Daily Office:


Matins: What can you do to save the Galápagos Islands’ ecosystem? Resolve to stay away, and to urge your friends to do likewise. Don’t count on Ecuador to manage the growing mess.

Lauds: Stuff White People Like takes on Banksy, Thomas Kinkade.

Prime: Scott Shane: “Do Friends Let Friends Open Restaurants?” The answer is obvious, of course, but the brief discussion is interesting.

Tierce: Jenni Diski plays Auntie Family, faux-outraged about those gay penguins

Sext: Doodle away the afternoon with Vodkaster’s “subway map” of the 250 Best Films. (via reddit)

Nones: Irish voters approve the (slightly revised) Lisbon Treaty.

Vespers: Eric Banks writes about an uncomfortable truth in “Poe’s Fading Star.”

Compline: A tale that seems to come out of Dickens or Trollope or perhaps even Cruikshank or Rowlandson: while Simmons Bedding faces bankruptcy, the private equity investors and the former CEO walk away will amply-filled pockets.


§ Matins. Tourism revenues are as corrosive to the once-remote environment as are new arrivals such as fire ants. The prospect of higher wages, servicing the tourist business, tempts poor Ecuadorians into becoming illegal immigrants within their own country.

The government’s somewhat schizophrenic view of life here is echoed by the sentiments of the people. Margarita Masaquiza, 45, an Indian from Ecuador’s highlands who arrived here at the age of 14, abhors the government’s expulsions.

“We built this province with our own hands, so, yes, it pains us to see our countrymen deported like animals,” Ms. Masaquiza said. “After all, we are indigenous Ecuadoreans, how can we be illegal in our own country?”

But when asked how she felt about the impact of new migrants on her four children and four grandchildren, Ms. Masaquiza adopted a different tone.

“We must preserve opportunities for our families,” she said.

§ Lauds. This is really more of a Tierce story, but nothing was happening in art yesterday.

Here’s how it works: if you say your favorite artist is Vincent Van Gogh, MC Escher or Monet, you will appear as though your taste in art is derived entirely from college posters. This is unacceptable. Conversely, if you list Jeff Koons, Laurie Anderson, Damien Hirst or Basquiat, you’ll look like you are trying too hard but don’t really know what you are talking about. Chances are that white people will assume your art education consists entirely of documentaries, bio pics, and looking up references from Gossip Girl on Wikipedia.

Finally, if you list your favorite artist as a current, bleeding edge visionary who white people have not heard of, they will immediately recognize you as a threat and dislike you.  It is also a certainty that they will call you pretentious behind your back.

Needless to say, it’s complicated. But Banksy is just right. He’s just edgy enough to be outside of the mainstream, but popular enough to be available in coffee table book form at Urban Outfitters. Though if you spot this book on the coffee table of a white person it is strongly recommended that you imply they got the book at a Modern Art Museum gift shop and not at an Urban Outfitters. This will make the evening far more enjoyable for everyone concerned.

§ Prime. Did you know…

This is a dilemma because academic research and practitioner experience have identified a lot of factors that improve the odds that start-ups will be successful. For instance, people who start companies in industries favorable to new companies, who have experience working in those industries, whose businesses have a clear competitive advantage, and who know how to manage cash flow and to market new products tend to be more successful than others.

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs who start businesses lack these success factors. A recent report on the Kauffman Firm Survey indicated that 41 percent of the owners of three-year old businesses don’t think their businesses have a competitive advantage. Moreover, numerous entrepreneurs start companies in industries they have never worked in. And entrepreneurs disproportionately start companies in the very industries in which survival rates of start-ups are lowest.

Because the track record of the typical entrepreneur isn’t very good — with half of all start-ups failing to live five years and many of the surviving businesses generating low profits — providing entrepreneurs with valuable feedback about their business ideas might help them become more successful, or at least recognize the risks they are taking before it’s too late.

On the other hand, becoming an entrepreneur is very much about one’s dreams.

Mr Shane advises following the Silver Rule: Offer your opinion on request only.

§ Tierce. … and other challenged book subjects.

Is there a committee which reads all the books in the library in search of the dangerous sleepers, or is there an army of single, diligent and damaged souls who haphazardly take out a seemingly innocent book about wallflowers and discover dirty realism on every page? Books aren’t just dangerous, they’re scary. They have words secreted in them, tens of thousands of them, and there are millions of books, filled with words, billions and billions of words climbing the walls, and you really can’t oversee everything. You lie awake fretting with the counting of all those words lurking and working and know that you’ll never catch them all. A library, I now see, must be a terrifying place to some people.

§ Sext. Lists are not new. Funny interoffice memos are not new. But the massiveness of the Internet is new, and that’s what makes it worth someone’s while to polish up a confection such as this.


One imagines Esquire making a big to-do about such a “map” back, say, in 1970. Playboy, in fact, used to cite outstanding pop musicians, annually, with a relatively elaborate graphic component. But nowadays, there’s probably an app for that — with a corresponding low-key receptor in everybody’s head.

