Posts from December 2003

Hey, HTML geniuses

Hey, HTML geniuses
: My brain is too small to figure this out. One of you surely can: When I published the post below about Greg Easterbrook, the column rule between the blog guts and my right rail disappeared. This happens sometimes. And I can’t figure out why. There’s nothing unusual that I can find in the post. But when I take the post out, the rule re-appears. Can you find what’s doing this? Comments and eurekas welcomed.

Great minds wonder alike

Great minds wonder alike
: Once again, I found media kismet with Simon Dumenco.

I was just in a newsstand on 42nd Street (no, all those newsstands are gone now) staring at the MTV magaziney thing and wondering first, whether this is the future — temporary magazines that come and go — and second, how any publishing company could afford to do that, creating things and then killing them and creating them again.

Simon was wondering the same thing and thinks this may be the future:

The lesson to be learned is that magazines may increasingly need to become temporary brands

Editing blogs

Editing blogs
: No surprise here: Greg Easterbrook thinks blogs tied to big institutions will/should be edited From a Salon interview:

You talked about it being an unedited blog. Is there a journalistic lesson here about blogging?

Yes, I think so. You know, some of the good part of blog theory was that blogs would be like diaries that the world could read. They would be spontaneous, whatever pops into your mind, as a diary would be. But if you spontaneously recorded your thoughts for the whole world, these kinds of mistakes are going to happen. The sort of error that you make in dinner party conversation, and I say something like in that “Kill Bill” item, you would immediately say, “Oh, jeez, Gregg, come on.” And I would say, “Right. Sorry, King. You’re right. OK.” And that would be the end of it. But if you could make that mistake and press the send button and the entire world sees it —

Forever.

Forever. Inevitably, these sorts of things are going to come back to blow up in people’s faces. Now, for pure bloggers, for individual people who are just posting their own thoughts, they would still run the same risk of saying something wrong or embarrassing, but they wouldn’t harm their institutions by doing so. So I would guess that at the very least that all blogs that are affiliated with an organization are going to be edited, if they’re not already.

So now yours is.

Yes.

.

The wrong memorial

The wrong memorial

: Go now and read two truly superb pieces on the New York Post editorial page today about the mistakes we are making with the World Trade Center memorial emphasizing grief over hope, death over life, memorial over memory, political expediency over vision, today over tomorrow.

: In the first, Steve Cuozzo says that the proposed designs, though well-intentioned, are “the grimmest news out of Ground Zero in a long time” because the assignment was so ill-defined — forcing designers to fit “an impossible, 11-sided shape” in the shadow of Daniel Liebeskind’s towers and ego: “fatal consequences for the memorial that no creative genius could likely surmount.”

The result, Cuozzo says, is a “vocabulary of cacancy — pits, mordant waterfalls, funereal landscaping, ‘voids’ and subterranean vaults.”

He places the blame squarely on Gov. Pataki, “whose politically motivated micromanagement of Ground Zero continues to shackle it with unsustainable, irreconcilable constraints.”

He concludes what many of us who have followed this closely are coming to conclude: “With the memory of our loss so fresh, it may be years before we know the answer. Let us find the patience – and time – to learn.”

: Next, Post op-editor Mark Cunningham deftly, gently, respectfully, even brilliantly, tackles the single most difficult topic to address in this discussion of the memorial:

The Families.

The Families and their desire to make the place a graveyard, a mosoleum, a sacred space, an untouched space, a space for their grief.

He tells the story of a mother who lost a child in a terrible tragedy and let that become the focus of and the destruction of her life.

Consider: For most of the 3,000 killed on 9/11, that death had nothing to do with their lives. The only major link is the one the terrorists made. To make that the core of a permanent memorial is to choose to focus our memories on something that had nothing important to do with them.

The message to the ages is not about the love that the bereft feel, but about their grief.

About their pain, not about those they lost.

He argues in favor of the right memorial and he rgues, as I have, that is also necessary to bring life back to this place, not to surrender it to death.

Let us acknowledge that, insofar as we rebuild anything commercial at Ground Zero – offices or stores – we tread hard on genuine feeling.

Yet rebuild we will, for other needs for that site and its future are more compelling: The need to forge an answer of life.

Tragedy aplenty played out at the World Trade Center on 9/11, yet the event was no tragedy, but a monstrous act of evil. And the nation and the city must deny that evil its triumph – by fighting its authors and rooting out its causes, but also by answering their destruction with creation, at that very place….

A mediocre memorial would be a crime. But for me, the worst thing about putting the memorial first is that it is choosing as the site’s core identity – as a definition of our city, our collective self – the loss and grief.

That is, to set down a road of destroying everything else about who they were, and who we are.

: I don’t know what they would think of my proposed memorial. I’m not sure what I think of it now. That — and the quality of the memorial finalists — is why I am coming to believe that we are rushing into this.

Oh, how I would love to have a memorial at that site now. I came into it again this morning on the PATH train and I want to take away the scars of violence and cover them over with peaceful beauty; I want to replace the grief with memory. But it may be that we’re not ready to decide how to do that. No, we’re definitely not ready. The proposed designs prove that.

There’s nothing terrible about the designs. I agree with Cuozo that no genius could overcome the restrictions of the assignment (and the timing). But if this is the best we can do, then we need to find another way to do it.

We need to create a memorial not for the dead and not for the survivors but for the great-grandchildren of both. We need to create a memorial for the future.

: I agree that we need to slow down but I’m not sure how: Where’s the big, red button we push in this process. It’s not as if the designs deserve an outcry; we’ve had enough outcries. How do we tell Pataki, Bloomberg, the LMDC, and other authorities that someone needs to step in and suggest that the worst thing we could do right now is rush into the wrong decision?

(Other recent posts on the topic here (on having to maintain memory at the site), here (my reviews of the finalists), here (my proposal), and here, here, and here.)

A non story, overplayed, eh?

A non story, overplayed, eh?
: Page 1 of the New York Times today reports that Canada and the U.S. are different.

Well, let’s put that above the fold!

The story is essentially insulting to Canadians; it acts as if they used to be just like us, and we know how much they like hearing that.

The story is more insulting to Americans, for it portrays us as a bunch of right-wing religious conservatives. Hey, I’ve been kicked out of more churches than most people have attended.

The story is insulting to its readers, assuming we can’t get a joke:

“Being attached to America these days is like being in a pen with a wounded bull,” Rick Mercer, Canada’s leading political satirist, said at a recent show in Toronto. “Between the pot smoking and the gay marriage, quite frankly it’s a wonder there is not a giant deck of cards out there with all our faces on it.”

Mr. Mercer acknowledged in an interview that he was overstating the case for laughs…

Oh, thanks for telling us that. We were all too frigging dim to figure out that he was engaging in exaggeration. Oh, those deceitful Canadians!

The story is old news: Robertson Davies, the essential Canadian author, always said that Canada had less in common with American than with Scandinavia and I agreed with him.

The story is thus way overplayed.

But what’s most disturbing is that it continues this media meme: Europe v. America, Europe as a touchpoint for social sensibility: “A more distinctive Canadian identity