Not to defend Cruz or contradict Claire. But. Context: Cruz slamed the POTUS for rejoining the Paris Peace accords, said he cared more about the people of Paris than Pittsburgh.

  Cruz is saying Paris / Pittsburg because they both start with P. But yes, he’s using Paris as a stand-in for European thought leaders of a sophisticated manners and Pittsburgh as a stand-in for an American city.
  I don't think "authenticity" is necessarily conferred by living in the country, but I do believe it helps.
  I don't think many Americans reject the idea of Paris. Unless you think the bad, bad people of the 1/6 Capitol Incursion represent half the country.
  Here is your pith and your nub.

And now, I will commit the same sin, which is to write about a place, instead of living in it.

If a politician criticizes the mindset of "Paris," I expect it's a reference to the thin stratum of cozy folk who rule the country, and also believe in all the transnational booshwa that characterizes EU utopianism. (Or is used as a cynical mask to advance national and personal power.) I am not required to respect any "progressive" thought-leader of Paris anymore than I am required to say “my liege” to a baboon that loped into Versailles and plopped his bottom on a throne.

But that's not the point. She's right about Paris being the seat of arts and culture Paris is beautiful, but its beauty is an artifact of its past.

I know Paris has it all over most American cities in terms of beauty and urban wonderment, if you’re into centralized homogeneity or order - and I am, when it works as well as Haussmann’s Paris, but no one could ever do it again. The old standards of humane beauty and grace were tossed over for the usual post-war anti-human monstrosities, and this extended to all the other arts as well. So you have a culture incapable of creating a certain kind of beauty pronouncing themselves more enlightened because they have come up with some that fails to equal it on every possible level.

I’m sure there’s some lovely modern architecture in Paris. Few people go to Paris to seek it out. Only the die-hard architectural masochists feel required to make a pilgrimage to the Pompideu HVAC Museum:

I love the signs that point to the entrance. Because it’s not apparent how you get in. Unlike, say, these old wedding cakes:

I’m hardly an old Paris hand, but I bet those wall-holes on the ground floor get you inside.

Then there’s the Mitterand Library. The four buildings stand like open books, which is nice. They have a serene, spare quality, and also would not be out of place as the HQ for the advanced species that has colonized earth, eliminated 92% of the population, and now rules with a gentle hand because the survivors know the death rays strike without warning or sound.

The entire thing is elevated on a podium that makes you walk up a huge flight of stairs, and the general effect is to make everyone feel small and insignificant compared to the contents of the library, or the memory of Mitterand.

There's no street life. This is the work of a class of people that has removed itself from the actual world, and is indifferent to whether you know it.

Their exercises in Post-Modernism showed they’d completely lost their facility with classical motifs:

To be fair, I think a furriner did that accretion of hideousities.

As for Pittsburgh, it has its moments. And it has scenes which are uniquely American:

Is that more humane? In context, yes, and in spirit, yes. A bit more, anyway. That’s the PPG building. Philip Johnson. Never been there, but always found it . . . amusing. In his early post-modern phase he decided (or perhaps his partner decided) that it would be splendid to pretend it’s a Gothic building, and give pointy bits and psuedo-crennelations.

The Google street views make it look like a holographic projection. It’s not really there. but it is, and for all its kitsch, at least it aspires, connects, and attempts to relate to history.

Which brings me to this Paris concert hall, and the idea of Europe as synonimous with Grandeur And Splendor Which True Murcans Must Reject:

Do you get the sense of some alien creature blindly advancing on the city, its tentacles dripping with silvery ichor?

Which brings me back to the idea Claire expressed: the sentiments she gleaned from the remark about the values of the Parisian elect "are not the mark of a healthy and self-confident society." I think one could say the same about the structure above. It doesn't just rejects the norms and forms of history; it erases them and insists they never were.

Perhaps these are the marks of a society that loathes itself - either for what it was, which it feels was characterized by inquities and inequities, or for what it is, which is not as great as it used to be when we were awesome. The contradition can drive one barmy.

You can't unmoor Parisians from the past, but you can dissolve the bonds that carry the past into the future. The city becomes a bustling pretty crypt, full of altars to gods no one belives in.

