Daily Office:


Matins: Edmund Andrews’s story about Ben Bernanke in this morning’s Times is strangely silent about the contribution of that self-made moron, Alan Greenspan, to the mess that Mr Bernanke has had to clean up.

Lauds: These kids today: 91 year-old Arthur Laurents reads “the riot act” to the cast of West Side Story, which has been plagued with calling-in-sick-itis. (via Arts Journal)

Prime: Why not call it the Goldstein Curve? Robin Goldstein culled data from Craigslist (and Felix Salmon turned it into a lovely scatterchart), revealing the inverse relationship between used car/bike prices in seven American cities.

Tierce: Crazy or visionary? The developers of a building to be called 200 Eleventh Avenue (West 24th Street) plan to attach a garage to every apartment — just off the living room. (via Infrastructurist)

Sext: Choire Siche discovers Hallenrad! And shares some of the best.

Nones: Will the new face of Duchy Originals be HRH?

Vespers: Garth Risk Hallberg reminds us of something that has been gently overlooked in the recent craze for All Things Julia: Mrs Child was not so much a great cookbook writer as she was a great writer period.

Compline: Precisely because Reihan Salam’s Foreign Policy essay, “The Death of Macho,” made us uneasy, we think that everybody ought to read it.

Bon weekend à tous!


§ Matins. As if that weren’t enough, now, it seems, the reek of incompetence that Mr Greenspan left behind has quite unjustifiably attached itself to his successor.

Democrats like Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, contend that the Fed was too cozy with banks and Wall Street firms as the mortgage crisis was building. House Republicans, and some Democrats, complain that the Fed already has too much power.

“Why does the Fed deserve more authority when institutionally it seemed to have failed to prevent the current crisis?” asked Senator Dodd last month.

Senator Dodd ought to have his mouth washed out with soap, for having imputed that Mr Bernanke was “too cosy” and so forth. And Mr Andrews gets a week’s detention for having uncritically parotted this line instead of diligently parrying it.

§ Lauds. Whatever happened to “The Show Must Go On!”?

While many performers suffer real injuries during some of the more grueling shows, producers say they suspect drinking, partying and general carousing are often the real culprits.

“Musicals employ a lot of kids,” one producer says. “They’re in New York, they’re making money, they’re having fun. You have to stay on top of them.”

Another, speaking of buff chorus boys, says: “Some of them are more loyal to their gym than they are to their show.”

The kids at “West Side Story” are now on notice from a legendary director who doesn’t suffer fools.

I think the blizzard of cast inserts should start to clear.

But if it doesn’t, the kids should remember their former colleague, Cody Green, who played Riff.

He missed a lot of shows due to injury. His understudy, John Arthur Greene, took over.

The producers thought the understudy was damn good.

And so now “the role usually played by Cody Green” is being played by John Arthur Greene — permanently.

The Cody Green story comes up a number of times in The Letters of Noël Coward: a diva will have a fit of the vapors, the understudy will do a smashing job, and there follows a miraculous recovery: “Florence [Hendersonin The Girl Who Came to Supper] was back like a fucking greyhound for the evening performance but too late to recapture the respect she had lost from the Company.” 

§ Prime. As Mr Goldstein writes,

I don’t doubt that the Schwinn Midtown is a far inferior bike, from the point of view of a bike connoisseur, to whatever is being sold used in Portland. But you’ve got to love a city whose citizens put a set of moral/aesthetic principles — whether it’s riding a bike with proper disc brakes or refusing to support the Big Box stores — this far above their own financial well-being. And although every city has its bike aficionados, I think that in Portland, most people just buy rebuilt bikes locally because it feels right to do so, not because all these everyday bike riders can really tell the difference between Shimano TX-30 derailleurs and M-970 XTR’s.

Still, what’s up with this bike micro-inflation? Why does there seem to be no market in Portland for used bikes that are actually cheap? Portland is otherwise a pretty cheap city. Beer is cheap. Used clothing is cheap. By major urban standards, housing is cheap too, unless you compare it to the strip-mall-type cities. And certainly there are plenty of people in town who can’t afford to spend $475 — never mind $1,000 — on a bike.

So much for Homo economicus Oregonii.

§ Tierce. Since the rich are always going to be with us, we think that this scheme is a fairly commendable way of clearing the commons of their litter.

The building, which faces the Hudson River, has a 16-story tower, 82 ft x 42 ft in plan, sitting on a three-story plinth, 99 ft x 75 ft in plan. The garage and car lift are 45 ft long and project 8 ft from the back east-facing wall. Each typical duplex takes up half of either the north or south footprint. Units are staggered vertically, with the kitchen and living space of one adjacent to bedroom space of another. The 350-sq-ft garage is assigned to the apartment with the kitchen on that level, says Marc Pittsley, project manager for Selldorf Architects. Every duplex has access to a common hallway at both levels, which contains fire stairs and garage access. On alternating floors, garage access is either down the hall or across the hall from the kitchen door.

Drivers enter the site through a gate on the west side, drive to the back of the site, turn left into the car lift, ride to the appropriate floor and back out of the lift into the garage. When leaving, the car moves forward into the car lift. When at grade, it moves straight ahead to an exit on the north side of the property.

Simple question: what happens when the elevator breaks down. And don’t say that it won’t!

§ Sext. Who knew about this strangely arresting combination of acrobatics and dressage — surely we’re not the only ones who are put in mind of Lipizzaner horsemanship.

Then a friend pointed us to the 1986 movie, Rad. How long has this been going on?

§ Nones. The Prince of Wales’s lines of comestibles were doing fine until the recession hit, and British shoppers reverted to frugal type. What to do?

