Archive for the '1n) Foul Shots' Category


Foul Shots


Levin clears his files.

The fitting response to “gatekeeping” doctors who refuse to order certain procedures or make specialist referrals because it means losing a percentage of their HMO take is, of course, to break their collarbones. But short of that, I think physicians found capable of compromising patient care for financial gain should thereafter be addressed not as “Doctor,” but as “Mister,” the appropriate title for the businessman they’ve opted to be. It may not seem like much in the way of revenge, but I’ve noticed that doctors get seriously unhinged when you call them “Mister.” (No, I’m not going to bother reconstructing any sentences to accommodate women doctors. Women are supposed to be more compassionate than men. If they pull that “I don’t think the hole in your heart is big enough yet to warrant a cardiologist” shit, they don’t rate even gender recognition—call them “Mister,” too!)
When you’re put on hold in America you might very well be subjected to a lackluster Naval Academy Choir cover of “Bitch Better Have My Money.” But when I called a company in Italy recently I got to hear the entire first act of La Bohème.
In my experience, if a relationship survives the first fart there’s a better than even chance that it’ll last for a while.
When individuals or groups demand that I respect them, they are displaying an uncertainty about their respectability—and a need for my reassurance—that only makes me contemptuous of them.
How slovenly we’ve become in our pursuit of money is no way better exhibited than by the loose subscription cards that cascade from our magazines. I appreciate the fact that a lot of magazines are in trouble and I know that good subscription numbers sell advertising, but for me these cards have only resulted in a pronounced aversion to newsstands. And I can’t be alone. The choice of having a torso that’s permanently bent at an angle perpendicular to your asshole, or leaving a trail of “blow-ins” from your subway stop to your apartment door—tipping off the entire neighborhood that you’ve squirreled a copy of “Miraculous Mammaries” inside the annual face towel issue of “Macrame Times”—has to be hurting magazine sales at least as much as the dwindling literacy rate. (It should go without saying that those were arbitrary titles that happened to come to mind.)
I’ve never been represented by anyone in the House of Representatives.
Actors who are nominated for but fail to win an Academy Award are, a year or so later, better off emotionally than those who do.

They still don’t know that winning such an award won’t save them.
In most of our stores these days, trying to negotiate a simple purchase with personnel who, by all appearances, were clients of the City University of New York placement service, is to subject yourself to a degree of torture the proverbial Turkish prison warden would be loathe to inflict. But it’s stores where the salespeople are trained to pounce and hover, and where the security guards greet you at the door like they haven’t seen you since you did hard time together, that irritate me the most. Betraying both desperation and a guiltiness about something, they automatically lose any prospect of getting my business.
Have you seen a Public Service Announcement that’s been running on late-night TV? Opening in a hospital nursery with white and black babies in adjacent cribs, it ends with a shot of a cemetery. I don’t recall the voiceover well enough to quote it right now, but the point is that life’s too short to waste a moment of it on racial discrimination.

Whenever this spot comes on I’m reminded of how stupid people can be. I’m referring to the statement, not the bigot. Because as well intentioned as it presumably is, the only effect a statement like this could possibly have (and especially at three in the morning) is to strengthen the reality of racism.

Notwithstanding the plethora of studies that choke our libraries (and which serve only to obfuscate a simple truth with discussions of social, historical, political and economic factors), racism is rooted in a basic human need that derives from the very fact that life is short. I’m speaking of the need to feel superior to other humans in the eyes of the gods, to own a positive distinction that implicitly offers the assurance of one’s eligibility to transcend one’s death in an afterlife, where space is assumed to be limited.

By presenting some of the easiest ways available to define and separate ourselves, differences in color, culture or customs afford the less resourceful among us an opportunity to claim such a distinction.

