Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Saturday, April 28, 2007

To Al Gore last night at UB's Distinguished Speakers Series. I was hoping for something different, but he did his "Inconvenient Truth" presentation, which really is pretty powerful. I never thought he was all that wooden to begin with-- cautious was his problem, and when he was VP he could cast that aside and really tear it up. In a September 06 New Yorker piece on Bill Clinton (I picked it up thinking it was current-- its a Collyer Brothers existence around here) ol'Bill talked about the necessity of "leaning into" Republican attacks. Gore gets that now, and was really effective. During the Q&A that followed a UB student got on her knees and begged him to run, perhaps not the best position to make that particular request, but I join in the sentiment.

CLA hasn't spent much time on the sidelines this rugby season, and has been a pleasure to watch. City Honors' team seems to have really come together-- they are going to the National Invitational Tournament again (although CLA's attendance in in question owning to scheduling conflicts) and I can't help think that they may be in contention this time. Last year the rain and consequent slow field conditions operated to their disadvantage. Their game was-- and remains-- built around speed. They had a breakaway runner (who made the national team this year-- only her second year playing) with jets, and several other players who could turn it on. Although they don't lack for size, and certainly never shy from contact, they were taken out of their game in Portland. The team is more cohesive this year, and deeper, I think. I'll be updating my flickr page with more photos-- it is a fantastically photogenic sport.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The transcript of the oral argument in Brendlin v. California. What it was like.

Although I read everything he writes, Bill Simmons gives me kind of a pain. Maybe it is because he has something close to what I think would be the perfect job. Maybe it's because he is just that much better at that job than I could be. In any event, Simmons is the first guy I've seen who mourns David Halberstam because he loved "The Breaks of the Game". Me too. Halberstam's other stuff is fine, but "Breaks" is the only book about the NBA that makes me care about pro hoops. (There are some decent college hoops books, but "Breaks" is better than those, too.) It is apparently out of print, which is a shame. Go to the library and read it, if you haven't.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Over at the Spree blog our fearless editor-in-chief has alerted the world to the release of a side called "Love Songs of the 70's" by no-one else than Donny Osmond. Cast your eyes down this set list, if you dare:

1. I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash
2. Sometimes When We Touch - Dan Hill
3. Let’s Stay Together - Al Green
4. Laughter In The Rain - Neil Sedeka
5. When I Need You - Leo Sayer
6. How Long - Ace
7. Mandy - Barry Manilow
8. You Are So Beautiful - Joe Cocker
9. Will It Go Round In Circles - Billy Preston
10. How Deep Is Your Love - Bee Gees
11. Alone Again Naturally - Gilbert O’Sullivan
12. If – Bread

In the comments there, I remarked that this is a pretty comprehensive list of horrible-- although I take it back about the Al Green number, and the Johnny Nash as well. Those, and I suppose the Billy Preston, are merely desecrations-- Donny Osmond doing his Pat Boone number on material originally recorded by people he no doubt regards as Sons of Ham. Eliz. helpfully adds a few numbers to the roster, but this is too big a subject for just one site, so I am opening it up here, too. What are the songs that Donny should start recording for Volume Two?

Under various titles the author of Bad Hair Days has been writing one of my favorite sites for years. She is a criminal defense appellate lawyer who works at a public defense firm, although she seldom writes about what she does, and really never writes about the law. She must be pretty good, though, and she argued an interesting case before the Supreme Court this week. I can't think of another writer who I would rather read on the topic of what arguing before the Supremes is like, and I hope she favors us with an account.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I hired a German Shepard to show me where the Rapid Rise yeast is kept-- turns out that stores keep yeast in three places: in the hippie section, in the aisle where the baking stuff is-- and in the dairy case. Who knew? The right yeast made a big difference with the no-knead bread, which was essentially consumed when I returned from the Squeaky Wheel Bowl-a-thon.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Lance Mannion writes about Indiana. What is it about the Hoosier State? My connection is both deep and non-existent. I worked for Birch Bayh's Subcommittee on the Constitution as an intern, and almost went to law school there. Bayh's loss to Quayle put an end to that notion, and to date I have not set foot in the state. Nevertheless, there must be some sort of tropism, because now EGA will be going to grad school in Bloomington. I'm really excited by the prospect of visiting the scene of one of my alternate realities, one of the roads not taken. When I consider that what got EGA to this place was her interest in modal logic my mind starts to whirl.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

