Wednesday, May 08, 2002
WASHINGTON DC: ONE BIG CAMPUS
I think part of why I like living in DC so much is that it reminds me of my bright college days at Yale in oh so many ways. This may be partly due to the fact that I live in a veritable commune (or as close as a right-winger can come) of Vast Right Wing Conspiracy buddies, including Shamed and Eve, but it's also due to the fact that my new hometown is in a perpetual state of political fermentation. DC is very much like a college campus in that it provides both a physical stomping ground where the most disparate elements of our politically charged society collide, and a symbolic backdrop for the airing of grievances. It's not coincidental that political protests at universities always attract so much attention, more so, than say, marches through the streets of major cities. The immense stone libraries and quadrangles of our nation's campuses serve a function far beyond mere academics, just as the Capitol Building is not merely a place where the Congress meets.
Actually, what started me reflecting on how DC is like a campus was this article from today's Washington Post that details several philosophical "shouting matches" that have taken place on the streets in the last few days. I engaged in a couple of (somewhat less heated) exchanges while out protesting the lefties who were protesting (take your pick: global warming, election 2000, Ashcroft, Israel, etc) in DC a few weekends ago, and the article today caused me to think for a moment, "How exactly like those endless arguments I had in college." The sides spot one another, they lash out for a few moments, and then go their separate ways. While the Post seems unconvinced by the utility of such discourse, I for one am pleased that it's taking place on the streets of my city. Better that folks care enough to confront the other side, than estrange themselves from the political altogether. For those of us that truly groove on political discourse, it's hard to find a place better than DC.
Monday, May 06, 2002
THE NEW YORK TIMES: ALL THE NEWS FOR THE ARISTOCRACY
One of the many, many things that pisses me off about the New York Times, and especially, the NYT Magazine, is that despite their grandiose airs of helping the poor and sympathizing with the downtrodden, the paper perpetually exalts the most ludicrous and grotesque extremes of high culture and high fashion. Witness this article about one of New York's elite skin doctors and her wealthy clientelle who lust after botox injections (a poison that in small doses helpfully paralyzes the skin, preventing wrinkles) and liposuction in a fruitless search for the fountain of youth. While not entirely uncritical of the provider of these services, the Times mostly chats on and on about how helpful and beloved she is to the society dames who patronize her clinic, and how she's setting a standard that will soon be imitated by the rest of America. Yup, that's exactly what the poor need....to waste their precious cash on paralyzing poison. Um, how about a condemnation of vanity here. The Times doesn't exactly look kindly upon the industry tycoons of capitalism. Why give so much leeway to the excesses their money produces?
The Times positions itself as a critic of elite style and culture. It's funny that all the trends they recommend require so much cash.