Although the execution of intellectually disabled prisoners was banned by the US supreme court in 2002, Texas used the discretion allowed to individual states to come up with its own criteria of learning difficulties. These use the character of Lennie, the gentle simpleton who doesn’t know his own strength from Steinbeck’s 1937 novel ‘Of Mice and Men’, as a benchmark, with the court writing: ‘Texas citizens might agree that Steinbeck’s Lennie should, by virtue of his lack of reasoning ability and adaptive skills, be exempt’.
When Martin Amis moved to Cobble Hill last year it was widely viewed by the press as an official imprimatur on Brooklyn’s status as the writing factory of America. Not that Brooklyn was ever short of writers – Walt Whitman used to edit the Brooklyn Eagle, and Norman Mailer held court in Brooklyn Heights for much of his life, alongside Truman Capote – but the phenomenon is now so pronounced that you could say, without exaggeration, that there are two principal avenues for would-be writers in America. The first is to swallow the exorbitant price tag for one of the country’s multiplying creative-writing courses (usually Masters of Fine Arts, or MFAs); the second is to move to Brooklyn.
The emergence of an international protest movement without a coherent program is therefore not an accident: it reflects a deeper crisis, one without an obvious solution. The situation is like that of psychoanalysis, where the patient knows the answer (his symptoms are such answers) but doesn’t know to what they are answers, and the analyst has to formulate a question. Only through such a patient work a program will emerge.
Check out this classic video from Yo! MTV Raps of Boss performing “Deeper”. The west coast, hard rapper was signed to Def Jam West by Def Jam founder Russell Simmons.
The label is coming out with a new book this fall: Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label and some guests, including Simmons, will be at LIVE this fall! Read up on the book and the label’s history here.