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  • PAPER CUTS by Bob Biderman
    to Oregon to look into a bitter dispute between the logging industry and environmentalists When a famed ecologist is killed coupled with the disappearance of a lumber boss daughter Radkin finds himself caught up in a dangerous story that goes far beyond clear cutting the ancient redwoods Praise For The Joseph Radkin Investigation Series Has a zip and freshness of narration hard to resist The Guardian This is nothing is

    Original URL path: http://bobbiderman.com/paper02.htm (2016-04-30)
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  • Sacha Dumont's Amsterdam
    and bohemian has been accused of murdering a prostitute Following a twisty path through history Sacha is led on a heady journey of discovery giving the reader a unique insight into the contrasts and contradictions from which the new Europe is being constructed Anyone fascinated with Amsterdam art bohemia and urban mysteries will absolutely love Sacha Dumont We give it a five star rating Visions of the City Magazine Quality

    Original URL path: http://bobbiderman.com/sacha01.htm (2016-04-30)
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  • Mayan Strawberries by Bob Biderman
    killer or a patsy set up to distract attention from a right wing cult Mayan Strawberries combines a fascinating anthropological study with the deadly politics of Central America in an exciting thriller by the author of Paper Cuts Judgment of Death and Genesis Files Praise For The Joseph Radkin Investigation Series Has a zip and freshness of narration hard to resist The Guardian This is nothing is what it seems

    Original URL path: http://bobbiderman.com/mayan01.htm (2016-04-30)
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  • Interviews with Bob Biderman
    again at a critical turning point as it has been occasionally during its short history In the 1960s and 70s young Americans questioned the implications of the American Dream as construed by their fathers and mothers and played around with their own idea of a Red one Then in subsequent decades the American Dream became further obfuscated by an unbridled quest for wealth and power Now once again young Americans and older ones too are questioning the nature of the American Dream in the wake of a disastrous military adventure which has pushed many into the role of active oppositionists But dreams of whatever colour can be divided into reality and myth Both the American Dream and Red Dream were partly woven of fantasy but the Red Dream in America was relegated to the dismal past whereas the American Dream re interpreted by the likes of Bush meant a near Orwellian dystopia formulated through the doctors of spin as Paradise unless you were or looked to be Arabic American intellectuals those who the mass media chose to represent them have been cowed in a very similar way they were in the 50s when basic ideas of civil rights and liberties were crushed by the fear of reds under beds just as now they conjure up swarthy men with frightful beards who linger in the shadow of jihad Has the terror run its course Perhaps the American Dream will be remoulded again with aspects of the Red Dream that came from the quest for human rights and human dignity a basic humanity that has so far eluded us Interview with Bob Biderman by Yann Perreau Otis Review Otis College of Art and Design 2008 Issue 2 1951 the year of Catcher in the Rye At eighteen years old JD Salinger after a work placement at a saughterhouse decides he is going to be a writer Alan your alter ego in the book similarly has a job in a butcher shop Like Salinger Alan can be seen as a symbol of this generation the one of disillusioned dreams Do you identify with Salinger s character And is he a source of inspiration for you Salinger s Catcher in the Rye was an iconic book for my generation one of those immediate classics that became a cultural referent even for those who didn t read novels However it s important to remember how divided the response was when the book first came out not only because of its theme regarding youthful alienation at a time when America was promoting itself as the bastion of everything good and shiny so what reason would there be for alienation in the best of all possible worlds it also was a radical shift stylistically as it pared back prose to the essential lingering less on florid detail and more on language connecting the reader to a kind of adolescent angst that was still bound and tethered back in 1951 But did I personally identify with Salinger s character Yes and no maybe now more than before Holden Caulfield was coming out of a culture I knew little about one that could even conceive of sending their children to military prep school and that seemed to have few coherent dreams or comprehensible ideals This is why in the main the novel was scarcely understood by first generation immigrants who couldn t fathom why anyone would be interested in the story of a kid who didn t seem to know what to do with himself in a country that supposedly rewarded hard work and self reliance But later as the political and social hypocrisy of 50s America had truly sunk in after the ravages of McCarthyism Caulfield who I had always conceived of as coming out of that mythical idea of middle America I was flabbergasted when I discovered Salinger had a Jewish background began to represent the brooding nihilism that was starting to emerge as that dreadful decade expired Your reference to meat is an interesting one Salinger when he was writing Catcher in the Rye was a practicing Zen Buddhist and subsequently a follower of a Hindu sect His father had been a kosher cheese salesman So certain meats in his childhood were taboo and in his later life he most likely played around with being a vegetarian There is something about meat consumption in America thick rare steaks oozing with blood triple decker hamburgers dripping with fat that links into a raw carnivorous madness and I m not a vegetarian In Red Dreams I felt I came closest to portraying that strange connection between the rather weird notion of freedom and the craving for limitless consumption in the chapter about the Hungarian Butcher Have you been influenced by other coming of age writers It s interesting to me that Salinger s list of writers who influenced him Kafka Flaubert Tolstoy Chekhov Dostoevsky Proust Rilke Lorca Keats Rimbaud Burns E Brontë Jane Austen Henry James Blake Coleridge is pretty much the same as mine if you leave out Austen and Bronte and insert George Sand and Emma Goldman for the women It s interesting that his list is mainly made up of French Russian and German writers whose novels I suspect he read in translation as did I The three American writers I feel most connected to are Steinbeck Jack London and Mark Twain The two best coming of age novels in American literature for me are London s Martin Eden and Twain s Huckleberry Finn Of those I would say London s Martin Eden was the one that stayed with me even though most people consider it to be one of his lesser books But far and away the American writer who influenced me the most was Raymond Chandler an English ex pat whose sense of émigré gave him a unique vision of Americana and whose foreign ear gave him the ability to pick up on the beautiful nuances of linguistic diversity that makes American from

