Daily Office:


Matins: As the financial collapse continues, I rather egotistically wish that I had the time and energy to comb through old Portico pages in search of I-told-you-so’s. Isn’t that stupid. Let’s say I did. Let’s say I foresaw the whole mess, exactly as it’s playing out (which I most certainly did not). So what? A good idea ahead of its time is really just another bad idea.

Tierce: Patrick McGeehan files a lucid report on the environmental impact, so to speak, of Wall Street’s latest melt-down. It will be bad for the city, of course, but it will be worse for the suburbs — which were already beginning to suffer the tribulations of increased oil prices (home heating and gasoline).

Nones: Two funny videos today: The Cult of the Cupcake and Les Misbarack.

Vespers: Notwithstanding the global gloom and doom, Damien Hirst shattered auction records the other night, bypassing his dealer and going directly to the public. Maybe that’s what you do in a crunch. Carol Jacobi writes in the Guardian about how Holman Hunt did just about the same thing in 1866, in the middle of a bank run. Oremus…

§ Matins. And the worst hasn’t even begun to begin. Massive unemployment looms. Nobody was thinking about job security when all that mortgage risk looked so juicy. The free market would find dandy new jobs for any displaced workers, right? Wrong, as Barbara Ehrenreich established with grim scrupulousness in Bait and Switch.

§ Tierce. New York City has been recklessly favoring the financial industry for almost fifty years, at the expense of the light industry that once made New York a real city. One positive outcome of the current downturn might be the elimination of New York’s preposterously onerous regulatory structures. (The “Permits, Licenses, and Regulations” page on the Business path at nyc.gov is simply blank, as if the very idea of outlining the City’s oversight schemes caused computer crashes.)

As we’ll be seeing in the coming months, healthy businesses are vital to our social well-being — much too important to be left entirely to free markets.

§ Nones. Les Misérables is the very worst show that I ever saw on Broadway; I was very nearly asked to leave the theatre for laughing at inappropriate moments. Of course, the laughter soon gave way to tears, as show after tuneless show did boffo box office. It must be something to do with the rise in autism — how can anybody listen to this dreck? I am genuinely astonished by the lack of musicality, as well as by the exhortatory tone of every song. The importance of being earnest is vastly overstated!

As for the cupcake girls, I liked their sly little reference — okay, it’s an obvious rip-off — to Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. What made them choose the Comedian Harmonists’ version of “Night and Day,” I wonder?

§ Vespers. In case you’re a glutton for miserable news, you’ll enjoy taking a global look at the credit maelstrom, again at the Guardian.

5 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. George says:

    <i>Bait and Switch</i> is great, isn’t it. However, lately the more I think about the absolute <i>audacity of greed</i> that’s involved here the more I think the model from Naomi Klein’s <i>Schock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism</i> might apply. There is a plan waiting for a trigger event and of course a good bit of <i>looking the other way</i> can do much to bring on a trigger event. “No Doc Assets, no doc income” mortgages, piles of them, rolled into CDO’s. Get real! Really!

  2. Nom de Plume says:

    Ironic that as we see a more inspirational concern for people on a larger scale in some areas (the Democrats) concurrently we find a need for more control rising (the Republicans). Politically and economically, this moment in history is a massive shake-out. Those who foment the failing system rise to protect what they created as it crumbles beneath their feet (Karl Rove). The victory is nothing short of Pyrrhic, which is why, RJ, you don’t bother to find your earlier citations or predictions. If I only had a nickel…

  3. George says:

    If you, NdeP, had the nickels you’d easily take at least the three of us to Bermuda for the weekend. I’ll start with a nice ginger beer and a bowl of fish chowder.

  4. 1904 says:

    There’s a compelling report in the Telegraph that the fitness instructor at Lehman Bros London realized yesterday morning there was something gone awry when no one showed up for his aerobics class. As the 4000 employees began clearing out their desks in the Canary Wharf HQ, “in neighbouring towers, workers from other banks watched the situation with horror.”

    I am reminded of Conrad’s narrator at the beginning of Heart of Darkness, on deck as dusk falls over the Thames and lights begin to appear, “And farther west on the upper reaches of the river the monstrous town was still marrked ominously on the sky, a brooding gloom… a lurid glare under the stars.” “And this also,” says Marlow, “has been one of the dark places of the earth.”

    This is the heart of darkness being revealed. This is just the beginning of the horror. The horror.

  5. Fossil Darling says:

    Methinks the the quote that befits what is going on here is “The horror! the horror!”