Archive for January, 2007


Home Sweet Home

Seems my anxiety is misplaced. Turns out Boston is the city for total unraveling. Where to begin….that this is the worst ad campaign ever? That we’re easily aroused lunatics who scare easily?  That apparently these “packages” were lying around for weeks before this afternoon’s antics?  That these so-called bombs look like Lite-Brite creations?

Fortunately, we found an immediate scapegoat while we look for one with deeper pockets. Personally, I think having your fatuous CV shamelessly mocked by the Boston media is kind of a drag.  But most Massholes should feel better when we beat this guy to death on Opening Day (April 10).  Nothing like a little blood shed to kick off the season right.


From a House-warming to a Baby Shower

All I know is this one had better light up the blogosphere as much as John Edwards’s lair.


My Code of Silence

As a non-Jewish Deis grad, there’s one topic I try never to discuss.  Too heated.

How dismaying to see this latest turn in the debate. 

That’s about all I can contribute on this one…(…other to say I was never a fan of Shula, who gave me some sensible advice re: my senior honors thesis that I was too young to appreciate then, but whose demeanor nonetheless left me sour on her forever after.)

Readers, please discuss amongst yourselves. 


How about Frozen Waffles and Toast?

Apparently my utter lack of interest in cooking and therefore refusal to spend $$ on kitchen gadgets means I’ve dramatically preceded a culinary trend.  I grew up with my mom cooking steaks in the broiler; they cooked quickly after her long day at work, and we ate in a snuggly, warm kitchen (she was – and now I am – forever chilly).  I indulged in roommates’ toaster ovens in college, but other than that, I’ve been using the broiler forever. 

This author asks “What can you cook?”  And I confirm his answer: “…anything,” including frozen waffles or toast in the morning.  No more wasted counter space (though I could still stand to downsize my industrial sized microwave)!  Divine.

I’m comforted he acknowledges how difficult they are to clean (esp. when you never bother.  I think I just recently pulled out a piece of bread stuck beneath the broiler pan since I turned 30 18 months ago, but you know what, it could just as likely still be there).  The one drawback he fails to mention, bending down to reach the damn thing.  Ever since my back break in 2000, when I was ramrod straight in a brace for 6 months and pretty limited in my range of motion, I’ve learned to put everything above me whenever possible.  Reaching the broiler is it’s one flaw, but in my sparse and neglected little kitchen, it’s easily overlooked.

Happy cooking!  Set a place for me.


John Edwards is Your Neighbor

Despite not feeling well, NYC Weboy is keeping up with the blog-rant about John Edwards’s new McMansion.  Apparently, the Edwards Estate is supposed to whip me up into a classist frenzy; whether I’m supposed to feel betrayal, rage, or abhorrence by his excess still isn’t clear to me.  (While Wesley has links to Ezra Klein and John Podhoretz, I personally find this link the most entertaining and telling in this whole hot air fest.)

I can’t make sense of any of this – Wesley’s argument nor the diatribes that follow Barnett’s “FAQ” about the house.  It could just be because I think Edwards’s house sounds incredibly tacky, so I don’t see how he’s a viable whipping boy for the anti-intellectual, anti-elite arguments that Wesley’s referencing (since I can safely report from Ground Zero of the elite intelligentsia that they would loathe to live in a sprawling suburban NC home such as his.  An English countryside estate, perhaps, or a house on Nantucket, but outside Raleigh, no thanks…)

Edwards’s house sounds like a very conventional display of “new” money in this country, and by “new” I mean the conspicuous consumption of affluent suburban development of the last two decades.  The average home in the U.S. is ~2,500 square feet, so Edward’s is about 4x the size of that (though why he built his family their own personal 15k sf “community center” – he’s a liberal, he’d prefer that term, trust me – is another story and one suggestive of some early-stage Gatsby-esque mental illness).  At 10k sf, his home is at the high end of the curve of McMansions (homes between ~4-10k sf), but not off the charts.  He’s not exactly an outlier, by American standards, and, lest we forget, certainly not among politicians. 

