Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Annals of gender oppression: A star is born

What a winter for discontent, one might
have thought, to find at such a break-
neck pace how many bumpy facets we have
missed, in the broadly conceded fall of
man. Only the other day, we learned how
patriarchally oppressive it is, to offer
just one color of wine at a time, in the
pursuit of a style of genital rapproche-
ment. The revelation caused a new social
more marginal monster than one of the
genders could imagine, and yet evidently
ubiquitous in the sight of a famous other.

Some of the genders have yet to report,
yet as night follows day, the temptation
to follow the lead of the dissident must
be counted the more primly advantageous. 
In matters of gender oppression, the cus-
tom is to acknowledge no more than one
bogey-person at a time. Yet who is to ask,
if pride of place may never be exchanged?

Is the White House right: is this to be
the season of a Counter-Reformation? If
it does take two to forge a swastika, a
mirror image of the half is all we need.
Then we may know what we should call it.

Monday, January 15, 2018

What news of the Senate?

Tapping into a Senator's obligation
to render "advise and consent" isn't
so very different from asking one to
take care to see that the laws are
faithfully executed. All it takes, 
is a clarification of where faith-
fulness lies. Over the weekend, a
Senator from Georgia named Perdue,
and one from a deeper part of Dixie,
sentimentally named Cotton, took to
the air to render fealty by impugn-
ing the integrity of another Senator.
This was a nice piece of business.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cast iron Sunday

We reconstituted the porcinis in 
a cup and half of boiled water,
and strained and rinsed them
carefully to clarify as stock,
to concentrate it later. Yester-
day's errands led to discovering
a recent collection by the po-
Charles Simic, of exceptionally
memorable images. They call for
the magic of a braising in cast
iron, a patient afternoon for
Sunday's expectations to be out-
sripped by relief from inter-
ference. In his own new collec-
tion, Alan Bennett asks his di-
ary, If one could write a story
about a masterpiece and include
the masterpiece why bother to 
put it in a frame in the first
place? His objection would be
sorry news for many, but it is
the very maxim of neutrality of
cast iron, and allowing wine to
stand. It is its only decanter.

                  Whatever solace you have for me,
                  Glass of old red wine,
                  Whisper it in my ear
                  With each little sip I take,
                  And only in my ear,
                  In this hour made solemn
                  By the news on the radio,
                  The dying fires of sunset,
                  And the trees in my yard
                  Putting on their black coats.

Alan Bennett
Keeping On Keeping On
  The Diaries
  13 September 2007
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017©

Charles Simic
The Lunatic
  The Wine
Ecco/Harper Collins, 2015©

i  Esther Bubley, photographer
   Seismographers in Texas

Friday, January 12, 2018

How the swastika mounted the wall

   the lovelorn in
   their homeland.

President of the United States
Doug Mills, photographer
The New York Times
10 January 2018©

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yet another enviable day in Court

    Piece by piece, the American state of
    North Carolina is playing out, gradu-
    ally, the disintegration of a polit-
    ical culture predicated upon the most
    extreme disparities possible, between
    Constitutional governance and protec-
    tion of contradictions long abandoned
    by its own population. That these an-
    omalies have persisted in the elected
    branches, only to be tossed out by the 
    judiciary speaks to the decrepitude of
    the right to vote in that awkwardly e-
    merging powerhouse of regional progress.

    North Carolina had another exhibition-
    quality day in Court, just yesterday, 
    which will only further the principles
    I suppose we know where the people we 
    don't know, will run for cover next. 

Gustaaf Wassink 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The waiting room in the Eisenhower Era

   People who complain of Customer Service
   these days need to recall those anxious
   delays of inventory retrieval, when one 
   might wait the better part of a cocktail
   simply to emerge from the store with a
   common snow shovel. Entire semesters 
   might go by, fitting a Class to the new
   blazer, with nothing but a well mounted
   gallery of paintings to inspect at the
   most leisurely pace. There was a lot of

Oil on canvas

Friday, January 5, 2018

Suppose it were Friday cxlvi: Hey, ho, halcyon days

There's nothing like a Cease and
Desist demand from a blackmailing
goon to cue Martha & The Vandellas
for a lively dance in Grub Street. 
We are going to remember January
5th, as the day the bawling new
government in America coiled up
in bed with a cheeseburger, hol-
lering for the secret sauce of
censorship. The one trouble is,
that jar has a child-proof cap,
we call the First Amendment.

The ultimate delight in the new
book will be found in its mis-
takes; the more, the merrier.
This is, after all, the gang
whose bodice-ripping script of
the Protocols of Zion is broad-
cast daily for the government's
levée; and it would be obscene
to subject that panting body to
fastidious inspection. Soon to
come, will be smokescreen in-
nuendo of financing from some
hostile power, like Manhattan.

Against any gathering impression
of facetiousness in these revels,
Liebling's Jollity Building is 
giving no odds. But a good cigar ..

Valéry Lorenzo
untitled toast

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Still the same boy with whom not to play

The consolations, normally so practically
to be sought in the 17th Century, of proof
of a darker time in social history, frayed
somewhat more rapidly than one had imagined,
and a prudent burial in their text proved
shallower than the strategies of sanity re-
quire. Our wondrous colossus of the media
ratings showed such verve, so suddenly, as
to convene a new battle of the bulge via a
breach of that same Ardennes of decorum
last plowed with a rival in the male hand.
Never mind, the implications for peace in
our time; there was reputation to sustain.

I don't know if children still possess the knack for discerning where revulsion lies, in the ways and by-ways of their learning years. Usually, some institution might warn, in loco parentis, not to play with a little Donny Thump-Thump. Now, when the market for sound advice is ground so nicely beneath the stampede for thrilling delusion as has swept the country which defended Bastogne, the ordinary restraints do fail. The US was wondrously in luck, therefore, in the opening hours of this very year, to rediscover the sheer practical convenience of moral astonishment.

Nobody likes to state the obvious more than one affirming time, in any given 24 hours, but we have a twitter zealot to teach us that the appetite for the preposterous is inexhaustible. As I study a portrait of my own contemporaries, albeit from another school district (Oregon spruce isn't prevalent in Pasadena), I am struck that an acceptance of degraded communications has wrought a degradation, by definition, of our conception of human beings. If nothing else, these faces bear the imprint of a very devoted care; and I don't think I'm ready to dismiss this virtue as another defect of antiquity. To place this roguish, confident, trusting cohort side by side with the figure they've survived to find held over them, seems to me to mark change more grave than years. I see Christmas cards from friends, beaming now at infants, and I don't know where they'll play. Maybe they'll have foxholes.

Duress recalls the expediency of satire's indirections. We've heard enough of Nuts - the hallowed riposte of Bastogne's commander, to overbearing calls to surrender - to admit that shame will never restrain this nemesis. I have to compliment two columnists from The Washington Post, for capturing the insane essence in the aggression mounted against Americans in the last two news cycles. They show the satiric power of impersonation to portray the inexcusable, even to its fanatics and its corrupted Party. 

Alexandra Petri
The Washington Post
3 January 2018

Dana Milbank
The Washington Post
3 January 2018