Daily Office:


Matins: Here’s a story that stinks. Costco has been given permission to disturb East Harlem with tractor-trailers making wee-hour stock deliveries. But Costco won’t accept food stamps, which sustain thousands of neighboring households. Jim Dwyer reports.

Lauds: Move over, origami masters: Look what Simon Schubert can do  by creasing paper gently. (via Snarkmarket)

Prime: Criticism or curation? A misunderstanding between Tim Abrahams, of Blueprint (a print magazine with Web site) and Things Magazine (online only) yields a rich discussion, or at any rate a nice piece by Mr Abrahams and two just-as-nice responses by Things, with some good comments along the way.

Tierce: Joanna Molloy, at the Daily News, takes a breath and asks, “When did the Brooke Astor trial become all about Charlene Marshall?

Sext: Movies you won’t have to think about seeing this weekend, or any weekend. (Did I just jinx it?) Romatic comedy pitches involving gay vampires and crossbows, at McSweeney’s.

Nones: In 1975, Professor Karel Zlabek proposed linking Bohemia, via a tunnel, to the Adriatic. That’s over four hundred kilometers, maybe not so much in American terms (but), beneath the soil of two other sovereignties, one of which, Austria, was not a member of the Warsaw Pact.

Vespers: What, we ask ourself, is the Derek Walcott kerfuffle really about? An inappropriate sexual advance? Or even more inappropriate revenge when the advance was rebuffed?

Compline: Not to be confused with the foregoing: Vanity Fair gentleman curmudgeon James Wolcott looks back fondly on Manhattan in the Seventies.

Bon weekend à tous!


§ Matins. Shame on City officialdom from the Mayor on down.

Let’s hope that Costco comes and goes quickly, and that it’s replaced by a retailer with the brains to take deliveries by water. (That’s how the site’s last operation, Washburn Wire, functioned.)

§ Lauds. One wonders what sort of equipment is called for.

The one-note quality of the set (too many staircases!) is mildly trumped by the serenity of the complexity.

§ Prime. From the first of the two Things entries, an almost lyrical description of what blogging is now self-consciously about:

Nothing exists in isolation, but we feel it’s important to point out that we’re not criticism, we’re curation, an (ongoing) attempt at navigating the ongoing and potentially endless transfer of analogue information into the digital realm. It’s true, a lot of this stuff is giddy-making, some of it is even dull, and we admit to occasionally feeling ‘entertained, a bit poorer and none the wiser’ on a regular basis. But this website is not a ‘slow retreat from the future’ – far from it. It’s actually the chronicling of the creation of the systems and knowledge and structures that will underpin the future on an ever increasing basis.

§ Tierce. So she digs up a good friend of Tony Marshall’s, who as you would expect says nice things about his old friend’s wife. But here’s what Ms Peabody has to say about him.

Sam and his wife Judith are the coolest socialites in New York. They not only write the checks to help poor people without the publicity photos or their names emblazoned across buildings, but they “walk the walk.”

Judy Peabody has taken daily, hands-on care of AIDS patients since the 80s. And Sam has done more for the city’s minority children than anyone, when the couple could just golf and lunch and travel if they wanted to.

His ancestor arrived here on the boat that followed the Mayflower and became the first governor – when Massachusetts was still a Bay Colony.

That’s the kind of lovely press coverage that makes me quake. Talk about tempting fate!

§ Sext. Conceived by The Morning News’s Pasha Malla, the pitch gets funnier as it proceeds, the joke’s being the (freelance) writer’s stunted imagination.

Okay, then there’s this one: A woman is a lesbian werewolf and a man is a gay vampire, but they move in together for tax purposes. And by some sort of Three’s Company misunderstanding—or whatever, we’ll work that out—they fall in love. Then the man starts seeing someone else, a mummy, and the woman joins an online zombie-dating site—and that’s before they start a freelance writing company that makes them all millionaires, and they don’t even bother to tell the werewolf’s dad because they’re so famous that it speaks for itself. I’m seeing Jeff Bridges in this one, possibly as himself.

Tax purposes always make for boffo box office.

§ Nones. Quite aside from the, er, diplomatic aspect, where on earth was the money for this project going to come from?

§ Vespers. In a nutshell: In 1982, Harvard intervened on behalf of a student who complained that the Nobel Prize-winning poet had graded her work with a C, after she responded negatively to an inappropriate proposal. (“Imagine me making love to you. What would I do?”) Harvard administrators changed the grade to Pass. Now a smear campaign, dredging all of this up, has induced the poet to withdraw from the running for a prestigious poetry professorship at Oxford.

Mr Walcott insists that he will not discuss the matter. Certainly he ought not to be asked to comment on his amorous advances. As his defender Hermione Lee suggests, we expect poets to love pretty girls. (Don’t we? Or pretty boys?) But the matter of the grade does not partake of intimacy. Mr Walcott was presumably unable to convince Harvard that the student deserved the C. He ought to have something to say about that, either in his own defense or by way of apology. And, if he had done, the loathsome smear campaign might never have built up steam.

§ Compline. One thing that Mr Wolcott neglects to mention is how much older he’ll be this time, if the city slips once again into the disorder that reached its nadir in the 1977 blackout.

As smelly-cheese nostalgia goes, Mr Wolcott’s slow-news-day essay is fairly rank.

Andy Warhol, though resembling an albino scarecrow in an electroshock wig, still carried out his duties as archbishop of the dioceses of the living dead, his apparitional sightings at CBGB’s and elsewhere strangely comforting, providing a silver thread of continuity from the Factory to the strivings of his virgin spectral offspring, such as Blondie’s Deborah Harry, the daughter he never had.

What bothers me is that if New York plunges into a second go-round of the 70s, this time with additional angst, we’ll still be stuck with all those spiky glass buildings that have gone up in recent years, reflecting our own overreaching folly back at us with sterile mockery. Really, I much prefer rubble.

Here’s hoping that, having made his bed of strangely comforting rubble, Mr Wolcott is not obliged to lie in it.

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