Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Friday, July 31, 2009

The other night I was sleeping the sleep of the innocent when I was jolted awake by A's elbow. "There's something flying around," she said. As consciousness gradually dawned I saw that, in fact, there was something flying around-- and it appeared to be quite a bit bigger than anything I was eager to engage. "Pull your covers up," I counseled, and rolled over. "What is it?" A. asked, prodding me with her elbow again. I rolled onto my back and studied the apparition further. It was silent, and although it looked about as big as a pterodactyl I thought that it probably wasn't. "It's a bat," I said. "Ignore it and maybe it will go away." This answer did not satisfy A., even though she had followed my earlier suggestion about pulling up the covers. "What are you going to do about it?" came the voice from under the bedclothes. I considered my options. I wasn't sure where to lay hands on a tennis racket at that hour, or a butterfly net. Perhaps I could chase it around and try to throw a towel over it, but that left the question of what to do with a gigantic bat under a towel. I knew that I would be unable to enlist the assistance of the cats; although their ostensible purpose for living under our roof is vermin prevention, neither has ever shown much aptitude or enthusiasm for the tasks associated with this important role. I considered calling Pest Control, but I'm not actually sure there is such a thing in Buffalo, and I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't be likely to make a 3:00 AM house call. The bat circled, occassionally swooping lower, just to keep my attention focused.

The resolution to the situation proved surprisingly simple. I went over to the far window-- that is, the window the farthest from A--, pulled aside the curtains, and opened the screen as far as it would go. Our bat pal, using its bat radar sense, recognized the opening and flitted past me out into the night.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lessons learned from the ER.

"Stay away from people named "Some Guy" or "This One Dude", because they for whatever reason, just punch someone in the face or hit them with a crowbar and run off. If I see them on the street, I cross the street to get away from them."

"The Law of Inverse Value: the less you contribute to society, the greater the trauma you can sustain with minimal to no physical sequelae, including falls from 3 stories, stabbings (chest, neck, head, slashings to the face), gunshot wounds (chest, neck, pelvis, leg, traumatic arrest (only to be killed 7 years later in a separate GSW incident)), and high speed MVC's, unrestrained, where multiple people in the other vehicle are killed."
(Via The Morning News.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wishbone Ash. Uriah Heep. Hawkwind. Nektar. Does Humble Pie belong on this list? Who else does?

Monday, July 27, 2009

East Coast vs. West Coast: Neil Young vs. Bob Dylan (via Expecting Rain.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I think the part I like best about the news that the Bush Administration considered bringing in the military to arrest the Lackawanna Six is the Times describing Lackawanna as a "Buffalo suburb". Lackawanna is a Buffalo suburb in pretty much exactly the way the Gary is a suburb of Chicago.

The Lackawanna Six prosecution was a grotesque event, a real blotch on the record of the American criminal justice system. The poor bastards were gulled into going to to Afghanistan in spring 2001, and went to an al-Qaeda training camp. When they realized what was going on they high-tailed it out. Their arrest and prosecution amounted to the Arab-American equivalent of Driving While Black. "They were U.S. citizens bound together by their Yemeni heritage. They went to Lackawanna High School ("Home of the Steelers") and played soccer for the varsity team. Aside from that, they kept to themselves and wore jackets emblazoned with the moniker "Arabian Knights." They traveled to Yemen once a year, where they were greeted in their villages like conquering heroes simply for surviving in America." The Lackawanna Six never did anything more than take an ill-advised trip to a scary place, but they were up against the meat grinder of a federal criminal prosecution, and although they were represented by some of the ablest lawyers I know the stakes were too high for them to gamble. They pleaded out, and the US Attorney, the judge and, probably the most shamefully, the Buffalo News pretended it was a great piece of legal work.

Ironically, in a way it was a validation of the legal system, sort of. Mukhtar Al-Bakri, Sahim Alwan, Faysal Galab, Shafal Mosed, Yaseinn Taher, and Yahya Goba were arraigned in federal district court. They were represented by counsel. They were afforded all of the rights that persons accused of crimes are supposed to have in America, and in this regard they are pretty nearly unique. Any argument that the US judicial system is not equipped to deal with terrorism is pretty neatly rebutted by this case.