Thus, I apparently need some tutelage on electoral demographics, because I don’t know who these people are that are screaming at Edwards, or what their incomes or lifestyles look like. 

Furthermore, I don’t think this indicates that people are anti-“level the playing field,” as Wesley describes, but that somehow they believe Edwards in particular is a hypocrite.  As if he was once on their playing field, with his up-by-his-bootstraps life story and therefore justified wealth accumulation, but has now joined the ranks of the patrician Kennedy’s, when clearly he should be a card-carrying GOP’er if he’s going to live in a McMansion in Nascar country.  Or, am I supposed to assume that the anti-Edwards cries are from right(er)-wing bloggers of modest means?  We all have a relative level of affluence to be sitting around all day carping at one another.  Give me a break.  (Furthermore, judging by the fact that Edwards felt compelled to build his family their own mini-village short of a grocery store – and who needs that with delivery these days – he’s obviously preparing for some serious exile, which probably includes from the exclusive, insider-ish tone of the political blogosphere.  Who the hell are all these people that they’re all collegially bashing Edwards like they’ve known each other for years??  Make room for me in your “Lounge,” John.  I’m feeling all excluded and mis-understood now myself!) 

This is hardly class warfare, people.  This is an internal implosion under the pseudonym of “class.”  Class warfare is when the serfs of our service economy rise up and enslave us pasty, out-of-shape bloggers, converting our intellectual and professional safehavens for their own ruling purposes. 

Personally, I think this article sums up our current state of economic affairs much more effectively than the vivid example of the new Edwards Township in Orange County, NC.  But he sure has room to host those populist organizing meetings that are going to win him some elections!


Yes He Can!!

Just watch him.


The Senate claims Bush can’t ignore their opposition to Iraq, but I think he’s proven he’s quite capable of brushing aside alternative points of view.  (They’re evil, after all.)  Lots of juicy intellectual debate in this piece, as experts are recruited to the partisan fray to make the case for or against the decider’s power.  The Senate has a lot to teach this CIC about resolving disagreement; I hear 2007 is the year they pass legislation on making the Tug-o-War the determining factor between the 51-49 chamber’s squabbles. 

Meanwhile (and coming to you live!), New Orleanians wish they had a leader as obstinate and determined as Dubya.  Nagin apparently can’t find the strength to go after almost $600M in federal funds the State is dangling in front of him.  Too much red tape, he whines.  No doubt, Ray, no doubt, but that’s why they pay you the big bucks.  A friend of mine I ran into last night told me the C. in “C. Ray Nagin” clearly stands for “Crack,” because this Mayor is smokin’ a whole lot of it.  (The group of New Orleanians I was with also couldn’t stop talking about the Mayor telling the visiting senators yesterday that the City didn’t need anymore $$.  I wonder what he thinks it needs…political leadership?  housing?  updated levees?  good schools?  adequate policing?  a healthy economy?) 

Although, perhaps we shouldn’t be bickering over $600M, when the City’s recovery’s true price tag is $14B (by the way, I ran into the “managers” of the UNOP process last night, some of whom were pretty smashed.  No doubt easing the anxiety over this announcement today).  I’ve heard conflicting views of the new recovery Czar Ed Blakely (not to be confused with actor-turned-extreme-environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr.) within the ivory planning tower, but it does seem that this is a political appointment without any operational, decision-making power.   All the glory, none of the accountability.  Who wouldn’t dig that, especially with the salaries Nagin’s handing out these days? 

Just throwing a little sardonic cheeriness your way from the Mojo Coffee House in New Orleans, whose warm and caffeinated interior is a welcome reprieve from the city’s chilly, drizzly and very uncertain exterior.  (I kid you not, there’s a grown Raggedy Ann standing across from me at the counter right now.)  I send my love from the city where OZ, the local radio station, gives us Massholes some love right back, with a shout-out for our promising new governor, and not because of his professional achievements and promise, but because of his famous lineage:


That’s right, meet Deval’s Dad, Sun Ra.


