March 10th, 2023
Georgia on My Mind.

Photo: Valeria Mongelli/AFP via Getty Images

[T]housands of Georgians took to the streets of the country’s capital Tbilisi for two days of protests, waving EU flags and facing down riot police armed with water cannons and tear gas. The contentious [now withdrawn] legislation would have required all organizations that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as foreign agents. The Georgian law was widely viewed as inspired by Vladimir Putin…



Georgia, Georgia
The whole day through
As you march toward
Your place in the EU

I said Georgia
Georgia, what joy I find
Freedom’s old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind

Other arms reach out to you
Other eyes lie viciously
Still in peaceful crowds I see
The road leads back to you

February 26th, 2023
My friend Tanja wins the Order of Merit, Bukowina/Chernivtsi, for her work on behalf of Ukraine.

Her husband Chad stands with her.


February 26th, 2023
“Whether the [Iranian] government likes to admit it or not, … the era of the forced hijab is over.”

This NYT article from the streets of Tehran features photos of Iranian women routinely going about the city without the hijab which – thanks to the vicious mullahs running the joint – millions of citizens now actively hate. Nothing like jailing and killing women because of their headgear to make yourself real popular.

And don’t forget – it’s not just the hijab.

Iran’s hijab law mandates that women and girls over 9 cover their hair, and that they hide the curves of their bodies under long, loose robes.

So the regime seems to have caged the young males they used to let loose among the population to attack unswaddled women. Maybe the government will bring back the morality police and maybe they won’t; the nuts are now talking about “warning women by text message, denying them civic services or blocking their bank accounts.”

Well, the war against women will always rage in theocracies; whether it’s waged crudely by killing them, or suavely by stalking them and making it impossible for them to live a normal life, the predilection to torture women into one or another form of invisibility will always be the most noteworthy and enduring feature of fundamentalist religious states/organized groupings of any kind. Given the Iranian state’s vileness and its power (authorities are already going after this incredibly brave woman — get a load of the way she HURLS the hijab to the floor! Note the lusty cheers.), it’s astoundingly impressive the way millions of Iranian women are just saying fuck you come and get me.

February 3rd, 2023
Wang, Rachmaninoff

Virtuosity on this level, in material this ravishing, is elevating to witness — which is why, even after so many hours, I was left at the end feeling an exhilarated lightness. Like many others I saw, I drifted up the aisle and onto the street unable to stop smiling.

Does UD wish she’d been there? Sure. (She tried for a ticket long after it sold out.) Is she sure she would have stayed in her seat (well, there were intermissions) for all four and a half hours? Hm.


The ravished NYT reviewer offers some nice writing:

[H]er prevailing style is sprightly, which is why the concert didn’t feel like eating five slices of chocolate cake in a row…

Her pillowy chords at the close of the Second Concerto’s middle movement floated quietly into place…

This handful of measures painted a whole situation and personality: vulnerable, strong, searching but not lost...

A shivering hush in the first movement of the Third Concerto was like a snow in which Wang made soft footsteps with the palest chords.


Gevalt. Financial Times:

[T]icketless crowds … congregated on 7th Avenue, many bearing placards — “I need just one! I’ll pay anything!”

The audience staggered out into the Manhattan dusk, as one, all changed; all humbled; all grateful for that ticket.


Update: Further thoughts on the Wang phenomenon. For what it’s worth. And I’m only a reasonably informed amateur pianist. And more self-deprecating stuff like that.

I want to suggest that, counterintuitively, it’s Yuja Wang’s LACK of sensibility that lifts her above other pianists, who don’t typically produce crowds of people begging for tickets outside their venues.

When I watched my first Wang YouTube, I relaxed immediately into the knowledge that she simply would never hit a wrong key. Never. Not that I could hear.

I also relaxed in the face of her TOTAL absence of neurotic ego, as in Glenn Gould or V. Horowitz… With Horowitz, for instance, his immense sadness –his ashen features as he played even the most exuberant music — for me, it’s a one-note emotional experience, hearing him. He’s in it too much. Muddies the music.

And it’s not even fair, mentioning Gould.

But consider another, contemporary performer, a great pianist, and one with whom Wang has played duets: Khatia Buniatishvili. Close to the same technical virtuosity, to my ear. And I listen to her a lot. Howsomever…

There’s still the sense she conveys of what a heavy-weight experience it is, playing this stuff. Her features are usually squinched in a private angst as she plays. Which is okay… I mean, of course it’s authentic, and it conveys the poignancy of the sound and the challenge of generating it, etc. But it disallows the thing that allows the NYT critic to note not only Wang’s effortless production of many hours of difficult playing (plus encores); just as importantly, it allows him to say this:

[H]er prevailing style is sprightly, which is why the concert didn’t feel like eating five slices of chocolate cake in a row… Virtuosity on this level, in material this ravishing, is elevating to witness — which is why, even after so many hours, I was left at the end feeling an exhilarated lightness. Like many others I saw, I drifted up the aisle and onto the street unable to stop smiling.

Ungluttonous, elevating, light, drifting… Here is a pianist who generates in her audience, and I don’t want to get too-too about it, transcendence. She literally made an enormous roomful of people transcend the weight of being human (“It’s hard to be human,” as Tommy Raskin put it.), and they naturally craved that and stayed for that and drifted into the streets retaining that for as long as one can in the middle of Manhattan.

And just how does Yuja Wang take them there? She herself transcends the dull stupid particularity of being the human being she is while she plays. She is in the transcendent realm of beautiful complete expressivity and she’s simply really happy and grateful to be there. No complex sensibility at all; just delight. Michael Tilson Thomas

 liken[s] her to a racehorse.

