Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I should get back to writing something about the Law sometime. Would it count if I complained about the single-spaced papers I got the other day? What about if I added that the author of these papers turns out to be one of those people who put things between quotation marks for emphasis? Don't you "hate" that? On top of that, this character is one of those people who never learned the rule about "its". Every time he wants to make "it" plural it's like a thumb in the eye. I mean, please. We are in federal court. They have rules about margins, and spacing, and probably about apostrophes. Why hasn't the Clerk of the Court stepped in and done something?

In Bob Dylan related news today, fans of "Theme Time Radio" should check out "Dreamtime-- Commentary on Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour". Talk about niche programing, and yet it works. I will absolutely be following up on the recommendation to pick up on the "Invisible Republic" collection.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dylan's Greenwich Village time is probably the most over-documented phase of his career, but I'm interested to read what Suze Rotolo has to say about it. She has kept her silence well, and if she wants to write about Dylan now, some fifty years on, well it hardly seems as though she is taking advantage of a long-ago lover

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Although I haven't made a dedicated point of it the way Buffalo Pundit once did, I find that I have directed my share of snark at Buffalo News columnist Mary Kunz Goldman. The other day Pundit reported that she is now blogging, and that her site is "well written and funny, and well worth the addition to the blogroll". Certain that there was no way this could be true, and filled with confidence that I'd be able to find something mean to say I clicked the link. I found that her blogging is charming. I returned to BP and commented accordingly, noting, "I’m struggling with how to process this."

She has seen fit to quote that remark in her sidebar, with a link.

You win, Mary. I got nothin'.

The smart money for the over-under at Lawyers, Guns & Money was 8 percentage points. I was in the car when the polls closed in Pennsylvania, and when I heard that the turnout favored women, I was glad I hadn't followed my gut and taken the under. HRC attracts a motivated group, there's just no getting around it. I know a lot of women who feel very strongly that this is the candidate they have been waiting a lifetime for, and I guess what that means is that Obama isn't really going to have much of a choice. Hillary can't win, and won't quit, and that means that she is the only choice that can be made for VP. It could work. It unifies a closely divided base, and there is no doubt in my mind that Clinton would be better in a debate than anyone McCain is likely to pick-- and better than Obama would be. Bill Richardson will be disappointed, and probably a few other people too, but there just doesn't seem to be any other choice that will secure a win in the general. I could live with Senator Clinton as VP- she has established herself as a good colleague in the Senate, and although to me that is damning her with faint praise, when it comes time to push the next legislative agenda, she'd be good to have in the trenches. Actually, in the "friends close/enemies closer" sense, she'd be better to have as VP than chairing a committee. It'd give New Yorkers an interesting opportunity to find a replacement (now that it won't be David Patterson). As I've said often, I like the idea of Hillary Clinton-- and as VP she'd be more conceptual. Too bad if neither one of them wants to do it that way-- it is is pretty clear that this is a compromise the rest of us can live with.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

And speaking of the music biz, it is early days yet, but a contender for my Personal Hit Single of the summer is Duffy's "Mercy". (There's a fun video here.) This is the kind of thing, it seems to me, that it takes a label to break, and I'm fine with that. The history of popular music is littered with artists who got ripped off by their labels, but there are just as many who got clipped by their managers, or by someone else-- being a good business person is a distinct skill set for musicians, just as it is for lawyers, or anybody else. Good management hears a singer like Duffy, says "I can sell that", and then we get a cool song.

On a recent "Theme Time Radio Hour" Pulitzer Prize winning DJ Bob Dylan was talking about how unfortunate it is that there are no B-sides any more. As usual, he is quite right: what a serendipitous pleasure the B-side was. I like Duffy's "Warwick Avenue" so much that this year I think I'll nominate both a Personal Hit Single and a B-side (even though "Warwick Avenue" is an A-Side in the UK. Hey, singles with two hits are a venerable tradition too).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Interesting article on the changed business model for popular music. Older acts are the big concert attractions, and touring is where the money is. This has probably been true for jazz musicians for a couple of generations, of course, and is probably more true than ever for jazz, but it's a reality for rock too, and it's the "heritage acts" that are cashing in. Recorded music made an artifact-- the recording itself-- into a new art form, but the wheel has turned. I thought it was interesting that younger acts aren't necessarily putting on the sorts of shows that they need to in order to fill the big venues. Spectacle is a big part of what people are plunking their bucks for, and that's certainly a different skill from songwriting of guitar slinging. When you look at video of "Greetings From Asbury Park" era Springsteen it is pretty clear that he'd figured it out-- he knew how to perform for an audience and how to make records, and that combination and some patience on the part of his label made it happen for him. There are acts out there that can do this-- The Supersuckers come to mind-- but it is a complex blend. A certain kind of fan is always going to be there for the musicianship, but playing for them isn't going to buy a house in Malibu.