If they gave out a prize for best Supreme Court Part, the judge I was just before might retire the trophy. A few months back I agreed to undertake an Article 78 against the City of Buffalo to have a curb cut permit issued on my block revoked. I'm an utter rookie at Article 78 proceedings, and am very gingerly feeling my way forward in the dark. Today's hearing on the respondent's motion to dismiss resulted in an extremely fair baby splitting, along with a timetable that was also completely reasonable. In all, a perfectly civilized day in court, working towards what I feel sure will be a fair result. I love it when the system works like that. It happens mostly when you have a judge like mine this morning-- intelligent, concerned with fairness, and patient. I say it all the time: temperament is the most important qualification for the bench. Watching the argument before ours I was struck by how carefully the Court handled the matter. Everyone in the courtroom got a little education on a statute I'd never had occasion to look at, and in the end it seemed crystal clear that the judge's decision was right and fair. It's a hard job when it is done right-- whenever I'm assigned in that part I feel good, because I know that getting it right is what they care about.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mafia Nickname Generator. Bill "The Tiger" Altreuter. Yeah, I like the sound of that. (Via Lawyers, Guns and Money.)

Happy Birthday to Robert Christgau -- one of the patron saints of Outside Counsel. (I should get around to composing a list sometime.)

I was happy to hear this morning that the Pulitzer people had honored Ornette Coleman-- and it is also good to know that a posthumous special citation was also made to John Coltrane. Looks like the jurors had a hip record collection. The Pulitzer has been playing catch-up for the past couple of years, and Trane honors the award at least as much as it honors him-- but it's still the right thing to do. Miles or Dylan next year? I propose Chuck Berry.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Just for the hell of it, I thought I'd see where I've been so far this year. The usual NYC/Mineola/Riverhead stuff is a routine part of most weeks, and hardly bears counting, but there have also been jaunts to Toronto, Miami and Los Angeles. To Baltimore over the weekend, to visit Loyola with CLA. They put on a nice program, the campus was pretty, and the students were all enthusiastic about their school. Nice new fitness facility, too. It occurred to me as we wandered around that back in 1975 I was faced with the same two finalists, and under circumstances similar to CLA's. That tidbit, fascinating though it may be to me, and to you, Internet, didn't seem to advance her decision-making process.

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Dylan Hears A Who" busted. It figures that it got shut down-- and it figures that it wasn't Dylan that did it. Chances are the Bard of Hibbing would find it funny. Actually, I suspect that Theodor Geisel would have been amused-- but the suits that supervise his estate aren't paid to have a sense of humor. Too bad, but I got my copy.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I can't find it right now, but somewhere Norman Mailer says that the reason he wrote "The Naked and the Dead" about the Pacific Theater was because he felt that an American wouldn't write the great novel about the war in Europe-- that the historical resonance of the destruction of that civilization was not something that a writer from our young culture could properly capture. Oddly enough, it may actually turn out that the greatest novel about World War Two was written by an American-- and that it has space aliens in it and a whole lot of other weird, science fiction stuff. As much as I like and admire "The Naked and the Dead", "Slaughterhouse Five" might be the greater achievement-- a book only Kurt Vonnegut could have written, and a book that manages, in its jejune American way to speak to precisely the things that Mailer knew he wouldn't be able to capture. I have come a long way on Vonnegut, who used to annoy the hell out of me. I thought he was facile, but now I know better how difficult that sort of breezy honesty really is. When you consider it, it is a very Vonnegut thing that he lived something like sixty years knowing that he was on completely borrowed time. I'm not sure what a suitable remembrance might be. Try to keep in mind that we are all on borrowed time, maybe.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

It is possible, I suppose, that Byron Brown is so naive that when his 16 year old son denied taking the family car and getting into an accident he really did believe him. I suppose he might have believed him even after it developed that whoever took the car had the key. And after it was learned that the videotape of the accident showed that the car was driving back towards the Brown house. And that the driver appeared to be a teenage African American who first walked back towards the scene, then fled, in the direction of the Brown house. That's pretty naive, though, and I think it odd that Brown also denied recognizing the jacket the person in the video was wearing-- what parent doesn't recognize his child's outwear? I can understand wanting to believe the boy's denial, but if the cops came to my door with any single one of those facts, I think I'd be a little more persistent in my questioning of my kid than Brown seems to have been. And I would have probably not filed a report with my insurer that denied permissive use simply on the basis of my kid's denial-- I wouldn't have believed my kid, is what it comes down to, even though my kids are quite honest with me. Instead, I would have encouraged my kid to be honest, by demonstrating to the kid that the facts established that the kid's story was false, and that the consequences of lying would be far worse-- for everyone-- than the consequences of getting into an accident and leaving the scene. Nobody was hurt in this mess, but we are left with a troubling question: is Byron Brown that naive? Or is he a liar, too? I don't like the questions, and I am afraid I am going to like the answers less. It is one thing to stand up for your kid-- everyone would have respected it if Brown had come out and said, "Hey, my kid screwed up, and he is soooo grounded." Instead, he made himself complicit, by denying that the person in the video looked like his kid, and by saying that it would have been impossible for the kid to have snuck back into the house. He didn't need to throw his son under the bus, and although leaving an accident scene is a serious offense, nobody would have accused him of being a deficient parent because his kid screwed up. Now, though, that's one of the things I think can fairly be said of the Mayor.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Stunning. The question of cover versions is largely an artificial issue, I think. Before the singer/songwriter thing took hold in the 60's every version was a cover version, pretty much. We could argue for days about what version of "Stardust" is best (well, somebody could), but the rules changed. Is the Hendrix version of "Watchtower" the best? Dylan thinks so, and so does everyone else, it seems. The notable thing is that there is thought to be something unusual about this. What to make of Brian Ferry's new side? Maybe it would have been more interesting if he'd done a set of more unfamiliar material is my first reaction. You know what I like? Cher's version of "For What It's Worth".