Prince Harry, Charles’ son, made himself an ambassador of the family’s brand on a recent visit to New York, handing out samples of Duchy products to his guests at a party as a way of introducing the brand to the U.S. market.

Prince Harry and William always make sure they are served the organic biscuits on every major visit they attend, with both loyally revealing they “love the products”.

The young princes’ efforts seem to be insufficient. Ideas for a total rebranding are in the mix, and even more extreme, there are rumors that Prince Charles himself could even star in a new series of ads for his farmed goods.

The idea was met with bemusement from those close to the future king, but as one source tells me, “he started the brand, and lets face it, people do know him for it… you have to sell direct to your market.”

This may be the time to re-read Sue Townsend’s creepily well-imagined “fantasy,” The Queen and I.

§ Vespers. What particularly interests Mr Hallberg is the rhetorical power of Julia Child’s ethical appeal.

As I understand it, the ethical appeal has to do with establishing the speaker’s credibility, or the attractiveness of her persona. One approach might be simply to flourish one’s expertise. But, in our postmodern age, the conspicuous display of expertise too easily gives rise to charges of elitism. (Charges which, because they are essentially pathetic, are impossible to rebut.) Contemporary masters of the ethical appeal – among them David Foster Wallace, Jane Jacobs, and my quondam dentist, Dr. Bob Cargill – use the vast resources of voice to make us want to trust them. And how do they do this? By trusting us. By respecting our intelligence. By making a point of showing all their cards and giving a fair assessment of the strength of the overall hand. And above all, by acknowledging that we have the freedom to disagree.

Notwithstanding that overweening title – The Way to Cook – the power of Julia Child’s ethical appeal is that rather than seeking to bully or lecture or intimidate or dazzle us (which, of course, she could) she writes as though we are working in the kitchen alongside her. She allows that there are different approaches to cooking; she frequently suggests that, in her experience, some complication is necessary and some is not. And she does all this with constant, gentle humor.

We’ve certainly always thought so. Consider this breathtakingly concise dismissal of the microwave oven as a serious kitchen tool (from “A Short Note: Ingredients and Equipment,” at the start of The Way to Cook):

Microwaving. I wouldn’t be without my microwave oven, but I rarely use it for real cooking. I like having complete control over my food — I want to turn it, smell it, poke it, stir it about, and hover over its every state. Although the microwave does not let me participate fully, I do love it for rewarming, defrosting, and sometimes for starting up or finishing off. However, I know how popular microwave ovens have become and that many people adore them. I’m delighted to see, therefore, a growing number of excellent books on the subject available in supermarkets and bookstores.


§ Compline. We find Mr Salam’s title a trifle premature, especially as so much of his piece touches on how unpleasant the death-throes of macho, still very much ahead, are likely to be.

The he-cession is creating points of agreement among people not typically thought of as kindred spirits, from behavioral economists to feminist historians. But while many blame men for the current economic mess, much of the talk thus far has focused on the recession’s effects on women. And they are real. Women had a higher global unemployment rate before the current recession, and they still do. This leads many to agree with a U.N. report from earlier this year: “The economic and financial crisis puts a disproportionate burden on women, who are often concentrated in vulnerable employment É and tend to have lower unemployment and social security benefits, and have unequal access to and control over economic and financial resources.”

This is a valid concern, and not incompatible with the fact that billions of men worldwide, not just a few discredited bankers, will increasingly lose out in the new world taking shape from the current economic wreckage. As women start to gain more of the social, economic, and political power they have long been denied, it will be nothing less than a full-scale revolution the likes of which human civilization has never experienced.

This is not to say that women and men will fight each other across armed barricades. The conflict will take a subtler form, and the main battlefield will be hearts and minds. But make no mistake: The axis of global conflict in this century will not be warring ideologies, or competing geopolitics, or clashing civilizations. It won’t be race or ethnicity. It will be gender. We have no precedent for a world after the death of macho. But we can expect the transition to be wrenching, uneven, and possibly very violent.

2 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. Nom de Plume says:

    Compline: If we were to create an intention relative to “macho” in our culture, it would be more fruitful to visualize a healthy mix and alternating balancing act between the balls of men and the hearts of women. The sexes each have their contributions, and one without the other is clearly too much of a good thing. (Witness a combative world and corporate domination of all arguments policy, health, or economic.) This is not to say, either, that only men are acting directors and only women are nurturing communicators. I’ll take all sides of human ingenuity and gifts wherever — and in whomever — they are to be found!

  2. Maryjoy says:

    As described in ahonter item on the newsfeed, Seadog’s prediction has already happened in England which is ahead of the US on the appeasement curve to perdition.Critics of penal policy allowing concentration of Muslims and the perfectly predictable riots they are staging suggest that they should be dispersed among the prison population. Of course, this is like dispersing cancer.This is a very successful head of the many-headed Islamic hydra clamping onto the West, i.e. the rate of criminal activity among Muslim immigrants and the proselytization for Islam that converts many of the worst criminal thugs already incarcerated. (That the ACLU is aiding and abetting this process is just icing on the cake, part of the Unholy Alliance David Horowitz describes between the Left and Islam). Blacks appear to be especially susceptible to conversion, ironically joining the religion-ideology that was the main mover behind the black slave trade for centuries and that still reveals its marked racism in Darfur where African blacks of any religion have been slaughtered to the tune of 400 000 now and counting by Arabic Muslim janjaweed militias. Black hatred is successfully directed instead toward whites who ENDED their participation in the universal practice of slavery, sacrificed thousands of lives to do so and are nowhere slaughtering blacks in single digits, let alone hundreds of thousands! The appeal of Islam to the prison population is that it requires no repentance from criminals for their actions, no guilt, no attempt to be better. This is not surprising considering Mohammed whom all Muslims are supposed to emulate was basically a violent brigand.