Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Albright-Knox's current show may be the best thing I have ever seen them do. It's called Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-garde in the 1970s, and it contains one marvel after another. The 70's in Buffalo were a remarkable time- in a funny way this place was sort of the Florence of the American avant-garde. The Center for Media Study at UB attracted a number of major figures, perhaps most notably Tony Conrad. Robert Longo and Cindy Sherman were at Buffalo State College; Paul Sharits, and Steina and Woody Vasulka were working here, Hallwalls and CEPA and Media Study/Buffalo and ArtPark were founded. One of the cool things about the show is that several of the galleries are devoted to the work of these organizations, which are still enriching our cultural life.

The work itself is interesting on several levels. I can remember how shocking some of the avant-garde art of the time was, but that shock has largely worn off, and that means that the work can be viewed on a more purely aesthetic level, instead of as being merely confrontational. In a way it is like the way we can hear Thelonious Monk now. Once it sounded discordant, and now it sounds like jingles. (That said, there was still some confrontational material.)I'm not sure how being in the Albright affects the way the work is viewed-- I think it canonizes it somewhat, but it also restores a bit of the edge.

At the time I was reading about this stuff in the Village Voice and elsewhere, but I had no idea that it was happening in Buffalo. Having it all together like this feels like a recreation of the excitement that must have been in the air at the time.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Essay topic: Adrienne Rich or Earl Scruggs-- Who had the greater impact on American Culture?

I like "Diving into the Wreck" just fine:
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to the scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

  but I have to say that I never felt included in Rich's work, probably because I wasn't meant to be.

Scruggs, on the other hand, always came across as warm, sincere and engaged.Have a look at the video of him playing "Love is Just a Four Letter Word" with Joan Baez here. In the end I suppose it is an absurd comparison, and a pointless exercise, but the juxtaposition of their obituaries is the sort of thing that makes me feel just a little encouraged by the idea of American culture. To the extent that we can say that we have produced positive things it seems to me that those things have been the sort of restless and experimental things that characterized the work of both Scruggs and Rich, and it is worth noting that those qualities can be found in both the chilly world that Adrienne Rich described, and in the more inviting sensibility of Mr. Scruggs.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

We've mentioned the matter of Ceglia v. Facebook before on Outside Counsel: Paul Ceglia claims that he had a contract with Mark Zuckerberg in which Zuck agreed to give him a majority share in Facebook. The case has been an interesting wreck: along the way several prominent local lawyers (and one infamous poltroon) have taken up, and then dropped representation of Ceglia, and the course of the electronic discovery has proceeded in such a rocky fashion that the plaintiff has been hit with some pretty substantial sanctions. Now, via BoingBoing, we have access to the report of Facebook's forensic computer experts, and it is very interesting reading indeed. Bottom line, there seems to have been some backdating going on, down to the metadata level, including using a computer with a backdated system clock. It appears to have been a pretty sophisticated bit of work, which is interesting also, since on the face of things, if Ceglia is a crook, he seemed like a pretty low-level grifter, not a "Mission Impossible" grade hacker.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Baseball and beer are as fine a combination as exists in the world, but the venues for each are usually pretty distinct, as Eric Asimov points out. This point of agreement is where Mr. Asimov and I part ways, however, because although I like a nice porter just fine, that is not my go-to pour when I am watching The Passtime. If there was a ballpark that poured Bear Republic Racer 5 I think I would move to that city.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Somebody at the Carnegie Deli has a terrific sense of humor. Behold their newest offering: the Tebow Sandwich: roast beef, pastrami, corned beef, American cheese, lettuce, and sliced tomato on white bread with mayo. It's probably a trick-- I have to think that anybody who sat down at a nice deli like the Carnegie and ordered this mess would be laughed out of the joint. I wonder if they even make it on premises. Where would the Carnegie Deli get mayonnaise or American cheese? Or white bread? Obviously it is meant as a clever commentary-- Tim Tebow fits into the NYC universe about as well as this sandwich fits on the Carnegie menu.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I am concerned about the future of the Affordable Care Act (and by the way, the fact that it is pretty much universally referred to as 'Obamacare' is another time that the right wing has effectively won the jargon war) because I am worried that this Supreme Court is even worse than the Supreme Court that decided Bush v. Gore. That jurisprudential slight of hand pretty much trashed forever the notion that the Supreme Court wasn't outcome-determinative in its rulings, and look who has come on the bench since: Alito for O'Connor,and Roberts for Renquist. Sotomayor for Souter is an upgrade, and Kagan for Stevens is a wash.

