Archive for the ‘L’Hexagoniste’ Category

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Lundi à Paris

Monday, March 22nd, 2010


Jules Vernacular (via  MetaFilter)

Paris 26 Megapixels (via

Inondations 1910 (via The Purest of Treats)

Daily Office:

Thursday, October 1st, 2009


Matins: Jebediah Reed complains about some insidiously sexy energy ads, at The Infrastructurist.

Lauds: Jon Henley considers the French tradition of treating artists as out-of-the-ordinary — à propos Roman Polanski’s arrest in Switzerland.

Prime: Oops! Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand appears to have hidden the Prisoner’s Dilemma — from Alan Greenspan, at least. John Cassidy at The New Yorker.

Tierce: A library/staircase, in London, at Apartment Therapy. (via

Sext: How to make… (are you sitting down?)… Bacon Mayonnaise. And we don’t mean mayonnaise with bits of bacon broken up in it. We mean mayonnaise made with over a cup of bacon fat! (At How to Cook Like Your Grandmother.)

Nones: Honduras’ Geneeral Romeo Vasquez thinks that it’s time  to come to terms. As the man who oversaw the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya, he may be listened to.

Vespers: Patrick Kurp connects two great Italian modernists, Giorgio Morandi and Eugenio Montale.

Compline: Arthur Krystal’s essay, “When Writers Speak,” reminded us that, even though we can make no properly scientific claims in our support, everything that Steven Pinker says about language seems not so much wrong as tone-deaf.  


Daily Office:

Friday, September 18th, 2009


Matins: An attempt to “urbanize” Tyson’s Corner, Virginia appears to have spooked the planners: they don’t want anything too urban!

Lauds: With Julie & Julia about to open in France, a number of critics are echoing Mme Brassart.

Prime: A word about arbitrage from Felix Salmon. Actually, two words:

  • Picking up nickels in front of a steamroller
  • Don’t try this at home.

Tierce: As if it had been waiting for rifts within the Anglican Communion to threatens its future, Canterbury Cathedral has begun to fall down in earnest. (via The Morning News)

Sext: Fast Food: The DeStyling.

Nones: Has or has not fighting broken out between China and India? Officially, not. But the media on both sides pipe a different tune. Amit Baruah reports from the BBC.

Vespers: A nice, long, faux-depressing, genuinely funny look at the publishing biz, by former Random House editor Daniel Menaker.

Compline: Paul Graham on The List of N Things: sometimes a simple list fits the case exactly, but, too often, it’s “a degenerate case of essay.” (via  Mnémoglyphes)

Bon weekend à tous!


Daily Office:

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009


Matins: Given the lunatic tone of national discourse these days, it’s refreshing to hear the “P” word spoken with such vigor and clarity:

Obama is sometimes faulted for conducting government by speech. But this speech was part of a patient strategy that, despite August’s rough weather, is looking increasingly sound.

Hendrick Hertzberg in The New Yorker.

Lauds: Museum Director Thomas Campbell outlines his plans in an interview with The Art Newspaper’s Joshua Edward Kaufman.

Prime: President Obama’s Federal Hall speech yesterday elicits interesting responses from Felix Salmon and James Surowiecki.

Tierce: As deeply as our eidtor sympathises with Malcolm Gladwell, Sean Macauley’s totally high-school prank makes us laugh, even if it is a bit nasty. (What high school prank isn’t at least a bit nasty?)

Sext: All of a sudden, everyone’s a racist. Well, simmer down. As Abe Sawyer suggests at The Awl, it’s probably anarchism. Racism is just one of the “tools currently available with which to ‘win’.”

Nones: Mark Garlasco’s hobby — collecting Nazi military memorabilia — will probably cost him his job, now that it has “armed right-wing fanatics” critical of Human Rights Watch, the humanitarian organization which Mr Garlasco served as a military analyst.

