Archive for October, 2009

Weekend Update : Flowers on the Floor

Saturday, October 31st, 2009


Although no one has asked, I know that you’re all dying for a look at the new rug. That’s the sort of intuition to which may brain has been reduced by this month of low-key, low-budget (but not, in the aggregate, inexpensive!) domestic upgrade.

As I wrote (in gratitude) to Quatorze last night, every time I walk into the bedroom, I want to drop to my knees and say a decade of the Rosary.


We began shortly after eleven, and finished at about two-fifteen. By the time Quatorze arrived, I had emptied the room of most small things — the desk chair, the hamper, the old tea table — leaving only the nightstands and the bed to contend with. I had warned Quatorze that we might have to empty the tall bookcase in which Kathleen keeps her collection of old children’s books and her accumulation of books on knitting, needlepoint, and beading; and I was glad that I did, because it would have been an unpleasant surprise indeed to find that this was so. In the event, foresight made the task bearable. By then, we had lifted the massive mattress off to one side, stood the box spring alongside it, and carefully tilted the bed frame — long ago bolted together — so as not to put too much torque on the two supporting legs. We had then rolled out the padding and then the rug (bear in mind, please, that Quatorze was a good 80% of “we”) and replaced the bed.

So now we had only to remove the books from the shelf (carefully, so that they’d be easy to re-shelve), carry the bookcase around the bed, finish rolling out the padding and the carpet, and replace the bookcase and finally the books. A lot of vacuuming and dusting was done along the way; we really ought to have been wearing surgical masks. Once the desk was back in place — it’s much heavier than it looks to be — I decided that we ought to break for lunch.

Afterward, Quatorze came back to the flat and re-hung some pictures in the living room. The paintings over the newly re-upholstered love seat, which has a somewhat higher back than the sofa that it replaced, were “driving me crazy,” he said. At about five o’clock, declaring that he would be burning his clothes, Quatorze left for home, and I went back to the bedroom for a few hours of Putting Things Back. When everything else was tidy, I made the bed.

And that was that! It was deliberate and methodical, if I may indulge in surplusage. “Deliberate and methodical” is Quatorze’s normal setting, but it isn’t mine; what came to my aid was an extended fatigue that has crushed my habitual impatience. I had neither the energy nor the snap to get cute. I plodded along tortugously. Eventually, it was all done. 

Weekend Open Thread: Brooke Astor Slept Here

Saturday, October 31st, 2009


Constabulary: Overstepping

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Big fish in small ponds are easily lulled into forgetting that they are not actually living in ponds. This week, in Stockton, Utah:

A traffic stop involving a young officer and the son of a small-town mayor has the whole town talking. The mayor of Stockton tried to fire the officer for issuing his son a ticket.

Inevitably, the story was picked up by Salt Lake TV. So that now we and you know about what was surely intended to remain a small-town affair.

Democracy would proceed in a far more orderly fashion if only the childless could hold elective office.

Office/Diary: Friday

Friday, October 30th, 2009


Quatorze is a god. You should be so lucky as to have him put your house in order.

¶ Matins: Happy Hallowe’en from Brooks Peters! (An Open Book)

Among many other virtues, he is a source of great and abiding courage. “Done,” he would say, meaning not only that there would be no more discussion about, say, the silver tray with the dented gallery, but that the object would no longer be on the premises by sundown.

¶ Lauds: A slideshow of Harlem-infused images by Ralph de Carava, who died the other day at the age of 89. (Los Angeles Times)  A video of Ingmar Bergman’s FÃ¥rö retreat, soon to be an artists’ colony. (W) (via Arts Journal)

The stuff that we took up to HousingWorks was the merest sidelight on the day’s activities. And yet it was my only exercise. The rest of the time, I watched Quatorze while he assembled the temporary bookshelf, or cleared the hall closet of document boxes, or hung pictures in improbable corners.

¶ Prime: Floyd Norris very reasonably argues that the solution to the high-pay stink on Wall Street is to curb its high revenues. He points to inflated charges, business concentration, reliance upon overly-complex instruments, tax evasion, and excessive risk-taking as unseemly practices that, if curtailed, might bring bonuses back down to earth. (NYT)

Best of all, I did not watch while Quatorze shepherded the document boxes to the storage unit. No! I stayed home. I stayed home, and piled the big art books onto the new temporary bookshelf. While he dealt with the boxes, and the driver of the moving van, and the Shining-like atmosphere at the Moribunda Beach Club.

¶ Tierce: The world’s tallest treehouse — complete with basketball court. Looking at the pictures makes us feel much better about our place. (inhabitat; via The Infrastructurist)

The temporary bookshelf is a colossal (and not very well-made) number from Home Depot that I bought when I learned that the bookshelf that I really want will take “months” for Scully & Scully to deliver. On or about the joyful day of its arrival, the steel shelving will go to the storage unit, where I’m sure it will be very helpful.

¶ Sext: Wagner’s Ring — in 45 seconds. (via; thanks, Fossil!)

While Quatorze was setting it up, though, I was appalled that I could not remember the name for the Eighties vogue for industrial fixtures in high-end home decorating. It came to me while he was at the storage unit, and when I told him what it was, he couldn’t believe that he’d forgotten, too: “High Tech.” The fact that more than 25 years have passed since then, together with the fact that the term was long ago appropriated by people (computer users and others) with a better claim to it, may explain our oblivion.

¶ Nones: Bans on stitched clothing and on alcohol will make the spread of swine flu at this year’s hajj a lot easier. (NYT)

And so the Great Domestic Reorientation of 2009 comes to an end — and, with it, these hybrid entries.

¶ Vespers: A very brisk but fully-packed  review of Ted Striphas’s The Late Age of Print,  at Survival of the Book.

Next week, the new, shorter Daily Office will continue on its own, while Dear Diary entries will no longer be interrupted by pesky blockquotes.

¶ Compline: A new book, The Other Side of Sadness, by George Bonanno, more or less tosses the idea of “working through grief” out the window. Most people mourn briefly, and then return to normal life. This is okay. (XXfactor; via The Morning News)

The longer Daily Office will reappear in January, but not here — at Portico, which will celebrate its tenth anniversary at some point early in the New Year. (If you can tell me the date, and back it up, there’s $50 in it for you. This offer does not apply to persons named Megan O’Neill.)

Bon weekend à tous!

