2/26/ – 3/6/18….


Well, here’s a good way to mark the beginning of yet another week in this endless season in Hell (“winter of our discontent” inadequate to describe the world today).

“Sinking into Sleaze” has become our best trend.  Just look at our culture’s biggest influencer — Kim Kardashian. Two weeks ago she posted an Instagram of her latest beach bathing suit photo shoot.  It said it all — there she was with her famous bare ass being “ass sprayed” by a glam squad “ass stylist.”  She got millions of hits and her enhanced ass and bathing suit went viral.  A trend is born

Should credit Blair Sabol on NY Social Diary for above.

Tyler Cowen has sent this my way: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/02/money-laundering-via-author-impersonation-on-amazon/

OK, troops – enough is enough! Who is stupid enough tothink up something like this? https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-26/diageo-introduces-jane-walker-scotch-in-bid-to-attract-women

Increased blood flow or narrowed arties – which is the main culprit? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/26/nyregion/congestion-pricing-new-york.html?emc=edit_ta_20180226&nl=top-stories&nlid=2476992&ref=cta

I thought this was interesting: “Even with the fees, congestion has returned. Uber and other for-hire vehicles surged to more than 87,400 cars in 2017, up from 50,700 in 2011. Delivery vans hog the curbs as online shopping has exploded. Cyclists are vying with motorists for more space.” As a frequent rider in the city, I know (and have boldfaced) the suspect my pragmatic observations identify as the principal one. 

Interesting story about Dreckstuck‘s #1 fixer. I was interested to read that Cohen bought up a bunch of (I assume) NYC taxi medallions in the 1990s. The value of those has totally cratered thanks to Uber etc. I wonder if Cohen still has them, or did he unload them on immigrant drivers like the guy who shot himself outside City Hall last month? https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-longtime-lawyer-michael-cohen-knows-way-too-much-so-why-is-he-still-in-exile?ref=scroll 

I’m always game for an interesting thriller, so my curiosity was piqued when I read this in a a review of a new book, Need to Know, by Karen Cleveland, in yesterday’s NYTBR:   “Cleveland has worked for the C.I.A., so the tradecraft in “Need to Know” is of special interest. When penetrating a computer, is an analyst really given a choice between clicking on “active” or “passive,” depending on whether she wants to mess around in there? It’s possible — more likely, certainly, than a set of wedding guests unwittingly divided between C.I.A. operatives and Russian sleeper agents. Need to Know” won’t pose any threat to John le Carré because it’s all surfaces. But the surfaces are very shiny and lots of fun.” So I Kindled itThe book is indeed a page-turner; two-thirds of the way along I was turning the pages at flank speed, ten at a time, like Eliza on the ice fleeing the bloodhounds It struck me that the only person more confused than this reader was the writer. This is a typical “one idea” book. The author says to self: “Suppose…?” – but alas that’s as far as her imagination can take her. Imagine “The Americans” really badly done. My recommendation: Avoid. 

As my old friend Liquor Jack and I used to say to each other when someone made a completely ridiculous, baseless, lying boast: “Sure you would, Jose!” https://www.aol.com/article/news/2018/02/26/trump-slams-armed-florida-deputy-and-says-he-would-have-ran-into-the-florida-school-during-the-shooting-even-without-a-gun/23371357/


Not much worth thinking about yesterday. But here’s why I dig Kunstler:  “The excruciating quandary President Trump presents to the nation is dragging the sad remnant of the thinking class ever-deeper into a netherworld of desperation, paranoia, and mendacity that may exceed even their own official fantasies about the enemy in the White House.   Everything about the lumbering, blundering occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue drives his Dem/Prog opponents — or #Resistance, if you will — plumb batshit: his previous incarnations as a shady NYC real estate schmeikler, as a TV clown, as a business deadbeat, as a self-described pussy-grabber… his vulgar casinos, his mystifying hair-do, his baggy suits and dangling neckties, his arrant, childish, needless lying about trivialities, his intemperate tweets, his unappetizing associates, his loutish behavior in foreign lands, his fractured, tortured syntax, his obvious insincerity, his sneery facial contortions… and lots lots more — and of course that doesn’t even touch the actual policy positions he struggles to articulate. In sum, Trump represents such a monumentally grotesque embarrassment to the permanent Washington establishment that they will pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the removal of this odious caitiff.  And in the process abandon all reason and decency.”  http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/now-schiff-memo/

