Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I was retained to petition our local court for an order directing the issuance of a subpoena pursuant to an out-of-state commission, a light pleasant task that will be easier next year.  When I'd secured the order and the subpoena I called my local counterpart on the matter to tell him the papers were coming. "I understand you want to domesticate discovery in this matter," he said, not knowing that I'd already done the necessary.  What was interesting about his remark, though, was the turn of phrase: "domesticate". I knew what he meant, and it sounded as though he was using the word as a term of art, but I have never heard it before. Is "domesticate" the accepted shorthand for the round-about description of what I'd done that I used in my opening sentence? Is it a term borrowed from another context?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Slate had an election game called Lean/Lock over the midterms campaign: you picked candidates, and the earlier you committed in a race, the more points you got for a correct choice.  I'm okay with my score:
37,775, putting me at 453 out of 9,494. The average score was 24,033, the median was 25, 985. I was unduly optimistic is what tripped me up: Alexi Giannoulians in Illinois, and Joe Stestak in Pennsylvania I should have seen coming, and I locked Russ Feingold in Wisconsin early, because I couldn't believe the Badgers would let him go. I should have seen the Ohio gubernatorial race better, too, but I only got two House races wrong.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm happy to report that Robert Christgau is writing Consumer Guides again. It's called Expert Witness this time, and he says he'll be updating on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

CLA had gone out, so A, LCA and I were left to watch "Stranger Than Fiction" by ourselves. I'd forgotten I'd seen it, and A fell asleep, but LCA and I stayed with it, because it is a charming movie. When it was over, LCA said, "Man, I'm really jonesing for some cookies," cookies having been an important plot device in the movie. It was only 9:30, and I was in the mood for a sweet myself, so I pulled on my jacket and walked down to the co-op.

It was snowing, the first real snow of the season; not a gentle pretty kind of snow, but the kind that pelts down like rain. When I first lived in Buffalo I was surprised by snow like that-- it comes down hard, harder than you'd think snow would come down.

We'd seen it earlier in the day. CLA and I had dropped A at the office so she could catch up on mail for an hour or so, then CLA and I had gone to South Buffalo so she could practice driving. The micro-climates in this town are confounding, and South Buffalo was getting hit. We were about a half hour into it (she's gotten pretty good) when A called, concerned about the weather. We told her we'd swing back and get her and as we were driving back towards downtown CLA said,"Sometimes I'm surprised that Mum is the one from Buffalo."

"What, I should be the one from here?" I said. "No," she explained, "But weather seems to freak her out. When you're from Buffalo you should just deal."

What I probably should have said was that A does a pretty good job of dealing, but that we are a little flinchy still. The past couple of years would do it to anyone. In a way it's like my auto accident last month: I approach intersections a little differently now.

Lancaster Avenue smelled like woodsmoke as I walked down the street, and I thought about how Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Up and down the block families were together, enjoying a warm hearth and each others company, just like we were, and if LCA wanted a cookie, well why not go get some cookies? When I got in I warmed them in the microwave and brought them to her upstairs with a glass of milk.

Friday, November 26, 2010

EGA reports that there was green bean casserole with mushroom soup and those crispy fried onions, and  sweet potatoes with marshmallows, but no race.  Too bad.  CLA and I missed running with her.

There are a lot of things to love about the Oldest Continuously Run Road Race in North America, but I think one of the chief things I like is that it is filled with people who have come home and are glad to be here.  Everywhere you look there are kids wearing something representing their college, and frequently their college sport-- USC lacrosse, IU fencing, a lot of Geneseo cross-country, Arizona.  And, of course, Smith Crew.11044 finishers this year-- entries were capped at 12,500 and were closed a week ago. Ten years ago, the year of the surprise November storm, there were 3506, which was as small as I've seen it, I think.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Even though I don't need to go anywhere, I'm tempted to fly somewhere on Wednesday, just to participate in the body scan protest.

