, I was immediately handcuffed and taken into a little cage behind the door. There they removed the cuffs, searched my bag and shoes, then let me put the shoes back on. Read more...

Summer-Fall Issue
These Heads are not just Masks
by Marek Bartelik

The exhibition of Dumitru Gorzo’s paintings in the urban environment of Red Bank, New Jersey, constitutes an unorthodox public art project. Read More...
The Age of Savage Reviews 
Opinion by Alexandra Ares
Yes, we're all guilty of it! 
Many of today’s reviews are like savage beasts stomping and feasting on common sense. The Internet has made publishing so easy that everyone,including myself, is posting reviews and commentaries everywhere. In this ever growing heard,the wild animals face off the tamed, often biting off the wrong bones.  Read More...
Poetry Review  
Caroline Hagood's
Lunatic Speaks 
by Hansel Castro 

I , too, dislike it. Usually. “Ignore it,” would be far more accurate. Sure, a neat poetic image might fly on my face every now and then. A nice phrase may try to nestle in my thinning hair. But when the poems come in a hopeful, feathered flock, I react like the average American male ages 18 to 64. “Not my thing,” I demur. It’s not antagonism. I don’t kick at them in a prosaic fit. I simply retreat politely.There are thick novels to deal with, bone-cracking football games on TV, superheroes exploding on three or more dimensions at the movies. “Things important beyond all this fiddle.”
                Which SHOULD mean I have no business reviewing Caroline Hagood’s new collection, “Lunatic Speaks.” But how could I stop myself? Here is poetry that grabbed me by the imaginary tie, smacked me around, and did NOT forgive my indolent ignorance. Poetry that dragged me through streets where everyday life was newly revealed. Poetry that made me CARE for all this fiddle. More...  

Summer 2012
A man carries the past in a heavy bag on his back
Stuffed inside little dirty acts that breed more little dirty acts
Heavy stuff 
His shoulders droop
His spirits droop
He gets angry and mean
Argues, fights,
Wants this
and the opposite of that.
The man could just leave the weight on the ground and sprint forward 
light like a feather
his shoulders would soar 
his spirits would soar
his life would open like the wings of a  bird  
by Dan Bell
Mysterious woman, who are you
an unfolding enigma
or a silky soft giggle box
You stare into me with confident eyes
as candles light heavens porcelain
is this how it feels when souls touch; or
are you a mirage, oasis, or reprieve
Oh delicious woman please
keep kissing me with your luscious lips
surely I must pay for such foolishness
your arms feel like home
Spring 2012 
Courtney Love Stars in "And She's Not Even Pretty"
Her Debut Drawings Exhibition
Closes June 14  2012                            
Her drawings are like her music, her acting, and her stage persona: both edgy and exciting, a combination of grindcore and raspberry type pop.  The definite must see in Chelsea. 
In 1991 a young and beautiful Courtney Love deemed herself only 'Pretty on the inside' when her band Hole issued the debut album with the same name. Today the artist self-mockingly titled her first exhibition comprised of 45 of drawings created in the last 20 years “And she’s not even pretty.”  The star laughed when I asked her if the new title reflects tongue in cheek her current state of mind.
The flamboyant punk rock femme, who was once labeled by the Rolling Stones the most controversial female figure of rock and roll, with a troubled childhood and a wild singing, acting and drug abuse history, showed up looking low key and professional, almost a little shy and overwhelmed by her exposure to the art world. She was wearing no make-up, librarian style blacked rimmed eye glasses and was dressed in skinny black trousers assorted with a short sleeve black blouse with a pretty - yes, pretty- old fashioned white collar. Only her tattoos, especially a big one (spread on her toned arm) that read a loud let it bleed, hinted to her tormented past.
These, and the large framed drawings sprawling on the walls, featuring her signature kinderwhore fashion style, doll-like women in smeared lipstick, consumed or shattered by sexual passion, ridden with  self- doubt or lamenting the devastation of romantic rejection. And among all these women stood out one that looked like an alter-ego or shall we call it self portrait of the artist. Love, who acted  in the 1996 biopic of Basquiat, adorns her drawings, like Basquiat, with fraught writing, excerpts of poetry or song lyrics and journal entries that exorcise her anxiety. One of these entries...(Read more...)
Spring 2012

