Friday, August 26, 2016

Suppose it were Friday cxvii: Restoring bearings

In 1958 John Cohen made
this classic portrait of
our great photographic
discoverer, Robert Frank.
Now that picture comes
into its own in everyone.

This campaign for the
Presidency has tended
to exhaust our people
with the rhetoric re-
served for a state of
revulsion we proper-
ly resist. The New York
Times, expecting our
dismay, has despatched
a photographer to pur-
sue the sight of it in
terms which zero in un-
cannily on its cause,
its hideous grandiosity.

He sees the blustering
candidate's animal mag-
netism; he sees the an-
guish of his adherents.
He sees the rhetorical
apogee of a deception.

His project draws fear
and pity. If tragedy
bore its "original in-
tent," he would be its
translator, if we had
reserved the term from
every adverse fluke, 
flogged by the slovenly
to distract by prestige,
denying us its power.

His name is Damon Winter
and I hope he never tires
of saving us our language.

Now this is Friday, and
we haven't renounced our
dreams. Winter won a Pul-
ritzier for work on a
different campaign, and
those perceptions, from
a categorically different
environment, resound in
reflecting on this one.
What can it mean, to be
in good hands, if they
are our own?




Las Vegas
New York

The New York Times©

Thursday, August 25, 2016

When this is all over

Should we collude, readers here
and I, in a colloquy on what to
aspire to, when the obligations
we face this November are final-
ly met? Should we pursue beyond
the limits of exculpatory refus-
al, humane drinking water, wher-
ever tapped? When the bestial
candidacy is terminated in re-
jection, what shall we propose,
to mark the occasion with a mor-
al motive? Or is that a nuisance.

Fear is all very well, as a de-
fense against the worst. But is
the scale of the horror to be a-
verted this year, to be accord-
ed nothing more than a stake of
facile contempt?

I will be blunt. The model is a-
kin to England, in their immola-
tion shouldered alone, against a
monster. Now we have our monster,
and his retinue of coy apologists
to reject categorically, and our
eyes are upon not merely a nega-
tion, but an elevation. I'm con-
servative, so I want humility.
I'm progressive, so I want hope.
I'm ordinary, so I want liberty.
I'm flesh, so I can be mistaken.

This finest hour is bigger than
tax relief. It wants generosity.
It cannot be voted in. It has to
be poured from every tap we are.

Kyle Schrader

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Origins of Wednesday xxxvi: Vial of unintended consequences

    I have to believe, someone at NYU
    has already claimed a doctorate,
    translated into several languages,
    with the observation that an un-
    intended consequence of the peril-
    ously pubic-suspended waistband,
    has been an abrupt shortening of 
    our arms. Suddenly, spending mon-
    ey's out of reach, and explains,
    of course, the stovepipe gather-
    ing of superfluous trousering atop
    the Nikes, relying now more stren-
    lously than ever, upon the elevat-
    ing effect of their aerosol con-
    struction. But have restaurants
    adapted? Are the tables shrunk, to
    accommodate the diminished reach;
    has Emily Post been edited, on pas-
    sing the salt? Is this new fashion
    the root cause, if you will, of
    driverless motoring, and has any-
    one accounted better for the pro-
    liferation of keyboard duets? I
    live in the sticks; I could send
    you some, bundled and centrally
    bound, for urbanity's sake.

    But I stray. In a political sys-
    tem as responsive as ours, to
    a dire urgency of ameliorations
    of one kind or other, its branches
    will break a discernible sweat on
    the project of retaliatory arms,
    to close this abysmal gap between
    pubic confidence and real security.
    (Frame any question martially, and
    the whole government is yours).

    Calisthening, ever preening, as if
    not their fault our tower's leaning.
    We find them adopting the same solu-
    ion, myriad times, but its glory is
    what counts, where sanity's simply 
    out of reach. Riding with the Turks,
    today; a novelty, we'd have to say.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Invasion of the miracles i

    We cannot pretend not
    to have been warned,
    But it seems to us,
    a fellow of his age
    ought to know what
    he wants by now. Then
    too, what became of,
    on the beaches? How,
    we can only ask, can
    a Donny Thump-Thump,
    survive resembling a
    day without sunshine?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

No ordinary rustic

   My English dog and I
   went out for an after-
   noon stroll just now,
   after a voluminously
   heavy downpour. We
   were not the only ones.

