Critiques & Commentary

5/17/17 – 5/18/17….

Why so much contemporary art disgusts me. http://theartnewspaper.com/comment/reviews/the-road-to-the-venice-biennale-is-paved-with-good-intentions/?utm_source=daily_may17_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email_daily&utm_source=The+Art+Newspaper+Newsletters&utm_campaign=b8b302ad42-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_05_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c459f924d0-b8b302ad42-60919593

Well, thank God! https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/what-the-digital-resistance-movement-might-look-like

Good stuff: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-how-did-russiagate-start-w482262

Riding over to Manhattan today, in a sic-and-span car supplied by Juno (the service I use because every driver I’ve spoken with says that Juno treats them much better than Uber), we jolt from pothole to pothole, the Brooklyn Bridge and FDR Drive are held up by repair crews, and it occurs to me that this is all attributable to one ongoing feature of our system of governance at  every level:  a total lack of infrastructure maintenance. I’m speaking of maintenance of both our physical and our moral infrastructure. Neither sphere is worth much political capital. The money and perks are all tied into new stuff, because new stuff is what gets a politician elected and reelected. . And what that suggests to me is that the only way for this country to get out of the mess it has evolved into is to impose strict term limits at every level of governance. Starting at the top: two four-year terms for the President as at the present, but then the fun starts: a single six-year term for Senators, three three-year terms for the House. And emulate this right down the line. Albany is a hive of crooks because our state legislators get elected and stay elected. If it was up and out after four years, things would get better. Bloomberg had three terms – twelve years – to hand the city over the the real estate and tourism promoters. A single six-year term limit for mayors might well have saved the day. To impose term limits country-wide from the top down will either at the outset or at the conclusion require a Constitutional amendment – but I think it might have a shot.

Cowardly draft-dodger hangs tough: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/us/politics/trump-saying-he-is-treated-unfairly-signals-a-fight.html?emc=edit_ne_20170517&nl=evening-briefing&nlid=2476992&te=1

Roger Ailes has died. Sad news about a bad guy. Can’t helping paraphrasing the great line from Macbeth:  “He should have died heretofore. ..”

Interesting. http://time.com/4783932/inside-russia-social-media-war-america/ OK: but what I don’t understand is why the good guys don’t hack back, identifying the same subgroups and offering a pitch that points  out that the targets’ chains are being jerked by KGB, FRS or whoever. For instance (and I quote): The vast openness and anonymity of social media has cleared a dangerous new route for antidemocratic forces. “Using these technologies, it is possible to undermine democratic government, and it’s becoming easier every day,” says Rand Waltzman of the Rand Corp., who ran a major Pentagon research program to understand the propaganda threats posed by social media technology. How come the quote can’t read “Using these technologies it is possible to support democratic government…”  ? Here’s my guess: it’s in the nature of technocracy to present itself as ideology free, and to concentrate on how  something gets transmitted rather that what  is being transmitted. Here’s the aforesaid Waltzman’ s CV:

Rand Waltzman is acting chief technology officer (Washington, DC) stationed in the SEI’s Arlington, VA, office. He is also SEI associate director of research and is part of the management team responsible for the SEI’s internally funded research program. Before joining the SEI in 2015, Waltzman was a program manager for five years at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington. At DARPA he originated, secured funding for, and managed the Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales (ADAMS) program in the area of insider threat detection and the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program. Prior to his work at DARPA, Waltzman was chief scientist for the Distributed Systems Lab at Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories in Cherry Hill, NJ, where he provided technical leadership for R&D in the broad areas of advanced software development and physical simulation and modeling. Before that he spent more than 16 years at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, as an associate professor of computer science, where he developed and implemented innovative techniques in artificial intelligence applied to decision support, entertainment, and human-machine communication through machine-guided, goal-directed conversational dialogs.

Waltzman earned a PhD in computer science from the University of Maryland, College Park; a master of science in applied mathematics from the University of Washington; and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Probably never took a philosophy course, or one in political science, or art history, or history, or Marxism and its discontents. To such people, if it ain’t algorithmicable, it just ain’t. Period.