As we were driving in this morning Fleetwood Mac's "Hypnotized" came on, and I mused about that band. We'll never see anything quite like that again is my feeling. Basically a rhythm section which was defined by whoever rotated into the songwriter/guitarist chair, who'd have the patience with an act like that? Back when I was in college, just before they became the biggest thing in the whole world ever, a copy of "Bare Trees" in someone's collection was an indication of taste and discernment, particularly if there were one or two additional Fleetwood Mac sides on the shelf next to it. "Kiln House", maybe, or maybe "Mystery to Me". There were a lot of bands like that-- FM radio staples. Nobody ran out to buy "Future Games", trust me, and it's hard to believe that Reprise kept them under contract. Because they did a lot of records ended up being sold, and it may even be true that because a lot of records got sold some artists who wouldn't have gotten a shot were subsidized.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Chief Judge Judith Kaye and her judge pals are suing the State of New York over judicial salaries. You know what? Nobody puts a gun to your head and makes you become a judge. In fact, it goes the other way: when someone wants to become a judge, that person goes around to all of his or her friends and asks them for money. (Actually, they get their friends to do it for them.) I suppose there is a sense in which judges might be said to be underpaid, but it's indoor work, with no heavy lifting, and most lawyers I know would swap billable hours for the pension (which is fabulous) and the health plan (which can't be beat), and find a way to struggle along with a six figure salary, and people standing up whenever you enter a room. How about this? You can have a raise when we go to merit selection.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I've been liberal in my praise of Ron Rosenbaum in the past, and I was sorry when he and the New York Observer parted ways. He is a versatile journalist, and a spellbinding Dylanologist, and the every-other-week format of his Observer column, "The Edgy Enthusiast" was perfect for him, and if he occasionally lapsed into a piece about his cat, well, it happens to everyone, I suppose.

I'd like to know what the story was behind his departure, but I doubt we ever will. These days he's blogging, and turning in an occasional piece for Slate, and he is starting get on my nerves.

The problem is that he is falling into a rut. You can practically write your own Ron Rosenbaum piece lately, just by following a template: "I have always [loved, enjoyed, believed] [something about something, preferably very high-brow, like Shakespeare or very low-brow, like lox and bagels]. I think there's a reason (and a [insert adjective implying some deeper meaning, such as "epiphany" or "revelation" or just "deeper meaning") inherent in [whatever we are talking about], which I'll get to. But first let me talk about why I find [whatever it is] so seductive in the first place."

Be sure to include plenty of digressive literary allusions, drop a few names, maybe mention your time at Yale, and don't forget to flog your own books and you have the thing practically written.

Somewhere in this article about Errol Morris' "Standard Operating Procedure" I'm sure there's a trenchant point. I just don't have the strength to go looking for it. He's a better, more interesting writer than he has been lately, and it is disappointing to see him lapse into self-parody.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Since I have just been informed that I came in dead last in the NCAA Pool I was in (picks and analysis here), I am pleased that my abilities as a prognosticator have been somewhat validated by the announcement that Bob Dylan has been honored with a Pulitzer Prize.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The hilarious part about a McCain-Rice ticket is that it would make sense in terms of their policy goals. Those policies are demonstrably disastrous, and unpopular to boot, but that really wouldn't be the point, would it?

It seems to me that the notion that this tandem would have cross-over racial appeal is off the mark, although I suppose if HRC somehow got the nomination she'd really only have one option to fill out her ticket.