The Whitney Biennial 2012: An American Embarrassment

According to the latest Whitney Biennial, the American art in the last two years ---from painting to sculpture and performance--- is DEAD. Not only dead, but also BRAIN DEAD.  The only monumental splash in this year's show is the lack of taste and direction of its curators, Elisabeth Sussman, Sondra Gilman and Jay Sanders, who would be better off starting a more rewarding career in knitting where taste, brains and guts are not an absolute requirement.
The big media struggled to put some polite epithets on this year’s garbage & student like minor collection: Time Out calls it "Tepid," New York Magazine, a "Quiet, Incomplete Manifesto," The Times calls it  “Deceptively Unassuming,” Bloomberg’s Lance Esplund has the common sense to tell it like it is and find the show
“Certainly not great or even very good overall” and “relatively small, scattered and incoherent–almost scrappy.” Only The New Yorker found it ‘Enchanting’ posting a review that read like a press release, which shows how gutless this formerly giant has become. Roberta Smith from the New York Times found  Werner Herzog's Hearsay of the Soul, "a ravishing five-screen digital projection, to his first-ever art show" that will make us cry.  Apart from its illustrious signature and the fact that it was one of the few things that made sense there, I found it utterly banal. 
More to the point are the readers' comments on the NY Times review page. Terry Sanders in New York writes: "The show is insulting to anyone with minimal sensibilities and education. What it's a show of how 'cultural institutions' are as detached from everyday reality as the finance industry of which they are a part. The avatars of 'the 1%' lack any taste as do their patrons."
One of the NY Times readers picks, "David in New York" wonders: "What ever happened to being amazed by the forward surge created by true originality?"  And someone else rants beautifully that "Art is not dead, it's just in hiding. This Whitney-approved stuff is Madoff-style emptiness. It's capitalism run amok. "
Art has been hijacked by the establishment and replaced with mediocre place holders for concepts, the process is declared more important than the finished artwork, and people's reaction are a solid manifesto against this trend, or should we call it a never bursting bubble? If almost nobody likes it, then who is this pseudo art for? Too bad America's artists didn't organize themselves in a parallel 'salon' --- like the French impressionists did over a hundred years ago --- to present us with a better alternative. (Perhaps the Gagosian Gallery across the street from the Whitney Museum should offer them a forum? I've often seen much better contemporary art there then at the Whitney's Biennial). The bourgeois mediocrity has been mostly replaced by the freak & fringe mediocrity, but the process of glorifying mediocrity and neglecting true skill, mastery and originality by a select few is the same.   
The artist friend who invited me to see the show told me that “she’s been in New York since 1987 and each year the biennial has been worse.” I’ve been in New York since 1998 and I can say the same. Someone is obviously asleep at the wheel at the Whitney’s leadership because the Whitney Biennial has been turned into the most embarrassing one in the world. If I were one of its corporate sponsors, I'd want my money back.
Fortunately I didn’t pay for the ticket, and I still felt it was a big waste of my time. Upon exiting, I had to fight the urge to tell incoming hopeful visitors to spin on their heels and run away.
                                                                                                                                                                                           The Whitney Museum's 2012 Biennial runs until May 27 
Spring 2012  
SHORT STORY by Daniela Albu
A Weekend at Golden Hills
I decided to sell the Golden Hills country house...Read More  
Spring 2012
London Calling: A Master of Fashion and Portrait Photography
ULI WEBER Exhibits at the Ten43 Gallery in New York
Left: Portrait of Daniel Radcliffe (a.k.a.Harry Potter) for his West End debut:  Equus - Photo courtesy of Uli Weber, on sale at Ten43 Gallery
Too Good to Pass Unnoticed 
ULI WEBER may have become one of the world’s most acclaimed photographers with fashion photography in Vogue, Elle, Style and Mary Claire, but these days, it is his stunning collection of celebrity portraits that New Yorkers can admire and buy at the Ten43 Gallery in New York.

One of the top advantages in living in a place like New York is tremendous, easy access to great art and wonderful artists, like German born Uli, which comes embedded with one the top disadvantages: the insane level of competition -- due precisely to this huge amount of talent-- that doesn’t make it easy for newcomers to stand out.