What's left as a belief system? Statism, Art - which is either ancestor worship or institutionally "disruptive" modernism - and the notion of the Perfected Future, in which men in suits and their severe but glamorous wives go to structures like the one above and sit through a twelve-tone opera with a blank face.

Or they hear Beethoven, and congratulate themselves for appreciating it, and never give a thought to why none of the works of the modern age seem fit vessels for his spirit.




It’s 1960.

In the church library there was a western novel called “The Boy from Johnny’s Butte.” How we snickered at that. Butte! On a book cover! Johnny’s Butte!”

Lots of local news, which is wise. No major national newspaper gave a tin fig for the goings on of Butte.

By the time the newspaper gets around to “hope fading,” you know they’re gone.

The story:

The Coalbrook mining disaster is the worst mining disaster in the history of South Africa. The disaster occurred in the Coalbrook coal mine of Clydesdale Colliery on 21 January 1960 at around 19:00 when approximately 900 pillars caved in, almost 180 metres underground. The mine is situated in the Northern Free State, 21 km south west of Vereeniging. About 1,000 miners were in the mine at the time and 437 died after being trapped, while the rest escaped through an incline shaft. The miners were suffocated by methane gas and crushed to death by rockfall.

Miners felt a strong blast wind, many of whom rushed up to the surface but were instructed to return underground or face imprisonment. Only two miners refused to go back underground.

With segregation being a policy of governance for the Apartheid regime, the Workmen Compensation Act entitled a white widow to her deceased husband’s pension fund, while a black widow was only granted a lump sum from the mining company.


  Get that thing out of my mug, it’s my gut that hurts

Didn't go well.

Chough Pyung-ok (also Cho Pyung-ok or Cho Byeong-ok; 1894 – 1960) was a South Korean politician.

Coronary thrombosis post-op did him in. Second time the guy running against the sitting president of South Korea had kicked. How about that.

  A story like this lands on page one, you might want to leave town.

Dr. Downing cured them all. His elixir cured blindness.





Strap in:

Robert Vernon Spears (June 26, 1894 – May 2, 1969) was a naturopath who is alleged to have placed a bomb aboard National Airlines Flight 967, an aircraft which disappeared over the Gulf of Mexico on November 16, 1959, killing 42 people.

Spears had a long history of crime, having been arrested 17 times under 14 different aliases. He had become financially successful in Texas as a naturopath, even becoming the head of the Texas Naturopath Association in 1954. But in 1957 he was expelled from the organization in a bribery scandal. He moved to California and took up hypnotism, his business was with a doctor performing abortions (which were then illegal in the U.S.). He was charged with three felony accounts and was set to stand trial in Los Angeles on December 3, 1959

Investigators learned that William Taylor, a fellow felon and longtime criminal accomplice of Spears, had boarded Flight 967 using a ticket made out to "Dr. Spears." The theory arose that Spears, desperate to avoid trial and wanting a fresh start, had tricked Taylor (perhaps through hypnosis) into boarding the aircraft with a piece of luggage containing a bomb; when the aircraft crashed, it would be assumed that Spears was on board. His wife (who had just given birth to twins) would then cash in an insurance policy for $100,000 on Spears' life.

Alex Haley might have read the story, don’t you think? Might this be the inspiration for Airport?

Now, the twist that’s straight out of fiction:

However, Taylor himself purchased $37,500.00 worth of life insurance at the airport; when his ex-wife attempted to collect on that policy, authorities were notified. It was determined that Taylor had boarded the flight using a ticket issued for Spears.

Spears was eventually arrested in Phoenix after being turned in by a fellow naturopath in Arizona. Due to lack of evidence, however, Spears was never charged with any offense in relation to the Flight 967 crash.

Spears died in Dallas, Texas on 2 May 1969 of coronary thrombosis.


Narrator: they did not turn back


Pops is hammered

The baby boom coincided with a boom in smart-alecky kid cartoons. I think only Dennis remains.

One of the few female cartoonists of the era. A bit of bio here.

Interesting: I can’t find anything about a Bow theater.

A Silverbow drive-in, yes, but I don’t think drive-ins opened at noon.

The Beatnik of Wall Street!


That'll do. See you tomorrow.




blog comments powered by Disqus