Vespers: On the anniversary of David Foster Wallace’s death, Jean Ruaud writes about the rewards of struggling with Infinite Jest all the way through to the end. [fr]

Compline: An interesting, if not quite lucid, essay on the problem of giving unconditional love to a badly-behaving child, by Alfie Kohn. (more…)

Daily Office:

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009


Matins: It’s  Bastille Day — but not in France. In France, it’s “La fête nationale.” What do you say to friends on le quatorze juillet?

You say, “Bonjour, madame,” comme d’habitude.

Lauds: You know, before you even start reading, that Anthony Tommassini is not going to give Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna top marks. But if you read between the lines, his review begins to look like a rave.

Prime: Robert X Cringely writes about the MADD strategies of Google and Microsoft, and how, if either of them suffers a mortal blow, it won’t have been aimed by the other.

Tierce: Pardon me, but I’m no longer interested in the Marshall trial’s verdict, whatever it may be. I’m already casting the movie. Who wants to play Brooke Astor, banging her cane as she is “dragged” into the library? Or saying, “I feel like throwing food in someone’s face”?

Sext: It’s very easy to make fun of Town & Country — if you’re not throwing up into an air-sickness bag — but Choire Sicha can be counted upon to do it well.

Nones: We throw up our hands: both sides in the Honduras dispute request American intervention. What a sterling opportunity to make enemies and influence people to hate the United States.

Vespers: At The Millions, novelist Sonya Chung tells us what it was like to meet her new book’s dust jacket.

Compline: Meet the Schweeb. An amusement-park ride for the time being, it may become tomorrow’s urban transport. (Via Infrastructurist)


Daily Office:

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


Matins: Is the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound a template for health care reform?

Lauds: My friend Ellen Moody writes about the strange success of Ronald Colman.

Prime: According to Patrick Devedjian, the French stimulus minister, “The country that is behind is the U.S., not France.”

Tierce: Defendant Anthony Marshall called in sick today, and the jurors were excused. Vanity Fair comes to the rescue, with a slideshow of sketches by Jane Rosenberg.

Sext: It’s time for lunch: think I’ll cloud up my vital fluids.

Nones: Coup or clean-out? The fact that the Obama Administration can’t seem to decide upon a characterization of recent events in Honduras suggests to me that we’re going to support the new regime.

Vespers: Richard Crary writes about youthful reading and outgrowing writers.

Compline: Remember the “Peter Principle”? Italian researchers have confirmed it. (via reddit)


Daily Office:

Monday, April 20th, 2009


Matins: In case you’re still opposed to Federal nationalization of troubled banks, let former IMF economist Simon Johnson explain the advice that his outfit would give.

Lauds: It dates from March, but I just heard about it at Things Magazine: truly punchy graphic art commissioned by Swiss pharma giant Geigy (now part of Novartis).

Prime: Jean Ruaud has retooled Mnémoglyphes which has to be the most news-deprived statement that I can think of. Jean changes the look and feel of his sites all the time! This is more substantive, though: Mnémoglyphes has become a Daily Blogue.

Tierce: David Carr considers the confected nature of last week’s “tea party” tax protests, which were not so much covered by the cable news networks as cultivated by them.

Sext: Would you help out a robot? If you live in Greenwich Village, you might not give it a second thought: Of course you would help out a robot! (via  The Morning News)

Nones: The Italian government has finally recognized its humanitarian responsibility and begun deboarding 140 migrants from a stranded tanker. To understand the kerfuffle with Malta, though, you may need to look at a map.

Vespers: In the current Harper’s, Francine Prose reviews an odd but irresistible new book with a faux-catalogue title as long as your arm: the account of a fictional breakup as told in terms of pictures at an exhibition — pictures of lamps, postcards, and pictures.

Compline: The post office as a profit center? What a concept! It works in Switzerland…


Daily Office:

Thursday, March 19th, 2009


Matins: Blood and Treasure. We were supposed to be the land of the free, but we’re really that land of the pirates.

Lauds: The death of Nathasha Richardson — how?

Prime: Not since David Owen’s New Yorker piece have I seen such a ringing endorsement of Green Gotham. Hey, you rubes in your country idylls — we’re the conservors.