You want to end racism? Abolish death!
I wish I could make my cat laugh.
The real mission of proselytizing religious groups isn’t to share a revelation; it’s to validate beliefs they’re not sure of by securing the agreement of others.
Since I think that, for the most part, the people in charge of educating New York City’s children would be more suitably employed as highway dividers, I certainly don’t want to appear to be coming to their defense. But it should be pointed out that in its front page story about that faculty-written junior high school graduation program with all the spelling errors, the “Daily News” incorrectly identified “programme” as a misspelling of “program.” In fact, “programme” is a legitimate, if chiefly British, variant. Apparently the folks who wrote and edited the “News” piece are themselves products of New York’s school system.
It’s true that not every country can claim the sophistication to properly handle democracy. And nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the United States where George Bush was twice elected president.
Where can you relax or drop your guard these days? I’m thinking of how stressful and enervating the dumbing down vogue has made all but the most basic of verbal exchanges. I’m also thinking of the automatic defensive posture rampant greed forces you to take when you enter into the most elementary of financial transactions. I’m thinking as well of the increasing incidence of random violence. And I haven’t begun to talk about what you have to face after you’ve left your family in the morning.
I would love to live in a world that’s scripted by Aaron Sorkin.
People tend to be confused about this. I’m not pro-choice, I’m pro-abortion. There are currently six billion humans on this planet, most of whom are stupid and unattractive and all of whom show up at precisely the moment I’m in a supermarket aisle and reaching for something on a lower shelf.
Since I get all the violence and profanity I need at home I only go to the movies for sex.
You want to know what’s wrong, why I’m so jittery all the time? I’ll tell you. It’s the stunning flaws in nature’s design of the female body. I mean a freshman at Pratt, for Christ’s sake, would have known better than to locate the portal to the world in such close proximity to the anus. On the order of something my plumber might try to get away with, this demoralizing arrangement has made the moment of one’s birth tantamount to exiting a subway station in downtown Jersey City. Yes, there may have been some practical justification for joining the female genitalia and the birth canal (although I find it interesting that even the manufacturers of Coke machines, and in a time of budget constraints, have managed to maintain a respectful distance between the coin slot and the delivery bin.) But at the very least, these organs should have been positioned where the former would be quickly accessible, where the necessity to get undressed would have been eliminated. (The spot I’d have chosen is the side of the neck, just above the clavicle.
Uncredited lines in the screenplay of the film “The Interning,” directed by Samrat Chakrabarti and starring Matt Gaetano Levin.

“Black lives matter doesn’t mean white lives don’t matter, it means black lives also matter.”

“The only black lives I care about are the ones who might be carrying a knife or a gun.”


Fully aware of the grievous toll Covid-19 has already taken, and belonging to the demographic deemed most vulnerable to contracting a lethal case of it, I’m hardly inclined to make light of the disease. But owning the belief that in ways self-evident or convoluted, to mitigate the terror of death is a provenance of virtually all human behavior, I can’t help but be amused by certain of the reactions to the virus and what they reveal about the games we play with our minds in order to alleviate existential dread.

I’m speaking of the extreme, indeed overwrought, adherence by many of us to protocols we’ve been told will shield us from infection, and which can range from, say, never leaving the house to painstakingly sanitizing one’s mail.

Being obsessively immersed in such protective measures enables us to feel that we’ve narrowed the infinite causes of death to a single and, crucially, avoidable one.

For a not insignificant percentage of the population, Covid-19 comes as something of a gift.


Writings & Miscellaneous

Books by Robert Levin

When Pacino’s Hot, I’m Hot
The Drill Press LLC

Against Mental Health: Short Stories


“A writer of talent and intelligence.” — Irving Louis Horowitz

“Distinguished quality…profound emotion.” —Dr. Karunesh Kumar Agrawal

“Some real gold in here.”—B.D. Charles


Music & Politics
by John Sinclair and Robert Levin
World Publishing

“Robert Levin’s articles…make up the second half of Music and Politics, and they’re something else again. He’s a quietly briliant writer (not flashy but subtly dazzling) who knows jazz extremely well and who knows how to let us know what he knows. His piece on Sunny Murray says more about the birth of the New Jazz than most writers could say in a volume; the Anthony Braxton interview is one of the freshest, most reassuring articles on the future of music (of the arts in general) that I’ve read; his ‘found critique’ of ‘Space’ by the MJQ, which contrasts Murray’s thoughts on music at the White House with President Nixon’s introduction of the MJQ in that very place, is brilliant; his piece on the unfortunate evolution of Willis Jackson…is a minor masterpiece; and he’s lucid and painful and thoroughly correct when he writes that ‘What is meant by ‘every man has his price’ is that every man has his uncertainty about the validity and sanity of his perception of the truth. To ‘sell out’ is to capitulate to that uncertainty.'”
—Colman Andrews, Creem

Giants of Black Music
Edited by Pauline Rivelli and Robert Levin, with a foreword by Nat Hentoff
Da Capo Press