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Showing posts from March 18, 2018

How important is the presidency, anyway?

One of the hot topics in the (internet) circles I run in is: is Trump the worst president? Which has replaced the hot topic of 2004, which was: is Bush the worst president? At the time of the Bush is the worst fad, I was all: kinda, sorta, but with reservations. This is what I wrote back then: “It is easy to think that our present Bush is the worst Bush who has ever ruled over us. The citizens of Rome, whenever Nero committed some new jape, no doubt cast their eyes back longingly to the good old days of Caligula. Whenever we find out about Bush’s newest low – from the vacations of August, 2001, while the hijackers were asking directions to the nearest airport, to the Spring of 2002, when political intervention cut off the main American chance to deal a stunning military blow to Al Qaeda, to the mass thefts on behalf of the greediest and worst that are bankrupting the state, to, of course, the web of war crimes and lies that compose the entirety of his current foreign policy –

the strike yesterday in Paris

There were ten police vans going up Rue de la Bretagne, which was a good predictor of a political rally by the left. It was gray, a penetrating over the seasonal deadline gray, a where is spring gray. Weather in cities: I could make a concept album. Everybody was walking around still wrapped up in scarves and long coats. Not gloves, though – the average Parisian seems to have lost the glove habit. Me, I’m a glove man. My hands get cold. I walked along and observed the traffic, which was snarled. The Marais seems to have been converted into a vast chantier since we moved back. It is a sign that the French economy is coming back, but it is also an irritation. The traffic was even worse because streets were arbitrarily blocked and the busses were running on an irregular schedule.   The gr è ve had knocked out a lot of public functions, and one noticed.   Paris without these functions is rather like a sentence that had lost its punctuation, its commas and periods. It becomes a vast run-o

the movie and the stop button

1980 is not a bellweather year. Hostage crisis, inflation, campaign between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, these are the faint associative chimes that ring out for the American goof. But it was quietly decisive in one way for the arts, for that was the year in which the VCR entered the American consciousness as more than just a hobbyists item mentioned in Popular Photography. True, Betamax had come out in 1975, and there were expensive alternatives on the market, but it was roughly around 1980 that a critical mass had been achieved. Meaning that you didn’t have to explain what a VCR was. In 1981, Jack Valenti, stooge of the movie industry, said: "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." It is the ritual of technological dissemination that the corporations it seems to threaten throw their lobbyists at it, and then they figure out how to capture it and use it for themselves. Mo