In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Solomon's Shield | Main | Press Freedom and Confidentiality of Sources »

December 02, 2004


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Pattie and her beloved Kman have had a bad scare, the result of lots of Texas sun meeting fair Irish skin. Things are looking good, but why not stop by and offer best wishes?

* Brian's been thinking about Le Corbusier. Frank Gehry's buildings -- surprise, surprise -- tend to leak, and to make neighbors uncomfortable.

* I loved Paul Moses' Village Voice article about how much money the NYTimes extorted recently from NYCity. All it took was a threat to leave town, and the tax breaks came tumbling. My eyes glaze over when deals are analyzed, but I gather from Moses' article that our beloved liberal newspaper of record is essentially screwing city taxpayers out of tens of millions of dollars. But how gratifying it is to learn that the design for the Times' new building is cutting-edge. My favorite detail from Moses' piece: as part of the deal, the state condemned a building on land the Times coveted, forcing its owners to sell.

* Thanks to Cronaca for pointing out this hilarious Guardian story about how a Wal-Mart heiress went through college. Gasp: a rich person used her money to make life easy for herself! Fab detail:

"She was a very demanding, expect-the-best boss," Ms Martinez said. "I rarely got a bad grade, but if I did, she'd say, 'This was horrible.' She was pretty picky."

* Forager has been catching up with some mystery classics, and reports that Earle Stanley Gardner was pretty darn good. Crime-fiction fans should also enjoy this q&a with James ("L.A. Confidential") Ellroy.

* James Russell has been listing his favorite films from various decades. (Start here.) James has done a lot of movie-watching, and has developed an impressive taste-set.

* For years, it's been hard to find copies of one of my own fave '70s movies, Robert Altman's "California Split." I ran across a videocassette version some years back, but it was so horribly done that it completely destroyed the film's smokey magic. So I was thrilled to learn the other day that a new DVD of the movie is now available. I hit the One-Click button feeling no guilt whatsoever. The film (which stars Elliott Gould and George Segal, and is from a script by Joseph Walsh) is a gambling picture and a buddy movie both, but in terms of its tone and its humor, it's one of a kind: a bleary, free-associating, hazey ride -- something like "The Sting" as re-written by Charles Bukowski, if I can be forgiven for crosswiring artforms. Those who don't know who Charles Bukowski was can play catchup here.

* Speaking of one-of-a-kinds ... Have you ever run across Ruth Draper? She worked professionally from the 1920s into the 1950s, and was an amazing figure in American arts history. A writer, an eccentric, and a performer, she was what we might today call a performance artist but what was then called a monologuist -- a one-woman showperson. She traveled all over the world doing impersonations and character sketches to immense acclaim, but she began as an amateur -- a society girl giving performances for friends. Katharine Hepburn, Noel Coward, and Henry James were all fans. Hey, here's an offbeat Xmas-gift idea: CD recordings of Ruth Draper's monologues, which can be bought here.

* The Economic Policy Institute has some bad news about trade deficits. The Independent Institute's analysis of just how fiscally unconservative GWBush is almost makes me nostalgic for the prudent days of the Great Society. Key passage:

Since 2001, even with record low inflation, U.S. federal spending has increased by a massive 28.8% (19.7% in real dollars)—with non-defense discretionary growth of 35.7% (25.3% in real dollars)—the highest rate of federal government growth since the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. This increase has resulted in the largest budget deficits in U.S. history, an estimated $520 billion in fiscal year 2004 alone.

* Razib suspects that Asia produces fewer geniuses than Euro-derived cultures do. Why should that be so? he asks.

* Alex Tabarrok wonders when the alpaca bubble will burst. Tyler Cowen wonders how and if blogging and scholarship will sort things out. Kevin Drum dares to wonder if it might make sense to abolish the corporate income tax.

* Here's some bad news for the newspaper business from Wired. Reuters reports that "blog" was one of the most-researched words on the Internet during this past year.

* Whiskyprajer was k.o.'d by the Art Gallery of Ontario's new Modigliani show.

* Young people are starting to upload and transmit porn videos via cameraphone.

* Fred Kaplan's review of high-end TVs should be a useful guide for those with lots of money, and an effective daydream-trigger for the rest of us.