In a way, I wish Bush had sent a squadron of Marines into Lackawanna. It might have demonstrated to the country just what kind of government we were living under.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I read the Public Officer's Law, and the applicable provision of the State Constitution, and I am inclined to believe that the Governor does not have the authority to appoint a Lieutenant Governor-- but it seems like a close call. To my way of thinking, a tie goes to the runner, so the stay that Justice William LaMarca issued probably is properly lifted. I'm not seeing the irreparable harm here.

I'm also not clear on why this is playing out in Nassau County and the Second Department. The whole thing is going to the Court of Appeals soon enough, but this is a matter that is properly venued in Albany and the Third Department, ad it seems odd that it hasn't been moved to this point.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It would be interesting to try and expand on the idea, but I probably won't. Even so, I'll throw it out there: Sarah Palin lives in something closer to the "old, weird America" that Greil Marcus says is Dylan's great subject than any of us do. Dylan may be an Obama fan, but Palin is closer to his subject matter. There are divides in his work, when you think about it. "Like A Rolling Stone", "Positively 4th Street" "She's Your Lover Now" -- songs like that, directed at former lovers, versus the more tender, rueful songs is one such, and although it is fun to think about a Dylan song about Sarah Palin in the vein of "Idiot Wind" that's not how I think he'd approach the topic. She's more like someone who might appear in "Lilly, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts", or a character he might have run into when he was workin' for a while on a fishing boat outside of Delacroix. He could capture her in a couplet in "Maggie's Farm", and it is tempting to try and come up with what that might look like.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The judicial salary lawsuits are on their way to the Court of Appeals. The Chief Judge is a plaintiff, and has recused himself, but the remaining six will hear the matter under the Rule of Necessity.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


SURFACE : A film from underneath from tu on Vimeo.

If you have a high speed connection, I recommend the full-screen version of this. As I continue with my "Lawyers in Movies" project one of the things I've been thinking about is the way we watch videos and movies. When I took film classes as an undergrad my professor would screen movies in a dark lecture hall once a week. We saw the movies under pretty much the the conditions that they were made to be seen. If I am lucky my students will watch the movies we'll be talking about on a television screen, but chances are that most of the time they'll watch them on their laptops. I think this is a shame-- there are a lot of nuances that will be lost, but there is not much I can do about it. We think of lawyer movies as intimate little dramas, and there think that there is probably not much that will be lost, but that's a mistake. We went to "Harry Potter and the Something-or-Other" last night, and had a fine time. It is a good example of the sort of movie we think "needs" to be seen on a big screen, so we can get the full benefit of the fx-- but seeing what's on the wall behind Jimmy Stewart in "Anatomy of a Murder" might be more important to understanding what is happening there, and what Otto Preminger is saying, than seeing every lick of flame that consumes the Wesley's house.

Movies are texts, and need to be understood that way, in total. The tie a character is wearing was selected to make a point, and that point is lost if we can't see it. One of the things I've been noticing in the background of the movies I have been watching lately are the books on the shelves. Sometimes they are there for a reason, and sometimes they are there just because they look lawyer-y, I think. In one movie I watched last week they were upside-down, and I can't decide if that was deliberate or not.

Friday, July 17, 2009

To George Clinton and P-Funk last night, a show I've really been looking forward to. Apparently a lot of people were-- it was more mobbed than anything at Thursday in the Square I've ever seen. It was also the most racially mixed TATS show I've ever seen. It broke down like this: the African-Americans were mostly my age or a bit older. They've been fans since the 70's. The white people were mostly slightly younger than I am or in their 20's, proving what Things White People Like says: white people like Black Music that Black People Don’t Listen to Anymore. I can meekly protest that I've been a fan since the Carter Administration, when "Flash Light" was on D.C radio every third song, but the reality is that I spent more time in 1978 with "This Year's Model" and "Give 'Em Enough Rope".

