Daily Office:


Matins: If it’s as nice a day as predicted, I might just walk up Second Avenue to Dmitri’s.

Prime: A look at this week’s Book Review, at Portico.

Tierce: Maureen Dowd says that Americans don’t like elitists. I’ll tell you who dislikes elitists: journalists, among other entertainers.

Sext: JR writes, with an anticipation of nostalgia for bygone days that are not, in fact, quite bygone yet, about the significance of hard copy: don’t bury the CD!


§ Matins. Dmitri’s used to be on 86th Street but that long ago moved up toward 105th Street. It’s an easy walk up there, because it’s downhill. You can take a taxi up there, but forget about hailing one for the trip home.

§ Prime. Reviewing the Book Review has become the most monastic thing that I do: I’m sure that nobody ever reads it. For one thing, who’d want to? There are other people who write about the Book Review, but their accent, naturally enough, is on the books. They only discuss the reviews if they disagree with them, or if they’re wowed by something unusually favorable. If you look at the reviews as I do — as more or less (usually less) adequate presentations of books on offer — the exercise soon becomes dispiriting. But much as I’d like to give it up, I find that I can’t, because it feels like a job that ought to be done. Even if nobody reads it.  

§ Tierce. The kerfuffle about Barack Obama’s deployment of “bitter” went pretty much unnoticed in the blue room until this morning, when everything that I like and dislike about Maureen Dowd’s smart-ass populism came into laser-like focus on a matter that has bothered me for many years, the so-called “elitist” problem. Why is it bad to be an elitist? More curious still, why will no one admit to being a member of the elite? This morning, I saw with jaw-dropping clarity that elitism has been a target of the mandarins of popular entertainment since the Depression at least.

It’s one thing — a good thing — to question what we call “the establishment.” It’s quite another to savage anyone who lacks “the common touch.” When I read, again in Ms Dowd’s column, about Hillary Clinton downing a shot of Crown Royal in a working-class bar, I thought I’d been taken to the nethermost infernal circle of American narcissism.

§ Sext. I do wonder if the pleasure of owning books and records — I’ll say “CD” if I’m speaking of music only, but “books and records” remains my habit of thought — stems, like so many pleasures, from resistance and difficulty. Information — the contents of books and records — was hard to come by when I was growing up. It was certainly expensive, at least from an impecunious adolescent’s point of view. The only way to gain easy access was to become a professional: a scholar or a musician. But I have always been a resolute amateur.

2 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. Yvonne says:

    Jon Stewart did a good job of mocking Hillary’s disingenuous “anti-elitist” tear through PA. (Saw the clip from a HuffPo link). He held up a fifth of Royal Crown, pointing out that nothing says ‘blue collar’ like whiskey that comes in a purple velvet pouch…and “by the way, when you finish the bottle of Royal Crown, you can still use the pouch to hold your broken dreams.”

    Jon on elitism: “Doesn’t ‘elite’ mean ‘good’? Is that not something we’re looking for in a President anymore? Not only do I *want* an elite president, I want someone who’s EMBARRASSINGLY SUPERIOR to me…”

  2. Hira says:

    Ed, for someone so tech savvy and a part of this instrudy, you really don’t have your ear to the rails. The search engines are in a panic, not merely on how to survive the recession but how to maintain profits in the long run. They’re rethinking their business models, not merely hunkering down.Google could, like ATT, reinvent itself and come out good for decades. But the search engine as a profit center is losing its steam. That’s what Google’s CEO and the tech market is saying, not me.Let me explain opportunity cost. You are a baker earning $30,000 per year. You open your own bakery and make $25000 in accounting profit your first year. Guess what! Your economic profit is -$5000 because you passed up the income you could get as a baker. Google had a loss, Ed, and a large one. Much of it was due to a write-down of AOL, but that bill had to come due sometime. No one at Google is dancing a jig. They just laid off 100 recruiters. That means no job growth in the next year.The internet world is changing. Google understands this. You do not. You’re simply defending your point now instead of embracing ‘the real world.’I don’t know software tech from rice farming, but I can read and understand what the street is saying. And I can see what markets are doing.TELL ME, if you can, how well Google’s advertisers did during the ‘record’ search month of December. You are ducking the shoe.Somebody already told you that searches are converting to sales only 2 percent of the time. I’d venture that is a high estimate from bargain hunting in a Christmas season.I can barely find anything on Google or Yahoo anymore even with advanced search techniques. The search engine is dying a slow death. I wish it weren’t true, but it is.