Just click through. Then stay off the roads. And we think the LIE is the worst! https://weather.com/travel/commuter-conditions/news/world-cities-worst-traffic-ranked-top-20

 

 

 

 

 

5/16/17…

Having just canceled Twitter – and am I glad I did, what with this business of Trump leaking intelligence information to Russia – and thus freeing myself from all social media except Instagram, which I limit to family and a few close or interesting personal friends, I think I know what an AA member feels like in the first flush of sobriety.

As Lord Acton said, all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We live under a strange new absolutism, the tyranny of the algorithm, imposed on us by Silicon Valley, a festering hive dominated by young people with little experience in practical affairs and no real grasp of what was once called “the examined life.” Here’s a good example: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-15/don-t-grade-teachers-with-a-bad-algorithm?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_term=170516&utm_campaign=sharetheview

Dizard strikes again! Brilliant! https://www.ft.com/content/ff51fb36-36e9-11e7-99bd-13beb0903fa3

A reader complains that FT links are unopenable. Here’s what FT tells me: Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our T&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights.
https://www.ft.com/content/ff51fb36-36e9-11e7-99bd-13beb0903fa3

I’m frankly reluctant to copy the entire column, mainly because I play by the rules and respect copyright.

Israel>Trump>Russia. They must be going batshit in Tel Aviv!

Here’s a truly sad story. Heartbreaking. But scroll down and read the tweets/comments and you’ll understand why I could no longer endure social media: http://gothamist.com/2017/05/16/plane_vanishes.php?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Gothamist%20Daily%20Winter%20Storm%20Warning%20In%20Effect%20As%20NYC%20May%20See%206-12%20Of%20Snow%20Possibly%20More&utm_content=Daily%20Gothamist%20Daily%20Winter%20Storm%20Warning%20In%20Effect%20As%20NYC%20May%20See%206-12%20Of%20Snow%20Possibly%20More+CID_b33be5662c9fba8a7617c9555b7c5c45&utm_source=CM&utm_term=Plane%20Carrying%20NYC%20Designer%20Young%20Sons%20Disappears%20Near%20Bahamas

 

 

5/15/17…A new week…God knows what awaits

Nature Does Not Grade On A Curve

Why most mainstream economists are assholes who should lose their license. http://bostonreview.net/class-inequality/marshall-steinbaum-why-are-economists-giving-piketty-cold-shoulder To wit: “You can search through the websites of several leading economics departments or the official lists of working papers curated by federal agencies and not come across a single publication that has any obvious or even secondary bearing on the themes raised by Capital in the Twenty-First Century, even in order to oppose them. It is as though the central facts, controversies, and policy proposals that have consumed our public debate about the economy for three years are of little-to-no importance to the people who are paid and tenured to conduct a lifetime’s research into how the economy works…Economists could very easily spend their individual and collective lives avoiding that question as the economy crumbles around them, with Piketty’s book serving as little more than a cry in the wilderness.”

Mnuchin reflects the culture of lying that, except for the brief John Weinberg-Whitehead interregnum, Gus Levy made intrinsic to Goldman Sachs’s DNA when he succeeded Sidney Weinberg as GS’s managing partner: (from Politico): “BUT THE MOST AMAZING THING WAS THIS from Trump saying his election caused the Chinese to stop devaluing its currency and Mnuchin agreeing with him! Trump: “You know, since I’ve been talking about currency manipulation with respect to them and other countries, they stopped.” Mnuchin: “Right, as soon as the president got elected they went the other way.” This is simply not right. China largely stopped holding down its currency in 2014. A Treasury spokesman did not return MM’s email seeking an explanation for these comments.”

Yesterday I suggested it might be interesting to see how Trump handles fake fake news:  for instance, suppose some guest on CNN reports – possibly dropping a “Manafort” hint –  that word is circulating in Washington that “confidential sources” confirm the FBI indeed does have definite indisputable information connecting Trump or people close to him to Russian interference in the election. OK – President Trump, prove it otherwise. What we don’t need is any more of this”trendentious”blahblahblah:  http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/05/trump-just-incriminated-himself.html Or more “emoluments” yadyada: http://www.newsweek.com/trump-impeached-comey-fired-fbi-608708