Case in point: The other day I was strolling down Madison Avenue, when I happened to enter Ten43Gallery which was buzzing with people. As soon as I saw the first large two color prints hung on the white walls by the entrance -- a heart stopping portrait of Boy George dressed as a Red Devil, and a lyrical composition of Daniel Radcliffe with a white horse --I knew, instinctively, that a major artist was exhibiting there, and probably was there. Great art, as opposed to mediocre art, is not only a delight to look at, but also haunting and unforgettable.

Uli Weber, a striking tall man with curly hair spiked with gray, was sitting on the bench giving an interview to a blond young lady from Vogue magazine, while a cast of New York smartly dressed ‘real characters’ were sipping champagne, admiring his stunning portraits of Daniel Radcliffe (for the opening of Equus in London), Boy George (for the cover of his biography), Samantha Morten, Bruce Willis, Hugh Grant, Denis Van Outen, Kate Moss, Kylie Minogue and others. Ivan Shaw, the director of photography for Vogue, and a long-time admirer of Uli Weber, c0-hosted the event with Laurie Sanderson the director of Ten43 Gallery.  

MC: You were born in Germany, studied in Italy, live in London and often come to New York. Do you consider yourself at once a good German and a great British artist?

Oh definitely more European with lots and lots of London in my blood. And of course my second calling is Italy, a place I live for good parts of the year and I do work there very regularly. However I do like the idea of Berlin...Read more

Winter 2012
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
I've never thought that I will live the day when I won’t like a David Fincher movie because I am one of his most ardent fans. But, after watching his version of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo based on the Swedish best seller, this day has come. His pride was his downfall in this case. I imagine Fincher and his screenwriter (Steven Zaillian) wanted to make the movie a lot different from the one directed by his Swedish counterpart Niels Arden Oplev. And, by doing so, they removed the chief things that worked in the previous version.
Don’t get me wrong, the Fincher rendition is very competent - well done and fast paced - and if you’ve never read the book or seen the Swedish movie you’ll greatly enjoy this thriller. But if you’ve seen the Swedish version (see photo below), it will feel like a thriller like any other. Out of respect for this incredibly talented and accomplished director, Roger Ebert gave him three and a half stars; but faring against the Swedish movie the accurate score would be half.
Okay, so what went wrong?

First off the movie’s lead roles are awfully cast. In Stieg Larsson's book and in the Swedish film, Mikael Blumkist and Lisbeth Salander are like Yin and Yang, except that the man is the Yin and the girl is the Yang. Daniel Craig, the newest James Bond, is a strong Yang, coming with exactly the opposite image of the character he’s supposed to play.  Too tough, too ‘action hero who makes the girls swoon’ type, too comfortable with danger, like Ebert greatly put it. Fincher could have had Craig try a composition role -- make him gain a few pounds, grow longer hair, look more physically weak, more affectionate and emotionally vulnerable; in short give him an anti-James Bond demeanor, and the warmth and normalcy that Lisbeth, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, lacks. But this would have been too much like the Swedish version directed by Niels Arden Oplev, and Fincher ditched the idea. As for Rooney Mara, she has all the tattoos, black leather outfits and nose piercing in the right places, but she lacks the fascination and bitch power of Naomi Rapace. She comes across as shy, not shut down, with moments of madness, the washed out eyebrows seem to wash out also her personality, and she warms up too quickly to Daniel Craig, who seems more indifferent than intrigued.  That is because the screenwriter wants them to meet only at the middle of the film so there's less time to develop a nuanced rapport.  Her entire story line is less developed besides the hacking part, relegated to playing distant second fiddle to Daniel Craig.

Secondly, the movie is too grimly lit. And we all know Fincher is a genius when it comes to movie lighting, so it is obviously done on purpose. In this film he tries to resolve his incapacity to convey mood and depth of emotion by directing the actors (or by having the best screenplay), with lighting solutions. Much of the film is drowned in either cold, grey light, or in sloppy, new dogma kind of  'non light', making many scenes rather tiring to watch, and too blatant attempts at manipulating mood.   

Thirdly, and finally, for the sake of Hollywood style fast pacing, David Fincher kills the delivery of the most suspenseful scenes which are rushed, chopped, intercut, undeveloped, and, in comparison with the Swedish original, too busy and less engrossing.         