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I'm afraid it is time for another episode of, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Today, during a story on JAG officers giving advice in combat situations, NPR's Ari Shapiro said that the members of the JAG Corps "operate under the mantra, "soldier first, lawyer always'". While that is a fine sentiment, (and one that reflects my personal beliefs about our glamor profession) it is not a "mantra". It might be a motto, or perhaps a credo, but it is not a "mystic syllable, word or verse used in meditation and japa to quiet the mind, balance the inner bodies and attain other desired aims", or "the sacred name of God given by the guru to the disciple". Mr. Shapiro's use of the word "mantra" in this way suggests something entirely different than what he thinks he means. He is trying to express the notion that the concept that underlies the phrase is deeply ingrained in the JAG officers, and is fundamental to the advice that they give to their commanders/clients. What he communicated was something more along the lines of the Cowardly Lion clutching his tail in the haunted forest, muttering, "I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do." Or, perhaps more accurately, an airport nuisance chanting "Hari Krishna, Hari, Hari". I call for a moratorium on the use of the word "mantra" outside of its use in religion or meditation. It is clear that using it metaphorically has diluted it of any meaning.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

For years I have played a little game with the NYTimes Wedding Announcements page: I had to read them all until I hit the name of an Ivy League school. Most Sundays this meant that I only had to read one or two. Now I find that I have been missing out on the real thrills: what I should have been doing was keeping score. I find Gawker's system cumbersome, but irresistible.

Investment banker: 2
Both Investment bankers: 5
Job involving the word "banker" OR "investment": +1
Both have jobs involving the word "banker" OR "investment": +3
Management Consultant: 1

Parents from New York City or wealthy suburb in Connecticut: 1
New York Times employee: 1
State Department employee: 2
Bride is an elementary school teacher: 1
Works in media: 1
Ivy league graduate: 1 *
Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, Sorbonne: 2*
Both Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, Sorbonne: 5*
For each subsequent degree after a B.A.: 1
Ivy league B.A. with graduate degree at low-ranking local
college/university: -1

Bride "is keeping her name", "will continue to use her name professionally": -1
If there is a Jr., II, III or IV in a name: +2
If there is a "von" in a last name: +2

Monday, April 02, 2007

Spent yesterday cooking some things I'd been meaning to get around to. We started with David Eyre’s Pancake, which we'd seen in last week's NYTimes magazine. Easy, and a nice treat: make a simple batter from two beaten eggs, equal parts milk and flour, into a pan with melted butter, into a hot oven. Poof!

I moved on to these bacon buns, which turned out okay-- the recipe calls for " instant yeast", and, like the no-knead bread I've been experimenting with the yeast is treated as a dry ingredient. I think I am using the wrong stuff, because the crumb I am getting isn't quite right, but neither Wegmans' nor the Store for Hippies seems to have anything called "instant yeast". I was pleased that I remembered Jeffrey Steingarten's trick of allowing a portion of the recipe to rise in a measuring cup-- this gives a accurate read on when the dough has doubled in volume.

I had a trout fillet, and a beautiful piece of salmon, so I smoked both, to good effect. The trick with smoking fish is in the prep: brine the fish for 20 minutes or so, then dry it on a rack for two hours. Mindful of the strong flavor I got with wet chips last time, I went with dry wood yesterday, and got a flavor that was appreciably milder. The trout was done first, and made a nice sandwich with the buns. Come to find out, however, that CLA is not particularly fond of smoked fish-- or of smoked foods generally. I can see that this toy is going to be like the ice cream maker, and that soon people will be begging me to stop, already.

I served the salmon with latkes dabbed with crème fraîche, and fresh peas, the first of the season.

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