Oh, fine. Now where do you  put/hang/exhibit this kind of “art” once you’ve bought it? This suggests that simply owning – having bought – a work of “art,” so described, as opposed to living with it,  is the name of the game. No wonder the trend toward personal museums seems to be intensifying. Call it “semipublic art.”   https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-12/venice-biennale-2017-review-what-artists-to-watch

Another friend in post-Damascene conversion mode: https://asheredelman.com/2017/05/15/plunge-protection-market-manipulation/?utm_source=Plunge+Protection&utm_campaign=Plunge+Protection&utm_medium=email

It would seem my halfway sarcastic suggestion of yesterday is White House policy: http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2017/05/15/report-trump-aides-slip-him-fake-news?via=desktop&source=copyurl

Is Edie Sedgwick really the person a loving father wants his daughter to channel? http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/trump-lawyer-creepily-tweets-sultry-photo-daughter-article-1.3165904?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=51922017&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9h-Iz6JeNxxPz14I5zCr974RMnbutxGLdOjv86-A_zae3hENowW6EYRAG-Z-Hem5ItmDP3muagmwEFd40FZCCBReF5iQ&_hsmi=51922017   (From Wikipedia):   On the night of November 15, 1971, Sedgwick went to a fashion show at the Santa Barbara Museum, that included a segment filmed for the television show An American Family. After the fashion show, she attended a party where she drank alcohol. She then phoned her husband to pick her up. On the way home, Sedgwick expressed thoughts of uncertainty about their marriage. Before they both fell asleep, (her husband) gave Sedgwick the medication that had been prescribed for her. According to (the husband), Sedgwick started to fall asleep very quickly and her breathing was, “bad – it sounded like there was a big hole in her lungs”, but he attributed that to her heavy smoking habit and went to sleep. When (her husband)  awoke the following morning at 7:30 AM, Sedgwick was dead. The coroner ruled her death as “undetermined/accident/suicide”. Her death certificate states the immediate cause was “probable acute barbiturate intoxication” due to ethanol intoxication. Sedgwick’s alcohol level was registered at 0.17% and her barbiturate level was 0.48 mg%. She was 28.

This is an important, widely-read essay that I somehow missed. I particularly like its tone: https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-working-class

 

 

 

5/13-14/17…A weekend Omnium Gatherum…

These are all worth reading and thinking about, but especially recommend the third, written by a scholarship student at Andover. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/your-money/standout-college-application-essays.html?_r=0 I have long wondered whether a good deal of the ‘identity’ disruptions  don’t flow from the social inequality and economic inequality in the broader society spilling  onto elite university campuses in a way that emphasizes the gaping, furious gulf between the lives of economically-challenged students and the lives of people they go school with. These less-advantaged  (if you prefer: less privileged) students confront socioeconomic markers – stuff, means to ends, vacations and travel plans, access to clubs and the like – of wealth/social issues in a way they don’t encounter at “home”:  “the projects,” the rundown neighborhoods, stressed families, desolated rural and urban communities, they come from. It makes me wish some billionaire alumnus might set up a fund sufficient to give less well-off students, say, $100/week in spending money.

With the sardonic comment, “Let them eat cake,” my pal Alexander sends this: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/12/lax-private-terminal-rich-people-celebrities Naked Capitalism also lists the Guardian post – under “Guillotine Watch.” This recalls what was once called “Steerage,” a kind of above/below physical discrimination that those of us old enough to remember crossing the Atlantic (or to have seen Titanic) will have observed and in some cases experienced.  http://www.gjenvick.com/Steerage/1879-SteerageAccommodations-Cunard.html#axzz4h3OE9nhk

Found on Naked Capitalism: Good stuff. I think I’ll dump Twitter. Keep Instagram strictly for family and a very few friends: https://pando.com/2017/04/28/quitting-swamp/ OK: Twitter is done. The people I want to hear from know where to find me.

This makes a lot of sense – or at least gives us a lot to think about. https://hkrbooks.com/2017/05/08/the-utopia-of-rules/ “This process – the gradual fusion of public and private power into a single entity, rife with rules and regulations whose ultimate purpose is to extract wealth in the form of profits – does not yet have a name,” Graeber writes. “That in itself is significant. These things can happen largely because we lack a way to talk about them. But one can see its effects in every aspect of our lives.”