Don’t why I let it irritate me, but it does when the CultureColumn in the NYT  refers to Matisse’s Chapel of the Rosary in Venice. The latter is in Italy; the chapel is in Vence,  on the French Riviera. Perhaps I was in a state to be irritated since the error occurred in a short account of an ambassadorial visit to the Vatican by the unspeakable Anna Wintour along with such shmatte  luminaries as “Thom, you made the pants too short” Browne and his beau, Met Museum costume curator Andrew Bolton. The visit was in preparation for the Met Museum Gala in May, which will celebrate the relation of ecclesiastical garb to current fashion (sic), presumably culminating in the sprinkling of holy water on Kim Kardashian’s ass (see above). 


One of the best writers in English and in England in recent years was A.A.Gill, who died prematurely in late 2016. Weidenfeld and Nicolson have published two anthologies of Gill’s work. I have both. In the newer, Lines in the Sand,  I found the following commentary on the Trump phenomenon, written after Adrian Gill, with a few months to live, in June 2016 attended a bait-and-switch Trump University pitch. It strikes me as the best, on-point analysis of why and wherefore that I have read (to find it in easily postable format, I tracked it online to the London Times, where it originally appeared):  The millions of Americans who now vote for Trump are an unpalatable, embarrassing and inexplicable mystery to the Americans who wouldn’t consider voting for him, as they are to everyone watching from the bleachers of the rest of the world. But they were and are the natural consequence of a society that lauds and mythologises winners.  The non-winners don’t just go away to be good acquiescent losers; they get furious and bitter, and they blame the rules and the establishment referee, and they want comeuppance, someone to blame, and they attach themselves to the biggest, flashiest self-proclaimed carnival-headed winner out there.”

Some interesting thoughts here. No Harvard? List stuffed with colleges that – on recent form – should be prohibited from sending graduates into government, such as my alma mater (Yale), or Brown, or (God help us!) Chicago. http://thenakeddollar.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-myth-of-public-service.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheNakedDollar+%28The+Naked+Dollar%29

Very interesting article on today’s WSJ about linked transactions via which Michael Dell bought his $101 million Manhattan penthouse. The surname of Dell’s lawyer is “Riina.” An unusual monicker. Wonder if she’s related to “Toto” Riina, the Sicilian capo di tutti capi who ordered the assassinations of Falcone and Borsellino. Since transactions like this, with webs and layers of LLCs and other cut-outs, smack of “wise guyism”, the logical conclusion is: probably.  


Hmmmm. http://thesaker.is/putins-stunning-revelations-about-new-russian-weapons-systems/


Yesterday a meteorological horror show. Friends calling from twenty miles away to report power out. Chaos outside to match Hurricane Dreckstuck  from down the road. Feel sorry for Gary Cohn. what next? How about Wells Fargo? https://dealbreaker.com/2018/03/heckuva-job-there-gary/?utm_source=Dealbreaker+Newsletters+Master+List&utm_campaign=e01faad58a-MAILCHIMP_DB_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7b7b809044-e01faad58a-410840457

Weird. Interesting. Troubling. Who’ll write the book or make the film?  http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/03/02/cleveland/cn2Sathz0EMJcdpYouoPjM/story.html?camp=breakingnews:newsletter

Once again, my chum Dizard nails it. https://www.ft.com/content/f09dad9c-1dfc-11e8-956a-43db76e69936