Office/Diary: Thursday

Thursday, October 29th, 2009


Nothing of interest happened today. My brain felt a bit more like cottage cheese, and worked almost as badly. Happily, it was not called upon to do much of anything.

¶ Matins: Forget taking someone out to dinner and spending a few hours across a white tablecloth, making conversation. Don’t even bother dressing up. Foraging is the new dating game, and you may have to eat something strange and new. (NYT)

The greater part of the afternoon was spent printing Dymo labels, pasting them onto CD sleeves, breaking down jewel boxes (slipping CDs into sleeves and removing all the “art”), and throwing the plastic away. It doesn’t sound like much, but in the time that it took me to process about 150 CDs, I listened to all of Weinberger’s Schwanda, all of Don Giovanni, and the finale of Tannhäuser. And then I listened to nothing. I listened to nothing for almost long enough to play yet another opera. Laziness had little to do with my not playing yet another opera.

¶ Lauds: Lawrence Pollard reviews some of the more outrageous cases of vandalizing artworks, and ponders Pierre Pinoncelli’s claim that sometimes it’s the destruction of a work of art that’s the work of art. (BBC)

The idea, of course, is to save room; at least three CDs (and their attendant paperwork) will fit in the space occupied by one jewel box.

¶ Prime: Why does the Windows 7 upgrade cost so much? (And take forever to install?) Because, Bob Cringely says, Microsoft doesn’t want you to buy it. (I, Cringely)

In the morning, I had an insight about the future of the Daily Office. It was more of a vision, really; I could see how things would be. Will be, when I return to regular programming after my birthday. I may ease into it in the mean time. Watch for sneak previews.

¶ Tierce: Choire Sicha swoons over samurai. “Hello, Volcano Coat!” Those who forget history may be doomed to wearing it. (The Awl)

In the afternoon, I made the mistake of answering the phone. I was in no shape for a phone call, and my friend, not surprisingly, thought that I was angry and short. I didn’t think that I was either, but I knew that I was very impatient, and I was impatient not with my friend but with the very idea of talking. I could not support conversation in my current state of fatigue.

¶ Sext: Nell Boeschenstein rewrites “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for the Teens: it’s real-estate listings that fire her dreams, not diamonds. Beneath the humor, a poignant piece about the heartbreaking unattainability of truly desirable housing. (The Morning News)

My friend asked me why I was so tired, and how was I tired. Was it mental, physical? I’d say (although this didn’t occur to me on the phone) that it’s existential. As I said the other day, I’m often sick of life these days; I’ve had a surfeit. I can only take so much existence. Especially when existence involves moving shopping bags from one side of the room to the other, in order to make space for boxes. Oh, and I am no longer 30.

¶ Nones: Michael Clemens disputes the “brain drain” scenarios that developing countries often complain about. More Philippine nurse in the United States, for example, means that are more nurses in the Philippines than there are in Britain. (Foreign Policy, via  Marginal Revolution)

What I’m engaged in is not your ordinary household project. I’m cleaning out the place for the rest of my life, acknowledging that many of my possessions are no longer necessary. Which possessions? If only it were a matter of drawing up a list. I don’t really know why it isn’t a matter of drawing up a list, but I know that it isn’t. 

¶ Vespers: Tom Nissley interviews NYRB Books editor Edwin Frank, and notes that his sponsor, Amazon, will sell you a full set of the imprint’s offerings at a thousand dollars off! (Omnivoracious; via Maud Newton)

Never mind what tomorrow may bring. Nay, will almost certainly bring. Friday, neither. Kathleen will be away for the weekend, so she’ll be spared the convalescence, which, as everyone knows, can be uglier than what brought it on.

¶ Compline: In a surprisingly brief entry, Jonah Lehrer cogently explains pleasure, beauty, attentiveness, idealism, and appetite in terms of a common denominator: dopamine. (Frontal Cortex)

The day would have ended a lot more pleasantly if the clown who works relief on Wednesdays in the package room hadn’t decided to close up shop on the early side, without letting anybody know. I went downstairs at 7:30 — the package room closes at 8 — clutching three package slips and the agreeable anticipation of reclaiming a piece of dry cleaning. Upon encountering the locked door, my blood ran toxic with frustration. I was too far gone for anger.

Thank heaven for Quatorze!

Office/Diary: Wednesday

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009


One of those deeply satisfying day-in-the-life novellas could have been written about my morning, afternoon, and evening, thanks to a note that I found in my inbox when I got round to looking at it in the late afternoon. Even without the note, it would have been a rich day, from a narrative standpoint. How could it not be? The very idea of lugging myself down to ABC Carpet at eleven-something in the morning, and on a rainy day, too. In the early stages of responding to a flu shot!

¶ Matins: Elizabeth Kolbert considers Cass Sunstein’s latest book, On Rumors: How Falsehoods Spread, Why We Believe Them, What Can Be Done, and, in general, agrees that the Internet has helped to make this a Misinformation Age. She points out that being fair and balanced about people like the “birthers” can be self-defeating. 

The most plausible explanation for this dark, post-Enlightenment turn is unavailable to Sunstein; so hard is he trying to be nonpartisan that he can’t see the nuts for the trees. Several decades ago, a detachment of the American right cut itself loose from reason, and it has been drifting along happily ever since. 

(The New Yorker) 

Quatorze had found a very inexpensive rug for our bedroom. When it was unfolded on the floor, my first thought was that Kathleen wouldn’t look twice at this rug. My second thought was that the background, a muted grey-blue, was really rather dingy, and that Kathleen would actively dislike it. Apprised of these reservations, Kathleen nevertheless plumped for purchase. So we looked at another rug, one that was nearly twice as expensive. Curiously, the second rug, which had a lot of hanger appeal, made Quatorze’s choice look quite a bit more appealing. (This was not a trick engineered by my friend, I’m pretty sure; although, if it was, I’m tremendously impressed, so not to worry!) By now, I had written a story for the rug, a story that I would tell myself every day when I walked on it: This rug was left to me by someone in my father’s family who spent her entire life in Clinton, Iowa.

¶ Lauds: Joanne McNeil doesn’t think much of Lars von Trier. “He’s just clever enough to come up with an idea that could be a great art film, but too thick to follow through with it.” In case you’re thinking of sitting through Antichrist. (Tomorrow Museum)

You wait, though: on Friday, after Quatorze and I have completed the ordeal of laying the rug in the bedroom (which needn’t be described in advance), I’ll be in love with its Victorian marigolds and chrysanthemums.