   This extravagantly daz-
   zling fellow clambered
   several feet immediate-
   ly, and incredibly a-
   droitly, before our very
   eyes, after my fingers
   gently inquired if he
   were an elegant twig,
   blown upon the post to
   be admired. We admired,

Marathon day

  As much as a vacant
  beach, for different
  reasons, like you 
  I feel an undying
  fondness for playing
  fields in bucolic
  settings. I like to
  walk them alone, in
  the early morning -
  real choirs, if
  of softer footing,
  breathing deep of
  lusher aromatics.

  We conversed in low whispers, 
  Conrad says, as if afraid to 
  wake up the land.

  I walk in measured steps
  such fields, as if before
  they are awakened, and
  sense a music that they 
  harbor of a raucous con-
  test, fitfully embedded in 
  a plush and loamy stillness
  that we constantly enrich. 
  Introduce a runner there,
  we change their rhythm.

  Stephen Crane, his contemp-
  ary, knew this possibility. 

Joseph Conrad

Stephen Crane
The Red Badge
  of Courage
op. cit.

Giorgio Armani
ribbed sweater

Luigi Ghirri

untitled field

Carl Hardorp

Ely Cathedral


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Post no bills

Back before the great breakout
in tuition pricing which so
distinguishes this generation
of first-time voters; back in
the simplified glory days of
impeachment for fellatio and
hypocrisies about perjury, of
euphemising strangulation as
triangulation of support, it
was common for a President to
lecture the lacklustrously wit-
ted on the cleverness of lead-
ing with a carrot and a stick.
This President now wants to
return to the White House, to
the everlasting amazement of
the 22nd Amendment, by smudg-
ing any grudging distinction
between the two poles. O, my.

Thus did it haplessly unfold, 
on a news day of unprecedented 
coincidence of capitulations of 
one kind and another, that we 
were treated to contortions of 
contrition in three shining 
exemplifications at once. The
strain upon the colanders of
our soothsayers was almost com-
ical, as icon after icon per-
formed the exculpatory equiv-
alent of confessional denial,
to bribe one's way back into
gaming the public's credulity.

From Rio de Janeiro, we learned from an array of mouthpieces for American swimmers, that they had found themselves immersed in a setting where mistakes, of one kind or another, may have been made. This was largely thought to refer to their collective defamation of the institutions and society of their host city, inspired by their own unprovoked vandalism and intimidation of the place, but one could scarcely be sure, from the surface of their statements. There might just have been an escapade so degenerate that no self-respecting breakfast cereal could sponsor it, and not just another endearingly gender-specific exercise of boys being boys. Still, for teasing with payoffs in the millions, these testaments could not help but dazzle.

And yet, may we say, there was nothing in our jocks' unraveling Rashomon to compare with the ingenuity of Donny Thump-Thump's showy striptease in Charlotte. How suddenly a new pollster-campaign manager did proclaim her arrival to his rescue, in a classic Music Man shell game of coming clean by blowing smoke. He complained openly of having, statistically inevitably, surely but non-specifically, some-time but somehow forgettably, more than hypothetically but less than actionably, possibly given offense by an incidental embrace or two of errant terminology. I heard 75 trombones with that one, didn't you?

But behind Door Number 3, we met a bribe with no pretext of an apology. Within this refreshing distinction, on the other hand, would be found the carrot and stick style of seduction which clouds the judgment for the necessary nanosecond of a news cycle - that suffocation of the attention span imposed by a false innocence. We actually heard an adult male say, he would stop humiliating the nation on the condition that we empower his wife. We had hoped, Balthasar would stop being beaten, not that we'd have to feed his abuser. 

Eduardo Seco
public wall

Friday, August 19, 2016

Suppose it were Friday cxvi: Summer heroes

  When at last I bring my 
  self to sup upon their 
  symmetry in slender 
  sections, fanned out 
  in their shimmering to 
  sweat in virgin oil 
  beneath a mist in which
  they bleed of balsam 
  vinegar, I'm not reminded
  of the prancing horse in 
  the Limoges until they're 

Torso Gaddi
Uffizi Gallery
1st Century BC

Patrick Frey
ca 1990

Paddy Mitchell