It looked to me that the African-Americans had shown up early, with folding lawn chairs, and just set up for the duration. That would be consistent with the way the black community enjoys Junetenth at MLK, and there have been plenty of times at TATS when that would have been a strategy which would have worked, but last night was not one of them. It was impossible to get to a decent sight line and, worse, unless you can get more or less in front of the stage the sound quality at Lafayette Square is pretty bad. From where we were we could mostly hear what was going on, even if we couldn't see, but I really think the event has outgrown the venue. I think they ought to set up a semi-permanent stage on the steps of City Hall for the summer, and rock out down there. There is more room, it wouldn't disrupt the light rail, and it would be an iconic backdrop.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pretty much everyone has heard that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Walkman. I like this reminiscence about the cassette format, which really was pretty sweet. Audio gear in general was a lot more interesting back then. You had your metal tapes, and your chrome high-bias tapes, and people had brand preferences (I was a Maxell chrome guy, which to my ears was the best sounding, and the best value). Dolby B or Dolby C was a big deal, but I favored an alternate noise reduction system called dbx, which meant that when I went looking for a tape deck to put in my car the field was narrowed quite a bit. dbx didn't sound right when played back with other systems.

People laugh now about how clunky the old Walkman were (the size of a paperback book!) but they weren't bad really. CDs wrecked everything. They eventually engineered the Walkman to the point where it was barely bigger than the tape, but a CD player was going to have to be bigger than that, and round.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nobody else seems prepared to come out and say it, so I will. You don't have women, or African-Americans, or Latinas on the Supreme Court because the women, or African-Americans, or Latinas will rule differently than the old white guys; you have them there so the old white guys will rule differently. And better. Don't think for a heartbeat that the Warren Court would have been what it was without Thurgood Marshall in the room keeping them honest. As despicable as he is, Clarence Thomas still (barely) manages to provide this function.

At Five Thirty Eight Andrew Gelman writes about Protestants, Catholics, and Jews on the Supreme Court. The whole post is interesting, but what caught my eye was the statement that "there's some ambiguity as to whether Episcopalians should be characterized as Protestant". Gelman's data comes from this site, which notes, "Episcopalians have been left out of the "Protestant" category in the table above. Depending on the type of classification system consulted, Episcopalians are sometimes classified as "Protestant" and sometimes not. Episcopalians are part of the Anglican communion, which pre-dates Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation and is often referred to as the "Anglo-Catholic" church, a branch mid-way between Catholicism and Protestantism." News to me, and probably news to most WASPs, I'm guessing.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Take Me To The River" came on the radio the other day-- the Talking Heads' cover, not the Al Green original-- and it got me thinking about great second albums. I suppose there are more of them than we think, but the sophomore jinx is certainly real enough for it to be a happy surprise when overcome. "More Songs About Buildings And Food" was certainly one of the happy exceptions. It was a game changing recording, moving the band and American New Wave in an entirely different direction. Think of the artists from that period that didn't have a solid second in them. "Radio Ethiopia" has its moments, but Patti Smith had to release "Easter" in order to reassure us that she was as great as we hoped. Television's "Adventure" makes me sad just thinking about it. What would American rock'n'roll have been like if "Candy O" had approached The Cars' debut?

On the other hand, "This Year's Model" outstripped "My Aim is True". "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" ranks with the best Neil Young sides (and of course "The Freewheeling Bob Dylan" is where everyone starts-- his first album is really only for specialists at this point). I like Madonna's first album, but "Like a Virgin" is the essential recording in her oeuvre. Likewise with Lou Reed: "Transformer" is where he became Lou Reed. They Might Be Giants' "Lincoln" belongs on this list, too.

Of course the music biz has changed in ways that I could never have imagined when I brought home my copy of "More Songs". A second album flop -- a first album flop-- is a ticket to obscurity today.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with Al Franken on the Judiciary Committee, but it used to be the only committee in the Senate that had a membership requirement. You had to be a lawyer back in the day, not an unreasonable requirement in my view. When did that change, I wonder?

The NYTimes asked seven "legal experts" what questions they would like to hear Judge Sonia Sotomayor answer at her confirmation hearing. One of these nominal experts is Alberto Gonzales, once thought likely to be the first Latino Supreme Court Justice, and presently occupying the Bobby Knight Visiting Professor Chair in the Department of Political Science at Texas Tech. What's the deal with Texas Tech? Is it like the Oakland Raiders of academia?

