No one loves parades and multi-gun salutes more than cowards and draft-dodgers. https://qz.com/1125161/trump-in-china-a-former-ambassador-says-xi-is-playing-him-like-a-fiddle/?mc_cid=dfcbeeb944&mc_eid=0e98215088

Every day, in many ways, the ongoing war for economic inequality and against the poor gains important new recruits: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/11/requiem-for-gary-cohns-soul?mbid=nl_th_5a04ee0da5d94677ed93cb7a&CNDID=42793573&spMailingID=12327005&spUserID=MTQzOTExNDk1OTIxS0&spJobID=1280850922&spReportId=MTI4MDg1MDkyMgS2

An interesting view of what’s going on in our frenemy Saudi Arabia: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/11/kingdom-fear-saudi-arabia-lockdown.html

Good God in heaven! https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-10/alibaba-singles-day-racks-up-1-billion-in-sales-in-2-minutes Money quote: “Hangzhou-based Alibaba is using the occasion to test the limits of its cloud computing, delivery and payments units — businesses that could benefit from roping in traditional retailers as customers.
To that end, Alibaba teams fanned out across the nation ahead of Nov. 11 to help outlets — some 600,000 mom-and-pop convenient stores and some 1,000 brands — upgrade their computer systems. Those retailers, many in prime city locations, will become delivery and storage centers.” This confirms  variant on  on Everett Dirksen’s immortal pronunciamento: To wit:  “All everything is local.” Alibaba apparently doesn’t go apeshit over “scale.”  


I find this interesting – and completely in accordance with what shocked me when I first saw the world of access-based journalism up close in personal beginning in 1987, when I began my column for The New York Observer, a “project” that would go on for 22 years. Someone once asked me what the book-publishing industry was all about, and I answered “Lunch.” I would say the same about journalism.   https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/11/how-trump-brought-the-political-media-class-to-its-knees?mbid=nl_hps_5a05e5d8e4723425cb9737cf&CNDID=42793573&spMailingID=12337413&spUserID=Mhttps://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/republican-trump-tax-plan-by-



TODAY is my son Willie’s 60th birthday! Now I have two sons age 60. Ouch! But two fabulous guys. And think how much longer I’ve had the pleasure of my sons’ company than most dads have! So – hip hip hooray, and a trillion happy returns. If only the Federal Reserve franked birthday wishes.

I just got a call purporting to be from Apple Security. They instructed me to call 800 200 0015. As the call came in on my landline I did so, and found myself talking to something call www.fastcompanysupport, and they instructed me to bring up a web page. I did so and found myself invited to click on a link that made no mention of Apple anywhere and powered by an outfit I never heard of. I was looking at an obvious digital honeytrap, so I hung up. 

Somehow love doesn’t always find a way. https://therealdeal.com/issues_articles/macklowe-vs-macklowe/

No comment needed: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/republican-trump-tax-plan-by-nouriel-roubini-2017-11?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=e8fb43cb8e-sunday_newsletter_12_11_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-e8fb43cb8e-93490385

Watching hapless Giants being creamed by winless 49ers. They’v obviously given up (even the TV guys are saying so).

Liz Smith has died. She and I were close – and then we weren’t. What brought us apart was a differing approach to the rich and famous. She got where she got – a hell of a lot higher and farther than I ever did – by heaping praise. I thought they deserved to be shat on – and did. She criticized me for my approach and I fired back. From being asshole buddies it went to “no speak” overnight.  I’m not saying either of us was right. She was a good Ft.Worth girl, lively and fun, and I tip my hat to her. 

I once asked my father, who spent four years on carriers in the South Pacific, what he thought was the singular virtue of the U.S. fighting man. “Common sense,” he replied. Wonder what he’d answer today: http://ritholtz.com/2017/11/journalists-today-enemy-american-people/

In case you were wondering: https://democracyjournal.org/arguments/when-everyone-has-health-care/

Frightening: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/12/us/nsa-shadow-brokers.html?emc=edit_ta_20171112&nl=top-stories&nlid=2476992&ref=cta


If ever confirmation were needed of my dictum that the problem with the Internet/Social Media is that millions of people with nothing to say now have a place to say it, here it is: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-13/trump-is-shattering-his-own-tweet-records-with-non-stop-barrage

Interesting: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-11-13/richard-florida-now-sees-the-downside-of-urban-revival

Infuriating: https://granolashotgun.com/2017/11/13/mind-the-gap-2/

Stupidity Finds Its Apotheosis: https://gizmodo.com/angry-sean-hannity-fans-are-smashing-keurigs-on-twitter-1820378486