§ Nones. Things have changed since Ireland voted “no” in 2008.

Irish opinion is thought to have swung behind the “Yes” vote this time because of the severity of the economic downturn, as well as the legal “guarantees” on Irish sovereignty that the EU pledged after the first referendum.

The legally binding “guarantees” state that Lisbon will not affect key areas of Irish sovereignty, such as taxation, military neutrality and family matters such as abortion – significant issues in last year’s campaign in Ireland. But they have not yet been attached to the treaty.

§ Vespers. Everybody knows the stories, but who re-reads them? Have you tried lately?

Yet the readership of Poe the writer seems to be shrinking. For a couple of decades, the 1938 edition of The Complete Tales and Poems (which included a few of Poe’s critical essays), with an introduction by Hervey Allen, was the standard Poe at 1,028 pages. (It was reprinted in 1965 and sold for $3.95, the edition my mother bought for me on my birthday.) In 1971 Modern Library replaced that with Selected Poetry and Prose (also with the critical essays and 23 pages of notes by T.O. Mabbott), which checked in at 428 pages. There was a 1992 reprint of The Complete Tales and Poems, but most editions since then have been far slimmer: in 2006 Modern Library issued a 160-page edition of the Inspector Dupin tales with an introduction by Matthew Pearl, and the next year saw a new edition of Poe’s novella, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

It occurs to us that Poe may be the first Young Adult writer.

It may well be that much of what we thought was Poe’s influence was an error in translation – or, in some cases, in interpretation. One of the more interesting revelations of Brad Gooch’s recent biography of Flannery O’Connor, Flannery: A Life, regards Poe’s actual influence on O’Connor’s work. Gooch quotes Elizabeth Hardwick, her friend and contemporary, on the subject of Poe. “We didn’t have a lot of books in my house, but we did have the complete Poe,” said Hardwick of her childhood in Kentucky. “I bet they [the O’Connors] had the same edition. I remember sitting on the front porch in Lexington and reading ‘Murder in the Rue Morgue.’ I’ve often looked back and thought, ‘How did that happen?’ You have nothing to read when you’re twelve and you’re reading Poe.”

Indeed, the O’Connors did have the same ten-volume “commemorative” edition of Poe on the family bookshelf. “She enjoyed,” Gooch writes, “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, a short lyric novel about a stowaway on a whaling ship whose survivors resorted to cannibalism. But her favorite was the volume eight, the Humorous Tales, including ‘The Spectacles,’ ‘The Man That Was Used Up,’ and ‘The System of Dr. Tarr’ and ‘Professor Fether.’ She later recalled, ‘These were mighty humorous – one about a young man who was too vain to wear his glasses and consequently married his grandmother by accident; another about a fine figure of a man who in his room removed wooden arms, wooden legs, hairpiece, artificial teeth, voice box, etc. etc.; another about the inmates of a lunatic asylum who take over the establishment and run it to suit themselves.’ ” (In the same letter from O’Connor quoted above, she added: “I’m sure he wrote them all while drunk, too.”)

§ Compline. Non of this obscenity would have occurred if our tax laws favored equity over debt. But we tax dividends while exempting interest payments. Once upon a time, this helped the little guy. Maybe if corporations were taxed differently, it still would.

Meanwhile, glance at Julie Creswell’s portrait of Charlie Eitel, and try not to long for the squeak of tumbril wheels.

But while Simmons now faces an uncertain future, Mr. Eitel was a winner in The Great Game of Life. As chief executive, he enjoyed country club memberships, personal use of the corporate jet and thousands of dollars a year in free mattresses. Before stepping down last fall, he earned more than $40 million in compensation, bonuses and perks, according to an analysis by Brian Foley, an independent compensation consultant in White Plains. He earned the bulk of his money when Simmons was sold to Thomas H. Lee Partners.

Mr. Eitel ran Simmons as if it were his fief, several former executives said. His son joined Simmons’s sales force and a son-in-law landed in the company’s marketing department. A daughter often sang at corporate functions and even wrote and recorded a series of songs that were pressed into CDs and distributed at a sales meeting in Las Vegas.

Mr. Eitel declined several requests to speak for this article. But many former Simmons executives said that he ruled from afar — that he rarely appeared at the Atlanta headquarters. Instead, he spent much of his time in Naples, Fla., where he and his wife built an opulent home with a 1,000-bottle wine room and a multitier cascading pool featuring glass mosaic tiles. The home was listed this spring for $16 million.

Mr. Eitel also spent a great deal of time wooing clients from his 80-foot yacht, Eitel Time. With his boat, which had 11 televisions, a hot tub on the flybridge and a sunken granite-topped bar in the salon, Mr. Eitel took customers out for cocktail cruises and junkets to Martha’s Vineyard.

One Response to “Daily Office:

  1. Fossil Darling says:

    Prime : If the topic had been “Should friends let friends buy hotels in England?” then I have a resounding answer : NO!!!!!!