¶ Prime: Jeffrey Pfeffer writes about the difficulty of identifying core competence. “The question of what businesses to be in and what to stay away from is one of the fundamental questions of business strategy, and it’s important for both individuals and companies.” (The Corner Office)

There was a fracas when we tried to leave the store. It turned out that I hadn’t paid for the pad that will underlie the rug. (I hadn’t been asked to.) Quatorze cleared it all up, but for at least seven and a half minutes — at least, mind you; no need to specify exactly! — I was the client from hell.

¶ Tierce: The top-ten rediscovered photographs. Among others, Helen Keller, Edward VII, and Anne Frank’s one true love, Peter Schiff. (listverse, via The Online Photographer)

The ABC staff who do all the work (and who don’t wear suit jackets) hailed a taxi for us, and we took Park Avenue all the way up to Yorkville. The ride was not egregiously slow, but when we finally drove through Grand Central Terminal (as one does, on the futuristic flyways of 1912), I felt as one does after an hour in the dentist’s chair.

¶ Sext: The top-ten rules of the Internet. The 35 rules of the Internet. The many, many rules of 4chan. (via /b/).

We dumped the rug and the underlying pad at the apartment and headed to the Café d’Alsace for lunch. Then we walked uphill to the 92nd Street Y, for two hours of Schubert.

¶ Nones: A French court determines that Scientology is fraudulent. But the sect has not been barred from operation. (NYT)

When I was a young man in Houston, Sharon Robinson was a rising cello soloist whose parents both played with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. She was tall and blonde and very much not one’s idea of a concert musician. Although she is a year younger than I am, she is still beautiful. And a great cellist, too — especially at the bottom, where, looks to the contrary notwithstanding, she likes to growl. She was playing with her husband, Jaime Laredo, and her chamber trio partner, Joseph Kalichstein, a program of  both of Schubert’s big piano trios.

¶ Vespers: Orhan Pamuk reads “My Russian Education,” an excerpt from Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak, Memory that was published as fiction in 1948. (The New Yorker)

I can’t remember the last time that I listened to serious music in the middle of the afternoon. Yes, I can: it was at Tanglewood, and Sylvia McNair sang a cycle of songs written by André Previn to texts by Toni Morrison — who was there. More recently, now I think of it, there was an hilarious misadventure on 57th Street, featuring a very red piano.

¶ Compline: Admit it: you’ve always wondered if one of your ancestors screwed around with a Neanderthal. Svante Pääbo, of the Max Planck Institute, is sure of it. (Short Sharp Science)

Quatorze and I repaired to the apartment for a pot of tea. While we sipped, he asked where the temporary bookshelf was. (You’ll find out what that means soon enough.) I said that I hadn’t heard, but I reminded the both of us that it had been ordered not even two weeks ago. Shortly after he left, I received a note from Home Depot saying that it is on its way. Eventually, a handsome hardwood case from England will take its place, but that won’t be for months.

Eventually, I found myself at my desk again, and there it was, this note that I’m not going to talk about. I’ll say two things: (1) It concerned my writing and (2) there was not only no offer of any kind but no promise of an offer. Nevertheless, it was a gratifying note, and it made me very happy that I do what I do, writing thousands of words every day. (Oh, dear, did I say thousand-s?)

Office/Diary: Tuesday

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009


Chatting on Google with Nom de Plume, shortly after lunch, I blurted that I was “sick of life.” I knew that I did not mean this in its operatic sense. I did not want to “end it all” &c &c. It took a moment, though, to realize that I meant it quite literally. Like a little boy who has eaten too many pieces of birthday cake, I was sick of too much.  

¶ Matins: Do you want to settle in one of the “best” cities in the United States — or is it just a city of whites that draws you? Aaron Renn at newgeography

The answer, obviously, was to let nature take her course &c &c. I must rest.

¶ Lauds: Ann Temkin likes to move the furniture around. This means that that the art of which she is the MoMA curator moves comes and goes. Starry Night stays put, though. (NYT)

By the way, when I write, “I must rest,” do you understand that I am speaking in the past tense? “The answer was to let nature take her course; I must rest.” Meaning: I would have to rest. I’m not sure that even English readers hear it properly anymore. But in fact the past tense of “must” is “must,” not — you’ll be happy to learn this — “musted.” Or “merst.”

(That’s all the fun with “must” that we’re going to have tonight.)

¶ Prime: No more McDonald’s in Iceland — a casualty of the country’s economic  collapse. (via Marginal Revolution) It’s not much consolation to know that Icelandic tourists can pick up a Royal Deluxe at the chain’s new outpost at the Louvre. (NYT)

If I took things easy — to get back to the “me” part of this entry — I’d feel better; much better; and not at all “sick of life.”  Sure enough, as the day wore on, I felt less and less doomed. As it happened, I had a physical exam scheduled for this afternoon. That can’t have contributed to any well-rested feelings. The doctor let me know what he thought about my health by saying that he didn’t see anything wrong with me but/and declining to weigh me. Having survived the exam, though (pending blood and urine tests, of course), I walked back up Second Avenue with a springier step.

¶ Tierce: “Do Exactly What It Says.” Instructions for burning Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in effigy on Hallowe’en, in case you’re interested. “The demon adds a nice touch.” Or, bring a fire hose. ( The Awl)

If I hadn’t been genuinely tired, I might have laughed, because even during the morning of sickness of life, I’d known that my state of mind was fleetingly likely to disappear quite soon, and I’d refused to indulge in any operatic decision-making. I did not make any pacts with myself to take rash action of some kind or other. I did not promise my patron saint that I would live on ramen for a month, or stop speaking, once and for all, to someone I don’t like (“why pretend?”).

¶ Sext: Peter Jon Lindberg complains about “Bad Music in Public Places.” Read through to the end; he has a sound-designer friend who puts together playlists that you can buy at iTunes. (via The Morning News)

On the contrary: I knew that I’d feel better if I just held out and managed not to make things worse with one of those operatic coups that would probably not come to mind so readily if I did not know anything about opera. (See Stendhal on “love.”)

¶ Nones: Will Hugo Chávez change international relations? Or will his head end up on a pole? Either way, here’s something for your Chávez scrapbook. (BBC) If your scrapbook is devoted, rather, to memories of lost grandeur, here’s a map of what Turkey ought to look like, to some, anyway. (Strange Maps)

What was even funnier, except not really, was wondering how many of my inky black moods and states of rage would have occurred if I’d been well-rested. Over the years, I mean. How many therapists would not have required talking to.