I watched the movie in Europe, shortly after I had a conversation with a film professor who was telling me that the chief difference between American and European movies (and books) is that American movies (and books) are all about plot and fast pace, whereas the European movies are mostly conveyors of inner worlds and states of mind. 
The best works of art achieve both, but it happens all too rarely mainly because the 'market' pulls into two different directions. My friend was so much on the mark though, if even one of my top three favorite American directors alive (the other two are Woody Allen and Oliver Stone) couldn’t strike the right balance in his rendition of the Swedish blockbuster psychological thriller.  

I am certain that David Fincher’s movie will do great at the box office because it has all the ingredients to draw people in.  But in my view this movie is a sign that it is time for Fincher to try to shed some artistic skin and renew himself as a director; or maybe just ask his Hollywood producers to give him more freedom, and stop breathing big budget action flick formulas down his neck.  

Alexandra Ares is a journalist and the award winning author of My Life on Craigslist , Dream Junkies , and The Other Girl .  She has a Ph.D. in performing arts.  

Winter 2011 (December 1st)
In Observance of December 1st, the National Day of Romania , the country where I was born,  take a look at a FUNNY VIDEO part of an international campaign called Romanians Are Smart, ran by McCann Erickson in Romania, winner of the 2011 Grand Prix for Advertising at the International Cannes Festival, the world's most coveted communications awards.  Romania was the big winner at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity as the local branch of creative agency McCann Erickson won two Grands Prixes in the promo/activation and direct categories for its American Rom campaign for client Kandia Dulce. This is Romania’s first Grand Prix, though it has won a few Lions in the past.  The creative team of the agency, headed by Adrian Botan, also received two Gold Lions. This is a quite  convincing proof that indeed Romanians are Smart

T he modern American has gone a long way... astray, hasn't he?
    I am in the New York City subway greatly enjoying The American by Henry James. Written in 1877, it describes a self-made millionaire American visiting Paris in search of a wife. Although the snobbish highborn Parisian families for whom work is a shameful endeavor look at him with disdain as a vulgar example of the nouveau riche, by today’s standards there isn’t an ounce of vulgarity in the person of Christopher Newman, Henry James’s American. There’s an enchanting integrity and thoughtful eloquence about this character. Meeting and falling in love with a young widower Madame Du Cintre, he asks her to marry him after five or six innocent morning visits, and when she asks him not to mention marriage and anything too personal for six months, he complies, keeps seeing her a few times a week, while also befriending her family. The book portrays a wholesome American innocence and practical intelligence, in contrast with a corrupted and snobbish old Europe populated by a good for nothing top 1 percent of nobility. Now fast forward 144 years to today’s date...Read More  
Short Story and Translation
by Daniela Albu
Grandmother, do you like my new orange dress that mother bought me for the ball?" 
       Ana could not answer her. She hated that color...Read More  
by Alexandra Ares

THE Wall Street Protest AND THE BELATED, MEEK American Spring

Manhattan Chronicles supports the OWS Movement and thanks the protestors for camping on the asphalt jungle, enduring rain, snow, storm, cold, lack of comfort, dirt, police, and so much unwarranted scorn. This is not to say that we have anything against the people who work on Wall Street, and who are in most cases highly educated, super bright overachievers, and even Wall Street itself which is a New York staple, like the Empire State Building, Central Park, or the famous hotdogs and bagels. We're against a greedy, short sighted current business model that hurts the long term interests of 99% of Americans. Wall Street is a genius yet blind machinery of making big money, and something should be done to help make a more sensible correlation between certain fast and furious big profit  schemes and their long term effect on the prosperity of the American citizens, who are otherwise getting bankrupt.  
      Just one small case in point: all the medical procedures in the US, from dental fillings and crowns to cat scans or surgeries cost tens and hundred of times more than in other countries, although they employ identical equipment, materials, and facilities. Why? And how come 'the free markets' drive all the prices not down but up? From where normal people stand, the free market system is bloated and rigged. Who should fix it and doesn't? The doctors make more money, the hospitals make more money, the insurers make more money, 'the medical system' and its underwriters make more money, Wall Street is happy, while everyone else in the country who needs them is bankrupt. American folks are forced to have insurance in order to pay these astronomical and artificially inflated medical bills, if not they get into grotesque levels of debt. The result are national health affordability and indicators lower than in Cuba! I grew up in a poor European country and yet I've never heard of a single person to go bankrupt because they needed college education or medical care. This stuff was quite affordable even if one did not have medical insurance or financial aid, as most people didn't. The costs were correlated with the wages normal and poor people made.  Nothing so sensible here, and why not? What does this say about a country so rich like the USA?    
Crossing Park Avenue in the 90s the other day, on my way to a book store on Madison in the 90s,  I finally ran into the (in) famous Wall Street protesters. They were a meager, quiet bunch, painfully small and irrelevant against the backdrop of majestic Park Avenue buildings. So far off from reaching the critical mass needed to accomplish a REVOLUTION, and, as it usually happens, the police comically outnumbered them.