Tierce: Something else to drive the Wingnuts crazy: Attorney General Eric Holder has announced an end to raids on medical-marijuana dispensers.

Sext: Bullfighting becomes exciting — out of the ring. When one torero wins the top arts medal (?), an earlier laureate returns his in disgust.

Nones: Sukumar Muralidharan’s concise and lucid “Accountability in a time of excess” exhorts you to know what you’re talking about when you invoke Adam Smith.

Vespers: Everybody knows that French workers love to walk out in protest. For the chattering classes, reading books that are unpopular with the grosse légumes is preferred. As a result, La princesse de Clèves, a historical novel published in 1678, is once again a sell-out. (via Alexander Chee)

Compline: It’s a lengthy, small-type read, but Danielle Allen’s review of Josiah Ober’s Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens in TNR may be the most important piece of political theory that you read this year. Yes,


Daily Office:

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009


Matins: Now that health care reform is back in the news, an aspect of the much-maligned Canadian system ought not to be overlooked.

Lauds: Call it Cats and Rats — or whatever! Just write the book about the buck that stopped with Cai Mingchao, the Chinese dealer who had “second thoughts.” Now he’s having thirds: tears.

Prime: Jean Ruaud went to Hyères, and took a load of great pictures comme d’hab’; but did he see Mrs Wharton’s place?

Tierce: China’s unlucky number: 6521. These are “interesting times.”

Sext: They call this “counter-cultural”? Flash-mob pillow fights irk San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department. (via Morning News).

Nones: President Obama’s first visit to a Muslim country will take him to Turkey. Great news indeed.

Vespers: Michiko Kakutani’s review of William Cohan’s House of Cards — the Bear, Stearns post-mortem — makes compelling reading in its own right.

Compline: Franchise Christianity? Robert Wright recasts early-Christian history in terms of business models and globalization.


Daily Office:

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008


Matins: How quickly swings swing! Just the other day, we were America the Ugly; benighted, shortsighted, and all but indicted. Now, we’re the progressives, because we have the kind of president that Europeans, who have, er, racist problems of their own, know they could never elect.

Lauds: Greetings from the East Side.

Tierce: I’ll admit that my “solution” to the Detroit problem (dissolve the companies and pension off the workers) is drastic in every way. At least it has the advantage of making Thomas Friedman’s proposal look doable.


Daily Office:

Thursday, October 9th, 2008


Matins: Regular readers will have learned to sigh when I mention the name of Alan Greenspan. I have certainly felt like something of a crank on the subject of this man’s failure to stanch the market’s foolishness. So I felt rather transfigured by the discovery that I was not alone: witness Peter S Goodman’s “Taking Hard New Look at a Greenspan Legacy.”  

Prime: Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Tierce: Cook County Sheriff Thomas J Dart has called a halt to foreclosure evictions in Chicago. John Leland reports. In many cases, diligent renters are unaware of a property owner’s default until the marshalls would show up to evict them.

Sext: Nom de Plume sent me the link to a curious video, of unexplained provenance (and 1999 vintage), concerning, straight-faced, the unlikely bond between a crow and a kitten. I watched it in wait for a surprise, but there was none.

Compline: No sex please; we want to live forever: Clara Meadmore, of Perranporth, Cornwall, attributes her longevity to virginity. She’ll be 105 on Saturday.


Daily Office:

Monday, September 15th, 2008


Matins: Why do we all feel that the failure of Lehman Brothers is so much worse than everything that has happened before, from Black Monday (1987) to the collapse of Enron? Why do we suspect that, this time, the disaster may engulf us?

Tierce: Floyd Norris on lax financial regulation:

Those who were complaining, only months ago, that excessive regulation was making American markets uncompetitive, had it exactly wrong. It was a lack of regulation of the shadow financial system and its players that allowed this to happen. The regulators might not have gotten it right if they had tried to put limits on leverage, or assure that it was clear what risks were being taken, in the world of derivatives and securitizations. But deciding not to even try, and assuming that risks traded secretly would somehow end up in the hands of those most able to bear them, reflected ideology, not analysis.