And ladies, don’t forget to give those hard-workin’ men in your own life some love tonight too. 


Monday Morning QB: Planning & Politics

I think I’m actually supposed to be a Tues a.m. QB; it’s been a few years since my fantasy football days.  Packing up and heading down to NOLA shortly, where I’m packing up Willow Street, working on my presentation for Friday, checking out the public housing exhibit at the Ogden, and generally catching up with the city.  I don’t know when I’ll be back after this, and I’m apprehensive as usual about what I’ll find.

As a result, my thoughts are a jumble, and I’m cheating a bit on posting by throwing up some planning and politics-related articles from the NYTimes. 


Women Leader’s are Moms Too 

Of course, I’m compelled to respond to this: Newsflash!  Women leaders are moms, too!  And it’s good for you and the country!  I know this is supposed to come as some sort of relief, that the “masculine” rules of the game are changing…but honestly, how different is this from the old notion of (male) politicians shaking hands and kissing babies? 

I know, male politicians haven’t been portraying themselves as fathers – yet (so far, we like the physician-turned-politician theme best in terms of role transformation) – but the idea of children as photo op is not new just because Pelosi and Clinton have grown children they now count – and rightfully so – as resume achievements (This other idea of the “listening tour” as a feminized strategy has some merit as I google the term, but is by no means an exclusive ploy of women candidates).  The notion that women can finally embrace something that is still essentially considered their primary responsibility and source of pride is a bit overdue, overdone, and trite.  Child-rearing as relevant accomplishment should be an essential part of many women’s political campaigns, given the elder average age at which women enter politics, i.e., after they’ve raised their families, especially in Pelosi’s generation.

I actually love Condi’s quote at the end of this article, but I feel the inclination of disagreement rising up in me.  As much as I loathe society’s over-emphasis on marriage and baby-making for women, I think the latter is ultimately one of our competitive advantages, and we should use it as such.  Not at an overriding expense of our other personal and professional assets, but the real truth is that the world should be pushing men to embrace the caregiving and managing multiple roles and responsibilities that arises from parenting, versus demanding women retreat or play down such realities.  Of course, the real tragedy between the Boxer-Rice exchange is the shots these two women take at each other over their personal lives.  Somewhat understandable when you consider Condi is actually the Bush’s more or less adopted offspring, and executioner, as such.


Suburbia’s Angry Populists

Of course, listening tours among all politicians make help them locate suburbia’s “angry populists,” you know, your neighbors freaking out about the economy from behind the wheels of their S.U.V.s as their kids quietly play with the latest portable Playstations. I’m guilting as a political neophyte of buying into this economic insecurity; you’ve seen me write about it elsewhere.  There’s something to be said with the checked-out consumption patterns of middle-class and affluent Americans.  They don’t necessarily contradict the insecurity politicians are harping about, but people are not necessarily living their lives in fear either.  I’m torn about this issue, and would be interested in your feedback.  To me, there’s so many professional, class and regional demarcations to dig into in a trend like this; I keep in touch with friends from business school and have family members who earn and consume in volumes I can’t imagine, but I am still attending the same alumni and holiday dinners with them.  There’s more to this article than meets the eye…duh.


Loving the Car and Cursing the Pedestrian in NYC 

Finally, speaking of regional variation, here’s a fun one on how NYC is actually bringing up the rear on transit and quality of life issues, compared to the “rest” “of the universe.”  Adam Gopnik and others have written repeatedly on how NYC has rebounded and is thriving due to its “suburbanization” or “big box” transformation.   Apparently, that includes embracing the car as the primary mode of urban transportation.  All I know is that the congestion tax in London is a fantastic idea being investigated in developing cities around the world, and that the MBTA (Boston’s miserable “T”) is now the same price as NY’s remarkable subway system – a public transportation outrage worthy of some chiding coverage. 


I’m off – via car – to the airport.

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