Daily Office:


Matins: Much as I hate to anticipate good news that might not pan out, I can’t help being excited by the prospect of an end to the infamous Rockefeller Drug Laws.

Lauds: Months before its scheduled opening, the Mandarin Oriental Beijing has been destroyed by fire — one of the Chinese capital’s Olympic-era trophies, designed by Rem Koolhaas.

Prime: Brian Stephenson, at Five Branch Tree, writes about fell0w poet August Kleinzahler, whose work appears regularly in the London Review of Books.

His other techniques are quite American, such as the incorporation of both high and low culture, the symbolic use of pop figures, real and imaginary characters, travel, temporality, displacement and nostalgia. And despite being a native of New Jersey and a long time resident of San Francisco, these poems are particularly American with respect to the experience of the immigrant. Not ‘immigrant’ as a sociological study, but as one of the working myths in American arts and culture.

Tierce: I was thinking that 2009 would be the Year of the Kindle for me, but now I’m not so sure. Amazon has just introduced Kindle 2, a great improvement over the original device in many ways, but also a harbinger of roiling format wars with Google and Apple. So I’ll probably sit out the wait for an emergent standard.

Sext: What’s really cute about Kirk Johnson’s story about the “Hitch,” the souped-up motel in Cheyenne, Wyoming that has served as a kind of tree-house for state legislators is the non-appearance of “woman,” “women,” and “female.”

And the Hitch, as lawmakers came to call it, in turn became more than just a hotel. It insinuated itself into how the State Legislature worked by creating an informal space where lawmakers in their socks, sometimes with a highball in hand, could wander down the hall and knock on the door of a neighbor and talk through the day.

Nones: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s stalking out of a debate with Shimon Peres at Davos has the diplomats’ heads shaking: the man is “erratic.”

Mr Erdogan’s temper tantrums are not new. But they used to be reserved for his critics at home. The Davos affair, says another foreign diplomat, is further evidence of “Mr Erdogan’s conviction that the West needs Turkey more than Turkey needs it.” It is of a piece with Mr Erdogan’s threat to back out of the much-touted Nabucco pipeline to carry gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe via Turkey. In Brussels recently Mr Erdogan said that, if there were no progress on the energy chapter of Turkey’s EU accession talks then “we would of course review our position”. Meanwhile, Turkey sided with Saudi Arabia and the Vatican in opposing a UN statement suggested by the EU to call for the global decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Vespers: Patrick Kurp writes about the only leading economic indicator that bibliophiles need to be acquainted with.

After completing my rounds, I checked back with Angel who made me an offer: $15.50. I was parting with the most books I had ever sold to Half-Price Books and was, in return, receiving the smallest amount of cash. I took it, silently. I didn’t feel like repacking two boxes, carrying them back to the car and explaining why to my wife. I would have felt like Jack telling his mother about the magic beans, which I did anyway. Angel said, “Everybody’s selling books. They need the money. We can’t afford to pay ’em as much.” The supply and demand of used books: my first economic indicator.

Compline: Scout captures some great keystone demons, only to discover that they’re green men.


§ Matins. Republican supporters of the laws talk of justice, but all they really have in mind is job security for white thugs who’ve had the good luck to get a pass from relatives in the police department.

Republican lawmakers who represent prison districts and the correction officers’ unions normally block reform. But Rockefeller reform seems almost certain now that that Democrats control the Legislature and the governor’s mansion. That’s welcome news in the state that has squandered many young lives and started the national trend toward mandatory sentencing.

No sepulchre is more whited than the township that depends on a prison for revenues.

§ Lauds. Don’t miss the distant but intriguing video at HuffPost — complete with fireworks! It always surprises me that modern buildings can really burn — I think of them as all concrete.

§ Prime. Five Branch Tree is one of a half-dozen literary blogs that I flagged today in a long afternoon of exploring the half-known universe. Looking for quality is not remotely as amusing as surfing for fun, and at the end of the day I feel as if I haven’t done anything(because I haven’t). So it is only the cerebral part of me that is pleased. If I really did encounter a few good sites, that will change.

§ Tierce. I’m in no real hurry to add another doodad to my collection of thingies requiring cumbersome transformers (as we called “power supplies” when I ran my HO empire), but the delay is having one effect on my reading: I’ve altogether stopped buying new mysteries by my favorite writers. Nor will I touch a book title that deals with current affairs.  

§ Sext. No dancers or showgirls, no “assistants” — and no elected officials of the feminine persuasion, either! Just us guys, holding our highballs in our stocking feet.

Oh! That was then! Now, the “Hitch” is in bankruptcy! Autre temps…

“The upshot is that it’s a tamer Legislature — tamer and more well behaved, but a whole lot less fun,” said Representative Ross Diercks, a Democrat first elected to the State House in 1992.

§ Nones. Nothing like homosexuality to make partners of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the Vatican!

§ Vespers. It has been ages since I last tried to get money for books. In most case, it’s not worth the lugging. It’s much nicer to receive nothing in return for books donated to Housing Works than to receive, say, $15.50 from the Strand.

§ Compline. How’s this for Facebook?


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