¶ Vespers: R Crumb discusses his Gnosticism and the making of his graphic Genesis. (Vanity Fair)

This revisionist history of my mental health was checked, to some degree, by the recollection that hormones fall off as one gets older. This makes many people sad, but for me it has brought nothing but relief. My version of Augustine’s famous “not yet” prayer would have been, “Lord, please calm my endocrine system — right now!”

¶ Compline: Steve Toback has been worried about multasking-induced intelligence sinkholes for over ten years, and he sees no reason to change his mind.

At the moment, my mood is bright again, but I can tell that I’m still very tired. I fixed a nice-enough dinner, Elizabeth David’s Veal cauchoise. For some reason, I was watching Syriana in the kitchen when Kathleen got home. She hadn’t seen it, so I was explaining that now and then there’s a big explosion, while, all unthinking, I ignited the Calvados on the stove. I had bought a gigantic measuring cup — it must hold a quart — for this purpose, thinking that the small quantity of spirits that is usually called for to make a flambée would quickly give up its alcohol in a broad vessel that kept it shallow. This turned out to be correct.

It never occurred to me to foresee a culinary explosion, and in that I was correct as well. Indeed, one of the things that I love about igniting brandy and the other eaux fortes is that the flame is all bluff, a cool blue that just might burn a sheet of paper if you could dangle on in it with your third hand. (The real danger of igniting alcohol, I believe, is that the flame will go on to ignite a grease fire.) Kathleen, however, jumped, and had to walk away. She said that dinner was delicious, though, and she ate every bite.

Monday Scramble: Looseleaf

Monday, October 26th, 2009


That we’re running late today is no surprise. The miracle is that we’re even crawling to the keyboard. And sitting upright!

We knew that there would come a point in the year when the Editor would have to cut back on posting. But we expected it to come in late November, not early October. We thought that the Editor could make it to his annual Thanksgiving holiday before he felt obliged to divert his attention from the virtual world (and relatively simple pleasure) to the real one (no comment). We were wrong.

The Editor was undone by a single act of upholstery. Moving one substantial piece of furniture in his small apartment tends to set off multiple chain reactions, producing entropic unsightliness. Personally, the Editor is trying very hard not to be the sort of person who tosses problems and projects into shopping bags which he then slides behind the couch with the self-satisfied air of having pulled something over. He has learned that he and he alone is the victim of these feints. He will almost certainly die trying to be better.

It wasn’t that he didn’t get round to writing things up. He did! Jonathan Lethem’s second New Yorker story this year, for example! (He didn’t have much to say.) He got to Elijah Wald’s How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘N’ Roll, a book that he really liked, before oblivion set in and a re-reading would have been required. He even wrote up a chamber concert of Mozart and Gubaidulina, the sort of thing that was generally beyond him last season! And, as always, the  Book Review review.

Weekend Update (Late Edition): Spent

Monday, October 26th, 2009


My candle, burning at both ends, has consumed itself at last. If I’m running on fumes at the moment, I wasn’t running at all about five hours ago. If I weren’t so tired, I might try to spin an engaging account of how I spent the day — and how I spent last night. Narrative aside, last night was a great wallowing in the thing that is right and truly better than sex: talk. I talked all night long. I listened a bit, and I remember most of what I heard. But I had a magnificent time of it talking. Angels of loquacity, if not of eloquence, perched on my shoulders, pouring words into my brain that I had no idea of until I heard myself saying them. This morning, I felt utterly used up.

Waking up spent would have been delicious, if only I hadn’t had to shepherd our old dining table up to Hamilton Heights. Quatorze surprassed all expectations of helpfulness. Quite aside from the heavy lifting (not really so heavy this time), he ran conversational interference for me at several key intersections; I wish that discretion allowed me to be more specific.

When our adventure became a success, and we returned to the apartment for a cup of tea, I had one of the happiest hours that I have ever known. Kathleen woke up from a nap and joined us while I showed Quatorze the catalogue of the American Stories show, and pulled down the Americans in Paris catalogue to appraise the overlap. So many pictures appeared in both exhibitions! Having begun the day in a used-up state, I was now approaching the absolute zero of personal depletion, but because everything was so handsome in the noon light, I was happy rather than cranky. I would become cranky when it got dark, at least for an hour or two.

Before that, however, I realized that life must go on: lunch. Stumbling around the kitchen, half-conscious, I threw together what turned out to be the most baldly scrumptious chicken salad that I have ever eaten, and it was simplicity itself. (Yes, of course: it was delicious to the extent that I was exhausted.) A simple dressing of mayonnaise, curry powder, and lemon juice; cubes of leftover chicken from Friday night’s roast, a cut-up avocado at its very peak, and thin slices of seeded tomato. A tablespoon of minced celery. Tossed in a silver bowl that I fished out of box for which I no longer have a place, the salad was accompanied by cranberries, a camembert, and crackers.

Plus a bottle of Schramsberg. It was heaven to drink champagne — even though I suspected that it would make me cranky later. Later, it would be dark. While it was light — while it was afternoon — life was transcendent. Over the past couple of weeks, several heavy objects have been taken out of the apartment, but only two have been brought in. I will never lead a truly simple life; I would find it parching. But I’m beginning to believe that I may be able to keep track of its contradictions.

Mad Men Note: Speechless

Sunday, October 25th, 2009


Do we talk about tonight’s drama, or do we talk about the opportunities that it gave to Jon Hamm, January Jones, and Christina Hendricks to smash a few records — Mr Hamm especially. The only factor that made things easy for Jon Hamm was Don Draper’s very considerable growth since the first season. In a nutshell, Don has stopped worrying about being caught out.

Consciously, he must have calloused the habit of shrugging off its improbability. If he hasn’t been caught by now, why would it happen? (The very same shrug that must have lowered his guard enough to allow him to leave his desk’s keys in his bathrobe, there for Betsy to find.) More deeply, however, Don has become someone who knows that he can handle anything. Confidence is a feedback loop; eventually, you don’t have to whistle happy tunes anymore. If Adam showed up today, Don would know how to handle his need for recognition. He wouldn’t try to throw money at it. But then, he learned the futility of throwing money at problems from Adam’s suicide. There’s no going back for a second try.