A guide for the perplexed : http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2MBsS4/:[email protected]:[email protected]

Since Trump likes to characterize real news as “fake news,” which we might describe as fake fake news, how might he handle real fake news, news that’s actually and intentionally fake? Just asking –  but it’s a thought. Call it the Chicken Little approach. Maybe hack Trump’s Twitter account and post a series of completely demented tweets.

The Way We Grieve now: according to Sheryl Sandberg, when the “Lean In” lady’s husband died suddenly and tragically, a friend hurried to console her. “He walked me through the data,” Sandberg reports – which I guess in the tyranny of the algorithm equates to the keening and rending of garments of olden times.

Finally – and then I’m going to watch tennis from Madrid and golf from Ponte Vedra – this: last night  T and I were watching the best TV comedy since “Seinfeld,”  namely “Master of None” on Netflix. The first two episodes are set in Italy, in Modena. Halfway through the second, T asked “Why doesn’t everyone live in Italy?”  It seemed a very good question.

Oh,dear: https://www.wsj.com/articles/your-shoes-will-be-printed-shortly-1494763201

Well, a final note. It would seem we’re rapidly bringing back the awfulnesses of the mid- to late-XIX Century. I remark on steerage above. The behavior of vulture investors in the case of sad situations like Puerto Rico strike me as analogous to debtor’s prison. And there are doubtless other examples.

 

5/12/17…

This seems a good place to begin. Much as I detest Trump, I think the railing and caterwauling has been largely pointless. Both his supporters and his haters remain cosseted in their self-satisfaction, and there is no movement. Festina lente, as the Latin has it: make haste slowly. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/05/gaius-publius-nation-crisis.html

A lot of people – I’m one – think Mark Bradford is the best American artist going, in terms of beauty, originality and the way his work takes over the beholder mentally and physiologically: https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/mark-bradford-is-our-jackson-pollock-thoughts-on-his-stellar-u-s-pavilion-at-the-venice-biennale-957935?utm_campaign=artnetnews&utm_source=051217daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=from_&utm_term=New%20US%20Newsletter%20List

 

5/10/17-5/11/17…

Hmmm. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-10/real-reason-trump-fired-james-comey-according-politico

I find this really interesting. http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/05/emmanuel-macron-france-hacking?mbid=nl_TH_59122cbd9b25c91c47870523&CNDID=42793573&spMailingID=10986863&spUserID=MTQzOTExNDk1OTIxS0&spJobID=1160805841&spReportId=MTE2MDgwNTg0MQS2 The poisoning of our civic culture by social media scares me. Speaking for myself, and only for myself, HRC’s emails were to me the least of reasons not to vote for her. I barely glance at the hysterical output on the matter by NYT etc.  There were plenty of other, better reasons not to vote for her. I think the Clintons are a pox. But as awful as they are, and even if one doubled and then redoubled the reasons not  to vote for HRC, they would – and for me, did – loom tiny next to the reasons not  to vote for Trump.

Think what you may of Stockman, he’s not stupid. http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/stupid-time-in-the-casino-and-the-apotheosis-of-the-faangs/

While I think we have overempowered young people, thanks to technology, we have also underserved them. This is a volatile mix. https://www.johnlaurits.com/2017/children-great-recession-millennials-class-struggle/

I’m a big fan of John Oliver, but this is a disgusting example of the public face/private face dichotomy that bedevils us. You either behave in consonance with what you say you stand for, or you should say nothing and get outta my face. http://observer.com/2017/05/john-oliver-property-tax-scam-trump/?utm_campaign=style-design&utm_content=2017-11-05-9588186&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Observer%20Style

 

 

 

5/8/17 – 5/9/17…

A friend forwards this: http://radaronline.com/celebrity-news/met-gala-2017-anna-wintour-banned-celebrity-smoling-drinking-ruined-museum/ I can only hope it’s true. Readers of this website know what I feel about the Met “Gala.”