However, it was interesting to notice that everyone, from passers-by to the numerous police forces, smiled at them, with this facial expression that seem to say: Thank you for doing what we don’t have the courage to do. We admire you for this and wish you the best of luck. We don’t do what you do only because we feel helpless, we don’t think it will make any difference and because we are a bit lazy to interrupt our lives and unsettle our comfort. Yet we all agree with you: This country’s problem is not Big Government, but Small Minded Congress, we all live under the velvet dictatorship of a Congress (latest approval rates hovering between 10- 14%) that stopped representing the interest of the majority of people long ago; and we are all either desperately  or numbingly incapable of doing anything about it.

I returned home thinking how I don’t care about changing the world anymore. All because it seems so darn difficult. And how I thank all these people for doing what they do and enduring what they endure while sleeping night after night on the asphalt foregoing basic hygiene. Many years ago I was out in the streets of Bucharest rioting against the communist dictatorship. Have I gotten too old and jaded about fighting for social justice? And for even believing in it? Perhaps the next Congress and the next US Presidents should all be under the age of 35, not above it, an age where people are still foolish and daring enough to stir the status quo and do great things.  

People's Corner
People's Corner features poignant commentaries on the issues of the day made by readers of major newspapers, opinions which we believe are often more interesting and on the mark than paid opinion piece journalism. When most of the normal folks can come up with common sense solutions more sensible and comprehensive than any acts passed by the Legislature and the Executive, who are supposedly the smartest guys in the room, we all know it is time for an American Spring.  
POLL: Only 12% of Americans are happy with the way Congress is doing its job, tying the all-time lowest approval rating set back in 10/08 at the height of the economic crisis. 8 in 10 of those polled do not plan to vote for their incumbent in the next election 
"Congress is out of touch with the American people and continues to give them the exact opposite of what they want. Poll after poll shows support for raising taxes on the wealthy, eliminating loopholes and subsidies for corporations, significantly reducing military spending, protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and putting America back to work by investing in education, infrastructure and job training. How can we have a sound economy when manufacturing accounts for only 10 percent of the economy while the financial industry takes 40 percent of profits? (Read more...)  
An Imaginary Dialog  
by Alexandra Ares

T oday New York City commemorates 10 years since the tragedy of 9/11. Ten years since the U.S. economy started to go down in the dumps, and roughly 10 years since the White House and the Congress started the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which killed more people than the terrorists, and inflicted massive economic damage and debt upon all of us.

Since I am by no means a war specialist, I turned to the greatest warrior-philosopher of all times, Sun Tzu , who, two thousand years ago in China,  compiled THE ART OF WAR , still regarded as the bible of military and conflict strategy. So I conducted an imaginary interview with Master Sun and the generals who subsequently commented on the Art of War, to see what they think about our decade long war in Afghanistan.  

MC: Master Sun what do you think about USA's decade long war in Afghanistan? 

MASTER SUN (544-496 B.C.):  I have heard of military operations that were clumsy but swift, but I never seen one that was skilful and lasted a long time. It is never beneficial to a nation to have a military operation continue for a long time.  

MC: Why?

MASTER SUN :  When you do battle, even if you are winning, if you continue for a long time it will dull your forces and blunt your edge.  

General JIA LIN (618-906) :  Allow me to chip in.  Even if you prevail others in battle, if you go on too long there will be no profit... If you dull your forces and blunt your edge, sustaining casualties and battle fatigue, then you will be exhausted. 