Someone showed up here looking for Joseph G. Makowski, the former judge who tried to fix a DWI for a lawyer friend. The DA reckoned that prosecuting a DWI lawyer was more important than going after a crooked judge, and gave Mr. Makowski a walk when he agreed to step down from the bench. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct took up the matter next, in order to determine if he should be retroactively removed from office, which would cost him his pension. The Commission closed its investigation last month. The bottom line is that Mr. Makowski agreed not to seek judicial office in the future, and keeps his pension.

I would have thought that judicial corruption would have been taken more seriously. The DA declines to prosecute, the Chief Administrative Judge allowed him to keep hearing cases while the whole investigation by the DA was going on (he was on the bench when he resigned), and now the commission that is responsible for punishing judicial misconduct brushes the thing aside, essentially saying that Mr. Makowski's sanction should be the punishment he chose for himself. I'm all for leniency, since to wish ill, even when we are talking about the worst judge in the area, is bad karma. But I am still surprised.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We've presently embroiled in a lawsuit that has me deposing representatives of the Catholic Church, and as I was walking to the office of my adversary the other day I was thinking about the place the Church presently occupies in intellectual discourse. In the mid-Twentieth Century it was a significant player, after all. Telhard de Charden, Flannery O'Connor, Andre Malraux.... It occurred to me that although the Church is still a significant political force in the world, the force of its ideas has been pretty significantly blunted. Characters like Cardinal Ratzinger played a role in this, I think, and the fact that American Catholics prefer a cafeteria plan has as well. No doubt there are other contributing factors, but the plain fact is that there really aren't any Catholic intellectuals who are participating in a meaningful way to the broader discourse. It's become a closed system.

From Teresa Nielsen Hayden I have have now learned two things. One is that the Pope has issued a new encyclical, and that it says many good things. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

The other is thatNewt Gingrich has just converted to Catholicism, and now I'm back on solid ground. I've long thought that the serious structural problems with the Republican Party could be attributed to the fact that they believe Newt is an intellectual. (George Will too. No, seriously, they think that.) Now he's a Catholic intellectual. The mind reels, and no doubt poor Flannery O'Connor spins.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I am all about Lawyers in Movies these days, in preparation for my class, and this makes me want to watch any kind of movie whatsoever that doesn't have a lawyer in it. "North by Northwest" doesn't quite qualify-- there is a lawyer on hand to defend Cary Grant from a DWI charge-- but even so, it is close to time for me to watch it again. "Here, you see", Hitchcock said to Truffaut, "the MacGuffin has been boiled down to its purest expression: nothing at all!" Sadly, the article that I posted to here is no longer up. I love the idea that "North By Northwest isn't a film about what happens to Cary Grant, it's about what happens to his suit. The suit has the adventures, a gorgeous New York suit threading its way through America." Still, I like what Michael Wood seems to be saying in this piece also.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Howard Dean tells it like it is, as is his habit.

ESQ: Boil it down, if you would. Why isn't it working even if you do have insurance?

HD: Because it's too expensive. The private sector can't manage costs. Health care is one of the few places - defense is another - that the government works more efficiently and more effectively than the private sector. That's just a fact.

ESQ: Why is that?

HD: Because there is no feedback in the private health-care system. When I was practicing medicine, nobody with substernal chest pain ever got off my examining table and said, "The guy down the street does it for $2,000 cheaper, I'll see you later." That's why we've had 40 years of costs that increase between two and three times the rate of inflation every single year. It's breaking our economic system. (Via Jezebel.)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The simple truth of the matter is that Ghostbusters is the greatest film ever made. And "Be Kind, Rewind" is runner-up. (Via Kottke.)

And speaking of movies, there was a time when you could get a pretty lively discussion going over the question of whether Dustin Hoffman or Al Pacino was the better actor. It seems likely that this period came to an end with the release of "...And Justice For All".

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

We are talking about Public Officers Law §§ 41 and 42. § 41talks about the procedure to be followed in filling vacancies in the office of Comptroller and Attorney-General. It is silent on the issue of how to fill vacancies in the office of lieutenant-governor. § 42(1) provides: "A vacancy occurring before September twentieth of any year in any office authorized to be filled at a general election, except in the offices of governor or lieutenant-governor, shall be filled at the general election held next thereafter, unless otherwise provided by the constitution, or unless previously filled at a special election."