“She wants to run; she wants to show everything she can do.”

People wept when Secretariat pulled away; and yes of course great artists aren’t in competition yadda yadda … But the reality is that the relaxation I felt in the first seconds of encountering Wang is about this insanely rare capacity she has to stand aside and let me inside too.

January 22nd, 2023
‘She said … in 2016: “If Hillary had won, I could have left. But I was not going to let Donald Trump have his way with the government.”’

I like the way she puts that. Have his way with the government.

January 18th, 2023
Eiffel Tower all lit up in solidarity with anti-hijabis in Iran.

Know hope.

December 11th, 2022
Eva Kaili: An Enormous Step Forward for Women.

As you know if you read this blog, UD believes true sex equality will only occur when women are seen to be every bit as crude and larcenous as men. Women’s liberation involves solving the SEN problem, in which women continue to be regarded as Sentimental, Ethical, and Nurturing, instead of cold, amoral, and give-a-shit. So long as all of our high-profile money criminals, the people with the balls to steal and hold gobs of the world’s assets, are male, we are never going to admit women to the real world; they may aspire to be the stupid semi-aware Wife Of (Kay Corleone!), but their names will never appear on the manifests of mega-yachts.

We thus need many more very high-profile women thieves, devil-may-care, hugely bribable scum with absolutely no moral compass, so that our reductive view of women as moral maternals too nice to rule the world comes crashing down.

This is why Eva Kaili – a European Parliament Vice-President, no less! – looms so large in the history of female empowerment. While the amount of money she is reported to have taken through bribes is disappointingly small (in the high hundreds of thousands of dollars; but UD hopes this is a preliminary figure, and will in time rise), it is nonetheless a respectable starter sum. Women are just beginning to find their feet global-robbery-wise, and we can expect other women to learn from Kaili’s technique (get an important bribable position; accept bribes; be a farcically obscene hypocrite, busybusybusy making the world a better place, while robbing it blind) and from her mistakes (don’t leave bags of money all over your house; don’t, in a panic, give your father bags of money and put him on a train whose passengers include cops pursuing him).

October 6th, 2022
Nobelist Annie Ernaux talks about her famous memoir…

… in this Shakespeare and Company Bookshop appearance.

The news.

“[The] world is made to be pounced on and enjoyed, and … there is absolutely no reason at all to hold back.”

Writes Ernaux. And I … naux what she means, and I pounce on what she says, and I agree etc etc. ETC.

Live out loud!

And yet … even as I delight in images of revolutionary Iranian girls and women hurling hijabs heavenward or incinerating them, and demanding freedom in a revolution they lead… I fear for them.

October 2nd, 2022
Hijab-Hatred and the Future of Women

“They[‘ve] had mass arrests in the past few days of journalists, and of people who they thought could potentially be leaders. They did that, but the protests haven’t been shut down. They couldn’t shut it down. In fact, it has become more widespread.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a human-rights lawyer who has represented many of these women who, over the past ten years, have been sentenced to jail or summoned to court on the basis of not observing the compulsory hijab. She recently said this movement is leaderless and is only led by those women who are doing this one revolutionary act. And that revolutionary act is not carrying a weapon. They’re not armed. This is completely peaceful.

And the only thing that they’re doing is they’re harmlessly taking something off of their head and they’re walking in the streets of Iran. The figure of this revolution is the body of these women, these unveiled women who are walking in the streets without harming anyone. Without even chanting “death to the dictator” or saying anything harmful against anyone.

Their bodies have become the revolutionary figure of this movement. And this is unprecedented.”


Once you understand what the hijab – and its revolutionary repudiation – represents, the US/Euro feminist championing of the hijab as liberatory (“Hijab Means Power, Liberation, Beauty, and Resistance”) looks so perverted, mes petites.

We also see [in Iran] a change in gender-related norms and values. These are the concepts that refer to virtue and honor, and traditionally relate to the male protection of females virtues, and the female body.


And what of gender fluidity, little ones? Ain’t you a mite embarrassed, throwing your lot in with I. AM. WOMAN. SEE ME SHEATHE. ?…?

September 29th, 2022
‘Zan, Zendegi, Azadi’ in Kabul.

The chant is already all over Tehran, and you can hear it (Woman, Life, Freedom) in lots of other cities of the world these days, as the Iranian diaspora marches against theocracy.

I’ll admit I didn’t think the enslaved women of Afghanistan would have the guts to come out with it, but, inspired by the Iranian protesters, a small group of them just did. With bullets whirling about.

September 23rd, 2022
‘In one of her final interviews, published Sept. 10, [Hilary] Mantel was asked if she believed in an afterlife. She did, she told The Financial Times, although she couldn’t imagine how it might work. “However, the universe is not limited by what I can imagine,” she said.’

What a wonderful thing to say. What a wonderful way to put it.

August 18th, 2022
Via my Ukrainian Friend…

… Tetyana. A mural in Paris, by Nikita Kravtsov.

May 23rd, 2022




Never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 this year…. Those who conceived this war want only one thing — to remain in power forever, to live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity.

Russia’s ex-representative to the UN in Geneva writes a Dear Vlad letter.

April 7th, 2022
“Judge Jackson, can you define…

.. first black woman on the United States Supreme Court?”


March 9th, 2022
UD’s old friend Tanja…

… a typically gallant Ukrainian, gives an interview (it’s in German). Ukraine, she points out, is a democratic shield. If that shield breaks, global democracy is under grave threat.

She lives and teaches in Germany; she and Mr UD for a number of years co-directed, in Ukraine, the European Summer Institute of Civic Studies.

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