Here's how it breaks down for me, I guess. There are things that the Obama Administration hasn't done that disappoint me. I'd like GitMo closed, now. I'd like an unequivocal rejection of torture. I'd like the door slammed on Don't Ask/Don't Tell (and the repeal of the odious Defense of Marriage Act). I'd like it if Obama were better at getting his message out, instead of being consistently outflanked by Blue Dogs, Republicans and nuts with radio and television shows. I could go on-- I have a long list. But what I really want is to be able to keep my shoes on when I'm in an airport. I'd like to bring my tube of frickin' lip balm on the plane. I'd like it if I got the sense that Obama thought that people are smarter than the Bush Administration believed, and quit subjecting us to the stupid security theater we've been living with. Code Orange. Please. I'd like it if the President said, "This is stupid. Sorry for the inconvenience," instead of saying that body scans and pat downs are the only effective security measures available, because you know what? I don't believe it. And I hate being played for a chump.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I guess it doesn't take that much to make me happy because watching the Bills beat a Bengals team that has only been able to muster 2 wins worked just fine for me. Also, I see no reason to think Ryan Fitzpatrick is anything but a capable QB. Good arm, good head, what's not to like? Off the top of my head I can name ten quarterbacks who are starting elsewhere I wouldn't trade him for, and if I thought about it for five minutes I'll bet I could come up with a few more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good night for the lively arts. We were at the City Honors Revue, choreographed by LCA (video link to follow). Meanwhile, in MA, CLA was at her first Dylan concert. She reports that "it was like seeing the real Santa Claus.". Setlist:

1. Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking
2. Shooting Star
3. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
4. Spirit On The Water
5. Rollin' And Tumblin'
6. Tangled Up In Blue
7. Honest With Me
8. Can't Wait
9. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
10. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
11. Highway 61 Revisited
12. Workingman's Blues #2
13. Thunder On The Mountain
14. Ballad Of A Thin Man
15. Jolene
16. Like A Rolling Stone

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On the one hand, Charlie Crist's proposed pardon of Jim Morrison seems like a pointless exercise. On the other hand it may be, like Mike Huckabee's pardon of Keith Richards, arguably a good-faith effort by a conservative Republican to come to grips with the culture war that has been waging in America for the last 50 years or so. Both Crist and Huck are of an age (Crist is a year older than I am; Huck is two years older). Rock'n'roll as a symbol of cultural decline doesn't resonate in quite the same way with people in their 50's as it did in the 60's. I suppose it is worth noting that nobody is stepping forward with a pardon for Chuck Berry (or James Brown for that matter), and I can't help but think that both Crist and Huckabee are currently outflanked on the right. The latter point troubles me inasmuch as it implies that both of these middle aged white guys may actually be moderates on the current spectrum-- they aren't moderate to me, but I doubt that Meg Whitman would have made pardoning old rockers a concern. The whole thing is weird: Republicans are at their most dangerous when they become involved in popular culture.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The big Rolling Stones single of the summer was Mick singing over an old Keef riff. Decent enough riff, I suppose, but no "Brown Sugar". Dylan has just released a boxed set of demos from 1962-64. The Great Lost Bruce Springsteen Album just dropped. I'd have been glad to have any of these back when they were new, but now, 20 or 30 or 40 years on, I think I'd like some new music, please. I consider myself a bit of a Dylanist, but I have no need for the Witmark demos-- this is ground that has been covered. "Plundered My Soul" assuming that there was a lyric back then, would have been the weakest track on "Exile". And the Springsteen? When "Darkness on the Edge of Town" was released I thought there was an argument to be made that it represented his best work. Now what I hear is the stiff, unimaginative drumming, something that has troubled me about Springsteen's material since "Born to Run". It is better than "Born in the USA", and leaner than "The River", but I doubt that it is the go-to Springsteen side for most people. I guess it is a coherent artistic statement, and it probably wouldn't have been if he'd included "Fire" or "Talk To Me", or something, but maybe I'd play it more now if that sort of stuff had been on it in the first place.

