Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene

This is the view from my balcony at 7:00 PM tonite hours away from Hurricane Irene's arrival  in New York City.  The Hudson looks calm from here and the shiny new glass towers that have sprung up on Manhattan's westside will have a wonderful test of their state of the art glass windows.  Meanwhile, officials in the city have given no direct instruction to the hundreds of thousands of Manhattanites who live in high rise apartment buildings concerning the safety of their apartments.   Like a mantra, they have said that anyone above the 10th floor should move down to the 10th floor or below.  Just what are we supposed to do?  Knock randomly on a neighbor's door and say "howdy, what's in the fridge?"  Apparently a Category 1 hurricane wind gust on the ground floor becomes exponentially stronger the higher up one goes.

The entire far west side near the Javits Center is a construction zone with Hudson Yards development,  #7 train line extension,  and Javits Center renovation all going on.  Lots of potential projectiles on the ground everywhere.  DEVELOPING

Monday, August 22, 2011


There is no more stranger actor on the stage of American public life than United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas has sat on the court since 1991 and has become perhaps the most important player on the Robert's court according to a new article by Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker

Toobin is one of the few mainstream journalists that Thomas will even talk to, but despite lauding Thomas's influence we also get a few nuggets into the psyche of Justice Thomas. Thomas is still angry after all the years, aggrieved over the elites, aggrieved over affirmative action, aggrieved over the entire Anita Hill matter. Yet Toobin points out how most or all of what Anita Hill said was true and has been corroborated by countless others. Part of his rage must stem from his own sense that he is a fraud, that he lied in front of the entire world all the while using the race card--the thing that he himself was supposed to be so above.

We need only go back to Thomas's angry memoirs published in 2007:
“I was bitter toward the white bigots whom I held responsible for the unjust treatment of blacks, but even more bitter toward those ostensibly unprejudiced whites who pretended to side with black people while using them to further their own political and social ends.” So there you have it, Hubert H. Humprhrey was far more evil for black folk than Bull Conner. George McGovern far worse than George Wallace. This is the twisted world-view of Thomas, his wife and his buddies Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin--two of Thomas's best friends according to Toobin. We also learn once again about Thomas's close ties to right-wing Texas Sugar Daddy Harlan Crow who helped seed Virginia Thomas's Tea Party outfit.

Throughout the article Toobin discusses Thomas's "Originalist" catechism and we learn that he is far more dedicated to it than the verbose, publicity -seeking Scalia. Thomas' silence on the court during oral arguments (he has not asked a question in six years) is made too much of by his critics. There are no questions to ask when you have already made up your mind. We learn that for Thomas and his Tea Party brethren small government is the paramount cause. Some would ask Justice Thomas about his small government views as he takes his ax to Roe vs. Wade and into the bedrooms of gay Americans in his dissent in Lawrence vs. Texas.

Thomas's, railings at the elite are not at the rich fat cats that lavish him and his wife with gifts (he is the king gift taker on the court), no, he is still upset at Yale. We have never known exactly why after all these years. For admitting him into law school and giving him a sure-fire credential into the upper rungs of American power? Yes, I would certainly condemn Yale for that. Thomas says in the article that he doesn't do "the Ivies," and strikes a populist chord decrying that all current sitting justices went to Harvard or Yale. On this I agree with the fat man and Frank Rich that as our governing institutions have become even more "Ivied" over the past 3 decades (look at all Presidents after Reagan) not coincidentally the mediocrity of American leadership has accelerated. But Thomas is not really against elites, he's only against so-called liberal elites.

Toobin describes Thomas as having gained lots of weight since we last really saw him in 1991. And yes, like his wife he is morbidly obese and if actuarials were any indication perhaps there is coronary damage.   However, I would not count on it slowing him down just look at Dick Cheney. What I do know is that Clarence Thomas's rage will continue unabated as he plunders the Constitution to make it ever more safe for the Theocratic Plutocracy he craves. All he really needs now is a President Bachmann or Perry to help him.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Glass House

A few weeks ago, I finally made it to see Phiillip Johnson's famed "Glass House" in New Canaan, Ct.  The tour of the house begins at the Glass House visitor center across the street from the Metro North stop and then a 10 minute van ride to the Johnson estate.  The complex houses about 7 structures including his famed painting and sculpture galleries.  The house itself is a simple 1700 square foot open plan with little more than the timeless furnishings of Mies and some eccentric artworks about. The verdict on Johnson's career, life and work are all still points of great controversy.

His early politics seem unforgivable, his chameleon-like stylistic proclivities opportunistic but as a patron of important art he was as instrumental as anyone in the promotion of the New York School. But no one can hold the Glass House against him. It is modest, beautiful and  poetic and along with  Mies' Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois, the Glass House demonstrated that after the horrors of world war, modernism could provide the  underpinning of a new way to conceive of shelter and home.
All of the blue-chip paintings have been liquidated from the Johnson painting galleries in order to fund the complex, but Frank Stella's paintings (reportedly Johnson's favorite painter)
were not sold at auction.  They would have fetched millions but much less than the more expensive  Pop paintings that were sold did.  One Warhol remains, however, Andy's 1972 portrait of Phillip Johnson himself.