General ZHANG  YU (960-1278) :  When you are spending a great deal of money on a military operation, if the army is in the field for too long, your budget will not be enough to cover the expense.

MC: No kidding! You guys are very wise.  So what do you think our government should do?

General LIU QUAN : A large scale operation involves enormous expense, which not only breaks you down in the field, but also exhausts you at home. Therefore a wise government does not keep its army in the field for long.

MC:  Do you have anything to add Master Sun?

MASTER SUN: When a country is impoverished by military operations, it is because of transporting supplies a distant place. Transport supplies a distant place and the populace will be impoverished.

MC:  Would you please comment further on this Generals?

General CAO CAO (155-200 C.E.) : Only transportations of provisions itself consumes twenty times the amount transported. 

MASTER SUN : And those who are near the army sell as high prices. Because of high prices, the wealth of the common people is exhausted.

General JIA LIN: Wherever the troops gather, the prices of goods all soar. Since people are greedy for exceptional profits.

MASTER SUN:  So when power and resources are exhausted, then the  homeland is drained. The common people are deprived of seventy percent of their budget, while the governments expenses for equipment amount to sixty percent of the budget.

MC: This is all very interesting generals, but we are running out of timespan. In conclusion? 

General WANG XI (early eleventh century): Therefore long military campaigns are a plague to the nations. 

MC: Master Sun do you have one last piece of advice for American foreign policy? 

MASTER SUN : To overcome others armies without fighting is the best of skills.

MC: Thank you all.  
Spring-Summer 2011 Issue 
DARKO LUNGUNOV, Winner of Tribeca Film Festival
Director of HERE AND THERE
S erbian born first time director Director Darko Lungulov and Producer George Lekovic generated significant buzz about the film through a guerilla marketing campaign that included everything from pioneering crowd funding to a surprise event in Union Square, featuring  The Balkan Brass Band, Zlatne Uste, which played its unique brand of music in Union Square Park as Lungulov spoke with onlookers about his film, which Eric Hynes of The Village Voice called “Unexpectedly sublime, like the odd intimacy of wearing gifted pajamas and a friendship forged over a two-liter of beer.  Watch the event  here.
Spurned on by this campaign, the New York run at the Quad was completely sold out.
Manhattan Chornicles talked to Darko Lungunov about what happened after winning the Tribeca Film festival in 2009. Read More...
Excerpt from the novel
Adriana Ichim is the first Romanian supermodel who left Romania during the communist regime and became famous in Italy as a model, actress, business woman and lover of celebrities and bilionaires. This frag-ment of her best selling memoir published in Europe describes her first trip to Italy, which unravelled both her life as a model behind the Iron Curtain and her first marriage. It is not a tell-all-memoir, but a captivating novel of certain, although slightly uneven,  literary merit.   
Rome, 1979< div>

I got off the plane and immediately felt dizzy because of the multitude of people; seemingly millions of hurrying people who knew exactly where they were going. I... well, I searched through the crowds for something or someone to help me get out of that place . ...Read All

                                                           What Craigslist Tells Us About Sex and America
E ver wondered what Craigslist tells as about sex and the real America?  I had to write a novel about it in order to find out.  It’s wild.  How did we get here? 
      It used to be that religion was the safeguard of ethics or, at the very least, an inspiration for people to seek the angel within, and not just give in to the always-lurking animal side; then, a growing number of people outgrew the idea of organized religion and said that one could lead a moral life without being religious.  So far, so good.  But slowly, our messy democracy Obama talked about in his last State of the Union Address, and the free speech that made Larry Flint a free man, took over our sex lives and changed everything.  It made the wildest degree of promiscuity socially acceptable in America.  It is non-judgmentally called exploration or experimentation. People holding on to old-fashioned values are billed as square.  The media hypes the sex, lies, and all the dirty digital tapes.  Is this something good? Is it bad? Where are we going to draw the line? Is there going to be any line?    ...Read All