Thing is, the arguments against the statute are essentially incoherent. I've tried to dope out what they are saying, but all I'm getting is sputtering and static. I suppose people who are fond of Lochner v. State of New York view the post-New Deal decisions which repudiated Lochner the way I view Bush v. Gore, but I just can't see it that way. It is all Chicken Little best I can tell.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

As I have come to learn, no-one pities the gout stricken. A solitary oyster consumed on our recent sortie into Baltimore gave me warning twinges for a week. I miss offal. St. Joseph's Table is a roster of things I can't have: asparagus, sardines....

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Because I am dense I went out to run Sunday in the most orange item of apparel I own. It wasn't until I turned the corner at the Historical Society and started seeing Kelly clad revelers that I realized my faux pas, and I didn't hear any catcalls or anything like that, but it was embarrassing. The Saint's Day is taken pretty seriously in Buffalo-- it is essentially a three week long celebration, commencing with the Shamrock Run on the first weekend of March, and culminating with the parade. I stopped going to the parade some years ago, although I used to enjoy shouting imprecations at the politicians. The weather is traditionally some of the worst Buffalo sees. It is either snowing, or sleeting, or if it is clear the temperature is hovering around 2 degrees. This year, however, St. Patrick's Day marked the official start of White Legs season. It's been in the 70's, and it is a little unnerving.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It strikes me that the design of the Republican primary process this season is unusually poorly thought out, and I wonder what the thought process behind it was. Months and months of debates, which were the ideal vehicle for gaffes, followed by the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, then a bunch of beauty contests, then a slow dribble of primaries and caucuses that were set up in ways that made doing the delegate math complicated, prolonging the process further. It's been wicked expensive, and it looks like it was set up to leave the eventual nominee bleeding and ill-equipped to appeal to either the base or the general electorate.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bruce Springsteen's women. I have a lot of problems with The Boss, and the one-dimensionality of his female subjects is one. Actually, most of his characters are pretty flat, and they've been getting flatter. Up through "Born to Run" it seemed like he was writing about people he knew. After that he seems to have gotten it into his head that he wanted to be John Steinbeck, and although there's been a good song here and there since, there hasn't been much you can dance to.

Which is not to say that there won't be. I liked the Seeger Sessions, in part because working with a different bunch of musicians seemed to freshen his sound. The E Street Band has become a bit of a rut, I think, and with the death of two key members of that outfit it is likely that he'll be working with some new people.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Delaware Chancery Court has issued guidelines for practice before it. The guidelines run the gamut from dress codes and the duty to clean up after a hearing to protocols for contacting the court, courtesy copies, guidelines for the parties to agree as to briefing schedules, discovery disputes, pleadings and amendments thereto, confidentiality/protective orders and pre-trial and trial procedure. They aren't rules, per se; they are really more like a handbook of legal etiquette, and they are lovely.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nobody seems to be saying anything about it, but Mittens seems to do the worst in the states where Republican candidates for President ought to win-- the South, mainly-- or need to win-- mostly the Midwest and border states. He's fine in the west, probably because his co-coreligionists seem less exotic there. I don't doubt that in the general election the guy will carry Mississippi, but he looks like he'll be in for trouble in places like Ohio, or Florida.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm thinking of starting a photoblog about cats called "Into the Bun Compartment."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bad Dates. (Via Kottke.)

Friday, March 09, 2012

Here's a social movement I can really get behind: End 'Begs the Question' Abuse.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Here it is, Super Tuesday already, one of my favorite days of the quadrennial. The way I reckon it, there are enough states for everyone this year, and enough close calls. Newt will get Georgia, Mittens and The Man Who Was Afraid to Google will split Ohio, and there are probably some delegates out there for crazy old Ron Paul. This thing is a long way from over, even if it is actually over, and that has me thinking. Assuming that [knock wood] whoever wins this thing goes on to ignominious defeat [/knock wood], doesn't that mean that the presumptive front-runner next time will be Rick Santorum? He'll have the experience of a national campaign under his belt, he will have the foundations for an organization, and a better Rolodex, and that's usually how it goes with Republicans, isn't it? They are essentially royalists, who believe in an orderly plan for succession. I suppose Huckabee might come back, but I suspect not, and I have a feeling that the same reasons a lot of the people who stayed out this time (last name "Bush", crazy wife, crazy) will still be in play in four years.

Monday, March 05, 2012

To Baltimore for Johns Hopkins' admitted students day over the weekend, a pleasant time spent in the company of good friends and basking in the warm feeling one gets about a daughter's academic achievement. I found it notable that the students I spoke with were all so empowered-- it is a small program, and Baltimore's mean streets couldn't resemble the Amazon Island atmosphere of Northampton less, but there was still the same kind of vibe inside the school walls. These are women who know what they want, and know that they are going to accomplish it. Added to that is the fact that what they want to be doing is applying science to helping people. Pretty amazing.

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