§ 42(2) provides: "A vacancy occurring by the expiration of term at the end of an even numbered year in an office which may not under the provisions of the constitution be filled for a full term at the general election held prior to the expiration of such term, shall be filled at said general election for a term ending with the commencement of the political year next succeeding the first general election at which said office can be filled by election for a full term."

The only case that seems to speak to the question of whether the Governor can appoint someone to fill the office of lieutenant-governor is Ward v. Curran, 291 N.Y. 642 (1943). The way I read Ward, the office of lieutenant-governor is open, and should be filled by election this November. I am not seeing that the governor has the power to fill the vacancy. There is a hole in the statute, one that Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (not a guy that I've ever noticed as being particularly useful before, but even a blind pig, etc.) has been trying to fix since 1985. I give Paterson credit for trying, but pulling an unconstitutional move like this just buys a lawsuit. Unless his plan is to unite the 31-31 Senate by making them agree that he's wrong, I don't see this working.

UPDATE: One of the names that was buzzed before Richard Ravitch was announced was my classmate, Denise O'Donnell. I wonder if she was asked and turned it down- she is said to still be interested in running for AG (and I think she'd be go d in that role). Ravitch is not a bad choice, for what it's worth. I’m not sure how fast this thing can work its way up the appellate ladder– presumably someone has an Article 78 petition pretty much ready to file, and I’d assume that the Albany County Supreme Court justice that gets the case would put it down for an expedited hearing. If it were me, I’d want to hear arguments this coming Monday, and I’d try to have a decision and order out by the end of the day. After than I’m unsure about the process: how fast can the Third Department move? There's time, in any event, and that gives Ravitch an opportunity to work behind the scenes to broker some sort of way out of this mess. I like Ravitch-- I voted for him in the mayoral primary back in the day-- and mediating messy disputes like this is one of the things he seems to be particularly good at. Paterson is still doomed, and New York State government is still horribly broken, but something has to be done, and Ravitch may be the guy to patch together a solution.

Interesting (albeit irritating) liquor law decision out of the Second Circuit: Arnold's Wines Inc. v. Boyle. The plaintiffs are a wine retailer in Indiana who would like to sell directly to New York consumers and two New York residents who would like to be able to buy and receive wine directly from out-of-state retailers. No dice say judges Walker, Calabresi, and Wesley. New York's three-tier licensing structure for the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages established after the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment allows only in-state and out-of-state wineries to ship directly to consumers. All other out-of-state producers and sellers must ship to state-licensed wholesalers within the three-tier system. The purpose of the three-tier system was to preclude the existence of a "tied" system between producers and retailers, which was thought to enable organized crime to dominate the industry. The 21st Amendment and the Commerce Clause are "in tension" the Second Circuit says, but Granholm v. Heald established the test for determining the constitutionality of state liquor regulations, and this one is legit. "If the state measure discriminates in favor of in-state producers or products, the regulatory regime is not automatically saved by the Twenty-first Amendment.... Rather, if the court finds the law discriminatory, it will only be upheld if it reasonably advances legitimate state interests 'that cannot be adequately served by reasonable nondiscriminatory alternatives,'" because it treats in-state and out-of-state liquor the same way, and does not discriminate against out-of-state products or producers.

I love liquor law. It's as complicated as any drinking game ever devised. I'm sure someone has, but you could write an interesting history of the United States by focusing on alcohol, from the Triangle Trade to today.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I'm not sure where I found Send Me Your Head, and I don't recall when, either, but here it is. Karen Schmidt is an artist who is working on a project that requires her to paint many 3″ x 3″ portraits, so she is soliciting headshots. I like the fact that she reports what she is listening to and what she is reading as she does each portraits (WHYY and "The View From Castle Rock" by Alice Munro), and I like the way the project combines digital and plastic arts. And I like the way this came out.

