Author Archives: Michael Backus

Notes on TV shows in 2016

The Good (in no particular order) The Americans –This does belong at the top, the show got even quieter this season with devastating effect, earnestly following the implications of the main couple’s situation to its logical conclusion and fully embracing … Continue reading

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Notes on TV Shows from 2013

This is not an attempt to be a comprehensive “best of” list, more a few notes on some of the television shows I’ve watched this year; in alphabetical order. The Americans – It’s a hoot for someone who lived through … Continue reading

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Books I Read in 2012 and Liked (to varying degrees) and Have Something to Say About

Really Liked The Passage of Power, Robert Caro Stands with Taylor Branch’s civil rights trilogy as the best of the popular histories I’ve read; consistently compelling and sometimes it goes way beyond that, the section dealing with the relationship between … Continue reading

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Pickup Basketball Archetypes

I’ve been playing pickup basketball in various venues in various cities (most recently New York) for thirty years now, and I’ve found that some of the same broad categories of player exist everywhere. (I use the masculine repeatedly throughout this … Continue reading

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A 1965 Harley Chopper, an Overzealous Actor and I Play Dead

The first film of any size I ever worked on was a rambling, elaborate thing directed (and bankrolled) by a session drummer who’d made a small fortune when he angled away from jazz drumming in the 60s to play music … Continue reading

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(Paid) Sex, Crying Jags and (3/4 inch) Videotape

Above: My store-front apartment in Chicago as it appears today, housing a restaurant called West End. In 1989, there were no windows, no second story, the front door on the corner was where prostitutes hung out, my car was often … Continue reading

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On James Wolcott’s “Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in Seventies New York”

It’s not surprising that the most effective sections in James Wolcott’s memoir of the 70s are on Pauline Kael and the beginnings of CBGBs, almost all the attention the book got when it was released was in relation to the … Continue reading

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Over the Holes and Far Away

It’s hard to shake the feeling that Bruno from Michel Houellebecq’s The Elementary Particles could use a few ‘treatments’ at the Houses of Holes, the title spa of Nicholson Baker’s most recent book. Surely Bruno’s sexual self-loathing would find no … Continue reading

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Granny Was a Baller

First the obvious in this photograph of my grandmother (center, holding the ball) surrounded by her teammates: she played basketball, which I didn’t know until this photograph came to light while going through my father’s things after he died, and … Continue reading

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Joy is But the Shadow Pain Casts: The Elementary Particles

A friend had told me the last few pages of Houellebecq’s “The Elementary Particles” really flips everything and changes how you feel about the book and it’s true, if I’d skipped the Epilogue, I’m not sure where I might fall … Continue reading

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