It’s clear that Betsy Draper has learned a few things too. If it would be unfair to call her a great dissembler, it can’t be gainsaid that she has mastered the fine art of time-release. It’s as though the men who have tried to tempt her into infedility had taught her instead how to deploy information. And yet it’s clearer than ever that Betsy doesn’t know what she wants out of life — that she can’t quite understand the possibility of asking the question with the serious expectation of genuine answer. The question of what she might want comes up only because Don keeps bruising her with knowledge of what she doesn’t.

As for Joan’s decking her husband with a vase full of flowers, we can only dream that the ladies responsible for this evening’s episode are familiar with Maggie and Jiggs, of Bringing Up Father. It was hoot majeure.

We’re on the slick slope of the season’s final hours, flying downhill toward the big fade-out, which, presumably, will blot out the Draper family home. I, for one, will be asking myself why I care. I’m not ashamed to say that I do care, but is it because the show captures a world that I knew from the cusp of adolescence? Or it is because the story is so well told — in which case the setting could just as well be medieval Toledo?

Weekend Open Thread: Blocked

Saturday, October 24th, 2009


Constabulary: Watch out for well-meaning men of zeal

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

That’s a quote from Louis Brandeis that we ought to keep in mind when evaluating the LAPD’s new iWATCH initiative.

The inconvenience of the correct way of doing things parallels that of democracy. Just as it would be much easier to put an effective (and benevolent) dictator in charge of things, so it would be fantastic to collect everybody’s reports of suspicious behavior.  

It’s taking people a long time to realize that there are no procedures for running a humanist society — only a handful of very clear prohibitions. Encouraging civilians to denounce each other is one of them. (via reddit)

Office/Diary: Friday

Friday, October 23rd, 2009


My subject today is the Weekday Tragedy.

¶ Matins: In addition to the simple depletion of stocks, a new factor is contributing to the rise in the price of oil: the fall of the dollar, which dropped to $1.50 to the Euro yesterday. (Times)

Don’t worry; nobody dies. Nobody gets hurt. Money is very rarely lost! That’s what “weekday” means. It happens every day, and you get used to it, and then one day you wake up in a Tennessee Williams play.

¶ Lauds: This must have been fun: watching My Dinner with André with André in the room — and Wallace Shawn, too. (at Speakeasy)

An optimist says, “There is so much to do!” A pessimist says, “I’ll never work my way through all this crap.”

¶ Prime: More on Paul Volcker: according to the WSJ, he’s stage-managing a profound shift in the taxability of corporate debt, hitherto disastrously tax-free. Meanwhile, Harvard cleans up after Larry Summers. (via Felix Salmon)

The opportunist says, “I really want to finish Lorrie Moore’s amazing novel. How can I dash off a diary entry in a trice?

¶ Tierce: A slideshow of workspaces, many of them of the manly persuasion, photographed by Joseph Holmes. (via A Continuous Lean). Workophobes can hang out The Manhattan Street Corners. (via MetaFilter)

I’d be only to happy to lavish an hour or two on the entry that I planned this morning, when the day was still potential. “I’ll write about boxes,” I said to myself with a smile, as I got dressed. By “boxes,” I meant the rattan storage boxes that every housewares store on the Upper East Side used to stock.

¶ Sext: The Bronson Pinchot interview at Onion AVC. Something like Ali G, only for real. Will he work in that town again? (via everywhere, but we found it at The Awl)

Not that I can find any online! They’re square or rectangular (but oblong in either case), and they come in a solacing range of  colors, from khaki to evergreen. Nothing primary; no pastels.

¶ Nones: Who knew that India has its own Article 301? The Indian Government won’t allow an adaptation of Indian Summer to be filmed (in India, anyway) unless sex scenes involving Edwina Mountbatten (Cate Blanchett) and Jawaharlal Nehru (Irrfan Khan) are removed — which effective quashes the project for now. (via Arts Journal)

The genius of the product is to make your bureau drawers presentable, sans bureau. A sort of exoskeletal dresser. Not that I use them for clothing, although of course you could. I already have real dressers for clothing. What I don’t have is a room filled with forty-five filing cabinets.

¶ Vespers: John Self encourages us to give a second thought to Tao Lin’s Shoplifting From American Apparel. (Asylum)

Enough product placement. I was going to write about the things that I found in the boxes as I went through them today, with an emphasis on the stuff that I threw away. I looked forward to writing about this almost as much as I looked forward to having done it.

¶ Compline: Just in time for the collapse of mass aviation, the floating airport! (It’s very interesting to note that the Sierra Club has no opposition to this idea.) (The Infrastructurist)

Sadly, I never looked forward to the actual doing, and so other stuff happened instead. Productive stuff! I wrote two pages for Portico (both of them brevissimo, but it’s the thought that counts, these days). I cooked a lovely dinner. I did a lot of other useful stuff that would be toenails to talk about. And I did open one box. I opened the box, and I stuffed the contents of a shopping bag into it. This was not the operation that I’d had in mind in the buoyant morning. I’d had such hopes! &c &c!

If only tomorrow were another day. But it’s not tomorrow; it’s today. And I’m off to the movies at some point, with who knows what free-style frittering afterward. The richly fascinating stories that my boxes have to tell — who knows when they’ll be told?

Bon weekend à tous!

Office/Diary: Thursday

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009


If I had my druther’s, I’d still be in the living room, listening to Mahler’s Third and reading from the Book of Cake, where the story has finally passed the moment at which Lady E accepts the Duke of York. Not that a shred of evidence of romantic feelings on the lady’s part is presented. Although it’s true that any display of a future queen’s falling in love must be smothered by propriety, William Shawcross does nothing to preclude cynical conclusions. One has to remember that no one could have imagined that the groom was the brother of an abdicator. I hope that my attempt at discretion has rendered this paragraph intriguingly opaque.

¶ Matins: Why Paul Volcker wants to restore some form of Glass-Steagall separation between retail and merchant banking. (Over Larry Summers’s dead body, we suspect.) Why Arianna Huffington wants to curb our enthusiasm for “small-bore, high-drama stories” of the “balloon boy” variety.

Probably just “opaque,” though. “Irritatingly opaque,” very likely.

