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September 21, 2007


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Not what you expect. (Via Charlton Griffin.)

* Charlton also sent along a link to a tasty collection of the worst tech ads of all time.

* The Communicatrix tipped me off to an amazingly well-done homegrown fight sequence. Gotta love formalized Asian choreography set amidst suburban American backyards.

* Speaking of cars and American car-industry troubles, Raymond Pert points out this hilarious Onion story.

* This other Onion piece also had me laughing out loud. As did this deadpan Onion video, which you had better wait to watch until you're away from the office.

* Claire pulls herself together and goes shopping for a bra.

* Get some sleep.

* Lexington Green sings the praises of garage-punk legends The Fleshtones.

* It's when I read things like this that I realize that -- although I burn through a lot of books -- I must not be a serious book person. And, ah, how good it feels to say that.

* Francis Morrone writes a terrific piece that captures many of the sides of the late, great Jane Jacobs. (Link thanks to Dave Lull.) You can read a lot more Francis here.



posted by Michael at September 21, 2007


Thanks for the link, Michael.

That homegrown fight sequence was very cool.

Posted by: claire on September 21, 2007 7:22 PM

About Claire's shopping ordeal and difficulties with sizing: I don't understand wanting to be helped by a particular type (young, attractive) of retail clerk. I can't stand being helped by any retail clerk - old and surly or young and attractive - when I'm clothes shopping. I'm completely thrown by their help. At least in big stores there's less of a chance that someone will hover over you. I have my own non-systematic system for honing in on (or circling) what I'm after and even though it may be inefficient it works enough of the time that I don't walk around nekkid.
The big mistake when you go shopping is no matter how desperate you are to get a certain item you must never settle: buy something you know is not right but you really need something in that category and so you buy it and then can't stand to wear it. A total loss.
Sizing: sizing is so inconsistent, in men's as well as women's wear, that, if possible, take the S, M, L and XL into the try on room. Unless you're a perfect 42 regular even that may not work, but it may get you close enough that a little tailoring (one more expense) will get you there.

Posted by: ricpic on September 21, 2007 8:38 PM

Why watch a fake fight sequence when you can have the real deal?

Posted by: Peter on September 21, 2007 10:05 PM

You home in on a target (the center of the target is “home” ). “Honing" has to do with sharpening knives, not aim.

Posted by: FYI on September 22, 2007 12:33 PM

So, Michael, you are from New York. Have you ever seen the Fleshtones? Got any anecdotes?

Posted by: Lexington Green on September 22, 2007 4:17 PM

Ricpic: I don't like being helped by clothing sales clerks either, but it doesn't mean I couldn't benefit from some help. I was just trying to conjure a frame of mind where I'd be willing to accept help. Friendly and knowledgable would be the attributes I'd really want.

Posted by: claire on September 22, 2007 5:40 PM

Yes, the essay on Jane Jacobs is very good. She wrote the only book that I literally wish I had written: "Systems of Survival" (1992). It's the best and deepest book I know on professional ethics.

Posted by: Lester Hunt on September 23, 2007 6:04 PM

Francis' essay presents some interesting thoughts about an interesting phenomenon -- why Jane Jacobs's work appeals to such a broad spectrum of people. The following are comments that I've tried to post in the on-line "Comments" section of the "The New York Sun" but, so far at least, I've been having trouble getting through.

- - - - - - - -

While it is indeed remarkable how many different types of people have taken up Jane Jacobs as one of their own, and while Francis' essay does present a very intriguing theory about the phenomenon, I'm inclined -- at least for the time being -- to see it slightly differently.

I do, however, very definitely agree with one point though: that relatively few people, even among those who consider themselves to be admirers, have actually read more than one of her books. And I will go even further and say that it seems to me that oftentimes people who talk about Jacobs have even not read all of "Death and Life" -- how many people, for instance, ever talk about anything other than the first few chapters (e.g., the "ballet of Hudson St.")? Many commentators seem totally oblivious of the later chapters of that book, especially the last chapter -- which I think serious readers (e.g., urban planning students) should actually read first. Much of the time, therefore, admirers and detractors alike seem to be really talking about what other people -- also non-readers! -- have said ABOUT Jacobs, rather than about what Jacobs has actually written or said (in interviews, etc.) herself.

Also, despite the simplicity of Jacobs' language, her books are invariably dense with novel ideas, and with this avalanche of ideas it's sometimes easy 1) to forget that she's said something, or 2) to even realize the full implication of an idea that's been "buried" in a chapter containing many others. (Both have happened to me a number of times!) So although Jacobs may have clearly said something, that idea may be, somewhat understandably, overlooked (especially with only with reading).

But rather than seeing Jacobs as writing and speaking in code -- which seems to me to be at odds with her outspoken feistiness (and truthfulness) -- I see her methodology, which she and others have described as being "inductive," as being similar to that of the U.S. Supreme Court. As I understand it (mostly from Linda Greenhouse, who covers the Supreme Court for the "The New York Times"), the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court usually go to great lengths to define a case as narrowly as possible, to stick to the issue at hand, and to avoid as much as possible sweeping generalizations. I think such an approach, whether this is the intention or not of those involved, is ultimately more likely to find common ground with a broad range of the populace.

I think this, along with Jacobs' inclination -- and remarkable ability -- to, as much as possible, go back to basics, back to "zero," question the conventional wisdom, ignore the misleading preconception, and look beyond the ideological "package deal" approach, helps explain why so many different types of people ultimately find something meaningful in her work.

Posted by: Benjamin Hemric on September 25, 2007 10:38 AM

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