    Original URL path: http://bobbiderman.com/interviews.htm (2016-04-30)
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  • Eight Weeks in the Summer of Victoria's Jubilee by Bob Biderman
    those farm labourers who put down their spade and hoe and remained in Britain the vast majority over 40 000 a year made their way to London where they found themselves competing for accommodation and jobs with the other immigrant force which for the last decade had surged in ever swelling waves onto the quays of Britain s great harbours This foreign element mostly Eastern European Jews who had been impoverished by Czarist dictates limiting their occupations and rights of abode had been swept up in the great economic tide to be deposited like flotsam in places as diverse as Cape Town Buenos Aires and New York Some tens of thousands ended up climbing stiffly from the holds of cross channel ships into water taxis that left them hungry and homeless on the East End Docks of London The East End was quite a different London than the one illuminated brightly for the Jubilee Bleak and dour to the outsider at least it was considered by the professional and artistic elites who never stepped foot beyond Aldgate if they could help it to be nothing short of a human dustbin overflowing with the dregs of society A series of dull squalid narrow streets and alleys branching off the main business arteries of Whitechapel and Commercial Roads and running south to the docklands of Wapping it was looked upon with a mixture of fascination fear and loathing by the middle classes whose visions of the area were influenced by the lurid and somewhat grotesque journalistic sketches of Mayhew and the mawkish paintings by Gustave Dore In reality the East End was a vital economic appendage of the other London and just as much a product participator and shaper of the times Certainly one of the most densely populated areas in Europe these streets were anything but the great receptacle of rogues knaves wastrels and tramps that the received wisdom of the better classes tried to make out Contrary to the image of dereliction and disease the communities of the East End were a multitude of small beehive industries which competed successfully with the sluggish factory shops still closely tied to the patronage system Largely populated by an alien element which put its own cultural identity before the English notions of order and cleanliness articulated in intricately demanding rules of social conduct the belief persisted that life in the East End was barely civilized What made the East End alien territory wasn t so much the dirt but the Jews By 1887 they had taken over a number of the streets completely Cramming as many as twenty people into a small three room house an estimated 50 000 refugees from the Czarist pale squeezed into an area no larger than a village But while this ghetto was certainly no more or less a world apart than many that had existed throughout Europe over the centuries what was so extraordinary is that it seemed to have sprung up overnight In fact a small stable Jewish community had been in London for hundreds of years though the difference between the new immigrants and their religious brethren was as great as the distance they had travelled to get there Steeped in the culture of Spain before the inquisition these early Jews had come to England by a different route Well educated and proud as any high strung aristocrat they had for the most part arrived from their refuge in Amsterdam soon after Cromwell s desperate invitation to the independent financiers of Europe giving them rights of abode and certain privileges if not complete and equal freedom These Sephardic Jews who soon assimilated into the higher strata of British life had little in common with the new immigrants except perhaps a shared history of persecution and aspects of an ancient religion Hard on their heals came a scattering of German and Eastern European Jewish merchants aware of the new opportunities that had opened for them in this northern outpost of capitalist enterprise and tired of the anti Semitic hostilities which swung according to the cycles of economic growth and contraction like the hand of a pendulum one day giving them honours taking them away the next By 1887 these older Jewish settlements had become the basis of the established Anglo Jewish community well settled and affluent though like most communities of Jews slightly apprehensive at what the future might hold for them This deep seated and basic insecurity echoed through the pages of the Jewish Chronicle the leading voice of their community which stated in its editorial celebrating the Queen s Jubilee Happily we have shown that we are not unworthy of the liberties which we have claimed as our right Few other Englishmen felt the need to prove themselves worthy of liberty as did the Anglicised Jew Yet by Jubilee Summer the list of their successes was endless Besides Disraeli a lapsed Jew but well aware of his heritage there was Sir Moses Montefiore who represented the Queen in the mid east Michael Josephs well respected in the halls of science David Solomons the first Jewish Sheriff of Middlesex as well as the famous names in finance the Rothchilds the Goldsmids the Mocattas The future Jewish historian wrote the Chronicle will have to describe the Victorian age as the most marvellous era in Anglo Jewish annals For it is impossible to imagine another space of fifty years working a revolution equally vast in the condition of the Jews of this country and more truly causing a people that walked in darkness to see a great light It was left to the Jewish Board of Guardians to make sure that light continued to shine For dark clouds were hovering over the eastern horizon smoke from the Russian crucible brought to the boil and now spilling over the borders of the pale Five million poverty stricken co religionists compressed in an area which was fast becoming an economic wasteland looked anxiously to the west for salvation The

