Archive for the ‘City Life’ Category

Daily Office:

Thursday, June 11th, 2009


Matins: Zachary Wolfe believes (or, at least, hopes) that the future does not look good for a third Bloomberg term. But perhaps Mr Wolfe was writing before the ruckus broke out in Albany.

Lauds: Errol Morris’s remarkable series, Bamboozling Ourselves, looks into art forgeries and other deceptions — although “looks” is putting it mildly.(Master link list here.)

Prime: John Lanchester’s lengthy but extremely entertaining  essay on the banking bailout, “It’s Finished,” has been generating lots of buzz, at least at sites that I visit. Someone wrote somewhere that it ends “unhappily,” but I don’t agree.

Tierce: Toward the end of John Eligon’s account of Astor butler Christopher Ely’s testimony, my heart went into a clutch. The most horrific thing about this trial so far is the damage that it has been done to the reputation of attorney Henry Christensen.

Sext: It’s possible that Matt Blind has been in the bookstore biz too long. He wants to fire all the customers. Find out where you fit in his taxonomy (via

Nones: Michael Sheen meets the Queen. The real one.

Vespers: At The Morning News, Man in  Boston Robert Birnbaum rounds up some good books about Cuba. Sadly, he omits Tomorrow They Will Kiss.

Compline: The Obamas and the Arts: a new model for the United States.

Bon weekend à tous!


Daily Office:

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009


Matins: From The Infrastructurist, a list of 36 ways in which streetcars trump buses. Despite some internal ambiguities — streetcars are both cool (#6) and nostalgic (#12) — and a bit of padding (#20), the list will make you wish that we were already there.

Lauds: FROG schools may be as unlikely as fairy-tale princes, but these pre-fab classrooms do look good. Especially considering the nightmarish alternative…

Prime: David Carr goes to two very different media parties, and his report makes me think of the last chapters of Proust, but run backwards.

Tierce: Collateral damage from the Marshall trial: trusts and estates lawyer Henry Christensen’s nomination for membership at the Century Association has been tabled, pending the conclusion of the trial.

Sext: Forget three meals a day. Americans consume a fourth: all day snacking. In other news, Choire Sicha sees Hangover, reviews audience.

Nones: A cheering story at the Guardian, appended to an item noting that global arms spending has reached $1.47 trillian: “America a weapons supermarket for terrorists, inquiry finds.”

Vespers: Alain de botton asks a good question: why don’t more writers write about work? Considering, you know, the importance of jobs and stuff. (via The Rumpus)

Compline: At the Chronicle of Higher Education — the right place to begin asking — Joseph Marr Cronin and Howard E Horton wonder if undergraduate degrees are the new bubble. (via Arts Journal)


Daily Office:

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009


Matins: GOOD announces the winner of its Livable Streets Contest. (All the contestants are here.)

Lauds: The sketch blog of Jillian Tamaki, the artist whose work graced the cover of this week’s Book Review. (via The Best Part)

Prime: Michael Lewis revisits Warren Buffett. (via The Awl)

Tierce: No poop on the poop: testimony about dog droppings on Brooke Astor’s dining room floor was ruled inadmissable yesterday. Justice Bartley: “It would seem to me the transient conditions of the apartment – I would include in that dog feces – would be a problem of the staff.”

Sext: This faux Wes Anderson trailer is an elegant little satire, more loving than harsh, of the filmmaker’s foibles.

Nones: The digital universe, like the “real” one, is expanding at speed. Continue reading for a delicious factoid.

Vespers: John Self writes about White Noise, a book that I’d always felt guilty about not reading until I finally gave it away unread.

Compline: Caleb Cage writes about the future of warfare (“RMA“) at The Rumpus.


Daily Office:

Thursday, April 30th, 2009


Matins: Why conservatives ought to promote transit alternatives to cars — and why they don’t; all spelled out in a lucid essay by David Schaengold, of the Witherspoon Institute (in, but not of, Princeton). “Public transit and walkable neighborhoods are necessary for the creation of a country where families and communities can flourish.”

Lauds: This is the only movie that I want to see right now: Julie & Julia. The trailer is as good as a soufflé.

Prime: Father Tony interviews Andrew Holleran. Imagine that!

Tierce: What a lot of colorful business news there is this morning! Kenneth Lewis is no longer  chief at Bank of America. AIG — now AIU, actually — continues to look for a nicer name. Clear Channel Communications, the media hog, faces “mounting debt payments.” (Yay!) Starbucks isn’t losing money — yet (but can that be a suit and tie that Howard Schultz is wearing?). And, as for Chrysler…

Sext: “What does this thing do?” Danny Gregory’s guide for the perplexed SkyMall visitor.

Nones: Now, here’s a peace initiative to watch: “Kenyan women hit men with sex ban.”

