Can I nominate a least-favorite park in NY City? One where it is impossible to enjoy yourself? It’s the small triangle garden at Sheridan Square (Christopher St. and Seventh Ave), the park with some realistic all-white sculptures of bench sitters. Any other park in town has sleepy winos and junkies haunting it, but in the West Village, the drugs of choice all produce very angry bums. These addicts are in pain and you can’t pause in their park without them sharing their pain with you. That park just totally sucks.
Why doesn’t nature give us the ability to digest hair? It’s pure protein after all. What a massive unexploited niche in the ecosystem. You have the equivalent of a large kielbasa’s worth of protein tied up in your ponytail and neither you nor any pest, all the way down to the cockroach has a stomach enzyme to hydrolyze it for digestion. Talk about an overlooked food source! We all carry a regular Atkins diet on our head.
There’s lots of footage of Ken Lay and friends in the now-showing “Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room”. One can meditate on the questions “What is evil? What do evil men look like?” while listening to the market traders of Enron during the California Energy Crisis of 200_. There was some kind of monitor that recorded their conversations on the Enron intercom.
Trader 1: So are we going to steal some more electricity from Grandma Millie (in California) today? ….. I heard that a wildfire was threatening one of the main power lines in the _____ Valley. Trader 2: Burn, motherfucker, burn.
During the blackout, electricity on the deregulated California grid went from $50 / unit to $1000 / unit entirely through marketing manipulations by traders who caused an artificial shortage. There was no legitimate cause for the rolling blackouts. This wholesale transfer of money from the California taxpayers to the pockets of Enron bankrupted the state and drove its governor from office. There are some funny Gray Davis quips about this in the film.
While watching the executives of Enron explain their calling, their mission, their boldness and vision, I couldn’t help thinking how important it is to be a man or white if you want people to cooperate with you as you do evil. Throughout the movie, I could feel how my gut level reaction is different when the words come out of a business man’s mouth versus a woman’s mouth, versus a black man’s mouth, etcetera. With the things that these guys did, there should be a lynch mob surrounding their jail, demanding their heads. People should be deeply, gut level, blind with anger against these men. And at least one factor that cloaks them is that they are 50 year old white businessmen. A white man in a wool suit doesn’t get people’s ire as much as it should.
The linemen of the Oregon electric utility, which was bought out by Enron at one point, had their retirement mostly wrapped up in company stock. Traditionally what could be more safe than owning stock in a utility, right?
Interviewer: What was your retirement fund worth? Lineman: It was at about $348,000. Interviewer: And what’s it worth now? Lineman: I sold it for $1,200.
The perpetrators have trouble keeping their warm grins on for the whole film. There’s a scene near the end, maybe the dozenth scene we see of a senator interrogating Jeffrey Skilling (second in command after Ken Lay). All through the movie Skilling sits in the witness stand like a choir boy, really trying to look super compliant with the men questioning him. Then near the end of the movie Senator Barbara Boxer asks Skilling a question, same as the other Senators have earlier in the film. Skilling rolls his eyes with that expression “you fucking bitch” and he all but spits at her. It is this glimpse of who Skilling shows which face to. It’s a footnote on what it means to be a woman in a suit versus being a man in a suit.
“Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room” is about as good as last year’s “The Hunting of the President.” I give it an A-. For a quick primer on the Enron fraud find the Flash link “Interactive: Lights Out at Enron” at CBS News.
The beach was deserted due to high wind and cold air so I dozed alone in the sand wrapped in a lot of clothing, just my face exposed, listening to the Bad Plus. Lying there in my shoes, on the sand at the beach at noon during a 20 mph wind made me into a mini-dune. For the rest of the day folds and creases of my gear disgorged sand. Night fell and, miles from Coney Island I was still leaking beach debris. At 8 PM a student in midtown Manhattan complained that I had covered the table, books, papers, seats with a fine, clingy layer of grit. Before going to sleep that night I emptied 4 tablespoons of sand from my book bag.
[ "The part about Chinatown that deeply resonates with a resident Angelino is its subsidiary theme- the difficulty of getting around los Angeles when you have been symbolically castrated by the loss of your car."]