Daily Office:


Matins: Lucy Q Denett, former associate director of revenue management at the Minerals Management Service, the government’s second-best source of revenue after taxes, was frank with investigators — up to a point:

But the report quotes Ms. Denett repeatedly telling investigators such things as “obviously I did it and it doesn’t look proper” and that in retrospect she had made a “very poor” decision. She also told them that “she had been preoccupied with a very stressful personal issue at the time,” which the report did not spell out.

Justice (Dept of) has already decided not to prosecute. Charlie Savage reports.

Lauds: What a concept: a clutch of readable novels is up for the Man Booker Prize. That would exclude Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence.

Tierce: In the Times, this anniversary morning, a few then-and-now photographs of notable structures that are no longer backdropped by the Twin Towers.

What do you see first when looking at the old photographs on the left? Almost certainly not the intended subjects. One of the pictures is meant to show the Woolworth Building. Another is of the Brooklyn Bridge. The third is supposed to depict Division Street.

Well, the thing is, I do see the Woolworth Building. It is in every way a more meaningful building than the lost towers, which achieved significance only in destruction.

Sext: Queens University Belfast will be offering a course called “Feel the Force: How to Train in the Jedi Way.” Won’t Mum and Dad be glad to hear about that! That old lunchbox will be great for lugging mobile, iPod and other kit to class.

Compline: Jean Ruaud reports that his cousins in Houston are staying put. So is my sister, in Port Aransas. The other day, she wrote to say that she’d be evacuating the next morning at six. Carol, if you can read this, our prayers are working!


§ Matins. Sex. Drugs. Royalties. The whole thing sounds like an episode of Little Annie Fanny.

§ Lauds. The shortlist also doesn’t include Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland. (There was bound to be a reaction to all that talk about Gatsby.) The six titles on the list sound pretty appetizing:

  • Aravind Adiga: The White Tiger. Class struggle (and murder) in India.
  • Sebastian Barry: The Secret Scripture. Psychiatry in Ireland.
  • Amitav Ghosh: Sea of Poppies. Drugs and Empire. (First in a trilogy.)
  • Linda Grant: The Clothes on Their Backs. The kindness of refugees.  
  • Philip Hensher: the Northern Clemency. Anomie in Thatcherland.
  • Steve Toltz: A Fraction of the Whole. The search for papa.

§ Tierce. Perhaps I ought to say, local significance. To out-of-towners, the World Trade Center appears to have constituted a central icon. Was it because they made the skyline of Manhattan more closely resemble the skyline of every other “modern” city?

For me — perhaps it’s my vintage — the Empire State Building will always be that central icon. In retrospect, I wish that it had been toppled: the loss of life would have been so much smaller. And there would have been no dithering about rebuilding it. At the time, however, I was relieved that the terrorists somehow hadn’t “got” the skyscraper’s meaning.

§ Sext. This items gives entirely new meaning to the idea of making the word flesh. From the lumber room of George Lucas’s mind to the board rooms of tomorrow’s City! Coming soon: The Jedi Way of Tendering Offers!

§ Compline. In all my years in Houston, I remember only one hurricane — vaguely. I can’t remember what it was called. I recall a lot of rain, rain rain and more rain, while I hunkered down in my garage apartment in Montrose and listened to ancient EMI reissues that had been sent to the radio station for some giveaway promotion. Give-to-rjk promotion. I got to know all sorts of chestnuts for the very first time (notwithstanding the fact that I already “knew all there was to know” about classical music — hee!): Pini di Roma, Harold in Italy, even Pictures at an Exhibition. As I recall, the power never went out.

One Response to “Daily Office:

  1. RomanHans says:

    > the lost towers . . . achieved significance only in destruction

    I loved the twin towers, and used to visit every week or so. They were clearly far taller than anything had a right to be, and while you stared at them you questioned whether it was possible for them to exist. Yes, they had no style whatsoever, but they were still an achievement on the scale of the pyramids.