Daily Office:


Matins: Back to Afghanistan, where the war always made sense: one hopes that this is how our Iraqi misadventure will end, with a withdrawal to the most troubled part of Central Asia known to the West. What happens in Iraq really never did, at day’s end, matter, except to the Iraqis and to the petulant son of George H W Bush. The future of Pakistan (and, with it, India) is however tied up in the mountain fastnesses where a version of Iranian is lingua franca.

Lauds: Although I’m disinclined to poach from coverage of the Book Review, Toni Bentley’s review of a new translation of Akim Volynsky’s Ballet’s Magic Kingdom: Selected Writings on Dance in Russia, 1911-1925 is so chock-a-block with densely beautiful passages about ballet that I must mention it here.

Prime: Is Alaska really that big? Too bad it looks like a maple leaf.

Tierce:  Of all the rackets to complain about in an apparently noisy neighborhood, a Hamburger homeowner has sued to close a nearby day-care center. Carter Dougherty reports.

Sext: Although I can muster a few plausible observations to explain why I didn’t know until today about the Bacon Explosion, a torpedo of cholesterol that was launched on an unsuspecting world on or about Christmas Day, I think it’s best just to admit that I simply not cool. What’s really interesting is that I read about it in the Times. That’s how I found out about the latest (?) Blogosphere sensation.

Nones: Members of Sri Ram Sena (the Army of Lord Ram) assaulted and chased women drinking in a public bar in Mangalore, Karnataka, according to BBC News. The group’s leader, Pramod Mutalik, says it is “not acceptable” for women to go to bars in India.”

For the past two days, he has argued that Saturday’s assault on the women was justifiable because his men were preserving Indian culture and moral values.

Vespers: A few weeks ago, I came up with the concept of “Dorm Lit” — the masculine correlative to “Chick Lit.” A bookcase stocked with Mailer, Vonnegut, Heller, Pynchon, and The Catcher in the Rye is the prototypical Dorm Shelf. Just last night, I was wondering what newer authors might join these august ranks? Ms NOLA mentioned Murakami — Bingo! And now the brouhaha over the facts of Roberto Bolaño’s life reminds me to add the Chilean author to the list. You don’t even have to read any of the late writer’s books, because the quarrel over his biography seems torn from one of his stories.  

Compline: It’s hard to imagine the publication by any mainstream American newspaper or magazine of Seumas Milne’s attribution of social progress in Latin America — and rejection of neoliberalism worldwide — to the Cuban Revolution. Harper’s or The New Yorker might print a watered-down version, but not what appeared in The Guardian.


§ Matins. Not that the Mesopotamians can be expected to forgive us anytime soon for our ill-considered intervention.

§ Lauds. And the beauties are all Ms Bentley’s. That she manages to make this collection of the utterly impossible Volynsky’s writings sound indispensable is as great a feat of legerdemain as the 32 fouettées called for in Swan Lake.

§ Prime. Given the parlous state of the US economy, and the fact that Vladimir Putin is such a reczarista that he may not have noticed that the Russian economy is no better off at the moment, I say, sell it back. Heck, give it back! Let Vlad the Imploser figure out what to do with Sarah the ImPalin.

§ Tierce. Maybe that’s because nothing can be done about the Airbus landing-strip overflight, or the local train station, or the busy thoroughfare.

Mr Dougherty’s story does not mention the oddness of complaining about a disturbance that, almost by definition, occurs only during working hours. The kiddies aren’t likely to be out there shrieking at eleven at night.

One of the great pleasures of my working environment is the sound of children playing outdoors in the afternoons on fair days. (Not, in other words, at this time of year.) As we’re in New York, the playground is on a rooftop — but the rooftop is about fifteen storeys lower than my windows. As I’ve been working in this room for over twenty years, it won’t be long before I’m listening the exuberant cries of the children of the children who were running around when I retired from the practice of law. I would miss the noise very badly.

§ Sext. Apartment-dwelling Manhattanites don’t usually own (or at least operate) smokers, and barbecue is left to specialty restaurants such as Virgil’s. One can find barbecue in Queens, I’m told, but then one can find every cuisine in the world across the East River. I’m told. Question, though: why would you want to smoke bacon? Bacon has already been smoked.

§ Nones. The question is whether Sri Ram Sena is a marginal organization or whether it is associated, however, informally, with the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Indian elite is appropriately outraged.

The Hindustan Times newspaper, in an editorial, described the attackers as “thugs, not custodians”.

“We have seen a rash of self-appointed moral guardians telling people what art is ‘acceptable’ and what they should wear or read. Such proscriptions have no place in a diverse democracy like ours,” the newspaper wrote.

“The Sri Ram Sena goons… should be made an example of to deter future self-righteous busybodies who give Ram and India a bad name.”

§ Vespers. I’m not saying that “Dorm Lit” is inferior; I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is that it reinforces and reassures a certain gender-linked outlook or state of mind.

§ Compline. Mr Milne notes that President Obama has promised to reverse Bush Administration constraints on travel to Cuba. That’s a great first step: the more Americans visit Cuba, the sooner the embargo will come to an end.

Most Americans still don’t seem to understand that Castro’s nationwide appropriations took from the white bourgeoisie and bestowed it upon the black peonage. No matter how hard Cuban life might appear to be from a Western viewpoint — no matter how ridiculous and boring the Fearless Leader may have been — the racist regime that Castro overthrew was all but incomparably worse.

4 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. Tony says:

    I have to say I am completely appalled by the notion of the bacon explosion. Mostly because I really want some now! Heavens preserve my arteries, but it really does sound tasty.

    But then, I am still planning on making bacon, pecan ice cream.

  2. Fossil Darling says:

    I may incorporate that delicious bacon explosion into a version of Depressaganza, after recovering from Rib Eye Clemenceau at Galatoire’s last Sunday.

  3. Migs says:

    What about Lawrence? The cover alone of Lady Chatterley’s – Penguin, Deluxe Edition, introduction by Doris Lessing – should be his ticket to the Dorm Lit author list. But then again, it might also be a staggering evidence of Chick-Lit-ness.

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