Country girls

Simple but beautiful. The Haden Triplets  (Charlie Haden’s daughters) drop into the NPR offices.

Posted in Music | Tagged , ,

On Wall Street

I’m really looking forward to reading Michael Lewis’s latest, “Flash Boys”. Here he is, talking to the New Republic’s Isaac Chotiner:

IC: I was wondering how spending so much time with Wall Street people and on Wall Street has changed you ideologically.

ML: I am too wooly minded to even have politics. They are all over the map. To this day I vote for the man rather than the party. Although I do lean Democrat. There has been one steady drift in my outlook caused by my constant contact with the financial system. I am ever more dubious that people who make lots of money are doing something useful. I started out only a little dubious. I have gone from thinking it is absurd to vaguely criminal. Wall Street can do lots and lots of damage while making lots and lots of money.

And what did he think of “The Wolf of Wall Street”? I have to admit I didn’t even make it through the first hour:

ML: It was very funny, but I didn’t think it was very much about Wall Street. I thought it was about Martin Scorsese’s obsessions and addictions. He apparently has tried to get that opening scene with Leonardo DiCaprio trying to snort coke out of the butt of a hooker into several of his movies, and this is the first time they let him put it in.

IC: It’s always nice when someone’s lifelong dream can be realized.

Posted in Economics, Film, Money, US politics | Tagged , , ,

The view from my bike

VIEW  from my bike - yellow field 23.4.14

Suddenly, it almost feels like summer.

Posted in Photography | Tagged


It is curious how reluctant we are to include acquisitiveness among the defining characteristics of the age which formed our aesthetic heritage. A competitive urge to acquire was a precondition for the growth in production of lavishly expensive works of art. A painter’s reputation rested on his ability to arouse commercial interest in his works of art, not on some intrinsic criteria of intellectual worth. Titian’s canvases of statuesque naked women in recumbent poses were regarded as learnedly symbolic  by nineteenth-century art historians — it was claimed they were visual explorations of allegories drawn from classical Latin literature.  Only recently did contemporary correspondence come to light which showed that these works of art were painted to meet a vigorous demand for bedroom paintings  depicting erotic nudes in salacious poses.  When Guidobaldo,  Duke of Urbino, was negotiating to buy the painting now known as “The  Venus of Urbino” from Titian in 1538 he referred to it simply as a painting of “a naked woman” (and tried to borrow money from his mother Eleonora Gonzaga to pay for it).  In 1542 the churchman Cardinal Farnese saw the painting at Guidobaldo’s summer residence and rushed off to commission a similarly erotic nude of his own from Titian in Venice. Reporting back on the progress of the painting some time later, the Papal Nuncio in Venice expressed the view that the Cardinal’s nude, now completed and ready for shipment, made The Venus of Urbino look like a frigid nun.

Lisa Jardine, “Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance”.

Posted in Art, History, Notebook | Tagged ,


[Via Althouse]

Posted in Comedy | Tagged , , ,

Jogo bonito

brazil football sao paulo highway

The elevated highway in São Paulo that’s closed on Sundays to allow people to play the beautiful game. From Christopher Pillitz’s superb set of photos on football in Brazil.

Posted in Brazil, Photography, Sport | Tagged , ,

In search of John Updike

“He began as a prodigy… and he somehow remained one.”  Louis Menand reviews Adam Begley’s new biography:

Like many people who grew up in straitened circumstances in the nineteen-thirties and became financially comfortable in the decades after the war, Updike had a slightly superstitious relationship to money. He never used an agent. He didn’t put his books out for bid, and, after his first book, a collection of poems published by Harper, came out, he moved to Knopf, and stayed there all his life. He rarely took an advance, and he capped the amount Knopf paid out to him every year, so that he wouldn’t have an earnings spike and the resulting tax burden.

He used a rubber stamp to affix his return address to correspondence in order not to waste money on stationery that might, if he moved, never be used. The practice began as ordinary prudence and became an affectation. Even after he had become a wealthy man living in a mansion in the upscale Boston suburb of Beverly Farms, he stamped his return address.

This caution about money got cleverly incorporated into a slightly exaggerated fastidiousness that was part of Updike’s charm arsenal. Years ago, I was an editor of a magazine piece by Updike that had required him to travel to New York for a day. He expensed the hot dog he bought, from a sidewalk vender, for ninety cents. As he undoubtedly anticipated, we thought that this was extremely droll, and, in keeping with the spirit of the joke, reimbursed him.

[HT: Rachel Syme]

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Before the congestion charge

Before the congestion charge Piccadilly, c 1900

Piccadilly, c 1900. [Via @skintlondon @theretronaut]

Posted in History, Photography | Tagged , , ,

The jokes of Bob Dylan

“Nice to be here. One of my early girlfriends was from Milwaukee. She was an artist. She gave me the brush-off.” And lots more of that ilk from the man himself. You see, everything turns up on the Internet sooner or later.

[HT: @Andrew Male]

Posted in Comedy, Music | Tagged



We made the film and went off to preview it in St Louis. As much as I loved the comedy in the movie, my favourite moment was when Bernadette Peters and I sang a simple song on a beach, “Tonight You Belong To Me”, a tune that was a hit in the twenties and then again in the fifties, when it was recorded by two adolescent sisters called Patience and Prudence. I thought the scene was touching, and I couldn’t wait for it to come on-screen, hoping the audience would be as affected as I had been. The movie was rolling along with lots of laughter. Then the song came on. Mass exodus for popcorn. Song over, audience returned for more laughs. After the screening, I got a left-handed compliment of juicy perfection: A woman approached me and said, “I loved this movie. And my husband loved it, and he hates you.”

Steve Martin, “Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life”.

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