Iran Executes Poet for ‘Waging War on God’

Hashem Shaabani

Hashem Shaabani, a writer who composed verse (mostly apolitical) in both Persian and Arabic, was convicted by a tribunal last July of “waging war on God” and “spreading corruption on Earth.” He is a member of Iran’s Arab minority and founder of an institute promoting Arab culture; two years ago he confessed on state television to “separatist terrorism.”

Valery Gergiev Talks to CNN on Gay Rights in Russia


“I myself question very much why the country needed something like this law. … I think it was seen internationally as a bad thing happening in Russia. I think in Russia, the view was different. The way people read this law is slightly different or sometimes very different.” (includes video and transcript)

Walking Through Istanbul With Orhan Pamuk

Orhan Pamuk in Istanbul

On a cloudy December afternoon, Joshua Hammer follows the Nobel laureate from his native Cihangir (once the Greek quarter, later a red-light district, now Turkey’s Greenwich Village) to a lunch cart in a muddy plaza on the Bosporus, across the Golden Horn and past the grand and faded buildings of the late Ottoman government, to a favorite hole-in-the-wall near the Fatih Mosque,

Duke Ellington’s Lost Opera

Duke Ellington Queenie Pie

“Composers have spent 40 years adapting” what remains of the score of Queenie Pie, “trying to figure out what the Duke wanted for his unfinished opus.”

Of Course Philip Seymour Hoffman Died Like He Did. But Really…


“He often played creeps, but he rarely played them creepily. His metier was human loneliness — the terrible uncinematic kind that has very little to do with high-noon heroism and everything to do with everyday empathy — and the necessary curse of human self-knowledge.”

Today’s Top AJBlog Posts 02.02.14

Philip Seymour Hoffman, R.I.P.
Source: About Last Night | Published on 2014-02-03

Hear Me Now: My WNYC Comments on MoMA’s Frank Lloyd Wright Show
Source: CultureGrrl | Published on 2014-02-02

How They Fly, How They Dive
Source: Dancebeat | Published on 2014-02-02

A violinist tells Milwaukee thief: Take care, the Strad needs to breathe
Source: Slipped Disc | Published on 2014-02-02

The Only Thing New in the World is the History You Don’t Know
Source: We The Audience | Published on 2014-02-02


Pete Seeger Was No Llewyn Davis


“Lacking most of the usual traits that make for a compelling, ‘famous’ performer, Pete Seeger was instead possessed by song, not as a way to make it in the music business, but because he believed song was the glue, the bond that could bring people together.”

Inequality In Wealth Kills The Soul


“Our tendency to equate outward wealth with inner worth invokes deep psychological responses, feelings of dominance and subordination, superiority and inferiority. This affects the way we see and treat one another.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46, An Actor Of Depth

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“A stocky, often sleepy-looking man with blond, generally uncombed hair who favored the rumpled clothes more associated with an out-of-work actor than a star, Mr. Hoffman did not cut the traditional figure of a leading man, though he was more than capable of leading roles.”

Should White Directors Take On Plays By Writers Of Color?

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“In 2014, when it still feels like a radical act for a major regional theater to program more than one show with a cast of primarily actors of color in a season, controversies about cultural authority and appropriation can feel infuriatingly stagnant. We still have a numbers problem.”

Should Ethical Concerns Affect The Oscars?


Dylan Farrow’s “letter suggests a callous indifference by film professionals now celebrating their accomplishments in a series of ceremonies leading up to the March 2 Academy Awards. And it lands as Mr. Allen’s film ‘Blue Jasmine’ enters the Oscar balloting that begins Friday.”