CPAC thoughts

Not mine, mind you.  I send John Hawkins down to round everything up for me.  If I were to attend in person, the whole mystery persona would be shot!  Look what happens to Ron Paul, for example, when people actually look under that rock.  Yeah, there goes my putsch strategy.  So that’s right out.  But Right Wing News has just released the top 20 quotes from CPAC 2010.  I’m not even saying they’re even all safe for work–they’re not.

That’s the other reason I don’t go to CPAC.  Because I’m the last cultural conservative, remember?

Best of 2009: “At the junction”

This was first published on June 24, 2009.

My first reaction when I saw this post on a blog called Infrastructurist (looks very cool) (via Boing Boing) was just to link to it on my Facebook page. I also lament the loss of these great — well, in some cases very large and grandiose, if not necessarily actually great — civic works of sculpture. I come to work, in fact, through the new Penn Station every day, and work in One Penn Plaza (yeah, me and those buildings!), overlooking (actually, straddling) the non-entity of a transport hub that now bears the Pennsylvania Station name as well as the depressing Madison Square Garden.

Pennsylvania Station

Then I went ahead and wrote this comment, and decided to recycle and touch it up a little here, for the benefit of my larger other audience.

To a large extent the manner in which the loss of these temples of transit compels so many of us is a testament to what we really think about a world ruled solely by utilitarian concerns. That latter, callous attitude toward the spiritual importance of environment on human existence, in the cities as much as anywhere else, is displayed by Alon Levy in the comments at the original post.

God help us in the soulless, bottom-line libertarian future that so many think they want!

Ironically, the utilitarian worldview is incapable of accounting for the long-term utility and welfare (in the microeconomics sense of the word) that derive from civic pride — the decline of which, from the 1950’s on, along with the decline in the quality of inner city life, surely must be linked to the decline of the humane in urban architecture.

And yet: As the (not so godless?) Alon says in a subsequent comment, “Ron Coleman, you’re the first person I see use the word spirituality to mean ‘preserving train station facades.’” Indeed: Many of these buildings were and are obsolete, and the cost of their respective upkeep, utility expense, restoration or retrofit, relevance to modern transportation need or all of the above would constitute a preposterous budget item for almost any public entity saddled with such costs. Only religious dogma, and perhaps theocracy, could justify such devotion.

Rail transport, despite its highly romantic appeal, is great for everyday commuting but is seldom of the choice of travelers from afar, for whom flying — even in its own diminished state as a culture and a humane experience — is a clearly superior choice. Most other travel remains, in America, highway-based, because Americans want to go where they want, when they want and with whom they want, and they want to get back home that way, too.

In addition, the cheap labor and lax or nonexistent building, fire, safety and access standards of the nineteenth century, which made it possible to erect and use these behemoths, are truly relics of a different age. So who is going to foot the bills to maintain these buildings as obsolete white elephants? Or is someone here volunteering for a special tax assessment so Detroiters can stare at their irrelevant grand terminal?

There’s the facts, Jacks.

I sure wish we had the old Penn Station here, though.

Comments at the original post.

First, let’s all us lawyers kill ourselves

This advertising campaign is, well, bad.  Very, very bad.

There is a certain irony, though, you know.

The defense representation being offered here is in fact completely legitimate — n0t only to sleazeballs, slime and creeps, who are constitutionally entitled to their defense (just not by me), but to people involved in all sorts of disputes (but typically divorces) who are wrongfully accused of being sleazeballs, slime and creeps.

But the choices made in these ads completely undermines that bona fide prospective, mainly because in the graphic, hyper-realistic and borderline pornographic pictures, the crimes being referred to are really happening.

Guess what, law firm?  People who have been wrongfully accused of these acts, or who desperately want the world (including the justice system) to believe the accusation is wrong, want to be represented by the lawyers who only have innocent clients.

And from these ads, that does not seem to be you.  Get it?

Turn in your wingtips.  Please.

Cross-posted on Right Wing News.

Cake that!

I read this laugh-out-loud (not “LOL,” which, for me at least, almost never involves actual laughter) article in the New York Times about cake-decorating disasters, mostly proving that you can never underestimate some people’s poor taste nor estimate the level of literacy required to work in a bakery.

Much of the joy in following Cake Wrecks comes from Ms. Yates’s wry assessment of every plopped-out flower and bug-eyed snowman. She is particularly savage about punctuation mishaps, like when a baker omitted an exclamation point after the inscription, “Way To Go Bob.” Ms. Yates wrote, “Just try to read this cake without sounding sarcastic. Yeah. Exactly.” Beneath a Father’s Day cake that starkly announced “1 Dad,” the caption read, “Of all the Dads out there, you are one of them.” . . .

“The person had probably called up and said, ‘Can you put Olympic rings on my cake?’ ” Ms. Mattson explained. Instead, the edible red letters read as follows, parenthesis and quotation marks included: (“Olympics Rings”)

I say this as a former cake decorator myself, with several years of high school Carvel ice cream cake artistry very literally under my belt. Thing is, I did finish high school.

Leben zol Columbus!

That’s the refrain of the old Yiddish song celebrating the New World — the land of Columbus (saved from revisionism here).

I had never quite understood why Columbus was named after a city in Ohio.  I mean, the place is pretty much landlocked.  But then I took Spanish and learned what I doofus I was — he was actually named after yogurt!

Or was it he was named after kishkes?

Either way it was evidently better than they had in the Old Country.

My September 11th

This five-post article was originally posted on Dean’s World.

I work in New York City. That morning I was late on the way into the office. I had to stop off at what was then called the “AT & T Phone Store” to replace my cell phone. I chose the one just off Sixth Avenue in Midtown, near the subway stop before the one I usually got off at. This was around 53rd Street — a good two and a half miles north of the financial district, if you don’t know New York.

It was a very bright, pretty day — I remember noticing this as I got out of the subway. I went into the store and found a clerk, and he was showing me the different models. And then his own cell phone, clipped onto his belt at the hip, rang. He asked me to pardon him, and took the call. Then he hung up and came back to the counter.

“My wife. A plane crashed into the World Trade Center!”

“Oh, gosh,” I said. I thought of the time during World War II when a bomber returning from Europe slammed into the Empire State Building. “What a disaster.” I had taken my family to the observatory at the Twin Towers just a couple of weeks earlier, to look at the whole world from the top of a building. The salesman and I shared a “tsk” and chose a phone, and completed our transaction.

I decided to walk over the Fifth Avenue, where my office was at the time. Two “avenue” blocks, about ten minutes of a walk, into the Rolex Building on 53rd and Fifth.

I went into the entrance on 53rd, through the cool marble lobby, up to the 12th floor, where my office was at the time. The elevator opened into our library, and the receptionist looked up.

“Did you hear?” she asked?

“About the accident at the World Trade Center?” I asked.

“Both buildings — another plane!”

Both buildings?

Another plane?

This was not an accident.

I walked past her to my office overlooking 53rd Street and switched on the radio.

This was something altogether different.

Part two here.

Attorney Ronald D. Coleman