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William C. Altreuter
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

To a vigil last night about Charlottesville. This was, for the most part, an important event, and I am glad I attended. In the way of these things elected officials alternated with various religious leaders in discussing the issues we are confronted with, and made a number of good points. However, about two thirds of the way into it one of the shaman started talking about how Make America Great Again was a flawed concept because for many America has never been great. It wasn't great to the African slaves and their descendants, it wasn't great for immigrants, it wasn't great for Jews-- "Well," he said, "Not all of them. Some did all right for themselves." A murmur of disapproval rippled the air. The woman sitting next to me fingered the Star of David on the chain around her neck, and I thought to myself, "This is the heart of the problem. Bigotry is so deeply bred into our national psyche that it can and will bubble to the surface even in a church, even at a rally against bigotry. Honestly, there is a long road in front of us.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Let's deconstruct Nixon's "Resignation Lunch", shall we?

I agree with every word of this, but it doesn't go deep enough. Consider:

This is a lunch from a lost world, when grown men drank milk and fallout-shelter fare like a scoop of cottage cheese girdled by a pineapple ring (straight out of a can, no doubt) was still on lunch menus. The official White House emblem on the plate stirs unsettling memories of Hitler's dinner service, pilfered from Berchtesgaden by American G.I.'s. Did Nixon dine alone that day? (I imagine him eating alone in a pin-drop silence broken only by the clink of cutlery and the sound of swallowing, a Nixonian version of the aging astronaut eating his last supper in 2001.) Why the White House photographer, Robert Knudsen, captured this melancholy repast on film, we don't know, but in a better America the Resignation Lunch would, by an act of congress, be a fixture on the White House menu—a memento mori in cottage cheese and pineapple, designed to remind all who would be King of America that even presidential power must pass.
This is a lunch from a lost world, when grown men drank milk and fallout-shelter fare like a scoop of cottage cheese girdled by a pineapple ring (straight out of a can, no doubt) was still on lunch menus. The official White House emblem on the plate stirs unsettling memories of Hitler's dinner service, pilfered from Berchtesgaden by American G.I.'s. Did Nixon dine alone that day? (I imagine him eating alone in a pin-drop silence broken only by the clink of cutlery and the sound of swallowing, a Nixonian version of the aging astronaut eating his last supper in 2001.) Why the White House photographer, Robert Knudsen, captured this melancholy repast on film, we don't know, but in a better America the Resignation Lunch would, by an act of congress, be a fixture on the White House menu—a memento mori in cottage cheese and pineapple, designed to remind all who would be King of America that even presidential power must pass.
Would the White House chef have really used canned pineapple?

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Granted, a North Korea with nukes is unsettling, but there is no basis for believing that the regime is suicidal. As with any negotiation what needs to be done is to determine what the other party wants. In this instance I'd say it is likely that Kim Jong-un wants to stay in power. I think it is probable that this is what China would like as well. What's the unpredictable factor here? Well, to me it looks like it might be the only nation that has ever used nukes against an enemy.

Monday, August 07, 2017

To the Oak Orchard Creek in Medina for a kayaking run yesterday. Went with a largish group of nine, which sort of pointed up an issue with this activity: man, that's a lot of cars. Another issue is that putting the boats on the cars-- at either end- is a time consuming hassle that is as close as I have ever come to thinking that a pickup truck might be a handy thing to have. Once on the water, though, these concerns fade away pretty quickly. The water was high, and the creek was running fast, which meant that the description that said the run we took was a leisurely three hours took me an hour and a half. Stay in the middle of the channel and maneuver from there, and try to use the river's speed instead of trying to power out of trouble. It was the fastest water I've been on in my
kayak, and I was really pleased with how responsive it was.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Some random notes: Sam Shepard was such an avatar of quality that you just have to assume that the best lines in "Brownsville Girl" are his, not Dylan's. (Is Knocked Out Loaded the worst Bob Dylan record? It is certainly one of the worst sounding.)(I've got notes for an article on Dylan's collaborators that I should get around to writing.) Jeph Jacques' Questionable Content is a daily read. His other project, Alice Grove, has just wrapped up, and now you can read the whole thing without waiting a week between episodes. You really should-- it is terrific. Another good thing is Eric Loomis' ongoing Lawyers, Guns & Money series, "Eric visits an American Grave" Roy Cohn was Renée Richards' lawyer. Huh. Kelner used her as an expert once when I was working there-- another brush with tabloid characters during my NYC years. Was Anthony Scaramucci famous before? Because I must have missed that.

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