Sounds like a must-read: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/actually-the-magic-money-tree-does-exist-according-to-modern-monetary-theory-a8021501.htmlMoney Quote: It diagnoses that neoliberalism was not just a right-wing Thatcherite-Reaganite prospectus. The centre-left, as embodied by Mitterrand’s socialists in France, Blair’s New Labour and the Democratic Party in the US, was complicit in its imposition. This consensus culminated in the decimation of manufacturing, decline of union membership, the expansion of financial services, wage flattening, falling living standards and the privatisation of public services. At the heart of neoliberalism was the assertion that the free market is the supreme arbiter with the economy managed by technocratic expertise. The flip side of this depoliticisation resulted in ordinary people becoming alienated and disillusioned with the social democratic parties that formerly represented them. Instead they turned to anti-establishment (usually hard right) parties.” And who are the true “Deplorables” now?  AND add this to the mix: http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=37336

No comment needed, just the sound of two hands clapping: http://www.businessinsider.com/larry-krasner-philadelphia-election-platform-trump-2017-11?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_content=PoliticsSelect&pt=385758&ct=Sailthru_BI_Newsletters&mt=8&utm_campaign=BI%20Politics%20Mondays%202017-11-13&utm_term=Politics%20Select%20-%20Engaged%2C%20Active%2C%20Passive%2C%20Disengaged/#krasner-wins-a-decisive-victory-twice-8

Apparently there really is an asshole born every minute: https://ny.eater.com/2017/11/13/16643492/tiffanys-blue-box-cafe-wait

Why alcohol is necessary to get through life: http://www.businessinsider.com/nuclear-weapons-deadly-evolution-power-military-video-animation-2017-3?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_content=TechSelect&pt=385758&ct=Sailthru_BI_Newsletters&mt=8&utm_campaign=BI%20Tech%20Mondays%202017-11-13&utm_term=Tech%20Select%20-%20Engaged%2C%20Active%2C%20Passive%2C%20Disengaged

Today’s “must look at’: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2017-what-to-buy-instead-of-art/

Pleased to see that my alma mater now offers a graduate program in mindlessness: http://som.yale.edu/news/2017/11/video-what-can-you-get-for-paperclip


The NYT’s account yesterday of the Giants’ “quit” loss to the 49ers on Sunday was bylined “AP.” Does this mean my hometown “paper of record” no longer has a reporter assigned to cover the team that once ruled the city?

One footnote about Liz SmithAll the post-mortems characterize her as a “gossip columnist.” But gossip largely includes stuff people doing like being known about them, or talked about. It emphatically doesn’t include stuff dished up by publicists and PR types (unless, of course, they’re putting a knock on some other publicist’s client.) But the way Liz practiced her bright and cheery art was to make nice. To be fair about it, Liz used the money and connections her methodology produced for good works like Literacy Partners, said to have helped some 800,000 NYC kids to learn to read.

Now it begins: http://wallstreetonparade.com/2017/11/trump-bank-regulator-wants-to-merge-taxpayer-backstopped-banks-with-corporate-conglomerates/

A quiet enriching afternoon. Conrad’s a writer I haven’t thought about in years, or looked into even longer ago, but there’s a terrific piece about him in the latest New Yorker, so I put Nigger of the Narcissus (not a title found on many syllabi in today’s “snowflake” curricula) on the Kindle and I confess to being blown away! As I have been by the music I’ve had on: Chopin (and variations and evocations) played by the comet of the moment, Danil Trifonov, and he is terrific! Technique to burn and refinement to match. But then I put on Artur Rubinstein playing the Nocturnes and that is something else. It’s a generational thing, I guess, but in Rubinstein’s playing I feel a kind of cultural wholeness: every great book the man ever read,  every great picture he ever looked at, every great meal or wine he ever consumed, every beautiful woman he ever seduced. There’s a spaciousness there: murmurs of an age when one crossed the Atlantic on a great steamer in seven days as opposed to the middle seat of a 767 in seven hours. There aren’t a lot of compensations in being my age, but one of them is that I caught at least the tail end of that glorious era.  


From the sublime to the interesting. Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries arrived and I must say they’re very entertaining and worthwhile, not least for what they reveal about the author. I know Tina, but just a bit. I met her when she came to this country to take up the reins at VF;  we had lunch at the Algonquin. I suppose I was still writing for Manhattan Inc. I never did much for her: a piece about Caryl Churchill’s Serious Money, and two long pieces, never published: about Heywood Hill’s bookshop in London for The New Yorker, and about the Chanel-Metropolitan Museum dustup for Talk. Do I recommend her diaries? I certainly do! Tina has her blind spots: the higher arts don’t interest her much; she’s more interested in writers than writing, but all in all she says what’s on her mind, is confessional when honesty and occasion demand, is a concerned, loving, loyal and supportive wife and mother. All good. And she was lucky to have had one Wayne Lawson on staff, an editor so good and influential that I once asked, meanly, in The New York Observer, why when Wayne Lawson published articles and novels, he unaccountably used the pseudonym “Dominick Dunne.” 