The more I read, the more I think there’s an good argument to be made for an age-based progressive income/wealth tax. $1 million earned annually by a 25-year-old would pay a higher rate of tax – both on income and realized capital gains – than the same sum paid to a 50-year-old. Warren Buffett should pay a lower rate of tax than Mark Zuckerberg. Too much money is being accumulated by people too young to have the judgement, experience and perspective their wealth gives them.

Hard to see Macron’s win in France other than as mostly a vote against rather than for – against the moral and cultural crudity of  Trumpism in particular.

As far as I can see, this is the Sistine Ceiling of bullshit: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2963231 Jensen, a co-author, is the HBS genius who came up with the idea that the sole and overriding duty of management is to increase stockholder value, no matter the cost to communities, workers, families and creditors. Here’s how these clowns define “integrity.” In our positive theory of integrity, integrity is defined as: “the state of being whole, complete, unbroken,unimpaired, sound, in perfect condition” – for short, in this paper we often refer to this as “whole and complete”. This unambiguous definition (virtually word for word the first two definitions of integrity in Webster’s New World Dictionary [1998] ) does not define a virtue.There is nothing inherently good or bad (that is, virtuous or otherwise normative) aboutthe state of being whole, complete, unbroken, unimpaired, sound, in perfect condition. An object, system, person, or other human entity (such as a corporation) is just “whole and complete” in this or that aspect, or it isn’t. Note that being whole and complete produces maximum workability5, which results in maximum opportunity for performance– of course, we will fully explicate this later. …..For now, suffice it to say that the nature of integrity for an object or system is different
and distinct from the nature of integrity for an individual human being or other human entity. Of course, a human being or other human entity can be dealt with as an object or system. But in the case of integrity we will show that for a human being (person) or other human entity (such as a corporation) integrity is a matter of that person’s or corporation’s word, nothing more and nothing less. For a person or other human entity to be in integrity that person’s or that human entity’s word must be whole, complete, unbroken, unimpaired, sound, in perfect condition.

I met Salovey just after he was appointed president of my alma mater. To say I was unimpressed would be a gross understatement. An administrative twerp of the first water. Gutless, too – it appears. https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/05/yale-graduate-worker-union-unite-here-local-33-peter-salovey-nlrb-micro-unit 

 

5/7/17….

The new Kosciusko Bridge span is generating bigger delays than ever. Yesterday, an ordinary early spring Saturday, we drove out and back to lunch with friends on Long Island, a journey that usually takes around 45 minutes out, somewhat longer back. This time 40 min longer out, close to an hour longer back. Huge delays in either direction on the brand-new Kosciusko Bridge. There were no accidents, no construction, and the revised traffic pattern is anything special. The only answer must be that more cars are using this roadway. Why? I think a lot of people mistakenly believe the new bridge has more lanes than the old. Wrong.

http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/04/411963624/why-cant-streaming-services-get-classical-music-right Larger  issue here. If the streaming services bastardize classical music, doesn’t that lower the chances of recruiting younger listeners to the cause?

In a post a while ago, I conveyed my impression that we have overempowered youth in this country. “Adulting” is the inevitable corollary. A very wise piece. https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-raise-an-american-adult-1493995064?tesla=y

The current issue of The Week has on its cover a caricature of Obama with the headline “Et Tu, Obama!” At issue is the last president’s decision to take Wall Street’s shekels for giving speeches. Inside the magazine, the expected critics  (The Hill, Guardian) and apologists (Slate Charlotte Observer) toot their horns. The hypocrisy and opportunism in Obama are noted early by the narrator of Fixers, who wouldn’t be in the least surprised at the former president’s conduct since leaving office.

Quite a good piece about the materialistic exhibitionism that is a core value on FB. One reason I quit was people’s (including a few I know personally) boasting about themselves. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/opinion/sunday/dont-let-facebook-make-you-miserable.html?ref=opinion

A MUST read from the indispensable Andrew Bacevich. Trump’s role as a straw man may be his most significant presidential accomplishment so far: http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176277/

What we might call “Ben Tre Syndrome”, after the Vietnamese village that had to be destroyed in order to save it. The IMF used to call it “Structural Adjustment” (I once considered writing a novel with that title): http://therealnews.com/t2/story:19021:Greece-Passes-New-Austerity-for-New-Loans   

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-08/myth-rule-law  Squaring the “a government of laws not men” circle.