    Original URL path: http://bobbiderman.com/eightweeks.htm (2016-04-30)
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  • Café des Phares by Bob Biderman
    do cafés Have you heard of the new cybercafes Yes of course There are fifteen of them in Paris I take her to my favourite It is Le Web Bar tucked away in the old quarter of La Marais We enter through an ordinary dining room and head toward the back which opens up into a rotunda The rotunda has a glass roof and when the sun is out the space is filled with the kind of light a painter dies for The floor is concrete The tables are rounded stone The chairs are stone as well but fortunately relieved by some bolstered softness The enormous room is filled with art Tapestries and paintings hang from the walls Tables share floor space with sculptures Floral displays reside in hand crafted pots The café is as much a gallery as indeed it was in a past incarnation But what she asks makes it cyber I point to the circular balconies above The computer stations are there placed unobtrusively high up on the wall You can feel the youthful energy in the art and in the clientele The place is run by a collective I have spoken before with Steve Gabison one of the young directors He is a slim cheerful man with a boyish charm that seems to delight my friend s daughter We wanted a convergence of art and technology he says offering us a freshly brewed coffee Just as art is a window to the soul the Internet is a window to the world I tell him of a cybercafe in Cambridge run by an academic linguist who was intrigued by the idea of various forms of conversation The walls of the café were lined with books His notion was to stimulate three forms of discourse person to person person to author and person to cyberspace The café became his own linguistic laboratory But why I ask have cybercafes become such a phenomena in Paris He tells me that partly it has to do with the French fascination with technology Even more it s an outlet for the youth culture oriented around techno music and hard rock video The electronic sounds and shapes are a natural convergence in hyperspace So too is the sense of controlled anarchy that is a feature of the Internet culture Hyperspace is the last frontier It is a place that has yet to be explored There are few rules and it is open to everyone My friend s daughter likes that Coming from him that is I have the feeling she would have liked whatever he said Later we go to another one This time near the underground bastion of the Parisian demi monde Les Halles Nearby is an old converted warehouse Here the techno beat is strong the temperature hot and reality borders on the virtual She fancies it It don t The divide like the music is just too strong I leave her there and go to a nondescript café nearby A

    Original URL path: http://bobbiderman.com/phares.htm (2016-04-30)
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  • Fear of Flying by Bob Biderman
    the interim Why don t people applaud any more when the plane lands safely Have we been seduced into thinking flying is safe Or does it have more to do with a different sense of mortality I m not sure what it is but certainly there seems to be less people concerned with flying nowadays Remember the book The Fear of Flying The title had a resonance even though it wasn t about flying at all because there were so many people back then who actually were terrified of going up in an aircraft Somehow there s been a real change in attitude Flying has become the norm Everyone flies and few think much of it What does it mean that the entire process has become so ordinary Even now when I look out the porthole window at the mountains below is it Colorado we re flying over or Montana Who knows It has lost its allure I could just as easily be watching TV Even though the mountains below are real as distinct from an image there is something unreal about it It could just as easily be an image projected onto the exterior glass It s not And it wouldn t be But the sensation of image being imposed rather than a real scene of some magnificent topography is very strong Seen from above from this height everything is unreal It is not understood as actual geography The snow on the mountaintop that we have just flown over could be frosted sugar as far as I know It has that sense of the surreal And yet another side of me is aware that there is a miracle happening I am flying I am flying over some of the tallest mountains and over the great prairies of America And

    Original URL path: http://bobbiderman.com/fear.htm (2016-04-30)
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  • Glittering Prizes by Bob Biderman
    book became the product But I m not so sure this wasn t always the case Books and writing don t exist in isolation from the creator The authors always come with books even if we didn t know their names The change in emphasis had to do with marketing on a wider level and the expansion of the medium It s not that there hadn t been publicity before it s just that it worked in different ways It was quieter there was a network of recommendations The bookshops took it upon themselves to know about the books being published and could pass on information to their customers But certain writers were in fashion and those were the ones who were read I think the difference today is that the writer has become enmeshed in the cult of personality and fame that goes along with all in the communications industries Whether one is a writer actor or musician there is an interesting crossover where fame becomes the defining characteristic Once that has been established it doesn t matter anymore which vehicle is used a musician can be a writer or a singer can be an actor It s the personality that is being marketed The form really doesn t matter But there are other aspects of art that weren t considered at all in this show They have to do with the nature of art as political and social expression This type of art goes far beyond the personality who is often subsumed by the process and just becomes a representative or vehicle for its transmission It s rare that this kind of art is taken up in the commercial realm And when it does there are certain contradictions that are difficult to resolve I am thinking of John

    Original URL path: http://bobbiderman.com/glitering.htm (2016-04-30)
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