I t began one morning. He had woken up very early. He was sipping his coffee. A book, still closed, lay beside him. A strange and powerful feeling he had not experienced before took possession of him. It seemed that an imperious, confused, but dictatorial voice was barking orders in brain. Open the book and read!  He began to perspire. His head began to ache, and a shiver went down his spine, all the way to his slippers. He felt as if he was being pushed by something he couldn’t identify. Read! He could neither understand, nor oppose whatever was happening to him. He took the book, opened it, and tried to read. But, far from fading away, the anxiety amplified. Words became garbled and began to eat each other. A sort of anxiety was clutching at his soul like a claw. His fingers were shaking, holding the book. The text became an amorphous mass of letters. He closed the book and stared at the wall in front of him. He was feeling alone and endangered, powerless and vulnerable. ... Read All 

The Dead Sea Scrolls Scandal Part I
                                                         Gatekeeping the Net 
        O n March 5, 2009, Raphael Golb was arrested and charged with "identity theft" and with engaging in a "fraudulent scheme to influence a debate."  Thus began one of the most hallucinatory criminal prosecutions of recent years. The government's action came as a response to an email and blogging campaign that Raphael undertook four years ago, in which he criticized the conduct of various influential individuals and institutions involved in an ongoing controversy over the manner in which the Dead Sea Scrolls are being presented to the public. After a two-week trial in September, 2010, Raphael was found guilty and sentenced to spend six months at Rikers Island, on the grounds that he used pseudonyms and satire to mock his adversaries and to "influence a debate." Raphael's personal account of his trial and its background makes for a compelling read and introduces us to the darker side of the academy .  Read All...  
Translations by Corneliu M.Popescu and Peter Grimm  

Days go past and days come still 
All is old and all is new, 
What is well and what is ill, 
You imagine and construe; 
Do not hope and do not fear, 
Waves that leap like waves must fall; 
Should they praise or should they jeer, 
Look but coldly on it all .  ... Read All 

That I'm doomed to die I believed it never; 
Always young and clad in my mantle I wandered, 
Dreaming eyes uplifted for ever fixed on   
      Solitude's starlight. ...Read All   
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a touch-tone application on our computer screen for voting for or against all the local, state and federal matters that affect us? Stuff like real estate taxes, other taxes, how our tax money is being used, disadvantaged kids, streets clean-up, wine in supermarkets,  signal in the subway, war and peace or the latest debate on the Ground Zero mosque?
I was very, very excited and happy to become a US citizen years ago. I was under the impression    that once a citizen my voice was going to matter...Read All  
Most men over a certain age are like peaceful COWS, many are like scared RABBITS, a few are like unlikely PEACOCKS and only one-in-a-million are still pure breed MUSTANGS…Read All
Don't WAIT
for anyone to 
ANOINT you...
Pulitzer finalist playwright,  controversial young adult novelist, high-energy musician, screenwriter and filmmaker speaks to Manhattan Chronicles...Read All  
       When I came to America I felt like Columbus. I was conquered and I was conquering...
         ... Read All 
CULINARY Successes
     What’s wrong with cookbooks: the recipees. No matter how perfect they are or how much asidousness goes into them they will never be anything except a small part of the culture they come from...Read All
       The dress was gorgeous and absolutely how she'd imagined it to be: absolutely flawless ... Read All
            I left the country in 1990. To paraphrase Vladimir Mayakovsky, I could say: read this and envy – I too was once a citizen of the Soviet Union ...  Read All

          In the circus of words

           Open non stop---

           Of beasts ---

           The music is suave


           The bald,


           (from Milano) 

A surreal atmosphere

Of a ball,

A carnival,

Sensational! ...Read All

FICTION              FLESH OF WORDS (Firan)
POETRY:             MIHAI EMINESCU- A European Romantic 
ESSAY:                          THE NEED FOR CATASTROPHE (Firan)   
GLIMPSE:                      CULINARY SUCCESSES IN AMERICA (Codrescu)  
SATIRE:                 MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE (Ares)
ESSAY:                   FLESH OF WORDS (Firan)
GLIMPSE:              FIVE-MINUTE EGGS  (Codrescu)  
STORY:                  MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE (Albu)
POETRY:                THE BONE SYSTEM (Grigorescu)
STORY              THE KICKBACK (DiDonato)  
GLIMPSE         SATURDAY NIGHT (Parkin)   
                       MAY I BUY YOU DINNER?   (Ares)
                     THE BADGER   (Albu)
                       HAMLET WITH JUDE LAW  (Ares)