¶ Lauds: Every once in a while, along comes an illustrator who outdoes photography for documentary punch, by incorporating moods that no shutter can capture. Matthew Cook is one such. (via The Best Part)

Quatorze spent the afternoon with me, helping out with this and that on the home improvement front. Nothing could induce me to enumerate our projects (dreamed up by me and executed by him), but drills, safety pins, and twisties were involved. A lot of CDs were pulled down from the tops of shelving, and stacked neatly on the outgoing dining table. For dessert, so to speak, we gathered up three bits of furnishing for which there is no room at the moment and taxied them down to the storage unit.

¶ Prime: An Andrew Ross Sorkin moment (to whet your appetite for (a) his book (b) antacid tablets), presented by Felix Salmon: “We’ve wasted our crisis.” “How on earth did Paulson think this was okay?” Clicking through today’s Counterparties entry: “Need I name the source of the quote?” 

At the storage unit, Quatorze asked if it was true that some of the units were used by prostitutes to turn tricks. Mon Dieu — as if I would know! Like everyone else in the world, I read the article in New York magazine (or somesuch) from a thousand years ago, in which it was alleged that some ladies of the evening keep their frocks in storage, and repair to their units for quick changes between Johns, but it is clear to me that having sex in a storage unit is a stunt — nobody does it (regularly) on a faute de mieux basis. Regular readers will remember that I used to call the storage unit “Westphalia” (“because that’s where detritus are”), but these days I call it the Moribundo Beach Club, because it combines the exiguity of a sand-plagued cabana with the charm of a morgue.

¶ Tierce: Book proposal for Scout: The Castles of Westchester am Rhein. Today: Castle Rock, in Garrison, with, among other things, a rather startlingly comprehensive view of West Point.

The home improvement is having a calming effect overall. I think that it is teaching me that anything really is possible.

¶ Sext: Cant words that (a) British office-workers and (b) Esquire’s editors dislike. When you’re through clucking at malatinisms and nursery-talk, have a gander at print ads that would fail to effectivate today’s markets. (via The Morning News) Department of Phew!: the FTC isn’t after us!

While Quatorze made a template of the top of the bottom half of the breakfront — there really is no top, so we have to have one made to measure — I fiddled with a caladium that I’ve been growing fond of for a couple of months. Although I have had caladiums before, they have never thrived as this plant is thriving, and I never had to tend one, beyond watering it. From time to time, I could say, you have to rope in the new leaves, which require the support of rudimentary treillage.

¶ Nones: Testing a conciliatory, pro-Kurdish law in Turkey, a judge ordered the release of PKK rebels who have not renounced their membership in the separatist organization.

(The last paragraph of this BBC story switched on a lightfbulb in the Editor’s brain: a terrorist is simply a nationalist who is out of power, speaking a language that flag-wavers understand but that cosmopolitans have either renounced or forgotten.)

There was much to learn about gathering the stems behind a cordon of string — two cordons, really. I saw that notching the poles would be a good idea, and it was. By the time I was through, an utterly ill-trained retriever had become a well-mannered Airedale.

¶ Vespers: Alexander Chee mixes up character flaws, Tarot Decks, and a brilliantly concise appreciation of Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings. Exemplary blogging!

He [Tomine’s protagonist, Ben] lacks that famous other creative writing hobgoblin, character consistency, in one way–he is absolutely inconsistent in his views–and yet that ends up being what the book is about: he has no core, except a shame at who he is that destroys all his relationships. THAT is his consistency, that is his ‘flaw’. And what’s more, this gap is precisely what creates the dramatic irony that moves the whole book along.

I asked Quatorze about finding a cachepot for the caladium. The first rule of cachepots is that they are never, ever large enough. To conceal the base of any robust house-plant, you have to grit your teeth and settle for nothing less than a bathtub. Quatorze’s rather depressing suggestion was eBay. I say that only because I find eBay depressing. Quatorze and Kathleen do not; for them, I’ve come to think, eBay is a delicious mix of The Wizard of Oz and Mystery Science Theatre.

¶ Compline: The coolness of this post-industrial transformation (in Vienna, no less) induces word failure. (via The Infrastructurist)

Now I am going to climb into bed with Lorrie Moore’s beautiful book, which is every bit as unreverencingly fresh as the Queen Mother was.

Office/Diary: Wednesday

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009


Stroking my beard, I realize with a moue that the barber took too much of it off at today’s trim. I thought that he was being a bit enthusiastic, but by the time this occurred to me there was no going back. I shall have to mention it to him next time. The barber who took care of me for years, until his retirement last year, never touched my beard with an electric razor — at my request. I don’t think that I can get away with that now; Willy is much younger and more determined to do things his own way. Even though I tip him even more. Absurdly more. Moue. 

¶ Matins: In an eminently sane reversal of Bushwah, the Justice Department will no longer harass medical marijuana networks in the fourteen states that permit them. Although the new position is unenthusiastic about marijuana use (to say the least), its rationale is noteworthy: the government has more important things to do.

Before Willy, I stopped in at Perry Process, where I also had to have, as nicely as possible, a few words. A few weeks ago, I asked about summer storage. Every spring, Kathleen sends her winter clothes off to be stored and then cleaned. And then delivered. I was told that the stuff would be ready at the end of my month. Imagine my displeasure when the doorbell rang on Saturday afternoon, as I was getting ready to welcome guests for brunch, in an apartment that was still at sixes and sevens — divided by two.

¶ Lauds: We are profoundly amused by the discomfort that R Crumb’s extremely literal illustration of the Book of Genesis is causing the fundies. Now they’ll understand why the Vatican forbade — forbade! — the independent reading of Scripture.

The real inconvenience was that Kathleen was in North Carolina, going through her late mother’s clothes, ironically enough. Having busted my major parts trying to impose a level of order on the apartment, the arrival of a heap of dry cleaning, poofed with tissue paper, came as a body blow. This afternoon, we agreed that a call beforehand — and, by the way, the 17th of October is not the “end of the month” — would be in order.

¶ Prime: There’s a movie in there somewhere — Iowa’s generous tax incentive to Hollywood may have been (gasp!) abused by filmmakers, and the program is on hold. Meanwhile (GASP!), right in our own backyard, stagehands at Carnegie Hall average almost $500K a year. (via Arts Journal)

I am telling you all of this to tickle you, because of course you cannot feel very sorry for me, beset as I am by such tribulations. Now, just imagine how self-righteously clueless the bailed-out investment bankers sound!

¶ Tierce: Must we? At his new New Yorker blog, Unquiet Thoughts, Alex Ross reminds us that “Für Elise” exists — not without a whiff of mystery. (But only a whiff.)