Sext: Read about Palisade Prep, a new public high school in Yonkers, funded in part by the Gates Foundation, that aims to send every student to college.

Rosa Kastsaridis, whose 15-year-old son, Frank, is a ninth grader at the school, said the available counseling was an important factor in her decision to take a chance on a promising — but untested — school.

“I graduated from the Yonkers school system 17 years ago and wasn’t able to get a scholarship because the guidance counselor at that time was not educated enough to help me,” she said.

Compline: Today’s one of those days when reading about the horreurs du jour through the elegant francophonie of Jean Ruaud’s Mnémoglyphes is like a comfort from the Psalms.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008


Matins: Even if you have already come across the Kilkenny letter, I urge you to consider it as a model memorandum that, in an ideal democracy, every voter would be sufficiently informed to compose. Anne Kilkenny is a resident of Wasilla, Alaska, who has known Sarah Palin for many years, and who opposed her attempt to fire the local librarian. She is definitely an “interested” observer. But her letter seems candid and level-headed. Her take on Trig, as well as on some of Ms Palin’s political positions, suggests a scrupulous determination not to demonize. The main thing is that she sat down and composed her thoughts. (via Suz at Large.)

Tierce: As someone who ingested a good deal of LSD back in the day, I read today’s Times report on Salvia divinorum with great interest. The recreational aspect of drug use doesn’t interest me very much anymore, but I remain curious about altered states of mind. Overall, though, the story has me spluttering with rage, at the drug’s troglodyte opponents.

Sext: Thank God for France! Nowhere is pleasure more expertly rationalized. From Le Figaro, a review of Mamma Mia! that talks of Shakespeare and “postmodern irony.”

Nones: How big is New York City? As big as the populations of Idaho (Manhattan), Maine (the Bronx), Nevada (Brooklyn), New Mexico (Queens), and Wyoming (Staten Island). (via JMG > Gothamist)

Vespers: Times columnist Bob Herbert enjoins liberals to hold up their heads. It’s a great idea, but he has no suggestions about what to when the wingnuts start shooting at it.

Troglodytes on the right are no respecters of reality. They say the most absurd things and hardly anyone calls them on it. Evolution? Don’t you believe it. Global warming? A figment of the liberal imagination.

Yes, and that’s the problem. Consider:

Daily Office:

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008



Shrine: Okuninushi no Mikoto, the principal deity in residence at the Izumo Taisha shrine in Japan, has vacated the premises in order to facilitate periodic renovations.


Delanoë: Bertrand Delanoë, the gay mayor of Paris, will seek to lead his country’s Socialist Party. A breath of fresh air after the narcissism of the Hollande-Royal team that was. (via JMG)


Elsewhere: Starting out in New York, right out of school and with no special resources to fall back on. I can’t imagine it! Yet a fresh crop of hopefuls arrives every year, and, right about now, the ones who are still here are celebrating a tentative first anniversary. Cara Buckley reports.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008



Siné: It’s a tough case: Siné (Maurice Sinet), the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist and, ipso facto, socio-political troublemaker, has been fired over a cartoon whose cynicism might be taken for anti-Semitism. I find myself on Siné’s side. Steven Erlanger reports.


Mont-Saint-Michel: In Le Figaro: Who owns Mont-Saint-Michel? The French state has owned the abbey since the Revolution, but as for the village nestled on its flanks…

That’s all very well, dear, but what about the Pines?: At a restaurant in Cherry Grove, on Fire Island, you can enjoy a drink called the “JoeMyGod.”


Boredom:  Here’s a valiant attempt to make boredom sound creative. It doesn’t quite fly.


Daily Office:

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008



Intellectual Property: A core tenet of free-market capitalism is that the best product or service wins. On the level playing field, blah blah blah, consumers beat a path to buy the better mousetrap. The brouhaha over Scrabulous, however, shows just how bent our markets have become, as corporations have pushed for expansive application of intellectual property laws — yet another instance of socialism for the rich.


Wallonia: The march toward breaking up Belgium inches forward. In a poll, half of the nation’s Francophones (or Walloons) say that they’d be happier as Frenchmen — and an even higher percentage of Northern Frenchmen agreed!