I have to say that Fate seems pretty mischievous to have arranged the publication of Vanity Fair Diaries to coincide with the passing of Liz Smith, another towering figure in the landscape of New York dish. Tina is all of a piece, take it or leave it. Liz Smith was a lovely person, and I liked her as a friend for as long as it went and as far as it went, but the demarcation between her personal qualities and what she did professionally and how she went about it (what Joseph Epstein, in his marvelous Weekly Standard evisceration of Leon Wieseltier – who fooled Tina, but only once, it seems – calls tuchus-leching) ultimately came between us. All in all Tina’s diaries confirm the truth of my father’s description of “the upper crust”: a bunch of crumbs held together by dough. 

I’ve always foundDuncan’s re mark early in Macbeth – “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face-to be somewhat ambiguous. Now this: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-tell-someones-lying-by-watching-their-face-2016-1?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BISelect&pt=385758&ct=Sailthru_BI_Newsletters&mt=8&utm_campaign=BI%20Select%20%28Wednesday%20Friday%29%202017-11-15&utm_term=Business%20Insider%20Select%20-%20Engaged%2C%20Active%2C%20Passive%2C%20Disengaged


So the Leonardo sold for $450 million. What we’re seeing is what might be called “the attitudinal value” of money: amounts unthinkable even ten years ago are expended to buy stuff. $450 million is huge to those of us who aren’t wealthy or who are old enough to remember when the entire market capitalization of IBM may have been less than that. But if you’re a Saudi prince, or a Nigerian minister, or own a business with a billion or more online (and thus monetizable) customers, what’s $450 million to you?  

Like liquid spilling out of a cup, greed suddenly seems out of control, whether it’s Jerry Jones vs. the NFL, Wilbur Ross vs truth, the distentions on the tax bill, $450 big ones for the Leonardo (sic). Basic elements of common sense and (sometimes morality) are supposed to act like gimbals to keep even the piggiest sensibilities in some kind of balance. These appear to have failed.  

Interesting. If you reckon this picture will draw a million incremental visitors a year minimum, which is should, a smart buy: https://www.artsjournal.com/culturegrrl/2017/11/did-ken-griffin-buy-the-leonardo-or-provide-for-art-institute-of-chicago-to-acquire-it.html


I eschew social media, generally speaking. I quit Twitter and Social Media a year ago: too stupid and distracting. But I continue to look at Instagram for family pictures and images posted by art world eminences I respect. One of these, ex-Met Director Thomas Campbell, who in my opinion got a raw deal, at least way his departure was handled, noted that $450 million paid for the Leonardo made Diane Modestini, who restored the painting, the most expensive living artist. That made me chuckle: I said exactly the same thing in an email I sent a week ago to a leading dealer.   

Speaking of the Leonardo, let’s do some numbers, as they say on NPR. The picture will now be known primarily for the staggering amount paid for it at auction. I predict that it will join the Mona Lisa on every selfie-taking idiot’s bucket list. Assume then that, as current gossip has it, the picture was bought by Chicago hedge-funder Ken Griffin (who earlier paid David Geffen $300 million for a de Kooning and a Pollock) and will hang in the Art Institute of Chicago. It should bring in – I’m guessing – up to 2 million incremental visitors to Chicago (an exhibition of Kusama, a living artist with a touristic “Ooh, Ah – Must See!” shtick, doubled the attendance at the Hirshhorn in Washington) and that should do the Art Institute very nicely. When the Mona Lisa came to the Met in 1963 – 1963!!!! – over one million people thronged the museum specifically to see the painting. Extrapolate that figure forward 54 years, and consider that NYC draws 60 million tourists a year, and that the Met does 7 million visitors, and what hates to think what Fifth Avenue might look like if La Joconde showed up today. Here’s an amusing account of the 1963 pandemonium: https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/now-at-the-met/features/2013/today-in-met-history-february-4


Having bemoaned the share of GDP that represents the manufacture/production/dissemination of distraction, I was interested to read this: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/15/tim-berners-lee-world-wide-web-net-neutrality

This way to the vomitorium, ladies and gentlemen (check the prices): http://www.tiffany.com/accessories/everyday-objects

This is just so good, it’s required Reading: http://www.vulture.com/2017/11/annie-proulx-national-book-award-speech.html

This strikes me as a good, quick and accurate way to describe a kind of mindset that’s running free nowadays: “…abstract,fact-free, globalist leftism…” from a letter to London Review of Books (10/19/2017).  


Ross Douthat has another good column in NYT today about whether Clinton should have resigned after Lewinsky or, failing that, been impeached. He comes out where I did when the Lewinsky business surface. I wrote in “The Midas Watch” in NYO that I assumed Clinton would do the right and proper thing and resign and that Gore would take over and the Great Republic would be steered back on course. I was horribly wrong in assuming that “the right thing,” as either phrase or concept, is to be found in the Clinton moral lexicon.