Friday, May 28, 2010

New Subway Map Coming Soon

Map enthusiasts such as myself, stand by to go weak at the knees! Above image is the infamous Massimo Vignelli map of 1972 vaunted by some as a masterpiece, descried by others as an angular atrocity.

That Special Relationship

Above, a still from "The Special Relationship," about Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, a new HBO film starring Dennis Quaid and Michael Sheen.

Surely — and perhaps the movie deals with this — surely the really interesting special relationship in recent years between a British Prime Minister and an American President has been the one between Blair and George W. Bush? It was Tony's backing of George's bullshit that brought us the unnecessary Iraq War, support that convinced many people in both countries that maybe there was Something Really Important And Secret that the two weren't able to tell the public at the time, that made the invasion urgent and unavoidable; no one has yet unravelled why Blair got into bed with Bush so completely over Iraq.

In contrast, the Blair-Clinton relationship was never as cordial, though effective over matters such as Northern Ireland's peace process, which the film does examine, according to reviews I have read.

The still image above and the trailer reveal something else — something about this kind of movie. It's hard to watch without constantly thinking which actor is less convincing in appearance to the real person...

A book reviewed in today's Wall Street Journal argues that there are "Necessary Secrets," as its title puts it, things that governments rightly hide from the public. While I agree to a certain point, it becomes clear that the book is just another drum being banged by just another righty, in this case one who (snore) had to angrily wipe angry World Trade Center dust off his angry car, after 9/11.
Author Gabriel Schoenfeld brilliantly illuminates this fundamental dilemma in "Necessary Secrets." His inquiry, he confesses, was prompted by his visceral anger at the New York Times for revealing, in 2005 and 2006, two highly classified national-security programs: One tried to spy on the communications of terrorists by monitoring phone calls passing through U.S.; the other tried to follow the terrorist money trail by accessing international bank records.
Schoenfeld thinks the government ought to have taken the Times to court (reason alone for the Journal to favorably review his book). After the Blair-Bush relationship gave us the unnecessary Iraq War, I'd like the government to at least say "things are secret because..." as opposed to just shutting us all out.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Hell Gate Bridge

My favorite bridge, as seen recently from the Astoria, Queens, side of the water.

It really seems in need of a paint job: the color is supposed to be 'Hell Gate Red,' but looks faded to me.

Recent Photographs...

A police horse tethered under the High Line.

Eighth Avenue at 42nd Street, dusk.

From 1972...

I found this photo last night on Broadway near 79th Street. Absurd Person Singular was in the theater in 1972. I wonder who that woman is? I am also wondering who let that man out in those pants? You can see especially bottom right that this photograph was from the era of the rounded corner: very fancy!

Mmmmm... chocolatey!

Water from the Gulf of Mexico looks like something out of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory after a touch from B.P.'s caressing hand. B.P. had this new slogan a year or two ago: "B.P. ...beyond petroleum." Well, not for a long time yet.

When preventable disasters like this happen, we still have the luxury of complaining. What if, in the future, our choices are starker: if to maintain our standard of living in one part of the world we have to destroy, poison, another part completely?

Humanity is shaping up for a titanic 21st century crisis of some kind or other, but one that will boil down to a crisis of Capitalism, with international corporations on one side and a green alliance on the other. And initially, corporations will win, because they have, and make, all the money in the world, and the can deliver our creature comforts. Environmental policies and groups up to the present have only been able to offer us sticks and no carrots.

Corporations can afford armies of lawyers. So what's to stop them affording armies? We've already witnessed the privatization of war (Halliburton's no-bid Iraq contracts, Blackwater, sorry, Xe Services*, as Blackwater is now called, etcetera), and so, until humans line up and say enough, advanced Capitalism will seek new markets and new profits: will seek to do the equivalent of cutting off your legs and, (under new laws passed by Congress), force you to buy new legs.

Recognizing this means you're half-way towards winning. But you also need to do one more thing: read the last two stanzas of Robert Lugubrious Lowell's poem, Waking Early Sunday Morning aloud in a sort of Winston Churchill accent and make your jowls quiver (if you have any). The two stanzas are:

No weekends for the gods now. Wars
flicker, earth licks its open sores,
fresh breakage, fresh promotions, chance
assassinations, no advance.
Only man thinning out his kind
sounds through the Sabbath noon, the blind
swipe of the pruner and his knife
busy about the tree of life ...

Pity the planet, all joy gone
from this sweet volcanic cone;
peace to our children when they fall
in small war on the heels of small
war – until the end of time
to police the earth, a ghost
orbiting forever lost
in our monotonous sublime.

[*Note: Did Blackwater think that putting an X in your corp name would really terrify the infidel and the general public? What a bunch of school children!]