Daily Office:


Matins: Who are these people?

Many Americans have welcomed roundups of what the agency calls “ordinary status violators” — noncitizens who have no outstanding order of deportation, but are suspected of being in the country unlawfully, either because they overstayed a visa or entered without one.

It goes to show how ignorant such “Americans” are of their own family history, which may well have involved deportation or nativist discrimination. Where are the “I’m WASP and I’m proud!” bumper stickers?

Lauds: It’s very late and I’ve been writing all day; maybe that’s why the idea of a play — no, a musical! — about Charles Ponzi, that eponymous person whose name is on everyone’s lips these days, sounds like a great idea.

Prime: We pause to remember Doucette Cherbonnier, Slimbolala’s great-aunt, a ninetysomething who has been laid to her doubtless uproarious rest.

Tierce: Michael Cooper’s depressing report about transit cuts around the nation, forced by receding tax revenues, in an age of rising ridership, gives me an idea.

Sext: Quote of the Day: Richard Skeen, president of sales and marketing at now-defunct Doubledown Media, publisher of Trader Monthly and Dealmaker:

[advertising to bankers and encouraging them to spend money has become] incredibly out of vogue.

Nones: In a strong sign that the Williamson Affair is not going to be swept away as easily as the Vatican would like, German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to press for an “explanation.” Bear in mind that it is very unusual for a European head of state to take issue with the Vatican’s actions.  

Vespers: Literary life isn’t all envy and backstabbing. Alexander Chee shares the pleasure of some richly social moments spent among people who care about letters.

Compline: Receipt of an email from Ms NOLA this afternoon marked a change in my schedule. At 7 PM, I found myself at McNally Jackson, the great NoLIta bookstore in Prince Street, for a reading — more of a racontation — by In the Stalin Archives author Jonathan Brent.


§ Matins. Nina Bernstein reports. Janet Napolitano’s review of Bush Administration procedures is so far a model investigation: just the facts, ma’am.

§ Lauds. Although I’m inclined to the Angels in America approach, with Ponzi clapping a hand on young Bernie’s shoulder and offering to show him the ropes. Once Uponz a Madoff, or The Crock of Gibraltar.

§ Prime. There are people whose death really is the gift of life. When you’re not looking, they slap you: Tag, you’re it! Now it’s up to you.

§ Tierce. How about asking Jason Kottke and other bright guys to devise a video game in which transit agents use information instead of bullets to enforce a complex fare system in which, say, the rich must pay more for their MetroCards, and are prevented (by the nimble transit agents) from, say, exploiting their domestic employees to supply them with cheaper cards. In other words, if we tried it out as a video game first, we might learn some very smart angles.

§ Sext. It’s a matter of style, really:

It felt kind of yucky and funny, like you show up to a party in a ’70s outfit and it’s an ’80s-themed party.

§ Nones. Bear in mind, too, that Chancellor Merkel is a conservative. (She is also the daughter of a Lutheran pastor.) Her insistence, in any case, has not been without effect. Today, the Vatican has all but admitted that it made a mistake. Rev Williamson has been told to recant his claims that no Jews were murdered in gas chambers during World War II.

As if that weren’t enough of a headache, another right-wing Catholic organization has disclosed a newly-discovered scandal. Widely accused of molesting seminarians, the late Marcial Maciel is now said to have fathered a child.

§ Vespers. I’m piqued by Mr Chee’s sudden grasp of a novel that had eluded him, Denis Johnson’s Fiskadoro.

I love Denis. I was his student at Iowa. This is a book I’ve never quite understood, and I almost resent it because of that. I think of Doris Lessing, who said something like, Each book has its time when it is open to you, when you can get it. So I open it, and right there it suddenly makes sense, and I sit and read it quietly for a half hour.

Never say “never,” in other words. There are many authors whom I can’t imagine giving another try. I’m happy to find that Trollope has become readable again, though. Perhaps I just needed a break.

§ Compline. Ever since I heard about this book, all I could think of was Robert Harris’s Archangel, one of the first books that I wrote up for my new Web site, when it was new — some time, certainly, before the 2004 copyright date. Which is now available on DVD as a movie starring Daniel Craig and Gabriel Macht. I told Mr Brent that I hoped that his adventures in the Stalin Archive were not quite as adventurous. More anon…

One Response to “Daily Office:

  1. Alexis says:

    There shall come a time when prison oflfaicis will welcome the incarceration of new Muslim prisoners with the same sense of trepidation that they currently reserve for sexually active AIDS cases.In the absence of deportation or summary execution, radical Muslims should be subjected to solitary confinement. Preferrably with such a degree of sensory deprivation that they experience abrupt mental breakdowns. Rest assured that such harsh treatment would seem blissfully humane in comparison to how they would deal with us.