Naughty Bits: Father Tony went to a wacked-out art show in Chelsea. So far, it seems, none of Robert Fontinelli’s furniture designs have been executed in three dimensions, but that may change.


Daily Office:

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Regular riders of these BMT lines affectionally refer to them as “N”ever, “R”arely, and “W”henever. As discerning observers may deduce, the W is a relatively recent creation, as MTA routes go.


Guest: Perry Falwell has been soliciting contributions to his great new site, Booksaga. The other day, I wrote to him to explain that, while I wished I had some interesting stories for him to post, my times in old bookshops have been happy but dull.

The real purpose of my note was to encourage him to stick with blogging. I think that he has a natural gift for the form. He could write about any old thing, and I’d probably want to read it. But I did throw in a few proofs of “happy but dull.”

Subisdy: When you hear of “foreign subsidies,” you probably think of agricultural supports and turn over to go back to sleep. This story, about foreign subsidies of fuel consumption, may wake you up.


Soin de soi: Further proof, if needed, that habits (good and bad alike) are contagious: Stephanie Plentl finds her inner Frenchwoman, in the Telegraph.


Up: Chris and Father Tony went up, up, but not away, in a balloon in the middle of Central Park.

Daily Office:

Thursday, May 29th, 2008



Che bella giornata!: Another fine day. Good weather really gets better with age.

Gérance dissausive: If you can’t read French, tant pis pour vous. JR’s crime analysis of the massacre of his sister’s chickens by a fox (or some other prédateur forestier),* would make a sort of sense in English, but the loss of  je ne sais quoi would be fatal.

Except that I know perfectly well what the quoi is: the French willingness to call a spatula a spatula. Just because a spatula is more or less a spade is no reason to be imprecise.

Wings: When I grow up, I want to write just like Gail Collins.


Art: My neighbor, Stash, went to an art show in the quartier. On the basis of his photos, better him than me is all I can say.


Cinderella: Far and away the most exciting object on exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt’s “Rococo” Show is Jeroen Verhoeven’s Cinderella Table.

Daily Office

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008


Matins: Kathleen’s off to Flah-dah in the morning. She’s staying at 100 Chopin Plaza.

Prime: I was so busy over the weekend that I still haven’t read the paper. I had to come across a link to this at In the Times, the article is entitled “A Guide to the French. Handle With Care.” My own title: When Seven out of Eight of the Following Propositions Hold True Here, New York Will Finally Be More Civilized Than Anglophone.”

Tierce: Didn’t you love The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini? No? Meg Wolitzer may be able to tell you why.

Sext: Father Tony agonizes over apostrophes. Is the plural of “CD” CD’s or CDs? I’m resolutely for the latter, but it makes my friend uncomfortable. He has found a link to “the rule,” which is correct so far as it goes.

Nones: The Hong Kong of the Hudson? You’re joking! This is Gotham City, surely! Be sure to click through Gothamist to the Big Apple list of no fewer than ninety-eight nicknames for Old Nieuw Amsterdam. What’s this? “The Frog and Toe“?

Vespers: The reviews appeared side-by-side in the Arts section of yesterday’s Times; how curious it was to have been to both evenings of chamber music. To give some idea of how different they were, in their wonderful ways, I’ve written them up together.  



Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

One of the great, unforeseen advantages of my scribal shrine is that it’s a great place to hang Post-It Notes. I have a dispenser on the desk; the notes come out in fanfold. Very handy. But I never knew what to do with the notes once I’d written them.Usually, the notes constitute a horizontal to-do list. Do this, call that. Today, there is only one Post-It in view. On it, I have written the French word affût. I don’t know what this word means. Its denotation, “carriage, mount,” is clearly not the sense in which it’s ordinarily used. A l’affût seems to mean “in hiding.” The phrase être à l’affût de means “to be lying in wait for” or “to be on the lookout for.”

That’s all very well, but when the word pops up in French texts, none of the foregoing makes complete sense.