Vespers: Christopher Buckley’s memoir of his parents, Losing Mum and Pup, sounds like just the thing to read in St Croix at Thanksgiving. Something to look forward to.

Compline: Would you be influenced by a “livability index” in deciding where to settle down? If you think you’re too old for that decision, when did that happen? And would you advise the young ‘uns in your life to “choose wisely”?

Bon weekend à tous!


Out and About:
Close Encounter with Divinity of Unfathomable Provenance

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009


Quatorze (shown at right), alarmed by unexpected presence of gangster-level garden ornaments on pricey Upper East Side real estate (not to mention in such close proximity to Museum!), challenges Apollonian wannabe to pop apricot into his open mouth.

Daily Office:

Monday, March 2nd, 2009


Matins: In a foreseeable development that few wanted to think about very much, the downside inequalities of European Union constituents threatens to pull the EU apart. Steven Erlanger and Stephen Castle report.

While Western European countries are reluctant, with their own problems both at home and among the countries using the euro, there is a deep interconnectedness in any case. Much of the debt at risk in Eastern Europe is on the books of euro zone banks — especially in Austria and Italy. The same is true for the problems farther afield, in Ukraine.

Having watched the Soviet Union collapse, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe embraced the liberal, capitalist model as the price of integration with Europe. That model is now badly tarnished, and the newer members feel adrift.

Lauds: In the Chicago Tribune, Mike Boehm asks, “Will the Obamas’ interest in the arts create an inflation of appreciation?” The prospect of presidential interest in theatre and dance is so dizzying that he doesn’t stop to ask why it would be a good thing.

Prime: Perhaps you’ve already discovered Look At Me, the Web site of found photographs, but it’s new to me, and I’m checking it out every day. (I’ve linked to a recent posting that shows what has to be an old Howard Johnson’s — looking not so old.)

Tierce: As usual on Monday mornings, I begin with the Times’s Business section, because that’s where the interesting stories are, even if they would fit just as comfortably in the first section, alongside the “regular” news. Two stories today that generate a certain twinned-snakes synergy:

Sext: A party who signs himself “MDL Welder” seeks advice about a romantic “att[achment].” The Non-Expert replies in an odd demotic.

You are very att. To each other. Man we all know that, we can all see it. When you two are passing yes there will be kiss in return, geddit? So obv. Most people wish they were with someone who was so att. To each other. So you say “Do you think she is falling for me?” and all of us here are LOAO because YES YES YES she’s falling for you and she’s already falling so far down you have to reach down and catch up. You need to jump that diving board and triple flip and angle downwards for minimum air resist. She att. You att. To each other. It’s the best way to be, it’s the best way to start. And we say aww.

This drollery has me imagining a novel yet to be written, set, like Then We Came to the End and Personal Days, in the workplace — but not in a very literate workplace.

Nones: I’ll be watching to see how the US press in general and the New York Times in particular cover this story (from the BBC): “Israel ‘plans settlement growth’.”

Vespers: Charles McGrath paves the way for a revival of interest in John Cheever, soon to appear in the Library of America.

Compline: The Infrastructurist lists the top ten hot infrastructure jobs, complete with tips about getting one. For example (“Smart Meter Installer”):

There are 150 million electric meters in the US. About 90 percent of them are “dumb.” Obama has offered a plan to upgrade 40 million of the meters, but eventually they will probably all be replaced. Some utilities are well under way: PG&E in California is putting in 10.3 million smart meters, while Oncor in Texas is planning to install 3 million in the next four years.


Daily Office:

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009


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.


Daily Office:

Monday, December 15th, 2008


Matins: Even though it’s Christmas and everything, and we’re in between presidents who get shoes thrown at them and who won’t, let’s take a moment to wish Thailand well. It’s hard for an outsider to tell, at this point, whether the choice of Oxford-educated Abhisit Vejjajiva is a good thing, but the fact that a coalition is now in charge seems like a step forward.

Tierce: The curious thing about trickle-down economics is that, while it doesn’t work so well when times are good — hmm, wonder why? — it kicks in nastily when there’s a slump. New York’s doormen are here to tell you about it.

Sext: The Minimalist Chef, Mark Bittman, writes about the size of his kitchen, which is not unusually small for a New York City apartment but, at six feet by seven, tiny by American standards.


Daily Office:

Monday, May 19th, 2008


Matins: The latest Indiana Jones movie opened yesterday in Cannes, and here’s what BBC reviewer Mark Savage had to say:

It is a load of old nonsense, of course, but the journey is worth the price of admission.

Tierce: The big story in this morning’s news is a Times study of the subway system’s elevators and escalators. If you live in New York, but don’t think that this is a big story, then you are part of the problem.

Sext: It’s hardly a matter of general interest, but I’m tickled nonetheless that the Supreme Court has decided Kentucky v Davis in favor of the status quo. Municipal bonds retain tax-exempt status within issuing states.