Paul Goodman

Utopian, Practical: What DREAM is our one demand?

Is the flower of revolution budding on our lawn? Paris '68 has journeyed by way of Seattle '99 and made it to New York 2011 as the #occupation of Wall Street appears to have legs. Kalle Lasn, who wrote the book on culture jamming, was already one of my heroes for giving us Adbusters magazine and Buy Nothing Day.

Eat the Fire: Paul Goodman is 100

One hundred years ago Friday—September 9, 1911—a boy was born in upper Manhattan, the “Sugar Hill” area between Washington Heights and Harlem, into a family freshly torn apart.

Good Sixties/Bad Sixties? (part 2)

Paul Goodman died in 1972, after roughly a dozen years as a widely-read and celebrated author. For this reason, he is largely remembered as a sixties figure, even though much of his important writing was published in the forties and fifties. Goodman's salad days as a public intellectual came in the early part of the sixties. Goodman became one of those figures, like Michael Harrington, C. Wright Mills, Rachel Carson, and Martin Luther King Jr., who at this pivotal moment in U.S. history transmitted into the culture ideas that helped bring about dramatic change.

Decent Poverty Report: Own Goal!!

To watch PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE is to spend time with an American who saw deeply into the nature of society and its institutions. For a time his voice was very much in vogue, and he was widely admired and quoted by influential young activists. He wasn't a "pundit" in the contemporary sense of having tailor-made opinionated commentary for every news cycle.

The Society I Live In Is Mine

Paul Goodman was a public figure who did not shrink from taking action in support of his beliefs. In the biopic PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE you'll see him alongside draft resisters; speaking out at peace rallies; going before the Board of Ed with radical reform proposals for New York City schools; advocating the banning of cars from Manhattan; and telling elite defense contractors they're the world's most dangerous men. Goodman's formal career in politics advanced no further than a school board position on Manhattan's west side.

Format

When you see the documentary biopic PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE, you can expect to learn a good amount about Paul Goodman and absorb a variety of impressions of his life. That's what you'd expect from any documentary biopic. The format of the genre imposes certain norms: an ample selection of snippets of vintage film footage and interviews, edited with adherence to standard narrative and cinema conventions, designed to hold your attention for a reasonable running time, entertain you, and provoke at least a little thought and/or feeling.

Good Sixties/Bad Sixties? (part 1)

Toward the end of PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE comes a poignant and revealing clip from a Canadian television program circa 1969. Goodman, whose writings made him closely identified with the youth movement of the sixties, is having a dialogue with a group of young people who don't seem to understand or sympathize with him much at all. One accuses him of being alienated and confused.

Where do the children play?

There's a moment midway through PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE that really struck home for me. We see a series of photographs of him as a teenager, as a young man, with a striking, unusually beaming grin.

They’re Unteachable, Thank God

One of the virtues of the documentary PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE is that it offers an answer to the question, how do you make a movie about an intellectual that isn't boring? Or even better, one that's neither boring nor shallow?

Happiness is Touch and Go

One of the vibrant streams coursing through the documentary PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE is Goodman's poetry. Goodman used verse all through his writing life. In his youth he concentrated on poems, stories, and novels, but in his later years when he left prose fiction behind, the poetry kept coming. He churned out little stanzas like some people would write diary entries. His informal, ingenuous, on-the-fly style had a notable influence on other New York artists of the time, such as Frank O'Hara, to name one.