Who's playing the half time show at the Super Bowl this year?

Monday, November 15, 2010

There are a lot of little markers of celebrity which I have fantasized about: back in the 80's I wanted to model for one of those black and white Gap tee shirt advertisements, for example. Being asked to guest edit the Best American Essays collection would be another. My travel schedule was such that I got to 2010 collection a bit early this year, a dependably worthwhile volume suitable for reading on any form of transportation not involving horses. Christopher Hitchens is the guest editor, this yeara writer that I don't feel I get most of the time. Is the point that he's English? Is it that English people probably think he's American? I'm surprised that I've read as much of his output as I have, and I guess it's because he is chiefly an essayist, and because he shows up in publications that I follow. The job of guest editor seems like pleasant work: the series editor, Robert Atwan, culls through the submissions for the year, then hands a stack over to the guest editor who picks the finalists and writes an introduction. The introduction can be tricky, because it should comment on the form, (at this point I award a mental bonus to writers who avoid mentioning Montaigne), and it should define the theme of the collection. I think the essay that will stay with me from this set will be Elif Batuman's account of attending a Tolstoy conference. Batuman's trip to the conference, held on Tolstoy's estate, included a long flight, so she dressed in sweatpants, a tee shirt and flip flops,so that she could could sleep comfortably on the plane. Naturally her luggage is lost, so she spends the first few days at the conference in this get-up. The other attendees assume that she dressed this way because she was emulating the eccentric Tolstoyans, who dressed simply and wore sandals year-round. Tolstoy is the alpha and omega of this collection, evoked again in the final essay, James Woods' piece on George Orwell, a Hitchens favorite.

Friday, November 12, 2010

If I read about a movie that piques my interest, I add it to our Netflix queue. Sometime latter it arrives in the mail, and usually I have no idea why I thought the damn thing would be something I wanted to see. Sometimes it works out, but most of the time I'm just left puzzled. Last night was an odd exception. The movie was John Carpenter's "Dark Star". I'd read something about how it had been very influential to something or someone, but I couldn't for the life of me recall what. It looked like it was about some astronauts who are really into the Grateful Dead, and it reminded me of the Flaming Lips' "Christmas on Mars", but I knew that couldn't have been why I'd wanted to see it. (I'm glad I've seen Christmas on Mars, but not even Wayne Coyne's mom would be interested in his influences.) And then, enlightenment. About a third of the way into it I realized that this was the template for Ridley Scott's Alien. In fact, the late Dan O'Bannon was the screenwriter on both. It would be fun to teach the two movies, which were only made five years apart. Dark Star was a low budget affair, a step away from a student film, and Alien had all the bells and whistles, but they are both doing a lot of the same things, and asking the same sort of questions. Each is, in its way, an equally valid work.

Monday, November 08, 2010

I'm looking forward to reading Keith Richards' autobiography, but in a way I feel as though it has been so thoroughly rebutted by this piece, in which a guy named Bill Wyman ((who is not that Bill Wyman)) channels Mick Jagger's thoughts on Keef's memoir that no more needs to be said. It is beautifully done:

"It is said of me that I act above the rest of the band and prefer the company of society swells. Would you rather have had a conversation with Warren Beatty, Andy Warhol, and Ahmet Ertegun … or Keith, his drug mule Tony, and the other surly nonverbal members of his merry junkie entourage? Keith actually seems not to understand why I would want my dressing room as far away as possible from that of someone who travels with a loaded gun. And for heaven's sake. No sooner did Keith kick heroin than Charlie took it up. In the book Keith blames me for not touring during the 1980s. I was quoted, unfortunately, saying words to the effect of "the Rolling Stones are a millstone around my neck." This hurt Keith's feelings. He thinks it was a canard flung from a fleeting position of advantage in my solo career, the failing of which he delights in. He's not appreciating the cause and effect. Can you imagine going on tour with an alcoholic, a junkie, and a crackhead? Millstone wasn't even the word. I spent much of the 1980s looking for a new career, and it didn't work. If I had it to do over again I would only try harder."