My friend Nom de Plume came in to town, and we had lunch. Then she went to her appointments and I made the aforementioned rounds, which I wrapped up with a visit to Eli’s, for to buy the makings of yet another quiche. When Nom was through with her schedule, she came to the apartment for tea, cake, and grilling — I don’t know how she puts up with my curmudgeonliness (and I’m not inquiring, either, by the way.)

¶ Sext: We’re sorry about not passing on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity yesterday — win a Norwegian Sweater from Ivy Style/LL Bean. Only a few hours remain to enter! If you miss that contest, there’s always the Critterati.

The best thing about the day, though, was sitting down at the laptop in the living room and writing a page for Portico. Yes, it was very nice — a massive relief, really — just to get it done. But it was awfully pleasant to do, and that was an even more massive relief, because what with all this apartment brouhaha I was wondering if I’d lost my taste for the fine tedium of writing a thousand words of connected text.

¶ Nones: The stalemate in Tegucigalpa (Zelaya: “insulting”; Micheletti: “agenda of insurrection’) is sending Hondurans in search of miracles, preferably one worked by Our Lady of Suyapa.

There was a little more to it than that. I’d been shying away from the laptop, owing to old WiFi connection problems that I really don’t have anymore, thanks to J—. Not that it matters much if I’ve got an Internet connection when what I’m doing is the equivalent of typing something on a few sheets of paper. Eventually, yes, I have to transfer those sheets to a server somewhere, but even if the laptop had no connectivity, I could always make use of a flash drive thumb.

¶ Vespers: Garth Risk Hallberg reads Updike’s Maples stories backwards, to thrilling effect. (The short-story equivalent of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal?)

It’s possible that I’m beginning to relax from a very ambitious summer. Also, the date for our Christmas party is set, and clouds of mental fog lifted with that clarification.

¶ Compline: Simon Roberts dips into Marc Girouard and fetches up a pearl of insight about the transformation of suburbs in the Eighteenth Century — everywhere: “The suburbs became the inverse of the hub – sites of inactivity, lack of productivity.”

In short, I’m feeling immensely, comfortably bourgeois. Exciting problems with the dry cleaner and the barber promise to be brought under control. The piles of crap on the old dining table, currently marooned in the foyer, dwindle visibly. It’s true that I forgot the cheese again, and made a quiche Lorraine by mistake. Texture aside, though, it was pretty good!

Tomorrow is a longer beard!

Office/Diary: Tuesday

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009


Call me “Doodad” — that’s what my grandson will call me. It’s official: the name received the parental seal of approval at dinner this evening. Kathleen will continue a tradition, and go by the name of Darney, which is what I called my mother-in-law from shortly before my marriage to her death a few weeks ago. It is what she (Kathleen’s mother) called her mother, when, as a little girl, she couldn’t quite parrot her mother’s “Goonight, darling.” It is also — and this is the tradition that Kathleen intends to continue — what all of the first Darney’s grandchildren called their grandmother. This produced many double-takes whenever I spoke of my mother-in-law to Kathleen’s cousins. — But Darney (they wanted to say) is dead.

Long live Darney! And Doodad.

¶ Matins:  At The Millions, Sonya Chung writes with great thoughtfulness about “The Mommy Problem” for serious writers. In our view, this goes far beyond mothering young children, and might better be posed as “The Writer Problem” for friends and relations. Ms Chung quotes Lorrie Moore, from this interview with ELLE:

The detachment of the artist is kind of creepy. It’s kind of rude, and yet really it’s where art comes from. It’s not the same as courage. It’s closer to bad manners than to courage. Or it’s just some willingness to, you know, take a few rotten tomatoes flung your way. You’re going to offend somebody, and you have to be prepared for it. You have to be prepared to say, ‘Oh, no. I swear to God that wasn’t you. I’m sorry.’ Because it isn’t them. It can be a mess. But if you’re going to be a writer, you basically have to say, ‘This is just who I am, and this is what I am going to do.’ There’s a certain indefensibility about it. It’s not about loving your community and taking care of it—you’re not attached to the chamber of commerce. It’s a little unsafe.

While we’re talking about Lorrie Moore, I want to mention the most dispiriting passage that I’ve happened upon in her beautiful new novel, A Gate at the Stairs. I’m not going to quote from it here, but I will give a reference: It begins on page 154 and continues for almost five pages. It consists of snippets of rant that the narrator, Tassie Keltjin, overhears as she “supervises” the children of liberal people who attend her employer’s support group for (mostly) white parents of adopted children of diverse racial backgrounds. What’s dispiriting is the lack of discipline; as long as people espouse right-sounding opinions, it doesn’t matter how half-baked they are — not to them, at least. It wasn’t lost on me that the group never articulates a concrete objective.

¶ Lauds: A new entry at Amassblog. JP Williams shares some of his photographs of gloves found in the street. (With a bit of spiffy white shoe.) JP still uses a “film camera,” and, what’s more, insists on having his rolls developed in Paris! C’est la vie!

The irony was almost sickening. Conservatives, those believers in the theory of  independent initiative,  meld into anthills of absolutely socialist cohesion when opposing a policy that they don’t like; paradoxically and counter-productively, the need for concerted action acts as a kind of Miracle-Gro on liberal differences, blotting out the sunlight that might fall on concerted progressive action. Is every population as self-defeatingly screwed-up as ours?

¶ Prime: For a change: a good, old-fashioned insider trading ring. The six insiders include hedge fund Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam and IBM outsourcer Robert Moffatt. (Cringely on Moffatt.)

We had dinner with the impending parents at their favorite restaurant, Jane, on Houston Street. (It’s their favorite restaurant for dinner with antiquities of my vintage, anyway.) I was sluggish all day and in no mood to leave the apartment, so I did what I usually do now when I find myself in funky, mildly antisocial moods: I got dressed long before I had to and headed for The SoHo-Greenwhich Village border as soon as I was ready. My idea was to stop in at McNally Jackson, which, if not exactly en route, was not wildly out of the way.

¶ Tierce: A recently-established site, Letters of Note. Genuine epistles. Snail mail from the past. Compulsively readable. (via The Morning News)

As always, I thought of Maggie Gyllenhaal as I crossed the intersection of Prince and Lafayette. My sighting of the actress occured a block to the west (Prince and Crosby), but now, whenever I go to McNally Jackson, I’m stirred by the excited idea that anything can happen in New York. More observant people see celebrities as a matter of course, but for me such encounters are rare and startling.