Utilitarian http://thecollegeinvestor.com/15601/the-best-investing-blogs/

Agreed: https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-has-been-lucky-in-his-enemies-1493331572?tesla=y

Further to my point of the overempowerment of youth. Young people today seem unable to be alone. When I was a kid, alone was all I dreamed of: http://www.newstatesman.com/2017/04/end-solitude-hyperconnected-world-are-we-losing-art-being-alone

Why does no one make the point that these are 20-ish kids earning $10 million a year. Ruled by their erections! What can we expect of them?  Animal House !!!!!! http://pagesix.com/2017/05/09/matt-harvey-sent-over-the-edge-by-gal-pals-reunion-with-ex/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5/6/17…

Miracles do happen. Yesterday I was eating lunch at the bar at Frankies 457 Spuntino, one of my two favorite restaurants (the other, my Manhattan go-to, is Le Veau d’Or on 60th St.), when my phone rang. A number I didn’t recognize. When I answered, a voice said “Who is this?” I gave my name, and then: “I just found your wallet in the street.” Now like most men, I suppose, I pack too much of my life into my wallet. The cash is the least of it. There’s the bank card, a couple of credit cards, my medical insurance stuff, my museum passes, my bus pass, my driver’s license. The thought that I might have to replace all these was cause sufficient to make me reach for the hemlock. I suppose what had happened was that in the course of the contortions involved in getting out of the green cab, my knees being stiff and the passenger space tight so that the driver can be comfortable as he blindly follows erroneous GPS directions while carrying on a long, animated conversation in Urdu, the wallet dropped and I hadn’t noticed. Anyway, it had been found by a nice man who worked not far away in a bank, so I settled up (I have my AmEx number by heart) and hustled to him. He refused to take a monetary reward, so I will send him a copy of Fixers, which just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished.

Read all the posts in this overall survey. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/special-reports/reviving-productivity?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_term={date(%27yyMMdd%27)}&utm_campaign=sharetheview&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_term=170503&utm_campaign=sharetheview

I’m here and there, up and down, on Andrew Sullivan. But I’m thumbs up about this long essay. What troubles me most about Trump isn’t his unattractive personality, or his turns-about, but that he’s obviously supremely ego-driven, and egos can be stroked and led in strange and dangerous directions (think Iago with Othello, think Pere Joseph with Richelieu, think Machiavelli with the Medici, think Cheney with George W Bush), the most dangerous often being the seductions of the status quo (Wall Street) or crony capitalism (Medical Insurance) or this peculiar compulsion of cowards and draft-dodgers to make war. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/04/andrew-sullivan-why-the-reactionary-right-must-be-taken-seriously.html https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/04/opinion/climate-policy-ethanol.html?_r=0

It’s my understanding that the controversial new NYT op-ed columnist, Bret Stephens, writes online only on Thursdays and both in print and online on Saturday. In case you missed it, here’s last Thursday’s: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/04/opinion/climate-policy-ethanol.html?_r=0  The reaction to Stephens, as (I assume) the reaction to Sullivan (above) will no doubt fierce. But let’s see it for what it is. The most vituperative Tweeters and letters-to-editor probably don’t care as much about climate change as they do about how much they hate Trump. That’s a beast they like to feed with whatever fodder comes to hand, no matter how rational the other guy’s argument or position may be. I don’t like Trump, not at all; I think he’s wholly unqualified for the White House, has no regard for rules or custom, his word means nothing and he’s functionally and morally illiterate. BUT during the campaign it seemed to me that he asked many of the right questions, and that’s a start. And as gross as the sight of him in the White House may be, and as odd as his performance might seem,  I’m not sure it isn’t preferable to the prospect of having Bill Clinton arrive at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. after dark with large duffels into which to stuff the White House silver.

 

 

 

5/5/17…

In sixty-odd years of looking at works of art seriously, and with what I flatter myself is increasing insight, I cannot recall a time when so much sheer beauty, taken to the highest artistic level, created by great artists at the height of their powers, was on the walls of NYC museums and galleries. Three exhibitions stand out.

I have already written about the works from the Tessin Collection (now in Stockholm) on show at the Morgan Library and Museum and their absolutely astounding freshness and condition.  The show ends May 14. Get down there!