Well, whadidya expect? https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2018/03/02/cabinet-full-corruption/8ZJRHGO1yBPdeVdqGGvIyN/story.html?et_rid=1758184608&s_campaign=todaysheadlines:newsletter


This piece of “art” (sic), going under the hammer next week at Sothebys London, can be yours for a crisp estimated UKP 4.2 million – 6 million. Look like shit to you? How can it be? This artist is bought at very high prices by some of the world’s most self-regarding collectors. Need to be told what you’re looking at (just as I suspect they have)? Well, perhaps this bulls*** – sorry, blurb – from Sothebys catalogue will set your fevered sensibility at ease as you nervously finger your black AmEx card: 

“Christopher Wool, Untitled.

“Having developed his practice at the critical height of the Pictures Generation – a group of artists whose appropriative, photographic strategies undermined the validity of painting in contemporary art – Wool set out to prove the critical agency of painting within a set of newly defined parameters.

“Untitled is a towering distillation of the artist’s post-modern and post-conceptual approach to painting. Pollock-esque tendrils of black enamel, drawn onto canvas using a spray gun, have been scrubbed-out and overlaid with yet more abstract marks to impart an incessant cycle of affirmation and negation.”


This is rather good fun: https://www.thedailybeast.com/what-would-le-carres-master-spy-think-of-trump-and-russia?via=newsletter&source=Weekend

Yesterday, Tamara and I acquiesced to the insistence of family and friends that we watch the Netflix show “Queer Eye,” in which a cadre of gay men, one of whom is black, lead some pretty unlikely subjects into a total makeover in terms of lifestyle, dress, grooming and self-respect. We streamed 4 episodes. This show is wonderful! Of course it’s funny and outrageous and over-the-top now and then, but that’s not the real point, which is the back-and-forth flow of profound empathy that develops between the queer guys and the objects of their attentions. Two of the former are real rednecks, as they describe themselves; one is the sort of thick-shouldered hefty Southern cop (the gay team works out of Atlanta; they find their “targets” throughout Georgia)) a cliche artist dreams of inventing. As we watched it became clear to Tamara and me that what “Queer Eye” is about isn’t fabrics and furnishing and healthy food and barbering: it’s about helping people who haven’t really got any find real self-esteem, the kind of self-esteem that doesn’t come from the gun one carries or the badge one sports, or one’s skills as a mechanic, but which is rooted in character and soul. If there’s no self-esteem in a person, all that’s left is anger. Well, that and tears: Tamara and I wept at the end of each episode – because this is what this goddamn country is supposed to be about and it’s just inconceivably moving to see it happen. Of course, the asshole brigade will clamor, it can’t happen here, who’s going to pay for all this stuff? Well, based on what I saw, the total budget would come to a fraction of what that piece of s*** now in the White House used to steal from his subcontractors in a day. 


Watched an hour or so of the Oscars then went into bedroom and polished off Swan Peak, the Robicheaux I’ve been plowing through. Obvious that le tout Hollywood had been told “Turn up…or else!” With the exception of “Dunkirk,” a real dog, we haven’t seen any of the nominated films or performances (I’ve had “Get Out” on my watchlist for months, but horror films upset me, so there it sits). Sooner or later, they’ll stream their way in.

This is interesting: https://news.artnet.com/market/jose-freire-art-fairs-interview-1235624?utm_content=from_&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=US%20newsletter%20for%203%2F5%2F18&utm_term=New%20US%20Newsletter%20List   My favorite observation: “I used to feel that curators went to fairs to look for new artists, but now I feel that they go to fairs to walk their trustees around.”

Watched “Abacus” on Amazon Prime. This is the documentary about the Chinatown bank that was prosecuted for mortgage fraud by Fed. DA Cyrus Vance Jr., a third-rater who’s made it up the greasy pole clinging to his father’s reputation like a baby monkey on its mother’s back. A top-rank addition to my MUST category.