Stephen Fry:

"So what is quintessentially American? Apple pie or Apple computers? Walmart or Wall Street? Trump Towers or Twin Towers? Jimmi Hendrix or Jimmy Stewart? Opportunity or opportunism? Small town courtesy or small-minded bigotry. Hearty milk and cookies or Harvey Milk and hookers. Blue collars, red necks, white supremacy or black power? The Simpsons or The Waltons, Family values or Family Guy, Holly Golightly or Hollywood, Penn State or the State Pen or Sean Penn, the right to life or the right to electrocute, capitalism or capital crimes, poncey dreams or Ponzi schemes, Nobel prize winners or ignoble price fixers, a country that can land men on the moon and yet has a majority who believe that angels walk amongst us – I suppose we could play this game of opposites for ever for I do not know a single thing that can be said about America whose reverse is not also true. It is a land of opportunity and yet there are more seventeen year old black youths in prison than in college. It is a land of freedom where in many states you can’t buy fireworks or alcohol or cross the street as a pedestrian where you please and where children’s books are banned and educational material suppressed if they do not square with some religious dogma or other. It is a land of church-going traditionalists and a land of freaks and fancies. A nation founded in revolution where radicalism is next to Satanism. A land of industry where indolence has created an epidemic of obesity whose walking examples, or waddling examples I should say, have to be seen to be believed. One country riven by a depth of mutual bipartisan enmity, loathing and distrust that threatens entirely to divide it into two and propel the nation into a new Civil War."

It is pretty much all that good. (Via The Morning News.)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Palin and Stanford and Spitzer-- and I'm sure there are others that I'm not coming up with at the moment-- doesn't it seem like there is an unusual amount of crazy going on in the statehouses lately?

There's been a slew of interesting people dying lately: Jacko, of course, and poor Farah, who deserved a weekend news cycle to herself, just on the strength of that Noxzema commercial with Joe Namath. I really should get around to programing a Karl Malden retrospective, and what about Steve McNair?

The obit that really grabs me though is Allen Klein's. Managed the Beatles and the Stones-- and Bobby Darin, Sam Cooke, the Kinks, and a bunch of others. I like this story from the Guardian's obit, which seems to capture the man in full: "His first client was the soul music star Sam Cooke, who was unable to get royalty payments from his record company, RCA. 'Sam said, "Well, what do you think?",' Klein told Cooke's biographer Peter Guralnick. 'I said, "I think they're treating you like a nigger, and that's terrible - you shouldn't let them do it."' Klein succeeded in releasing the monies owed to Cooke and soon established a corporation to own the rights to Cooke's future recordings." In other words, he was a tough negotiator, who really went to bat for his clients, but he was also a double-dealing gonif who didn't flinch from conflicts of interest. He died owning the rights to a big catalog, including a bunch of Stones' songs.

UPDATE: Paul McCartney wrote "You never give me your money / You only give me your funny paper" about refusing to sign the contract with Klein; "he is said to feature cryptically in George Harrison's "Beware of Darkness’ and The Who's "Who Are You" and is certainly the subject of John Lennon's poisonous 1974 song "Steel And Glass" about a sinister wheeler dealer: "Your teeth are clean, but your mind is capped / You leave your smell like an alley cat." There must be a Stone's lyric about him.

UPDATE II: Klein went behind George Harrison's back during the "My Sweet Lord/He’s So Fine" plagiarism case, and bought the copyright of the original Chiffons songs so that no matter what happened in the case it would go his way.

Harrison: When they issued a complaint about "My Sweet Lord", he was my business manager. He was the one who put out "My Sweet Lord" and collected 20 percent commission on the record. And he was the one who got the lawyers to defend me, and did an interview in Playboy where he talked about how the song was nothing like the other song.

Later, when the judge in court told me to settle with them, because he didn't think I'd consciously stolen their song, they were doing a settlement deal with me when they suddenly stopped the settlement.

Some time elapsed, and I found out that this guy Klein had gone around the back door. In the meantime, we'd fired him. He went round the back door and bought the rights to the one song, "He's So Fine," in order to continue a lawsuit against me.

He, on one hand, was defending me, then he switched sides and continued the lawsuit. And every time the judge said what the result was, he'd appeal. And he kept appealing and appealing until it got to the Supreme Court.