And here are two more.

Pride of place – a definitive MUST MUST MUST – has to go to Miro’s Constellations at the Acquavella Gallery (18 east 79 St. – until May 26). In 1940-41, over the space of a little more than a year in France and Mallorca, Miro created twenty-three small gouaches that to my practiced and yet innocent eye are among the most beautiful, sublime, seductive, sparkling  works made by any twentieth-century artist. This is the first time all twenty-three have been together and the effect is such that you go round the gallery in which they’re displayed, then go round it again, and then again, and then finally lie down and refuse to leave. You can see the development of these little works, which show that monumentality isn’t really a function of bigness but of talent and genius. Miro starts in 1940 with an idea, and you can see him working into it, but not quite reaching its fullness until the third and fourth of the series, in which he achieves the balance of color, calligraphy and solid forms that now enables his vivid imagination to run free but never wild. As I went round, I found myself thinking of – of all people – A.E.Housman, who wrote A Shropshire Lad over the course of a year in the 1890s in what he would declare to have been a kind of frenzy, and – of course -this, from Shakespeare: “The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, doth glance from heaven to Earth, from Earth to heaven; and as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them to shape, and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name; such tricks hath strong imagination.” (A Midsummer Nights Dream 5, i) So it must have gone with Miro (I wonder if he knew Midsummer…). And it’s not just poetry these paintings evoke; they are the closest I think that painting can come to music, the equivalent in line, shape, color, style and energy to, say, Chopin’s Preludes or variations by Handel or Bach. An utmost delicacy of touch and yet as large-souled as any art I know. I guess you can tell I was pretty bowled over. Anyway: MUST MUST MUST.

Leaving Acquavella, on my way downtown, I looked in at the Frick, to see its current star exhibition Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time. A marvelous show it is,  Not just the big paintings, starring the Frick’s own Harbor of Dieppe (1825) and Cologne, The Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening (1826) – but a gallery displaying  two dozen of Turner’s watercolors. Coming on top of Miro,  these made almost too great a feast – but they are miraculous and have to be seen. This show ends May 14. Do not miss it. Also MUST MUST MUST.

Here’s a poignant personal sidebar to the Miro show: I went to AMZ to see who’s written what about Miro, and the name Carolyn Lanchner popped out. She was a top curator at MoMA who died last year at 84. The sight of her name rolled back the years to the summers of 1957 and 1958, when I worked in the library of M.Knoedler, then still unbesmirched by Ann Freedman, in the firm’s noble premises on 57th St. The library was run by Helmut Ripperger, surely one of the most unforgettable characters I’ve ever met, and Carolyn, then still Carolyn Van-Something or other (I’ve been unable to track down her maiden name), was, along with Godfrey Gaston, “Mr.Rip”‘s invaluable ADC. She was a lovely person: lovely to look at, lovely to talk to, lovely to be with generally. We had a world of fun, and I had a terrific unreciprocated crush on her. About ten years after I vanished into what would pass for my adult life, Carolyn moved to MoMA, where she was as indispensable to Bill Rubin as she had been to “Mr.Rip,” and in time she rose to be an important curator and compiled a record of exhibition-mounting and publication that beggars description. Proust would have loved her, and put her in his great book. It’s funny how valuable memories, rich in feeling, tend to go AWOL in one’s middle life only to return in old age, when they provoke reflection and provide great consolation.

 

And now back to life’s horrors: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/05/how-trump-became-an-establishment-stooge?mbid=nl_TH_590ba1c06231b140f4d5c302&CNDID=42793573&spMailingID=10954601&spUserID=MTQzOTExNDk1OTIxS0&spJobID=1160386020&spReportId=MTE2MDM4NjAyMAS2

Amen to the Nth Power. And I plan to read the Denninger link: http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/paler-shade-gray/

I have read the Denninger post: https://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=231949 I need to read it once – possibly- twice more to be able to think about it.

Today’s literary musing: Was there ever a man more blatantly in love with money than Pepys?

Amen again: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/competing-world-jeff-immelt

Interesting: https://www.johnlaurits.com/2017/precariat-new-dangerous-class/