Andrei Codrescu and the Myth of America

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Andrei Codrescu born December 20, is a Romanian-born American poet , novelist , essayist , screenwriter, and commentator for National Public Radio. In he left the country to escape from the communist regime. He also lived in Baltimore where he taught at Johns Hopkins University , New Orleans and Baton Rouge, publishing a book every year, and actively participating in literary life by writing poetry, stories, essays and reviews for many publications, including The New York Times , the Chicago Tribune , the Los Angeles Times , Harper's , and the Paris Review.

In , Codrescu became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

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He has two children, Lucian and Tristan, from his marriage to Alice Henderson, and is currently married to Laura Cole. On the December 19, , broadcast of All Things Considered , Codrescu reported that some Christians believe in a "rapture" and that 4 million believers will ascend to Heaven immediately. He continued, "The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place. NPR subsequently apologized for Cordrescu's comments, saying, "Those remarks offended listeners and crossed a line of taste and tolerance that we should have defended with greater vigilance.


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He is also a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. He won the Peabody Award for the film Road Scholar , an American road saga that he wrote and starred in. Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.

A moment with Andrei Codrescu - Sarah in Romania

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His point is that poetry encourages irrationality and sentimentality and thus appeals to the least reasonable side of human beings. I have no quarrel with that, but then look what reason has gotten us: "scientific" Marxism, eugenics, materialism without borders. There has to be a balance between the -- granted -- unprovable yearnings of the human heart and the dictates of reason.

In the past, tyrants have appealed to "reason," but they used court poets to charm the masses. Many dictators started writing poetry as students Mao, Stalin, Ho Chi Minh but later preferred killing poets instead.

Romanians have a particular love for poetry and have a beautiful, vivid language. On post-communist Romania:. FW: I like your description of post-communist Romania as a country where people, after four decades of totalitarian rule, "let out a great sigh of relief that has morphed into quickened breath, fits of anxiety, howls of agony -- a veritable caco sym phony.

AC: I saw a lot positive energy, sometimes quite surreal, in young entrepreneurs and artists. I saw also the unbearable misery of retired people who can barely survive on miniscule pensions. On the other hand, old folks crowded the churches hoping for a miracle so that they could eat.

Andrei Codrescu

Romania's youth culture:. What do you make of Romania's youth culture? AC: The young are Romania's best hope. They are not afraid, they don't whisper, slouch or hide. They are outspoken, in your face, and they will eventually replace the still-scared old folks. Families are pretty close, but attitudes are worlds apart between the old and the young.


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  5. On Vadim Tudor:. FW: Producer Jason Cohn, one of your colleagues, describes Vadim Tudor, the ultra-nationalist leader you interviewed, as a man who combines characteristics of Elvis and Hitler. Is he a buffoon? AC: He's certainly a threat, but he's neither as magnetic as Elvis nor as evil as Hitler. He's more of a clown in the Zhrinovski mold. He'll say anything that comes to his mind, especially if it's shocking or outrageous, and enjoys the reactions.

    He does make a pretty good case against corruption and that finds a large audience. Unfortunately, he's mostly a populist demagogue. Nobody has any idea what he really thinks. Democracy in Romania bearing in mind this takes place in :. FW: In your book about the revolution, The Hole in the Flag, you report that elements of the Old Guard stage-managed the overthrow of Ceausescu and found ways to insinuate themselves into the new order. How democratic do you find Romania today? Who's in charge? AC: Good question. In my opinion, there are dozens of mini-mafias operating at every level of society.

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    Some of them have achieved a modus vivendi, others are out only for narrow pieces of the pie. They are giving Romania a reputation for untrustworthiness, alas. Happily, there are also extremely scrupulous and smart people who run various civic society projects, such as Ioana Avadani of the Center for Independent Journalism, terrific journalists, and graduates from Western universities who are going back and doing good work. I first came across Andrei Codrescu with the publication of his Mioritic Space which appeared at the beginning of The Disappearance of the Outside - his "manifesto for escape" - where he gave his own version of the Miorita folk-tale.

    It is not so much a philosophical piece as the childhood experience of hearing the story at aged ten from "a thousand-year-old shepherd wrapped in a cloak of smoke. He said that a long time ago, when time was an idea whose time hadn't come, when the pear trees made peaches, and when fleas jumped into the sky wearing iron shoes weighing ninety nine pounds each, there lived in these parts a sheep called Mioritza. The flock to which Mioritza belongs is owned by three brothers. One night, Mioritza overhears the older brothers plotting to kill the youngest in the morning, in order to steal his sheep.

    The young brother is a dreamer, whose 'head is always in the stars. But, in tones as lyrical as they are tragic, the young poet-shepherd tells his beloved Mioritza to go see his mother after he is killed, and to tell her that he didn't really die, that he married the moon instead, and that all the stars were at his wedding[ There is no attempt to resist, no counterplot, no deviousness. Fate unfolds as foretold. The moon has a new husband, and the story must be known. Mioritza wanders, looking for the boy's mother.

    But she tells everyone along the way the story as well. The murder was really a wedding, the boy married the moon, and all the stars were present [ She laments the death of her beloved with stories of the origin of the worlds.