Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bigger is Better

It's no secret that I'm a fan of long titles in art. It's not the length in and of itself that is attractive to me, but the potential for a long title to transcend its being, its telos, and become something more. To become, in short, a story in itself.

Take this example, an upcoming movie with Benicio del Toro and Halle Berry called Things We Lost in the Fire. From what little I know about the film, I have no desire to see it; I've never liked Halle Berry much, and domestic turbulence is so played out (what can possibly transcend Little Children?). But the title is sublime. There is a story inherent in its six short words: a fire happens (metaphorically or not), things are lost, and someone survives to mourn those things. And it raises questions: What is the significance of these things? Why are we worried about things instead of people?

Also, just ordered a review copy of Denis Johnson's forthcoming novel, Tree of Smoke, which sounds incredible. Can't wait to tuck into it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Obama Bandwagon

Is George Packer supporting Barack Obama? He doesn't come right out and say it in this post, but he sure comes close. He even calls him "JFK Jr." If Packer's on the Obama train, that puts me a step closer to buying a ticket.

Related: An acquaintance from Harvard Law claims that the Obama campaign sent the campus an email asking them to stop calling Obama a "rock star," as it taints his image. If so, I want to get my hands on that email.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

At the zoo

Exactly a week ago, I was at the Gramercy Rose Bar, a very fancy Ian Schrager lounge in the Gramercy Hotel. On one wall, a Julian Schnabel print. On another, a Damien Hirst mosaic comprised entirely of butterfly wings. Chattering scenesters shot pool and talked about each other from across the cavernous room. They sipped $18 cosmos; Brad and I stuck with $9 beers.

We sit down with friends of friends of friends, and I get to talking with this Texan banker at CSFB. He had long, slicked hair and a gradually ascending brow line - he could have been an oilman instead of a risk management specialist. At one point he says, "When I look at my grades from Texas A&M, I can't believe I am where I am now." (Presumably, I was meant to take this as a statement of good fortune - his grades were bad, his job is good. Not the other way around.) But the money quote came a bit later, when he eventually asked me what I did for a living.

"Wow!" He exclaimed after I answered. "A real live journalist!"

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A small update - finally

Phew! Is it over? Are the t's crossed, the i's dotted - has the fun been had? Have we trotted gaily through the night enough? Have we reached a high enough score on Erotic Photo Hunt?

It's been quite a week. Anthony V. and Josh S. were both in town, visiting. FZ was calling regularly, asking about the decline of war since 1991. An editor demanded a draft of my proto-cover story by Friday. Workdays were long, nights were well-hydrated.

On Wednesday, a smarmy bar manager quizzed us all on palindromes. A "water craft?" That's a kayak (thanks Anthony). An alien soy product? UFO tofu, to be sure. We scored perfectly, ran the tables. Then plummeted to the bottom of the ranks in subsequent rounds. A tiny Alpine country strong in the Winter Olympics? Damn you, Liechtenstein! A long chain of islands off southwest India? Maldives, my dive trips are going elsewhere.

On Thursday Josh and I visited his sister at the new New York Times building. Visiting the architectural manifestations of major media outlets, to me, is like Jacko at a preschool.

Here you can just make out the small ceramic rods that cover the exterior of the building and make it shimmer, according to Paul G'berger.

Josh at the strangely colored entrance. Josh called his sister then approached the security guard. "Um, I'm visiting my sister," he said. "Who's that?" "Gabrielle S.," Josh told him. "Oh yeah, and what'd she say?" "She said to come on up." "So be it then." Don't judge - security has a few kinks to work out.

Notice how level the blinds are in Gab's office? That's because they're computer-controlled to ascend and descend with the sun, always blocking the harshest light.

This doesn't have anything to do with the Times or our visit there, but I thought it was a great little graffito, and also something of a mantra for Anthony.

It was sad to see both Josh and Anthony go on Friday. I had to make my goodbyes separately, since Josh had a 3:00 bus and Anthony didn't wake up until 2:30.

As for work, in three busy days I wrote a five-page memo and a 2,500-w0rd draft of my article. God bless New York.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Murdoch Wins

The inevitable has happened. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm not overly upset. He'll inject capital, and is probably smart enough not to mess (too much) with a good thing. I fear most for the Journal's China coverage, but there's no point in worrying now. Besides, I have a soft spot for the billionaire tyrant. His is such an epic personality. And he seems to be having fun.