In May of 1967, a former CIA officer named Tom Braden published a confession in the Saturday Evening Post under the headline, “I’m glad the CIA is ‘immoral.’” Braden confirmed what journalists had begun to uncover over the previous year or so: The CIA had been responsible for secretly financing a large number of “civil society” groups, such as the National Student Association and many socialist European unions, in order to counter the efforts of parallel pro-Soviet organizations. “[I]n much of Europe in the 1950’s,” wrote Braden, “socialists, people who called themselves ‘left’—the very people whom many Americans thought no better than Communists—were about the only people who gave a damn about fighting Communism.”
The centerpiece of the CIA’s effort to organize the efforts of anti-Communist artists and intellectuals was the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Established in 1950 and headquartered in Paris, the CCF brought together prominent thinkers under the rubric of anti-totalitarianism. For the CIA, it was an opportunity to guarantee that anti-Communist ideas were not voiced only by reactionary speakers; most of the CCF’s members were liberals or socialists of the anti-Communist variety. With CIA personnel scattered throughout the leadership, including at the very top, the CCF ran lectures, conferences, concerts, and art galleries. It helped bring the Boston Symphony Orchestra to Europe in 1952, for example, as part of an effort to convince skeptical Europeans of American cultural sophistication and thus capacity for leadership in the bipolar world of the Cold War. By purchasing thousands of advance copies that it gave away for free, the CCF supported the publication of many of the era’s anti-Communist classics, such as Milovan Djilas’ The New Class. But its most impressive achievement was a stable of sophisticated literary and political magazines. The CCF’s flagship journal was the London-based Encounter, but it also published Preuves in France, Tempo Presente in Italy, Forum in Austria, Quadrant in Australia, Jiyu in Japan, and Cuadernos and Mundo Nuevo in Latin America, among many others.
Through the CCF, as well as by more direct means, the CIA became a major player in intellectual life during the Cold War—the closest thing that the U.S. government had to a Ministry of Culture. This left a complex legacy. During the Cold War, it was commonplace to draw the distinction between “totalitarian” and “free” societies by noting that only in the free ones could groups self-organize independently of the state. But many of the groups that made that argument—including the magazines on this left—were often covertly-sponsored instruments of state power, at least in part. Whether or not art and artists would have been more “revolutionary” in the absence of the CIA’s cultural work is a vexed question; what is clear is that that possibility was not a risk they were willing to run. And the magazines remain, giving off an occasional glitter amid the murk left behind by the intersection of power and self-interest. Here are seven of the best, ranked by an opaque and arbitrary combination of quality, impact, and level of CIA involvement.
“Philip Glass revisits his parallel lives in 1970s New York – driving a taxicab through threatening twilight streets while emerging as a composer in Manhattan’s downtown arts scene.”
—If you can stand to hear one more thing about New York in the ’70s make it this.#
How will we know when autumn is approaching here in New York City? A local website warns that fall is imminent, and according to their theories one of the ways by which we are able to tell is that “The sun is setting earlier.” I am as stunned as you are, and also I am wondering how to feed and dress myself. Anyway, here’s some blippy-bloopy music to get us through it. Enjoy.
★★ The clouds were thickly gathered but still individuated, their shade deep but not absolute. Off in the distance, upriver and down were gaps of light; then the light was at hand and the shadows all around. Lower pale gray clouds passed quickly in front of higher white ones. The damp wind gusted. The bright spells were intense but so short that the idea of putting on sunglasses seemed ridiculous. By evening they were gone, the clouds fully closed. A hand out the window at bedtime found rain falling.
Earlier this week, Eater critic Ryan Sutton reviewed a pair of relics from another decade, the big-box restaurants Buddakan and Morimoto. The products of a mid-aughts form of conspicuous consumption, they combined an AstroTurfed nightlife aesthetic with the era’s most garish food and drink—Wagyu beef, truffle everything, Iron Chef, signature ______tinis. Nearly ten years after their opening, Sutton finds them horrifically atavistic:
Why does this restaurant exist? Buddakan, along with the Japanese-themed Morimoto, together Starr’s first forays into New York dining, were born in a different era. Both venues, transplants of their Philadelphia originals, opened in 2006, when New York was riding the tail end of its Second Gilded Age.
And for the time, these restaurants served a purpose. Starr’s critically-acclaimed Buddakan was a hipper, younger, clubbier analogue to older, expensive, white tablecloth venues like Mr. Chow, Indochine, and Shun Lee Palace. And Morimoto, with a $200 tasting counter, was the larger, logical extension of the Nobu 57 model, a sprawling den of aioli-slathered rock shrimp and $150 tastings that received three stars from the New York Times. There was enough room for everyone. Until there wasn’t.
The economy started to tank in 2007. And in the years that followed smart restaurants would adapt to our new spending habits, putting the focus on the chef and the food over the maitre d’ and the creature comforts. The Chang Way started to take hold: leaner, meaner, let’s eat at a noisy bar and charge everyone a little bit less. And diners, fueled by the knowledge of a burgeoning class of bloggers, food writers, and uber-locavores like Rene Redzepi and Dan Barber, started to value regional creativity and authenticity over generic extravagances.
The economy has long since recovered for the kind of person who once regularly dined at places like Morimoto. And while there are pointedly direct descendants in the lineage of clubstaurants that continue to combine slightly higher minded food and drink with a scene, like Beauty & Essex, as these extreme consumers have been allowed to shamelessly re-indulge their sizable appetite for casual decadence, many have developed a taste for something else: taste.
Traveling from Norway to the Italian Alps, then to Morocco and back again, “Dream Road” (which debuted at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance) is a breathtaking virtual reality ride in the Infiniti Q60 Concept car. Covering close to 3,500 miles in the next gen coupe, the route in the film is impossible to recreate in a day, but the team behind the concept have made it an experience in which we can all partake. The film puts you in the driver’s seat, speeding between cliffs and through stunning valleys—thanks to 360° video playback on YouTube — you can even adjust your point of view to see the road reflected in your rear-view mirror or real time updates to the satnav. For those lucky enough to be at Pebble Beach this year, the experience is even more real through a state-of-the-art virtual reality demonstration at the Infiniti pavilion. Because Infiniti is more interested in the driver than the car, the film (which blends real world and CG elements to build an immersive VR experience) was truly created for potential drivers to feel and see what it’s going to be like to be behind the wheel of these concept vehicles.
55. A PERFECT CIRCLE
54. MARILYN MANSON
53. ROB ZOMBIE
52. MACHINE HEAD
51. FEAR FACTORY
48. SYSTEM OF A DOWN
44. LINKIN PARK
40. 36 CRAZYFISTS
39. KID ROCK
30. ALIEN ANT FARM
28. STONE SOUR
26. FINGER 11
25. AMERICAN HEADCHARGE
24. PRIMER 55
22. BREAKING BENJAMIN
14. DROWNING POOL
12. PAYABLE ON DEATH (P.O.D)
Earlier today, I got this message through WhatsApp. I don’t use WhatsApp very much. I’ve received spam there before, but not much, and nothing that looked quite like this. A few moments later I saw this in my Twitter feed:
HOT TIP pic.twitter.com/VCJtyeLV9c
— Marisa Kabas (@MarisaKabas) August 21, 2015