Daily Office:


Matins: Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre take pictures of ruins. Remember when ruins were in Europe? No longer, mon cher. Below the fold, M&M’s photo of Detroit’s Central Station. “The Ruins of Detroit” — sans Beethoven. (via The Best Part)

Lauds: Daniel Barenboim, one of the greatest musicians alive, seems determined to make a mark in a second career: normalizing Arab-Israeli relations. He’ll be conducting a concert in Cairo (Al Qahirah) next week. Bravo!

Prime: Yesterday afternoon, I read at Facebook that my daughter “has gone mental for GoldFish.” I was pretty sure that she wasn’t talking Pepperidge Farm, but I pressed the proffered links anyway. Anybody remember “Captain of Her Heart,” by Blue? The lead has just about the same voice.

Tierce: Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan, lists ten principles for a healthier economy. I hardly know which one I like best. (via  The Morning News)

7. Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to “restore confidence”. Cascading rumours are a product of complex systems. Governments cannot stop the rumours. Simply, we need to be in a position to shrug off rumours, be robust in the face of them.

Sext: Who is Susan Powter? The other day, Everything Is Terrible, a site that curates awful videos, spotted her “How to Shop at a Grocery Store.”

Nones: With the viability of tax havens in doubt, Monaco upgrades its luxury haven operation.

Vespers: Susan Sontag talks! “The elevator swished up like a gigolo’s hand on a silk stocking.” On her way, that is, to interview Philip Johnson, sometime back in the Sixties. (Via Tomorrow Museum)

Compline: Richard Kalnins grew up in Connecticut, but he spent his childhood Saturdays in Yonkers — the whole day at Latvian school.

Inside, we were strictly forbidden to speak English. My classmates and I spent the day in small classrooms, decorated with framed portraits of presidents from the first Latvian republic, where we listened to white-haired octogenarians talk about their lives in Latvia before the war. We picked through the dense pages of nineteenth-century pastoral novels, recited the names of the country’s longest rivers and biggest lakes, chanted noun declensions in singular and plural, masculine and feminine, and sat on stiff metal chairs by the piano in the basement, crooning folk songs about mowing meadows of clover and watching the sun set into the sea. The rooms were stuffy and overheated and smelled of dusty radiators and chalky erasers. Across the street, old Puerto Rican men in shirtsleeves hung out the windows of what somebody’s brother called a welfare hotel. I couldn’t stand it. I hated Latvia.

Because of the holiday weekend, the next Daily Office will appear on Tuesday, 14 April. Bon weekend à tous!

§ Matins. Our throwaway culture is itself in ruins.


This proof, that such a majestic building should be abandoned and left to rot by sentient human beings, is the only conceivable epitaph for “the American Century.” Demolition will be the whitedest of whited sepulchres.

§ Lauds. The concert was to have taken place in January, “but it was canceled  due to Israel’s deadly 22-day military onslaught of Gaza.” (AFP)

§ Prime. A hit from 1986 that I still haven’t quite recovered from. As I recall, the band was German. Double is still a great album.

§ Tierce. The last thing we want to pursue in these times is recovery. Mr Taleb says that we need rehabilitation, but I’m inclined to resist any words beginning with “re-“.

§ Sext. Since a video is worth a million words, I’ll let Ms Powter’s brand of vivacity speak for itself. I have to sneak back every hour or so for another look. This is what happens when Auntie Mame trades in her martini glass for a smoothie shaker. For more about wellness and juicing:  SusanPowterOnline.com.

§ Nones. At the recent conference in London, G20 leaders placed four tax havens — three nations and a province of Malaysia; none of them in Europe — on a blacklist. Monaco, along with Switzerland and Liechtenstein, could point to the fact that they were not on this blacklist. Such favorable comparisons lasted a week.

This would not be a good time, I think, to invest in Monegasque real estate.

§ Vespers. That’s about as bookish as things get this evening. Spring fever, I suppose.

§ Compline. But of course that’s where Mr Kalnins lives now — and teaches English to his son.

The conditions under which people have left a homeland for the United States seems to determine, not surprisingly, the passion with which they hold on to the culture that they have left behind. In the case of Mr Kalnins’s mother, of course, it was more a matter of keeping Latvian culture alive; what she left behind was trampled by the Soviets.

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