Back to the GOP, though. The entire strength of McCain-Rice would be on foreign policy. McCain admits he doesn't know anything about economic policy, and Condy has no background in it either. It seems to me that the economy is the big unresolved issue in this election, isn't it? I mean, we've figured out the war (Bad idea. We hate it.)This pairing essentially amounts to saying, hey, you 22% of the electorate that still likes the way W and Cheney have things set up, here's your chance to get 4 more years! I don't see that as a big selling point.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

What does it tell us that the presumptive Republican nominee for President graduated at the bottom of his class? I mean, I suppose it all has something to do with normal bell distributions, maybe, although it seems to me that fifth from the bottom is pretty far down the curve. Couldn't they have found someone who was in the 48th percentile maybe? It's interesting to think about when the Republicans started nominating stupid guys-- it was after Nixon, who was too smart by half. Gerry Ford wasn't all that stupid, but he came across as a dope, and then St. Reagan. They'd have you think that Ronnie was smarter than he seemed, but I'm not buying it. I'd be the first to admit that success in school is not necessarily an indication of actual intelligence, or even a particularly good predictor of success in life, but wouldn't you think the Republican Party would take a flier on someone with better than a C- average once a generation or so? Let's add it up: McCain was a lousy student, and a Navy pilot whose principle distinction before he was shot down and captured was reflected in the nickname "Crash". He married well, the second time. His tenure in Congress is notable because he got caught taking money he shouldn't have, and now he says he doesn't do that anymore. Somebody help me please-- what is it that is supposed to be so admirable about this guy?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

In 1892 Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bumpus Jones threw a no-hitter in his major league debut. (I'd be willing to bet that contemporary accounts would have said he "twirled" it). I just mention it because Bumpus Jones is such a great name.

Friday, April 04, 2008

I'm in the process of finalizing papers in a case that has been unusually contentious. This may be because I'm a jerk, but I think actually that it is because my adversary is a sociopath. We'd had something together about ten years ago, but my partner had done most of the work on the thing and I didn't really get the full brunt of his personality. This time through it's been on me like a fire hose. In one of the early depositions I blew my stack, and immediately regretted it-- even if this cat isn't doing it consciously (I doubt that he is-- he's all medulla oblongata. It isn't a tactic, it's a reflex) falling into that trap is the worst thing you can do.

What I wasn't prepared for was the magnificent awfulness of his papers. After the purple-faced shouting over the table I'm not sure what I expected. I know I wasn't expecting what we got: a sheaf a papers typed in single space, with odd, occasional CAPITALIZATION FOR EMPHASIS. I had a real hard time even reading the papers, let alone framing opposition-- I felt like I was being grabbed by the lapels and screamed at.

Because we are in federal court I keep checking the FRCP and the local rules to be sure I'm not dropping a stitch. This evening, as I reviewed them one more time before we e-file I said to my partner, "Do you suppose X--- read the rules for pro se litigants instead?" "That would explain a lot," she said. "I can just see him. 'I wonder why the rules say I can't use punctuation?'"

The hell of it is that although we have always prided ourselves on our papers- the clean, professional look and the pellucid prose that is our hallmark -- you just never know. I've been beat on worse looking papers.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Decent deli is an endangered cuisine. Even in New York there are really only about a half dozen places that do it right. You can't always get to Katz's; the Carnegie is always jammed, and is a bit of a tourist trap (and expensive). Juniors would be great if it was in Buffalo. It is dependable, but not transcendent. One hears this and that about the new Second Avenue Deli, but I haven't been yet. There are a couple of others in the Diamond District and uptown, but dependable pastrami is just not something you can count on. I sort of had it in mind to maybe try the Rascal House in Miami once the state voted Blue, and now it's not an option. How hilarious that UB Tax professor Ken Joyce was present at the end. I feel like I should ring him up and find out if there is a secret deli around here that I should know about. Probably not, but you never know.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I don't necessarily hold with the notion that it is a senator's job to bring home a lot of taxpayer-supported projects-- I'd be fine with senators that voted against stupid, mendacious wars, and worked to make sure we have a quality judiciary and justice system. Both New York Senators have been disappointments in this regard, and I suppose the fact that 200,000 jobs haven't appeared in upstate New York is also disappointing, to the extent that anyone believed it was going to happen. Senator Clinton did actually bring an outsourcing company to Buffalo, but I'm not surprised I'd never heard of it before-- who thought Tata Consulting Services would be a good name for an operation like that?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I like Jeffrey Steingarten's pizza recipe, but it is a very difficult dough to work with, so I don't make it as often as I'd like. This recipe, while not quite as yeasty, produces a dough that is far less wet, and a lot easier to control, while still yielding an admirably thin crust. I want to try it on the grill-- last night I used a stone in the oven and it wasn't quite hot enough.

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