It is an impressive feat to make Mick Jagger a sympathetic figure, but Wyman accomplishes it with the sort of breezy ease that tells me it was a hard bit of writing to pull off. I guess it is pretty much accepted these days that Keef is responsible for most of what is best in what we think of as the Stones at their best, but as Christgau says, "[A]s the Stones defined it, neotraditionalism takes concept, and no matter how fucked Mick is, concept would seem to be his department."

Sunday, November 07, 2010

To Las Vegas for AHIA last week, on which more anon. (AHIA is always a good program; this one was exceptionally so.) I was in the air as A and LCA were at the Hot Club of Detroit show-- only the second of Bruce Eaton's Art of Jazz shows that I've missed. Bruce was double-booked, and had to pass on Dylan in Rochester-- the setlist suggests to me that I'd have preferred the Hot Club show. (Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 is on my bottom five Dylan songs list, and come to think of it, so is Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power).

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Anti-Prohibition party only managed 22,775 votes, and didn't make the cut, but Jimmy McMillan of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party got about 57,000 votes (compared with 13,355 four years ago). Lucky us-- Jimmy is going to be a perennial.

What's really interesting is that Carl managed a higher percentage than recent candidates who challenged incumbents: Andrew O’Rourke (32 percent), who was running against Gov. Mario M. Cuomo in 1986; Pierre A. Rinfret (21 percent) who challenged Mr. Cuomo in 1990; Peter F. Vallone against Gov. George E. Pataki, a Republican, in 1998, and H. Carl McCall who challenged Mr. Pataki four years later (both got 33 percent). Paladino pulled down 34%-- I haven't seen a breakdown by party line. That's notable-- he tapped into something, and a better run campaign might have gotten some real traction. If nothing else I think it is an indication that New Yorkers are pretty disgusted with Albany.  Will it make a difference? I'm not so sure. Turnout was low-- under 30% in NYC, about 40% statewide, and 44% in Erie County. In the heat of the moment it seemed like people were being swept up in it all, but really most people weren't paying attention.

UPDATE: They are still counting, but it looks like the Rent Is Too Damn High Party may not make the cut. Also, the Conservative Party apparently did well enough to move up to Row C.

I'm not any kind of hoops fan at all really, but I am a huge fan of David Halberstam's The Breaks Of The Game-- maybe best sports book ever written.  Part of what makes it great is that Halberstam understood the characters so well, and conveyed that understanding so deftly. One of the best characters was Maurice Lucas, who played his college ball at Marquette. Halberstam's anecdote about Luke's time there was telling: Luke thought the white boys he was surrounded by were peculiar because they drank a ton of beer, and when they weren't drinking beer they talked about how much beer they drank. A whole school of comedy has developed from that sort of observation. When Lucas came to the Trailblazers he usurped what Halberstam described as the prerogative of the team's Big Man, Bill Walton, and was taped by the trainer last. Details like these made me feel like I understood something about these people and the game that I never knew. Charley Pierce adds to my store of knowledge about Maurice Lukas by fessing up to being one of the white guys who was at Marquette at the same time. Sadly, he does so in furtherance of reporting on Lukas' death, at 58, of bladder cancer.  It is odd that I feel this sense of loss, but a tribute, I guess, to David Halberstam as well as to Maurice Lukas.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I was 64 at my polling place at 8:03 AM. Looks like there's going to be quite a turnout. I was pleased that the clerk pointed out that the ballot had two sides: that's likely to mean that the Prop for reduction of the County Legislature will do well.

Monday, November 01, 2010

I sure didn't see San Fran in 5, but they played a hell of a Series. It was a pleasure to watch.

Everybody I know votes whenever they have a chance, so maybe nobody who reads Outside Counsel needs this, but if you aren't sure where your polling place is, now you have no excuse.

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