I mean this thing went on for 16 years or something ... 18 years. And finally, it's all over with, and the result of it is I own "My Sweet Lord," and I now own "He's So Fine," and Allan Klein owes me like three or four hundred thousand dollars 'cause he took all the money on both songs. It's really a joke. It's a total joke."

Saturday, July 04, 2009

I wish that Independence Day observations didn't center so much on triumphal celebrations of militarism. The least flattering qualities of the Unites States are on display when we march out representatives of the armed services. Everybody's got an army, but nobody else has a constitution that's like ours. How about, instead of a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance we have a dramatic reading of the Bill of Rights?

The trendy sandwich of the moment is the bánh mì, a Vietnamese composition which includes thinly sliced pickled carrots and daikon, onions, cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeño peppers and meat (or tofu, in theory). Typically the meat is roasted or grilled pork, ham, and/or paté. I've been reading articles about great bánh mì places in New York, and I have really wanted to try one to see what the big deal is, but I haven't been back to the City with time to do this kind of culinary exploring. Last week I decided to see if there was anyone around here that's making these, and was pleased to discover that Joe’s Deli on Hertel makes one. Joe's Deli used to be Mastman's, so it usually makes me sad when I see it. Mastman's was the best Jewish deli in the area (although it was certainly not kosher), and I miss the Delaware Avenue-- corned beef, pastrami and chopped chicken liver with Russian dressing and hot pepper rings, it was a gout attack between two slices of rye. Lancaster and I would share one occasionally, and that's how she learned the word sandwich.

My bánh mì proved to be as good a sandwich as the hipsters promised, and certainly it was less heavy than a Delaware Avenue. The trick, if that's the word, is that the pickled carrots and the jalapeños bring sweetness, heat and acid to the meat and mayo, and the cilantro adds a fresh herbaceous note. The whole thing is a pleasing combination of tastes and textures, with some crunch from the carrots. The baguette is good too. I can't say if it is the baguette that is called for, but I thought it was above average by Buffalo standards, and a good textural match for the other ingredients. Bread is often the weak link in Buffalo sandwiches, but it wasn't here. For some reason it appears on the menu as "The Body", which meant that I didn't have to worry about pronunciation (ˈbʌnmiː)-- perhaps just as well. My weekly gyro order sounds like a debate on pronunciation, and I don't have the strength to engage in another dialogue about how to say the name of a sandwich.

It's funny that Hertel has developed into the sandwich district, but perhaps it is just as well that Buffalo's sandwich district is somewhat inaccessible from my office.

Friday, July 03, 2009

"What Would Keith Richards Do? Daily Affirmations from a Rock and Roll Survivor" is an actual book. I really feel like we were so in front of this thing....

The author has a recommended playlist, "[A] little bit of Stones music, a little more of Richards' solo work, but mostly...artists and songs that Keith has gone on record as having inspired him. The book was about channeling Keith and his attitude, so I wanted to listen to the songs and artists that shaped him—that perhaps created Keith Richards." It's a fine list, as you would expect.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Tom Robbins makes a good point: lost in the story of the New York State Senate's dysfunction is the fact that Steve Pigeon and Tom Golisano's coup has derailed a number of worthwhile progressive changes.

Pigeon is the kind of political operative that I find the most despicable-- he's a lever-puller. Nominally a Democrat he has no interest in governance or in any social issues that I have ever seen. He likes politics because he thinks the mechanics of it are fun. Golisano's politics seem to be mostly the sort of politics that fatcats all have-- he doesn't want to pay taxes, and he finds that government inconveniences him because it prevents him from doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it. That's not very attractive, but it is at least an articulatable agenda. Pigeon doesn't even have that. He just wants to play, and so woman prisoners who are in labor will remain shackled; and campaign finance reform is off the table; and gun tracing legislation dies, and so on. If more people were made aware of the damage that Golisano's adventure has caused there'd be a lot more outrage.

Awful Library Books is is a collection of items that are "old, obsolete, awful or just plain stupid". If by "stupid" you mean "awesome."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

This list of The 20 Greatest Dylan Songs was starting to annoy me, but I liked the fact that "Mississippi" made the cut, and I like the surprise ending.

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