How can we clone Paul Farmer?

If I could be someone else, who would I be? Oh, I don’t know, how about someone brilliant—say, someone who grew up poor, but through sheer brilliance and effort got himself to Duke, say, on full scholarship, and then Harvard Medical School. But I’d also want to be someone who wanted to, say, do good works, maybe even save the world, since I had bumped into liberation theology along the way. So I would spend most of my time at Medical School, not in Cambridge taking courses, but rather in Haiti; pretty much my entire first year, in fact, building and funding a clinic when I was supposed to be taking classes. And then ace my exams anyway. Continue reading

On the trail of the real-life zombie: Haiti

The face of Voodoo has always been painted greasepaint white. The personification, stuck with me since I was a kid, comes from the final scene of the James Bond movie Live and Let Die. Bond has vanquished his foes, throwing the last one out the window of a moving train while on the way to a well-deserved respite with the movie’s leading lady. But perched on the front of the train sits the sinister Baron Samedi, the lord of death, a dark, dangerous figure throughout the movie, still there, in the final shot, offering a tip of his ragged top hat, laughing.

Samedi was played by Geoffrey Holder, who would go on to star in 7-Up’s “Crisp and clean and no caffeine” TV commercials, where he’d get to again let loose that deep bass laughter. As a Bond villain, that laugh had much less mirth. Samedi handled snakes, presided over dark ceremonies, and promised all sorts of evil nastiness for my favorite secret agent. He was Voodoo.

But real Voodoo is something else entirely (surprise, surprise). And yes, there are real zombies. Continue reading

Nota Bene #113: Seth's Near-Death

“Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #102: Dancing Limbaughs

“What they really want to see is, they want you to chop your fucking arm off, hold up your arm, wave it around spewing blood, and believe me, if you did that, the crowd would go fucking ballistic. You only get four good shows like that, though. Four good shows, and then you’re just a torso and a head, trying to get one of your band mates to give you one last hurrah and chop your head off. Which they probably wouldn’t do, which would really be hell.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #101: Your Pal, Mike S.

“The guys who are shooting films now are technically brilliant, but there’s no content in their films. I marvel at what I see and wish I could have done a shot like that. But shots are secondary for my films, and with some of these films, it’s all about the shots. What’s the point? I’m not sure people know what points to make.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #86: Blog Post Go Boom

I learned something new today Continue reading