¶ Sext: A bouquet of Crash Blossoms, at  Good. To lay upon the tomb of Lady Mondegreen.

I hadn’t been to McNally Jackson in a while, which made me feel guilty; and I felt even worse when I walked in on a reading. Victor Lodato was talking about his novel, Mathilda Savitch. I hadn’t heard of the writer, and I didn’t try to follow the discussion, as I looked for a book to buy in reparation for my long absence; but I came away curious all the same.

¶ Nones: China in Frankfurt: “We did not come to be instructed about democracy.”

Most of my time at McNally Jackson was spent, however, pawing the metaphorical ground outside the lower-level rest room, within which, I could very easily tell, a young lady was Taking Her Time. When I arrived on the scene, the toilet portion of the boudoir experience was drawing to a close. There was a flush, and the sound of running water, and the roar of the hot-air drier. Almost ten minutes passed between the suddent quiet that followed the drying of hands and the lady’s emergence from her new-found bower. Every now and then, she could be heard taking a step or two — it was audibly obvious that she was wearing high-heeled boots — and then there would be silence. Then another step — but never an approach to the door. I became quite not-quite polite about rattling the doorknob, and I considered actually knocking.

¶ Vespers: At The Second Pass, Emma German reports on a recently republished vampire novella by — are you sitting down? — George Eliot, The Lifted Veil.

(I bought The Lifted Veil, but that was after I’d had my minute in the rest room.)

¶ Compline: Are you reading this ventrally or dorsally? (Great put-down for clotted, poorly printed prose: “It’s awfully dorsal.”)

I expect that each of my importunements dilated her sense of entitlement, but by the time she fianlly emerged I hated her far too gustily to mind having encouraged her. A well-put together young woman (exactly as I’d expected), she turned out to be rather plain and potato-faced — which can only mean that her insolence has its roots in devastating brilliance. Although she didn’t have the courage to reproach me, with a basilisk glance, for my impatience at the doorknob, I myself had no difficulty staring lasers right through her curly coiffure. “Hot as any Hottentot and not the goods for me!”

Monday Scramble: Almost Normal

Monday, October 19th, 2009


After last week’s derelictions, it feels good to catch up — to catch up almost, that is. The two pages that were due last Monday are up this morning, as two of the pages pages that are due today. There ought to be a third, but I didn’t go to the movies last week — that’s how focused on household management I’ve been.

First of all, last week’s movie, the sensational Mad-Men era look at a young girl’s life, Lone Scherfig’s An Education. I have yet to hear a whisper of dislike for this movie; so far, the only negative word — and I can’t remember where I heard it — came from a dummkopf who thought it was dumb to cast Rosamund Pike in a bimbo role. Hello? Who could have done a better job with “the Latins”?

That’s one overdue page. The other is a writeup of Tessa Hadley’s story in “last week’s” New Yorker (The Godchildren“). Last week’s story, Julian Barnes’s “Complicity,” is also up. The more I looked at “Complicity,” the more I felt that I was supposed to look at it more.

Finally, this week’s Book Review review.

There really ought to be a third new page, now I think of it; I still haven’t written up the music part of Friday’s MMArtists recital at the Museum. I could write a few paragraphs about why. More anon!

Mad Men Note: "Does Mona Know?"

Sunday, October 18th, 2009


Lots of intriguing things happened this evening, but a bomb with a very long fuse was lobbed into our laps when Betty, finding keys in the drier, opened the secret drawer in Don’s private desk. (She seemed to know exactly what it would unlock the moment she found it —  a touch, like several others this week, of the Greek myths.) All I could think of was Psyche and Eros — and also Lohengrin. Where people you love are concerned, it is always best not to know the things that they haven’t told you. At the same time, knowledge about the people you love so irresistible that perhaps it defines the taste of the apple that Eve couldn’t help plucking.

“DON’T!” we cried. To no avail. Betty unlocked the drawer and was (typically) unimpressed by the wads of money. She went for the shoebox. “NO, BETTY!”  we screamed, as the Tokyo of the Drapers’s much-patched-up marriage was menaced once again by the Godzilla of Betty’s Juno-esque jealousy. We were so excited!

And why not? We were back in Season 1, when Don had girlfriends and secrets. We knew what Betty was going to discover about Don. Or we thought we did. Then she discovered the leftovers from Season 2. For those of you who have just emerged from a convent, it’s important to know that Dick Somebody (I can’t remember his last name) assumed the identity of his dead officer in Korea. The dead officer, Don Draper, had a wife, Anna, back in California. Dick, now Don, did the right thing, and made a friend of Anna. In order to clear up the tangles of her unknown widowhood, Dick/Don divorced Anna. That’s what Betty fastened on in her husband’s box of secrets, the divorce the decree — not knowing anything about Dick. She now believes that Don was married before — and (this would be the sin) Never Told Her! The irony is incredibly rich. The Don that we know, for all of his easy access to people of the female persuasion, has never been married to anybody but Betty (so far as we know), but he’s going to fry for a relationship that he never had.

Betty and Don have already ripened such a rich relationship of mutually supportive disingenuousness that it was no surprise to learn that a few hours put an end to Betty’s desire for a confrontation. She put the box back and went to bed. She dressed up for the Sterling Cooper fortieth, and she didn’t a thing. Not this week, anyway. 

We still don’t know who called the Draper home and hung up on Sally.

Weekend Open Thread: Self-Portrait With Small Sofa

Saturday, October 17th, 2009


Constabulary: La Publicité!

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Atlantic City Councilman (and Baptist minister) Eugene Robinson is all Mr Civic Pride boosterish, as his rationalization for giving a young lady a ride to her hotel shows.

“At first I kept saying, ‘No, no, no,’ ” Robinson testified. “But then I thought, If you send a tourist away angry, they’ll tell people not to come to Atlantic City. I don’t think she would have been able to convince me if I wasn’t so tired.”

The lady in question, however, was a prostitute, hired to frame the councilman.

There’s an abstinence angle to this story — and it does sound like an angle — that, if we were cruel and nasty tabloid journalists, we could exploit in order to misconstrue the following:

Though he has not asserted a cause-and-effect relationship, Robinson’s health took a drastic turn for the worse after the existence of the sex video became known. He now lives in a nursing home and was wheeled into court in a wheelchair before the jury arrived, a blanket covering his legs.