It is said that the character of Howard Roark in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead was inspired by the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright. “The self-proclaimed “world’s greatest architect” was an inspired talent-spotter, employing brilliant female assistants”. Today’s needull talks about this aspect of Wright.

Driven by big ideas and a desire to reach nationwide audiences, Wright mastered any number of presentation techniques, from coloured pencil drawings to books, magazines, exhibitions, monographs, films, radio and television. He even appeared on the popular TV quiz show, What’s My Line? He also knew—the MoMA exhibition is very good on this—how to attract talented young assistants, some straight from high school, who, quite simply, drew beautifully. In fact, the MoMA exhibition reveals many of the set-piece Wright drawings to be the work of assistants, notably Jack Howe, known as “the pencil in FLW’s hand”, who, joining the studio in 1932 aged 19, was its chief draughtsman from 1937 when Fallingwater in Pennsylvania—one of the most renowned of all US buildings—was under construction.

The complete article

Jonathan Glancey — The Art Newspaper

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Roger Ebert’s reflections after 25 years at the movies


This article was written by Ebert in 1992. He talks about movies, actors and directors that he has liked over these 25 years. He also talks about why he has been a movie critic for 25 years.

I look at silent movies sometimes, and do not feel I am looking at old films, I feel I am looking at a Now that has been captured. Time in a bottle. When I first looked at silent films, the performers seemed quaint and dated. Now they seem more contemporary than the people in 1980s films. The main thing wrong with a movie that is ten years old is that it isn’t 30 years old. After the hair styles and the costumes stop being dated and start being history, we can tell if the movie itself is timeless.

The complete article

Roger Ebert

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Citizen Zuckerberg


Another interesting piece speculating Zuckerberg as a 2020 presidential candidate. Trump election has done one thing for sure – Anyone is game for becoming the POTUS. 4 years of campaign is more than enough. But, how will it be like to have the CEO as the POTUS.

Lest this sound like hyperbolic alarmism, consider how far CEOs have already come. For the CEO of Exxon Mobil to become Secretary of State was once unthinkable. Not anymore. And let’s be honest: being the CEO of Exxon Mobil gives one superb experience at negotiating U.S. interests (at least the Realpolitik ones) with foreign governments. Being CEO at a top investment bank, hedge fund, or private equity firm is now the primary pipeline to become treasury secretary. Is this perhaps because the two jobs are rather similar? As much as commerce secretary, the modern cabinet position reliably staffed by a CEO, is a joke, it has come to the point where every White House cabinet position, even the presidency itself, is directly staffable by a CEO. Let the cabinet and the presidency itself be filled by commerce secretaries; after all, the business of America is business.

The complete article

David V. Johnson — The Baffler

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Bob Dylan – Nobel Lecture


Today’s needull is the acceptance speech of Bob Dylan for his Nobel Prize in Literature. Bob Dylan talks about Moby Dick and All Quiet on the Western Front in detail. He talks about what he saw in these novels and how they influenced him. Reading this speech, I want to give yet another shot at reading Moby Dick.

That’s what songs are too. Our songs are alive in the land of the living. But songs are unlike literature. They’re meant to be sung, not read. The words in Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be acted on the stage. Just as lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page. And I hope some of you get the chance to listen to these lyrics the way they were intended to be heard: in concert or on record or however people are listening to songs these days. I return once again to Homer, who says, “Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story.”

The complete speech

Bob Dylan

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The Most Interesting Man in the World


Stay thirsty, my friends. Today’s needull is about Jonathan Goldsmith who featured in the Dos Equis ads as the most interesting man in the world. His real life is also very interesting.

He was asked to tell the auditioners about his life, and, Lamas’ example firmly in mind, he regaled them with a tale of how he had been seducing women from a young age. He told how, as a hunter, he happened upon a village of ladies doing laundry by a river, and how he “f–ked them all.” His audition story got wilder from there, ending with Castro challenging him to a duel after he slept with the women in the leader’s life. As exaggerated tales go, it was a howler, and it left the casting people in hysterics.

By the end of the day, Goldsmith was officially The Most Interesting Man in the World.

The complete article

New York Post — Larry Getlen

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The Merchandising of Virtue


I am a big fan of Taleb. Here is an excerpt from his new book Skin in the Game.

If your private life conflicts with your intellectual opinion, it cancels your intellectual ideas, not your private life”

Kids with rich parents talk about “white privilege” at such privileged colleges as Amherst –but in one instance, one of them could not answer D’Souza’s simple and logical suggestion: why don’t you go to the registrar’s office and give your privileged spot to a minority student who was next in line?

The complete article

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Obituary – Chandraswami, spiritual political fixer


Chandraswami in his heydays had influence over the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Former Indian Primer Minister PV Narsimha Rao, the Sultan of Brunei etc. But, then came his fall from grace and his final years were spent in obscurity.

As recounted by Mr Singh in his 2012 memoir, Chandraswami, who at the time spoke no English and relied on the diplomat to translate, asked Thatcher to scribble five questions on five separate pieces of paper, then scrunch each into a ball. She grudgingly complied. He then asked her to unfold each chit. As she did, the guru told her the question written there. Her irritation gave way to amazement, and Thatcher peppered him with follow-up questions. She asked for a second meeting, at which, Mr Singh wrote, the two discussed her prime ministerial prospects.

The complete article

Amy Kazmim — FT

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