* The NYTimes reports that Long Islanders are getting annoyed by the number of illegals who have settled in the area. FAIR calculates that the costs of dealing with illegals in California total $1183 per "native" California household per year. Germany is wondering whether multiculturalism has gone too far. Meanwhile, and despite massive opposition, Bush plans to proceed with his absurd amnesty plan. Randall Parker says that, when it comes to immigration, even Hillary Clinton is to the right of the Republican Party.

* Mike Snider wonders what poets can do to reach out to a larger audience.

* Why lie when it's so damn much effort?



posted by Michael at December 2, 2004


Just remember, boys and girls, a successful organization like the NY Times only supports big government because it's the right thing to do. It's just the fantasy of right-wing nuts like me that they would support big government in order to stabilize their position at the top of the heap--as well as the ability to dip into the public purse now and then. Ah, the perks of righteousness.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on December 2, 2004 10:09 PM

But hey, the Times is for "the little guy," and "social justice," and stuff.

Posted by: ricpic on December 2, 2004 10:14 PM

The Times thing: I've long thought that much of elite liberalism was just misdirection. Just as a magician points stage right while the real action is happening stage left, so too the left elite slings accusations to keep the heat off themselves. Nice work if you can get it.

This is the same NY Times that ripped off a bunch of starving freelancers a year or two ago, right? Friend of the working man indeed.

Posted by: Brian on December 3, 2004 12:06 PM

And we NYC taxpayers don't even get free subscriptions out of the deal.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 3, 2004 12:10 PM

Yep. Talk about "greedy"!

Posted by: Tatyana on December 3, 2004 1:19 PM

Bukowski! BUKOWSKI?!?! You, sir, are obviously a very disturbed man....

Bukoski can be summed up by an event that happened to a very dear friend. She was in sorrow upon hearing of his death and decided to go to a local bookstore to purchase another of his books. When she arrived there was a poster of him with candles around it and his books were scattered in front of it. Almost in tears she walked over to one of the clerks and told him how happy she was that they were mourning his death. The reply was "Mourning? We're celebrating!"

Posted by: Gene Horr on December 3, 2004 1:50 PM

That sounds about right. The Wife saw Bukowski do his thing a few times live, and reports that he was about as asshole-ish as a person could be.

That said, I do love reading him. Especially the stories, and especially when I'm in a surly mood. You aren't a fan?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 3, 2004 1:55 PM

I'm just faking being a snob . Some of his writing is pretty good but to be honest most I can just leave.

What I find so interesting is that he seems to bring such extremes in opinion. People seem to either truly love his work or just completely despise it.

Posted by: Gene Horr on December 3, 2004 6:28 PM

Charles Bukowski

you know and I know and thee know

that as the yellow shade rips
as the cat leaps wild-eyed
as the old bartender leans on the wood
as the hummingbird sleeps

you know and I know and thee know

as the tanks practice on false battlefields
as your tires work the freeway
as the midget drunk on cheap bourbon cries alone at night
as the bulls are carefully bred for the matadores
as the grass watches you and the trees watch you
as the sea holds creatures vast and true

you know and I know and thee know

the sadness and glory of two slippers under a bed
the ballet of your heart dancing with your blood
young girls of love who will someday hate their mirror
overtime in hell
lunch with sick salad

you know and I know and thee know

the end as we know it now
it seems such a lousy trick after the lousy agony but

you know and I know and thee know

the joy that sometimes comes along out of nowhere
rising like a falcon moon across the impossibility

you know and I know and thee know

the cross-eyed craziness of total elation
we know that we finally have not been cheated

you know and I know and thee know

as we look at our hands our feet our lives our way
the sleeping hummingbird
the murdered dead of armies
the sun that eats you as you face it

you know and I know and thee know

we will defeat death.

Posted by: ricpic on December 3, 2004 7:35 PM

Love it, tks. Though that's more upbeat than most of the Bukowski I remember. He must have been drinking some highclass hooch that day.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 3, 2004 8:12 PM

James has done a lot of movie-watching

About 2500 films (of varying lengths, from 30-second Edison kinetoscope films of 1893 to Bondarchuk's eight-hour War and Peace), by my count, and unknowable hours of television shows on top of that. Although, as a friend of mine told me in the course of an email discussion about this fact, someone apparently wrote to Roger Ebert once saying he'd seen about 10,000 films and Ebert wrote back saying how sorry he felt for him because so many of those 10,000 films must've been crap.

Posted by: James Russell on December 12, 2004 6:07 AM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?