The Daily Blague

Daily Office Archives

Daily Office:


19 November 2009


Matins: Driving while intoxicated, and with a child in the car, will be made a felony, according to a law that has passed the New York State Assembly. Interlock devices, which block ignition when the driver's breath carries faint amounts of alcohol, will be required for drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated. Sounds like a slam dunk, right? And yet

Though the proposal was expected to get overwhelming support in the Legislature, some warned that the measure was not being given a thorough study.

“This bill has floated through so quickly, and I believe there are a lot of voices who would like to be heard,” said Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, a Democrat from Brooklyn. “They will never be heard, and the reason they will never be heard is because there’s too much emotionalism.”

It's impossible to consider this legislation without asking why it was not enacted long ago — during Prohibition, for example, when no one was supposed to be drinking anyway. The answer has a lot to do with the American romance with automobiles, in which cars are extensions of the self, not the heavy machinery that in fact they are. (NYT)

Lauds: Lucy Lu recently celebrated the first anniversary of Met Everyday, her online report of visits to the Museum. Her list of ten things that you must see (or wings that you must visit) is personable but not surprising — with the exception of the modern-art item.

For me two artists stand out above all the rest in Modern Art. The both have two major pieces displayed in close proximity to each other, and they have actually worked together as well. The first is Chuck Close; I remember learning about his work back in high school, when we were given the challenge of painting a portrait using a grid format. His painting, Mark, in the mezzanine gallery simply blows my mind (it faces Lucas, provides a juxtaposition with a more expressive style). The other is Stephen Hannock, whose Oxbow and Kaaterskill Falls paintings hang right in the southwest corner in front of the stairwell on the first floor. After posting about these pieces, Hannock himself actually contacted me and I was able to meet him at a book signing! It was so exciting for me to meet such an impressive living artist.

It took our breath away to see that "modern" no longer means "abstract." (We should have used the word "contemporary" for that reason; "modern" is already a period in the past, as "over" as baroque.)

Prime: Tom Bajarin's discussion, at PCMag Mobile, of the impact of Vooks on publishing might have been made easier to read, so we'll cut straight to Big Idea.

These books will most likely be downloaded like iPhone apps one day. In fact, the app stores for the iPhone, Backberry, and Android already stock downloadable books. With this platform in place, creative writers could easily bypass a publisher completely, in much the same manner as an independent developer, keeping the lion's share of the profits. The royalty on an e-book sold through a publisher is currently around 20-percent, while developers get 70-percent from downloads sold through app stores. It will be fascinating to watch this new market develop. Creative Labs has already introduced an Android-based tablet due out next spring. Two other major OEMs may also have similar products out by the middle of next year. If the market develops as some predict, multimedia books will take root through these mini-tablets, and a new chapter of publishing will be just around the corner.

We turned this around, and couldn't see why the author of a plain old book couldn't do just the same, delivering a formatted text as an "app," and collect 70% of the price. (via The Tomorrow Museum)

Tierce: We've heard of the Ithaca Hours, an alternative local currency, but we can't imagine how anything like it would work in Manhattan. But who cares: it would be gorgeous, if these bills designed by students at the School for Visual Arts were in circulation. (via The Best Part)

Sext: Will Sam Sifton be the next editor of the New York Times? It's a very interesting rumor, considering that the gent has just been assigned to reviewing restaurants for the newspaper. We'll say this: he has certainly dusted off the genre. Here he is, covering the re-opening of a well-known fish house.

There is everywhere space and chatter, even a glassed-in private room placed between the bar and the dining room, where deal merchants can eat in teams. Oceana’s is the sort of dining room that dwarfs couples and double dates. It is more hotel than private club.

Those who order carefully can partake of fabulous meals. They will certainly drink good wine, off a whites-heavy list that is ably negotiated by both waiters and sommeliers alike. But if the Oceana of old was a pleasant, shipshape room with elegant food and a caring touch, the new version is a high-functioning luxury mill, designed to service pre-theater crowds and to celebrate corporate success on expense-account dimes. It is in some ways a very good restaurant. But the room ensures that it is not entirely a pleasant one.

We like Mr Sifton already!

Nones: For a quick and snappy resume of Palestinian politics at the moment, you probably can't beat the Beeb's summary. (BBC News)

Why is Abbas saying he won't stand?

He and his aides have spoken of growing frustration with US attempts to restart peace talks with Israel. They say the US has failed to persuade Israel even to comply with its own existing commitments under the 2003 Road Map peace plan, particularly on freezing all settlement activity in the West Bank. Many in the region initially interpreted Mr Abbas's announcement as brinkmanship, aimed at pressuring the US and Israel. But aides to the president say he and others in the PA are despairing for the future of the negotiations, to which they have been committed for close to two decades.

Vespers: V L Hartmann bumps into Joan Didion in the street — almost — and observes that in her carriage as in her prose, the author of The Year of Magical Thinking is not like "the old ladies you see up here on the East Side that are all stooped over." (The Morning News)

I would not understand the full meaning of many of the cultural references in Didion’s work until later re-readings in college, but I learned to associate the eras of my parents’ youth with the severe rhythm of a Didion sentence. I did not see Didion’s style as belonging to Didion; I saw it simply as the way sentences were written before I was born. I thought it was as much an indication of time passing as the yellow of the pages. My mother was captivated by Didion’s California and it became the California of my imagination. I would read “Los Angeles Notebook” and get the words mixed up with my mother’s voice.

Compline: Conserving Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, an earthwork at the edge, and sometimes beneath the surface, of The Great Salt Lake. (NYT)

But in addition to industrial threats to the work, there are also natural ones, like silt, which has begun to accumulate between the outermost band of the spiral and the next one in, as the lake’s level has dropped. The lake is so low it is now possible to walk a quarter-mile into it with the water reaching only knee-high.

“In my personal opinion alone,” Ms. Esmay said of the silt, “I think it’s to such a degree now that it’s foreign to the piece. But in 10 years it could be gone or in one year it could be gone. Or it could be worse. You have no way of knowing, and that’s just inherent to the work itself.”

Permalink  Portico

Copyright (c) 2009 Pourover Press

Write to me